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But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. –John 1:12 & 13

Something happened in my 27 years at Berry that was totally unexpected: A family was born—The Goshcarmley family. Not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of choice.

goshcarmley expandedHow it began is clear; exactly when isn’t as clear. “Goshcarmley” consists of three families: Goshorns, Carmonys & Conleys. The Carmonys, Brian and Connie first began staying with us at Hotel Goshorn, in our apartment in Thomas Berry Hall. Jan & I adopted them and they became family. Later, Jennifer Davis came along and when she married Jason Conley, the Conleys became the third leg of the Goshcarmley family.

For years, the apartment in Thomas Berry was the “homestead” where we’d all gather for Mt. Day, New Years and Fourth of July. Since our departure from Berry in August 2013, Goshcarmley family reunions have been less frequent and the new homestead is the Carmony house.

We are a family by choice, not by blood. It takes work to keep the Goshcarmleys going, to maintain the family. For a time, I feared that what happened to us at Berry would be the death knell to the Goshcarmleys. It has not. You see, we’re a family and location doesn’t matter. I have been the common denominator, but this past weekend, at our most recent reunion, I came to realize that Goshcarmley will live beyond me. I may be the patriarch, but Goshcarmley has a life of its own.

I saw that as we gathered this past weekend for Thanksgiving. We decided to have Thanksgiving early for a variety of reasons, but it was also the first Thanksgiving that we’ve had together. As we gathered around the table, it was clear that we’re every bit as much a family as if we had the same parents.

I am extremely thankful for this family. Life is not the same since we left Berry and our lives have been tossed to and fro in more ways than one. A few things have stayed the same—Jesus is Lord and the Goshcarmleys are going strong!