Friday, August 5, 2016

Five years

We were talking one night about choices we've made. I know there are plenty of times I've said that if I had it all to do over again, I would not have been a French lit major. But now, I take it back, all the times I said it.

I majored in languages because I enjoyed them. I also always wanted to write, and when I got my foot in the door at the publishing company, I can't say that my degree was a big part of it, but it was a part of it. And when I moved into advertising, I proofed French and Spanish language ads that ran in Canada and South America--so having the formal education in languages helped then for sure. Now as a homeschool mom, a love of language and literature has served me well at home and as a tutor.

While I didn't have the vision in college to see where a French degree would take me, I'm thankful for the hindsight to see how well and how often it has served me.

"Couldn't we say the same about the move?" I asked Shane.

Everything in him (regarding this house, not about moving) protested, 'What are we getting into?' A to-do list twenty years long. A house that needed a bit of loving.
midway, a transformation from before to after

Woods that want their land back. It is the exact opposite of our former house.

Trying to make sense of the changes going forward from start, five years ago, was a wrestle--a lot like trying to make forward sense of a French degree--but in looking back, I see the blessing, the healing, and the great gift of it all.

Thank you, God, for healing.

Being here has been good for Shane. It's been good for me. It's been good for the girls. Thank you, God, for all you have done in our lives.

Looking back at these five years, we remembered how Lanie always wanted to climb a tree or climb a fence--things we didn't really have in life before (all those trees so small and new). The first thing she did was climb our split-rail fence. Then she climbed up into the cherry tree. And it wasn't long before I saw the sunny smiling faces of my kids and their friends peeking out from among the pines--higher than I'd ever dare to go. Thank you, God, for trees and a fence.

My kids raced bikes down the front hill in three seasons, and rode sleds in snow in a fourth. They've picked raspberries along the perimeter by the handfuls. Caught lightning bugs. Spied hawks, owls, all kinds of colorful birds, squirrels, chipmunks, foxes, snakes, deer, bunnies--and don't forget the frogs!
They've walked along the garden rocks, picked up sticks for the bonfire, danced across the field--free! Lanie learned to swim on her own (despite the former years of instruction) her first swim season here. And Erin has taken to water like a little fish. We've loved the beauty and privacy of the woods. Thank you, God, for a place and the freedom to be ourselves.

the original stomps

The captain's bell rings out all year. Baby birds cry out from new nests each spring. A kitchen table that belonged to Joel and Cindy is now the sweet altar to coffee dates, dinners and celebrations.

And this school room that was (their) family room, is still a hub of family space--and our biggest remodel to date.

She was in kindergarten.

We wrote on the walls and the subfloors.

“So obey the commands of the Lord your God by walking in his ways and fearing him. For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land of flowing streams and pools of water, with fountains and springs that gush out in the valleys and hills. It is a land of wheat and barley; of grapevines, fig trees, and pomegranates; of olive oil and honey. It is a land where food is plentiful and nothing is lacking. It is a land where iron is as common as stone, and copper is abundant in the hills. 10 When you have eaten your fill, be sure to praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. Deuteronomy 8:6-10, NLT

Thank you, God, for these rich details: the captain's bell I hoped to order, you had waiting for me as a gift under the vines; a table for hospitality that's been used at play dates and coffees and community building; the school room stripped down to its bones so that I could once again mark that we were here--your word in heart and hearth. Thank you.

Thank you.

God put the listing under Shane's nose, but he wrapped my heart all around this home. The crunch of fall's leaves underfoot. Sunrises peeking through the woods at first light. The delicious smell of woodsmoke from the fireplace and bonfires. The sweet serenade of frogs in summer, crickets in the fall, and birds at spring's first warmth--and all seasons, the precious and free laughter of my children growing up.

This place is a gift I'm grateful for every single day, and every single day I treasure something old or new about it, turning it over in my heart again and again. The smell of field fragrance; the sweet flavorful burst of the season's berries; the way the mortar's frozen ooze holds together the schoolroom fireplace bricks;
the clamor and ring of the captain's bell; the splash of blue in a summer season, accompanied by joyous shrieks and laughter; the deep warmth of a fire on a cold wintry night (or school day)--this old cold house that made us recipients of my dad's many handmade blankets ... thank you, God, thank you.

This move brought us closer to our church, and closer to Linda and David and Anita--giving my kids memories and love that are shaping their hearts and future homes. This move brought us to new neighbors who have blessed us with love and generosity. Oh, thank you, God.

But it's more than just a move and more than just a home. Thank you, God, for showing me what life can be like when I lay down my own pursuits and seek your will. Thank you for these five full years. Yeah, going forward, it felt like a puzzle whose picture was obscure--but looking back, an answer to so many prayers.

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