Seven Years

Thursday, May 23, 2013

On Saturday, some of our dearest friends are throwing us a "Bon Voyage" party at the park near our home.  EVERYONE is invited - so, if you know us well enough to hug us, I hope to see you there!  And, just to entice you to come and get that Pardy hug in before we make our grand departure (we're still here 2 more weeks in case you can't make it, btw) I've put together a little "Cali Short" to capture our time here. (Yes, go grab the tissues before you hit play.  You've been warned.)

I did this for just a few reasons:  first, because I was driving to Target one afternoon a few weeks ago and that catchy Lumineers song came on the radio and all of a sudden I caught a vision of everything that had happened to my life in the last seven years since living in California, and tears started streaming down my face in sheer thanksgiving for all I had experienced.

Also, because there was no way to name each and every person who has known us from the beginning or impacted our lives significantly, or blessed us beyond all measure - the list is just too long.  Because sometimes when you look back on the sum of your blessings it brings renewed hope for the unknown of what is to come.  Because too much has happened not to share.  Because I needed a creative outlet for coping with the emotions of this process.  And finally - because I can't completely capture the last seven years in any kind of tangible way to truly describe to people all it has meant to me - but, heck if I'm not gonna try.

Enjoy. xoxo


Thursday, May 16, 2013

It's early.  I should still be asleep, but something in me just decided to get up and start the day while it is still quiet.  I just stood in the doorway of our back patio and let the cool breeze of the morning seep through the screen door as I hit the button on our coffee maker and let the aroma clench my senses awake.

I feel like I'm in a Folgers commercial.  The house has yet to stir, but the mother wakes up and stretches, getting a moment of peace to herself.  That's totally me right now, except the lighting's not as good and my skin looks worse/normal than those chipper ladies on TV.  My hair's askew, my breath is terrible, and there are no sunbeams piercing through the window putting a perfect glimmer on my coffee mug.  But, there is peace.  There is quiet.  And that's just as miraculous as any of those other things around here.

And then I turn around.  Whoa.  This is definitely not a commercial set.

Boxes, packing tape, bubble wrap, and a zillion other items that separate normal every day life from the sudden "moving squalor" that has taken over my home.  "Where am I?" I wonder.

The beginning of the end is here.  The first of the last of things has begun.  And as we get minute-by-minute closer to our impending move across country to Nashville, Tennessee, everything about living here is getting more and more special and more and more unsettling.  It's all just so very weird.

The art, books, CDs, and DVDs are packed.  The tops of both our bedroom closets are packed.  Even the covers on our light switches and plug-ins are removed.  And suddenly I feel like I'm living in a Whoville home after the Grinch has come and stolen all but the last can of Who-Hash.  He's left hooks and wires dangling uselessly, making me scratch my head as to what had belonged there before and why it ever mattered.

It's amazing what you can live without for weeks.  As you can imagine, nothing makes you evaluate and re-evaluate your things more than having to remove them from their home and suddenly be stored away in a receptacle that will get them from point A to point B.  I don't know how many times over the last several days I've said "We own this?" or "Where did this come from?" and then gently toss it into the growing Goodwill pile.  It's relieving and bewildering and upsetting all at the same time.

Nothing about moving is pretty.  And we're at that grand point of packing where its all going to get worse before it gets better.  Everything is OUT, yet not quite sorted through or put away.  And, certainly, the mega-question of them all is How in the world will all this fit in a 16-foot truck?  That miracle has yet to be determined!

The final weeks are here.  The packing has begun.  And my heart is caught in the middle of the roller coaster that is dread and excitement, hope and fear, making this experience bittersweet at best.  As I sip my coffee and soak in a moment of this crisp morning silence, I'm simply reminded to stop and stare at the squalor.  I'm reminded to not back down now, not shy away from the messy confrontation of what is happening.

I don't want to miss anything - even the tearful good-bye hugs, or the embarrassing ugly-cry moments, or the chance to tell someone in person what they've meant to me.  Sure, it might look like a nice neat little package on the outside, just like these boxes, but inside is a miscellaneous mess of emotions that some days I can't quite handle.  That's okay too.

