As I spend time with those who have been apart of my lifestory so far, I get an overwhelming mixture of feelings; mostly of sadness and joy. I'm sad to say goodbye and go it alone, not having the people I care most about there along for the ride. I'm also sad to have to tell those who know me best all about this new life I'm going to be living, instead of them being a part of it. But even in the sadness, there is this joy that comes to my heart. A joy that comes stems from all the memories and times that we've shared. These people, my loved ones, have helped in times of sorrow, have laughed with me in times of happiness, and have been here to encourage me to be a woman of character. I am truly blessed to have all of you.
I want to specifically thank all the families that I have been able to be a part of in my life. Firstly, my own family. Thank you for always supporting me in everything that I have been involved in. Even if you didn't always understand why God was so important to me, I know that you loved and accepted me for exactly who I am. And I will always thank God for each and everyone of you.
I also want to thank the Ackley Family. Lois and Doug, thank you for all that you have taught me! Lois, you have shown me what it means to have a servants heart. You do so much for everyone else and your willingness to make delicious meals, take Julia and I to amazing concerts, and to open up your house for various events, have meant so much to me. You will always be a person I know I can come to for anything. Doug, you have this way of making everything a lesson to be learned. I really appreciate how you make me think and defend what I believe, this is a skill that will be very helpful when I'm on my own.
The Riegert Family, oh how lucky I am to have been "adopted" into the family! :) Faye, each day you remind me what it means to be thankful for what God has given us. I love that you have this ability to make even the smallest thing into something special. You teach me that love can go much farther then material things and is much more important. Pat, you show me what it means to have a passion for gifts given by God. Hearing you pray with the boys before they go to sleep makes me so happy and shows me the importance of a father being the spiritual leader. (and your hugs are the best!)
Hovestol Family, thank you ALL for the simple things. I will always cherish the times where we would just sit around talking and enjoying each others company. Dan, you are such an amazing father and you're love for your kids is such a gift to me. You show me what it looks like to be consistent in everything. Gwenn, thank you for always being here to listen, to give your wisdom, and for always keeping me in your prayers. I love that you are honest and don't always have all the answers. It's such an encouragement to see how humble and real you are with me.
And how could I forget my family out on the farm? :P Norman Family, I have truly enjoyed every moment I've spent in your home. You show me the importance of working hard and appreciating everything. Julie, you are always thinking of your daughters and it's inspiring to see how you desire to help with anything you can. Steve, I love how you go out of your way to help and serve others. I feel so lucky to get to see the way you provide for your family and you are a great example of what a gentleman should be! :)
Johnson Family, you guys have a way of making anyone who comes into your home feel as though they are apart of the family. Jerry, you have been such a spiritual encouragement to me and I am thankful for the ways in which you have taught me as my youth pastor, my friend, and one of my father figures. Your advice will also be treasured and I know that I can always come to you for guidance. Debbie, thank you for all the deep questions you've challenged me with over the years. You're way of directing your daughters with a calm, wise, and loving voice has been incredible to watch and I hope to learn how to do this when I become a mother.
WOW! Am I blessed or what!?!?!?! Six families who have all been and will be important sources of wisdom, love, and encouragement to me. This is what makes me step back and realize that no matter where I go in life or what I do, I will always have a home. My home is not a building or a location, but rather it is in the hearts of thoses I will always call family.