Jenny, you and I were friends before we were family.
In fact, I loved you and your mom and dad so much I had to check my heart to make sure I wasn’t just dating Matt as my ticket into your family. 🙂 But, although I of course still love you all, eventually Matt did win me over in his own right!
A little while after I graduated from college in 1998 and went back to Ohio to work, I started attending Cambridge Bible Church (where my now father-in-law was the pastor). You were a sophomore in high school. Before too long, I was asked to be your Sunday School teacher. I was amazed at your maturity spiritually and socially. I didn’t realize it was possible to have that much common sense in high school because I certainly hadn’t! 🙂 But you had loads of it. I loved your eagerness and attentiveness in class and your seriousness about your relationship with the Lord. But I also loved that you knew how to have fun too. Because of our schedules, it ended up I would pick you up from school once a week and even got to attend a volleyball game or two of yours. It was during those times that I noticed your competitive nature and good sense of humor. We’d laugh together and talk about singing, friends, driving, and a lot in between.
You left for college a few years later, the year Matt and I got married, so at the time we could’ve gotten even closer, God for his own purposes, took us in two separate directions. We’d look forward to spending holidays together though and you’d always made it a priority to see us in the summers around your own plans and ministry obligations. We loved your visits when we’d have a “Pride and Prejudice” marathon, explore the area, and eat yummy food!
One of the greatest joys in my friendship with you though, was when you moved to Michigan in 2010 to take a new job. You came to us with your own physical struggles, leaving a job you loved and arrived to a house barely held together in the survival mode that’s reality with a newborn and with Matt having some strange physical problems of his own. But God knew we needed each other and brought us all back together at just the right time. As a mom with a very needy young family, it’s hard to describe the burden I felt lift knowing we finally had family near. I often felt bad that I couldn’t be more of a friend to you during that time but I don’t know how we would’ve made it through that year without you. Between a life threatening antibiotic reaction, to chronic ear infections, to pneumonia, to stitches…all this occurring while Matt wasn’t feeling up to par, let’s just say I could barely put one foot in front of the other. But you were there. I remember coming home from children’s hospital in the middle of the night the day of Ruby’s reaction and you said you were going to spend the night so we could sleep in. You got up with Schaeffer the rest of the night (what was left of it) because he had developed yet another ear infection that was causing him discomfort. Then you got our kids breakfast in the morning while we got some much needed rest. Only a sister does stuff like that.
It’s true what I said in my good-bye letter to you when we moved in April. Saying good-bye to you was doubly hard because you aren’t just a dear friend, you are a sweet sister. We love you and love so much about you and it has been a joy spending these past 4 years together as God allowed our lives to overlap so closely again.
You haven’t just touched my and Matt’s lives, but as you know, you’ve touched the lives of our kids. One of the things I love most is seeing you in them. Like the way Stella prefers to keep all her food separate and not touching on her plate and the logic and thoroughness with which she approaches a challenging situation. The way Ruby competitively does…well, anything! 🙂 And those gorgeous curls of Schaeffer’s are undeniably a contribution from his Auntie. I’m so glad you have left a mark on our lives forever.
And now, it’s not just Auntie Jenny we can get excited about seeing, but the man who loves Auntie Jenny too, Uncle Micah. We are thankful to add him into our family celebrations and traditions! Micah, get ready to break piñatas, taste 50 different delicious homemade baked goods at Christmas, and lose at every board game you attempt. 🙂 What can I say? It’s the way the Owens roll!
We hope you have had a wonderful first married birthday, Jenny. We are thrilled for the joy you are experiencing in this new phase of life. Our only disappointment is that we can’t be there to share it all with you. So Happy Birthday, across the miles, to my sweet sister and dear friend. I love you!