Living far away

I live 1,188 miles away from my parents. 1,142 miles from my daughter. 1,576 miles from my son.

I live 6 states away from my lifelong Wisconsin friends and my in-laws, and 5 states away from my sister.

I’m not living in the wilderness by any means, but I’m far from family and friends (not counting those I have here, of course). I live in Virginia – the furthest East and South of anyone in our immediate families.

This is especially difficulty when someone is sick or in need. Like my mom, or one of my lifelong friends. I want to be with them, but there’s no easy way to do so. I have to plan way in advance to be able to afford the plane ticket. And I need to be there for several days – so I’m at my destination longer than it takes me to travel to and from there.

I wish I could just stop by my daughter’s for the weekend. Or plan a 3-day holiday at my son’s. But it’s cost-prohibitive.

Don’t get me wrong. I live in a beautiful part of the country – in the valley of the Shenandoah Mountains, and the views are spectacular. Our town is small, but near a couple of larger cities with college campuses, and 45 minutes from an airport, which connects us to the rest of the country within a day’s travel. We have easy access to concerts and breweries and museums.

I’ve lived further away. When my husband and I were first married, we lived in Utah, far from our families in the Midwest. And more recently, we lived in Florida for a little over a year. But Florida is a vacation destination, so we saw family and some friends while we lived there, with the promise of many others to come visit.

It’s hard to live so far from family and friends. Thank goodness for instant messaging and texting and FaceTime and Facebook. For phone calls and video chats. For vacations and an understanding husband, who tells me, “Go,” when I need it.

Over the course of the years we’ve been married, we’ve talked about living overseas. Now that’s far away! And quite honestly, I think now would be the time, before the kids settle down and have families of their own. I don’t want to be far away when there are grandbabies to hold!

All this means that we probably have another move in us, sometime in the not-too-distant future. And maybe a move after that, to wherever we’d like to retire and live out the rest of our lives. That’s hard to decide, because while we long for the western mountains, we loved the beach. But neither of those are close to family! I guess our biggest deciding factor will be access to a national airport, for easy travel to all the places we’d like to visit!

God’s Peace, and the Power of Prayer

I have so many things I’d like to write about, but I can’t, due to the incredibly personal nature of them. About health. Work. Family. Sickness. Siblings. Parenting.

All the normal things of life.

But I can write about peace, and God’s faithfulness to answer prayer.

With the many difficult things I’ve been going through lately, I can tell I’m being sustained by friends’ prayers for me and my family. Because of these prayers, I don’t have anxiety about the unknown future. I’m not experiencing stress or great sadness. I’m a little fatigued, but I know it could be so much worse.

There are literally friends all around the country praying for my family, for the various things I’m facing. And God hears each prayer. They come before Him as incense, the prayers of the saints (Revelation 5:8). They are forever before Him as He sits on His throne.

And I am welcomed – no, invited – to come into the throne room with my prayers and petitions. Scripture tells me that I can come boldly before His throne (Hebrews 4:16). In fact, He longs for me to do so. He tells me to bring every concern to Him (1Peter 5:7).

The other night, I awakened around 3am with a rush of anxiety. Yes, it hits occasionally. And my first thought was, “Oh, no! All my prayer warriors are sleeping!” Funny, eh?!

For those of you who are praying, thank you. My family and I are so grateful. Your prayers keep us going, knowing that we are being lifted to the King of kings.

We don’t know what the future holds. None of us do. But, as the song says, we “know who holds the future.” God has everything under control. He’s working all things for our good. He is trustworthy.

I am at peace.

“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” John‬ ‭14:27‬ ‭NLT‬‬

National Pet Day

In honor of yesterday as National Pet Day, I wanted to write a post that shared the furry friends who have been part of our life over the years.

We started with a stray cat we found under our car in our first apartment. Unfortunately, we didn’t get any pictures of Jenny before she was reclaimed by the local drug dealer in our complex!

Next came Maggie, who we had before we had children. She was our first baby, and I think she thought she was human. She was with us for 16 years.

Then we had Alex – a kitten who hid in Chris’ underwear drawer, and who was an awesome companion to Maggie.

Next came Allie.

We found Bob when he’d been hit by a car. “Bob bites” might have been our daughter’s first sentence.

