After college but before Curt, I lived in Ramona, California at Young Life’s Oakbridge. It was my first ‘real’ job, complete with salary and benefits. I was young, 2000 miles from home, and single.
When John (and family) joined the team a year after me, I was in a dark place. No, literally. I was living on camp in the basement of a staff house that faced into an embankment. It was a cave. My job running ropes and organizing groups was perfect for me, but I was so lonely. Living on camp and working endlessly did little to encourage a life outside of ‘the island.’ The McKenzies moved 20 minutes up the mountain and began feeding me. I would periodically join their chaotic table with 4 kids, read their magazines, and tag along on hikes and errands. John and I would cry about our thankless jobs and then we’d go play volleyball at the local high school. I attended little league baseball games and cheered at 4th of July parades with them.
Renee is the first and only person ever brave enough to tell me I was being a bad friend. (She’s a nurse and a home-school mom. She’ll lay you out.) John is the only guy who ever let me throw things in the kitchen (and live to tell about it). I taught toddler Kylie new words (best friends forever!) and I wrangled J-Bud into his seat at many a dinner. Camber and Connor were just barely older, but I was there for violin and star wars and baking parties and 4-H bunnies.
Eventually, they would watch me emerge from my shadow. They would care for me after surgery. They would host my first date with Curt. They would make me feel like a part of a family again. They would make me feel like a person again. A valuable person.
This past Labor Day, the McKenzies piled in a car (all 6 of them) and drove from Atlanta to Grand Rapids to spend the long weekend with us. They slept in our basement, they fed our animals, they shared our food. Our Little ShoeBox has never been so full and so happy. Truly.
Yesterday, I received a package in the mail. It was from Renee… and there was a card, a cd, and a bag of large scrabble tiles. The card simply said thank you (for, you know, letting them ‘vacation’ on the farm and sleep on the floor… you’re welcome! any time!). The tiles are for speed scrabble, which they introduced us to and we are now addicted. The music is from their church, and I will think of them every time it plays.
I texted Renee… something to the effect of, “Thanks for making me bawl my eyes out on the way to drop Ry off at school. Like they need another reason to think I’m a nut case!”
She responded, “There’s nothing to cry about, silly! Unless, of course, you’re remembering how terrible you are at Speed Scrabble.”
Love you, too.
from the bottom of my heart,
Love. You. Too.
What’s your favorite game as of late?