In life before, Allen and Kelly would come to our house for a cookout and, from our patio, watch the fireworks a neighbor would set off. I remember our last summer there and Allen and Kelly over for one last time, a house in utter disarray and boxes everywhere. That was three years ago.
Our first 4th here, Erin had a fever. Our second one, I don't know why we didn't go anywhere. This year, I thought it would be fun to have Allen and Kelly over for a swim and cookout. They came. So did Linda, Denise, and a family we know through church. One other family had a feverish family member and couldn't make it.
By some standards it was a tiny gathering, but it was big in heart.
We swam. We grilled. We walked along the perimeter picking black raspberries. Linda told me how when she was a kid she used to do that all the time. I knew this brought back dear memories to her, and that we were making more special memories together.
As it got a little darker, the men went and started up a bonfire. We carried down benches, blankets and chairs ... jugs of tea and water ... and all the makings for smores.
The kids did hoppity ball races in the field and it was hilarious to watch them. Even a neighbor's deck party clapped and cheered them on. Darker still, and out came lightning bugs for little hands to capture. And then the sparklers. They looked like electric dandelions.
I was telling our friends about field life and fireworks and hot air balloons. I told them how when we first moved here, I thought about things I'd probably never see again, and how God sent a hot air balloon over the tree tops, over my yard, so close that I could clearly see their faces.
Last night, a neighbor walked over in the dark, all smiles and hugs to tell me that they had tried to call us. We brought our blanket and a bench into the field and had front row seats to lights and sounds that delighted every one of us.
Later, some goodbyes, and later still when "five more minutes, kids" becomes much later than that, we sat on the couch in the school room, pulled up chairs, and spent time together in a way we hadn't for years.
This morning, Shane and I sat on the couch and talked about all the good things yesterday held. I said to him, "I never thought I'd ever see fireworks from my back yard again."
Oh, how He knows the very secret things in my heart.