Our friendship really took off when we went to Mazatlan several years ago, Heather and I. Little did we know that one short-term mission trip to Mexico would spur a dozen or so more, shaping the contours of our lives for several years. Little did we know that the ongoing planning of those trips would lead to the ever-growing constancy of a friendship needed and wanted.
Now Heather is one of my best friends. Then she someone I knew slightly and admired. Then she was pregnant with her sixth child. Now Emily is five years old. Heather and her husband, Lee, both turned 40 this year. I took some photographs to be a part of their birthday gift. It’s still a work in progress.
This morning on my run I found myself thinking about Heather and Lee and their family and wanted to write some words about them. The world needs families shaped by moms and dads like these two. They love well: each other and their kids. They parent uniquely. They believe the best about their kids and are unapologetic about calling that out of them. They’re not concerned with convention or status quo; they are concerned about relationship and raising whole children.
I can’t help but think when God dreamed up marriage and family as an answer to the it’s not good for man to be alone problem, he envisioned a family like this one. They are not perfect; but they are beautifully human and life is celebrated and love is the greatest wealth in their inheritance.
In their house there is real food and family around the table at meals. There is laughter spilling from the piano room and filling the whole house as the girls write a song. There are piles of worn books beside a television that I’ve never seen turned on. There are smiles and there are hugs. There is listening. There is learning It’s not that there aren’t fights or disagreements, but when they happen, apologies are the norm and trust is rebuilt. Little children are not intimidated into proper behavior, and older children’s dreams and desires are valued and discussed. It’s not always possible to do everything, but it is always possible to see a child, right where they are and meet them. I think this is the gift Lee and Heather give their kids: they are fully present parents. It’s not that they are perfect, but it is that they choose to show up, time and again. They choose each other. They choose their kids. And then they find ways to choose others too.
In the midst of all this kid-loving, life-celebrating goodness, Heather and Lee both pursue interest and passions of their own too. If your life is focused on the others around you, somehow time finds ways to stretch and make room for music lessons and long runs and date nights. I don’t know how it works, but it does. I think some intentionality might be required and some help from a God who’s way is to discipline the ones he loves. Because in so living, fullness is found.
When I spend time with Heather, I’m reminded that people are gifts and that some of life’s greatest treasures and most beautiful moments are found- and shared- when you encounter someone who lives fully and entrusts and empowers others to do the same. This is the way Lee and Heather illustrate love and life and friendship and family and beauty to their kids and to the world.
I thought about this today and thanked God for my friends. I wanted to write this down to remember and to share, because when you realize you’ve recognized something beautiful you want others to see as well. Because lives like these? They make me hope in a world where families struggle and break all too often. Lives like these are beacons of something different, something more.
They compel hunger while illustrating the way to living full. I love that.