Monday, June 29, 2009

It's Busy and Hot!

So sorry for the delay in posting. The internet isn't being connected at Tiffany and Nikki's apartment until tomorrow (I'm "borrowing" somebody's right now who has an unsecured site) and there's been no time to think about going somewhere to catch up online.

Trucks are unpacked, boxes are mostly unloaded, belongings are finding places to be stored, and poor Ellie is almost stressed beyond her limit. She's finally come out from under Tiffany's bed and is currently conked out on top of it beside me as I type. Poor kitty. All the extra people and chaos will be over soon and hopefully she'll begin to recover.

Tomorrow, I'm going to have lunch with my mom's sister who only lives about an hour away. I might get to see two of my cousins, so that will be fun. Tiffany hopes to go with me, but she's been sick for the last week with a bad cold, so we'll see how she feels in the morning.

Hopefully tomorrow I can share some pictures of their apartment. It's in a new complex, convenient to any kind of shopping they could want, and only 10 minutes from Disney World. We heard the fireworks tonight and if they walk to a different building right down the road, they'll be able to see them. And yes, it's hot. But it's not so different from GA in that you just don't go outside in the middle of the day if you can help it. Come wintertime, I'm sure we'll all be hearing about the amazing warm temperatures they're experiencing in the sunshine state.

I'm leaving on Wednesday to begin the LONG drive back home. I'll stop in GA for the night and hope to make it back to Baltimore on Thursday, but we'll see. I'm more than a little tired of all the driving....

For now, it's time for bed. Sleep has been scarce and I'm due for a decent night's sleep. Maybe tonight??

Saturday, June 27, 2009

It's Time to Go

Sorry, no pictures for now, but I did want to let you know that today's the day...again! We're loading yet another UHaul truck with Tiffany and Nikki's stuff and then will leave for Orlando once we've finished. Hopefully, that will be late afternoon so we can drive 3-4 hours in daylight. We'll stop for the night about halfway there and will finish driving tomorrow. Jenn and Will have friends and family in Orlando who will help us unload after the heat warning expires for the day. Yes, it's a different world they're traveling to, especially Tiffany!

There have been lots of emotions for everyone, especially the girls, as this new chapter begins for them. There's sadness at leaving a world that held such promise, relief in leaving for the same reason, fear of new choices because of insecurities that developed due to the recent years' experiences, and excitement at being able to share this time in life together. It's been strange for me to be back also because while this will always be home for me, it's also where life was fractured for our family and the many memories around every bend keep reminders in my face all the time. It will be interesting to see where life finds us in a year or two.

For now, it's time to put on the moving hat and get busy. I'll have pictures soon of the last few days and the beginning of life in very hot Orlando for Tiffany and Nikki. Mickey, here we come!!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

We've Arrived!

This is just a short post to let you know that Tiffany and I arrived safely in Dallas, GA earlier today. The trip ended with a little mishap, but it truly was a reminder of God's amazing care. I apparently ran over a nail at some point after getting on I-75. As we got off the exit on Hwy. 92, Tiffany called to tell me the back tire looked funny, so I went straight to Day's Chevrolet since it was nearby. By the time I got there, the tire was almost flat and the nail was discovered. So while I wasn't excited about the 45 minute delay, I was very thankful that it happened the way it did and I was safe.

As you can imagine, we're both tired and Ellie was more than ready to be out of the car. We're staying at Matthew's but have a lot to do in the few days we're here. Saturday will find us loading the UHaul truck with Tiffany and Nikki's stuff and then moving our remaining stuff from the larger storage unit into a smaller one. Once that's done, we'll get a head start for Orlando because they have to check in on Sunday before 5:00. As we've all discovered, it's the actual leaving that's the hardest and they're both ready to just get there and begin the next chapter of life together.

I have found that all the recent traveling and the return to GA is a bit much for my tired self to process, so that will have to wait for another day when I've had more sleep. For now, to all a good night!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Driving...Lots of Driving

This is just a quick hello to let you know that Tiffany and I (and Ellie) made it as far as Gastonia, NC before we could go no more. We haven't slept a lot this past week and when you are driving alone with no one to share the duties, it just makes for a longer day. So we decided to be safe and hopefully get a good night's sleep before finishing the drive to Atlanta tomorrow. We're living in denial right now about how much driving is still in front of us. And I'm really living in denial because I have to get back to Baltimore after Tiffany and Nikki are unloaded in Orlando. One day at a time...God knew what He was doing when He told us to live that way. :)

I do want to give Ellie public recognition for how well she's traveling. She stays in her bed hiding under the pillow with an occasional peek out. She gave up protesting her plight very early in the trip when I guess she realized we weren't going to stop. But when we do stop for the night, she's back to her happy little self in just a few minutes and is checking out whatever new surroundings she's in. Tomorrow she gets Uncle Matthew's whole house to herself and she will be quite the queenly kitty for a few days before we move her to the desert that is called Florida right now. Here she is getting comfortable in our old smoke smelly hotel room and yes, we had permission to bring her in and had to pay a little extra to do so. Now let's hope she's tired enough to sleep quietly throught the night!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Home again, home again...for a night!

