we are in the middle of our third week of minnesota living. we are at that place where things are beginning to look familiar, where things are beginning to seem sort of normal. i even ran into a mom i recognized, at the grocery store yesterday. that was a strange, unexpected moment. i guess that's going to begin to happen now. we are going to begin to recognize people. we are going to find a favorite new restaurant. we are going to begin saying hi to the same guy or gal working at the coffee shop or the cleaners or the pharmacy. it's going to happen. connections are inevitable.
we are going to develop a new life here in this new state...but, i am still certain, it's not going to happen overnight. in fact, i don't even want it to. i have figured that out about myself this week. i am in no rush. people are kind and welcoming and warm as can be...but there's just this room needed around the extension of our affections. i fear that could come across as standoff-ish...but anyone who knows me, knows that i am anything but. it's just that we need some kind of space to transfer life. it is the craziest thing ever, this shifting. as if we are caught between two worlds. though that sounds rather sci-fi, it is actually the hard reality. we continue to think (all the time) about what's going on "back home." emily told me earlier this week that whenever she thinks about what time it is here in minnesota, she always translates it into atlanta time. (we are an hour behind). i know exactly what she means, i've caught myself doing the same thing.
on monday, the schools we attended in atlanta, resumed class for the new year. monday morning all of our friends woke up and put on their uniforms (or not uniforms) and off they went. we saw the morning pictures on facebook. we saw the smiles and energetic poses and new backpacks. we saw the new beginnings and, i have to admit, some of us mcnatts felt kind of left behind. i knew this would happen. i tried to prepare for it. that morning, i found emily in the kitchen eating her bowl of cereal before volleyball practice and scrolling through the back-to-school pictures all of her friends were posting. a part of me wanted to grab that phone from her hands and run fast for the lake. "just don't look," i wanted to tell her. but, deep inside, i knew even this looking was a part of the process. she had to look. she had to pass through even this lonely part of the leaving.
that same morning, i put tyler on a bus headed for wisconsin. yes, wisconsin. (you have no idea how strange that is to actually type. i haven't even been to wisconsin). his soccer team was taking off for a few days on a retreat. he texted his dad last night and said they were shooting shotguns at this retreat place (i'm not really sure what shotguns have to do with soccer, but, oh well...). there's a part of me just wondering how my boy ended up in wisconsin shooting guns when all of his friends are sitting at home tonight working out algebra problems after dinner. life is like that. we move on. life moves on. things change.
in a weird way, i think it's been a good lesson for us all. we don't want to be left behind. we don't want to be forgotten in the place we knew so well. but little by little, we will lose touch. we will have to work harder to hold on to the relationships and people we love. we'll have to be intentional about keeping the connection vibrant and current. i have beens so thankful over these past three weeks to get a quick text or email or phone call from a friend back home. just a little bitty message has meant so much. even bella got a video from her friends, mary henley and maggie, this week. it made us laugh and laugh and laugh, just to hear their cute little voices saying hello to bella and telling her how much they miss her.
my social butterfly, sarah, has been busy making new connections. she's gone to a couple of days of volleyball and already has names and numbers and more hangout plans than a sorority girl. she's just like that. last night she came in from her tryouts and said she had a whole new group of girlfriends. maybe that's easier when you're 12. i don't know. it made her dad and me smile though, because for her, it's going so well. as she danced around the kitchen in her knee pads and spandex spouting out details a mile a minute, i finally interrupted her and said, "sarah elizabeth, you're the poster child for moving!" she has been doing so well and we can't help but be proud of her determination to "make it work." but i noticed last week when she was organizing her room and bathroom she had set up a plaque her best friend, weslieanne, had made for her -- right in the middle of her bathroom dressing table. it is something weslieanne made for sarah's birthday, back in march, knowing she'd be losing her best friend to minnesota in a matter of months. sarah has gotten here and has made some new friends, but i know she is still terribly missing her best buddies back in atlanta. we're thrilled she's doing well, but don't be mistaken, that by no means suggests she doesn't long for her dear friends from georgia. she, too, has seen a few pictures of groups of them together doing something fun...something she would be right in the middle of if we were there...those have been some sad moments.
|you'll have to imagine that roaring fire...|
it is all very strange when life goes on without you. very strange, indeed. but in a wierd way, i am sure it must be good. it's good to know this is how it goes. it gives perspective. we are only here for a bit, right? and we have to make it count. this morning emily attended a funeral. one of the girls on her volleyball team unexpectedly lost her dad saturday morning. this father of four died of a heart attack on his 28th wedding anniversary. we didn't really know this family -- keep in mind we've been in minnesota less than 3 weeks. but i did sit one saturday with him and his wife at a volleyball tournament. he seemed to be a man who loved his life, his family and his God well. even just in the hour i spent chatting with him between volleyball points, this man's passion and character were evident. as i hear emily in her room getting ready for the funeral, i can't help but think, again, about the time we are given. God gives us a specific slice of time in a place... with some people... and even on this earth. how much are we going to appreciate it? how often are we going to stop and take care of it?
i don't have any plans to forget my dear ones back in atlanta. and i know God will provide new friends here in the north. i do want to use this time to appreciate both of them more. but this won't happen unless i am diligent to work at it. the pace of busy life often pushes hard against this desires of diligence. most of you reading, aren't way up here in the northlands of minnesota with me, but wherever you are, do you require a little bit of stopping today in the midst of your busy-ness? is there something God has intended for you to hold closer, see better, enjoy deeper this morning? wherever we live, whatever we do, consider the gifts God has given. count the blessings He has bestowed. see the grace He has showered. breath the beauty He has brought.
oh, and by all means, don't forget to stop at those stop signs.
"seek the LORD and his strength, seek his face continually." ~ 1 chronicles 16:11