Thursday, December 17, 2009

Chapter Eight: Right at Home

Moving to Charlotte, Shane and I felt like we were on a mission, working for a clear purpose given by the Lord. Called away from the hometown I had known for so long, away from my family and close friends, yet I was confident we were on the right path for our lives. God provided the purpose, the way, and even provided a couch when we got there, but I was away from family and out of my comfort zone.

Several people had suggested that we find a home close to Uptown; if we didn't, the joke was, no one would come visit us. It had been a joke, but it was true and we were glad that suggestion had led us to an apartment complex less than ten miles from Uptown Charlotte. Many of our apartment neighbors were young couples enrolled in seminary and we were in proximity to many new friends. We were beginning to feel belonging in this new community.

The church members seemed excited to have Shane leading them in worship and Shane seemed so fulfilled. Watching him in action made my heart so proud, not to mention the sheer number of new songs he was writing for the church that were biblical, deep and thoughtful, "user friendly" songs for musically impaired folks like myself.

The children loved being around their new church friends (at the time there were over 150 children under 5 years old) and I was slowly getting to know the other women in the church.

For the first time I was far from home in a permanent sense. Growing up, my family wasn't always close emotionally, but always close in proximity. If I had a ballgame or pageant or other special event, my family and often extended family showed up. Their physical presence said they loved me. (Even on my wedding day, when they were not happy about my marriage, they came.) For the first time really, I couldn't be with them, and they couldn't be present with me on any regular basis. I have to say we missed free babysitters too; on our dependable ministry budget, it was still hard to afford a babysitter so Shane and I rarely had dates. God used that time to further draw Shane and I into a dependence on Him and on one another. Even so, I still dealt with guilt over denying grandparents and great-grandparents the privilege of seeing their grandchildren and because of distance, my not being able to see family for every birthday or life event.

My parents came a couple of times within our first six months being in Charlotte, but my three living grandparents couldn't come on their own. I missed them. We made it back to Tennessee for a late Christmas with our families and excitedly announced the coming of our third child.

We traveled back to Charlotte and began the new year. As my baby belly grew, so did our excitement for expanding our family. We had a scare early on in the pregnancy when I bled for fifteen days. Even though my doctor saw nothing alarming on the ultrasound, we were driven to our knees. By God's grace, the bleeding stopped and we anxiously awaited the arrival of our newborn child. In May, we traveled back to Tennessee for my sister's college graduation knowing the next time we came, our family would be bigger.

As my due date approached, I began to feel homesick. I knew most of my family couldn't travel to see me when the baby arrived because of other obligations at home. A welcomed distraction came when Shane said some college missionaries who had been working on the hurricane Katrina recovery would be traveling through Charlotte and needed a place to stop and shower before they lodged for the night. Shane spoke of one of the students who was reportedly disfigured and sensitive, so we prepared our children for how to respond. The day of their arrival came and as always when guests are coming, I cleaned our home from top to bottom. While I was in the kitchen making a batch of cookies, Shane called to tell me they had arrived, and I should make the children go to the back bedroom for a moment to prepare them. I told the kids to go back to my room. While I was quickly finishing up the cookies, Shane came in with the people, I walked into the living room and there stood.......two of my grandparents with my parents!

I was literally speechless. Then I began weeping. I had known Shane long enough to see through his lying jokes, but never saw this one coming. Shane had concocted the whole plan right down to the disfigured guy (so the kids wouldn't spoil the surprise when they saw everyone enter). My parents were in on it too, and my mom, knowing I'd panic if they showed up and I hadn't cleaned, told Shane to say something that would get me to clean up before they arrived. Shane cannot keep a surprise to himself; that showed an exorbitant amount of restraint on his part. What a gift!

That was one of those moments I really, deeply felt loved. In those kind of moments I get a glimpse of the real love of my Heavenly Father and know that He is my true home.

"There are no 'if's' in God's world. And no places that are safer than other places. The center of His will is our only safety - let us pray that we may always know it!"
— Corrie Ten Boom (The Hiding Place)

"If you look at the world, you'll be distressed. If you look within, you'll be depressed. If you look at God you'll be at rest." Corrie Ten Boom, Nazi camp survivor

"I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else."
— C.S. Lewis

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