Dear Julia

My cousin Julia came to visit us for a week during the summer of 2005.  She was almost 14.  Her visit was new for all of us...being far away from home for her, and for us, having a guest in our home 24/7 that would discover all that there was to know about our family for that week.  We had fun and she came again a couple more times, each time being more comfortable than the previous visit and each time she was obviously a little older.  

She accompanied us to Scottsbluff, learned how to drive a stick shift, helped put together a trampoline, and was initiated into big family life quite abruptly.  We took joy in showing her around small town Nebraska living.  We casually suggested several times that she could attend college in Lincoln after graduation, but it never really evolved into much more than just conversation. 

When Cash was in Arizona, he made his home at the Corneliusen address and easily became part of their extended family, forging relationships with Julia and each of her siblings.  In March of 2008, Mathilda, Joseph and I went to AZ for Kadi Jo's wedding (mutual cousin) and stayed with Julia's family.  It was fun for Mathilda to connect some dots there and even more fun for me to be immersed in family, as my siblings, parents, two of my mom's brothers' families and grandma were there too.  "Family is so important" I remembered thinking...something that Tim and I had really been feeling for some time.  We take family for granted so much anymore because we're all spread out and technology has advanced us (or reduced us) to electronic communication instead of actually physically visiting each other and getting to know each other. 

Fast forward a couple of years...after a semester of college in AZ, Julia and her family decided a change of scenery would be good, so she packed up and came to Nebraska for a semester of school.  There were a lot of changes in store for her.  Nebraska in the winter time is a harsh adjustment for anyone, especially coming from warm and sunny Arizona!  Being away from home for longer than a week or so is big too.  When you visit for a week, it goes quickly...6 months can seem really long when you start to get homesick.  Cash was here for the first three weeks or so of her stay.  He was a helpful transition for her I think.  She left to go back to AZ yesterday.  I think when you have a big family, one more is just one more, so our table had a vacant spot last night, and it was noticeable.  There is a hole that will feel empty for a while during this time that we transition from a family of 10 back to 9.

Dear Julia,

Thank you for the time that you spent with our family.  I know that it was difficult sometimes as you were homesick for your family and your friends, but you provided us with such an appreciation of many things.  We will miss you.  You are special to us, not just because you love our children but because they love you, and so do we.  They will remember this time always. 

You've taught me many things.  I believe that God put you in our lives when he did for multiple reasons.  He had a plan for us while you were here. You've given us insight to teenage life as we prepare to embark on that phase of our family soon.  Thank you for the questions and the conversations.  You've given us the opportunity to think about things outside of our box and explain why we do think the way we do about certain matters.  You spurred a confirmation of my faith and an affirmation that I am in the right place.  I know we didn't always see eye to eye on things.  We don't have to.  :)  I hope you feel that God had plans for YOU too while you were here with our family.  Thanks for enduring my lectures...maybe even helping me to fine tune them for later use on upcoming victims.  I always enjoyed our talks and hope that you did too. 

You've helped me to understand the necessity of rules and balance of them, and in the process also enlightened me to the influences of the world outside the doors of our home and how to be a little more in tune to them.  You provided me with help and company that is priceless.  I'm sure I will feel your absence very much during my daily parenting responsiblities.  I would say that the little kids will miss you most, but that's not true, becuase the big kids enjoyed you equally as much.  I hope you felt as much part of our family as we felt you were. 

It is easy to look back and wish that we would have done things that we didn't.  How things could have been different if I hope that you don't feel cheated out of anything...we're just saving them for next time.  :)  We prayed for you while you were here.  We'll continue to pray for you while you're not.  I pray that you find the confidence to be the person that you want to be.  I pray that you are happy.  I pray that you are healthy.  I pray that God protects you and keeps you safe.  I pray that your heart will be open to the Holy Spirit and that you can be still enough to hear Him.  I pray that you find success in what you do.  I pray that you can find a way to have the true desires of your heart, and that those desires might also be God's desires for you.  I pray that you'll always think of Tim and I as people you can trust with the truth. 

I sounds like another lecture.  LOL!  You are such a beautiful and amazing person with amazing opportunities in front of you.  I look forward to keeping up on how your incredible life unfolds, and then too, to look back on it with you to see God's hand in it.  You'll have a story to tell...we all do.  :)

We love you, we miss you and we pray for you!