Our oldest daughter just jumped out of High School into adulthood… and what a wild and wonderful weekend of family fun we had! Surrounded by our loved ones for Jessica’s milestone moment. Our family came from everywhere to share the day with us. It was AWESOME!!!
As my wife and I reflected on the weekend, a few moments stood out… but not the ones you might have guessed. It was so exciting to watch our 18-year-old honored as an outstanding student, her multiple cords of distinction bright against her graduation gown as she proudly took her diploma and posed for pictures. We laughed with her as we watched her throw her cap and rejoice with her friends in the moment… finding satisfaction together in the sheer joy of finishing well and moving on. Those were expected, and loved and cherished and to be kept forever.
But there was a weekend of wonderful and un-expected family surprises ahead…
Like my Nephew David cheerfully jumping in to do dishes, the trash and to help carry whatever Aunt Paige or his mom asked… No complaints, no irritations…just waiting quietly in the wings. Ready to serve. He was telling Jessica, and us how much he loved us.
Or my sis-in-law, Liza… who cheerfully volunteered to sleep on the couch! We awoke each morning to find the kitchen cleaned, dishes done and on monday before she left our house she cleaned my wifes car inside-out… No fanfare, no public “thank you”, just a desire to help where she could… didn’t wait to be asked, just jumped in. She was telling Jessica and us… how much she loved us.
Or my Brother and His wife who drove from North Carolina with their three grown college age kids, packing it all up for a 10 hour road trip to join us in celebrating Jessica’s life-moment. They put their Holiday Weekend plans on hold for us, helping to set up, take down and sweat for three days.. helping us clean up after the seventy plus visitors we had tramping through the house on Sunday. No complaints, no problem. They were telling Jessica and us… how much they loved us.
My in-laws Vince (Papa) and Sally (Nona) along with Jessica’s uncle Jason and aunt Leah, drove four hours from Memphis TN to our cul-de-sac, to serve Slaw Dog’s in sweltering heat and never waivered to make our celebration a party to remember for a lifetime. They were serving up hotdogs and catering food for our family and guests.., all in an effort to express to Jessica how much they really loved her.
The cumulative effect of the weekend was this… It became clear to me, that with a Family, all of us are needed to raise a girl up into a woman. Sure the parents get to sit in the front row of this ride, but it’s the entire momentum of the family around them that carries the day. It’s the faithful support, the love and the strength that comes from a commitment, a life- bond that’s greater than distance or age or opinion. It’s the power of Love and the presence of Family that really impacted us last weekend. Don’t get me wrong! My daughter is awesome, I love her… I’m proud of her… but my favorite memories from this weekend point to our Funny, Absurd, Brilliant and Annoying Family who made it all possible!
In the midst of the family we shared by the genetic’s of our parents and grand-parents… we were also surrounded by our faith family. An ever present and comforting, community of faith… made up of neighbors, co-workers, church friends, school-mates and life-long comrades. Connected by the blood we share in Jesus, this family of faith supports the foundation for all the rest to anchor to.
It’s important to understand that this beautiful treasure of Faith and Family are not reserved for just those among us who happen to enjoy an “intact” parenting unit in their home, or were born into a life with a dozen brothers and sisters or some great ethnic background. Family is for all of us.
You just have to allow yourself to find and be found by either your natural or faith family…or in our case both! Then make the extra effort to show them how much you love them…precisely when they need you the most…. The way our family showed us. Of course they will annoy, frustrate and irritate you along the way….but in the end, it’s their love that will shine the brightest in your darkest day!
Peace out to my extended RTP Family, that means YOU !