Yesterday, we returned from a short trip to Ohio to see Nicholas' cousin, Annalise, get married. The really, really hard thing (I won't beat around the bush) about living so far from family is that we miss out on a lot. I've written about loving friends and family from afar before, because this is a recurring issue, and one that never really gets easier. Time with both sides of our families is precious. This particular visit was much too short, but still so wonderful.

The weather set the tone for some wonderful relaxing and lots of coffee-drinking. We had coffee on grandma and grandpa's patio, with 70 degree temps and a light breeze. We went out to eat on Friday night and sat on the restaurant patio. We woke up early and had coffee on the porch and then took the dogs for a walk in sweatshirts and Chacos. We cuddled with the dogs and blankets and enjoyed early morning quiet and some amazing french toast. And the weather was unbelievably pleasant. Just a light crispy feeling in the morning and warmth in the afternoon. The Midwest does fall so well

On Friday, we took impromptu family photos outside, some holding the puppies, and some where you can tell they desperately want to be held (you can see Ted wanting someone, anyone to pick him up). On Saturday, we got ready for and attended the wedding in a beautiful historical church in downtown Canton (congratulations, Justin and Annalise!). We caught up with family that we haven't seen in years. We celebrated the bride and groom, danced to The Electric Slide, ate the best roasted vegetables and prime rib, and drank pumpkin spice lattes (seriously fun!). And we talked with anticipation about future visits to cousins and grandparents and aunts and uncles because seeing each other face-to-face matters. I just read an article about Digital Fortresses and Face-to-face Love today. Here is an excerpt that especially resonated with me: 

The apostle John speaks poignantly into our dilemma — and not just once, but twice. He writes at the end of his second letter, “Though I have much to write to you, I would rather not use paper and ink. Instead I hope to come to you and talk face to face, so that our joy may be complete” (2 John 12). John is not angling to erode our appreciation for paper and ink (or pixels), but he is celebrating the priority and vitality of relating face to face.

In case we miss it there, or think it’s a throwaway statement, God gave more of Scripture’s real estate to the same reminder in John’s third letter: “I had much to write to you, but I would rather not write with pen and ink. I hope to see you soon, and we will talk face to face” (3 John 13–14).

What raises the stakes in these words from John is that he’s talking about remote communication from an apostle of the risen Christ. John was penning God-breathed Scripture with each dip of his pen and stroke on the page, and yet he abbreviates the potential writing of the Bible in view of the priority of getting face to face.

I don't have a great cure-all solution for this distance-related heartache, when we live in Texas and family and friends live in several other states. But I'll tell you that we're going to continue to try to prioritize precious face-to-face time. And in its absence, there is merit in intentional remote conversation. If the homesickness and heartache settle in, I will cling to the promise that my joy is found in Christ, not in merely living close to loved ones. Additionally, praying for one another keeps conversation real and authentic, and it maintains more of an eternal undercurrent in our time here. How great is the love we have for friends and family—how much greater is His love for us??

After all, our reality is that each day propels us a bit closer toward heaven, when all my family, all my brothers and sisters in Christ, really will be reunited. And that will be so much more incredible than any crisp, fall, Midwestern morning.