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This past year I attended the most beautiful baby shower I have ever been to in my life. The mother-to-be wasn’t pregnant. She had adopted one little girl, was in the process of adopting a brother and sister, and was awaiting the placement of their baby brother immediately following his birth. All four children would be under four years old. Wow. I think the whole room of supportive women felt that way. In awe of this beautiful woman who saw a need and just simply said yes. Complete unselflessness.

I got so sick that night. The flu or something. So while I sat there I could feel my body breaking down and getting worse by the minute. Before long it felt like I couldn’t handle my body anymore, like I was hovering somewhere above it. Despite how awful I felt I will never forget what this woman stood up to say. She pointed out another, equally selfless, woman in the room, my now dear friend Arica. Arica was one of the first to adopt within this particular community of people. She and her husband adopted two precious children, and when they did, I’m sure they had no idea that God would use it to affect many more lives than just their own. The mother-to-be let Arica and everyone know how incredible, inspiring and important her example was. So many are afraid of adoption. Arica gave everyone a first-hand view that where there is love, there is nothing to fear. Since Arica’s journey, many more families have stepped up to foster and/or adopt.

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On a normal day, though, I don’t even remember that Arica adopted two children. I just think of them as her children, and I know that she’s funny and patient and super chill. So I like her. And my daugher, who has her for a CC tutor, likes her. And I also like her children, who are well-mannered and always smiling. So when she says to me on the last day of CC, “I’m going to the mountains this week…wanna go?” I like her even more. Smile

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What a brave soul she was. There was this one time that my husband and I went on a trip with people I didn’t know so well yet…and I barely spoke to them again. It went that badly. I knew there was the same chance, because I didn’t know Arica very well yet.

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There actually were some rough spots in my trip. I was traveling at a particularly horrid time of month, in which I become a particularly horrid sort of person. I also pulled my beloved pop-up camper up there, which had a couple of issues I hadn’t tended to before leaving. And then, seeing children stare at screens when there are wide open spaces and other people to entertain themselves with always makes me cranky. But that’s my own issue. My ideals are of little value if I don’t have love. Feel free to remind me of that each and every time you see me.

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When I lost patience, Arica never lost patience with me. She calmed me, she helped me, she encouraged me. I even had glorious heat in my camper on the last night of our stay. When each night was a forty degree one.

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She was so accommodating and gracious, as was her mom, whom I have yet to meet but who allowed a stranger and her three children to stay on her eleven acres while she honeymooned. (Yeah, she probably wasn’t worried about much.)

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She helped my daughter find a new love for horses, which she had never been around in her life. She was a natural, as Arica is with all the animals.

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She drove with us out to Hanging Rock State Park, which was beautiful and had waterfalls, one of my favorite things now that I have discovered them! We could have spent hours and hours and hours exploring Hanging Rock, but having young children makes for shorter day trips. We could see Pilot Mountain in the distance during our drive to the park, and though we didn’t make it to Mayberry (uh, Mount Airy, I mean, Mount Airy) this time as it is to the west in Surry County, I was able to breath in the presence of Andy Griffith and have Arica listen to all of my nerd talk about him.

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Stokes County was a breath of fresh air. For me, for my children. And I am glad to say that even after seeing some of my ugly, Arica does still talk to me. And I have one more friend that I admire for the peaceful, giving, accepting, loving way she lives her life. She is like the breath of fresh air that her home county is. There is a reason her children are always smiling.

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