• Nick Henderson

Family isn’t always about blood

“Blood doesn’t make family, love does.” - Anonymous

Recently I posted a picture on my social media sites with a family by the name of the Rieland’s.

Joe and Bonnie Rieland, along with their three young children - whom I love dearly. They are a solid family... but not blood related to me in any way.

Joe was my baseball coach in high school while also being my church small group leader. We established a strong bound through both sports and our faith.

Through that bound, I eventually connected with the rest of his family - Bonnie and their only child at the time, Nathan.

And though we share no DNA, I still consider them my family to this day.

They support and encourage me. They call me out when I have a bad perspective and even keep me accountable to the way of life I’m called to adhere to.

But, most importantly, they were there for me in the time in my life when I hit rock bottom.

As most know, my single mom passed away when I was a sophomore in college. It was sudden and very unexpected - you can read more on that story on another blog titled “trial to testimony.”

I was in shambles emotionally, mentally and financially.

It also created some obvious complexities in my life considering I had no place to live or real means to support myself.

Knowing this, I was arriving into my hometown only hours after my mom’s passing when Joe called me and asked me where I was going.

I told him I had no clue. I had no where to go.

He told me that he had taken the day off school and to come to his house. He cooked me breakfast and just sat with me. He didn’t say much - words are futile in that type of moment anyways.

It was his actions that spoke plenty of compassion.

He encouraged me to stay the week at his house with his family as I planned my mom’s funeral - in which I agreed to do so. After the week was up, I went back to school to finish my semester.

After the semester, I was still left with a significant dilemma: where I would live. This dilemma didn't last long as Joe and Bonnie were more than gracious to allow me to stay there that summer break.

That summer turned into fall, fall into winter and so on. They supported and provided for me when I needed someone most and treated me like I was one of their own.

From Christmas presents, to family reunions, birthdays - you name it. It was all so incredible.

Now, I will take this moment to say that there were so many people who came to my aide, both blood family and friends alike, but the Rieland’s went above and beyond and for that I am eternally grateful.

Fast forward five years later and I don’t live with them anymore or in the same city for that matter - but our familial bound continues.

In the case of family, it’s not always about blood, it’s more about love.

Their love is so undeserved, yet so necessary for my life.

In fact, this blog really isn’t super applicable in nature, instead it is more of a public service announcement about a group of people who showcased the love of Christ in the most tangible way I have ever experienced in my life.

Thank you to the Rieland family, for making me feel like family.

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