Well, I've been home for about 3 weeks now. I am happy to be home and I'm not. Since transitions always leaving me feeling a bit blue, these 3 weeks have been strange. I've really enjoyed seeing our friends, Ross' parents, and being back at church. I've somewhat enjoyed being back in my house. And I'm not enjoying unpacking and all the piles of stuff I must deal with.
Mostly, I've been instrospective. I've been processing all that this summer was to us. Although you might not know it from reading this blog, a lot more took place in me and in our family than just cool sight-seeing and outings. So much changed in us this summer, in who we are, in what God did in us, and in how we want to be and look at life differently. I posted mostly about the outings, the fun stuff, the vacation-y parts of our life because it's easier to post about that stuff. At least it is for me. It's not as easy to post about the growing and stretching that's slowly occurring in me. It's not as easy to talk about the serious stuff, the changes that have occurred in me and the deeper things I am growing through.
I’ve always loved school supplies. As a kid, I loved buying new school supplies every year. I am sure I didn’t really need new stuff every single year, but it was still so much fun to get the new folders, a cute, new trapper-keeper, and the big box of 64 crayons. I loved that box with the sharpener on the back. There were so many great colors in that box with such awesome names. I always thought about whose job it was to make up those crayon names and what a cool job that must be. I loved organizing the crayons by color watching them fade from one side of the box to the other, trying to figure out where to put the black and brown ones.
In my house now I have a plastic shoe box full of crayons. But most of them are not the sharp, well-cared-for crayons of my childhood. They are little nubs of color, with peeling paper and no visible names. There are lots of colors in there and I pull them out for the kids weekly. They like the big box of crayons. As I processed this summer, I realized that I feel like if my life were a coloring book, this summer I used the big box of sharp crayons to color. It’s like the colors are brighter, the lines are more precise, and we used all the really cool, unique colors.
Here are some of the things that I’ve learned from this summer (in list form because I think in lists.)
1. I love how our little unit grew so close to each other. The absence of our community and family really gave us the chance to dig into each other more, to spend every waking minute together, and in the process become even better for each other. Sam and Jude were best friends all summer, playing so well, and glowing in each other's company. Naomi came into her own with the boys and me. She and I smoothed over some of our rough edges (as we can sometimes get cross-ways with each other) and the boys brought her into play time much better than ever before. Being in a house full of girl-toys helped that too. The boys may have dressed up in princess dresses a couple of times, but you didn't hear it from me. Ross was around us about the same amount as he usually is (since he works from home), but he was with us more than he usually it. When not writing, he took off from the work that is normally pulling at him, freeing him up to focus on us. And he was so full of joy to be writing that it spilled over to us.
2. I loved the slowed-down pace our life took on this summer. It was inevitable and purposed to be that way. That's what a sabbatical is. And even with Ross songwriting, our life was much slower. I am still trying to figure out how to bring some of that back into our life here, trying to figure out if that's even possible. I attribute it to the absence of a few, albeit big things: our house, our church, and CC (classical conversations). I love all those things. Very much. Very, very much. But it was nice to have a break. Let me elaborate:
*Our house, a century-old rambler, is full of charm and headaches. Things are always breaking and it's a bit of a beast to keep clean, organized, and maintained. It was nice to be in someone else's house where all I had to do was clean every couple of weeks. No organizing, fixing, painting, decorating, etc. I realized how much of my mental energy normally gets swallowed up by my house and it was a nice break for my brain and time.
*Our church...we love. But with Ross as an elder, things can get a little overwhelming sometimes. People are messy and broken and have all kinds of problems. It's our calling and life's work to walk with people through all that. But thankfully our church also recognizes that the leaders need rest and give accordingly. So many pastors burn out and even walk away from the Lord because it can just get to be too much. Praise the Lord that our church protects and cares for the leaders enough to give them a paid sabbatical!
*Classical Conversations....love it too. It's our road map for walking through educating our children in the home. I plan to write about it at some point because it's been such a blessing to us. But it's also time consuming being a tutor and keeping up with all of it. Hurray for summer break. We truly needed it.
3. I once skimmed a book on the different ways people relate to or feel close to God, things like music, reading or theology study, being with people who love God, being in nature. I instantly knew that I was in what they called the naturalist category. I most definitely feel closer to the Lord through nature and creation. I have always loved being outside and even as a child preferred playing in the woods over playing with toys any day. I am still that way. I feel like God is with me, really with me, speaking to my soul when I am outside, particularly when I am outside where it's pretty. It’s so important to me that I feel like I could be prone to have that seasonal affective disorder a little bit if the weather was such that staying indoors was necessary for too long. I could not do really, long cold winters. I can hardly do long, scorching summers, but prefer them to cold because I can swim. Anyway, this summer I was surrounded by beauty so much. In Nashville, there are lots of hills and lakes and woods. We had a really great lake near our house where I loved to hike and run. We were blessed with unusually cool weather most of our time there and had fewer than 10 really hot days the whole time.
We also got to spend a weekend in the mountains of West Virginia, drive through the Smoky Mountains twice, spend a week on the Atlantic coast, and finish our summer in my favorite place, Colorado. I felt like I was drinking in the beauty being constantly amazed at God’s workmanship in all the details.
I like Texas, and I'm not here to dog on my home, but it's not that pretty here. It's flat and I love hills and mountains. It's dry and I love rivers and oceans. It's nice in an average sort of way. I want to live here. I love people more than I love pretty places and the people I love are here. But sometimes I need to see beautiful places in the world, to be reminded of God in the way that is most satisfying to me. I miss that now that I’m home. It might be what I miss most.
4. Personally, I grew in some really wonderful ways. Although the summer was fun and exciting, it wasn’t always comfortable. Being someone who takes change a little hard, I was stretched and challenged to depend more on God because we were constantly in transition. I could hardly settle in before we went somewhere else. And yet that desire to settle in continues to be a powerful one for me. I long to feel settled while at the same time yearning for adventure. I think that’s eternity inside me, His Kingdom come, where I will forever be on an adventure with the Lord, fulfilling His plan and being settled in my soul, not to a place but into Him. It’s part of his pruning of me, to put me into a life where I can’t “settle in” once and for all. A life where I am dependent on Him and needy for His closeness so that whether I am home or not, He is my home.
I have more to process from this summer, more to come.