Relationships ❤️

The other day I was admiring the relationship between my husband & his best friend & it just got me thinking about relationships in general. There are all kinds. There are biological relationships with family that we don’t get to choose. Sometimes you hit the jackpot with those & sometimes you don’t & that’s just the truth:) There are lots of fairly natural relationships within your family like with siblings & cousins.

Other kinds of natural relationships include classmates from grade school & church. These are more natural because you live in the same town as these people so of course you end up at the same places. The relationships may turn out to be extraordinary but how they came about was not really anything out of the ordinary. Let me give you some examples.

Two of my best friends in this world came to me kind of naturally. One was my first cousin whom I naturally spent a lot of time with & adored. The second relationship was a girl from my small town. She lived down the street from my grandmother & we went to the same church. Each of these friendships have meant the world to me & have survived almost 40 years. Another best friend was also a cousin, we were born on the exact same day & were the first grandchildren to our respective grandparents. Her granddaddy & my granddaddy were brothers which naturally made our grandmothers sister in law’s but they were also best friends. Everybody needs a Jane & Rhody in their lives. Our grandparents were the grandest & we know how fortunate we were to have them. My twin cousin & I were spoiled rotten & we spent our entire childhoods together. Then, I joined her 9th grade class & we also graduated High School together. We have shared so much & it’s a special relationship. I have other relationships that are equally special that came about in high school, college, small groups, bible studies, etc.

Then there are other sweet friendships in my life that never would have been if I had not taken certain jobs or gone through the trials that God planned for me. Even in the valleys, He is there sending grace gifts & it is in the valley that we get to know His heart. I am convinced that God does His best work in the valleys because that is where His light can shine the brightest.

I mentioned my husband’s best friend in the opening sentence of this post. His best friend is named Ryan & they just met 5 years ago. It is rare to find your best friend in your thirties but it happens. Ryan is from a fabulous beach town in South Florida approximately 550 miles from our home in Georgia. Ryan is a city kid & Brad is a country boy. Ryan is 5’6, 170 pounds & Brad is 6’2, 220 pounds. My point in all this is that they are polar opposites to the naked eye. It was West Palm Beach meets McIntyre, Georgia ☺️ Don’t tell me God does not have a sense of humor:)

In 2013, these men not only became best friends but they became brothers as they both fought for their lives & their families. Their common thread was addiction & in God’s sovereignty it landed them in the same Recovery program at the same time. They give credit to God for placing them there at the same time because each is convinced they would not have made it through the program without the other. Ryan was one of our grace gifts that year & in the words of Uncle Eddie “it has been a gift that keeps on giving.” ☺️ Not only do we get to love Ryan but we have gotten to know his entire family & even though we don’t get to see them as often as we would like, (because of the 550 mile thing) our love for them runs deep. We got to be there a year ago when Ryan married his beautiful Amanda & it was like the height of God’s faithfulness. Brad stood by his buddy’s side as a groomsman & shared a sweet reading during the ceremony. Ryan’s parents, along with his sister & her family are some of our favorites in the world & then we got a bonus as we also got to know & love Amanda’s family last year!

I cannot forget to mention the star of the family, Ryan’s precious daughter, Addi. She is the crown jewel of it all & we loved her before we even knew her. She was born in 2013 while Ryan & Brad were in their program at NLB. Brad had earned visits by then & Ryan had not so I might have done some detective work & found pics of Ryan’s new baby girl on social media. I also might have printed them & snuck them to the boys at NLB. Promise that was the only rule I broke but Ryan just had to see that beautiful baby who looked just like him 😊

Because of Ryan’s hard work, regeneration, & God’s favor, a cordial relationship with Ryan’s former wife has been restored & thankfully Addi will never remember a life without her Daddy:) And the bonus Mom that Addi gained in Amanda is unbelievable. Like the VanSons seriously hit the jackpot with sweet Amanda.

I really don’t have words adequate enough to describe the relationship that Brad & Ry share. It’s one of those things that you just have to experience yourself. Brad, our kids & I love Ryan dearly & the entire relationship is a beautiful thing. If you ever see them together, you will note they are both very handsome, they will both make you laugh with their almost identical sense of humor, & you can tell who is who because one will be wearing shorts & slip on shoes & the other will be in jeans & boots. 😊

Just the other day, Brad & Ryan were saying that statistically speaking, after struggling for so long, neither of them should even be alive much less thriving the way they are today.

They are an unlikely pair who found themselves in the same situation & in the same boat searching for hope at a program in North Georgia. They found each other & more importantly, they found Jesus. They also found the tools to navigate this life well & I will be forever thankful for NLB as it was the vessel God used to save my little family. If you have followed me long or heard me speak, then you know I love to talk about how we serve a God of details & we can often see Him in the details of life. I can see God’s hand in so much of this relationship story but to take it to another level, Ryan & I share the same birthday. God was planning all this long before we knew it. 😉

Thank you Lord, for the gift of friendship & especially for the gift of Brad & Ryan. ❤️ We are not worthy of your lavish love but thanks for giving it anyway.

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