I'm not sure how many out there are reading and/or care about the comings and goings of our family, but for any who might, I wanted to let you know that Hamp, Tiffany, Ellie, and I all made it safely to Baltimore. Hamp's flight was cancelled from Boston so we rearranged the vehicles and he drove his truck and I rode with Tiffany and Ellie in the only remaining seat available. Ellie did well, but was very stressed and not a very happy kitty. We took her straight to our extra bedroom where she and Tiffany will sleep and I'm not sure Kit knows she's here. We hope to keep it that way!

I'm trying to do a little laundry, catch up on a few bills, get some sleep, and leave things neat and organized for my sweet, tired hubby before I drive away again tomorrow. I had to repack my suitcase. All fleeces, coats, raincoats, and jeans are staying behind as I head from a rain-soaked northeast coast to what could be the 7th layer of hell. :) The reports we're hearing doesn't make me want to head too much further south, but it must be done since Orlando is in the state of Florida and that's the final destination.

Tiffany and I will be in separate vehicles for the rest of the trip and we hope we can last tomorrow and actually make it all the way to Atlanta. We'll see how that goes.....

I have a few pictures from the final day or two as we prepared to leave Gloucester. It was hard for all of us to leave Michael, Matthew still wonders why his whole family abandoned him in GA, and while still excited about the move, Tiffany is realizing how extreme the weather is about to be for her. I just keep having moments of amazement at how different life is from how I thought it would be at this time in my life. And Hamp tries to keep up with us all. :)

This is Ellie who is beginning to suspect that life is about to change drastically for her and isn't too happy about it.

Here are Steve and Tiffany as we're all getting ready to head to Boston for the second game of the Braves vs. the Red Sox over the weekend. We had him outnumbered, but his team prevailed.

That's it for now because I must go to sleep. Check in on us and I'll try to update often to keep you caught up. One thing I keep forgetting to mention is that I follow several blogs of friends and I have their links on the side of my blog page. Check out some of them occasionally and see what exciting things are going on with others you may know.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

A Child Shall Lead Them

It's late Sunday night and I'm waiting for Matthew to call to let us know he has arrived safely back in Atlanta. He's had two long days of driving that Tiffany and I (along with Ellie the wonder cat) get to duplicate tomorrow after dropping Hamp off at the Boston airport. We all have Baltimore as our destination for tomorrow, but I think Hamp has the best arrangement!

I'm almost hesitant to write this next sentence, but...we did it! I think we've packed Tiffany about as completely as possible and left Michael in a good situation to get moved by the end of the month to his new location. As you can imagine, there's lots of sadness over the goodbyes, yet anticipation over what God has next for all of us.

Getting back to the title of this post...I had a very unique worship experience this morning as Hamp and I went to the church that Tiffany and Michael have been part of since they moved here. We've gotten to know some of the people from past visits and the pastor and his family have extended such grace and love to them. Part of his vision for the body of believers that he's shepherding is to recognize the giftings God has dispersed among His people and then giving them the freedom to grow and develop that gift. As a result, Hamp and I got to experience being led in worship this morning by Michael with Tiffany playing the dulcimer and some auxiliary percussion instruments during some of the songs.

While two of our children here on earth that God has blessed our family with, this morning they were our brother and sister in Christ as they led us into His presence through song. With our voices joining others around us, we were one body offering ourselves to the One who made us. What a memorable and yet humbling experience! I found myself wondering how many times I have missed God because of judgements made toward other cultures or regions or economic and social status. May the lesson of this time with God's precious people today never be lost from my memory...or my heart.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Boxes and Baseball

Good Saturday to you! I only have a minute to give you an idea of our last couple of days before I have to walk down the street for more packing. (Does it ever end??)

Tiffany and Michael's apartment is only about 400 square feet; about the size of a dorm room. I'll let you imagine how much fun it is to try and find a place to put an empty box on the floor, get to it so you can place something in the empty box, and then get the now filled box somewhere to wait until it can be loaded. We used the hall and are hoping the upstairs neighbors don't come for the weekend.

For those of you who don't really care for the feline species, I just want to offer proof that contrary to their reputation, they are very expressive creatures. Look at Ellie's face. :) I'll let you fill in the blanks as to what she's thinking, but I can assure you it's not G rated!! Poor's only just begun.

