I'll be the first to confess that I can be pretty sappy at times, ok fine, downright cheesy, and I'm not ashamed to admit it. I cry easily and I've learned to laugh at myself about it. I cry in really goofy, stupid parts of movies (can't think of an example right now) that most of the free world probably wouldn't cry in, I cry when I'm reading books out loud to the girls, I cry when someone is telling me something special or exciting about to happen, I cry if I'm listening to a song that has a special meaning to me (or maybe just having a special meaning to someone will still cause it to make me cry), I cry when someone puts one of those stupid videos on their facebook page that are there for no other purpose than to make people like me cry like a baby, and of course, I cry when I'm sad. For me tears are therapeutic. Who can blame me though? I am a product of the 80's and 90's with songs like "Friends are Friends Forever", "Pray for Me", "Lean on Me", "People Need the Lord". What is my point? I do have one I promise...
I am a homebody at heart. Yes, the Lord has brought our family half-way around the world and we are no longer physically close to what I grew up calling home. We have moved a lot, and we have learned to teach our girls that home is wherever our family is together at a given time. It has been a stretching process for me for sure. I like to settle in. I like to nest. I like to get everything set up just so. Perhaps this is because we have moved so much and I want new places to quickly feel like home. Well, we're packing up again. Our house is a mountain of cardboard, boxing tape, inventories and overflowing boxes. Here we go yet again, and I'm feeling nostalgic, sappy, downright cheesy... The words of an old Amy Grant song from the 80's have been running through my head like a broken record (I told you I had a point...). I'll share some bits with you...
If these old walls
If these old walls could speak
Of things that they remember well
Stories and faces dearly held
A couple in love
Livin'week to week
Rooms full of laughter
If these walls could speak
If these old fashioned window panes were eyes
I guess they would have seen it all
Each little tear and sigh and footfall
And every dream that we came to seek,
Or follow after
If these walls could speak
As I've reflected on these words (and, yes, cried over them), I've realized that because of our life choices, we are not going to have a home (a physical building) like the one referred to in this song. My little girls' tears, and sighs, and footfalls have seen many a wall, some old, some new, some in the US, some around the world. Thankfully, even though the walls may change, our homes over the years have still contained so many stories and faces dearly held. We have laughed together until it hurts and we have cried buckets, all in various sets of walls. And then it hit me! We may not have walls that can speak to our journey over time, because the walls have changed oh so many times. But we have stuff. Don't get me wrong- I DO know that it is just stuff and that ultimately it contains nothing that will be my eternal treasure. But the stuff that has come to mark our home, has, over the years, become so precious to our family. As I began the packing process, inventorying, boxing things up, I realized how many precious things we have that remind us of the family in the states that we are physically separated from and also how many things we have that have simply come to define our home, wherever it ends up being. It makes me sad that most of my family and friends in the states will never visit in our overseas home- that's no ones fault, it's just how life is. So I wanted to give this little tour of our "special stuff" so you can see how you are remembered within the walls of our home.
DISCLAIMER #2: Every person that we love dearly is not represented here by an actual item, but let me assure you that had I remembered to take a picture before packing it up, you would have seen my picture table in our bedroom corner with pictures of all our family members- aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews, grands and great-grands. We love you all and I promise think of you daily!
Some of the things that make the walls of our home never change...
My Granddaddy will always hold one of the dearest places in my heart. I still find it hard to believe that it's been over 8 years since he went to be with Jesus. Among so many other things, He was THE most gifted craftsman I have ever known and I am so thankful to fill my living room with some of his beautiful work.
The coffee table, he designed and made as a wedding present. The bookshelf (again his design) was a Christmas gift a few years later..
He made several of these serving tray stands (what would they be called?). I am so thankful that I got one of them! The top tray part comes off easily to serve with. I've always had my Gail Pittman pottery (Grapevine pattern)on mine which definitely reminds me of our Clinton, MS days!
This is another of Granddaddy's creations. It's a bookshelf that he made for Mom when she was a little girl. I used it as a child, and mom let us bring it overseas when we moved. I've had to touch up the paint several times, and last time I added the periwinkle background to match our kitchen. It houses my cookbook collection which constantly reminds me of my Moms, my grandmothers, my aunts- all the special women in my life...
As I looked around my kitchen, I noticed my pitchers. I love decorative things- especially pottery, and I realized that my collection of pitchers from different places kind of represents where we've been.
