The Summer of Deer

2015 – The summer of no car

2016 – The summer of Daniela and Chelsea (our first two summer interns and two women I hope I am always connected with)

2017 – The summer of ‘Merica and Disneyworld

2018 – The summer of Deer

I named our summer months ago, pretty much right after our friend, Emily Deer, booked her ticket to Salerno.

We met Deer….wait, it could be weird that I refer to her by her last name if you don’t know why. First, Deer is dear to us (that’s corny, but it’s true). Second, that’s how she was introduced to me. I didn’t even know her first name for months after meeting her. In fact, someone once referenced Emily, and I think my response was, “Emily who?”.

We met Deer at REVO church in Winston-Salem. She was part of our framily (and still is). She was a member of the Sunday lunch bunch, a group of our friends who came to Sunday lunch every day for I am pretty sure over 2 years. She played with our kids, laughed with us, introduced us to VHS Clue, ate with us, cried with us, and was there at the end holding hands with some of the other members of our Winston family as we prayed one last time all together before they sent us off on our current adventure.

Deer has been here 3 glorious weeks and has another 2 to go. She “gave up” her summer to come help the kids with English, American history (of which they know zip), and math.

While I know she came to help the kids, she has also been a help to me. For a myriad of reasons, her presence was much needed for me. Yes, she’s helped with the kids and washed more than her fair share of dishes, but her presence – having a dear (no pun intended) friend, who understands every look and nuance of who you are – has been life giving and refreshing.

Relationship is one the great gifts of God to us. We aren’t meant to live alone, isolated from others. We also weren’t created to live lives without God in them. The great tragedy of sin is that it separated mankind from its Creator, severing the relationship we were created to have with Him. Since the Fall we have looked to other things and people to complete us when only God can do it.

Friendships are great and God-given but they cannot replace the relationship that we were meant to have with God. As great as having Deer here is, she will leave soon. Even if she never left, she (nor anyone else) can fill the God-sized hole that exists in my soul. Only He can do that. The thing is, I can am so quick to forget that fact and I search for it elsewhere, always coming up empty.

But He is faithful even when I am not and He has a way of reminding me of that faithfulness and that He created me for relationship with Him first and foremost. And this time the reminder came in the form of a dear friend (pun intended).

 

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The Door That Never Stops Revolving

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Our doors revolve. And sometimes quickly. The door can be revolving so fast at times it makes your head spin. People come and go faster than the golden snitch trying to evade a Seeker during a Quidditch match (that one’s for you Vince Rice). Before they are over jet lag good it is time for them to return to their lives wherever that may be. It can be hard at times to keep up with everyone stepping out of the revolving door and into your life and then stepping back out again.

People coming is good. That is not the difficult part. Just the opposite. It’s the easy part. It’s the looked forward to part. The anticipated, over-the-top excited part.

One would naturally assume that the leaving would be the difficult part. While it is difficult it is not the most difficult part, at least for me. Why? Because they always leave. They have lives to get back to after all. No one expects them to extend their trip indeterminately. They did, after all, buy a return ticket.

No, the difficulty is not in the coming or the leaving. The difficulty is how to let them into your heart and lives on more than a superficial level knowing they are only here for a few short days or maybe months. The difficultly is not becoming numb to the emotion that comes with the revolving of the door with all the different people stepping off either into my house or out of it.

It would be so easy to not even try to get know people or not be “real” with them. It would be easy to not let them in, to put up a guarded fence that maybe one can peep through between the slats but cannot penetrate.

This is one of my fears. Not one that has been realized too much at the moment but one that I am fearful will develop if I don’t watch out for it and make sure that I don’t pick up the hammer and some nails to begin building that fence without even knowing it. I don’t want to become numb to the revolving door.  That’s not to say you don’t get used to it. You do. How could you not? But there has to be a healthy balance between letting people in and letting them go well, without either shutting down and not letting people in and becoming an emotional wreck every time the door starts to revolve when someone walks away back to their life. I don’t want to be an emotional basket case when folks leave but I also don’t want to shut down emotionally.

Almost more importantly, I don’t want my children to become numb to people coming and going. It is the way of their lives-people constantly coming into their lives and then leaving. Honestly it is one part of their lives that I don’t care for too much.  It is ugly and hard and not fun. But it gives us the opportunity to teach our children how to love people and how to let them go well, which they will need all their lives as people come and go for various reasons.

While constantly putting people back on the revolving door is an ugly, not-so-nice part of this life, the beautiful part is the people who step off that door as it circles round and round, the new friendships that are formed, the old friends whose faces you get to see, the family you cling to for minutes on end.

My prayer is that we as a family never become immune to the revolving door but instead embrace all who walk through it into our lives for however long they are here before they circle back around and head home.

The People You Miss

Living overseas you always miss things from your home country. I have a list a mile long…

The start of college football.

The first day of turkey season.

Chick-Fil-A .

Walking into my grandmother’s house.

The smell of gardenia coming from my neighbor’s yard.

The ease of finding and buying almost anything.

Laying in soft, green grass at night looking at a sky full of stars that are too numerous to dare count.

Good Mexican food – but this has been missed since I left Texas.

The smell of bacon frying.

The privacy of my backyard.

A dryer on rainy days.

Central heat and air.

A large shower…or at least a shower big enough so that I don’t look like some Picasso painting when I shave my legs. I ain’t twenty and bendy anymore.

Good candy and cereal.

But all the things pale in comparison to the people that you miss.

It doesn’t matter how “at home” I feel in my host country or how many new friends I make, I will always long for those people closest to me in my home country.

That’s why when one of those people does something special for me or our family, it sends me into ugly cry mode immediately.

For my birthday, my friend Jess sent me the most special gift. I opened my email to find a movie of friends sending me birthday greetings. Some were sung, some were spoken, all were cherished. And as soon as it started I had ugly cry face all the way to the end. And I felt loved and cared for. I felt connected to people that I have loved for over five years. I felt remembered.

Thank you to everyone who contributed. It was the best gift I received…barely beating Downton Abbey Season 6. 😉

 

 

Lovely Faces From North Carolina

We received a very special package last week. It had been in transit for two months. Italy is well-known for many things, but its postal system is not one of them.

When I opened the package, I found something wrapped in red and green striped Christmas paper. I began tearing into it as I walked out of the post office, and immediately started crying…again, in the post office. Well, technically, I was on the steps leaving the post office but I was in public nonetheless.

I knew what it was as soon as I saw the first edge of the book, and instead of looking through it by  myself I waited for Paul to be with me so we could look through it together. It was so hard to not sit down on a bench and look at all the photos of friends I knew were waiting to be cried over.

We ate lunch at Mythos, a little Greek place. And yes, pasta and pizza get boring. As we waited for our gyros to arrive we slowly made our way through the pages of familiar faces that we cherish so much.

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Faces that came to be so much more than friends.

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Faces that cried and laughed with us…and sometimes at us.

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Faces that played with our children.

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Faces that we shared our lives with.

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Beautiful faces that are loved, cherished and missed.

Thank you Lynsey for the beautiful gift.