Well, we wrapped up our final morning in Hudsonville earlier today and are now just outside of Iowa City, Iowa, waiting to see the Van Gilder family!
West Michigan, you were so good to us. Our time in the US has been so much more relaxing and restful and right this time around. I am not sure if we are just more settled into our South African life, if we planned the timing better (like arriving on a Thursday and having time to rest instead of Saturday night and heading out the door for a full Sunday like we did 3 years ago), or if we had our expectations in a better place, but for whatever reasons, this trip has been going a lot smoother. And you all know that when I say "we" I really mean "me" because Darin and the kids are just more even keeled than I am.
I will be posting pictures later, but I have been putting a bunch on Facebook and Instagram when I've had a few odd moments to do so. Our time was PACKED, but also so relaxed. I think it felt packed because it was just so good and full and filling and just right.
This time, rather than entering a grocery store and feeling like I was going to lose my marbles, I managed to go into Family Fare, Meijer, Target and Rite Aid without losing it. I did feel a bit overwhelmed with all the options and trying to just find a regular bottle of lotion and some underwear was almost my undoing, but somewhere along the line I have developed coping mechanisms. Go me.
I felt like a fun person. This was big. I had my moments when I could feel tiredness creeping in, but for the most part, I held it together like a grown up and just enjoyed the moment. Riding a bike to the ice cream store, painful but fun. Let's go a step further and ride around the old bike path that ends on our old cul-de-sac. I can totally do this AND talk to my old neighbor Cory without acting like a total psycho. Shopping in thrift stores, yep, it's my thing. Granted I thought Rachel left me a couple times and kind of felt a bit like I might have a panic attack, but I reigned it in. After all, Jenna and Jori were with me, so I could just lean into the little buggers when I was feeling anxious.
I even managed to be fun and nice to people other than the Huismans, which was a bit of a stretch for me three years ago. We had a great time reconnecting with people from Evergreen Ministries and old small group people as well. I even had a sleepover with my college girls and it was such a good time. Did I make myself sound like being mean to children and keeping the in their place was my goal in life?? Probably, but I think one of the reasons I managed this trip better is that I have learned to hold back in some areas and keep some vulnerable stuff a bit more protected as I am working through it in my mind instead of just throwing out a ton of verbal throw-up. The holding in process sometimes leads to other thoughts seeping to the forefront of my mind and out my mouth before I can stop them :)
I feel like I had my eyes more open this time. 3 years ago we were kind of still limping along a bit and feeling a bit sore as our original plans for moving to South Africa hadn't panned out and we were in a bit of a transitional time at TYB, so I was super focused on ME and MY NEEDS and LISTEN TO ME as I complain and compare and castigate you all. A real party for all involved. This time I feel like I had a softer heart. I think as I've inched closer to 40 I've finally matured a bit and have realized that everyone out there has a story and everyone out there has issues and struggles, high points and lows, and lots of people are doing really cool stuff - like being available to others instead of caring only for their own lives- and they haven't moved to Africa to do it.
We had planned to go to church this morning to say goodbye to a few folks, and I am super bummed we didn't make it, but we had plumbing issues and "plumbing issues" if you know what I mean and things just didn't go as planned. Three years ago that probably would have made me cry and rant, but we've all learned to roll with it. West Michigan, we will miss you. Your air smells so fresh, your grass is so green and your people are amazing.
Minnesota, we're coming for you, we just have a few things to do along the way!