Yep, family. My extended family is closer than most, if you weren't aware. I've been home for a month and a half, and during that time, the number of days where I have not seen a cousin/grandparent/aunt/uncle is significantly less than the number of days where I have. We see each other multiple times a week, guaranteed. Some weeks (like this one), we see each other every single day.
I've always known my family was awesome, but a couple of new chapters in my life have exposed me to just how awesome they really are.
Example #1: They have welcomed Zach into the family unlike anything I ever imagined. Like, they've gone above and beyond with regards to welcoming him, letting him know how excited they are, sending him the most heartfelt messages, etc... both my family-family and my church-family! It amazes me; our entire relationship has been long distance, so it's not like my family has gotten to spend an abundant amount of time with Zach over the years. But it doesn't matter. Their acceptance and kind-heartedness makes me so proud to be a part of this family, and I love them all the more for loving the man that I love.
Zach and my cousin Reese
I came to these conclusions a couple of weeks ago when Zach and I were in the car together. Out of nowhere (like, serious nowhere), he said:
"I'm really glad you ended up with the job in Raleigh and not the one in Lynchburg (central Virginia)."
It's a good thing I wasn't driving, because I probably would have slammed on my brakes in the middle of the highway after hearing those words come out of his mouth. On the metropolitan scale, Zach is like... a 0.05. Granted, I grew up with cows in the barn across from my house and "horse crossing" signs on my road. I drove a tractor before I ever drove a car (I may have almost killed both of my sisters in the process, but that's a different story). At the same time, however, I'm the kid who dreamed of moving to New York City to become a magazine layout designer with a loft apartment on 6th Avenue. I'd still say that I'm a Southern country girl, but I've got a little dose of city girl in me as well ;)
Zach, on the other hand, is 99% Southern country boy (the remaining 1% is attributed to the fact that fiancé loves him some sushi). I know he was so excited when I was interviewing for the job in Lynchburg -- we both were. We would be an hour from camp, an hour from Smith Mountain Lake, and less than an hour away from Panther Falls & the Appalachian Trail. But along came the job in Raleigh. I couldn't be more thrilled for the opportunity and the work I will be doing, and I knew when I accepted the job that Zach would support me no matter what. But to hear him say that he was glad I ended up in Raleigh and not Lynchburg?
"Why on earth would you say that??"
His response was so simple:
"Because we'll be closer to your family."
my cousin Robert's 8th grade graduation
meeting the newest member of the family: my cousin's daughter, Brynlee
a trip to the local science museum with cousins from Florida
Father's Day on my dad's side of the family
Needless to say, Zach's reasoning for wanting to live in Raleigh over Lynchburg absolutely melted my heart. I love my family. I love that Zach is about to become an official part of my family. And I love that my family has welcomed him beyond my wildest expectations and consider him to be family already. Such a blessing :)
And if that wasn't enough to show how wonderful my family is...
Example #2: My family is so proud of me for getting a full-time job and my own place. Don't get me wrong: they're gonna be sad to see me go & I will be sad to leave. But just because they would love for me to remain in Winston doesn't mean that they aren't supporting me every step of the way.
My Mawmaw & Papa took me out shopping for flatware yesterday, followed by lunch for just the three of us :)
no more plastic forks & spoons!
I then came home from signing the contract on the wedding venue (don't you wish it was Wedding Wednesday?) to find an array of "for your first place" goodies from my mom's cousin & her daughter.
And my ever-supporting parents took me shopping for a bedroom set: a bed, boxspring & mattress (because those apparently aren't included when you buy a bed), dresser with a mirror, and TWO nightstands (I get to use both of them for six months... then I apparently have to share with Zach).
Isn't it gorgeous?? (the bed, not the bedding)
I've always known that I was blessed with an exceptional family, but I can't even begin to explain how much more I appreciate them after the past month and a half. The way they have claimed Zach as one of their own and supported me as I begin to leave the nest for good --- wow. Their love is overwhelming, and I could not ask for anything more!
my mom's side of the family... we're up to 19 people, Zach included!