Wheels touch down and I think the queasiness in my stomach isn't entirely from an 11-hour flight but more from the turbulence in my soul. This moving from a European Fairytale to Real Life in the States. It's 9:55 on a Thursday night and the airline is running five minutes ahead of schedule. It's perfect because we round the corner at the same time as hubby's parents and cousin walk in and there's smiles and hugs and good-to-see-you's all around.
Together we retrieve all 18 pieces of luggage and climb into two vehicles. We're travel weary and it's the Kettle Corn and a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios at Grandma's that top off tummies before hot showers and snuggling between crisp clean sheets that makes grace so tangible it's like a big hug from God.
Endlessly grateful for grace made tangible... for God's grace-hugs along the journey...
#237 - 265 in counting His graces-made-tangible...
...For Friday, June 15th -- that first whole day back during which I slump through the day, quiet, processing and how everyone around me graciously gives me space to simply exist without expectation.
...That Aunt-Grandma doesn't miss a beat in loving her grandchildren, confidently pressing in to know each of their personalities and striving to connect with each of them.
...Our unannounced visit to my parent's house in Elk and the conversation we enjoyed so much that we stayed longer than we intended.
...That first Sunday when we quietly stole into a back row during the early service at church and how God's hug came in the form of Gena's friendship. The way she and her husband slid in next to our family and the post-service conversation about Prague and the empathy and love she poured into each person in our family.
...Father's Day drawn out long over mid-afternoon barbeque and the entire family congregated in the backyard.
...How that Uncle Jake and Aunt Kathy create family gatherings that flow seamlessly, threads of dialogue and laughter and games knitting hearts and moments.
...The quaint-ish little box of a house we get to live in on Base temporarily. The one that's double the size of most family homes in Africa and Nepal with it's very own running water -- that we can safely drink from the tap -- and two (2!) bathrooms; one of them a master bathroom to the master bedroom! Luxurious accommodations!
...A job that my husband enjoys.
...The relief of landing at a best friend's house for the afternoon, knowing they'll understand if I don't talk, or if I ramble incessantly, or if I cry.
...And how when LeRoy got off work that same day, we ended up spending the rest of the day with them until late into the evening... and the grace-hug of it all as we drove home entirely energized from having been bathed in all that love.
...For -- ridiculous -- Colossal Size Pizzas from Pizza Pipeline... and the culture shock of everything so LARGE.
...One a m a z i n g realtor who is a joy to spend time with, her wisdom, sense of humor, and fortitude the perfect combination to help our crew find a home to purchase.
...And how Katie keeps us centered on the Author and Finisher of our faith throughout the -- sometimes exhausting -- search for a house.
...Arts Camp at Life Center... and the way Israel enthusiastically chatters about all the details of drama class... and worship... and voice lessons... and clay sculpting...
...Catching up with friends who invite us over for grilled cheese sandwiches and carrot sticks before meandering over to the park for a long afternoon of conversation while the children play football and run through the water.
...And the grace-hug when that same friend who made grilled cheese for everyone else made a meat sandwich with tomato for Zae!
...For that moment in Costco on Saturday when we walked in to Super-Size World and I about hyperventilated from the long, looooong conversation over at the cell phone booth where I asked a thousand questions... and the huge God-hug that came when I ran into a familiar face... and the ensuing chit-chat that wasn't profound in the slightest but how her hug and her smile grounded me from the shock of all that stuff -- in bulk -- and the reminder that it's always the relationships that make any place on earth the most beautiful place on earth.
...God's grace-hug when on the following day we returned to Costco to actually purchase the cell phones we asked about the day before. And how I struggled to reconcile paying money for such frivolity -- until I mentioned that the thing that would make it priceless is being able to skype with friends back home in Germany or in Africa. And then how when we walked up to the cell phone counter, I stood there sobbing, trying desperately to pull it together, but to no avail. And how I felt God holding me while I stood there a blathering mess and the gal, Michelle, behind the counter just looked at me sympathetically, gently whispering, "I'm so sorry."
...When Israel and I went to the nearby Yoke's to buy groceries and the cashier told me the amount owed, "$67.02, Mam," but then simultaneously held out 60 dollars and told me the woman in front of me gave him the money to "put toward the lady's order in line behind [her]." And how I stood there grappling with my pride because, after all, I hadn't done anything to deserve such favor, and the grace-hug as the cashier told me my part was only seven dollars and two cents.
...And the conversation I had with that same checker on another shopping trip when he told me about the ripple effect of that woman's generosity.
...more and more lessons in grace.
...Our family's new mantra, picked up from our realtor, "There's grace for that."
...An entire afternoon and evening out at the lake connecting with sister-in-law and her family while cousins fill all the spaces with carousing and laughter.
...Reunion with the Hood Family and how we all simply picked up where we left off... not skipping a beat... and how time tarried as we laughed and reminisced late into the evening.
...Eli's comment upon returning home from time spent with the Hood's, "It was good to talk with people who understand us."
...The safety of residents and the 50 homes that were evacuated in my sister's neighborhood when a grass fire and crazy winds threatened their area at the mouth of the Ogden Canyon.
...And THIS. JUST THIS. The HUGE GRACE-HUG OF IT ALL... And won't you spend a few moments reading where we've come from?
...The grace of indulging in memories past while simultaneously embracing the present.
...The glorious grace in anticipation...