Dear Amesy and Little,

It has been 6 months since this adventure began. 
184 sleeps.
24 flips through my agenda.
And countless silly weekends spent on FaceTime. 
We have celebrated two out of our three birthdays and each started new adventures in school.

I still find you in my weekly trips to Target, Little, and tell everyone I can about how brilliant you are, Amesy. I never could have imagined that even though 2,490 miles separate us, we remain a constant in each other's lives. 
But then I remember, of course, that you are a part of my tribe.

So, what makes up a tribe?
Should we think about our tribe in a historical sense?
A tribe is traditionally defined as a "distinct people, dependent on their land for their livelihood, who are largely self sufficient and not integrated into the national society." I think the closest we ever got to depending on our land was picking blackberries on the way to the bus stop, so maybe this does not fit for us. 
But I do find the self sufficiency piece valid. 
You see, picking your tribe is an ongoing process. Like the Cumberland River in Nashville, things ebb and flow as they are meant to.

Coming to college I find myself once again searching for those to slip into my tribe. Some days, I feel like I am merely treading the water around me, overwhelmed by the rush of it all. Like my favorite Kindergartner I find myself thinking "what if I don't make any new friends?!" It is on these days that I have to hop out of the water, and re-evaluate what it means to be a part of my world.

I often do that by thinking of the two of you.

I find comfort in people like you Amesy.
I see you when I meet people who are kind beyond measure, and I wonder how they got to be so good. A heart of gold in your river is always welcome. Those who can offer a different perspective or stand strong in their faith will make you a better person. Their advice may not always be comfortable, but their endless quest for truth will guide you through the roughest rapids.
I also find you in those who are willing to spend the day just being with me. As you know that is often around the table, with snacks and craft supplies for all. I suppose not everyone needs a craft-obsessed friend in their tribe, although if anyone needs one I'm your girl. Instead, I urge you to find those who you share common interests with. Who will talk about silly shows with you, or share their prized sequin collection, or even take a long hike with you to revel in God's creation. These people will never need explaining, as there is an unspoken bond in the things you share.

The people in the world like you, Little, stretch me.
They are outgoing and bring unapologetic joy to those who surround them. Swimming alongside opposites will keep you forever changing and growing along your journey. They encourage you to try new things, but never leave you struggling alone. These people have a knack for making you feel included even when you stick out like a log in the current.
The head member of my tribe operates in this same way. 
She meets no stranger and manages to keep me bold from miles away. I look for more adventurers like the two of you, to inspire me to say "yes" even when I do not feel like it and to make the effort without knowing the outcome.
If I could build a tribe of a million Amesy & Littles I would be blessed beyond measure. We would surely be self sufficient, like the dictionary definition of tribe proclaims, because you two make me complete. I find this idea sometimes hard to grasp, but I have seen it at work.

Your tribe should be there for you in all seasons and weather.
My tribe shows up for me whether I specifically call or even just by knowing me as a person.

Months ago, I was feeling homesick and a little unsure of it all.
I checked my email as I did everyday and found that a member of my tribe had done just that.
Your mama, yes your mom is a core member of my tribe too, had made it possible for me to come home and love on you in a time when I needed that familiarness more than ever. Not once did I call and beg her to come home, instead she was answer to my silent prayers without even knowing it.

Sometimes, your tribe shows up for you in your current state.
For me, this has been unexpected mail from home and from Nashville friends that reminds me why I am on this journey. Although nothing they give says "I believe in you," or lays it out in a stock photo motivational poster, their thought alone brings you peace. It is these gestures from your tribe that come like miracles, giving you a "yes, you are loved and right where you are meant to be" above the rest of it all.

More than anything, your tribe should forever grow and be there for you.
I look for those who will get coffee with me, even if it is almost $5 and we should be studying. Who will allow me to chat for hours, as we all know I can do, but will also add in their opinions and life stories while calling me out when I need it.
I look for those who will hug me, cry with me and support me even when I am completely unlovable. This does not just meaning loving grumpy, mean morning Ali, but the Ali who is running on no sleep, has 3 assignments due and is beyond reasoning with. In those moments my tribe does not have to like me, and bless those who still do, but they just have to love me and bear witness to it all without wavering.
Most importantly, I look for those who will make me better. Who will challenge my beliefs and actions and keep me accountable. If a tribe is to be self sufficient, they must keep each other in check. Just like a river rises and falls with the rain, my tribe must be able to stand up for what is right and challenge the injustices around us.

So that is it.
Simple right?
If only!

Although I am still searching for a tribe who is crazy enough to spend nights with me crafting and discussing our journeys, I can tell you that the tribe always comes. The people who are meant to be in your life will be put there when you need them most. Like the two of you.

Thank you for being in my tribe.
Thank you for letting me into yours.
Keep your hearts forever open to those who are searching for a tribe like yours, and know that you are loved beyond measure.