Seeing as we have internet again, I thought I'd write a bit more about our recent trip north. Living across the country from family is really, really hard. We put ourselves in this situation when we moved to Texas, which is far away from our family and friends in Minnesota and Indiana. When we moved to Austin, we thought a lot about going to a new place and less about leaving a familiar place. But you can't have one without the other. We have wonderful community here that we love, but we'll never have every person we love all in the same place at the same. Or, as a friend once put it, wherever we go, we're always missing someone.
That sentiment breaks my heart a bit. As I wrote recently, everything we do is a response to one thing or another, so what is my response to missing loved ones who are far away? A few months ago, I had a phone conversation with a Minnesota friend. The conversation came in big gulps—we took in big pieces of information, fast—because we don't see each other enough for the privilege of snack conversation, so to speak. Big stuff needs to be talked about, but life is more than just the big stuff. So, we decided a few things: we're going to pray for each other whenever we think to, visit when we're able, try to have more "bite-sized" conversations, remember that we can never move away from Jesus' love, and, in the words of 1 Peter 4:8,
Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.
I loved this from my ESV study bible: "Enduring love for others testifies that a person is living in light of the future." Because you know what I can trust? I will be reunited with every brother and sister in Christ one day. Living life in the light of that truth should be my response to missing faraway loved ones.
All that said, I wholeheartedly cherish the reunions I get on this earth, and our trip to Northwest Indiana was no exception. Nicholas and I spent the majority of our time with his family. We played Scattergories, Apples to Apples, and lots of Clue. We ate Mexican, rice krispie bars, breakfast for dinner, and homemade baked apple cider doughnuts. We bundled up and took the dogs for evening walks. And Nicholas happily had one pup or another in his lap at least eighty percent of the time.
We spent a day in windy Chicago (really, it's The Windy City for good reason). We visited Macy's and the Shedd Aquarium, ate Chicago-style hotdogs, and ordered our all-time favorite mochas.
And, I had the chance to see a beloved friend marry her best friend (yay, Maeve and Kyle!) At the wedding, I saw friends I hadn't seen since we moved to Austin.
I missed these people so much, and I'm so thankful for the seemingly endless number of hugs I got/gave that day.
And then, on our last full day, we had lunch with Grandpa DeVries at the farm.
We talked about life, but also about the tragic events of this week. In light of what happened in Beirut and Paris, and the on-going strife and suffering of refugees in the Middle East, I saw this cross-stitch in one of the bedrooms and thought it was so timely:
For every goodbye, every celebration, every long-distance phone conversation, every plane trip, every displaced refugee, every scary or unsettling experience we may face in this life, this holds true: Live life in light of the future. Life is fragile, handle it with (plenty of) prayer, and above all, keep loving one another (from near and afar) earnestly.
Fall feels like a number of transitions, one right after the other. We are now bridging into late fall, with lots of frost in the mornings, first sightings of bare trees, and darker, cozier evenings at home. Of course, there is talk of Thanksgiving and Christmas on the horizon too, along with early preparations for those. I do tend to be swept by the momentum of this season, if I'm not careful. I'll admit that Christmas music accompanies us throughout the day sometimes, and I've already done most of our shopping, but I do want to be intentional to savor the almost-but-not-yet. To not wish away November and it's baring of trees in favor of the glow of Thanksgiving and Christmastime. There is great beauty and contentment in this month, as well. I don't want to miss it.
We've taken to a regular "cozy hike," as we've termed it. A nearly wooded path, my favorite spot for fall color, a wagon, an eager toddler, a cozy blanket, and snacks. I look for the bright red leaves, since those are a favorite for both of us. And we also look for acorns and pinecones, treasures on the ground.
I'm typically in a rush to wish away the hot days of summer, to exchange them for cozy days, sweater season, cool mornings. I'm an optimist, and that optimism frequently couples itself with being future minded. Constantly looking forward with hope, but also sometimes looking forward with misplaced longing that can inhibit me from being present. But this past weekend, the events of both days were lovely, and being present felt easy and good.