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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Tie (02/28/13)

TITLE: We can Choose our Friends...
By Noel Mitaxa


A photo from 1980 enjoys top billing on our refrigerator. It shows us with friends Daryl and Lyndell, and our combined total of four little kids, around a barbecue at a clearing in the serenity of a national park.

Seated on the ground, the kids are demolishing cremated sausages wrapped in bread. A cardboard soap-packs carton is crowning the levelled stump of a thick tree. No napkins, cutlery or Tupperware are to be seen, and smoke from the fire has temporarily cancelled its ‘search and destroy’ mission on everyone’s eyesight!

The photo is anchored by a magnet they sent us, with a warm, simple message: “Friends are the family we choose for ourselves.” A twist on the old adage: “You can choose your friends, but you’re stuck with family!”

Reflecting one of our better mistakes, it also reflects an amazing twist.

But more of that later...

Since that photo was taken there have been some changes …

The earth’s crust is not as soft and warm as it was back then (a fact I’ve included for younger readers’ benefit.)

Photos are no longer sentenced to waiting on rolls of film to be completed and sent away to be developed, then returned three weeks later replete with blanks and other snaps that nobody remembers.

The two young couples’ heads are less hidden under thick dark, curly stuff.

Four little kids have become eight, and added six and a half of their own little kids.

Retirements have arrived.

Yes, it was a good mistake; against the prevailing wisdom that pastors should not make friends with church members.

It could lead to favouritism...

We should treat all members equally…

How could we maintain our leadership if people got to know us too well?

But are isolation and self-sufficiency mandated for pastors and their families? This rhetorical question surfaces only to address that vexed question: “How do pastors’ kids get to be the way they are?” Answer: “By playing with other people’s kids.”

We began our first ministry with only one child in tow, matching Daryl and Lyndell, who arrived in town the same week we did. He was a school teacher and guitarist, and she later proved to be brilliant at administration. Some months later we clicked as a creative, intuitive team; shaping an informal service that we held before our more traditional worship, designed for young families whose kids might otherwise be too noisy or energetic.

Daryl and Lyndell often invaded our family mealtimes, adding to the food and the fun, and naturally we avenged their raids.

Along with shared holidays and picnics, Daryl and I played baseball together and worked on household projects, while Judy and Lyndell spun wool, knitted clothes and handcrafts and built their recipe arsenals together.

Thirty six years of friendship have encompassed several moves, family and financial stresses and successes. We have laughed and cried and prayed out a path along the way. Our kids have always reconnected with nothing to prove, since they all know their roots. And now they enjoy combined holidays and get-togethers without needing any ancestral involvement or permission.

Yes, you can choose your friends.

But three months ago Lyndell phoned me. Amazement and excitement were vying for top place in her tone.

“You’ve never met my cousin Carolyn,” she told me, “but she is a family-tree freak, and she saw your surname on my Facebook page. She’s checked back and found that our grandmother had an older cousin called Hannah Maria Perkins!”

Celebrity sleuths and paparazzi may have slept on, undisturbed by such a breath-taking scoop, but my eyes were wide open.

For in the 1870s, sixteen-year-old Hannah sailed with her family from England to the fabulous wealth of Australia’s goldfields. It was there that she married Gerasmo, a Greek immigrant almost twice her age.

This same Gerasmo was my great grandfather!

We chose these close friends thirty-six years ago. We’re now happily tied to them as family, and our kids have been blown away to discover that for their whole lives their closest friends have been fifth cousins!

Author’s note: This story is totally true.

The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.
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This article has been read 475 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Loren T. Lowery03/07/13
Aside from this being so well told it is an absolutely absorbing story. What is the saying - blood always tells? In this case its proven. Family crying out to family to be reunited after centuries of separation. That initial union must have been ordained. What an amazing biography of one of life's mysteries.
Linda Goergen03/07/13
Yes indeed, an amazing story of “ties” even deeper than you guessed with this other family! I got a good chuckle too, from reading the “changes since that photo was taken.” A fun surprise at the end of a very entertaining read, that doubly fits the challenge word, adds up to a job extremely well done!
Danielle King 03/08/13
Rolls of film and Tupperware. I remember those Tupperware parties well. It was the only entertainment we mums we got back then. This is an entertaining and mind-boggling read. What an amazing discovery you made. (So facebook's not all bad.) You never know, Hannah
from England might be one of my ancestral clan. We had a lot of Hannas. This,as always is impeccably written, on topic and interesting. I think it will please the judges too.
C D Swanson 03/08/13
This was quite an entertaining read. This descriptive piece along attached with a message was priceless in itself, and to know it is a true made it that more special.

Thanks for sharing! Excellent piece of writing.

God bless~
C D Swanson 03/08/13
CORRECTION: Having my mini Schnauzer on my lap as I type, is difficult.

Should have read:

This was quite an entertaining read. This descriptive piece,along with a message was priceless in itself, and to know it is a true account made it that more special. Loved it!

Thanks for sharing!

Excellent piece of writing.

God bless~
Cheryl Harrison03/08/13
This is priceless! The ending caught me by surprise. I enjoyed it very much. Thanks for sharing your story. It blessed my heart.
Ellen Carr 03/09/13
This is heart-warming story of enduring friendship which was chosen not foisted on you by being related, even though you did turn out to be related. A well-written, engaging read.
Virgil Youngblood 03/09/13
What a delightful walk with you down memory lane. Our church's motto, "Where friends become family," needs an asterisk to include what you have described so well: where families become friends. True friends are forever, rain or shine, and balm to your soul.
Allen Povenmire 03/09/13
Neat story. It's so important that pastors have friendships, and over the years, some of my closest friends have been men in the ministry. Good story, with a delightful twist ending.
Allison Egley 03/09/13
OH wow. How cool. And even better that it's a true story! Small world, huh? I loved this.
Beth LaBuff 03/09/13
What an astoundingly amazing story. Your descriptive phrases, your humor, and the way you told it were par excellence. :) Your "invaded meal times" and your "avenged their raids" along with the "recipe arsenals" were favorites phrases, and the "prayed out a path along the way" tops the list. I love the way you've incorporated the "friends and family" theme. Super work!
Alicia Renkema03/10/13
Like the old saying, "Truth is often stranger than fiction." Boy, did that turn out to be the case here. There is this one family that I have known since birth that my dad's job always seemed to take him where every they ended up moving next. One of the daughter's in the family actually took me to the Bible study where I ended up getting saved. My dad graduated from Annapolis and their's from West Point. Our father's actually went into business together a few years before my dad died Now, this story, told with so much warmth and richness makes me want to do some research of my own.God is so good, there are certain things that definitely are ordained from the beginning of time. What a lovely tribute you have written for your friends, as well as for us to share in the delight.
Judith Gayle Smith03/12/13
I choose you to be my friend . . .
Myrna Noyes03/12/13
I love researching my family history and writing about it, so your story ending was especially satisfying to me! :) How wonderful and amazing that God knit you together as close friends before you found out you were also connected as family! What a heart-warming account!
Bea Edwards 03/12/13
Just simply, a great true story from your life. Thanks for sharing your family with us!
Alicia Renkema03/16/13
Hey congrats on coming in number 13 over all, pretty snazzy. I know you placed in the top half for your level too, but can't remember exactly what number. Way to write on the family history and God's sweet miracle in the end. Your special friends definitely should have a framed copy of this one!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 03/17/13
Congratulations on placing 11 in level four and ranking 13 overall!