Category: the inevitability of change

2013: Who knows where, but home…?

For Christmas, the girls received cupcake necklaces from two different sets of family. The necklaces came in jewel boxes shaped like cupcakes. KK decided her case was like a compass; she promptly opened it up and began her own adventure game, the compass leading her who knows where.

As I sat New Year’s Eve night in my parents’ house, which was quiet after a family lasagna dinner, dimly lit from the twinkling Christmas tree, and offering me plenty of opportunity to reflect, I felt… for the first time in years… no sense of anticipation about the new year, other than it’s new. In fact, the “resolutions” I have for the new year involve things I hope to, pray to, plan to avoid:

– No moves
– No new business ventures*
– No weight gain**

*unless it comes with up-front, ample investors with signed cashiers’ checks
**Lord, please grant me the resolve to lose real weight and get healthier this year

There is nothing ‘on the horizon’ as I begin 2013… as I turn 36… as I head home from a warm, cozy (ok, cold and cozy) visit home. Sure… there are changes ahead. My job has gone from crazy-full-time-theatre-manager to part-time-church-media-event-person. Subsequently, we have removed KK from pre-school and I will be starting kindergarten with her at home. I will also be helping Josh & Kirsten plan their wedding for next December, and whether she likes it or not, helping Paige figure out her next chapter. And since Rod is going to be traveling just as much if not more for work, I will be settling our butts down, unpacking the rest of the boxes from our move in June, painting some walls, working on a year of, well, settling.

2012 was every bit as unsettling as 2011 was. I mean, we moved again. We put the girls in a strange new school again. We started new jobs again. We started a theatre…again… except this one actually opened. We welcomed our big kids back to us. We rolled with it. It’s what we do.

I expect it is what we continue to do. It’s not that we don’t have dreams. It’s just that, right now, our compass is lying dormant. There is no great unknown to explore. So I plan to more fully explore the territory around me… more time at the beach, more time connecting with the people around me, more time using what God has given us to make a difference in the world around us.

~

These days spent back in Chicagoland are always the basis of good reflection…deep questions with emotionally-charged answers. What have we missed? Does it still feel like home? Would we/could we ever move back?

It is always obvious what we have missed: businesses come and go. Kids grow. Families grow. Our home church barely resembles the place we left not two years ago. Our old street doesn’t feel familiar. Our old house… I’d rather not talk about.

To me, one who lived here more than 34 years… had her babies in the same hospital where she was born… once had her junior high guidance counselor show up at her garage sale… this will always feel like home. I will always know these streets and sink into the comfort of my mom’s couch or my friends’ kitchens or El Cortez/Aurelio’s/Hollywood Boulevard. But now I have another home, too… where I smell salt water and marsh daily and eat vinegar-seasoned pulled pork and venison my friends shot on their own land, where “Yes ma’am” comes as naturally as breathing and, on one Friday afternoon just a few weeks ago, I ran into 5…F-I-V-E… random people I knew!

On New Year’s Eve afternoon, I sat around a table with some of my closest friends (the biggest drag of moving away that visits never afford me enough time to see everyone I want to for as much time as I want to), sharing a few Deep Life Conversations and then, a teary goodbye. There are days I would just about cut a finger off to be near them again. It took me 30 years to cultivate the friendships I now have in Illinois. But I also know God moved us for a reason… and I do love the life we are slowly, with missteps and do-overs and plenty of laughs…making there.

There is no turning back. But there is looking back, as we move forward. The truth is, I am blessed to have a new home, with my husband of almost-10(!!!) years and our amazing family and a family of friends that continues to grow, and I am blessed to have a strong and steady circle that opens back up every time I send a text or come for a visit.

2013. May it be steady. May it be fruitful. May we be home.

 

the best part

An ode to the turkey sandwich

Ten years ago, I hosted my first Thanksgiving dinner.

It was, for various reasons, anxiety-inducing. Overwhelming. And ultimately, very memorable.

For various reasons, mainly random surgeries, I didn’t host again until last year. And then I hosted yesterday.

