Yesterday was my parents’ 24th wedding anniversary (and also my mom’s 25th birthday, crazy how that works out huh?).

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Despite what anyone else says about their parents, my parents are  the best. I couldn’t have picked a better set of parents for myself (so it’s a good thing I didn’t have to).

My parents are awesome for a lot of reasons.   Throughout my growing up my parents have done things that don’t exactly line up with what the world says is normal.  In honor of their anniversary  here are some of my favorite ways that my parents have insisted on taking that road less traveled. 

Stepping away from the comfortable

My dad has been a pastor for twenty-three years.  Five years ago my parents (and my siblings and I) and a group of congregants planted a church. We left the church my dad had been pastoring at for 18 years.  The church that had it’s own building with chairs that stayed set-up and were full of people every week, where you only had to teach Sunday School every couple of months because you were on a rotation and the worship teams alternated. We moved to a school gymnasium, where a trailer pulled up every week containing the things our church required, and the numbers dwindled (as did my dad’s paycheck). Last month the church closed its doors. Some people might even say that my parents made the wrong choice, they would be wrong. We (my siblings and I) learned how to serve, that every chair we set up was important, ever tray we put on the tables, every lollipop we handed out to the sunday school kids.  More than that though, my parents also provided us with a tight-knit church family that hasn’t gone away.  For five years the church blessed people and changed people, myself included.

The incredible growing family (and growing, and growing…)

I have six younger siblings, which is kind of a lot. In fact seven kids is roughly 3.5 times the estimated average number of children born per woman in the U.S. this year. When people hear this they tend to think my parents are Catholic, Mormon, or crazy (I know they’re not the first two, I’m still on the fence about the last one).  To add to the crazy, my two youngest siblings were adopted from Ethiopia, which was kind of a crazy thing all on its own.  Being in a family of nine means several things:

We’re really, unbelievably loud.

We don’t all fit in one car.

We don’t go on family vacations very often.

I haven’t had my own room since I was two and a half.

But none of that really matters.  I’m so glad my parents decided not to stop after the average 2.6 children. My siblings can be infuriating, irritating, and loud. But they are some of my favorite people in the world, they’re all so different and weird and I would do anything for them.  And I think I’ve learned that people matter more than things, due in part to all those siblings.

You have brains in your head.  You have feet in your shoes.  You can steer yourself any direction you choose…

I am a Creative Writing major. This is not exactly a practical career choice. But my parents never told me that I have to be an accountant (that many numbers make me physically sick), or a doctor (although my handwriting is messy enough), or a nutritionist (I enjoy chocolate far too much). They allowed me to decide what I wanted to do without guilt. They have always encouraged me to do what I was good at, and what I enjoyed doing (while also encouraging me to keep my technical writing job that makes actual money for the time being).  I have watched other people’s parents try to tell them what they should be doing with their lives (it doesn’t usually work). My folks have never done that and I’m very, very grateful.

Happy anniversary mom and dad, I appreciate your senses of humor, godliness, encouragement, kindness, goofiness, musicality, and all of the time you spend with us.

Love you the most.

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