Family Is Spelled L-O-V-E
If you’ve read any of my blogs or guests blogs around cyber space, you know my husband and I don’t have children. Of our own.
But after twenty years in youth ministry, we have a few of OPK—Other People’s Kids.
We’re even Oma and Opa to five little cuties!
It’s not the same as being a bio or adoptive parent. Our “kids” have parents. And they love them!
Nevertheless, we have formed a special relationship with several young women who are like daughters to us.
This summer my husband walked one of them down the aisle.
At Christmas, our girl Carrie came. She is becoming a regular at holidays. She spent Christmas day with us and the day after with her mom and stepdad. At Thanksgiving, she was here for a few days with her sister, Cassie. Another one of our girls. This time they stayed with their mom and visited us at the end of their trip.
Part of our job as TOP—The Other Parents—is to roll with it. Be flexible.
At the end of the day, we are not really their parents.
We’ve no obligation to them. They’ve none to us. But we chose to be together simply because we love each other.
Last time Carrie called to say she was coming to town and asked to stay with us I said, “OK, that’s the last time you have to ask. Next time, just tell us you’re coming home.”
We love when she comes. The house is warmer and brighter. Same with Cassie. Well, with any of our kids!
Family is really what we make it to be. It doesn’t have to be biological. Or legal in any way. Just real. Loving. With open hearts and arms.
We met our girls when they were young teens so we’ve been involved in most of their lives. Watched them grown into mature, amazing, Jesus loving women. We’re proud of them.
They bring their friends “home” for vacation.
We have a son of the house too. We’re not far enough apart in age to really be his parents, but we were mentors. And now, at forty, he mentors us.
I call him son, brother, friend, and father.
And he’s black. But he’s every bit a part of us as if we shared the same melanin.
He calls. “We’re coming in town to visit [my wife’s] family. Can we stay with y’all?” (We’ve known his wife since she was a preteen.)
“Dude, you don’t have to ask. When do you arrive?”
Other sons live far away, and we don’t see them much. But when they are here? They are sons.
Sometimes we meet new people and we immediately know: “Ours!”
We met a young woman last October and adopted her. She was just here for a visit last weekend, and we loved her all the more.
“Too late now,” we said. “You’re our kid.”
She’s got siblings. A mom and dad. But now she has us too!
At the end of the day, I still don’t know who will take care of Hubster and me when we’re old. I mean, Yes, the Lord! He’s promised in His Word to take care of us in our gray hairs.
So, I don’t have children of my own but—
Oh hey, did I tell you about my nearly eight-year-old niece who Facetimes me just to talk?
Yeah, I’m blessed.
Family. It’s everywhere. Because family is anyone you fit in your heart.
Rachel Hauck is a best selling, award winning author. She serves on the Executive Board for American Christian Fiction Writers and leads worship for their annual conference. She was named ACFW 2013 Mentor of the Year.
She lives in Florida, where she is also a worship leader, with her husband and mini schnauzer. Her novel, The Wedding Dress, was named Romantic Times Inspirational Novel of the Year and is an Amazon #1 Best Seller. Her novel, Once Upon A Prince, earned starred reviews from Booklist and Publisher’s Weekly, and hit #1 on Amazon in Christian romance. Her next release, Princess Ever After, released February 4th. Visit Rachel at her website.
About Princess Ever After and a Giveaway
Regina Beswick was born to be a princess.
But she’s content to be a small-town girl, running a classic auto restoration shop, unaware a secret destiny awaits her. One that will leap from the pages of her grandmother’s hand-painted book of fairytales.
Tanner Burkhardt is the stoic Minister of Culture for the Grand Duchy of Hessenberg. When he is tasked to retrieve the long-lost princess, he must overcome his fear of failure in order to secure his nation’s future—and his own.
Yet lurking in the political shadows is a fierce opponent with sinister plans to abolish the throne forever.
Overwhelmed with opposition, Regina must decide if she’s destined to restore old cars or an ancient nation. Together—with a little divine intervention—Regina and Tanner discover the truth of her heritage and the healing power of true love. Purchase a copy here.
To celebrate the release of Princess Ever After, Rachel is holding a giveaway where you can enter to win a $200 Visa cash card! Details and entry forms are here. Rachel will announce the winner at her upcoming author chat party this Thursday, March 6! You can also enter to win a copy of Princess Ever After below. Only those in the U.S. are eligible to win.
Lane Hill House says
We had an adopted grandma and grandpa at church who loved us, advised us and were grandparents to our family. So important in our lives. Our children are grown, our adopted grandparents have passed, but forever live in my heart!
Kathleen ~ Lane Hill House
Rachel Hauck says
We had other parents in our lives too growing up. Adults who loved us. I think that’s really important to family and community!
