O Great Big City in the North…

Dear Big City,

It seems difficult to believe that I have lived here in you for only five days. Surely the time has stretched to five weeks, simply on account of the volume of experiences we have had, Only last Thursday I was driving wide-eyed through busy streets, trying desperately to navigate my way safely into a Sunoco before I completely ran out of gas,

Things are busier here, yes? Instead of three stoplights in the five miles into town, there are three in as many blocks. Drivers are confident, too–and you may certainly assume that this was my nice Southern way of implying other things. I keep stopping in my tracks to marvel how many people live in this gigantic metropolis. I am still learning to thread my way through these streets of rowhomes just to get to the main avenue.

I have also noticed all sorts of interesting daily events that come with this big city neighborhood. Amplified, drum-like music wafts through our windows on a regular basis–another neighbor must be enjoying a drive through town. The ice cream truck makes a daily appearance, coming each day right around 6 pm (poor big city mamas with their suppertimes!). Most interesting of all, I rarely see a person who looks very much like me. Truly, all nations, tribes, and tongues congregate in this one tremendous junction.

Still, big city, there are little-town details I love to notice all around me. The man from the alley behind us always comes back around suppertime, walking his great big dog, and no sooner does he reach home then he comes right back out with a little dog in tow, walking the two together evening after evening. The little girls next to us love playing in their kiddie pool these hot days, and the littlest lady often screams with glee whenever her older sister splashes her. And oh, what joy my heart experienced today when I got to hang my clothes out to dry in my own tiny little backyard, right alongside our garden. What big delights these little details bring!

And might I add, thank you, big city, for not being so hot these past few days. This little-town girl is still getting used to operating without air conditioning. So far, she doesn’t mind it too much. After all, the butter softens up beautifully for supper just by sitting on the window sill!

As I sit here by the window, watching another of the dozen and a half neighbors arrive home in the alley, I am content. You’re very different, big city, but I think I’ll like you these next four years. No matter how busy or strange you may seem, you’ll always have my Savior in you, and His presence makes an earthly heaven wherever I may go.

Yours sincerely,
Little Town Girl

So Long for Now…

It was both swift and slow, this departure of ours. Weeks of transition stretched on, a box packed here and there as we finished up daily life and spent sweet time with friends. Then came the days at home, packing and organizing and cleaning and then going out at night saying goodbyes. This week arrived, bearing the Final Things. One last trip to the grocery warehouse. One more trip to town for all the last-minute errands. Packing box after box after box. It was the final stretch.

And then came today. We packed furiously all morning and then went out to lunch, enjoying the treat of a restaurant coupon where someone else did the cooking and the dishes as we sat in a booth and babbled away with our sweet little girl. We picked up the moving truck and brought it back, church friends arriving and going in and out with box after box in willing hands. And then the emptiness–a forlorn box here, a lamp there, and a few last pieces of laundry to fold.

Now I sit at my kitchen table, one last time, listening to the quiet of my husband playing his guitar and the cicadas outside, saying goodbye to Virginia and all the things I love so dearly here.

Goodbye, dear old kitchen table. What wonderful memories we have made here, sharing love and laughter and all kinds of cookery. You have been an instrument of our hospitality, bearing the weight of Christ’s love poured out to others as we pulled up yet another chair and welcome.

Goodbye, my delightful kitchen, hub of all activity and center of such joy. Cupboards, you have borne God-given bounty, and oven, you are so very longsuffering to this absent-minded cook. I shall always remember fondly, too, the dear little window over the sink showcasing God’s glory in creation. Truly, even the walls here resound with God’s truth as we have poured out heart and soul with one another and with friends. May His praise be sung!

Goodbye, dear home–little bedroom with its peace and quiet of cozy lamplight, living room of fellowship and rest, Spare ‘Oom with its plethora of functions (not least of which a haven for our sweet daughter). So long, dear old door–I never did figure out how to open you without you squeaking.

Goodbye, little walkway up the hill. I have trudged up you many a morning–great with child, balancing dishes or bags, hoisting the baby carrier. I have walked back down at night gazing at the stars, awash with the pleasant peace of being home. You have been a path to our home for many, your stones bearing the footprints of friends coming to receive welcome.

Goodbye, Virginia roads. 287, 9, 7 … your Virginia byways have been our road to church, work, friends, business. We have spent countless hours driving up and down, basking in sunlight, gazing at fields and clouds, noticing new little details of delight each trip here and there. I shall miss the fields and founts of your beautiful countryside.

Goodbye, dear friends, one and all. Our delightful landlord family upstairs, the sweet fellowship of our church body, friends here and there and everywhere. Truly, it has been a joy to walk through life with you all in this past year and a half, speaking truth to one another and sharing the sweetness of God’s grace. He is faithful and has brought us thus far with bounty and blessing.

And so, with sadness and yet with peace, goodbye, my Virginia. Both my newlywed days and my days of new motherhood have been so very sweet here, and I shall always hold you dear in my heart. May your countryside continue to be a place of peace and joy, and may God’s truth ring out amidst your hills so that even the rocks cry out His praise.

Living in the Dull Roar

In the midst of my homemaking adventures, I have often spoken, tongue in cheek, of lessening the chaos to a dull roar. Let me go clean up the kitchen, I tell my husband, and lessen this chaos to a dull roar. I tidy up my piles and move things into a more orderly state of messiness, waiting for the time when I can do a better job. Keeping things at a manageable level will do for now, I think to myself.

And then comes this week and a half of life, when it is almost too much to ask to keep things at that manageable level. My husband, now home from work, has been packing box after box of books, while I have been sorting, folding, and packing clothes. Cardboard is our new home accent. Instead of having a tidy home, it is now a matter of having paths to walk in between the boxes and furniture.

For me, that is hard. I know this season is brief, but sometimes I feel as if I’m being buried in cardboard and that ever-increasing pile of stuff. Am I a hedonist? How do we need this much stuff for a nearly-six-month-old baby? A lot of this is truly necessary, but can we get rid of things? I go on, day after day, packing, questioning, organizing, and trying to grasp every little opportunity for tidiness.

Daisy, meanwhile, is trying ever so hard to cut her first tooth. We were awakened by persistent crying at 3:30 this morning (this from the little girl who had not been up in the night for over three months!). A clean diaper and a dose of baby Orajel seemed to help, but none of us slept well for the rest of the night.

Growing pains are hard, whether for Daisy cutting a tooth or for us as we move to seminary and a new season of marriage and family life. We are riding the roller coaster of leaving a home, which means not only packing but a continual run of visiting, keeping us away from home each night as we bid farewell to dear friends here in Virginia. It is a sundering and a planting, an ending and a beginning that tears the heart even as it grows and strengthens it.

And so we live in the dull roar. Boxes pile up, we say more goodbyes, and we treasure each moment, be it snuggling with a little one or sorting another pile. The Lord’s mercies are new each morning, and His faithful promises are ours as we work in and through the chaos for His glory.

If I seem a little scarce  in these next few days, blame it on the move. We’ll be driving our stuff up to the Big City next week, so it’s a topsy-turvy life this month.