Thursday, February 2, 2012

a daring adventure and something

"life is either a daring adventure or nothing." ~ helen keller.  
when i was quite young, i carefully copied those brave words into my journal.  i copied the words and embraced the idea with a whole lot of youthful exuberance -- a whole lot of enthusiasm for the road ahead.  yes! that's it.  that's exactly it!  that's exactly how i wanted to live my life...i was approximately 17.

today, right at this very moment, right now at the middle-age of 43,  i am having second thoughts.  since those glorious teen years, decades ago,  i have somehow acquired a husband, five children and a sense of responsibility.  and though life is often quite adventurous in a household like mine, i, as mother, feel somewhat more sedate in this particular season.  the five children -- even the tall girl --well, they look to me.  they look up to me.  depend on me.  they depend on me for normalcy and  some semblance (relatively speaking) of peace.  they depend on me to smooth furrowed brows and iron out wrinkled days. they depend on me for bedtime talks and lunchbox notes and hands held crossing busy streets.  they depend on me for more than fresh laundry and warm meals...they depend on me for consistency. for routine.  for something familiar. for what is known.

i suppose over these past 16 years of parenting they have sometimes looked to me for adventure -- at least a little --picnics in the park and play dates and museums and movies.  we've climbed to waterfalls and we've ridden horses.  we've explored the woods and pulled slimy things from creek beds. we've white water rafted, scaled trees and gone fishing.  i once rode an elephant with my oldest son in thailand -- that was truly an adventure -- especially when the thai guide jumped off the massive beast to capture a picture for us and the elephant decided to peer precariously over cliff's edge -- let me tell you, there was enough adventure packed into that moment for a lifetime! possibly our biggest coup de gras adventure might have been braving multiple small children at restaurants with silver, china and white cloths on the table. ha!

but their daddy has always been the true bringer of adventure.  he is the trip taker, the plan maker and the special day organizer. he is the one with the surprise in his pocket or the destination in his mind.  i am the mother who smooths and irons and soothes and calms. i am the woman who tidies the kitchen and lights candles and butters toast and sweeps the crumbs so that there is a sense of peace in our not always so peaceful home.  not a glorious position in your mind?  perhaps not.  but i have to tell you, i wouldn't trade it for the most exciting and glory-full jobs in the world. it might not always be thrilling...but, make no mistake, it is most definitely breathtaking.

peace. in a home of seven, peace is not always easily found.  there is usually someone hunting for a lost item or someone hurting from a reckless word or someone crying or laughing or pouting or pounding or pestering.  because that is our life.  large and out loud. it might, very well, be your life too.  and what are we to do, but jump in and jump high and kneel low each day.  kneel low in the knowing we aren't equipped, but we are encouraged.  we aren't always ready, but we are most always willing. there's a piece of art which graces our kitchen.  it sits just above my messy kitchen desk:

when life is particularly loud and unbelievably loose, i read those words. sometimes right out loud in the midst of the breakfast chaos i recite them.  i have stopped just short of striking a yoga pose on my kitchen floor and chanting.  can you imagine?  i'm sure my kids would pay me little attention and only step over my strangely serene body in search of their mini-wheats or bagel.

but back to that grand adventure.  as i wrote earlier, i have always had a taste for it, but i am going to let you in on a little secret: it is just a little bit fragile at the moment.  i am sure this is due to the fact that our family is, like that elephant in thailand, teetering on the precipice of another major life change...another grand event...another daring adventure.  if you haven't heard by now, we are moving all seven of us across the country.  trading atlanta for minneapolis. georgia for minnesota.  warmth for cold.  green grass for snow.  we are trading all things familiar for all things foreign.  seems almost impossible as i type that.  i still feel a bit as if we are talking about an extended vacation, not a total relocation. i still feel like we are talking about someone else's family, surely not the mcnatts.  but that is the plan.  rick was offered a great opportunity with unitedhealth group and after much deliberation and prayer and angst and tears and flat out wrestling...we have decided to go.

