This morning I threw a loaf of cinnamon bread in the oven, packaged up teacher appreciation gifts, dropped Claire off at school, and then spent a couple of hours at church with my ladies lifegroup eating and chatting.
And this afternoon I watched the girls play in the yard, sent them to the neighbor’s house to “help” her lay mulch, and then handled our very first bee sting. I have often been absolutely floored by the beauty of this Midwest landscape – spring gardens and autumn harvest! – and I have been even more overwhelmed by the sincere love of the people here.
One year ago we were loading up the truck, leaving the keys on the counter, hugging our friends, and squeezing in a few last minute memories at our old home in Florida. That last night, 365 days ago, we sat on the floor in an empty room with friends and laughed and cried. We sat there until the sun was long gone, not wanting it to be over.
And so, while the events of one year ago seem so recent and real, they are also so foreign. It’s like another person lived the move, the waiting, the weeks in hotels, and the three months of single parenting while Dan blazed the trail ahead of us.
So much has changed in twelve months. In 365 short (and long) days, we have made a new home in a new state and welcomed a third child. And, while I am very happy here, it doesn’t diminish the joy we experienced for years there.
Two homes and two lives at two extremes.
I wish I could write a beautiful post about how much I have learned in the last year and how much God has done in me. I wish I could write poetically about seasons and change and growth. But that isn’t what this is going to be.
The truth is that the past year has taught me two things, primarily: what loneliness feels like, and what faith feels like. Loneliness isn’t a burden I bear but it is more like an achy joint. Most days I don’t feel it but a turn in the weather or the bridge of a familiar song or a booth with one side left empty can give the loneliness new vigor.
When tragedy strikes the old home, I wish I could be there to grieve. Grieving from a distance is hard. And when joy comes to the old home, I wish I could be there to celebrate. Celebrating from a distance is also hard. While most of my days are spent surrounded by three small humans I often exist in the feeling of being an outsider looking in at the lives of the people who live here.
But with loneliness comes a blessing. This season has reminded me that this world is not my home and the things here will not, and should not, satisfy me. His word is a light to me now more than ever and gift of prayer is more a comfort and a respite than ever before. Pushing into the moments of loneliness, uncertainty, and exclusion have brought me nearer to the friend that sticks closer than a brother, the one who laid down His life for me, and who knew me in my mother’s womb.
I have learned that a good neighbor can make a huge difference. I have learned that watching the seasons change is a gift. I have learned, again, that a church family is the best kind of family.
But, I think, the biggest thing I have learned is that no pain, no loneliness, no doubt, and no disappointment is wasted with God. No outsider is outside His gaze. No newcomer is outside His welcome. No change is outside His control. And no greater joy can be found than the one found in Him when you are right where He wants you to be. And all this world, with everything it has to offer, can be counted as rubbish in the light of His glory, His grace, and His friendship.
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