I woke up this morning with my puppy cuddled next to me, in my soft bed, and my entire trip felt like a dream. We traveled 24 hours to get our feet back on American soil and the fact that the trip is over still hasn’t hit me. I was expecting to wake up in Uganda, to the annoying rooster who thought 5am was an appropriate time to wake up. I was expecting to look out the window and see the city on a hill that had captured so much of my heart. Instead I woke up to no alarm, no sounds of laughing girls, and the sense that I had left something wonderful. Its hard to believe just hours ago I was somewhere so different.
After a monday filled with middle schoolers I come home only to be met with dishes needing to be done, boxes needing to be filled, and a sea of dirt needing to be vacuumed. Instead of doing any of it I crash onto our bed in a puddle of tears. What was I thinking planning a two week trip to Africa when there was so much to be done here? All of the reasons I shouldn’t go came crashing in one giant wave of fear and I found myself praying that God would get me out of this. I decide the best thing to do is get out of the house and since I am supposed to meet my friends at bible study in an hour I head towards church. The weather matches my mood as it has been flooding all day and I have to fight the sea that is Houston to get to church.
Worships begins and I let the words wash over me as I remember why I signed up for this trip in the first place. My sister in law, who is also going, asked me to remember the moment God told me to go so I as I sing “Holy is the lamb” I think back on that day.
It was one of the long drives back to houston, I had just been in Atlanta with a friend and we had a twelve hour car ride ahead of us. Kerri had just told me all about the trip and the miles passed and the hours ticked on I couldn’t get the trip out of my mind. By the time we arrived in houston I had asked Ben’s permission and signed up for the trip. It was as clear as day, God wanted me to go.
Here I was though, ten days before the trip, wondering why I was going. The song ended and they started the hymm “In Christ alone”. The song builds until I am in tears by the lyrics,
Its sunday night and Ben and I are rejoicing that we don’t have work tomorrow (although that is most of my days) and we are celebrating by packing boxes. I can’t believe a year ago we moved into this house, our first house as husband and wife. I remember the first night we moved in, our mattress was laid on the floor and boxes covered every inch of the house. We had spent twelve hours in the car and then I proceeded to unpack the entire u-haul, I was nesting as psychologist call it, I call it me going crazy. After a few hours of unpacking we dropped into bed in sheer exhaustion and just started laughing, we couldn’t believe we were really where we were. We had gotten married, gone on a honeymoon, packed up my life, and moved to Houston, TX. It was the last place I expected to be two months out of college but I guess that’s why I don’t make the plans.
Now here we are again, one year later, repacking the boxes and moving into our next place. I am praying it will be a happier place, I am praying that this next season will be a peaceful one. See no matter how much i love Ben I couldn’t stop life from happening when we got married. I couldn’t predict the feelings of guilt from leaving my family, I couldn’t predict the loneliness that would fill my days, and I couldn’t predict life changing circumstances to arise every time we almost got settled.
However, even with the rough times this house still holds a world of good. It was our first home. It was what we came home to. It was where we would sit every night and rehash our days, sometimes with a hot meal if I had been a good enough wife to cook that day. We had our first Christmas here together, although we couldn’t wait till Christmas day and had no chaperone’s so we had our first Christmas twelve days early. It was wonderful. We had friends over for dinner, some friendships that we will have for a lifetime. We have gained so much its hard to remember why I was so weary to leave in the first place.
Leaving Atlata was one of the hardest things I ever had to do. Right before Ben and I left the wedding my brothers, my parents, and I all got in a big circle and cried and hugged each other I guess we knew everything was going to be different. I had to let go of my wonderful family and start my own. That moment still makes me want to cry. After the honeymoon I packed with such sadness I thought the whole room could feel it. I cried with every picture frame, journal, or anything that reminded me of my childhood. I spent most of the day crying. When we finally got it loaded I turned to my mom who was waiting to give me one last tearful goodbye as I got into my car, I no longer lived there. She hugged me and told me they’d come visit soon. As we drove away I saw the tears streaming down her face and she sank into my dad. I did the same to Ben. Driving away was one oft he hardest moments in my life.
