Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A First Friendsgiving

I wish I had taken pictures of our very crowded little house last night. It was warm and buzzing in the best way, with lovely people, good food, noisy children and lots of laughter. 

But I was so distracted and having so much fun that I didn't pick up my camera or phone one single time. And I kind of regret it this morning, because it was such a good night and I want to remember this first, strange Thanksgiving season in MI! So I'll just have to throw a goofy picture of Silas eating at church, and jot down some hastily-put-together thoughts and call it good enough.

When we found out we were expecting a surprise addition to the family last spring, I kind of lost my mind for a little bit. I knew that the Lord was ultimately in control and would see us through any difficulties, but that didn't mean that I wanted to go through them without friends or family nearby. I felt very lonely and sad. I started to doubt whether we were really where we were supposed to be.

It's one of those things that you can't fully explain to others, because it's experiential,  but Matt and I had together, as one, felt spiritually led to move our family up here in the fall of 2012, without knowing the reasons or purpose. So we simply "obeyed," and went, very quickly. For as big as the decision was, it was made and acted upon very swiftly, which is not characteristic behavior for us. It hurt and confused some who are very dear to us, and I hate disappointing the people I care about most. But obedience has always been important to me, it's something I am thankful to say that my husband takes very seriously and it's something we both greatly desire our children to love. 

And it was easy to obey and trust in those first few months here, where every day was an exciting adventure, and there were so many new beautiful places to explore and enjoy. But when I got sick, and we stared, agape at that positive pregnancy test, the doubts started creeping into my mind. 

We had been searching for a church since the weekend we had arrived and had not experienced a "settling in" anywhere we visited. We attended one church for almost 3 months, got involved in a small group and tried to get together with other couples, but regardless of the effort nobody ever had time to share a meal or even coffee and we still felt like strangers every time we attended.  

I'm not trying to come down critically on that church, there are genuinely lovely people there and no one did anything wrong, but it was just becoming really frustrating and discouraging to us that it seemed so very hard to get connected with people. And we really needed some people in our lives! The loneliness was hard.

Matt decided to visit another church he had stumbled upon online, and he attended for three weeks while I stayed home with the kids (still dealing with morning sickness yuckiness.) I was tired of visiting churches and tired of leaving feeling critical and discouraged, so it took me a while to agree to attend with him.

The moment I walked into the meeting room of this fellowship, though, I felt overwhelmed with peace. Now isn't that the corniest, most over-dramatic thing you've heard all day? I hate sounding like that, but I speak the words genuinely and honestly. I felt that same sort of peace the day I was first introduced to Matt. It's a feeling you can't really put to words, you just feel it and know it and are totally confused by it because it's supernatural.

From that very first Sunday we attended together, we became part of that fellowship - we simply belonged. Within three weeks of attendance, we literally went from doing nothing and knowing no one to having very full calendars and lots of new friends! We started a small group with three other young families, and this is the group that we did Friendsgiving with last night.

I haven't known these families for very long yet, but they are so dear to me already. Matt and I sat up and talked late last night after everyone had gone home, and marveled how comfortable it felt, all of us together sharing a meal and our lives together, when we haven't known each other even 6 months yet. 

I loved watching all the relationships last night - how everyone in their own unassuming way showed love to one another by helping each other out with babies and plates, trying to anticipate others' needs so everyone could relax and enjoy the evening as much as possible (despite all the distractions that little ones create.) A husband stepping over voluntarily to take the baby from his wife's lap so she could finish her meal, another young dad helping his daughter finish her dinner, big sisters taking the younger kids downstairs to play with them so grown ups could have a few minutes of quiet conversation before bundling up everyone for the ride home... I. Loved. It. I felt like I was surrounded by one big lovin' family, and it made my heart so very glad and thankful.

And that's how I'm feeling today - overwhelmingly thankful. Thankful for my God, who provides above and beyond all our needs, and Who shows us the secret depths of His great love for us through ordinary, humble people seeking to love and obey Him. It's beautiful, and it's awesome.


P.S: Also thankful for Thanksgiving food! We used this brine recipe for our turkey and holy-goodness! Best turkey of my life.

Also - this stuffing recipe, made with gluten free cornbread. The best.

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