(The above photo represents Norway, Albania, China, Congo, Korea and the USA all part of a great big special family. They are my people.)
For 37 years, we have laughed, gathered, broke bread, gave our little ones tubbies, and watched storms roll in on the old deck. My BIL is creating a new one where we can continue to make new memories.
This home (during the summer) is more than just a cottage. It's a place where my parents invested. Rather than own a place down south or take elaborate vacations together, they poured into their people here.
Each spring, we would wait with anticipation to see the ENORMOUS raft/tube/party barge Nana would pick up from Costco only to be popped by the middle of summer. They were alway thinking of ways to make this place more kid-friendly. As kids, we would play for hours on the tramp; our kids do the same. Each Wednesday, we meet at the Holland farmer's market to get some goodies then head to the beach for "sister day." Sundays we bring husbands. Papa spends the afternoon pulling the grands on the Seadoo while Nana plays in the water no matter the temperature and siblings catch up. This tradition is woven into the fabric of our lives.
It has created a community of cousins that are truly great friends who still can't wait to get together, even when it's not at this place.
When each grand turns 12, my parents take them on a special trip. Last spring, having so many turning 12ish, decided to take them all on a BIG trip to Washington. While most Grandparents would be freaked out to spend 5 days with a bunch of 11-13-year-olds, they sat, ate, discussed and listened. It was a trip for the books, they said. My parents loved it, too.
You see, when you invest so much in the lives of your children, then grandchildren, foster deep relationships, take teenage men and their friends out for steak dinner to discuss what each of them are aiming for in life, have work days at the lake where the Grands are over-paid and treated to ice cream or Fricanos (pizza) where a bit more pouring in occurs, you reap this precious fruit.
Patriarch & Matriarch
And while this all may seem idyllic, there have been times of great struggle here, brokenness, forgiveness, cancer, illness, times of crying out to the Lord for strength. But that is life, not something we need or should manufacture to be perfect. Real life, where you love the people that may have hurt you. Where you learn that, as the sun sets magnificently over the lake, there is a new day coming. This place is beautiful (my mom is so talented that way), but not as precious as the people it holds.
So, my dearest thank you goes to Father who has graciously made beauty from our ashes and allowed us the privilege to be here for so many years.
Thank you, Mom and Dad, for the gift of this place with all it means to us and your investment in us.