And I accept that our new holiday traditions will be quirky things, like “Cheese Night Christmas Eve,” or really having no traditions at all.

I planned a basic menu and let friends fill in the rest. I assigned some general-tasks. I chilled my li’l self out. I missed my family in Illinois, but we did FaceTime… twice. I was surrounded by adults going through the mountain of sales ads, comparing random things on iPads, talking about everything from replacement ink cartridges to favorite holiday memories. For several hours, I could look out the kitchen window and see 5 happy kids and one ecstatic puppy playing in the backyard. And for the whole day, we had a 6-year-old birthday princess flitting about, smiling, demanding attention, and making a little magic.

It was a good day.

While the food is always special on these days, it was the 8pm-ish turkey sandwich that was my favorite. It was simple and fresh and light on my stomach, and as I sat to write tonight, the application of that was so clear: Sometimes, when we take what is leftover, what looks like scraps, we can fashion something that doesn’t seem like any big deal into something very complete and satisfying.

For us, that is what the past year or so has looked like. Plans change? Dreams evaporate? Things don’t look how we thought? Take what is left. Build something better.

The process might be messy… it might leave crumbs on the counter or more dishes in the sink, so to speak… but the outcome just might be surprisingly worth it.

unanswered prayers

Today at lunch, a friend of ours said that when he first met us, he would never have imagined having lunch with us.

You know, because if we had been running the Blank Blank Family Blank, maybe we would have been different people. Or as he said, some of “Those People.”

I can’t say I haven’t thought about it, when I wonder why. Rod and I had some pretty big plans for ourselves when we moved here… not selfish plans, not vindictive dreams, but maybe hopes that, come true, would have eventually led us to focus on the wrong things.

(But I really don’t think so. I just reread this, and I know our hearts, and I after considering possibilities for months, I simply think the Blank Blank Family Blank was just a… landmark on our journey)

We lost some stuff this past year. We lost some stability because we ‘banked’ on things that never happened. We lost control of circumstances we thought we’d always own. We lost some friends because we couldn’t give them what they wanted from us, which had little to do with who we are and more to do with what they thought we’d be.

So I am thankful tonight for:
– the focus we have
– the trials we’ve gone through
– the lessons we learned
– the friends who stayed
– the friends we made
– being together at the other side

As I am working on my annual Christmas photo project for the girls, I have a great opportunity to see where we started this year, and where we are now. God has provided. He has refined. And we are wiser, stronger people than we were a year ago. Life is not easy or simple, nor is it predictable, but it is our life together, and the unanswered prayers have added as much to it as the wishes that came true.

an organized random list

1. Fall
The leaves don’t really turn here, nor do they fall. I miss the colors, but not the raking. I love that we can still comfortably wear flip flops and dine al fresco. I even love that it was “chilly” enough the last few days to open windows, light candles, wear jackets, and get the kind of cozy that only blankets and hot tea can create. And I love most of all that it will be warm again in a few days, that we will have to crank the AC back up and can go to the beach without shivering!

2. BEACH!
We don’t get there as much as I would like or even as much as my online life might imply, but whenever I am there, it is so glorious. And Sunday, I saw one of these there for the first time:


We were rained on almost the whole time we were there, and it was COLD rain, but this view was so worth it.

3. Promises
The rainbow is a symbol of God’s promises. The Bible tells us that (Genesis 9:17), and also tells us (2 Corinthians 1:20) His promises are “Yes” and “Amen” (so be it). One of my ongoing tests in life is not believing in God’s promises, but waiting on His timing. Lord knows I am perpetually in a hurry. I am reminded time and time again that His time is perfect, and that the fulfillment of His promises is often timed in a way that maximizes my opportunities for learning along the way.

This past week – as I internally commemorated One Year Since Our Initial Supposed Reason For Moving From Chicago to Myrtle Beach Fell Apart and One Year Since My Parents Sort Of Moved Here For Six Weeks – I also saw the fulfillment of some things… maybe not “Biblical Promises” for which I could provide scriptural references, but the coming to pass of events (some tiny, some MONUMENTAL) that make me feel Smiled Upon.