But here we are packing boxes and not to move back to atlanta but to a loft in Houston. A year latter and the storm has calmed. We have met amazing friends that feel like family. We have been blessed with job security and while my schedule is constantly changing it works.
I thought when we moved out here I would just get a job and find friends and be settled. Then when that didnt happen and I realized I didnt want a normal job so I started subbing and now helping at a Pregnancy help center. God knew why he wanted me here. He wanted to me to here to bond with Ben and to let go of my parents. Most kids arent the ones who have to let go of their parents but in my case i must. I must realize they don’t need me as much as i wish they did and keep going with life. It has been a hard transition but God has never left, he always gave me encouragement and he gave me Ben. Ben can right all the wrongs in my life with on of his smiles and often he does. Ben is my greatest blessing but we also have Jesus and Ben and I couldn’t have worked without Jesus.
So we pack boxed for the next adventure in our marriage. We wonder what new friends we will meet or what job I might actually take. I wonder what God will call us to because at this point im open for anything. For now though we will just pack our boxes and remember our first year together.
Thirty set of eyes follow me to the front of the room, most of them are my mothers age or older, I can tell what they are thinking, “what are you going to tell me that I don’t already know”, the same thought is running through my head as the executive director of the pregnancy help center introduces me as the next speaker.
Doctors always ask me when my insomnia started, when was the first time I remember not being able to sleep. I think for a minute and decide the better question was when was the last time I remember sleeping. When I was a baby my parents had to turn my door knob around to lock me in so I couldn’t wander the house at night. By elementary school I was so scared of the silent dark I would fall asleep with all the lights on and a book on tape running, preferably Romana because she was always getting into trouble like me. When things got really bad I would end up on my parents floor, feeling safer just knowing they were there. I think I spent most of my childhood sleeping on the floor. Its odd how fear can take over your life. The sun would start to set and the familiar fear and dread would creep up on me. My parents tried everything to calm my fears, logic and reason were out the window so after one business trip my dad brought me home a tiny light house. He told me God was in the top watching me as I sleep. He told me that as long as God was watching me while I slept then I would be safe. I wish I could say it worked but at the age of ten a tiny God in a metal figurine wasn’t all that comforting. However I put it on my dresser as a reminder that God is watching and am proud to say it still sits there today.
What i couldn’t grasp at ten resonates clearly in me today. I can rest, I can sleep, I don’t have to fear because my God is always watching me. While I am no longer (that) scared of the dark I have fears. Fears about my future, my family, my career, my health, my friendships, my marriage and if I am not careful it will overtake me. If I am not careful the fears can block out my God in the light house. He is still there though, just like the figurine i move with me from place to place he never leaves. No matter the season, the city, or the circumstance my God has remained with me.
Im sad to say that my insomnia hasn’t gotten any better, doctors blame it on a creative mind but the fear that used to clutch me when i was younger no longer has a hold on me. I know I could ditch the light house and God wouldn’t leave but I can’t help but look at it and remember these words.
Over my two week span at home we went to the lake, our first family vacation in what feels like forever. My grandparents good friend, who is a writer, came to give me some advice and ended up teaching my whole family a world of God. My dad calls her pretty Aunt Kay because she looks like a million bucks, even at 70, and has been apart of their family since my Great grandmother started the first womans bible study in Atlanta. She is one of those wonderful honest speakers, the kind that doesn’t fluff up the truth to make you feel better. While sitting on the dock she said something I haven’t been able to shake, “life is a series of shattered dreams” she tole me.
Life has told me that if something is going to get done i have to do it myself. Life has told me that if i want to look out for anyone i should look out for me, it has told me i am the top priority and other people will never stay. Life has told me we are all broken sinners with an aptitude for letting others into our sin. Life has told me that people are cruel, men are scary, and fear is my only companion when the sun goes down. Life has taught me lessons I wish i never had to learn, showed me things i wish i never had to see, and promised me dreams that will never come true. Life keeps telling me to right the wrongs with more wrongs, run the race alone, and depend on my own strength. It has told me that the weak won’t survive, that death can’t be rejoiced in, and that God left me along time ago. It tells me my faith won’t weather this storm and my heart won’t handle anymore disappointment. It tells me so many lies on a day like today and there reaches a point where I almost forget where I can run.