I'm thinking that I have too many things to post about that I just sit here night after night and don't know where to begin. I've started making a list of things to blog about. There are so many stories to tell. Miracles have happened. Funny, silly, sad, hard, and wonderful things have happened. I guess I'll just start with this story for tonight because it's fresh on my mind...
We spent the last weekend at my parents. There are lots of stories and photos to share from our wonderful weekend on the farm I grew up on (I'll post pics later). When I was a child I took for granted what I had, as most of us probably did. Here is a little bit of background that you may or may not know about me. I had the privilege of being a pastor's daughter. I'm the second of 4 children. Did you know that? My parents are still married to this day, 34 years I believe. When I was 7 years old, my family moved from California (where I was born) to the old family place in Arkansas. It's nestled high in the Ozark mountains, at least 30 minutes from the closest Walmart store. I spent my youth running through all the fruit trees, mostly Apple trees, or making forts in the woods with my brothers. We played outside every day. We gathered eggs from the chicken coup. We didn't have cable, or name brand clothes, but who knew? I sure didn't! All I knew was that my Mom stayed home with us, and my Dad preached on Sundays. I never had to worry if we would have a meal on the table, or have water to take a bath, or a warm bed to sleep in. I was comfortable and content. The only problem was that I used to hate living so far away from everything and everyone.
The funny thing about that now, is that we drive almost 4 hours to escape there for the weekend. We go to the farmhouse I grew up in. We sleep in the 4 post bed in a room surrounded by windows, the room I packed up the night before my wedding. We sit and look at the gorgeous view, and through the mountains to the beautiful valley below. My kids get to play with the toys I played with and swing on the same tree I did! We eat amazing food! My mom is a great cook. She always made a home-cooked meal when I was growing up. One thing I never had a question about was whether or not we would sit down to a family meal for dinner. Every. Single. Night.
So, back to this weekend...
We hadn't been back to my parents since the fire. We had plans to go the second week in August to visit, but our plans changed on August 3rd. We had to start our lives again, get settled, and put some roots down. Now that we are doing pretty good we finally decided to make the trip. I was amazed how excited the kids were. I mean, they are always excited to see their Nonny and Papa, but this was different. Caroline asked about 6 or 8 times when we would be there. Finally we arrived and the two kiddos were elated! A home cooked meal, pumpkin luminaries, and hugs were awaiting us. It felt like home.
My kids ran in the house and immediately to the play room (which used to be my brothers room). They love the old bunk beds, books, and toys galore! Tobin left the play room and was in the kitchen talking to us. Then I noticed something that hasn't happened since the fire. Caroline wasn't next to my side, and wasn't screaming for me. Panic struck me for a moment and I thought... Where could she be? Was she alright? Was she hurt?
I hurriedly ran to find her. I checked the bathroom and then ran to the play room. There she was, playing with the little dollhouse she had always played with. She wasn't scared. She didn't feel alone. She was comfortable. She looked up at me like I was crazy for calling for her. Then she watched me walk away and turned back to play. Could this be? I had not seen her this comfortable since before the fire. Oh, why did it take me this long to come "home" and allow her to feel safe?
The kids were happy all weekend, pretty much. They weren't scared. They slept well. They were "normal" again. Caroline didn't want to leave. I wonder if she could have even told me why if I had asked her. I think a part of me didn't want to hear why. So I just said, "I know baby, neither do I, but we have to go home." She looked down with a heavy sigh, as if to agree.
Psalm 34:18 (NIV)
The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
Caroline was her sweet normal self again today. I'm hoping and praying that it lasts a while. The days are funny around here. Sometimes we are perfectly "normal"... whatever that may be. Other days, some of us are sad or angry or scared. Certain things "crush our spirit", but the Lord is always near. He saves us. He gives me a new thirst to seek him and know him deeper. A year ago, I prayed that I would have a new yearning for him- a hunger and thirst to spend more time in his word. These days I just can't get enough. His word is my home these days, it's an old comfort that is once again new. I'm thankful that I need him. I've been reading James a lot lately. It just seems to jump out at me, and then it is so obvious that the Lord has answered my prayer.
Blessed is the man who keeps on going when times are hard. After he has come through them, he will receive a crown. The crown is life itself. God has promised it to those who love him.