(sorry for my random capitalization. it’s the bloggy equivalent of my airquotes)

4. Visits
A dear, dear, dear friend – member of the sacred Mommy Tribe in Chicago (that most of my South Carolina friends must be a  l i t t l e  sick of hearing about) is coming in a few weeks, and my Whole Family – mom, dad, brother & fam, aunt, uncle, maybe gramma, and cousins, are coming for a week in June. Par-tee!

While visits in and of themselves aren’t life changes, they seem to escort them in. I’m excited for what’s coming.

5. And more visits
Speaking of visits, we have ended a straight month of grandparent and surrogate grandparent visits. Mamaw & Grandpa left today after 2.5 weeks of family dinners, overnights for the girls, and extra help for me. It was wonderful having them here –

Seriously, I wish everyone would quit stalling and just move here already…

5. Lasagna Soup
Our last dinner all together last night was a typical Burton mishmash of snack foods, mostly based on cheese. My one exception (in that it was a real course and not a snack) was this soup, which I made for the first time back in March and revived for a new crowd:


I discovered this Paula Deen recipe via Pinterest, and it goes like this:

Tastes Like Lasagna Soup

1 lb ground chuck
1   onion, chopped
1   green bell pepper, chopped
3   cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon thyme
1 tablespoon firmly packed brown sugar
1   (32 ounce) box chicken broth
2   (14.5 ounce) can petite diced tomatoes (I used one)
1   (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
(I used 2 cups of jar spaghetti sauce, ’cause it’s what I had)

2 teaspoon Italian seasoning  (I used basil & oregano)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cup broken lasagna noodles
1   (5 ounce) package grated parmesan cheese (I used 8 ounces)
2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
garlic crostini, recipe follows
…I didn’t have these last two ingredients when I made it last night. No big, though more cheese is always a good thing.

Directions

In a large Dutch oven (or skillet), combine ground chuck, onion, bell pepper and garlic. Cook over medium-high heat for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until beef is browned and crumbles. Drain well.

Stir in thyme, brown sugar, broth, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, Italian seasoning, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes. Add noodles, and simmer until noodles are tender. Stir in Parmesan cheese.

~As always, I recommend eating with people you love.

 

 

exhaled

It was just about a year ago when I first discovered that the beach was more than a place to occasionally eat chips with Kaity and body surf.

It was my place… for exercise, contemplation, escape and often, communion with God.

So much has changed in a year, again.

After summertime in a tourist town (I heard a fellow theatre GM call it the ‘100 Days War’), I remembered that I work pretty much in walking distance of the beach, and I had neglected my friend all summer long. So today, finally, I returned… just me, my music, and my prayers.

It’s a different stretch of beach ~

~ just as beautiful, perhaps a little less pretentious. It does not apologize for its lack of high rises or the presence of pastel houses:

 

I can’t imagine getting lost on this one, because the pier is there and I know this particular beach better than the one I stumbled on last year.

The metaphor is not lost on me. We need landmarks and anchors in our lives, and we need to know stuff. After this past year, I certainly know myself better. And I know God better, too.

I know I don’t want to walk alone, ever.

And I know I will never have to.

I like how I feel here… cooled by the water, lightened by the sun, soothed by the sounds of waves against my own soundtrack, close to and amazed by creation.

We were surprised by a visit from sweet friends last weekend – our original Carolina Next of Kin, and in passing, Bobby told me that whenever they sing one of their songs, Sharona talks about me.

The song is beautiful, touching, difference-making: it’s called, “Just Wait.” And during those walks on the beach just earlier this past year, it was one I would listen to over and over again, trying to grasp that God’s promise is true:

“Though you may not know the future, what He has in store,
He’ll satisfy the longing that there must be something more.”

It seems like my whole life until this point has been about waiting for some next thing to happen. It dawned on me this past week that I’m not waiting for anything. Rather, I’m living. I don’t think that is complacency. I think it just means I have exhaled.

And I find myself in a pretty good place.