Over the past several years, we have come to know East Tennessee as home. My big guy has some memories of our old home, but for our little chunk this is all he knows. We have gained friends, and friends we choose as family, all in our little time here. And now, it is time for us to return to San Diego.
Do you know what our town reminds me of? A southern Stars Hollow. We have one traffic light in the entire town. We have a four way stop in the center of town — ok, it has a flashing red blinking light so it may technically be two traffic lights, but just roll with me here — near the post office, the home décor store, the auto shop, and the local diner. There’s a man who parks his car by the depot (think Miss Patty’s School of Ballet) every morning to read scripture, pray and wave to those who pass by on their way to work and school. We all say hello to him with the two-finger wave, the same wave we give to every other person or car we pass on our drives. We have town meetings to make important town decisions, there’s your city standouts, and everyone seems to know each other. We have one school, and save for those homeschooled, all the kids go there pre-k through 12th grade. We do events and parades BIG. So big that people from other towns come out to celebrate with us. And even beyond the town, in the entire surrounding area, we also love big. We help those who are sick, host events to fund raise for our families in need, and look out for each other. I always wanted to live in Stars Hollow, but I found something even better in East Tennessee.
Our house. It is so peaceful. We own a plot of land that the boys can run around freely, and though I keep them near, it must feel so big to them. They toss rocks in the dry creek when it’s wet and chase fireflies on summer evenings. We’ve had the opportunity to farm it with cows, alpacas, chickens, bees, and ducks. We’ve collected hundreds of tomatoes over the past few years, most of which came from last year when we planted over 50 tomato plants (I warn against this if tomato plants give you hives) because we love to share salsa. I’ve watched the sun rise over the Smoky Mountains from my living room, and set into the horizon while washing dishes. The moon is bright, and the stars are innumerable in a sky lit by nothing else.
Inside the sun fills the common areas, bringing the peace from the serenery (serene scenery?) into our home. We were fully aware of a new flight path above us, because for a long time beforehand we had not heard planes above us. When we desire quiet, it is easily attained (as long as the kids are asleep). The floors are old and they creak when you’re trying to sneak away from a lonesome toddler, and we’ve dealt with leaks, floods, and country mice, but our home is filled with countless memories. At our table, we’ve gathered with family and friends to celebrate milestones and holidays. I still see three little toddler beds in the boys room when I walk in there, reminded of the year our hearts grew so much bigger. We’ve read countless stories and shared silly tales gathered on the couch in the living room. In the kitchen, I have spent many (read: MANY) hours washing dishes, scrubbing away the food from the meals that bombed and the ones that became family favorites. I remember who I was three years ago, and see all the places God has worked in my heart, revealing the depth of His love for me and working through the fears I carried needlessly for too long.
And our people. Thank you. You invited us into your lives with open arms and generous love. You have been with us to laugh, celebrate, and cheer on our kiddos. You have been my listening ears, my warriors on their knees, my encouragers, my friends. Words would not be able to adequately describe the value you hold in my life, nor the heartache of saying goodbye. It is you that makes transplanting so difficult; My roots long to stay in the soil nourished by your presence. You are a gift I’ll hold in my hearts with gratitude and joy.
In these past few years, I’ve done a lot of work looking at the trustworthiness of God. I’ve learned that He can be trusted, even when the circumstances seem daunting or the unknowns outnumber the knowns. He leads His people, He protects them, and He works all things out for the good of those who love Him. Oh, how I have learned that His plans are better than mine! And oh, how He has taught me that He knows what He is doing! As my IG friend and author Sheila Walsh declares it, “God is good at being God.”
In late 2019 I had been asking God a question, and in response I felt the Lord tell me it was time to move. I initially thought that looked like buying a place in the “city” and giving up the farm. As we sought to understand what that looked like, the details and the destination became more clear – the Lord wants us back in San Diego. At first I was staunchly against moving back home. I love my family and friends there, but have you seen the housing costs? Or the (relative) level of crime? Or crowded schools? Or the traffic? It sounded like struggle after struggle. I didn’t want to tear my kids away from the friends they loved, the home they loved or the pace of living I wanted them to experience. I had reason after reason on the con-side of my list.
And yet, there was a reason in the pro-column that outweighed the sum of all my hesitations: God is calling us back.
Friends, I don’t know what will happen when our feet touch the ground. I don’t understand why we are being called back, but I do know the One who is the author of our moments, and have trust that He is planning for good things. We have been in this very same situation before, and He has proven Himself faithful. I have every confidence He will do it again.
For those I am returning to – I eagerly anticipate the joyous moment we will see each other again and the hugs we will share. You have been deeply missed.
The San Diego Sunshine is nothing compared to the bright lights you all are in my life. I am so thankful.