Category: the inevitability of change

quiet

Our house is back to a household of 4.

Paige returned to Lexington, and we’re all glad she took the extra few days off. We had her here for a week, and she’ll be back for winter break in just three more.

Mom and Dad returned to Chicagoland on Friday, six weeks after the day they arrived. I feel so weird about it. The days they were here were so helpful, so great for the kids, so comforting, and then toward the end, I guess a little tense, as we silently acknowledged that they weren’t staying forever like I’d hoped. Even so, I had so looked forward to them being here, and now it’s come and gone, and it already feels like it was a dream.

We had a really nice Thanksgiving week. It’s like an extra gift that Miranda’s birthday falls the same week. Each day was filled with baking and company, phone calls and presents, decorations and music. And it was in the 70s and sunny outside every day. Bliss.

But now the house is emptier. The holiday season stretches out before us without a lot of plans. We won’t be returning to Chicago for a visit (3 visits from August-October kind of maxed us out for the year). Other than one or two bonus days with some special friends, no one is coming here for a visit. We’re not involved in any concerts or cantatas or projects or cookie exchanges or party-hosting.

Enjoy it? Yes. That’s what we should do. Until things pick up at work, there are hours stretched before me to perform holiday tasks at a leisurely pace. Bake treats for random people. Write personal messages on the Christmas cards. Be intentional in giving gifts, rather than just checking off the names. Catch up voice-to-voice. Maybe find a nursing home and bring the girls there to pass out treats or cards or songs.

And there are the daily things, things neglected or doled out like delicacies for so long, that there is time to do. Take the girls to the beach after school (tomorrow’s plan). Clean the house but good (Tuesday’s plan). Pray longer. Carry on the conversation over a second cup. Exercise extra. Read. Write.

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There will be a day when this season, this quiet season, ends.

There will be a time when this current life, punctuated with activity and obligation and business rather than driven by it, will halt for a new season. There will be a Sunday night not long from now when I will have no problem feeling purposed (as I have tonight), no room to feel lonely (as I do tonight), and no open space on my calendar (which is full of blanks tonight). I will look back on tonight, Thanksgiving Sunday 2011, the day after a very successful, suspended-reality, worry-free week, and wish I had more fully appreciated the naps, the soup-making, the movie-watching, the doing of nothing.

So tonight, I’m asking God for something very selfish. Help me to cherish this time, even in my anxiety, even in my discomfort. Help me to find music in the silence and joy in the discovery. Help me to focus on what we have and what we know, rather than what we’re waiting for and what is unknown.

Wordless Wednesday: Grateful

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…that my baby had a fun-filled birthday celebration, made complete by calls, texts, cards, and visits.

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…that I get to be her mommy.

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…that it’s 80 degrees in November while we make new traditions.

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…that my children have friends.

…that while my heart beats for the people in it, while it overflows with love and sometimes I’d trade my iPad for a few hours with ones i left behind, I have learned to find peace and contentment where I am. I believe it’s where God put me, our family, and it’s a beautiful place to grow.

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Happy Thanksgiving Eve!

I thought I knew the story

Half a year of Chicagolina.
We are commemorating 6 months this weekend. It has been six months since we said goodbye to the only home that KK, Miranda, and I have ever known, the home where our family was created, and left for our new life.

I’ve told this story so many times, but I’ve never written it, and now that I am, it looks so much different than it did before. Here goes:

The introductory facts:
– On August 5, 2009, just weeks after the first Branson Gospel Music Revival, Rod was ‘severanced out’ of his full time job. We were given a financially secure opportunity to pursue full time ministry, though we were a little unsure what it would look like. We thought it would involve more events like BGMR, growing BGMR, starting a record label, growing a publication, and growing Rod’s solo career and the group he was getting ready to tour with. We thought we’d move to Branson, MO or Nashville, TN, and took a few months to decide.

– On May 1, 2010, Rod and I put our house in Homewood, IL up for sale. We had decided Nashville was the place. A few weeks later, Rod left the group he was singing with. BGMR had a great year, but not one quite how we expected.

