what makes a family? (soLs)
I’ve learned a lot about Norway in the past week or so. Like the rest of the world, I watched the news unfold about the attacks in Oslo. The images scrolled by on the television and the computer. They looked surreal. Even more strange was the chat box opened at the bottom of the computer screen with strings of letters forming words I’ve never seen. It was a conversation in Norwegian. I watched the news unfold over the shoulder of a Norwegian who lives 25 minutes from Oslo. Well, she lived 25 minutes from Oslo until 12 days ago. Currently she lives with us.
Karianne is our exchange student.
We are learning about Norway, but more importantly we are learning about family. I’m not surprised by this. It was through hosting our first exchange student that we learned families can be built in a myriad of ways, leading us to our decision to adopt an infant.
After our adoption, Andy served on a mission trip to Peru, South America. He returned with a desire to care for orphans around the world. Soon we were led to adopt our daughters, who were two children without a home. It wasn’t something we planned on doing. It wasn’t something we dreamed of doing. Though when faced with the decision it was obvious that this was how our family was going to be created.
Last April, when Andy first mentioned hosting an exchange student, my first response was, “Are you living in the same house I’m living in?” He smiled at my joke, but insisted he was serious. I agreed to pray about it.
I felt the same gentle nudge that I did when faced with the decision to adopt our daughters. Even though it didn’t fit in with the plans I’ve been making for my life, it was clear that an exchange student was to be part of our family this year. So we said yes and began getting to know Karianne and her family through emails, blog posts, and Skype.
She arrived on July 20. Already I realize this is going to be a very good thing, because family is a very good thing. Just like our daughters, when I think about how close I was to saying no, my heart speeds up and my fingers get tingly because I realize how close I came to missing the family made for me.
I’m learning to appreciate the plans I don’t make. I’m learning to be thankful for stepping through the doors which open unexpectedly. And I’m learning family is about loving, investing, and caring about one another instead of bloodlines.