this move may very well have a touch of adventure and the taste of excitment, but it won't happen without great loss and some sacrifice.  are those words too dramatic?  maybe.  it's not like we are the ingalls family heading west in a covered wagon with only our dog and a shotgun for protection.  it's not like we are a missionary family heading to a land far and foreign. (well,  on second thought...)  we are only going to the midwest.  and we truly don't want to make it more than it is. but it is something.  and with five children ages 4 - 16 it cannot help but be something big.  it will have its bumps.  there will be more things to smooth, sooth, straighten.   more tangles to unravel.  more wrinkles to iron.  certainly more to do as we set up schools and doctors and friends and bedrooms and routines and life -- again.

we came to georgia 13 years ago.  we didn't plan to stay this long.  but it has become home and the people have become family.  we have raised our babies here.  it is all they know.  and they are known. and there is something strong and solid and deep in that being known.  there is hardly a place we go in our area where we don't run into someone we know.  someone who knows us.  someone who knows our story.  someone who even knows our struggles.   what will it be like to live anonymously in a brand new city?  i simply cannot imagine.   

our school and our church are so tangled in our lives it will take nothing short of a tearing to remove ourselves from the embrace of these people.  these people we love.  these people who have loved us so well.  especially after the past year and half we've had...  you know what i am writing here.  these friends, this community rallied around us in the adoption of bella in the most incredible way.  they cheered us all the way to china and back.  when we were frustrated or fearful, they held our hands and wrote us notes and gave us hugs. they continue to love her as their own.  she runs through the halls of our church and school and hugs one friend after another.  okay, enough on that ...hard to write through the tears.  and then only 9 months later came the cancer and another opportunity to be buoyed by the amazing love of these same friends.  we were so in need...and our needs were so well met.  it is not without fear and sadness that i think of leaving this support.  this love. oh...there is so much more i could write... perhaps more on that later.

i have wrestled mightily with God on this new direction.  believe me...i have asked the question:  Lord, what are you doing with us?  you stretched our family wide when we took steps of faith toward a little girl far stretched our family wide when you took away my are stretching us wide, now once again...taking away the comfort of a well connected family.  i am not sure where He is headed with us...but we will go.  and though it is not without heavy hearts...we will embrace the daring adventure...once again.


Ellie Ficken said...

You will be missionaries there:). What part of Minnesota? I know Bev and David will be sorry to see you go but then they have had to uproot and move so will be praying for you.

Aus said...

Wow - that's a lot! I get it - both fear and excitement - joy and sorrow - newness and longing for the

Of all of this I know one thing - that you - ALL of you - will thrive, because that is how you are!

hugs - and prayers for some peace!

aus and co.

myfourgems said...

Cant help but read through tears, even though this isnt new news to me. My consolation is that you are going to be in my hometown where we can meet for hugs and iced lattes every summer from now on! God is surely up to something here. He believes in the mcnatt family and your abilities to adapt and grow and give him glory in all circumstances. I believe in you, too, and look forward to your written words providing us insight into this next great adventure of yours. Xoxo always. Shel

Mistye Wilson said...

Bitter sweet, my friend. I know it all too well, in a different kind of way. I will sincerely be praying for you and your family once again. As my mother in law told me when I first moved here to London, "bloom where you are planted" and "if you are going to be a BRIGHT blue". Stick those in your back pocket for when you need them as reminders.

You will be fine. You will be great. Your children will be fine. They will be great. You have one another and your Heavenly Father right by your side. Let Him guide you.

All the best. All...the best.

Hive for the Home said...

:( I must say..although we have yet to meet, I am sad. We will have to plan to get these girls together soon. As always, I pray the absolute best for you and your family. (As I will also be praying for Meritt, friends are from the Lord...I have a special far away friend {China~ to be exact} there will be blessings and challenges ahead) Much love to you!

~Amy Rotger