Autumn

I did not know when I left my house in Villa Obregon six months ago that I would not be returning. I did not pack up my Christmas ornaments, my journals, my kids’ favorite books. I did not say goodbye to friends. I did not give away extra pots and pans, tupperware, or clothing to my neighbors in need. I stood on the curb and kissed my husband goodbye, telling him we would see each other in a few weeks in Virginia. I took a last glance at the plants on the balcony, leaves lit by the just rising sun, and wondered how many would make it through the sweltering summer and how many I would need to replace upon my arrival home in six months.

Six months have passed and our lives are on a completely new path now. We are staying in Virginia where Ben can work a solid job that will pay our debts. Where we can take the kids to the library and watch them experience snow. Where we can enjoy the crisp fall weather, wear wool socks, grow vegetables and own chickens. It is so much of what we have been dreaming about. We knew that we were coming up on the time to leave Mexico. We knew from the beginning in 2011 that we would not be there forever, that it was a time to enjoy and that one day we would go back to four seasons and chopping firewood and frost on the windowpanes. I have longed for that life.

But I have also loved our life in Mexico. I love the ocean and the beach. I love the people we have served at our cafe and the friends we have made around surf boards and restaurant tables and yoga mats. I love that my kids both learned how to swim and can handle a boogie board in the waves. That they have seen the briny miracles: a whale tail slap the water, dolphins dancing in waves, baby turtles crawling out of their sandy nest, the sun rise and set over the ocean. I feel those miracles make up some of the marrow in my bones and I love that we have shared them. It is hard to walk away from that goodness.

I will be the first to say that our life in Villa Obregon was far from ideal and I am glad that we are moving on. It is not how I wanted the move to happen and there have been tears and sleepless nights as we struggle with making this decision. On hard days we wonder if it is the right decision. I think it is.

These days my little family piles into our minivan and drives to look at potential houses to make a new home in. We go to fall festivals and truck pulls and rodeos. We play on playgrounds and hike around the woods. I am slowly accumulating winter coats, boots, fleece lined jeans. The kids ask once a week if it will snow soon. We say goodbye to Papa in the morning and hug him in the door in the evening light. Ben and I talk about living in America again and how we can stay involved with the poor and the immigrants. The days are cool, we have had plenty of rain and grey skies, and the giant wolf spiders are getting cozy in our closets and boots. We hear the geese honking and watch little yellow leaves fall from the trees. Autumn is coming. There is goodness here.

 

A few favorite things

In the midst of this hot, humid, thundering summer, this is where I feel my soul settle down to dwell:

Sandorkraut – Not just the cool temperatures, blue jeans, and sweaters, but the house, the garden, the produce. The shelves lined with ferments and canned veggies, homemade fruit wines. The peace and quiet as he slices into the cabbage and works the magic with his hands.

Acre of Land – This album is playing at least once during the day. My favorite song from this set is, of course, Acre of Land. I imagine the garden I’ll one day have. And me with blisters, hours of grumpy weed pulling, and cool lemonade in the shade, cup of tea in the evening light, watching things grow. Taking it slow.

Per Petersen’s novel Out Stealing Horses – Love the writing style, the attention to details in the weather and nature. The character development and the way they interact with one another, with me. So many words left unwritten because they didn’t need to be written, they are there in the reader’s mind, summoned as if by a magician, to complete the feeling of the story.

Annie Dillard’s novel The Maytrees – This is my second time reading this book. The first time was 5 years ago and I love it just as much now as I did then. So many seemingly disconnected sentences and thoughts that all tie together when they are united with the reader’s imagination and soul. I can see those parabolic sand dunes even now. So much to say about love, forgiveness, compassion, the way we are as human beings and the way we can become if we want to.

And, naturally, these kiddos…

speak the truth

Fear is an interesting thing. It is difficult to grasp and impossible to predict. It also can be a thing of shame and I would be lying if I said I didn’t hesitate before publicizing to the world that I don’t trust God ”enough.” But I am tired of the walls that we hide behind, the make-up we put on that tells those we interact with that everything is fine and dandy. Sometimes that is just not true; sometimes we just want to cry and run away or get furious and swear a blue streak. Thankfully, God is not offended.

It is easy for fear to creep in and grab hold and it is hard to dislodge once it’s there. Erasmus said, ”A nail is driven out by another nail.” At the moment I feel like I’m swinging wildly in the air. . .

Slow me down to keep pace with your steady, refining beat
Keep the hammer constant and grant me the faith
to not escape running but to stop and still and feel
the ring – slowly becoming pure and true –
of your Refiner’s hand against the coarse steal of my heart.

Slow me down to stop and listen to the ancient Good News
made new again
To grasp, fingers flailing, at the horror and joy of the Redemption
that is ringing through the beating,
a faithful, remarkable, blistering and healing truth –
the beat of the Refiner’s hammer.

Psalm 139 is my candle as I read again and again, ”. . .darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you. . .You hem me in behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.”

And there is so much good, just plain good. I had a weekend full of the goodness of the Lord. We camped on a magical beach where the sun woke us early and warmed our cold bones as we sat drinking hot chocolate and coffee. We baked in the mid-morning sun as the breeze kept us cool. We napped on the sand in the shade and sang around a bonfire at night, watching the stars fall overhead. Snuggles, driftwood, sunscreen smell in soft, blonde curls. Friends, birthday cake, laughter. Rocks, fish, sand castles, yelps and screams of delight in the waves.

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Music I find healing

House of God, Forever
Farther Along
You Make Me Brave
Steady Heart
Strength of My Heart

Art I find inspiring

J. Kirk Richards