There have been so many… But I think my best friend Carrie can hold that distinction. She’s put up with me over the years – and that’s saying a lot!
Elizabeth Towns says
I’ve had several non family members who’ve influenced my life. One big group is my Pope John XXIII family from primary through elementary school. They’ve influenced me so much that I now sit on the committee that brings them together every year to build on the legacy of the schools that no longer exist. Now, all of us kids who were saved because of what those teachers from a diocese that wanted to help did seek to help other children like us, and give scholarships and programs that matter back. We get our teachers together too, so we can remind them of what the did for us, and the family that they created for us.
I love this. Being a classroom volunteer when my daughter was little I developed a relationship with many children. They still come and hug me when we meet. I still love each one. You make your own family and biology has nothing to do with this. It’s all about love. I did not develop a close relationship with my son’s class and for that I am sorry.
Lucy Reynolds says
I would say my girlfriends from grade school. We laugh together, cry together, pray for each other. Love your books and enjoyed getting to know you better in the article.
Nicole Jarrell says
This was such a beautiful blog post! It’s so nice to be reminded that family extends far beyond blood and marriage. Thank you so much for sharing!
my best friend growing up, Darleta.
My best friend since grade school. She’s such an inspiraton! She’s a breast cancer survivor and never once complained during her treatment
Wen Dee says
My grandpa who raised me was not blood related (he was my mom’s step-dad), but the most important person in my life and made me who I am today. My hubby of almost 28 years is not blood related but stole my heart and soul. My two best male friends are not blood related, but I could not live without them. Most important is my Adopted Daughter, from Romania. She is my everything and I went half way around the world for her. I also have 4 nieces and 1 nephew who joined our large family through marriages and relationships. I guess the craziest one is my technically adopted sister and her family. We met while adopting our daughter from Romania and bonded instantly, we were sisters ever since.
Mary Johnson says
What a beautiful story!! My children have “parents” like you! They are friends of mine that have a daughter my son’s age. At one time, the two were dating (even engaged for a time). And that girl is my daughter’s best friend. Her father was the youth minister at our church, so he serves as my son’s mentor. The relationship is a bit broken now that the kids broke up, but my son still wants the advice of his mentor.
When I was 16, I went to Japan as an exchange student and came back a Christian. My parents were livid. I went from “golden child” to “black sheep” immediately. The youth pastor and his wife from the church I joined upon returning home made me a part of their family in every way that counts. They loved me, let me love their kids, and helped me grow in faith. I rarely see/hear from them these days (20 years later) as I live 3000 miles away and rarely get back there, but they helped me stand strong in faith among the opposition of my biological family. I’ll always be thankful for their influence.
Susan Fletcher says
My late husband and I did not have children either. (married 25 years before his death) We have taken in and helped many kids throughout our time together. All of them were blessings and just what we needed at the time. All of them are precious, but one in particular was just like “our” child since we helped raise him from a baby. He is now 10.
Rachel Hauck says
Oh I love these stories. Thank you all for sharing. It really touches my heart to see how we are being family to one another. 🙂
I think it makes God smile too!
Deborah K says
God has put several women in my life, since I came to know Him, who speak life and encouragement to me, who lift me up when life knocks me down. I’m grateful for Ms. Mary, Sharon P, Sharon M, Stephanie, Andrea, and Jill.
When we were a young married couple, an older couple in our church became amazing mentors to us. They had teenage boys who we knew thro our work with the youth group. Their whole family blessed us so much… inviting us for meals, including us in their family celebrations, being wise counsel to us during some tough decisions. Such a blessing to have someone like that close by when we were living so far away from our regular family 🙂
Virginia Rush says
I love Rachel and how she rolls. love her laughter…my fav picture of her. love her books, so filled with God and love. love that girl
Naomi Shores says
An older couple at our church who had previously been the pastor. He was the one who counseled my husband and I before we got married. They are the most Godly couple I know and I still go to them for wisdom, guidance and prayer. They are a true blessing to our family and many of our church members.
Naomi Shores says
This comment has to do with the Family is Spelled L-O-V-E post: I am an OM to several girls that are friends with my oldest daughter. They are my “ODs or Odies (like in Garfield). They are a great group of girls. By the way that is Other Mother and Other Daughter 🙂
Jennifer Tipton says
Theere’s an older gentleman who is so funny and warm to us when nobody else is and is always sending us hilarious emails. We love him and his wife.
And my husband has two gentlemen who have worked for my husband at camp and they’re like our boys (we have 4 of our own) so what’s 2 more. One is in the marines now and one is going to engineer school. Many people actually thought they were our kids. 🙂
Kathy Jacob says
What a wonderful post! I can feel the love!
