In other news...we just returned from a trip to Little Rock. It was our first time back since we moved last June. I wasn't sure what to anticipate emotionally- whether it would be so hard or whether I'd feel peaceful and confident in our decision or whether I'd want to move back, etc. It ended up really being everything and then some. Mostly, though, it was incredibly refreshing for me and overflowed my heart with community and friendship.
It was actually planned originally because my girls bible study that was led by Aileen was about to come to an end. Aileen and her husband, Howard, are moving back to Africa, where they already have spent over 20 years serving as missionaries. What an example to us girls in her group of obedience and vision and trust. So I got to be there for some of the last sweet moments together. Oh my goodness. To sit around that table one last time that we've shared so many tears, laughs, lessons, love. It was life-giving, refreshing, bitter-sweet, tearful, sweet, fun, and just so so good to be there.
She actually threw a tea for us. A real high tea. We wore hats and gloves and dressed up. We sat on the beautiful southern front porch and sipped "champagne" (don't worry, not real) and caught up on life. Then we moved inside to a beautifully dressed table complete with tea cups and a tier of tea sandwiches, strawberries, chocolates and scones. She asked each of us to sit in front of a tea cup that jumped out to us and then told us she was giving us that tea cup to take home. They were each different, delicate and beautiful. What a sweet gift. She gave each of us a handwritten, personal card about how she would specifically be praying for us. I will go back to that afternoon many times in my heart as one of those "unforgettable" moments. What a beautiful woman of Christ. I will hold so dear the lessons and example she left me with.
Her and her husband also thew us a barbeque with both the mens and womens groups that Seth and I had been a part of. They even bought us steak! I really felt so loved and pampered, it was something else.
We spent the rest of our time catching up with dear dear friends. We did breakfasts, lunches, dinners, late night talks and playdates. We even got to be there when our friend got awarded Little Rock school district teacher of the year! It was full but great. We didn't get to see everyone this time but are grateful for who we did get to catch up with! We stayed with a family we had grown really close to when we lived there and enjoyed having time to catch up. They were so generous to feed us and be gracious with our in and out and smiled knowingly as we dealt with our our temperamental 17 month old :).
I was surprised by how comfortable it was being there. To be honest it felt like we never left. Those faces and voices and homes that we spent some much time with, are still so familiar. I felt at home. Like more at home than my current home. And that was hard.
The past almost-year here has been a rough transition and much more difficult than we had anticipated. I still know we were called back to Illinois and have a complete peace about that, but I wavered under the feelings of longing I had to jump right back in there. I don't really have a great solution for my heart yet. I want to be fully where I am and I want to feel excited to be there. But I think this is a lesson in obedience and slowly letting God open my heart. Don't get me wrong, there are WONDERFUL things that I love about being back in IL, and it doesn't have to do with that, really. It is more, dealing with what we left and the ache I still have for those people and places and life.
The last morning there I took a walk by myself. I drove to our old neighborhood and walked the same path I had walked countless times. I had on the song "Oceans" by Hillsong and repeated it over and over again. I cried and processed. Maybe this all sounds a little much. But I'm highly emotional and need to work through the intensity of my emotions otherwise they tend to get the best of me. So I did just that and I let it go. I felt like I could turn another page in my book called "my journey". Then I drove away. It was good, hard-good, but really good.
The whole trip was really just what I needed. So selfishly, thank you to everyone who opened up their schedules to spend time with me or us. We love you dearly!
The trip came to a pretty brutal end, actually. We were on our way to the airport...like in the car, and Gracie starts coughing and then doing this weird thing with her mouth and then she puked, a lot. It was a smelly mess and it was everywhere. Meanwhile I'm scrambling to clean her up and not throw up myself (on top of being pregnant nauseous makes a really bad combination as we are on winding roads), we get a phone call. I left my phone at the Blunier's house. Oops. And we were already running late. Then Gracie threw up two more times. It was just bad. So we finally got to the airport (so sorry Gary for your horrendously messy carseat we left you with, we owe you!) and I ran Gracie to the bathroom, stripped her clothes and gave her a quick sink tub. We got through security just as they were finishing boarding our plane. I was just *slightly* overwhelmed at this point. Thankfully she didn't get sick anymore either plane ride and was a total champ.
One of our carry on bags got checked at the plane. No problem, right? Well that's what we thought. When I went to pick it up during our layover they said they would just pass it through to our connecting flight. I had never heard of this so I questioned him like 10 times but he said it was what it was. Well, okay, we will just get it when we land in Peoria then.
We land in Peoria a little after 10pm, exhausted, nauseous (me), and ready to get home. We went to our baggage claim and waited for our bags. And we waited. And then I noticed pretty much everyone else had left. So we waited some more and finally went to ask one of the employees. Crud. All of our bags, including our carry on were still in Dallas, they didn't make the connection. But they would deliver them to our house the next day. So this shouldn't be a big deal, right? I mean a bummer but "get-over-it" kind of deal. Well the problem was our car keys were in that carry-on that was still in Dallas. Soooo we were stuck at 11pm at the airport. It was just not the ending to the day we had anticipated. I called my dad and he came to pick us up, thank you dad!
Yes, all our bags- including our car keys, came in the next day :).
I will post a few pictures below...I'm sorry to those I didn't get a picture with- Thanks for an awesome 5 days!!
At our high tea all dressed up!
Miss Aileen serving us our tea...doesn't she look beautiful?
yummy tea sandwiches, scones & strawberries with real whipped cream
Such a dear group of women!
All the kids at our playdate! They've all grown up so much and sweet Annie was added!
Forever friends (Em, I still can't get over Isaac's curls!!)
The moms- I love learning & growing with these amazing women!
We spent a lot of time with this awesome family! Gracie was sad to wake up to none of her buddies when we got home!
Our little champ on the ride home!