The family we choose

I have been blessed with a full and loving family.

Sometimes, I even mean my family of origin. (Yes, even you Mark.)

See, I’m not a firm believer in the adage that blood is thicker than water. I don’t favor many of my relatives over others, and while I may get along with some of them organically I don’t force relationships that I’m not feeling just because our family trees happen to connect with a branch that may or may not be farther up than I ever had the chance to meet. One of our family reunions is so large that hundreds of people attend every year, and everyone has to wear name tags because other than the half dozen relatives in your “immediate” circle the vast majority of attendees may as well be extras culled from the surrounding towns to fill out the venue and make it look like a real party.

No…I much prefer the family I’ve cobbled together from blood relatives and other loved ones without whom my life would be immeasurably less bright.

Of course, a large chunk of the family I chose belongs to Brian. You know, with some spouses you get a huge set of relatives as part of the package, all for the low-low price of forever and a day. Some of you may be rolling your eyes if you have in-laws who are, well, in-lawsbut I feel like I lucked out in this exchange. I gained another set of parents who love and support me (and these ones can’t tell me what to do!), a brother-by-marriage and his fantastic partner who will hopefully join our merry band of outlaws soon (no pressure guys!), and another sister-by-marriage and her awesome husband who sportingly consents to being my fellow “outlaw” (hence the “band of outlaws” – we should get matching bandannas or something…)

Family

Yesterday, Brian and I made a point to attend service at our church. We’ve been trying a lot harder to improve our spiritual health, and while going every week just isn’t practical (sorry God), we both still get something out of the experience and enjoy connecting with others who are close to us. Anywho, yesterday in particular was great because we got to see our youth pastor Kathy, one of the amazing people who has been a part of our lives through so many important moments. Youth group was where Brian and I really connected, and Kathy provided counsel to each of us when our young relationship encountered its share of normal difficulties. She officiated at our wedding, and when she comes back from the Camphor Mission Station in Liberia this April, she will baptize our son (whom she got to meet yesterday – they’re sort of besties now).

Kathy - family of choice
There’s so much love in this moment.

Her sermon was about time, and using it wisely, living intentionally and remembering to seek God first. I’ll write a separate post about it because her words really spoke to both Brian and me, but the important thing about this little anecdote is that these encounters rejuvenate my soul. We had another family reunion of a sort when we went to a first birthday party for my GG’s little girl! (So, my GG-niece?) Being new parents and living so far apart has made it difficult for us to get together – we haven’t seen each other since her baby shower in December 2012 – so it was another little blessing to be close enough to celebrate this milestone with her and her family.

Today, I’m choosing to celebrate the family we choose. Whether we speak every day, exchange the occasional email or Facebook comment, or we are separated by years and oceans (looking at you, Michelle), this family of choice is truly the family of my heart, and I love each of you.