…my summer, that is. And for this, I cannot begin to express how thankful, truly thankful, I am to be able to say this. Summer 2006 will go down as one of the best ones of my life because everything has been just about as good as it gets. In spite of the imperfections, perhaps made sweeter because of them.

As I write those words, it occurs to me many cannot say that. Several heart-wrenching situations come to mind, beginning with people in my own “sphere”. Two people I love dearly will have marriages ending by Fall :(. For two others (not as close to me), this may be the last summer they have with their elementary-age children, both struggling with illnesses that eventually will take their lives 🙁 🙁 :(.

So I do not write this boastfully…I write it with a content heart, full–no, overflowing–with joy and gratefulness.

We moved here three years ago from a place we called “home” for over 14 years. We were young marrieds, DINKs (haven’t heard that one in forever!); slowly building a life, pursuing and finding both meaningful relationships and ministry. We had three children and enjoyed watching them grow, and we “lived life” with others doing much the same. Roots, well nurtured and fed, were growing deeply.

I could write volumes about that, lol, but it’s not the point here. The bottom line is God clearly, finger by finger, loosened our grip on that place and those people. “Objects” that at one point were in some way idols. Perhaps even following us to Tennessee.

This was going to be a big adventure…I approached our move with a bittersweet eagerness and expectancy, arms open wide. Even then, I saw God’s direction for us as I looked back over the then-previous five years or so, and saw how He was preparing us and loosening that tightly-clenched fist.

But wouldn’t you know, in typical “my ways are not your ways” form, God led us on a great adventure (allowed one to take place?), just not the one I would have willingly signed up for. Two people for whom initiating relationship and minstry comes quite naturally, all of a sudden found themselves incapable of finding either. We left a place where we were “big fish in a little sea” and found ourselves….ummm…plankton in the Pacific Ocean. We felt displaced…like we couldn’t get even footing, every conversation was WORK and only happened if we initiated it with STRANGERS (who couldn’t have cared less about us). And then the spiritual desert came (for me), in spite of attending two Bible studies, regular Sunday morning worship, and my kids in a Christian school. The move was hard for Tad, too, but since he’s not the blogger, I won’t go into any of his stuff. Obviously, his stuff had effect on my stuff and visa versa.

Ah, but I can sooo see the Romans 8:28 of it NOW. I learned what God wanted out of me. I think I did sooo much self-examination, I became an idol to myself…does that make sense? Too much of a good thing (maybe a not-so-good thing). My focus was so inward, on what needed to be changed in me, that I lost the focus on God. I am thankful He exposed the darkest parts of my heart, that I could see the depths of my own depravity, that for the first time, I saw myself as a sinner saved by GRACE, in spite of my sin, and in spite of any perceived “goodness” I thought I had. I always gave tons of lip service to the righteousness of Christ, but maybe for the first time, I knew there was nothing “good” in me apart from Him.

I think this clarity started a little over a year ago, and it’s been becoming clearer ever since.

Our first summer here was dreaded! We were on the road as much as we could be, going back to SC whenever possible. And having lots of company from there, here. Anything to keep from remembering how lonely we were. Summer two, last year, some of the same. By that time, we had made some family friends, my children enjoyed time with their friends, and Tad’s job changed (what we would soon discover, for the better).

This summer is our third one, and for the first time, I didn’t dread it. When I went back to our hometown a few weeks ago, I came back here and told Tad, “It’s the first time I recall (after visiting) NOT wanting to move back.” Before, homesickness would always follow a trip there.

I have delighted in my children this summer :). I have not had any “alone” time since school was out–I’ve been with Tad or the kids basically every day….and I LOVE time alone in our house, so that is saying A LOT (and…lol…my sanity is somewhat still intact). Our kids, rising 4th, 6th & 8th graders, are at the easiest stages, perhaps, they’ll ever be. Self-sufficient, but still thinking we’re “great”. We’ve had some great conversations and, quite unexpectedly, have discovered a new passion for playing gin :).

The summer included a Hilton Head tradition with Frankie & Christi & their family (six years straight? seven?); precious time with Erin and Gina (yes, my SC homegirls) and their children–beachfront at Edisto FOR FREE (waahoooo!), and our annual trek to GOD’S COUNTRY, which included hours on the beach, boogie boarding in the Atlantic, miles of bike rides, tons of alligator sightings (and deer and raccons and birds and deer!), and a wonderful visit with my college roomie and her hubby, and even some other SC friends vacationing nearby. Some sweet times with our extended family beginning with the first-ever reunion of Tad’s family, a visit to the lake shack 😉 with my sister and her crew (they hooked us on gin, rigging a tourney between our families, thinking THEY had the upper hand since they actually knew how to play…when the smoke cleared after a day of serious matches, WE were the victors……muuuuuhaaaahaaaaa!). Some dear SC friends even paid a visit here. And I’ve finished half a dozen books, and am somewhere in the midst of half a dozen more ;).

AND…the best part? We were always ready to get back here…HOME. And have our friends HERE for dinner, laughing wayyyy past bedtime because time flew…and wanting to get back to our Sunday morning community (aka adult SS) because THAT is where we’re living life–loving God and loving people.

Tad and Rachel are headed for a father/daughter trip out west next week, and I cannot wait for THAT adventure to unfold! It’s in honor of her 13th birthday, and I don’t know which of them is more excited–Tad has had a blast planning it, and she cannot wait–horseback rides, rafting on the Snake River, canoeing in the Grand Tetons, camping in Yellowstone (if they can get in) and experiencing a part of the country she has never seen. Knowing in advance that this will be one of her life thrills FOREVER is impossible to put into words. I sit here unable to express the emotions within…a million different thoughts and yet so difficult to convey. As a mom (and wife), I am simply…thankful. For a husband and daughter…like the ones I have. Not perfect, but perfect for me :).

Of course, everything hasn’t been so PollyAnna; perhaps the most difficult challenge continues to be the on-going difficulties associated with my dad’s Lewy Bodies disease. And we’d always hope to move closer to family eventually.

But you know what? I’m savoring these times…it won’t be like this forever, so for the moment, I cherish this “place”. And when the going gets a little rocky again…because it WILL get rocky again, I hope I remember my silent plea-through-prayer over the last year or so: if God isn’t going to change the circumstances, may He change ME through them….and may I know Him more intimately as a result :).

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