On Saturday evening, Dan and I met some friends for dinner at a place called The Chart House, which is in the foothills. The drive to and from the restaurant overlooks the city. It was nice to be up in the hills again, so much cooler than the hot weather we're having here. And it's always good to be with this particular group. The four guys have known each other forever -- before any of us gals came along. We've been in one another's weddings, raised our kids together and attended some of those same kids' graduation parties. We've been camping together since it was "just couples," and when the kids came along, we packed them up and brought them along. We have pictures of each other in our family photo albums, huddled around campfires, holding fishing poles and playing pick-up baseball. We laugh at the same stories over and over, remembering things we did 20 years ago, but can't remember what we had for breakfast. The first couple to have children goaded on the others, and now those empty nesters gloat at their new-found freedom and encourage the rest of us, with nests still crammed full, to hang in there, freedom will ring once more.
Then, this morning, I bought a bucket of bagels from Einsteins, Dan made a carafe full of coffee, and we sat on our back screened-in porch with Grandma and Grandpa, uncle and aunt and cousin, and listened to Joe's stories of his trip to Japan. We wanted to sneak in a quick visit before we head out again later this week, and Dad and Carol head off for their next venture. We all seem to be coming and going in all directions this summer, with travel itineraries that look like one of those maps at the bus terminal -- routes crisscrossing all over the place.
When we gathered in the mountains last week, we were meeting members of my step mom's family for the first time. My new-found family members are warm and congenial and friendly. We all seemed to mesh rather quickly with laughter being the common denominator in much of the conversation. Dan later made an observation about the bonds of "family". He recalled how, years ago, when we were in the process of adopting our first child, he was talking to our caseworker about "bonding" with children, and she talked about how even though Dan and I aren't related by blood, the bond we share will last a lifetime. Love is a strong bond, she said, and of course we quickly "bonded" with all three of our beautiful children. And now we have this extended family, made up of more adopted children, children brought to the family through various marriages, and when I'm asked, I sometimes have to think a minute to tell you who carries whose genes! Dan summed it up. "They say blood is thicker than water, but I think family is thicker than blood."
How true those words are. I think of the people in my life that have become my chosen family, and I don't know how I would make it through this journey without them. There's a saying that says, "friends are the family you choose for yourself." Somehow, I can't imagine myself capable of finding these people on my own. I know that God has played a hand in it. And I'm so thankful and blessed that he has.