Friday, June 29, 2012

Sunbeams and Grace

I have never been a summer fan. It gets hot in Maryland, but somehow, it feels more intense here. When I first came to Memphis, I was sure I would melt into a sticky puddle, that I would never be able to accept this southern summer and that I would be confined to the reaches of my air conditioning. When the AC broke in our car, I felt that I would evaporate for sure.

But in keeping with the pattern of our story so far, I have instead found His grace, waiting to meet my expectations. Summer has enveloped, but this year, I feel embraced rather than smothered. The sun shines bright, rather than glares, and I suddenly find that summer seems to dance. It almost feels alive these past few days, breathing hot, glistening, shimmering off of the air itself. Its weight is a tangible presence, drenching us in perspiration within minutes of stepping into its gaze. But the whispering, occasional breeze wafts by, bringing a coolness that can only be experienced in the midst of a flushed heat. Summer has not changed, but I think my heart has. He has given me the grace I needed to stand up under a hot summer sun.
 We left Maryland a month ago, headed towards a home we did not really know or understand, flying along on this Great Adventure that seemed overwhelming. But from the first hour of our departure, we met with Grace. His Faithfulness has brought us here, to home. Our hearts miss the pieces we left behind with the nearness of our loved ones, but He has spared us from the ache that I so feared. Instead, I feel the warmth of their love that has traveled this distance with us. It closes the separation and fills it with nearness. We are so thankful for the friendship and family that has prepared us for all of this newness.

We took a leap into an unknown future last September, and many others came before. Following the Lord to Memphis seemed so difficult. But His grace wrapped us from behind and pulled us along every step of the way.

Just a month later, we can already see many of the fruits of His plan. He is faithful. His lovingkindness knows no limits.

We have been here mere weeks, and I feel that my horizons have opened up, and the sky seems higher. I no longer feel limited and held back in my day to day. I feel much more free than I have ever felt as a mother. I feel full.

We sat around a table full of smiles and laughter at lunch today during a break in Ryan's classes. Around the room, Leilani ran, often chased and twirled by new friends, all godly people that I already admire and respect. Only days later, and the day to day companionship and camaraderie is unlike any I have experienced before.   

He is so good, and I am so thankful.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

We have moved. And we are now connected to the interweb.

*Cue an enthusiastic dance number in celebration of both*

Today marks the completion of our third week here in our new city. We be Memphians, yall!

***To read the whole story on why we are out here, check out my short version here,  or Ryan's more in depth look here. ***

I sit in our sunny little apartment, whilst my toddler sleeps, and the top hits from Stax Studio jazzes and snazzes up the calm. I am writing today, freshly connected to working wifi for the first time in three weeks. I wish I could say "look at how much time I survived without google and facebook!" but alas. My iphone kept me rolling along.

Thanks to the iphone, I managed to document much of the past two month's goings on, despite my lack of connection to blogger. Let me (as usual) play catch up on the story.

We packed up #701.
Many of our dear Marylanders helped.
Stuffing 100% of one's possessions into boxes is tricky.
Please enjoy the enthusiasm that I fuzzily captured at the end of our last day:

Wow. I am so thankful for our three years in those sunny little rooms, for the love that built it, the love that filled it, and the love that we hopefully overflowed into the air for the next family to feel. It is my prayer that those walls will forever be filled by His presence, regardless of who lives there, and that our new renters (hallelujah for them) will feel the love that He flooded each corner with.

 On May 25, Friday, at 7:00 a.m., we left! My heart was heavy and I admit I was quite anxious about the drive. 18 hours is no joke, especially with a toddler in tow. After two nights spent sleeping in our parents' homes, we were already tired and missing "home."

But from that very first hour, He led us. His grace was behind and before, and He kept us the whole way. She slept, she laughed, she watched Finding Nemo and Hortnon Hears a Who about 100 times each, ate her body weight in goldfish and fruit snacks, but not once, not ONE time did she have a melt down or cause us stress. I saw His goodness poured out on us on our long drive from Columbia to Memphis. We knew we were on the right road.

We drove from Maryland to Eastern Tennessee with my family. Leilani and I stuffed in their truck with Dad, Mom, Esther, Hannah and Sam, while Elijah rode with Ryan who was driving the moving truck (with our car in tow!).


Friday night, we arrived in Jellico, Tennesee to spend that night through Sabbath night in my family's soon to be new home. (They will be relocating to Jellico sometime next year.)

Before we left early Sunday morning, my wonderful parents prayed over us, and all along the way (starting early Friday morning) we had consistently received cheers and prayers from our loved ones that we were steadily growing farther from. I admit, I left both mornings full of anxious thoughts, already feeling the ache of what we were leaving behind. But about an hour into our drive on the 26th, His peace conquered all of it. It was a glorious morning, full of coolness and sunshine.

Confident of our heading, and surrounded by love and His presence, we drove the 8+ hours to Memphis.

Just before dinner time, we arrived at my Grandma's house to spend that night with her, before heading to our new place early Monday morning. Coming to the house that I visited often as a child, this time to live in the same city, was such a surreal feeling. Pizza, salad and familiar faces helped.

Monday morning, we were Home.

And it didn't take long before everything felt comfortable again, though it took several weeks to settle in.

 At the start of our fourth week here, I can really say that Memphis is home. From that first week, we have been embraced and supported by our new community. The MTR has done an amazing job of establishing a terrific community of motivated, godly, friendly and devoted individuals, I am so excited to get to be a part of it.

Ryan has already started his classes, and is enjoying the new challenge and environment. We now know how to get aroundish, and my "Yall" is fluent.

We have a train, it likes to WOOOOWOOOO by every other hour during the day, and at the quietest parts of the night (4 am, really?). Leilani loves it, and both her and Ryan usually sleep right through those early whistles.

Summers don't play around here. We arrived on the hottest day of the year so far (a muggy 103+) and those first two days were staggering. But then the Lord had pity on us and gave over two weeks of MUCH milder, and often very pleasant weather. This week, the summer will be back from vacation. Hello upper 90s.

We have the best back porch to eat popsicles on.

Our front door that faces the lawn. We are the bottom right four windows.

I am so thankful that there is another mommy nearby (just a few doors down!) to spend the days with while our husbands are schooling. I at last have a stroller pushing, little person raising, summer adventure buddy! God is good, I am so thankful for the group of young wives (three of us are mommies!) that He has put me in.

We are really missing our Maryland people, but we feel so at home here already. He is establishing us, and we are so excited to be on this journey with Him!

There to Here! And done.