We are so fortunate to know some incredible families that have shaped who Chris and I are in more ways than they will ever know. Each family is at a different stage in life, different ages, different family dynamics, different walks with Jesus... but all have one thing in common: they open their lives up to us. For that Chris and I are incredibly grateful.
There as been one family that sticks out a little more. If you don't already know them, let me introduce you to the Skaggs:
It started 5 years ago when I met Emily when we worked at the same PR firm. It took all of 60 seconds to figure out we also went to the same church. As soon as I started working there, she left to go have their first baby. Thankfully we stayed in touch and I became a part of their family by babysitting as often as I could. It wasn't long before Chris came into the picture and fell right in love with this family too.
Now let me introduce you to each of them...
As soon as I met Joel I loved him. He has quickly become like a big brother and the same is true for Chris. One of my favorite things about Joel is what a hands on dad he is. That's proven by the fact that I couldn't find a single picture of him with out someone in his family wrapped up in his arms. He loves his kids really well in every aspect of the word. He wrestles with them and loves on them constantly, but he is so consistent in his discipline without reacting in anger. But as much as he loves his kiddos he adores his wife (and who wouldn't?). But the absolute best thing about Joel is his pursuit and love for Jesus. Consistent and solid are the two words I would use to describe his walk. Chris and I are both challenged to love and really know Jesus more after talking to him. And one other thing I love about Joel is how he isn't afraid to really challenge you. He constantly will question why you believe or do something. There are many times he, in a very calm and loving way, has rebuked me... and I couldn't be more thankful for it.
Anyone that has met Emily for even two seconds leaves feeling like you might be her very best friend. She has such a grace about her and an absolute zeal for life. Even in times where her heart has been heavy she is always able to see God's hand in the situation. She simply loves God, and loves Him really well. She doesn't over complicate it or make it into this prideful thing, she just wants to live her life in a way that brings Him glory and brings others to know Him. And its because of that passion that doors continue to open for her to share her faith and her story with many. She is also a fantastic mom. I know that my kids will write her a really long thank you card one day for all she's taught me. And on top of that, as Chris would say, "she sings like an angel." Being able to be lead by her in worship on Sundays is such a treat-- her love and surrender to and for Jesus is incredible. And I couldn't leave out that she is absolutely hilarious!
Oh Ella girl. I have loved this little one since before she was even born. It has been such an honor to be a part of her life since it began. She is a total mini-me of her momma! Chris and I so hope that Ella teaches Karis all she knows. Which we have no doubts about it because every time she sees me she tells me about something new she can teach Karis. So sweet! Ella has the best imagination, play time with her has never been boring. She loves putting on a show too-- I think she might follow her mom and dad and being up front and center in her life. Thanks to her parents and God's grace on her life, you can also see how her little heart is absorbing things of God. She sees His hands in things and it is so refreshing! She is just the silliest little girl and you just want to scoop her up constantly! And she loves others, she really does. She can't walk by me without patting Karis and giving her some love. She doesn't just give you a hug, she collapses into your arms.
Oh Seffy! We were just talking with Joel and Em last night about what a lovable little guy he is. He will make your heart melt with just a smile. Because it's not any ordinary smile, it is a full face, as big as the come, can hardly stand it smile. Ugh, I just love it! He has never met a stranger. Every where Seth goes he finds a friend (or lots of friends) and he wins the hearts of each one. I have always had such a heart for kids with special needs and Seth has been such a blessing to remind me yet again the blessing in the difference. So many families would have been distraught to learn that their child has Downs Syndrome. But the Skaggs have fully embraced the special gift they've been given. Kids with special needs show you love that can't be experienced in any other way.
And finally let me introduce you to our future son-in-law. :) Karis and him will be just 10 weeks apart. So if they don't fall in love, at the very least they will be very good buddies! We just love this little guy already!!
Last night we were over at the Skaggs house and we were reminded, yet again, how very blessed we've been to have a "big brother and sister" that are just a few years ahead of us.
If you don't have this in your life, don't give up. Volunteer at your church, go to events with people with all ages... do whatever it takes to meet families. Your life will be more rich, I promise!