The cut glass one at the top is oh so Memphis. I'm glad I kept it, because since I got married so young, I kind of went on a spree of exchanging wedding gifts (that I saw as pointless at the time) for credit. (yes, Mom, I now admit that there are many things I wish I hadn't exchanged) But I just couldn't get rid of this beautiful pitcher. The one in the middle is from a quaint village in the south of France called Moustier (pronounced with a snotty french accent- don't worry, I can't pronounce it right either). We lived in south France for 4 months when Jason was getting his masters and then in Paris for a year - I love this token of our time there. The one on the bottom is again a Gail Pittman piece that I grew to love from my days in Mississippi. There are a few other small ones on the bottom from our international travel.
I am so thankful that I have always had such a special relationship with my aunts and uncles. I love that even though we are physically separated, I have things in my home that remind me of them. This beautiful crystal bowl (again so Memphis) was a wedding gift from Tom and Margaret. It reminds me of Margaret's love for beauty and Tom's humor (because of his reaction when he was shown the gift, knowing how much he spent on it- don't worry Tom- we hold it dear!)
The antique plate on this shelf is from my Aunt Ginny. She too taught me to have a love for beauty (and cats) and every day that I see this plate, I'm reminded of Ginny and her family.
the shelf above also has my collection of Lilliput lane cottages. I confess I know nothing more about them except that they are collectible, they are adorable and they are from the UK. Therefore, they remind me of Jeremy and Kimberly and their girls (who live outside London) every time I look at them and that makes me happy.
Also on the shelf above is the old Scottish blessing (I think) that we used to sing in chapel every week in elementary school. I wrote it out and had it framed for my dear friend Amy when she left for college. Years later when we left to go overseas she re-gifted it to me and it is precious to me. (sidenote: I am sitting here all teary because I allowed myself to sing through the entire song)
Ok, ok, I'll share it with you (I don't like to cry alone)....
May the road rise to meet you
May the wind blow at your back
May the sun shine warmly on your face
May the rain fall softly on your fields
And until we meet again
May God hold you in the palm
of His hand.
Ok, moving on...
This next thing, I don't have a picture of because I don't actually have it in my possession. But it is a wonderful thought, and I know that if I had it, it would remind me of my brother and his family... What is it? It's the wonderful pictures that John took when he drove down to Clinton, MS several years ago and took pictures of my old stomping ground- our first house, nostalgic places on MC campus- the works. John is a wonderful photographer and I hope that one day these pictures will actually be in my possession, and I will put them in a beautiful collage frame and they will hang on my wall and remind me of John and his family...
(insert picture here)
These are my aprons. They are precious to me because my Memommy is oh so precious to me. These aprons represent so much to me beyond just that she made them- they represent the years of love she has poured into every member of our family through her gift of serving and creating beauty both in her kitchen and in her home. I wish I could show you all the things in my home she has made for us but sadly they are packed up- quilts, Barbie clothes, American Girl doll clothes, countless recipes (yes, I have even called her from Lebanon simply to get cooking advice...) She is my hero. I love her dearly and I'm thankful that I have something to look at everyday that reminds me of what she challenges me to be.
So that about completes my tour of the "walls" of each home that we live in. Packing messed up the many other things I wanted to show you- my Polish pottery from my Mother-in-love, our red "You are Special" plate that reminds us of the traditions of Jason's childhood, my books, countless books from dear friends and family members. If you are my family, I hope you see how special you are to us, and how even though we are physically separated, you are never far from our thoughts.
The last thing I want to show you is not from a family member but something I made myself. I love cross stitch. I love that through cross stitch, I can create something beautiful completely by copying someone else's design and therefore don't have to use up any of my very limited supply of creativity. I found these precious designs and had to make them for our girls' room. Their middle names are Joy, Faith and Amal (which means "Hope" in Arabic). We pray regularly that these characteristics will become part of the very fiber of their beings. We are so thankful for their heritage and for the legacy of love that Jason and I both have in our families. We pray that as we are preparing to spend 10 months in much closer proximity to so many of you, that there will be countless opportunities for them to see your joy, faith and hope in action.
So we leave yet another set of walls behind in just over three weeks. It's hard to believe really. And sad. I'm more sad to leave this home than I have been about many others. But I'm also thankful. Thankful for the memories we carry with us and prayerful that the pieces of our hearts that we leave behind will have an influence on this precious community for years to come. As we enter this new chapter in our lives, I look forward to seeing what walls the Lord will lead us to next.