Leaving

I have written extensively about my lack of patience.  I also lack a good “leaving” ability.  Nowhere in my educational experience do I remember any teacher discussing the need to develop a good “leaving” skill in one’s life.  And there is no question that I lack that skill.  The truth is I now realize how comfortable I get in whatever place or situation I have become familiar with.  Whether it be in a little town in southeastern Pennsylvania, a desert town in northwest Arizona or in my hometown of western Kentucky – I simply get used to things quickly and find leaving very, very difficult.

I say all this as Lisa and I prepare to load up our RV and head south for four weeks in central Georgia.  Home these last couple of months has been here in Owensboro, our hometown, where our children, parents, and friends live and whom we miss constantly during our travels with Lisa’s work.  Leaving those we love, including an adorable grandson, will not be easy.  We have learned how to adjust to new areas, meet new friends and acclimate ourselves to new places and surroundings.  But we are just not good at leaving.

From Pennsylvania to California we have made friends that we love and miss.  In our old Kentucky home resides our family who we miss the most during our time away and who now we find ourselves preparing to leave once again.  We simply get too attached too quickly and love people too much to ever overcome this trauma.  We just hate to leave.

I remember the sadness I felt as a child when my grandparents would return to their home in Sturgis, Kentucky after spending a week with us at Christmas.   The void they left was impossible to fill and I would annually slip into a post-Christmas depression for a few days after they left.  Christmas was over, school was on the horizon and people I loved had left.  Maybe that has bearing on my poor ability to adjust to leaving one place and go to another.  It is true (for me) that uncertainty brings on anxiety and as Lisa and I prepare to live in a strange place for a period of time there is always the fear that we may not fit in – that people will not like Lisa or her work – and that I may not find a place suitable to spend my time.  The future is an uncertain black hole where bad things can happen.  But the future also brings hope of something really wonderful.  Based on all our past assignments we should be elated for our next adventure that begins this coming week.  The old hymn is certainly true – “Tis grace has brought us safe thus far – and grace will lead us home.”  Christian teacher/theologian John Piper suggests that we should live our lives between those two lines.  In other words, based on God’s provision and care for us in the past – we should lose all fear and anxiety of the future.  But that is easier said than done.

Lisa and I leave for Stone Mountain Georgia this Thursday and God only knows what we are going to experience in the next four weeks.  But we can be assured that the sovereign God, timeless and eternal, is already standing in that future place – one in which we have no knowledge. It is comforting knowing God is waiting for us in that future.

Had we never left home we would have never known about Hanover Pennsylvania or Loma Linda, California.  We would have never known about the “Andy Devine Days Rodeo” of Kingman, Arizona or met people along the way that have become dear friends.  Lisa and I would never have been scammed out of money for bogus Disneyland tickets in Long Beach California or known the taste of Amish “Whoopie Pies”.  Had we not left home we would have never learned how to survive a freezing night in Amarillo, Texas or experience shopping the wholesale district of Los Angeles.  The truth is we have had to leave – to live.

So here is to the anxiety of leaving.  And here is to another chance to live.

Love, Steve and Lisa

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Back on the Road

Lisa and I have made reservations to stay at the Stone Mountain RV Park in Georgia as she begins her four-week assignment in Riverdale.  After looking at all the options – we chose to stay in this well established, highly recommended location even though it will be a thirty mile drive to and from her work place.  Sometimes we have to sacrifice for safety and amenities.

With those plans now set – we will soon say good-bye again to our family and friends but this time – only for the next month.  God knows where we will be after January – but there is a good possibility we will be back in Arizona.  We will learn soon enough.

But what a time it has been for Lisa and I these past two month.  I’m not sure we have ever or will ever experience such a whirlwind of activity in such a short time span.  Soon after arriving home in early November we were off to Disney World for our son’s wedding.  I hope to chronicle the wonderful (even magical) experience that was for our family – I simply have not had time.  After arriving back home we had a reception that I wrote about in a previous post that people are still talking about.  What a party – what a celebration.  Along with all the wedding stuff – I helped remodel our daughter’s kitchen, purchased a piece of investment property along with my brother-in-law and spent some quality time with our precious grandson, Conner Jack.

