If you’ve sen around the porch any length of time, you know my husband and I don’t have children. Of our own.
But after 20 years in youth ministry, we have a few of OPK — Other People’s Kids.
We’re even Oma and Opa to 5 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 Step-Dad.
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, “Okay, 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 40, 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 [his wife's] family. Can we stay with y’all.” (We’ve known his wife since she was a pre teen.)
“Dude, you don’t have to ask. When do you arrive?”
Other sons live in far away and we don’t see them much. But when they are here? They are sons.
Sometimes we met 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 ell you about my nearly 8-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.
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, releases February 4th. Pre-oder now! Buying options on web site: www.rachelhauck.com