It was a Saturday afternoon in September. We had just gotten our new 12-seater van (or bus, if you will) which our kids promptly named "Sally." It suited her well.
For those of you who don't know, we welcomed 3 International students into our family in August who will be spending the whole school year living with us. Carlos is from Spain and Jerry and Evan are from different parts of China. It has been an absolute joy to have them in our lives.
So, on this particular Saturday, all 10 of us hopped into Sally and packed up the trunk with blankets and camping chairs. We headed out on our hour long drive to Wisconsin.
It was one of those Saturdays where you kind of feel like doing nothing. We had nothing too much going on and it almost just felt right to do a fire at home and relax all day. But I had tickets. And I was really looking forward to our adventure.
We were headed to The Lights Fest.
I somehow convinced my husband to take the hour trip with 10 people, knowing we wouldn't get back home till 11pm or so (and firecracker baby goes to bed at 7pm on a normal night.)
My heart was in it though. We had to be there. We had to experience this, together. I also convinced the 3 teenage boys that it was an opportunity they would not want to miss out on. I can be pretty persuasive.
For some reason, I just knew this was somewhere we needed to be. That it would make a difference in our lives.
Without knowing what that would look like, in the aftermath, I can confidently say that it did.
There were food trucks and icecream and people all around us, upon arrival. We found an open spot and spread out our blankets and chairs. The kids ran through the nearby fields, we snatched up icecream and snuggled amongst the strangers and the dirt ground. It was the most beautiful evening.
The crowds of people all waiting in graceful anticipation for the sun to set and the darkness to surround us. Waiting for the lights to appear.
We laughed, we played and we began to create masterpieces on our lanterns.
Carlos and Nehemiah worked on one together and included all 3 flags from Spain, China and United States.
Our family of 10.
"The boys" as I so lovingly refer to them as, are hilarious. Shortly after they had moved in, Seborn said to me, "You know how the greatest gift we could give our kids is each other. I feel the same about the boys. I'm so glad they have each other to experience this with."
And I didn't realize how important this night was to Makkedah until the night upon us.
I love this family.
The girls were creating my lantern with me. It was so neat to see their passion and creativity come to life in it.
And it was finally time as we each helped one another light and lift off our lanterns. Filled with our hopes, dreams, and loves in life.
The smiles on their faces...
Makkedah had asked me if she could help let go of my lantern. I had found out that this was a sort of a dream come true for her. She did not know that lantern lighting was something in real life. She had only seen it in the Rapunzel movie and once the laterns began to float in the sky above her, her jaw dropped, you could almost hear her heart pounding, and the smile on her face was as brig as the lights.
I stood there with the lantern we had created together and we slowly lit it and every so gently pushed it up to soar into the sky. The expression on her face was priceless- absolutely joy-filled mixed with the most intense awe-struck enthusiasm. You can see video of our lighting below + her reaction.
It was a dream come into reality for her that night.
Nehemiah shouted out, "This was the best night in the whole universe!"
And as I stood there, watching the sky above me filled with lights and dreams, I was filled with such contentment. Thankful to God for that very moment.
It may have just been lights in the sky but it was absolutely magical. And it was an evening to remember and an experience that bonded us together. We created memories that night. Fighting over Bomb pops, sharing our cultures, playing flashlight tag, and sitting in the dirt in a field of strangers. It was quite the beautiful evening.
It's definitely one of those bucket list items I think everyone should add.