These are my people, and they’re tall.

I love sharing our stories, and since it’s Thursday, not quite Friday, I thought I’d share a piece of mine to brighten your afternoon or evening… or morning really, any time of day will do.

So, my Dad was one of 5 children and I am one of 14 first cousins on that side of the family. 8 of us are married and have started a new generation of over a dozen gorgeous great-grandchildren.

When we get together, it’s a raucous party with all the trimmings including monkey bread and jello “salad.”

There are people everywhere you turn and I want to hug every one of them.  I usually do.

I love and adore my family, these cousins are some of my best friends and have been for as long as I can remember. We grew up in the same towns, went to the same schools, rode our bikes to each other’s houses and did nearly all our vacations together.

This close-knit bunch didn’t happen by happenstance, my Grandparents were intentional about it. They wanted their grandkids to be friends, they wanted a family who had their hands in each other’s lives, that played cards together and swapped stories over second helpings of blueberry buckle.

So they skipped fancy Christmas gifts in lieu of renting cottages to foster togetherness.

They planned simple camping trips where we took up 6 lots in a row and made tonka pizza pies.

They still send us all cards on every holiday, pray for each of us every day and know us all by heart.

I can’t write these words without tearing up.  These are my people, these souls are a huge part of the reason I became the woman I am today.

Because of them, life without parents is a lot less lonely than you’d think.

I fall in the middle of the pack of cousins, with all of the younger ones (besides my own siblings) coming from my Uncle Mike and Aunt Dawn’s family of four, three gorgeous blonde daughters and a sweet youngest son named Chad.

The three oldest girls are all in college (Calvin College) now, and playing basketball for the team, for the first and only time in their lives.  And their younger brother Chad is in the stands cheering them on, forever their number one fan.

You see, Chad was born with an undiagnosable mental handicap and it has shaped this family, for the better. He brings humility, joy and laughter to the table, his excitement for his sisters cannot be beat.

He’s one of Noelle’s favorite people and mine as well, every time we circle to pray as a family his enthusiasm is contagious.

He passed out the bubbles at our wedding, and instead of waiting until our sendoff he encouraged people to blow them right away.  This led to a whimsical, wonderful bubble-filled reception for Kel and I.

Today I want to share a video about this family and show you a bit of where I come from.  I hope it makes you grin as much as it does me.

Watch, smile… trust me.

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click the picture to watch a 3 minute video clip about an inspirational family.  

You guys, these are my people, aren’t they amazing?  Now you understand why I’m always a bit homesick.

  • Anne Bogel

    Just watched it. Such a great story!

  • Mark Allman


    I really enjoyed that post and loved the video. Your cousins seem like great young women and Chad a blessing to them all. Thanks for sharing that. 20 points per game is pretty awesome for Carissa. I hope they do well in the NCAA tournament.

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