Wonderful that you have so many in your “family.” Anyone who also has a schnauzer gets even more “points.”
I’ve enjoyed my first read about you. I’ll be back, too.
Susan Johnson says
I loved reading this blog post. It sounds like you have a very special family.
Kathy Jacob says
Ok, now to answer the question. Wherever I have lived, it was always the pastor’s wife who was most influential in my life at the time.
Heather Olsen says
A friend, Stephanie. Always shares her smile with me and gives me encouragement.
After my grandmother passed away one of her dear friends sort of adopted me… she was a great prayer warrior and was the best at sending hand written notes at just the right time. She is gone now two and I miss them both dearly.
Bonnie Roof says
One of the most important non-family members to me is one of my spiritual mentors, a former pastor, who now lives in a different state from me. We have cared for each other through sickness, and other serious problems, and it is always like “coming home” when we have the opportunity to visit each other – it’s as if we have never been apart!!
Gloria Schilling says
I have a friend who has been a great help to help me grow spiritually. I am thankful for her!
Andrea Cox says
Rachel, thank you for sharing your story and heart with us today. I’m not married yet and have no children of my own, but like you, I have “kids”. My tutoring students often feel like they’re part mine. I love helping them learn and seeing the joy on their faces when they pass tests and become successful in life. Some of them have graduated high school now and are venturing out into life on their own. They may or may not remember me through the years, but I will never forget the time I spent with them, helping God build up their character. God’s blessings are bountiful and I’m thankful.
Robin in NC says
Our neighbors when I was growing up! They took us to church with them…one of the best things that ever happened to me!! It has definitely shaped my life!
Debbie Rhoades says
When I was little, I had a couple in our church that loved me like their chjild. They didn’t have any of their own, but they had a special place in their heart for me. I miss them to this day. I felt special! I have friends that have loved me whenever my family mght not have, and they know they have been family in my head and heart for years. You are so very right — you just “know” when they are yours.
My friend Ann S. Even through all her adversities she continues to help our community on a daily basis! She is an inspiration. If I could do even of fraction of her good works & have some of her faith, I would feel truly blessed!
Sarah Stewart says
A non family person that has been very influential has been a very dear friend. She has helped me in so many ways…truly a blessing!
Sharon Miller says
Some non-family members , El & Jeri, helped us when we adopted our son. we flew to CA and they gave us their master bedroom and took our baby son for the night, so we could sleep. I also made strawberry jam and dill pickles. So many great memories.
Rachel Hauck says
I love these stories. They confirm what I knew and felt when I wrote the blog. In a sense, WE are all family too… encouraging one another!
Blessings to all!
Denise Young Y says
I have loved reading her books!! Would love to win this one!!
Denise Young Y says
Oops forgot to answer question… My 4th grade teacher Mrs. B… She read to us every day before dismissal… Put a love of books in my heart
Wanda Barefoot says
I have a great roll model in my life. I call him my stepdad although, technically, he isn’t. He is black, just as Rachel’s “Son”, and he and my mom have been together for around 20 years. I know, they aren’t married but, trust me, I have already beat that dead horse. He is truly an inspiration though. My mom is now bed ridden. My three sisters and I take care of her at night. My stepdad takes care of her during the day, despite being on dialysis. He treats her like a baby doll and really dotes on her. I couldn’t find a better man anywhere and I am so grateful for him and completely Blessed by him.
I completely understand how you feel about your “Children”, Rachel. I have never had kids either and given my age (43) and my health issues I don’t foresee it happening. I do, however have 2 nephews, a niece and three great nieces that I adore. One nephew is like my own son. He is getting married in April and I’m so excited and happy for him. I have no Bio children but God in His infinite wisdom sated my desire by giving me my sister’s beautiful children to call my own. 🙂
Maxie Anderson says
One friend that I have known since 1961 when we were both young mothers is very much like a sister to me. We have went through a lot together and are always there for each other. Also have two other best friend from my school days who are like sisters, but don’t to see them much anymore.. And Tricia thanks for having Rachel. I would love to win this book of hers. Maxie mac262(at)me(dot)com
My best friend, who I have not yet met, is like a sister to me. I know that when we meet, it will be like seeing family again. 🙂
Janet Estridge says
Family isn’t known by just blood and bone but by what’s in the heart.
Tracy Melhinch says
A family friend, who has guided me over the years
Sharon Timmer says
My best friend Anita – we met in High School & she was the first one that showed me what the love of God is 🙂
Stephanie Wright says
I have been picking up new children, grandchildren, nieces, and nephews since before I gave birth to my two “By Birth” children. My “By Choice” children, grandchildren, and nieces/nephews know that they are just as loved and just as much my family as the 2 that I labored to bring into the world, the 2 grandchildren, and the nieces/nephews of my siblings. Family is not just by blood but also by choice and heart. Thank God that He gave us such capacity to love!!
