(c) 2013 Christiana Lambert

(c) 2013 Christiana Lambert

We are back from our working vacation—working because there’s always plenty to do when you are around four boys ages six and under—and trying to get ready for a wedding. That’s not to say we didn’t have fun because we did and not just at our nephew’s wedding. Still, this week following we’ve been exceptionally sleepy as we return to our own space and our much quieter lives. That’s OK, though, because some activities are so full of joy and hope that they’re well worth all the work.

Life itself is work, but that work is so much more enjoyable in relationship with others. And in a life well-lived, marriage and family are not just work but play, too.

Those marriage and family relations are the reasons why Sherman and I packed our new car to the brim, spending ten days away and traveling half a day across the Great Plains each way. Though our kids had college and work obligations, we made sure they had plane tickets to bring them to and from the festivities for the weekend. Family matters—and we wouldn’t want to miss celebrating the ceremony that added one more member into our ever-expanding circle.

My brother Scott and I grew up together in Nebraska with parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins. Family to us meant moving between the relative quiet of spending time with our only child father’s parents to the crazy hubbub of our mother’s family filled with all ages of relatives, but either way, it always meant devoting time to family.

Around 29 years ago I struck out for Colorado and a couple years later Scott left for Oklahoma, with our parents following to a different location in Colorado 18 years ago. Though Scott and I formed new family connections in our adopted hometowns, we have always remained connected to one another and to the rest of our extended families.

The time our own little family spent in Oklahoma was just one long demonstration of how people care for one another within their circles. Scott and his wife Lori have full-time care for her son’s four boys. This is just one, but very major way, Scott fulfills his wedding vows to his wife of 26 years. Her people are now his people. Lori’s extended family members, especially her mother, help them care for the boys, as Lori and Scott have helped with their niece and nephews. And by virtue of my relationship to Scott, her people are my people, too, just as they are my husband’s people. Sometimes we make our families and sometimes they choose us through others already in our original families.

When we weren’t chasing four boys—or being chased by them—we, as in the extended family we, were preparing for the joyous night when our nephew Chris would publicly declare his commitment to his future wife Mona and when we would formally welcome her into the family to which she has already shown so much dedication.

Whether it was putting together centerpieces with Laura, mother of the bride, “rubbing” the ribs with the groom’s uncle, shopping at Sam’s Club, guiding the three-year-old and almost two-year-old into carrying water bottles, setting up and setting out direction signs, placing tablecloths, ordering potato salad, taking a kid out of the ceremony when disruptive, silk-screening designs, settling a child who needed to sleep, taking kids overnight, or cleaning up—just a few activities from a much longer list—family came together to labor in love.

So it came to pass that on a windy November night with an almost-full moon rising, we met with more family and friends in a grove of pines illuminated by twinkling lights to watch the magic of a man and a woman declaring—in front of God, family, and friends—to share one another’s love, along with all the joy, burdens, and work that will follow.

True love is a verb and I am so honored to be one of the many who labored to ensure that the new Mr. and Mrs. Lange felt surrounded by such a large circle of people who love them as they began their own family circle within the fuller circles of extended family.