The Holidays have come and gone...so quickly, I might add. We left on Friday, December 19th with our micro mini van loaded down. Thankfully we had our friends mini-van (Zack's college roommate visited us over Thanksgiving and while visiting their van was hit and had to be left in Charleston for the repairs), repaired and ready to return to them in Kentucky. I am grateful that the timing worked out for both of us, because we needed the extra space and they didn't need to make another trip to Charleston :) A win-win! Our trip home took a little longer than usual, about 9 hours, but I can honestly tell you that pretty much the minute we crossed over into Tennessee I began to smile....nonstop. Then, as we moved closer to Knoxville, then to Jellico, then finally into KENTUCKY...I actually was feeling quite giddy. Emmie was with me, asleep in the backseat (a miracle in and of itself) and I had Christmas music playing and the seat warmer set at its highest level possible. I was a happy girl. It had been 12 weeks since we had been home. I know that isn't a drop in the bucket for people who are deployed overseas serving bravely in our military, or for people who serve selflessly as international missionaries....but for this girl, is was the longest time I have been away from good ole' KY. And I was elated to be back home. Here is a picture of Emmie, ready to head back to Kentucky.....she might have been even more excited than me, because she literally sat in the car for 30 minutes all by herself before we left Charleston, just waiting for the rest of us to get it together so we could hit the road!
We had a packed schedule once we got home, and we were all pretty pumped. The first weekend home we had a birthday party, our annual tacky sweater Christmas party, my annual Christmas party with my high school friends (thinking this was maybe the 12th year?) and another party with my girlfriends from church. Throw in two awesome church services at our home church and a service with my parent's church, and that made for one fun filled, reunited and it feels so good weekend!!! I can't quite articulate the feeling of home, but there isn't anything exactly like it, at least in my opinion. It is comforting, peaceful, just like a big warm hug kind of feeling. I equally can't tell you how special being with precious friends and family was. It was the best gift we could have been given this Christmas!! Here are some highlights below.....
Annual Christmas Party with high school friends....
we started this our sophomore year of high school!
Tacky sweater Party....loads of fun!
This is supposed to say "I'm nuts for moving to South Carolina"...not, "I'm almonds". Get it?
Buddies glad to see each other :)
The following week was just as wonderful. On Monday, I had lunch with two of my dearest friends and former co-workers. Love these girls so much. Tuesday we had fun making Christmas goodies, and Wednesday we went to our church's Christmas Eve service, which is always so very special. My parents went with us, so it was even more wonderful. Being able to take communion with your family and then sing "Silent Night" amidst candle light....there isn't a much sweeter reminder about what this season is really all about. After the Christmas Eve service we spent time with my mom's family and then headed back to Bobbi and Pap's house. We opened a few presents, but the highlight of the night was watching the kids excitement at the impending special visitor that would be arriving later on. I have never seen them quite as excited! We even heard some ringing bells outside, which told us Santa must be close. Poor Emmie was afraid she was going to "miss him" as she kept saying. All the kids hurried to bed and of course Zack and I listened outside their door to try and get a glimpse of what what going on inside their minds! We rolled with laughter (silently, of course) as Noah gave Emmie some big brother advice. He said, "I know how you are feeling! I am trembling right now! Let's just hurry and go to sleep!". So cute. Priceless memories.
Christmas morning came and the kids woke us from our sleep eager to see what Santa had brought. They all opened their gifts and were very pleased and thankful. Then we began the scramble to get ready to make our annual Christmas Day voyage to Ashland. Our mini mini van resembled Santa's sleigh, but we made it! If it had been 12 weeks since we had been to London, it had probably been more like 18 weeks or more since our last visit to Ashland! It was more than wonderful to see Zack's extended family and for our kids to have fun times with their cousins. We had a blast and stayed until Sunday, when we headed back to London. We had a few more great times this past week- dinner with friends, and a super fun New Year's Eve Party. During many of these gatherings we played a very fun game called "Heads Up". You can download it onto your Ipad for .99, and I promise it will be the best .99 you ever spend. Hours of laughter was had by many, thanks to this fun app.
New Year's Eve....
On New Year's Day we loaded up our mini-mini van. This was an experience, let's just say that. My husband and father are pretty much expert packers, and it is a good thing. Now those of you who know what we drive understand what I am talking about. Those of you who don't just need to understand that we drive a Mazda 5. See pic below.
It is a great little car (key word "little", especially for a family of 5). I am thankful for it, because I have no car payment, and I love driving it. It really does "zoom zoom" like Mazda says. It is cute, fun and economical (both important to our family). But offer lots of cargo or passenger room for a family of 5?? It does not. But, we made it work, and the luggage only fell over and crashed into Emmie's head one time. She is a trooper. And yes, that really happened. See the luggage to the right of Emmie in the picture?? Yeah.
I almost forgot to tell you about the best gift I got this Christmas. First I should say that I greatly appreciated every gift I received, and the thought and generosity that came along with each gift. But one gift I was given has blown me away, and I haven't even finished it yet!! It is helping me hold on, so to speak, through this faith filled time of blindly walking through each day and not really knowing for sure what we are doing here (in South Carolina). It came from a dear friend whom I have always been able to have some wonderful spirit filled conversations with, and whom I miss dearly. It is a book called "Interrupted" by Jen Hatmaker. I am putting a picture of it right here, because I highly suggest that you buy it immediately. Like right now. Go get on Amazon and buy this book.
It is a story about what happened to one normal, down to earth family who thought they were doing everything right in terms of living the life God wanted them to....but something still didn't seem exactly right. That is when one simple prayer was prayed, and God interrupted their life....big time. Hmmm. Sounds vaguely familiar to me. Okay, very familiar to me. Sounds pretty much like what happened to our family. I have been devouring this book, and I know that God is using it in my life, at this exact time, when all I really want to do is abandon ship and book it back to Kentucky. You see, this family heard God's call loud and clear, with circumstances and heart yearnings that could only have been from God. They eventually gave themselves over to His call, and prayed for Him to show their family the next step....but it didn't exactly happen that way. They had to wait on His timing to see exactly where this "interruption" was taking them (I haven't finished the book yet, but I have a feeling it is going to take them someplace wonderful!!).
And that is truly where Zack and I feel we are. We began praying a prayer for God's work in our lives at the beginning of 2014, and we undoubtedly saw God's hand in leading us to South Carolina. But to be very honest, we really aren't sure what our purpose is supposed to be here, now that we are here, in South Carolina. Basically every day we say, "God, why are we here again?" It's a painful
We can, however, share with you that God has revealed to us and taught us truths that we believe God could have only done by taking us away from our comfortable place in Kentucky. Not because God wasn't capable of teaching us that in Kentucky, but because our sinful and selfish hearts weren't willing or ready to receive it.
More to come on this last point in my next post....cause that post is going to need some time and space, if you know what I mean :)
Happy New Year!!!!