This year was our 6th Family Reunion! My, how time flies! (Last year, we wrote about how this group began! You can read all about it here.) In the past, we have always gone to mountains. But this year, we broke out of our tradition & tried something new. We found an amazing house in Hilton Head that fit us all AND the babies - a pretty significant blessing! Not only did we change our location, but we extended our time together as well. Usually, we meet for a long weekend - a Thursday to Monday sort of timeline. But we wanted to make this one a bit more purposeful - so we set a whole week aside, Saturday to Saturday. A whole week of play at the beach, swimming in the backyard pool, evening bike rides, & intentional time spent with one another! Does it get any better than that?
Each year we take time to discuss the highs & lows of where each of our families are. Since our time has been shorter in the past, we usually feel the pressure of fitting it ALL in - girls night, guys night, one night all together - it gets to be really full! But this year, we had more evenings to spread everything out. So we took time. More time led to more intentional conversation, which led to more vulnerability.
In the end, this trip exposed more of our hurts than our joys. About half way through the week, after the babies were fast asleep, we all gathered around the pool deck - with snacks & of course, wine - to give each family the opportunity to share whatever was on their hearts. This sounds so rosey doesn't it? It is & it isn't. When you have a group of listeners asking you hard questions, you feel known - like really known. You can't shy away. But then something else happens. You see yourself as you really are - a sinner who needs help. And not just help in that moment, but every single moment. It is truly humbling to be unreservedly truthful in front of 10 others.
When it came time for us to share - we wept. Ugly wept. For all the hurts that 2017 has brought us & for all the highs that 2017 has brought us. We wept for our friends who sat among us who have GREATER hurts than us. We shared ourselves in a way that we have never shared. More than ever - we felt known & loved - accepted & cherished. A beautiful thing happens when you share your soul with another who really loves you. You expect to look up & be met with a puzzled expression. But quite the opposite happens. Love envelopes you. It sweeps over you & you can't do anything but accept it. Although distance increasingly separates us, our hearts keep growing closer.
It's not that this group has it all together - it's actually quite the opposite. Each family has a story. And each story is really hard & unique! But the longer we gather, the more questions we ask, the stronger we become. Coming to the table to feast & fellowship with one another, we lay down our pride & look at each other to say "You! You matter. I am going to fight for you!"
We are so thankful for this dear group of friends & look forward to YEARS of continued growth with one another - in the highs & lows!