So, if you see me in the supermarket with mascara streaming down my face, or you catch me in the In-n-Out drive through stuffing my face with "just one more last In-n-Out burger!", or you get attack-hugged by me and don't know what to say...Just take it.  Just let me.  Just know you are witnessing the beautiful mess of a great big process in an honest life.  Just know that each one of you who reads this, who prays for us, who loves us from near or far - you are all part of this.  You matter to me, and I am packing you up in a neat little box in my heart and taking it with me wherever I go.  It's weird and unsettling, just like life...and just like my crazy home right now.

Now, that I would like to see in a Folgers commercial.  Someone hand me coffee and Kleenex!


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

You've probably heard the old adage about how "things come in threes".  I don't know how legitimate that statement is, but sometimes truth is stranger than fiction.  Today, in the midst of a very tiring, very icky, very staying-all-day-in-my-jammies kind of day, I had three surprising and delightful things come my way.  It wasn't much, but it was unexpected and beneficial.  I'm not purposefully trying to be vague, it's just that the specifics of what happened aren't what's important to this story.

To sum it up, it basically amounts to an encouraging email, a phone call of hope, and a potential opportunity.  Okay, I'll admit that's rather vague...but, trust me, I'm sparing you semantics.  The important thing here, is that I woke up to a groggy disaster, and God continually got in my face with a blessing until I was ready to rejoice in the day that He had made.

Two nights ago, I spent a very crowded and sleepless night in bed with both my girls.  Last night, as one of them was reeling from the stomach flu, I took the other to bed with me again, only to be jabbed in the ribs throughout the night (again).  This morning, my three-year-old still had a fever and so we all tried to make the best of it by hunkering down in front of a Disney movie marathon...which really got old by the second round of watching Toy Story.  The girls were cranky, antsy, and I was busy either washing dishes or pillow cases.  You get the picture...not exactly a dream day at home.

But, nearing the end of the day, while I was scrubbing the last sippy cup and putting away the bleach and folding up towels and cracking my knuckles for the millionth time...I got to thinking about those three very intentional moments of the day that God had put in my face to remind me of His presence.  I felt blessed!  I didn't feel the stress of what even a usual day brings me, let alone one where I'm shut up inside the house allllll day and unable to get a breath of fresh air...and yet, here I was, feeling rather refreshed!

It was just what my heart needed - that feeling of fullness that God is in control and I'm not.  That, He knows what I need before I even know I want it.  That, He is working behind the scenes and in my favor for efforts I'm not yet even aware of.  And, it occurred to me, plain as day, that there are three simple lessons for my life that brought me this awareness.  Three sort of "commandments" that, when I keep my sights set on how Jesus would connect with others and strive for what is Holy (and attain, in His case) that I can feel this inner sense of assurance to trust and obey more and more.

Those might sound like some major concepts, but it breaks down into these three, very simple understandings:

  1. Build Bridges
  2. Burn Idols
  3. Don't get the first two mixed up.
Go ahead, read it again.  Let it resonate for a moment.  I've had to let it marinate in my soul all day and I'm still soaking this new revelation in.  

Make and keep connections that are valuable to your life - and don't burn bridges.  Keep Christ first, above all other measurements of love or successes - don't build up false goals to replace The Utmost.  

I needed this today.  In the middle of crazy, disgusting chaos at one end of the spectrum and then, grace, faith, hope, and love all being shoved into my face at the other end of the spectrum, I was forced to sit in the middle and be reminded to lift my head to Jesus, cast my burdens on Him, and stay focused on the truth that He is good.

Maybe it is true that good things come in threes.  But, I'm not going to limit God to any number.  I'm just going to keep trying to build bridges, burn idols, and count my blessings as I set my sights on His faithfulness.


