Tag Archives: friends

Today: Heather and Her Beautiful Family

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.

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today: 19-20of28. People make life.

“Life is partly what we make it, and partly what it is made by the friends we choose.”
-Tennessee Williams

Last week flew by, and by Saturday morning, I wanted sleep and quiet. I knew, though, the story of this weekend had a preset of photos to shoot and events to attend. I left at 830 and barely passed go all day Saturday. Sunday looked similar, with a 945 exit, which was a bit more appealing. The busyness of this weekend, though, was largely centered around celebrating people.

Yesterday was my sister Bridget’s second wedding shower, and it was a beautiful tea at the Fort Worth Club. Our friend Megan hosted the shower. Megan exudes hospitality. She gives the best of herself to her friends. Every detail of the shower not only honored Bridget but celebrated the guests as well. Everyone who was there felt special. Though the food was good and the company wonderful, Megan’s planning and consideration took the shower to a level of excellence that amazed me.

Megan has a unique friendship with each of my sisters, and our whole family adores her. Yesterday was a day to treasure, not only for Bridget, but for all of us. I left the shower so thankful for Megan in our life. Her heart is huge for the people that she loves. It’s compelling. Megan adds such beauty to her friendships by being herself. The shower utterly reflected that.

Tonight was Randy’s recital. Randy and I became friends a good 15 years after we met, which is to say we’ve known each other more than 20 years. Randy is finishing up his Master’s in Violin Performance (I hope I’m getting the title right) at the University of Texas in Arlington, and tonight he performed a recital. Watching my friend, who plays with passion and skill, as he created music with his instrument swelled my heart with joy. He worked so hard; it was obvious.

Seeing others come around Randy displayed a wealth of relationships supporting him. The concert hall was filled with friends and family, and after he finished, we stood and clapped. Everyone beamed. Some were moved to tears. We celebrated afterwords, with food and people, laughter and conversation. I hope Randy felt the love that filled the room. His creativity and dedication were displayed tonight. The community that has surrounded him throughout his life were present. I loved that I got to be a part of it.

Besides Bridget’s shower and Randy’s recital, there were photos to shoot and lunch with Debo. Last night a group of us went to Joe T Garcia’s, a Fort Worth cultural establishment (and experience). It was my first time to eat there, and I can only describe it as Stuff White People Like, Fort Worth edition. There was church this morning and lunch with dear friends. Groceries needed to be bought. The dog needed to be walked. Life happened and a lot of it, in the best possible way. I sometimes look around and can’t believe the people in my life are really mine. My heart is full tonight. I’ve said it time and again, but I know God’s kindness best through the people he’s given me.

He is very kind indeed.

today: when we were young

Grass to us is more ground than figure, a backdrop to more legible things in the landscape- trees, animals, buildings. It’s less a subject in its own right than a context.
-p184 The Omnivore’s Dillema, Michael Pollan

Whenever I get a bit of time with Carla, my bestie, we travel back in time a bit. This trip, with the arrival of her daughter, we have done more life in the present than past visits. Still, we have history, and the endless memories of people and place provide context for who we are today. We went places together back in the day: all over Poland and to Montana and Colorado. I went to California when she lived there. She visited Ontario when I lived there.

We have never lived in the same place for more than a couple of months, but we have forged a friendship around music, lattes, the gospel and and endless array of yummy meals. I can post the following photos, and they mean something to us that a handful of our friends relate to.

To everyone else, they are merely photos of a funny whittled man and a guitar. I look at them and see the story of two girls with matching coats greeting each other on a snowy sidewalk in the sleepy town of Lakeside, Montana (pop. 500). We barely broached conversation. Fast-forward six months, and these same two girls found themselves in Czecestochowa, Poland living in a flat. That summer we taught endless Bible studies and English classes and played music and walked the streets. We rode a lot of trains. We filled pages of our journals. And late at night, after an internet cafe ritual, we talked. And talked. And talked. Sometimes until the sun came up.