– By the end of the year, we’d had many people look at our house, but no offers. We were still pursuing all the other avenues, but we were also both applying for more conventional jobs in order to support our family. I had resigned myself to the idea that maybe it wasn’t time to move yet. Chicago had one of the worst housing markets in the country, and I was pretty comfortable in our church and the lovely circle of friends and homeschool buddies we had.

The signs
During December of 2010, Rod was put back in touch with a man whose company we had worked for in the late 90s. In fact, it was the company that had brought Rod from Ohio to Chicago. Glenn was opening a theater in Myrtle Beach and thought it would be fun to have Rod sing there some time. They talked a bit more and decided we should get together for lunch and catch up.

20111118-111850.jpg On the night of December 29, I finished reading the novel Fly Away Home by one of my favorite authors, Jennifer Weiner. Her books always involve some kind of coming together at The Beach. The Beach is almost like a character in her stories. It offers her other characters a place to commune, find sanctuary, find themselves.

I grew up in the Midwest, and while we weren’t far from Lake Michigan, I didn’t belong to a beach-going family. So while I had some fond memories of the beach – a few lake outings with my cousins when I was a kid, our honeymoon in Hawaii, and our first family-of-5 vacation (to Myrtle Beach) in 2007, I had never cared much about it one way or the other.

But as I closed the book that night – the night before we were having lunch with Glenn – I had a big warm fuzzy about The Beach. The story of Fly Away Home is a bittersweet one, involving failed and reconciled relationships. I enjoyed reading it, and my favorite parts were those describing the solace and home that the main character, the matriarch, found at an old family beach house.

So I closed the book, on a night in the midst of one of the worst winters I can remember, looked at my husband, and said these words:

Why are we moving to Nashville?…It’s just as cold there as it is here. But when it snows there, everything shuts down. We’d be trapped in the house half the winter. Why can’t WE move to The Beach?

Rod kind of laughed, as he does at half the off-the-cuff things I say. And we went to sleep under our down comforter.

The next day, we had lunch with Glenn. Turned out that in the 10ish years since we’d known him, his life had changed even more than ours had. (That’s his story to tell). We hadn’t known anything about where he’d been nor did he about us. But Rod and I drove away from that lunch with a sense of bewildering wonder –

We knew we were going to Myrtle Beach to run that theater.

It wasn’t exactly a roll downhill from there. Glenn was still working out the road to get there. For a few months, every time Rod’s cell rang, I was jumping out of my skin, sometimes actually calling out, Is this the call, Lord? It wasn’t that I was in a hurry to leave my home and my loved ones, but I was anxious to get to what’s next. I know God creates holding patterns for us as well as seasons of much business, but as the weeks went on, I was quickened. I was sick of being stagnant. And so, when the call came toward the end of April, we were ready. Our house was rented out. Our peace was made. And by May 20, we were here.

End of story, right?
Of course not. I’m not even sure that was the beginning of the story. The script has gone off in places that this lover and student of stories never saw coming. And it’s not a choose-your-own-adventure kind of tale. Nope. Rod and I are being led, taught, directed. The Burtons Who Kick Down The Doors, the people some of you applauded for starting a new thing, have been told to be still, shut up, listen, wait.

We struggle with it. Daily.

(And if you are trying to read between the lines, it’s still the same stuff…we are still employed by the theater, but it’s not opening in the timeframe we expected, and living through that is unstable and tough in a myriad of ways).

That said… we are happy. We are happy in our souls, because all this sunshine and fresh air and saltwater makes us (especially me, we agree) feel alive in ways we never have before. Our kids are growing, are content, are settled. We are grateful, because we haven’t replaced the relationships we left behind; they have continued. We have started new ones, though, and they have been our anchors through some dark days. And we are healthy. Rod’s overall health is better. Kaity’s asthma has barely been a blip. Randa is less of a couch potato. I finally seem to have found the motivation to get fit. Being here is good for us

even though it’s not easy
or simple
or what we thought.
even though we don’t know what’s next.
even though we don’t know all the WHYs yet
even though it’s hard for me to talk about, so sometimes I don’t return the calls (I’m sorry)
even though,
even so…

I thought closing the cover of that novel on the eve of beginning our new chapter was a great story.

