Some fun times with some old friends!

When I was in the 5th grade, our family agreed to have a young college girl stay with us for a few days until the dorm opened up. She had been on a mission trip for the summer with ACU (ACC then) and they had returned to Abilene a few days before the dorms were opened for the Fall semester. She was from California. Her name was Linda Smith. I was delighted. I didn't have a sister, but had always wanted one. I got to share my bedroom with her. (Oh boy, looking back on that now, I bet she was really thrilled!) That was a life changing decision on my Mom's part. Linda stole our hearts. She became one of us. She would come spend the weekend with us, holidays, anytime she needed a break from the dorm, etc. On occasion, when she worked in the dorm as a "monitor" she would take me up to spend the night with her in her room! Oh my, for a elementary girl, I was hot stuff! For the next few years we not only fell in love with her but she became of our family. When she started dating Ronnie, they would come hang out at the house. We watched them date, fall in love and later helped plan their wedding. After they married, they lived in a small apartment near ACU. They were both busy with school but we still stayed close. She hired me to clean their apartment. I kid her to this day about my pay. I got 50 cents for cleaning her apartment. Times were different then, but still, I think that was child labor at it's best!! The really sad thing, I loved it! I could hardly wait to hang out with her on Saturday...even if it did mean cleaning! After graduation, they moved to Big Springs where Ronnie began preaching. That is where the first son was born. Then they moved back to Abilene to work at Woodlawn and during that time they had their second son, Jeff. They were in Abilene a few years before they made the decision to move to Iowa, where at the time the church was very weak and needed lots of help! So, they took a job with a congregation and moved far away! Larry and I married a year or so later, and Ronnie married us and Linda was my Matron of Honor. We went to see them in Iowa and stayed close though many miles separated us. They had their third child, Shelli, and my mom and I drove to Iowa to spend some time with them after her birth. This was a priceless time for Mom and I. We had so much fun talking as we drove the many miles and had fun stopping along the way and seeing many beautiful things as we drove. It was so fun to be with Linda and her new little girl. A couple of years later, Larry and I gave birth to Zach. Linda and Ronnie moved to Houston with several other couples to start the Impact Church of Christ. I had Ashley and they adopted Shanna. Linda was like another daughter to my mother. They were very close. Our families have always had a very special connection. We have been there through the good times and the bad. Ronnie, Linda and most of their kids came to stand beside us as Mom was in her final hours. Ronnie had been asked by Mom many years before to lead her Memorial service. He is who we all desired. He knew her well and loved her deeply. I know Ronnie, Linda and their whole family felt the same pain as we were feeling. Their kids were Nanny and Pa's first "grands" and really gave them the names my kids would later call them. It has always been a God-sent relationship. Three of the four of their kids came to ACU. It was a special time for my Mom to "spoil" them. Our relationship is still one that I deeply cherish. When my mom was very ill, the two things she was holding out as her "goals" to attend were Shelli and Jerry's wedding in June and Zach and Meg's wedding in July. She didn't make it, or at least she wasn't on earth anymore. We like to think she had the best seat in the house at both of those weddings! We have remained close...they really are just an extension of our family. God has a way of blessing us in that way doesn't he?

This past week, Linda, Shelli and her two children drove to Ashley's and I came from Abilene, where we had two and 1/2 days of playing, talking, eating, shopping and getting to love of these sweet kiddos! Shelli's has two PRECIOUS little ones...so well behaved and so sweet with Emma. Emma really loved them!! One thing that I really loved, was hearing Shelli and Ashley talk. They enjoyed each other so much and it was so dear to hear them just visiting about "life". I loved seeing that Ashley and Shelli enjoyed visiting as young mothers...just like Linda and I did 30 years ago!

I love this family. They have been a part of my life since I as about 10 or 11. I think back on the first time we had her in our home...little did I know that God was giving me a sister!
Thank you Ashley for hosting the "party"!!! I hope we can make that an annual thing. These friendships are priceless!
Here are a few pictures of our fun!
Cade and Emma playing. Cade was so sweet and patient with her, he kept telling Ashley "I wuv your baby!" Oh how precious!

Linda and I...I have a great one of the two of us MANY years ago, but still the scanner won't scan my pictures. Sorry.

Shelli and her sweet little Paityn

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