We were both on a huge learning curve in regards to our faith, and God put us in Poland at the same time, I think, so that we’d find each other along the way. We did.

I was in her wedding. She will be in mine. I said then that I would come when she had a baby. I would help out. I am here.

When I look at the way our respective stories have zig-zagged through the years, I am amazed at how consistently we picked up the phone and sent emails. We’ve mailed birthday gifts and Christmas boxes. And on days like today, when I found myself snuggled in with her two-week-old girl while she and Johnny, her rock-star-and-a-half hubby went on their first post-baby date, I know I belong here. Luci and I hung out while Johnny and Carla went out.

I ate; Luci slept; she woke; we rocked; she ate. My life expanded the moment she arrived to enfold this baby girl. Children do that to the people who love them. And I love Luci because she is, but it’s her mama’s presence in my life that affords me this little one.

Emily Dickenson wrote her friends were her estate. I write along these lines a lot, because I think our culture does not necessarily help us recognize the incredible wealth the right relationships bring. And I don’t know much, but I know this: in regards to people in my life, I am very, very rich.

I also know this: It so matters who we do life with.

today: what really matters round 2

First of all, coming to terms with the growing up of my little brothers is such an odd experience. I hung out with Jakey for a little while today, and he helped me with a project. And the spoiled baby is rapidly becoming one of the big kids. I love his smile.

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Second of all, today I woke up in a bit of a funk. I do not know what was up. I did the standard breakfast/coffee/time with God/run routine that usually shakes a rough morning. It stuck fast. I wanted to spend the day in my apartment with the TV on being very introverted. And grumpy.

Then something amazing happened.

I visited with Jakey and a couple of the other boys and Mom when I stopped by my parents’ house. And I was a little less grumpy.

On the way home I had to stop by Amber’s to drop off some photos for a client. Gabe was wearing awesome cutoff shorts, so I asked if I could take his photo. That turned into taking photos of all four of the kids.

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More magic happened there. I have the best people in my life. It’s kinda amazing. Amber and crew are one set of examples. Amber and I work together a lot. And we do a lot of church things in parallel. And I freakin’ love her kids. They are little lights in my life.

Griff is creative and quirky and has these crazy ideas. He is growing up too fast just like my Jakey. He has greatness inside of him (and I kinda think he knows it). He writes poems and tells stories. I don’t think he knows there’s such thing as status quo.

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Gabe is my little namesake (Erin with an E is his middle name), and I love him so much. It’s funny, because sometimes in families with a lot of kids, there’s one who kinda stands out. It’s not that they’re more amazing than the others or better or cuter. It’s just that that one kid is the one who commands your heart. And that’s Gabe. I don’t know what it is about him, but since he was a baby he has had me. And his smiles aren’t the easiest to gain. He is quiet. He ponders. But he loves well.

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Emmy’s lovely and all girl. All she wanted today was to be in front of the camera. She smiled and laughed. She’s smart and talkative. I love how much she loves coming to my house. When I told her I was moving, Amber found her dissolved into tears. “Erin is moving away, and I don’t know where she’s going to live,” she cried. She wanted reassurance that I’d still be around. How can you resist a kid like that?

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Pie is a fire cracker, a tomboy, a total surprise. She is loud. She knows how to use words. She can hold her own. And she calls me her Erin when she bosses me around. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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I love how a few minutes with some people I love a lot revised my day. The light in the backyard was beautiful, and we were all laughing. Amber offered to snap a few photos while I played with her kids. And I remembered that people are what really matter. And I have a lot, a lot, a lot to be thankful for here. Now. And it’s good.

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Amber, thanks for letting me be a part of your story. It’s a good story, one full of life and love and hope and laughter. And goodness. So much goodness. You’re a great mom, and these kids you’ve been entrusted with? Well, they’re amazing. And next time, you’re in front of the camera…