I kept a notebook last fall and winter.
Every text, card, gift, meal, word, or message I received, all in a pink paisley notebook. I kept it because I write everything down. I kept it because it helped on nights when I couldn’t sleep and I was overwhelmed with sadness. I kept it because I didn’t want to forget the kindness. I kept it because I wanted to learn how to do what these people were so good at doing for me.
I kept it so one day I could say thank you.
‘One day’ came last weekend.
Going through the small pink notebook for the first time since the spring felt cathartic. Already my memories were fuzzy of who did what and how often people showed up at just the right moment to love us in a season of pain and transition.
It was a rag-tag group of people keeping us alive last year. People who love Jesus. People who decidedly do not love Jesus. People who fed us. People who texted me inappropriate memes religiously. People who prayed for us. People who said all the curse words for us. People who cried with us. People who helped buy us groceries. People who loved on our kids. People who said nothing but gave really good hugs.
I was reminded again and again as I turned the pages of the notebook that God can use people–all people–whether they are fans of Him or not. He is present and active in all our lives, and we just need the eyes to see it.
The beginning of my thank-you to these people was a cookout last weekend at our house. Once it was all said and done, over 100 people were on the list, over 100 people had shown up for us when we were too tired to show up for ourselves. It was overwhelming to realize.
But I wanted to feed them all.
I don’t know the words to express my gratitude, but I do know how to buy food for lots of people and make batches and batches of chocolate chip cookies.
So I started there.
And the people came.
Even with sports and weddings and traveling, our favorite people trekked to the country to jump on a trampoline, slide down an inflatable, stand around a bonfire, play cornhole, throw the football, roast smores, and eat hot dogs covered in mustard and jalapenos.
We celebrated the one-year anniversary of Chris’ sobriety. We celebrated the goodness of a God who sends His people to love on others. We laughed and joked. We cried a little. We talked about the past year, and we filled people in on what’s ahead. We said ‘I love you’ with our eyes, our hearts, and our embraces. We hugged babies and said ‘thank you’ with extra helpings of chips and salsa.
I don’t know if the words exist to adequately express our gratitude, but we tried with bottles of soda and Goldfish crackers.
The most overwhelming part is that invite list just included local people; it didn’t even touch on the people from other places, other parts of the country, other parts of the world who held us up. We were loved by people from every corner as we tried to heal our marriage and each other.
And so this post, this thank you, is for you too.
If you sent me an email, an anonymous card, a message on Instagram–I thought of you last weekend too. I am grateful and humbled by the people who love and support our family. We would not still be here if it weren’t for all of you.
I’ve learned a lot in the past seventeen months. I’ve learned a lot about families and staying silent and loving others well and friendship and encouragement and what I will allow and what I won’t. These past months have shifted and shaped me in profound ways.
I can no longer keep quiet when kids are being hurt by a parent’s actions or inaction.
I will not accept lies to keep people’s secrets.
I can share what I have with those who are hurting because it’s not mine to begin with.
Once you’ve broken, you can see the other broken people easier.
When we stop blaming others, the real work begins.
God is good even if.
The rebuilding never looks like you think it will.
Sobriety is fragile, and who I let into our lives matters just as much as who Chris does.
One moment at a time is all you should focus on.
You can laugh and cry, break and mend all at the same time.
I’ve learned lessons a million ways recently, but some of them have come from my people on the internet and some have come from my people in the trenches.
So thank you for teaching me things, things I needed to survive.
We’re still here, and it’s thanks to all of you.
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