Then Arthur. The opposite of Bob. Our son learned to stand by pushing off of Arthur’s belly. He was so tolerant!

Then we got Abbie and Archie, who we had for 15 years.

Next came Ella, a hound dog who stopped listening whenever she caught a great scent.

Finally, we acquired Annabelle and now Henry. They have bonded well, and keep us company all day – and night – long!

We love our fur-babies!

“Year 2 ! It’s a tradition!”

I met my only cousin on my dad’s side last night for an event and dinner. It’s the second time in two years. Before that, it had probably been 10 years since we’d seen each other.

We didn’t grow up together with lots of cousin visits. I have a few pictures of us as kids – she’s a little older than me, and her family lived far away, so we just didn’t see each other much.

We reconnected via WordPress University – a blogging class that WordPress offered several years ago. We both blog – she about her family genealogies, and me about depression as a Christ follower. We were excited to share comments back and forth as we read each other’s blogs. She has done quite a bit of research on our grandfather, and it’s been so fun to read about our grandparents and their families.

A year ago, she told me she was coming to the area for the Virginia Festival of the Book. So I found a presentation on mental health books, and we met there. We enjoyed the panel, but had even more fun at dinner and a wine bar. I spent the night in her hotel room – she showed me love letters from our Papa Joe to his wife Kitty. We really had a great time reconnecting.

This year’s Festival of the Book rolled around, and we met for a panel last night, then went to a local pub. It was fun again to connect and catch up. And we made plans for June when my folks visit, to take a trip to Washington D.C. and see places of our dads’ and grandparents history! She’ll be the guide, as she knows the places. But we’re expecting “the trip down memory lane” to spark some stories from my dad. I’m excited!

And I’m so happy to have renewed a relationship. The older I get, the more important family is to me. So I’m thrilled that “cuz” and I have a new tradition. Two years and counting!

Papa Chuck

I’ve been thinking a lot about my grandfather lately – my mom’s dad. I won’t go into all the reasons why he’s on my mind, but I think I may be grieving his death. Seems a little strange, since he died over 40 years ago, when I was 12. Even so, I find myself thinking about him, and wishing he was still in my life.

There have been milestones when I really missed him. Like when I presented at the High School State Optimist Club Speech Competition – I took second place. And when I got married – I think he really would have loved my husband. And when my daughter, and later my son, were born – I wish he could have met them.

He was a big man, with a booming voice and even bigger laugh. He adored my grandmother – we called her DeeDee. One time, when I got to visit my grandparents for the week, I watched him twirl her around the floor at their Arthur Murray Ballroom Dance class. They looked so magical and light on their feet; he held her regally.

He was gentle – I remember him petting his adorable new German Shepherd puppy, Noble; later, I recall the firmness with which he trained that dog – firm yet kind. And when I cried all the way home from a visit to their house, he talked to me on the phone and calmed my tears.

He was wise. Every opportunity was a teachable moment, from raking leaves at the lake to eating in the cafeteria. One lunchtime, he let me choose where to sit, and I picked the front of the restaurant instead of the back tables where we usually ate. So mealtime became a lesson in dining room table etiquette – we needed to be on our best behavior if we were going to sit where people could watch us! On another occasion, I remember leaning on a cabinet display when I went with him to the store, and he pulled me back a bit to show me the fingerprint mess I had made on the glass. I think if he’d had Windex with him, I’d have been cleaning off the smudges!

He was a preacher before I knew him. (By the time I recall him working, he had left the pulpit and was a big-wig at a major employer in his hometown.) He loved the Lord, as did my grandmother. Together, they left a beautiful legacy of faith in Christ through their daughters and us grandchildren and the generations following.

He loved to read, and his floor-to-ceiling bookshelf was packed with all kinds of literature. I remember when he took an interest in bonsai trees; I got one from my son for my birthday last year, and I think of Papa pruning his tree every time I water mine. I seem to think his was greener and bigger than mine is.

For that matter, I recall him as “larger than life.” It may be that it’s just from the perspective of a young grandchild, but I remember him as big and generous and kind and loving and firm and gentle, all at the same time.

I know I’ll see him again someday, in heaven. Until then, I’ll remember these moments and many other special times. I’ll try to be the grown woman he would have been proud of. And I’ll sit anywhere in the restaurant, because he taught me which fork to use first!