Let me tell you about it…

Well, hello Inspire a Fire readers! It’s been quite a while since we last “spoke” and I’m happy to be back on your screens. In the past year a lot has happened in my life, especially when it comes to family. Let me tell you about it…

May of last year was supposed to be my college graduation month. Instead, it became the month in which my grandmother passed away. No tears here, because she had been ready to go home for a long time. Unfortunately, her passing meant missing my graduation and coming down to my hometown for her funeral. I say unfortunately because graduation was a big deal, and even though I tried to pretend it didn’t bother me, I was sad to miss it. However, being back in the Sunshine state after thirteen years away has been the best thing that could’ve happened.

joanie, jenni, and granddad

After her passing, coming down to Florida and then returning to the Midwest for the Write-to-Publish conference, my mom and I made the permanent move down to Fort Walton Beach. My dad, however, stayed in Iowa and my family was separated for over five months.

During that five months I spent more time with my grandfather, my first ever best friend, than I had in thirteen years. It was amazing! My mom, grandfather and I had so many adventures and the kind of fun that creates life-long memories.

Then, in August, I moved to Los Angeles, California for an internship. I had never been away from home, so of course when I moved for the first time I had to be on the other side of the country. It was terrifying and invigorating and I would do it all over again.

I came home close to Thanksgiving and that was when my dad was reunited with our family. It was bittersweet, because once we were all reunited there was lots of family drama and muck to work through. But that’s all part of it, right? Being a family means dealing with the messes, even when it hurts. It’s learning to love again after you’ve been broken and bruised beyond recognition. It’s fighting like cats and dogs, but still being able to have fun at the end of the day.

joanie & jenni in nyc

Now, it’s August 2018 and life is a lot different than it was few months ago. My family found a home church, has started mending fences, and met some incredible friends that have quickly become family.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned throughout this entire journey is that family is forever whether you like it or not. That means they’re there when you’re angry, excited, happy, sad, and everything in between. And that family isn’t always biological. You can have those special friends you choose as brothers and sisters. The people who won’t abandon you when you go a little crazy, have a horrible day, and think you’re on the cusp of a mental breakdown.

This past year hasn’t been all family fun, but it has been a year I’ll never forget. So, in close, I want to thank some special people for helping me not fly off the handle. Thank you to my friends, who are now family members for life. You are appreciated and loved beyond measure.

Thank you to my grandfather and my dad for driving me nuts, sometimes breaking my heart, and reminding me the importance of God’s grace, mercy and forgiveness.

Finally, thank you to my mom, best friend, and one constant light in my life. She has been my cheerleader through every beautiful moment and has been my shoulder to cry on in every ugly one. You’re a rockstar, Mom! I love you to pieces and wouldn’t be able to survive this life without you.

What kind of family fun have you experienced recently? I’d love to know!

Jenni Beaver

Jenni is a twenty-something storyteller from the Sunshine State. When she's not writing a novel or screenplay, she's editing a video or film for the business she co-owns with her mom. She loves animals and has SIX pets! Everyday she tries to stay positive, inspired, and caffeinated.

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