This week has been a big one for my heart.
Anna would be starting the 4th grade, her last year at Dilley Elementary School. Abigail would be starting her first year of high school, something she couldn’t wait for even at the age of 11. I miss them so much.
This week we also sold our townhouse, the place Anna and I lived before we met Tom. This was our first home together and the memories from those first 4 years, just the two of us, will aways hold a very special spot in my heart. In this space I became a mom, Anna said her first words and it’s where she learned to walk. We played, laughed and cried together in “our” home and every moment there with her will be cherished forever.
I wasn’t sure if I would ever be able to let the townhouse go, there are too many memories and the thought of it hurt so much. Then, about 4 months ago, God intervened.
Let me start at the beginning.
My story starts in 1998. As I look back now, when I first met Eric and Kimi I had no idea the impact they would have on my life. I had just moved to Oregon from Ohio and I mentioned to Kimi, a co-worker, that I was looking for a house in Forest Grove. Kimi made a few phone calls and a few weeks later I found myself moving into the perfect little house in town with a beautiful garden space and a claw foot tub…both what I really wanted.
Over the next couple of years I became close with Kimi’s family, her husband Eric and their 4 daughters. I would spend time with them and often felt very grateful for the connection we had, especially being so far from my own family. My “soul dog,” Sampson, was the son of their dog Moab ~ this sealing the deal that we were family.
In October of 1999, in a Wendy’s restaurant in a neighboring town, the Schmitt family and I sat after church talking about life. Eric, being a pastor of the church I was now attending, posed a question that forever changed me, “do you believe with all your heart?”
Up until that moment, if you were to ask, I wouldn’t have known what I believed. I grew up Catholic so I knew a lot of prayers but really never knew what I was praying about. I started attending a Christian church shortly after arriving in Oregon and, after a few weeks, started to realize that although I believed in God I definitely did not have a relationship with Him ~He did not have my heart fully.
That night in Wendy’s with the Schmitt family was the beginning of a beautiful relationship with God. He had been pursuing me since the day I was born and I finally, after 26 years, stopped avoiding Him and said yes, I do believe with all my heart. That moment my life changed forever and my relationship with God became and will forever be the most important relationship in my life. It is only through Him that I can stand each morning and face another day without my girls.
Throughout the next couple of years I watched the Schmitt girls grow up and I remained close to Kimi and Eric. They were not only dear friends but role models for me, always willing to listen and provide me with spiritual guidance. I didn’t always like their advice, like when I introduced Eric to my long-haired, hippy, fire walking, pagan boyfriend and he asked, “but does he believe in God?” Needless to say they witnessed, without judgement (at least outward judgement), as I dated all the wrong guys and then finally met the right one, Tom. I couldn’t wait to introduce them to Tom ~ they loved him and still do.
On July 26, 2011 Eric stood in front of our friends and family and married Tom and I. We couldn’t have imagined it any other way, Eric knew my journey to this moment and having him officiate the union of our families, under God, was perfect. The day was filled with love and joy.
Anna and Abigail also loved the Schmitt family. I can still hear Abigail get excited when Pastor Eric was at church to deliver a sermon. I distantly remember one sermon that really spoke to her and gave her the words to speak Truth when someone close to her was commenting on how God hated certain types of people because of their sin. She shared with us how, after listening to Pastor Eric preach on God’s love for everyone, that she had the words to stand up to this person and let them know that God is love, not hate…no matter what. We taught our girls that we are a family who believes and shows love, just like God. Eric preached to her heart and we were proud that she got it.
The Schmitt girls, Hadley, Mackenzie, Anne, and Taylor, grew to be amazing women ~ each choosing their own path and making their own mark on the world. Watching Eric and Kimi parent their daughters in a loving, caring and fun home became our example. Tom and I look to both of them as role models, providing a strong Godly foundation but allowing for their girls to truly become the women God wants them to be. Sitting amongst their family during a recent holiday Tom and I both left feeling like we wanted to be officially adopted by them ~ the entire family, new husbands/boyfriends and all.
On the night of Oct. 20th Eric and Kimi were there almost immediately. They stood by me, watching in disbelief, the horror that was now my life. They prayed for us, our marriage and for our peace ~ they begged God to wrap His arms tightly around our hearts and, of course, he answered those prayers. Since that night they have provided us with a friendship that goes beyond words. We have found that a lot of our friendships have changed with our circumstances, our relationship with Kimi and Eric has only gotten stronger.
When our life is too much for us to handle, Tom and I often look at each other and then will call them. To have friends who love you through the hard is beyond words for me. Knowing that, no matter what, they will be there with Truth and love is extremely comforting.
On Oct. 26th Eric spoke at Anna and Abigail’s memorial, sharing God’s love for my girls with the hundreds of people who attended. His words were perfect and he reflected on our girls with such love and admiration. I have no doubt that Anna and Abigail were proud of him and cheering him on from Heaven.
There really is no end to the stories I can tell of how Eric and Kimi have impacted our lives and how I truly appreciate their friendship. There are people to whom you do life with and then there are people whom you would never want to do life without ~ I’m not sure where I would be without them.
Now to God’s intervening.
Earlier this summer, while Eric was sharing with me that they were planning on selling their home and moving to a neighboring town, I, without really thinking about it, suggested they should buy our townhouse. He, without hesitation, agreed.
It truly was as simple as that ~ we had come full circle. Eighteen years ago Kimi found the perfect house for me and know I was doing the same for them.
The next few months we talked about specifics, our renter was able to find a new place within days of us sharing our plan and all the pieces fell right into place.
Through this process I have come to realize that what is important are the memories that Anna and I share with one another and that we were so blessed to have our home together. Now, it’s time for someone else to have memories there, I’m just so grateful that it’s Eric and Kimi. I love that I can take Alice over for dinner and show her the place that Anna and I lived.
Kimi asked if it was ok if they put a plaque outside the door that said, “Anna’s House.” Of course I said yes.
I am true believer that God puts people into your life for all the right reasons and with perfect timing. Since the girls went to Heaven we have noticed this more than ever, appreciating all of God’s messengers. Eric and Kimi have been there for me, and now we, through it all. I’m sure that has been God’s plan from the beginning.
Thank you Eric and Kimi for your friendship, love and guidance. We love doing life with you!
Alice thinks your pretty fantastic too!