Wednesday, July 1, 2009

This week has been a whirlwind.

With a 4-day trip to Texas, then 2 days back in Chicago, then 3 days in Nashville, I'm back in Chicago now and thankful for a few days to recover. At the same time, it was an incredible week! I was able to see about 90% of my extended family as well as all three of the places I've ever lived (this just occurred to me!).

Me and Pastor Oliver at GNL - what a precious man!

First stop: Waco, Texas. My best friend Jess picked me up from the airport in Ft. Worth so we could spend the weekend together before my Grams' funeral on Monday. It was so good seeing you, precious friend! Jess is always so inspiring to me and I love how we can get together after months of not seeing each other and pick up where we left off. After getting her Masters' in Social Work, Jessica is now working with Mental Health in Waco and has her own office, about 85 clients, and I know she is the perfect person for her job. I couldn't picture anyone better - she is sensitive, compassionate, and has the biggest heart. We had a fun, relaxing weekend which included snow cones, trips to Walmart, going to Greater New Light on Sunday, watching HGTV, and we even ended up as extras in a Baylor commercial. :) And to Nate, Tiffany, Charity, Corey, Tim, Eunice, and others - it was great to see you guys too! Thanks for always making me feel so welcome.

LOVING the Texas heat!

On Sunday night, I met up with Mom, Todd, Julie, Abby, Hallie, and Missy and on Monday evening was Grams' memorial service (Dad got there just in time from Rhode Island). It was a beautiful service in every way. It was held at her little, packed church in Southlake and I know all of her family was encouraged to see so many people who really loved her. I only wish she could have been there in person because it was so her - she would've loved every minute. I have a good feeling she saw it from a much better place.

Speaking of Grams, Mom set up a memorial website for her that you can see here. There are pictures and guest book entries and fun stories. And my very favorite... a personal note from (my favorite) Mike Huckabee!! They were ministry friends years ago.

Jess under I-35 bridge... part of our typical photo shoot. :)

Flowers I brought home from Grams' memorial.

On Saturday and Sunday, Kels had her third and fourth bridal showers. [Pictures of all of this coming soon. Promise.] It's almost surreal as it was only about 6 months ago that we saw these sweet women at my own bridal shower! Her third shower was at our house (given by Mom, me, aunt Missy, & Grandma) and the fourth was in Columbia and was given by the pastors' and staff wives at First Baptist. They have continued to bless our family in so many ways. Kels got soo many wonderful gifts and I know she and Zach will have will have a blast unpacking and nesting in their new home in southern Oregon. Is it really just a month til the wedding?! Wow.

As we arrived in Chicago a couple nights ago, we were bombarded by the reality of the city as soon as we got there. When we were switching trains to head home, a man was sitting on a trash can talking loudly to himself, complaining (with plenty of colorful language) about how high CTA fares have gotten, and ending every phrase with "It's crazy, man... just crazy." Then having to push through drunk, scantily clad girls to get into our apartment door... a lovely welcome indeed.

Being spoiled by the South, it's sometimes pretty difficult to return to the city, even though we do love it most of the time. You really just can't get Southern hospitality anywhere else! We always feel so relaxed in Nashville. It was refreshing to hear nothing as we fell asleep in my parents' house, refreshing to be welcomed at church and given about 3,248 hugs, refreshing to see so many people smile. Oh yeah, and refreshing to breathe Hobby Lobby air. I miss that place! All that said, we're pretty convinced that our next move will be a southern one. We feel out of place here a lot of the time. Someone at church (in Chicago) even told us that we don't really fit in here because we're too happy (not sure how to interpret that?). Until then, though, we're thankful for the summer which makes Chicago a much more livable place!

Thank you, amazing family, for an incredible 10 days! I love you all.

PS - Some of you may be wondering about how I fared on four flights in one week. The United Express flight I took to Dallas/Ft. Worth was a small plane. When I saw it, my stomach dropped. The heat made it a bit turbulent, but honestly, God overwhelmed me with his peace despite the bumps. And by my 4th flight of the week last night, I wasn't bothered by the rough skies a bit. This really is a miracle. Prayers answered!

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