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Feeling The Distance

This post is a part of the Five Minute Friday link up. We write for just 5 minutes on a one-word prompt, without heavy editing, and see what happens. Today’s word is “distant.” 

I took my husband to the airport today for a one-week trip to a conference in Colorado. This conference is for the ministry we both worked with for more than 30 years, and that I left 2 years ago.

I know I was right in leaving when I did. God has made that abundantly clear in the past 2 years, but I can’t help being a little sad as most of my good friends gather without me in Fort Collins.

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Photo by my son Nathan. This sunset pic was taken at 12:25 a.m. in Soldotna, Alaska.

And I have a son in Alaska. And another good friend on a trip to Japan. And the last of our close-knit group in Ohio.

Everyone is in a distant place. Again. Last summer the majority of our little friend group was on a trip together to Hawaii. I wrote my feelings about that here. Not being envious and discontent is a struggle. To top that off, I’ve got a writing assignment that is supposed to take people on a journey through the mountains.

Talk about piling it on.

me and ZayneAnd so I sit in my distant chair in my distant house, not completely alone (it’s me and my 18-month-old grandson, 16-year-old daughter and 76-year-old mother-in-law holding down the fort), but bracing myself for the slew of Facebook and Instagram posts that will come in the next week as my friends enjoy each other in a place with beautiful scenery.

They are far away, but God is near.

Thanks be to God.

 

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Get Moving

This post is a part of my 10-Minute Tuesday series. I write for just 10 minutes, without heavy editing, on a prompt that a friend has provided. Today’s prompt is “moving.”

I haven’t moved very often in my 57 years of life. When I was a tiny baby, my family moved from Sunnyvale, Calif., to Cupertino, Calif. Then we moved when I was 7 to Oakland, Calif. I moved away to college for 2 years, then I moved back home, then I moved to an apartment in San Bernardino, Calif. when I started my first job with Campus Crusade for Christ.

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The house in Oakland, Calif., that I consider the home I grew up in. We lived in that house from 1968 until my mom passed away in 2007. The house was sold later that year.

In San Bernardino, after the apartment, I lived in a house with 3 other women, then a house with 2 other women while I was engaged, and then my husband and I moved into our first little apartment.

Then came the big move across the country to Orlando, Fla. We lived in an apartment first, then built a house, then moved into the house we currently live in. We’ve been here for 19 years almost exactly.

So 57 years, 11 residences, including my college apartment.

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Friends helped load the moving truck for my husband’s sister and her family as they relocated from Texas to Orlando.

To me, moving means going somewhere. It means not staying in the same place. When we say a movie or a photograph or a speech “moved us,” it should mean not just that it made us feel something, but that it changed something deep inside us. It took us from one place of being to another.

If we were moved, we should not be in the same place we formerly were.

If the picture of a starving child, orphaned by the ravages of war, moves us, we should not stay where we are. We should do something about it.

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This sweet hummingbird enjoys a treat outside my younger sister’s home in Crested Butte, Colo.

Moving is not always easy. It’s not always comfortable. Often, things get lost in transit. Or broken. When we first moved into our apartment in Orlando, we found that it wasn’t what was promised to us. All our earthly possessions were on a truck headed our way, but we had to have the apartment complex move us to a different unit because the one we were given was not right. New checks had to be ordered with our new apartment number; the moving company needed to be contacted to bring our stuff to the right door. We spent a  few sleepless nights on the floor of the wrong place until things could be made right. Our cat was not a fan of all this upheaval.

But where we ended up was better than where we started. Moving across the country from my entire family made me sad. In the ensuing years that distance would be made more difficult by my mom’s bouts with cancer and eventual death and my dad’s sudden death 16 months previous to mom’s. But we weren’t supposed to stay where we were.

Even when we live in the same house, we’re not supposed to stay where we are.

There’s A Place For Us

This post is a part of the Five Minute Friday link up. We write for five minutes on a one-word prompt, without heavy editing, and see what we come up with. Today’s prompt is “place.”

In the last month or so, we have been in the process of wondering where our second son is going to live next year for college. We are in the same city as his university, but he has lived on campus his first two years. The university has a housing lottery, however, and this time, his name was not chosen to have on-campus housing in the Fall.

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So, we waited until the second drawing and then when his name still wasn’t picked, we knew we would have to seek another place. He could always come home, but his financial aid covers housing, and the daily drive + parking madness would not be ideal for him. And lo and behold, even University affiliated off-campus housing would be cheaper than the dorm he’s in now.

So on Wednesday he and I set out to tour apartment complexes. Wow, are these places ever nicer than the one I lived in when I was in college.

We settled on one that is affiliated with the university and we signed the lease yesterday. It’s nice to know that he’ll have a place to live near campus in the Fall. Who he will live with is still up in the air.

All this got me thinking about how much comfort we find in having a place to call our own. We know at the end of a long day, or after a vacation, we can come home. Ideally, that place is safe, restful, comfortable, peaceful.

I’m not ignorant enough to believe that everyone’s home is this way. I know there is strife, noise, clutter. And I also know that there are so very many who have no place they can call home at all.

I’m so grateful that, eventually, I will be able to call heaven my home.

No more tears. No more sadness. No more sickness.

Indeed, as the children’s song goes, “Heaven is a wonderful place.”

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A Place to Land: A Story of Longing and Belonging—a book review and a giveaway!

Place to Land coverI’m a California girl, but I have lived in Florida for nearly 27 years. My parents are both gone now, and much of my extended family doesn’t live in the state anymore, but I will always consider California “home.”

There’s something about the place of our birth that binds us. It might be just a piece of land, but it holds a piece of our heart. But if that “place” no longer contains the people who meant so much, where do we find “home?”