Turns out it’s not a story at all… it’s just a sign or wonder on the way to figuring out what our story is.

I know when my story is nearing its conclusion, I will likely look back at this itty-bitty chapter as pivotal, but small…difficult, but nurturing. So I’m going to get a head start being grateful for it.

Happy Six Months to the Chicagolina Burtons.

~
Reminder: You have until midnight tomorrow, Monday, 11/21, to go here and tell me what you are ‘ever grateful’ for, for a chance to win a $20 gift from DaySpring!

ever grateful around the table

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I had another wonderful and appreciated opportunity to review a product, provided to me by DaySpring. All opinions here are – surprise – mine!

Give thanks at the table.

That’s a theme for the incourage (in)spired deals this month, but wow…I have to say, it is a lifestyle for me. What better place to be thankful than at the kitchen table, laden with food, surrounded with loved ones?

This month in particular, this is sacred to me. In November, we celebrate Miranda’s 5th birthday, and we also celebrate our first major holiday in our new home. Thanksgiving has been special to us for a myriad of reasons during our marriage (and not just because I’ve spent two of them recovering from surgery and another from student teaching!). It is a precious day to celebrate all we have – with a nary a worry about what we need to get.

On Thanksgiving, everything we need is represented around our table.

Oh, and Miranda’s birthday? It’s our Real Life Reminder that Jesus still does miracles!

We will celebrate both occasions this year with bits and pieces from old and new traditions.

The old:
– I will cook and bake like a madwoman.
– I will want as many people around as we can handle.
– We will play a lot of Christmas music.

The new:
– (some of the) people
– turkey cooking technique
– apron to wear!

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Due to a daughter returning from college (just in time for her little sister’s birthday!), due to a think outside-the-box birthday party, due to an ‘urban family’ Thanksgiving feast, due to the new information that Mom and Dad will be returning home to all the others we miss after the holiday weekend, I find my heart absolutely overflowing with the thoughts of how blessed we are this year.

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Our new road to our new home has come with its share of unexpected hurdles and unexpected blessings, and what I love most about this apron (besides that it will keep all my black shirts from being covered in flour) is that it calls out the life and faith philosophy that This Season teaches me to cling to: crazy gratefulness.

Next week, as family comes and goes, as precious new friends seal their places as part of our family (as only a 5 year old princess party or an eating holiday can do!), as we place those greeting-card-esque calls to the dear ones far from us, I will be every grateful for each blessing.

….especially these…

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(And I will look cute while making my portion of the Thanksgiving menu!)

As part of the awesome DaySpring (in)sprired deals, I get to have my very first giveaway on this blog! Simply leave a comment HERE (not on Facebook) on what you are ever grateful for this season. One commenter will be randomly chosen to receive a $20 coupon code for DaySpring!

(Comment no later than November 21…and we’ll announce a winner on Miranda’s birthday!)

nonspiration

I challenged myself to post every day this month.

And tonight, not having posted yet, I am exhausted and uninspired. There is a TV show on the DVR right now that is absolutely horrifying to me (biological Chinese parents coming to America to claim their child..who was adopted by a couple who thought she was an orphan. Dang you, Harry’s Law!)

Church was excellent today. Every word of the message was for me. It was about waiting, which I’m doing. It was about divine appointments, which I totally believe in. It was about the promise that God hasn’t left us or forgotten His promises to us. Duly noted.

Just hard to see today.

Nothing about being here is turning out like I thought. Indeed, some parts of it are better than I expected. And many parts are much harder.

So there you have it. This post is pointless, uninspired, not encouraging. This is me, being floaty and angsty and wondering what is next. This is me being grateful for the many blessings and safeguards in my life, and being sick of being scared and worried and sad about what I don’t currently have or control.

And this is me, knowing that tomorrow can bring any number of changes, so I’m going to have a bowl of Cocoa Pebbles and hope for the best.