Now it is back on the road.  We will leave on Thursday (1/2/14) and begin our time in Georgia.  It will be good being only 400 miles from home rather than 1800 and there is a good chance we will make it home on weekends.  Getting back on the road will allow me time to write about all our experiences of these past two months.  Thanks for reading!

Love, Steve and Lisa

Waiting for Wolves and Angels

Lisa and I never know where we will be next.  And that is good and bad.  Traveling with her work has been the greatest adventure of our lives and we would not trade the experiences for anything. Certainly it has come with some sacrifice – namely being away from family for long stretches – but what an adventure it has been.  As we are once again in between jobs, we both have experienced the anxiety of not knowing where we will be next.

Yesterday Lisa accepted a four-week assignment south of Atlanta and will begin that assignment on January 6th.  We had been hoping for something east of the Mississippi River for a change since our last two placements were in California and Arizona.  Being just six hours from home is a Christmas gift we really did not expect and we are both excited that our travel time will be considerably shorter than our recent trips west.  From Georgia there is a good possibility that we will go back to Arizona in February.  We do not look forward to that long drive – but do look forward to meeting up with our friends there and Lisa loves the seven days on – seven days off rotation.  But, in reality, we really don’t know – and we just never do.

We have learned to not allow ourselves to get too excited or too stressed about that “next” location.  Lisa has been recommended for jobs in places like Montana, Martha’s Vineyard, Boston, Virginia, Washington DC, and Texas – just to name a few.  Always we would begin thinking that might be our next destination and start the planning in our minds.  How far away is that?  Where will we stay?  Can we take the RV?  What is the weather like?  All those questions had to be answered and it would not take long for us to begin getting excited about those different locations only to be placed somewhere completely different.  So, we are learning how to not get too excited about a placement – at least not until the contract is signed.

But we never expected six hours from home and we will get that after Christmas – even if for a rather short time.  Now we can begin planning for real and are looking at taking our RV south and have already found a really nice RV park twenty miles from the hospital where she will work.  For now the waiting is over and plans can be finalized.

I have written before that I am not a very good “waiter”.  That does not mean I tend to spill drinks on people.  By “waiting” I mean I don’t do sitting still anticipating the next thing to happen.  I don’t wait well.  But I am learning how.  Of all the characters in the Christmas story – I find myself most impressed with those shepherds watching their flocks. Night after night they would take their positions on the side of that hill and just watch – and (I believe) wait.  Here I am reading into the scripture white spaces – but it is my belief that they were waiting for something to happen.  Maybe they were waiting and watching for a wolf – maybe they were waiting and watching for something in the stars and sky.  Who knows?  But they appear to be really good “waiters”.  I seriously doubt what they actually saw and heard on that famous night was what they were waiting for or anticipating.  And is that not they way of our lives?  Lisa and I very seldom experience what we expect.  We have very rarely gone to the place we had first planned to go.

Most of the time what we are waiting for is not what we get.  Life is a surprise and try as we might to plan for the next big event – those plans are often a waste of time.  I long to be one who can symbolically sit on the hill with those shepherds and just be content to wait.  I may be waiting on the wolves – but who knows?  An angel may show up.

Peace! Steve and Lisa

A Time To Dance

(Update:  Lisa and I are enjoying our time here in Owensboro and are waiting to hear about the next assignment.  Lisa has been contacted about returning to Kingman, Arizona sometime in February and has also been recommended for a job in Richmond, Virginia (which is just 650 miles away versus 1700 miles to Kingman).  We hope to get back on the road after Christmas.)