I worked with an international missions organization for more than 30 years. People came from all over the United States to work at the headquarters. Along the way, many moved overseas to tell people about Jesus. Early on, my husband and I opened our home on holidays to friends who had no family nearby. To this day, we crowd our home with those who fit that category.

In Kate Motaung’s memoir, A Place to Land: A Story of Longing and Belonging (now available for order from Amazon), she wrestles with the question of home as she lives cross-culturally in South Africa and loses her mom to cancer while she’s overseas. (This is not technically a spoiler as it’s revealed in the very beginning of the book.)

Kate writes with candor about her home life, her parents’ divorce and her father’s remarriage. About forgiveness, about sin, about grief. And about home. Must we be all or nothing to the place we live? Does it matter where we live? If God has called us to service in one place, but all that we love is in another, do we lose? Or do we gain more than we can ever even see?Place to Land

In describing her feelings following her parents’ divorce, Kate writes, “One day, . . . Mom whisked Sarah and me off for a weekend away. When we got back, Dad was gone. The next afternoon, when I came home from school, he was still gone. And the day after that. And the day after that. Every morning that followed, for months, when Mom dropped me off in my second grade classroom, I went straight to the coat closet, tucked myself inside, and cried. Terrified that one day I would get home from school, and, like my dad, Mom would be gone too.”

Your heart will be captured when Kate expresses what losing her mom felt like. You will walk in her shoes as she eloquently describes landing on the foreign soil of South Africa. You will smile as she reveals how she felt when first meeting her husband, Kagiso. And you will weep with her as she lets go of her mom.

Turns out, “home” means much more than a location, and “A Place to Land” captures that truth in a story that you will not want to put down until you’re done.

A-Place-to-Land_3I will be giving away a copy of A Place to Land on April 6th. To enter for a chance to win, just leave a comment about what “home” looks like to you and why you would like to read this special book. I will pick a random winner on April 6th. Don’t miss a chance to be challenged and changed by this beautiful book.

Meanwhile, visit Kate Motaung’s author page here. You can also read the first chapter for free here.

 

 

From Sea to Shining Sea

August 4th finds us back at home for our second full day. We actually arrived on the 2nd, but there was too much to do to find time to sit and write. I haven’t had too much time yet to gather my thoughts, either, but here are a few things:

We traveled 9,197 miles, used 417 gallons of gas, visited with about 48 family members and friends, saw license plates from 49 states (missed only Alaska, which Nathan swore he saw, but we couldn’t verify on the speeding car that passed us by), ate at about 27 restaurants (it would have been more if not for picnic lunches packed at the benevolence of our friends), traveled through 24 states and slept in 19 different beds, only 6 of which were in hotels.

We saw elk, bison, buffalo, deer, a little coyote, a chipmunk, squirrels, various birds, dogs and cats. Those were the live ones. The roadkill was way too numerous to count.

We have one ding in our windshield from a rock thrown up by a passing semi in Idaho (I think), a tweak to our front bumper from a blown tire on another semi (in one of the Carolinas), and road dust that all has something to say about our journey.

Only a few small things were left behind: a small container of shampoo, a hairband that went with Morgan’s wedding outfit, a beach towel purchased in Huntington Beach, a comb, a bracelet, one charging cable and a library book that is required reading for Justin. That one will be mailed by the hotel in Georgia. Not too bad for living out of a suitcase for 31 days.

We experienced a terrific rainstorm in Wyoming, blazing heat in Arizona and chilly drizzle in Washington that cleared for the big wedding day. Our temperatures ranged from the low 50s in Washington to 113 through the California desert. But the van’s a/c stayed reliably in the mid-70s.

For being stuck together 24/7 for 31 days, the kids did remarkably well. They had their moments, of course, and I was thankful for the DVD player, but they’re all still friends at the end of the day.

As are David and I, as evidenced by the kisses from sea to shining sea:

Ormond Beach, Fla.

Newport Beach, Calif.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thankful today for:

510. a reliable washer and dryer

511. winners who give glory to God

512. smoothies

513. dvr

514. choices

515. memories

516. a nice camera

517. a happy family

518. a healthy trip

I Can See It From Here

Day 31 of our journey finds us in Savannah, Georgia. Not quite home, but we can see it from here. The Florida license plates have become more prominent, but we were blessed to finally find the elusive New Hampshire plate at a rest stop in North Carolina. We’re hoping someone from Alaska is on their way to Florida right now and heading south on I95.

For the last 5 days, we’ve been driving, sleeping, getting up and driving again. Thus the lack of posts. We did have a chance to visit with ministry partners we’ve never met, but who welcomed us into their home. We can now call them friends. We also saw two families we haven’t hugged in years and met kids we’ve never met before. Morgan wasn’t so thrilled with the household of boys, but she loved the girls who painted her nails a cool purple and white pattern.

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A cool rock formation in Wyoming, on the road to Mt. Rushmore

As we head into Florida today, we will swing by the beach in Jacksonville and wade in the Atlantic so that we can say we have actually gone from “sea to shining sea.” I’m sure it will take me a while to process this whole month. Suffice it to say right now that we are still talking to each other through goofy road games, a near miss by a blown-out semi’s tire, collecting 49 states so far in the license plate game, unnumbered dvds all while traveling thousands upon thousands of miles of roadway across and around America.

Here’s my summation on day 31 with home still several hundred miles away: Wow.

And here’s the big question that will surely remain on our minds for a lifetime: Is it pop or is it soda?

Thankful today for:

498. travel mercies

499. friendly people

500. health throughout the journey

501. new friends

502. old friends

503. memories

504. creativity–both God’s and man’s

505. the promise of home

506. a few more weeks until school starts

507. clean accommodations

508. a rear entertainment system

509. Pandora radio