Four years ago, we thougth seriously of moving to California. The days were as dreary and gray as this past week has been and a lake formed under our table at the Newman Center. We had a 2 year old and a 2 month old and we couldn’t keep the water out of the basement. We were tired, nearing the end of the college semester at Tech and the school year with youth work. Sunny CA sounded so good, so promising, so fresh. Jac fielded interviews in the quiet of the car in the driveway and we prayed/discussed/mulled over the possibility of him flying out for a formal meeting. With St. Joseph’s. In Modesto. What could be better?

We told few people. Among them were my parents who we thought would be over-joyed. The reaction was more over-easy. We knew they were concerned about us adjusting to CA life, of bringing up our babies in that atmosphere. We knew they worried about money and the affordability of a move. But their number one concern?

“You have such a great community there.” mom reminded me. “I don’t know what it would be like for you here.”

“HERE.” Her home. Her place. Her familiar. She knew few moms stayed home. Even fewer who were Catholic and young. Not that those were her peeps or she ran in such circles to find them.

What she really was referring to was the safety net that surrounded us from the beginning here in Rapid. The families – with and without children – who welcomed us into their homes and their lives. We had been to birthday parties for kids we barely knew and to dinners with friends of friends. When we became pregnant, it was this group of people that encouraged us, surrounded us and joyfully welcomed Max. They kept it real for me, warning me of the perils of staying at home, offering tips for survival and providing us with baby sitters so Jac and I could go out together. They were the ones who had fed us for 6 weeks straight after Max’s birth and dropped in unexpectedly with flowers to see how we were doing. They eased our transition into the youth ministry position at Cathedral, volunteering for us, loving us, laughing with (and sometimes AT) us. They became our family, our firm friends.

For mom, who so badly wanted to be near her grandchildren, this group of people was a Godsend and our sanity and support was worth more than her ability to babysit on any given occasion. This community was worth more than any job.

She was right and we stayed here.

When we left our positions at Cathedral last year, I was afraid of losing this lovely group of folks. I wrongly assumed they had rallied around us because of our jobs and our work with their kids.

Our friendship has changed, yes, but only because we are on the outside looking in with them now. But they still love us.

The proof is in the pudding, as mom would say. It was this group of friends who gathered to pray with me, for our family and especiallly for this baby on the feast of the Annunciation. In the midst of this crazy pregnancy, it was so nice to be surrounded by the prayers of those women and to soak up their company. The Rosary was prayed, each Hail Mary sent up with an intention for us. And at the end of our time together I was sent home with the glorious roses you saw above.

I am thankful. Thankful for the opportunity to dream of going home to Modesto. Thankful for mom’s wisdom. But most thankful for our community here that has loved us and continues to do so.