I could use scripture to make my point with this post.  I could talk about how Jesus turned water into wine at a wedding he had been invited to.  Perhaps that would be enough evidence that Jesus wanted people to celebrate life.  Maybe I could pull some scripture from the Old Testament and how David danced and encouraged others to do so in the Psalms.  But, I am sure some would take issue with any attempt on my part to prove a point with the Bible.  Besides that – I don’t think scripture should be used as a debate tool.  Instead of that approach I think I will just say what is on my mind.  I think people (especially Christians) should celebrate more.  And I mean really celebrate.  Dance and sing and dance some more and then when your voice is hoarse from singing at the top of your lungs and your feet too sore to stand – fall into bed humming the last song while remembering that last dance.  God is good and life is worth celebrating.

Our family has done a lot of celebrating these last few weeks.  Our son got married at Disney World and we celebrated.  Then we got home and had a reception where we celebrated some more.  People danced and sang and acted silly and laughed (boy – did we ever laugh). The only guilt I have felt from all the frivolity is that Lisa and I have not done more of that in our marriage.  After nagging me for years to take dance lessons – I finally gave in and have to admit I have loved learning how to dance.  But the real joy of celebrations like we experienced with Justin and Lori’s wedding is just letting yourself have fun.  We had people come up to us days after the reception saying they had not had that much fun in years and one even said it may have helped save a marriage.  I’m not surprised.  It is true that a couple that prays together – stays together.  Maybe I should add “dance” to that list.

This post may get me in trouble as a Baptist Deacon – something I am and will always be proud to call myself.  But does it hurt to party and celebrate with absolute abandon on special occasions?  We have had to utilize a Catholic church now on two occasions (our daughters wedding and now our sons) in order to allow the kids and adults to dance since it is not allowed in our Baptist church.  It is time for that rule to change.  The first order of business for the next marriage enrichment class at our church should be teaching couples how to dance and have fun together.  Let me be clear that I am not advocating drinking or carousing or wasting your life away partying.  I just think people need to celebrate the life God has given them.  And who has more reason to celebrate and party than those who understand the grace and goodness of God.  Christians should be known as the ‘partyingest’ people on the planet.  (Here come the comments).

So thanks to everyone who partied with us at Justin and Lori’s wedding reception.  Thanks for dancing and laughing and having fun.  Marriage is good – God is good – Life is good.  Let us celebrate!

Love, Steve and Lisa

The Girl We Prayed For

Lisa and I did not know who we were praying for – and that went on for twenty-seven years.  Out in the misty uncertain realm of the unknown was someone God would bring into our son’s life to be his wife.  We thought of that as early as the day he was born and we would pray into that uncertainty for nearly three decades.  At times we worried it would not happen or that the person would be less than our desired choice.  So we just prayed on.

Yesterday I had the privilege of officiating our sons wedding and I thought of all the prayers Lisa and I had prayed throughout his life as his bride made her way down the winding path toward the altar at the “Swan” Resort at Walt Disney World.  Here was the bride – but even more than that – here was a long-awaited answered prayer.

Some believe that Noah may have been working on the ark for hundreds of years waiting for God to deliver the promised rain.  I am not sure that I could have been that steadfast.  But most parents will do just about anything to secure the best life possible for their children and if it took hammering pegs into holes for a hundred years while waiting for God’s fulfilled promise – I hope I would be willing to do that.  Fortunately – all that was asked of Lisa and I was to pray and be patient.  And wait.

This morning I woke up to the reality that both our children are now married and their lives have taken a path away from us as parents and into a future to build their own life and legacy.  Lisa and I would have it no other way.  This morning I realized God had answered our prayers.

We did not know who we were praying for – until Lori Johnson stepped into Justin’s life and yesterday agreed to be his wife.  How can I not believe theirs will be a blessed life and how can I not believe that God will keep them in the palm of His hand – bottle their tears and gift them with joy unspeakable.  After all – He is the one who did this.

Welcome to our family Lori.  We have waited a long time.

Love, Steve and Lisa.