Puzzle Peace

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

My life is like a giant game of Tetris right now.  Remember Tetris?  Of course you do.  A geometric nightmare of fun that you obsessed over on your Gameboy on long family road trips as a kid?  Ah yes, Tetris.  Every little piece fitting together to magically line up, only to allow more and more pieces to make their way faster and faster towards triumph or demise.  I loved it, I hated it, and yet all I could do was keep on trying.  Whew!

Tetris.  Such a puzzle.  So frustrating and exhilarating all at once.  I feel that!

Between grad school coming and a clock ticking over my head with our impending move cross country, my life is a constant puzzle of new little pieces fitting together while rows and rows blink out of existence, only to offer up new and challenging pieces in their place.  You feel me on this?  Can you tell I'm writing out of adrenaline and exhaustion?  Okay, keep with me.

Here's what you see:  happy photos and status updates of announcing new and thrilling adventures for our family.  Here's what you don't see:  stressed out me in the middle of the night, lying awake in bed and combatting new fears with prayers of longing and new worries with a constant stream of information I have no control over.  Here's what you see:  hugs and happy faces and my girls beaming over living near their cousins soon.  Here's what you don't see:  the door closes and I burst into tears at the thought of leaving friends that have become family to us and a neighborhood and job that offers comfort and security.  Here's what you see:  confidence and obedience.  Here's what you don't see:  frustration and fear.

See it.  Hear me out.  This is a BLESSING, but it's not without its struggles.  I don't want to sugarcoat this impossibly potent time in our lives by trying to tell you how easy it is.  I don't want you to feel sorry for me at all - rather, I want you to witness the process and the vulnerability here that I'm offering an honest look at a real-life milestone, pitfalls, valleys and mountains of success and all.  I want you to see the burden and strife and worry that I deal with right now so that when the day comes for me to shout "PRAISE BE" from the rooftops, you will be right with me understanding that it wasn't always so beautiful.

Gang, there is a big difference between doubt and fear.  I have NO DOUBT that my God will provide for my family.  I have no doubt that God will bring a job for my husband when we/he needs it.  That we will survive and give God the glory for it.  I have no doubt that we are supposed to move and that we are being obedient and trusting in the only unchanging thing we can.

BUT, I absolutely have fear.  I am human and in constant need of the reminder that my fear (while, warranted) is not without defense.  I have plenty of "reasons" to worry and give up and be frustrated and sad.  It's just that NONE of these things are bigger than my GOD.  None.  (I'm clinging to this truth!)

I lay awake at night paralyzed by the unknown.  And then, I turn over in my cozy bed and pull the covers up and snuggle my face down and think about my healthy, sleeping girls and my handsome, snoring husband who are just feet away from me.  I'm literally LAYING IN COMFORT worrying about discomfort.  Let's recognize the irony of this.

So I roll my eyes at myself and I think about the roof over my head, my full belly, my countless belongings and loved ones and friends and then the list goes on and on so long that I forget what in the world I was worried about.  Counting my blessings seems SO SIMPLE, but not silly.  I think about how ridiculous I kind of am for ever worrying in the first place that God might forget something if I don't mention it to Him in my worrisome prayers again and again and again.  He doesn't. He won't.

God doesn't "just remember".  God KNOWS.  He's always known.  He already knows.  He's already taken care of it.  All this should be enough to wipe away my tears and fears and eliminate any inkling of potential doubt that might be brewing in my heartburning chest...but, I still have to be reminded of it each and every day.  UGH!  Sometimes it is just so frustrating being human, right?!  Bah!

God is fitting this puzzle together, one piece at a time, in HIS time.  I can't force these pieces of moving to Nashville, I have to just wait and pray and actively be ready to participate as the doors open in front of me.  A job will come.  It's a massive puzzle piece, but it's not bigger than my God.  The emotions that surround this move will continue to ebb and flow for some time.  The ache of saying good-byes make this month one of the longest and shortest of my life.

God, keep your steadfast peace around my anxious heart.  Swell my spirit with your Spirit and let the calm of Your presence keep me in the present.  Replace my fears with faithfulness, and renew my longing for Your perfect timing.  Thank you for your provision, protection, and peace.  

And can a girl get a mighty "AMEN!"
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