They’re friends who are family. They’re family who are friends. You need them. They need you. You need each other.

As I sit and ponder this topic, I am taken back to all of the beautiful characters that have filled the pages in my book of Life. And I realize how tremendously they have shaped who I am today. There have been moments in my book when I’m not certain a new chapter would’ve been written without the support of these characters.

If I were to ever win an award… for anything, I suppose… rest assured that the “cut-it-off” music would begin playing mere inches into my speech, where I would inevitably feel the need to thank every framily member who had ever played a part in getting me to that moment.

My husband and teenage daughter often tease me because I’m known for “staking out” new friends. I’ve done this for as long as I can remember. I recognize a kindred spirit, and then make it a mission to meet, become acquainted with, and befriend them. As I’m sharing this with you, it sounds a bit ridiculous and stalker-ish. For the record, I’m not a stalker… or a creepy one, anyways. I just adore people! I always have. I am relationship-driven. It’s possible that moving often as a child set me up for that. And quite frankly… I love that about me!

We’ve all got framily. All of those blessed souls who have literally held us in a standing position during those times in life when we would have collapsed otherwise… am I right?!

I’m fortunate enough to have a family (and an “in-love” family) whom I love more than life itself. My mom and siblings are my best friends (after my hubby, of course). Sure, we have moments when we want to strangle one another. But our families have been lifelines for us more times than I can count. And though they can make my husband and I wish we were both adopted at times, I love them more than there are enough words to describe. And though this sounds cliche, I absolutely cannot imagine my life without them.

They are framily. Family who are friends. Your relatives. They leave legacies worthy of following. They plant roots. They offer financial help in times of need. They’ve seen you at your worst…. and they still love you (most of the time). They love your children like nobody’s business (and spoil the junk out of them, even when you wish they wouldn’t). They can also get on your nerves like nobody’s business, but you love them. And they love you back. And if you don’t have this type of framily, my prayers are with you. Because, without trying to rub it in (honestly)… it’s beautiful, and amazing, and I thank God everyday for these people whom we have the pleasure of calling ours.

They are framily. Friends who are family. Maybe by default, maybe by choice (if you’re a friend-stalker like me), but they become as close (or closer than) actual relatives. They step in when relatives can’t, or when there are no relatives to even step in.

Like when our third child was born three months early, unexpectedly, two weeks after moving hundreds of miles from “home”… from our people. Oh, the chaos! Practical strangers from our new church came to the hospital and cared for our 6 and 2 year old children while I gave birth to our youngest. Hello. By the time our moms arrived after the six hour drive, these “practical strangers” were framily.

Seriously, that period of time would hold several chapters in a coffee table book about our framily. Over the next two years, our lives were a crazaaaaaay roller coaster ride. NICU, five thousand ER visits, stitches, broken bones, RSV, surprise surgeries, therapy, illnesses, family deaths, ups, downs, loopty-loops, forwards, backwards… ALL. OVER. THE. PLACE.

Framily took my children overnight when our fresh-from-the-NICU daughter was re-admitted and my hubby was out of town. The new family doctor gave us his personal cell number. Church framily helped with costs of traveling back and forth to Children’s Hospital for two months. They sat with us late into the night in hospital rooms. They went with us to appointments. They let us borrow vehicles… they gave us vehicles. They laughed with us. They cried with us. They supported our ministry. They stepped in last minute when I couldn’t. They took us to movies when we wanted to crawl into holes. They invited us into their homes. They hosted parties for us. They prayed with and for us. A lot. They nursed us to health… physically, mentally, spiritually.

Heaven knows most of them were probably convinced that I was a psychotic, scatter-brained, crazed youth pastor’s wife who needed her head screwed on a little tighter. And truth be told, I have been a bit of all of that on various pages of my life. Who hasn’t?! (don’t answer that if you haven’t)

In the midst of the madness of life, our friends and family have taught us that we need each other. People need people. Whether they are family, friends, church family, co-workers, kids…. framily.

God knows that we need each other.

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

God even finds it so paramount that we love one another, that he actually commanded us to do so! Wowza.

Over the years, throughout moves and good times and bad times, framily has been oxygen to our lungs. They have prayed things into motion. Their words have given us hope. They have lured us into happiness. Their inappropriate jokes have given us laughter when we’ve forgotten what that was. Their texts and calls and visits have been sunshine on cloudy days. Their meals have given us nourishment. They have given us sanity. Advice. They have given us shelter when we had none. They have wiped our tears and seen our ugly cries. They have taught us grace. They have loved us. They have offered piggy-back-rides across finish lines that would have never been reached.

But the most beautiful gift that framily throughout the years has offered, is Jesus.

How gracious God’s most precious creation has been to us. I can’t imagine riding this crazy train without them. And really, I don’t want to. There have been framily members lost too soon. Miles between some of us have created gaps in contact. Some have known us our entire lives. Others we met as strangers. Some have come and gone with the wind. But we have never, and will never ever, forget each and every one of them.

So, as the “cut it off” music plays in the background of my mind, I’ll simply say this: To every single human being who has ever been framily in and out of the chapters of our lives: THANK YOU. From the innermost pieces of our hearts. We. Love. You. And we are who we are today, because of you. (( SMOOCH! ))

I knew when I met you, an adventure was going to happen.

-Winnie the Pooh

~Crystal Sunshine

It’s #livefreeThursday! And of course, we’re linking up with Suzie Eller and women all over the world, in an effort to encourage you to live freely in Christ! Visit Suzie’s blog to read her incredible post, as well as other incredible link-ups discussing how we all need each other.



12 thoughts on “Framily

  1. I love reading everything you right! Not just because it’s you, and I love you, but because I get to experience life with you, and I love reading the stories I have heard you tell me! You totally get me, and I get you! And yes sometimes we do have inappropriate jokes, but that’s what makes us framily! I love you girl!!!!

  2. I’m so very thankful that God placed you in my life in the exact moment that I needed a true friend! I’m pretty sure some of those inappropriate jokes may have come from me! I always think of us as Anne (with an E) and Diana! You, of course are Anne! Love you sweet friend! Teresa B

  3. Can we be friends?! Our lives mirror each other in many ways. I thank God for the framily members in our lives. The Lord is good. Love that you wrote about this today. #livefreeThursday

    • We can absolutely be friends… (if you can handle c.r.a.z.y)! This was written a few weeks ago, but each day I am brought to my knees in gratitude for framily! So nice to meet you… welcome to the fram πŸ˜‰

  4. Crystal, I got chills when I read your experience with moving to a new place and having all those things happen. Been there, done that! And it always seemed like my hubby would have a trip out of town, which made me rely on others even more! I love your attitude about meeting new people and becoming framily. It took me years to realize how much I needed community:) Blessings to you and your ministry!

  5. Framily. I love it! I so love making up words too. Thanks for sharing your story. A day in the NICU often = 100 days of stress. I have not had my own child there but work in Pediatrics. It’s sad to see single moms or some families go through these kind of hard times completely alone.

  6. Crystal,
    As I read the beautiful connections God has orchestrated in your life, one thought works its way to the top-Receive these relationships–the love, the provision and EVERYTHING–as a gracious gift of God.
    I firmly believe as we walk in love and obedience to our Savior the gifts we give (and receive) are a beautiful masterpiece the reflect Him. And if that illustration holds true, then HE is the entire Art Gallery-like ALL of them combined! πŸ˜‰ Thanks for sharing your words! Found you on #LiveFree Thursday!

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