Monday, July 6, 2015

Consider this an invitation to visit!!

Twenty years ago this summer, my husband and I stood on the front step of our dear friends' home as the four of us said tearful good-byes. With tears literally dripping down my chin, we walked across their Alabama yard and climbed into a U-Haul truck with all our worldly possessions and began to drive north.

I was scared to leave the city that had been home for the entire four years of our marriage -- but more than that I was anxious about our moving north -- as in NORTH NORTH, above the Mason-Dixon line! But in the midst of the fear I was also excited for the adventure Wade and I were embarking on.   I envisioned us embracing life in Chicago. I saw us walking to all the markets. I imagined picnics on Lake Michigan, and I couldn't wait to absorb the culture, see the sights, take in the shows.

What we couldn't know that summer morning driving out of Alabama was that this would begin a ball rolling that wouldn't bring us back below the Mason-Dixon line for a long long time.

Now y'all, if you have been around here for any length of time, you know that rather than wrap my arms around life in the big city, I wrapped them around teeny tiny babies in Chicago when our first "baby" came in a bundle of three. I did take walks in Chicago but the one time I took the triplets to the market on foot, we walked there bought a couple cans of soup and some milk and realized that was all that would fit under the buggy that held my trio. It was no small feat pushing the semi-grocery-laden stroller and three bouncing babies all the way home.

Going for a walk in Chicago.

We did embrace Chicago though -- we loved Wrigley Field and the Bears. We had a favorite pizza spot and I still miss the Thai delivery that made all things yummy. We had some sweet friends in Chicago -- including one I stalked for an hour after I realized she was pushing a triplet stroller but that is another story!

At Wrigley Field!

And when the time came for Wade to pick residency spots, we were so close to Rochester, Minnesota and the world famous Mayo Clinic, that we said, why not? And moved our little family even further away from sweet tea and grits.

In the lobby of the Mayo Clinic's St. Mary's Hospital.

After five years in the tundra, we landed in Dallas for a year for a fellowship before heading way out west for Wade to work with some of his closest friends from residency.

See, the ball was rolling in a way that almost made it impossible to stop. It wasn't that we didn't contemplate returning home with every single decision. We did. When the time to choose residency programs came we were torn between Mayo and one in the South. When it was time to make a post-training job decision we looked all over the south.

I called a woman who worked with special needs children in Mississippi during the decision-making. The triplets were six and I needed her input about raising the boys back home. In a beautiful lilting voice, she told me that the state NEEDED us but that I would be sacrificing my boys. I took a deep sigh and felt the door closing to all I knew as home.

And so we unpacked our hopes in the middle of the desert in Phoenix, Arizona. And in this new city we embraced the sunshine; we embraced the unique beauty of saguaro cacti; and we embraced the spirit of wild west living. We made some dear dear friends, and we watched our little family grow from five to six.

But there was this little sweet-tea-drinking part of me that reared its head every now and then and made me long for home and the familiarity of magnolia trees, muggy humid summers and maroon-wearing football games.

As the triplets grew -- as we learned that there are no perfect places where the services are magically lined up and the school systems know exactly how to meet Benjamin and Mason's needs -- I began to wonder if perhaps we could have moved back to Mississippi. But by then, my husband was entrenched in his practice and my kids in their home.

Then one day, my dear hubby received a phone call urging him to come home, to come home to work and help the children of our beloved home state. We wrestled with the decision. We prayed over it. We debated it. We researched it.

And ultimately, we packed our boxes and headed back home.

We've been here three weeks, dear ones. Three. I am relatively settled. Pictures are on the walls. And most of the boxes have been hauled away. We have broken bread with numerous friends from childhood, college, and even Wade's new job. Words can not even begin to tell you how full my heart is from the warm welcome we have received, from the outpouring of love and encouragement our dear ones have offered.

And so as I take a deep sigh looking around my sweet little southern home, I can't help but think this is but a small glimpse of how heaven will feel. For my little front porch is earthly -- it can rot, cave in, or even be full of spiderwebs (thankfully only the last of those has happened!) -- but heaven, heaven will be perfect. 

"My Father's house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you" John 14:2 (NIV)

From our front porch!

Heaven's rooms will be filled with loved ones who have been waiting for us to come home -- we will be hugged, embraced, and I have no doubt we will be served sweet tea! (And in the meantime, you are welcome at our home anytime!)

Carol - The Blessings Counter