Over the trees, the sound of trumpets came to me. Drums bellowed back at mallets punching. Summer days, the marching band played like always. I could hear it from my backyard. Some days it was the sound of war, other days of celebration. I knew something was coming one way or the other.
I hadn’t known if we’d get to keep this house, this town and its music, these neighbors and our walks to school. I hadn’t known if we’d have the money to send my four year-old to preschool, the dream she’s been talking about for two years straight. I hadn’t known whether to plant my garden. But I planted it anyway, there in the backyard to the sound of distant music.
In Geneva, I heard stories: a woman selling her childhood home to send her husband to seminary, a man closing the doors of the law firm to open the doors of a school, another throwing his medical degree into the sea to take up where his father left off in ministry. I wondered if maybe they were speaking prophesy to me.
I looked at my suitcase. We could live out of that if He asked us to. But, as much as I love to travel the world, I am pretty attached to my home.
On the ground back in the States, the call came. The formal offer arrived a few weeks after that.
We could stay.
On the first day of school, we walked to the elementary like in years past. I brought the camera and captured photos in front of the flag pole. We lingered by the front doors until the last minute. Then, all of a sudden, like a little sailor coming back from war, Elliot swooped his sister off her feet and squeezed her, his arms tight around her rib cage, her arms draped around his shoulders, her head buried in his neck.
It felt like homecoming.
Back at the house, Farah swung a basket to and fro by its handle. She pulled back curtains of branches and leaves and plucked heirloom tomatoes ready to burst, cucumbers for the pickle jar, the first fruits of what we had planted in hope way back in May.
My husband has been in his new role for six weeks now, thinking like a lawyer and a writer all at the same time. He gets up in the dark of the morning like he’s happy about it. And I am waking up to new things, too.
One day, I got thinking about how much I like forming themes and ideas into experiences, and how I might like to try writing curriculum again. A few days later, out of nowhere I got a message that the publisher I wrote for years ago wants me to write for them again. It was pure kindness how Lord reminded me of what I’m good at and then dropped an assignment right in my lap using those very gifts. I’m getting paid to study the Bible. What better job is there? I’m working on the ghostwriting project, too. And I’m teaching a Revisionary Writer class for Influence Network TONIGHT. And all this provides me a creative outlet and enough cash flow to send both of my girls to preschool. When I lead them through the door on school mornings, they don’t look back. I think we are all ready to look forward.
Last week, my husband almost started pacing again. On the work calendar, there was a meeting scheduled at an odd time on an odd day, a day when there shouldn’t have been a meeting. He wondered what it was that couldn’t wait until the regularly scheduled meeting with his new boss. Had he done something wrong? He stepped up his pace and worked up several reports to share at the meeting. He asked a few probing questions, trying to relieve his anxious mind, but the boss was short on words. Then, the time came. He walked in with his laptop to the sight of a banquet table spread with tortilla chips, salsa, guacamole, lemonade and tea, and a caramel cake….a birthday cake. The whole department shouted, “surprise!”
If the downsizing disaster did anything for us, it shouted at us that anxiety belongs to the devil, that it isn’t ours to keep, and that too often we are pacing back and forth in worry when there’s a banquet prepared for us right around the corner. The core of faith is believing He LOVES us, that we don’t have to keep looking for disaster lurking, that we can make ourselves at home in the shelter of the Most High.
“The Lord is the one who keeps you safe.
So let the Most High God be like a home to you.” -Psalm 91:9
Lately, we’ve been enjoying simple pleasures like playing football in the yard after dinner. My husband and son pass the ball back and forth and talk about the plays they saw at the Colts game a few weeks back. I budge in on the fun and draw back my arm with the tiny football in hand, then flick it forward toward Elliot’s head, forgetting (on purpose) to let it go. Elliot flinches and collapses onto the grass, rolling and laughing and begging to be tackled.
The girls and I walked to meet big brother along Main Street in the middle of the school day last week. We lined the curb and watched fire trucks carrying the football team, and fancy convertibles rolling along with pretty girls waving from the back. We shouted out as we heard the drums and horns and woodwinds, the marching band playing their way down the street. Sound turned into sight, the distant music now in front of us.
A few minutes later, we walked to the stadium and watched lanky high school boys clown-around and race each other on over-sized trikes. Sometimes you need a little whimsy, a sigh of relief and a few let-go laughs.
I get to keep this town and its music, these neighbors and our walks to school. I get to keep this home and the roots we’ve put down here in the yard.
This fall feels like homecoming.