Tammy Henderson says
Love the cover!
Tammy Sotela says
The person who most influenced my life was my sixth grade teacher, Mrs. Gladys Atwater. She kept up with me even after I moved on to Jr High and High School. I would see her around town and she would comment on a grade I made in class. I could not believe a teacher cared enough to follow a student as they grew up. She shared with many the story of a present I gave her in the sixth grade that she kept by her bed. When her house caught fire, it was the only thing she saved. I truly believe her love for me shown in such a caring way is why I am a teacher today.
Jan Jordan says
I have no living relatives , so know the importance of love through God. He is my only my family, he is my father. He just lives in heaven, waiting for me …Thank you for hosting this contest…..
Angie Carroll says
Some of my sunday school teachers growing up!
Love reading Rachel’s books!
My best friends. Princess Ever After sounds wonderful.Thank you for the opportunity to win.Have a wonderful week.
My best friend, it is amazing how friends can help heal your heart!
Linda Zaragoza-Zrubek says
How wonderful! My husband and I became Mom & Dado several of our children’s friends. They are like son’s and daughters to us, and loved how they could and would come to us for advice, or just hang around the house. I had a daycare for over 17 years!! Raised a lot of children and loved each of them as my own! To this day I am in contact with many of them and love that think of me as a second Mom. We both are in 60 ‘s now.
Princess Ever After sounds like a wonderful book and I would love to be the lucky winner, but whom ever wins….I wish all good luck!
Vanessa Johnson says
I have a family like that at church, I adopted them as my own 🙂 I just love them!!
I love Rachel’s Princess books! I just bought and read her novella on my Kindle (A March Bride) and enjoyed it thoroughly!
Jennifer Shearer says
The most influential non-family member that has been the most influence in my life has been my Chi Alpha Christian Ministries pastors at UCO when I was in college. They were more than campus pastors. They truly lead me, guided me, taught me, challenged me, kept track of me. Almost 20 years later, they are still dear friends who I love and admire. They were and are family to me. Very blessed!!!
Over the years, we’ve adopted a few grandma’s who have been like family to us. We have been there for them, and they were there for us. They completed our little family around the table and often joined us for special holidays such as Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Adopting a grandparent is such a blessing, especially when you have small children and their grandparents are absent for some reason. It gives us all the third dimensions in our family life.
I would love to read this new book of Rachel’s. I have enjoyed reading her books for years. In fact, she was one of the first Christian fiction authors that I read.
My neighbors….who I count as friends.
I had a very good friend when I was a teenager, named Diane. She inspired me so much in my Christian walk and helped me become the person I am today. I have not seen her in many years, but I still think of her often.
Amanda T says
I’ve been most influenced by some special friends in my life that have been there when things were desperate. They have influenced me greatly.
Ola Norman says
Friends are the family you choose for yourself.
Nat Homgren says
Prob. a Pastor…who gave me Spiritual confidence!
Erin Reed says
My husband and I have been married 14 years and have one son, he is the light of our lives. But there is also pain, we wanted a dozen, but the Lord had other plans. But I have been given the gift of wonderful friends who allow me to share in the mothering of their children. It is a blessing that I am grateful for every day!
My 3rd grade teacher Mrs. Young
That’s was really nice. I would say my 5th grade teacher, Mrs. Wilson in Minnesota. She took time to teach us so many non-school things on her own time, lunches, etc. I won’t forget that.
Courtney Clark says
The non-family members who have influenced my life the most are my former uncle and his wife, my adopted “aunt”. They have always supported and loved me freely – and I’m a better person because of my relationship with them.
Rachael Merritt says
An elderly couple that us now gone, but knew them most of my life. We ” adopted” them as our grandparents. They were such a great Godly influence. I loved them so much,…then when I got married, we would go out to eat or over to there house for a visit. My hubby was family with them also. I miss them terribly, but I know I’ll see them again some day. He was a deacon in our church….and he defined what one was!
Tonja K. Saylor says
Godly teachers and Sunday school teachers.
Jencey Gortney says
Thank you for sharing this book! I attended her party with Litfuse.
Karen R says
What a blessing they are to so many others. Very inspiring! Loved her book the Wedding Dress.
Leanna Morris says
There have been several women in my church who were a big influence on my life
A special woman who was wise and loving.
Pam K. says
When we lived in Texas, we met a woman at church. She was known as Granny Sue by almost everyone there. Since I was far from my parents, it was great having another “mom” and a “granny” close by for my kids. We love Granny Sue, though we haven’t seen her for over 7 years since we no longer live in Texas.