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Sunday, March 16, 2014

About 12ish years ago, we started "skipping church" on Sunday nights in favor of spending the afternoon/evening with two of our favorite families.  The "Baptist" part of us felt maybe a tiny bit guilty for doing so, but since none of us are particularly motivated by guilt, we were fine with it ;-)
Little did we know that we had formed what we now call "the original small group".  We have lived, loved, laughed, and cried our Sunday afternoons away together.  Yesterday afternoon, the first of our children got married.  Y'all, this is a big deal.  We have 12 children between the 3 families...this was our first wedding!
I am not sure where I would be if God had not put these families in our life.  I remember lots of nights after we spent time at "the Mangum" riding 4 wheelers, or boating on the river, or just hanging outside in the shade or sun while the children played...

Dads in charge of 4wheelers

and daughters

Dads and Sons and Jeeps and guns

Moms during the "summer of painting"

when one of us said "YES, we CAN paint every available surface of this house, no problem!"
We would load up and head to one of our houses to cook up something for supper and sit around the table talking about how good or bad life was at the moment,  how rich or poor we were at the moment, how happy or sad we were at the moment, how fulfilled or unfulfilled we felt at the moment, how nice or mean we felt at the moment, how much we loved or hated our current jobs, how much we loved or didn't love so much the current President, Pitcher, Preacher, or Pediatrician.  We listened to and gave opinions on disciplining our children, loving our siblings, and honoring our parents.  We talked about the difference between "being a good Christian", which in the South sometimes just means showing up at church regularly, and having a real relationship with God and how that looks different (from the outside) in each of us.  We agreed, we disagreed, we agreed to disagree, and we grew together through all of it.  We lived beside each other through heartaches and tragedies, family estrangements, financial disasters, and real marriage troubles.  We talked and prayed each other through it with statements like "There will be no divorce!" and "This is no surprise to God, He knows what He's doing." ,"How can we help?", and "This is when we keep turning TO God and not AWAY from Him".

I am honored and humbled to have friends like these.  Friends who know all about me and still choose to love me.  How do people live without these kinds of friends?  I am glad I don't know the answer to that question.

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