People often say that we must love moving. We don’t. People say we must love change. We kind of do. People say we are crazy. I can neither confirm nor deny that. I do know this, if you asked us where we would be May of 2011, I would’ve never ever guessed we would be back in our house in Sterling, AK, nor would I have guessed that we made a pit stop in Kingsland Georgia along the way, but here we are and I couldn’t be more surprised if woke up and my face was stapled to the carpet ( thanks Clark G). Last Christmas was spent in the warm Georgian air, this Christmas we will be burying ourselves out of the mounds of snow. But we are also buried in mounds of memories, friends, familiarity and as corny as it sounds, love.
2013 has once again been a year of change. A year of moving, and adventure and a year in which we moved back into our house. Even more importantly, a year in which Jo moved back into our life and back into our house with us. This portion of our life has been a long bumpy and arduous journey stretching us beyond any limits we thought we had. And although it is still far from over, we are somehow back where we left off, but yet not starting from the beginning, but entering the game in what feels like the fourth quarter. Obviously it is all still in God’s hand, but it appears he has given us a route in our GPS and we only have a couple of waypoints left for this leg of the journey.
Undoubtedly we will miss Southern Georgia. The people were kind, the food plentiful and the air warm. Unfortunately the food was too plentiful, too affordable and too accessible, pretty much the opposite of Costa Rica and readily apparent in my waistline. We enjoyed the thunderstorms in the warm spring and even winter. The boiled peanuts were not an instant love, but an acquired love. The Pecans were plentiful, and the Jacksonville Jaguar fan’s were very adorable.
Dorian was a short five-hour drive south of us in Florida. Apparently he couldn’t stand the thought of us leaving him, so he took up residence on the small two person couch in our living room we have dubbed his apartment. He is attending college locally wisely doing all he can do to avoid being saddled with unbearable debt upon graduating. He promises that soon he will be attending school, but I think he likes the meal plan that we offer just a little bit better.
Alli continues to attend college in Missouri. She worked hard all summer so she could spend all her money in August, all in one place, contrary to what we have taught her all her life. She is getting very good grades, or so she tells me. Apparently the university does not give us the same info our high schooler’s school gives us. We don’t know when she has been absent, what her grades or, or even if she has been naughty or nice. I know she is very, very nice to me…. when she wants a plane ticket! We are enjoying our time with her immensely and I am proud that she has a true vision for her life, and even more proud that it is centered around Jesus and her faith.
Jeremy truly misses the ROTC program in Georgia. He misses surfing, he misses skim boarding and he misses his giant school. He has traded in his board shorts for a ski jacket and his skim board in for a snow board. He ran cross-country this year, but joined the team late and had a lot of ground to make up, literally. He finished strong and keeps talking about going snow boarding at Alyeska. I guess we shall see if the transition from surfboard, to skim-board to snowboard is as seamless as the transition from Costa Rica to Alaska. He better hope not. I also hope he understands that just because they are called board shorts they shouldn’t be worn on every type of board.
Olivia Grace is blossoming into a beautiful woman. She greatly misses her friends in Georgia and I don’t think she is a huge fan of the long dark winters of Alaska. She is doing well in school and is on the yearbook committee. She enjoys school get togethers, and is a friend to the animals of the world, which is good since we have another dog in the house yet again. I don’t think I have ever met a more polite person in my life, which is slightly odd since neither Tracy nor I gush sugar and honey. I mean we aren’t rude, well not always, but she is excessively polite. Perhaps she could teach our family the ways of the Alaskan Native Southern Belle.
Ben is a Freshman and is learning the hard lesson that there is more to school than showing up, hanging out with friends, playing sports, and making sure your hair looks good. Sure that formula got me through school, but we are going to insist that he throws some studying in there as well. Perhaps even preparing before taking a test and using more than just his charms to get good grades. He has grown about 6 feet in the last year, or at least it feels like it. I know that the last time I went to buy him shoes his size 7’s had blossomed into 10’s, which makes me very happy because soon I will be able to borrow his shoes and look super hip at work!
Jake and Kassie are still being home schooled, and I often get reports that their teacher is really strict! I would confront her about it, but I really like eating. I thought they would have a super hard transition because their love of the warm Pacific ocean was the inspiration of their youth. However, this past summer they adapted well to the luke-warm water of the Alaskan lakes and even to the frozen flakes of the Alaska snow. They have transitioned well. Their tans have faded and their ears are clear of water, but there has been very little complaining.
Jojean often recites that she is extremely pleased to be back “home” in the house she grew up in. She came with baggage, a tiny little dog named Jinx. Jinx needs work. But the kids have taken to him. I have stepped on him, multiple times, on accident of course. Jo has melded back into the family like grilled cheese to tomato soup. She enjoys the love and attention and reminds us of Alli and her “look at me” lifestyle as a tiny toddler. I will have much more to come on this chapter in the future.
As for Tracy and Glenn, well we are both cold, pretty much most of the time. However we feel immensely blessed and as I have written previously, we can clearly see God’s provision in our live’s and perhaps someday we will learn to trust him unconditionally. It is easy for us to take for granted the beauty of Alaska, because to us it is common place. But leaving for a couple of years helps bring the perspective back into alignment and I will strive to share that over the next year.
I am sure if we had written a letter to ourselves 25 years ago when we got married, mapping out where we thought we would be and where we thought we would’ve been by 2013, Soldotna Alaska, Kingsland Georgia, and Flamingo Costa Rica would NOT have been locations in that letter. It is funny the visions we have as we start out our lives, and the paths that we actually take. This has become really important to us now that we have two 20 year olds ( the age I was at marriage) lurking around our family. I do know that if they end up with the one that God has for them, then their lives’ will most likely not go down the path that they vision, but down a much better path. A path that makes no earthly sense, a path with twists and turns, stumps, moguls, lions,tiger, bears, spiders and monkeys, a path that they will look back on in amazement and revel in the wonder of their journey. And they will see how whatever path they took, God lead them to their pit stops along the way. Their history will contain places of unknown wonder, friends of unselfish blessings and a cast of characters that they will call family.
I pray that during this Christmas and New Years’ season that you can look back at your journey, the good, difficult, scary and bad, and see how it all weaves together. See how God’s hand has deftly lead you down paths even when you chose the wrong, the more difficult path. I pray that your family will bless you as our family blesses us and I pray that if you are reading this, our paths once again cross.
God Bless you and yours.