More than seven years ago, Carleigh called me one evening and asked me if I wanted to live with her and Gary, and their little one, Charlee.
I said yes.
It was an easy answer; I needed a place to live, they needed a boarder. I was 25. I honestly thought it would last for a year or two and then I would *ahem* get married, or move to Costa Rica.
And then it seemed like I blinked.
And seven years had passed.
And I am neither married, nor in Costa Rica.
(My first pic with Charlee prior to me moving in with Carleigh and Gary)
(First pic with Bodhi - still at the hospital)
(First pic with Jane - also still at the hospital!)
These years have been full of incredible moments, both heart-lifting and heart-breaking. They have been full of conversation, family dinners, babies home from the hospital, stories enough to fill a blog (or two), joy & grief, conflict & restoration, many many kitchen conversations that have included both laughter and tears...and I could go on.
So five months ago, when we found out Carleigh and Gary were expecting twins (and there was no more room in the inn), we had the conversation. It was going to be time to transition. And it was a hard fact for me to face; I knew this current situation wouldn't last forever, but this was the place where I learned what it took for a family to become a family. As an only child, I got to see what it looked like for siblings to grow up together, and for parents to raise them. Coming from a small family myself, I started to gain "new family" through their extended family. I personally learned what it meant when the Psalmist wrote that God sets the lonely in family. I learned a heck of a lot.
I came home from our supper together, and I started googling new homes. (Side note: When you are emotional, never ever google.) All I could see were condos and apartments that looked incredibly lonely, or offers for a roommate (for a college student who was 20). I shut my laptop and decided I shouldn't have googled. And so I prayed.
The next morning, I was brushing my teeth, and instantly thought of a friend who I wanted to debrief my new phase of life with. She and I had done our masters' degrees together; she was a huge supporter of me, a logical woman, and I knew she'd be able to help me process what I should do next.
But then, something funny happened (and I was still brushing my teeth); I remembered that she and her husband would be moving to Abbotsford this summer, and it dawned on me: maybe they were looking for a renter?
It is totally my strength, and my weakness, to plan.
And so, with this newfound thought, I stopped planning.
And I let it sit.
I knew this situation needed me to take my hands off, and let God guide me.
Four days later, as I got ready for work, I sensed God was urging me: "Email them tonight!"
After a couple of weeks, and a visit with my friends, the plan was in place: I would have a new home, in their new home. I could hardly believe it (in fact, I am tearing up as I write this), that God would guide my steps like that.
As we talked through what it could look like, I sensed a space opening up in my life for something new and unknown. In my new home, I will continue to enjoy the privilege of friends living together (i.e. grocery shopping dates, potluck style suppers every once in a while, and their freedom to go out in the evening while I watch the monitor)... and I will have space for my family to come for dinner (twins included!) and for the kids to sleepover. (And did I mention it's a 2 minute drive from my current place?).
It is the best of both worlds.
A continuation of the good, of the friendships that have been built; a new deepening.
I will also have space to host others.
Family, friends, students, and yet-to-be-discovered others.
And that, honestly, makes my heart swell.
I believe God gave me a home with Carleigh and Gary (and their kids) all those years ago, because He knew I needed them and needed to learn so much through them, and from that place, I am able to now continue forward, with their love and support, into a new chapter.
And as Bodhi (all 6 years old of him) said to me tonight, "so, like, I can call you and you can come over and have talks with me...right?" When I assured him yes, he asked me to write down my number. I have a feeling I'll be getting a few calls.
I moved in with friends.
And as I pack, I am thankful that they became my family.