Family—the people you do life with. They support one another through thick and thin and who are more than just surface-level relationships. These are many of the people, (as well as others not shown), that we have done life with for at least the last 5-10 years, and some even longer. When people say it takes a village to raise a family (and it certainly does), here is part of ours.

These are the people who have invested time in us and in our children, as we have done with them. No matter how busy life is, these are some of the people who consistently show up. They are people we have real, deep conversations with. Multiple generations are represented in these photos. We have learned immense about life from many who are older than us. Our kids not only have blood-related family members, but they have additional, non-related grandparents, parents, and friends, and for that I am so thankful.

Times have not always been joyous or easy over the years, but the times have been shared together. We’ve celebrated new lives together, and have also grieved lost lives or pieces of life together. Days, nights, phone calls for advice, FaceTimes with tears or great news, etc. are just a few things we share.  We take meals to each other and share meals together often. We watch each other’s children. We pray together and out loud, not just when we are alone.  The deepest, most meaningful experiences at holidays and special times happen with these people.

None of these people are ones who watch other’s lives from a distance or via social media for updates. They don’t make assumptions or gossip through tough or confusing times. They are intentional in the way they live and form community with others, which are values we long to pass on to our children. Some we see weekly, and some not as often, but they recognize that life and relationships are precious and short, and they make the most of moments we have together. These people are our daily reminders of hope, perseverance, humility, and selfless love. I am thankful for these people we call family.