We went to Fenway Park last night and got to watch the Braves beat the Red Sox. It was a great win and an amazing experience to see a baseball game in that park. Jason Bay, who plays for the Red Sox, hit a mammoth home run over the green monster...and out of the park. That was OK since we still won the game. Tiffany has to go back tonight if the weather cooperates to pay a bet she lost during the Georgia/Florida college football game last fall and it may work for Hamp and I to go back as well.

First we parked at a subway station away from the city and from there took the train into Boston. Then we joined the throngs of Red Sox fans on the streets heading to the park.

We had a great time and while the seats weren't together, we were glad we all got to go at the same time. Here are a couple more pictures of us inside and then I'm off to pack! Have a great Saturday!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

More Magnolia

Greetings to you from cloudy and chilly Magnolia, MA. Yesterday was even more gorgeous than the day before, but the days of sunshine are gone for the rest of the time I'll be here. Now the hope is that the rain doesn't fall at the same time we're going to the Red Sox game on Friday or trying to load trucks.

I think Tiffany has hit the same wall I did a few days ago. When she moved here two years ago, she was mostly numb and as she slowly came back to life, the surroundings had become familiar and friendships had been made. While she's now fully awake and choosing this next step, there is still the difficulty of goodbyes and the unknown of what lies ahead. She's excited about heading back to the south with its warmer climate and welcoming culture and wouldn't change that decision. But change is still stressful and these last few days remaining for her are becoming more so with each one that passes. Hamp is coming in on Friday and we're all looking forward to his arrival and calm leadership that will help get us on the road by Monday.

Lydia got here safely and it's been fun having her around. She was excited to learn that what she termed her "social awkardness" was in fact just cultural differences that Tiffany and Michael confirmed for her. We transplanted southerners enjoyed the evening together and we'll send her to her next destination tomorrow as we head into Boston to pick up Hamp from the airport and go to the game.

I wasn't out as much yesterday, but have a few pictures to close out this post for you. If our family comes to mind, we'd appreciate any prayers you would like to offer up for us. Thanks for sharing our journey with us and it's OK to leave a comment every once in a while to let us know you are. :)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A Day in Magnolia

Today was absolutely beautiful here in Magnolia, MA (Gloucester). It was still a little on the cool side, but the sun was out and it was a glorious day. As promised, I have pictures to share with you.

I mentioned that Matthew and I are staying at an inn up the street from Tiffany and Michael's apartment. When you open our door to the walkway to head down the stairs, this is part of the very tall section of rhododendron that greets you. I watched squirrels, a rabbit, and a chipmunk run back and forth across the driveway this morning as they played among the leaves.

If you turn left out of the inn, right down the street was this fir tree growing in somebody's yard. It stays cool enough year round, that this is a very common site in the area. I don't think I would ever get tired of seeing a "Christmas" tree growing outside my window!

If you go straight out of the driveway of the inn, you head toward the house where Tiffany and Michael's apartment is. These are some of the sites that greet you as you approach the main steps to the house.

If you pass the house and keep going down toward the end of the street, this is what you see.

When you get to the end of their street, you can cross over to the rocks and climb down to either sit, fish, or explore a bit. It's absolutely beautiful and one of my favorite places in the world to just "be". It's really nice to sit after the sun has warmed the rocks and let the warmth just soak into your soul.

And here's what you see in front of you.

Depending on the time of year, there might be sailboats out in the water, larger ships on the horizon, and you can see the skyline of Boston across the water on a clear day. One thing you can count on seeing no matter when you're on the rocks are the sea gulls. They're not as skittish as you think they would be because enough people fish from the rocks that they hang around for potential food possibilites.

There's a loop that circles around the area and it's a great place to walk. There are either rose bushes or a different kind of rhododendron bush still blooming and when you pass by, the air smells like floral saltwater. It sounds nasty, but was wonderful! The view was pretty amazing too.

The last pictures I took were from the rocks toward the west as the sun was beginning to lower in the sky a little. The water sparkled from the reflection of the light and a picture probably can't do it justice, but I thought I'd try.

The tide was beginning to come in as I was finishing my time on the rocks and I felt very small as the surf pounded the shore and crept closer to where I was standing. I kept thinking about the verse in Job 38 when God is chatting with Job about His greatness as it relates to His creation of the sea. He says in verse 11, "And I said, 'This far you shall come, but no farther; and here shall your proud waves stop'".

So there you have it - a great day in God's creation with a little packing and errand running thrown in too. Tomorrow, Lydia is coming to visit us since she has a couple of days off from her summer job in Boston. It's been funny how many friends from home we've seen in various places this summer as we've come and gone from our various homes. We have another beautiful day in store before the clouds move in again and we're excited to share some favorite sites with her. And by the way, it's more than a little humbling how fast God can reset our focus if we'll give Him the chance to do so. While it probably helps to have great visual reminders like I did today, He will be found whenever we look for Him - He promised.