If you were to ask me at any given time who my favorite people were, I'd say my parents. Every time. (follow quickly by my brother and sister, my sister in law, and the babes) And in this day and age, it may be the uncool thing, but they're my best friends. I don't call someone my age when I have an issue or a problem, my first number in my phone is my mom. The second, my dad. That's usually the order in which I call.
Yesterday was their 28th wedding anniversary. That's three kids, one daughter in law, one grandson, two granddaughters. It's 5 states and one country. It's the loss of a brother and a father. It's countless times of fixer-uppers and eating dinner in camping chairs and a plastic table.
It's being best friends.
Being privy to 25 years of that marriage, I've learned a few things - not only about marriage, but about being a human. A nice human at that - and I'd like to share those things. Things that my parents have passed along to me, and I hope, if God blesses me with children, that I'll pass along to them.
1// If you must fight, fight behind closed doors.
I can count on one hand how many times I've heard my parents disagree - and that's only because I was listening at their door. To the best of my knowledge, my parents never fought in front of us. They may have disagreed, but they never had shouting matches. They saw the importance of solving things without us - and coming back out of the room united again - and that made a huge impression on me.
2// There's always time.
There have been many times when I'll call my parents on a Friday afternoon and they're in a totally different zip code than they were an hour before. If we ask, they come - even if it's that morning. There's always time to come see one of us when there's been an off day. Always.
3// "Who's your best friend?"
I asked my mom one time this question, expecting a different answer. Other moms have gaggles of girlfriends. Other dads have "buddies". And while my parents have more of a social life than I do, they still would rather hang out with each other than anyone else. They are proof that marrying your best friend is the only way to go.
4// Love your brother.
Love your sister.
Being the middle child hasn't always been easy (what? You haven't heard a middle child say that before..weird.) and I haven't always loved my big brother and younger sister like I should. But my parents never let us be anything but kind to one another. Sure, we had fights and said mean things to each other in front of my parents, but they knew the importance of the three of us having a strong relationship. We needed each other, even if we didn't care for one another all the time - and I think life would be a lot harder if I didn't have Ryne or Hannah.
5// Moving isn't that hard.
If you know anything about our lives, you'll know I've lived in quite a few places. Because of that, I've never truly been scared of packing up and moving. Yes, there are definitely lonely nights and times I wish I lived closer to any of them, but there's always friends to be made. There's always clubs to join and participate in. Moves are only as hard as you make them.
6// Eat right, exercise and get some sleep.
The secret to life (and marathon running) is to take care of your body. It's making sure that you eat (mostly - because..ice cream. And cheeseburgers.) right, exercise often and get enough rest so that your body functions normally. My parents have always instilled in us that the way you treat your body is how it's going to react. If you eat crap, you'll feel like crap. If you don't exercise, you feel like crap. And if you don't sleep, you feel like crap. You don't have to eat kale every meal, run for 4 hours a day and go to sleep at 8 pm every night, but setting yourself up to succeed in those areas of your life will lead to better things every single day.
7// Who cares what other people are doing?
My parents have always supported our dreams, because they've supported each others dreams. They've moved across the Pacific Ocean and built straw bale houses. They've gone back to school in their late 30's and hiked for 5 days in the Grand Canyon. They taught us that dreaming is essential and going after those dreams makes life better. And you know what, other people not being on board of those dreams? Who cares. It's not their life. Its yours.
8// Give, give, give. And be generous about it.
Our family has never been rich by any means. My parents have worked their
asses butts of my entire life, and we've always had the essentials. (THANK YOU FOR THAT!) And through times when things were tight, they still gave. They gave of their time, their talents and I've even watched my father pick up the tab for 20+ family members at a restaurant. I remember that being a big moment in my head - how could he afford that? Because he knew (and knows - they knew and know) that God will provide. And whether it's picking up a tab or helping friends of mine move, they're always the first to sign up and do whatever is necessary - out of joy and love - because that's who they are.
9// You are strong, you are loved.
This has been a mantra that has been repeated and repeated to me for a long time. When things get extra tough, it's the quite whisper in my head. It's the reminder that whatever is happening at the present moment, that can be overcome - and someone is going to be loving me regardless of the outcome.
10// You are never alone.
I remember a conversation I had recently after a friends wedding with my mom. I had spent the evening before bed crying and having a terrible time with you know, being single and alone and all that jazz. My mother, never one to mix words, looked me straight in the eye and said "Look at me..you are NEVER alone." She went on to tell me that I would always have my dad and I would always have her, and I would always have the Lord. Trying to push those people away wouldn't ever help me - it would only create the feeling of loneliness - so I had to let people in. (which has never been something I'm good at. I like walls.) I have to let those people, and many others, see my heart, love me well and let me love them too. That wasn't changing, so fighting it wasn't going to do me any good. Loving people is the only way to go through life.
Quite frankly, that doesn't even scratch the surface of what my parents have taught me. Not even close. But I think the most important thing they've taught me is love. Love myself, love the people around me, love the Lord.
I'm thankful that my poppa spotted my mom on their college campus that many years ago and decided she was the one. I'm glad they wrote letters and went on adventures. That they met each others families and decided they wanted one of their own. I'm glad they had my brother, sister, and me. I'm blessed to be loved by them, and to get to love them.
They are, hands down, the two greatest people walking this Earth - and I wouldn't be who I am today without them.
I love you mommy and daddy.
Twenty eight and counting,