07 January 2014

One Year Ago

It’s one year ago today that we boarded a plane and departed our African home country.

One year.

I recall sitting in the car all loaded up to go to the airport in the wee hours of the morning. I looked up at our front gate and lighted stairwell and our front door at the top. The front door whose opening and closing sounds are etched in my memory. The front door that my kids stood by for their ‘first day of school’ photos. The door that heard a thousand “Keef, tamam? Inti quesa?” The front door that let in and out many dear friends and visitors. The front door I would decorate for birthday parties. The front door that allowed too much dust to blow beneath it. If I listen, I can hear the sound of the door opening and closing in my head and my heart leaps because that door opening and closing often meant that my love returned from a day’s work and was home for the evening. That was such a good feeling.

The approaching date of this anniversary has had me reflecting a bit more than usual. And in some ways I feel like my life is so very different from what it was a year ago. And in some ways I feel like not much has changed, apart from my physical location.

I guess it’s that our final season in Africa was when I really came into my own. I stepped into a new ‘me’. Understood myself more. Stepped up and into who God made me and the things He’s put inside of me. Using my gifts, just being me and God’s using me by just me being me. In that regard, I feel much the same on both sides of the globe. I’m still me and I always will be.

So I feel much like the same person. That’s good! I don’t imagine everyone who has been through what we have could say that. I’m thankful that my identity is not tied up in where I am. But I suppose that just because I feel mostly the same inside it doesn’t mean that I’m understood the same by those around me. I still get those moments, a year later, when I am reminded that I have a weird history. I lived where? I’m different is what I’m saying. I can always blend in and be fine and happy, yes, but inside I sometimes I just want to respond in Arabic, you know?! It feels so natural. But how many times can I mention this or that about Africa before people start tuning out? Um, like, once… MAYBE. But Africa is a big part of who I am. God used our time in Africa (oh no… too many Africas!!! Must stop or readers will stop reading!) hugely to shape who I am. But I often keep it to myself because few around me know that part of my life and I end up feeling silly mentioning it so often. I’m not bitter at all, it’s just how it is and that’s fine.

Aaaanyway. Enough about how I feel inside and out. Blah blah blah.

The other main components that make up my life that haven’t changed between continents are:

1. My family is with me. Halleluiah! Plus my baaaabbbyyyyy! Oh I love her so much, my strong little baby who went through so much in my belly. She’s in my arms, glory!

2. I adore caring for my family and my home.

3. I run a preschool. In many ways very VERY different. In some very small ways, the same.

4. I have joy!

Now, there were some rough patches in the midst, for sure. But the joy I had from life and loving and pouring out my life in Africa is the same joy I have here for the same reasons. That’s God’s grace people. He’s so good.

It’s been awhile since I burst out in tears over some aspect of loss that we have walked through. But when I think about that front door it gets me every time…

A year ago I walked out that door for the  last time. And now I have no idea if others are using *my* door. Do children walk through that door? Does a wife’s heart leap for joy (or sadly, fear?) when a husband opens it? Are there toddler footprints in the dust on the stairs leading to it? Has a dust storm blown it open and there is no one to close it again? Something about that door. It gets me every time I think about it.

Doors. Chapters. Seasons. Open. Closed.

We’ve experienced loss. But we have been renewed. I have joy. Expectation. Vision. I have supreme thankfulness for all the beauty and ugly from those seven years and all he taught me. And I have supreme thankfulness for where God has brought us now.

I am in his hands.

Amen.

Dongola 033

(2010 desert road trip, one of my favorite memories)

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