Thoughts on life at the moment.

I haven't been blogging much, which makes me kind of sad because this platform is a great space for me to process what's happening around me and to preserve some memories. I feel like it's as much (perhaps even more) for myself and for us as a couple than for the world out there, the readers that be.

But I kind of hit a (blogging, personal, emotional) wall when we arrived here. I'm kind of in a funk. An in-between place.

The flutter of finding out in September John had a job stateside that would actually begin in Europe mid-October, after a fast and furious two weeks home, threw me for a bit of a loop. Of course I was excited--if you know me at all, you know I love Europe, traveling, seeing new places, etc., etc. But back in August and September, we had many long discussions in Valencia about the future, and I was feeling pretty good (surprisingly good, even) about moving back to the U.S. After all, I've spent the past ten years here, there, and everywhere it seems, packing a suitcase in Greenville and unpacking it in Ukraine, moving a carload of personal belongings up to a house on Lookout Mountain, packing up an apartment in Charlotte. You might say that change upon change (upon change) feels like it's catching up with me. I'm still young, but 28 isn't 21, and there comes a point in life when you just want to be somewhere.

In other words, I think I've come to that place where I'm longing to put down roots. In Valencia, it felt like a relief to admit that it would be nice to be known by people and know them well, really invest in a church, add a puppy to the family, and paint a house. (My 24 year old self gasps in horror and disbelief. How times have changed!) While I occasionally have thoughts that this sort of more permanent change will result in me feeling like a gerbil on a wheel, the thought of not living out of a suitcase makes me very, very happy.

And so as I came to terms with this new, more permanent change that was finally arriving in our lives, we found out we were moving to Germany for six months. We were both really excited. When we visited Munich last year we loved it so much, we decided to visit again during spring break. We joked about moving here one day. 

But my suddenly pretty-reconciled-to-moving-home self suddenly was faced with another international move and more change before yet more change. God presented a detour, and I simultaneously am enjoying it as well as counting down the days until we are in a more stable place. And I find that I'm asking myself, "What is God giving me the time to do right now? How can I best use this time so that I'm prepared for the future? How will this time prepare me for what's coming next?"

And I don't know all the answers yet. I probably won't even by the time we leave. Six months isn't that long in the scheme of things, but some days it feels like a boundary to moving towards the next step in life. I dream of painting the walls in a home, but right now the only change I can impart in our living space is buying fresh flowers. I want to have a table for 10 (12?!) but right now we can only sit the two of us--and even that feels cramped. 

Maybe God is being gracious in bringing me to a place where I really do feel ready to move back--not simply resigned that yes, this is what needs to happen right now. Perhaps I don't need to find answers at all, but accept that this is where He's put us. And even on the hard days where I'm longing to dig roots deep, to be watered with the joy of consistent friendships and family close by, and to just go shopping at Trader Joe's for crying out loud...even on those days, I have a table for two and fresh flowers greeting me when I walk in the door. And when it comes down to it, those two things are simple, precious gifts. 

As Sara Groves says, "there are different kinds of happy," and so I'm learning how to embrace and walk in this new routine, this different kind of happy. It may not be exactly what I would choose otherwise, but there is beauty here nonetheless. 

 

10 Years Later

I recently saw someone tweet about how she saw several moms and their college-bound sons in the sheet aisle in Target, sons seemingly nonchalant about their nearing independence, and moms getting teary-eyed. My first thought was one of longing: "Oh, Target!" And the second, after I did a little math, was, "Hey...I was starting college ten years ago!"

I tried to find some appropriate photos for a post on going off to college a decade ago, and thankfully for us all, they're on my external hard drive...in the U.S. Instead of a reminder of that transitional and strangely awkward time in life (it was for me, anyway, especially as a freshman), here's one of Chattanooga, right down the mountain from where I studied at Covenant College.

A photo with no hint of awkwardness whatsoever.

A photo with no hint of awkwardness whatsoever.

About this time ten years ago, classes had already started and Labor Day weekend was in sight. I was a History major, secondary education minor settling into life on Lookout Mountain, and adjusting to my newfound freedom. (Ironically, this freedom meant being on a mountain without a car. And this was before Lookout Mountain got a Starbucks, people.)

But let's back up to early July of 2005. We were packing up our 1,000 square foot home in Glenside, Pennsylvania, and I was so ready to move. I was (supposedly) ready for a change of scenery, and ready for all things new. I'd chosen to attend Covenant College, not as far away from home as Ole Miss, but farther--and ever-so-slightly less isolated--than Erskine College in Due West, South Carolina (where peoples' bumper stickers appropriately say, Due West of What?). Mid-July we found ourselves in Greenville, SC, moving into a rental home, temporary until my parents knew where they wanted to live in town. And mid-August, I was packing up and on the road to 14049 Scenic Highway, Lookout Mountain, GA.

Saturday night was my first night in the dorm, and though my parents were still in town, I thought it would be good to be at school that night and meet up with my parents in the morning for church. Most kids on their first night of being away from home probably go to Waffle House and drink coffee till midnight and then watch a movie with all their new roomies and friends. I, however, was bawling my eyes out on my bed and my roommate, who I'd just met earlier that day, was sweetly scratching my back and talking me through my near panic-attack-inducing fears. (She probably was wondering what she'd gotten herself into having me as a roommate...) Saying goodbye to my parents the next day after church meant a repeat of crying myself a river alone in my room. 

I was a mess.

But I settled in. I studied too much and and tried to figure out how to balance life, an only-child-introvert suddenly living on a hall with 22 girls. I changed my major a few times, made friends, went polar bearing with my roommate (meaning that we went swimming in a lake while it was snowing...perhaps not the brightest idea), and skinny dipping with my hall mates (true story...I don't think I have to define that one). And I did go to Waffle House and drink coffee till midnight and then watch movies with friends.

Fast forward ten years. Never in my life could I have imagined being where I am right now. A high school teacher told my senior AP English lit class that as she got older, "every stage of life just keeps getting better." I didn't believe her at the time, thinking that she was just old ("old" = early thirties...yikes) and trying to convince herself that life was still exciting. But now, I know what she's talking about. It does just keep getting better. Being eighteen was fun, but being twenty-eight? Even better. 

Not that better means more exciting and it certainly doesn't mean easier. But better does mean more fulfilling, richer. I've learned a lot along the way these first ten years since going to college, and I wouldn't trade it for all of the energy I had when I could stay up at Waffle House and drink coffee until the wee hours of the morning. I know myself better: my limits, my gifts, and my desires.

I haven't "arrived", but I have a better, slightly-less-muddled view of where I'm going. I'm still not sure what I want to be when I grow up, but I'm learning more about what I don't want to be.

What will the next ten years hold?

Isn't this beautiful? Our friend Ashley gave it to us at our wedding shower. I love it and can't wait to frame it when we move back.

Isn't this beautiful? Our friend Ashley gave it to us at our wedding shower. I love it and can't wait to frame it when we move back.

Where were YOU ten years ago? How has life changed? What have you learned about yourself?