The family I got.

We squish together, arms around each other.

1997 and 2016. Not everyone is pictured in the more recent photo! We've added even more than you see here.

1997 and 2016. Not everyone is pictured in the more recent photo! We've added even more than you see here.

Not because we vote for the same candidate.

Not because we make the same amount of money.

Not because we would all choose the same book or movie or concert or vacation.

Not because we raise our children in exactly the same way.

Not because we all feel close to God in the same worship space or style.

There are two kinds of family in life: family you choose and family you get. We're the second lot, so yes, sometimes we snap and gripe and eye roll. Sometimes we judge or ignore. It's fascinating, the range of personalities that can stem from the merged DNA of two people, and in some matters, it's as if the apples fell as far apart on the spectrum as humanly possible.

And yet:

It's thanks to the family I got that I've been able to find and keep friends who are like family, the family I choose. The family I got taught me to love and tell stories in the first place, to savor traditions and jokes that never get old. They showed me that no matter how differently you think, you show up for each other, from Sunday dinner and Christmas Day to weddings and deathbeds. They showed me that you put in the effort, with marriage, children, vocation, even (especially) when it's really, really tough. They taught me that music and laughter are the greatest remedies.

We squish together, arms around each other.

Because we've known each other since before we knew what it was to know anything else.

Because we've found and welcomed partners who strengthen us as ones and enrich us as a whole.

Because we've stood together by gravesides and in delivery rooms, laughed until we cried and cried until we laughed.

Because we've lived through moments that become stories, and lived to tell them again, until they are woven into our very energy, whether we were present or not. 

Because we've watched one another grow, and we've been held by each other as children, and there is something to that, this knowing and growing that starts before you're old enough to understand.

We're not perfect, as individuals or as a family. We have our messy moments, and if you drop one word about politics--any word--it'll careen like a lit match into a dry haystack, bless our hearts. But I keep coming back to the mysterious grace there is in the fact that we keep coming back. We gather together willingly, this group of humans so hilariously diverse in some ways, so strikingly similar in others. And it's both of those that matter, I think. The moment when you shake your head and think, Jeez, we couldn't be more different--and the moment right after that when you grin and think, I couldn't have said it better myself.

Family moments. Human moments. Kingdom moments.

What do you love about the family you got? Roll your eyes about? Laugh about?