Even though my parents are 2 hours away, at least they are only 2 hours away! This weekend Avila and I jetted down south to visit family and enjoy a relaxing weekend (while Michael is ripping out the bathtub...but this is another story).
Family is the most important thing in the world to me. Be it my current family (Michael, Avila, and I) or my extended family, I am so grateful for the people God has given me to call my relatives. The 4 people above are those that initially formed me growing up. They are the ones who challenged me and fought with me and loved me through both easy and hard times. They have made me who I am.
My sister Ashley (the blonde one, the one who always gets mistaken to be the oldest!) is incredible. She is the type of person that when she sets her mind to something it is accomplished above and beyond. She is mature and kind and the person that everyone goes to when they have a problem. She was always the peacemaker growing up, however she certainly wasn't afraid to take me on! She was the one I was most jealous of because she always seemed like she knew what she wanted and would stop at nothing to achieve it. Her faith is growing incredibly and she is an example to me in her wisdom and reflection of life.
Kelsey is a spitfire - and the one who has surprised me the most. Growing up she was the "follower" - doing everything Ashley or I would do. (Now that has definitely changed!) She and Ashley were super best friends and they shared everything - clothes, friends, and life. I always wanted to be a part of their inner circle and now that we are older I'm in! Kelsey is incredible in the way she has found her path and her faith. For me, it took a community of believers to build me up and teach me the faith, but for her she has searched for and found Christ on her own. Her faith in Christ's plan and her obedience in following His will humbles me and I find myself looking up to my little sister.
My parents are the ones, of course, who have formed me the most. My dad is the most humble man I know and I have never seen him put himself before his family. The things he has sacrificed for us - to send us to Catholic school, so that mom could stay home, and so that we could create memories together - are more than I could ever list. If anyone is ever an example of St. Joseph, it would be him. He has given me tough love when I needed it and is always willing to talk. I share everything with him, as we are so similar in our personalities, and I will always take his advice to heart.
Finally, my mom is the best mother and grandmother a daughter could ask for. To see her with Avila (I call her the "Baby Whisperer...she can get any baby to either calm down or do what she asks!) shows me what type of mother she was to my sisters and I. She has such a peaceful (and peacemaking) demeanor and the love she has for her children and husband is an example I will carry with me forever. I never used to be the type who liked to chat on the phone, but I talk to my mom everyday and I have to keep myself from calling every time Avila does something new! One thing I will always remember is when my mom said to me that "My main goal is to get my family to heaven..." The comfort in knowing this is where my parents were coming from is more than a child can express.
When my sisters and I were in high school we sat around the kitchen table and made a pact. I think it was my dad who initiated it, and this pact has stuck with us to the present day - even as our family expands and grows. The pact is that we are to get one another to Heaven - no matter what. This means that we have the right to call out one another if we see someone headed down a wrong path and that we are always to be an example. Having accountability within a family keeps it strong and keeps the members invested in everyone else.
As my own family grows, with Michael, Avila, and any future children we may have, I will make this pact with them, too. I will also take every example my family growing up has given me and be grateful to them for loving me and loving God like they do.