Back in America, 7 Quick Takes

 
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We left Crete two months ago today, and it feels an age has gone by since then. Why is it that transitions seem universally to create such well-worn grooves in experience? We all of us seem to feel that things move so quickly after we leave one place and are trying to acclimate to a new one. This speaks of eternity in some way, I think, but my mind is too tired to connect the sinews here to bring flesh to the idea.

I received an email yesterday from a stranger who’d happened upon my musings about Mary Oliver, and reading her thoughts and my post on which she commented, I re-remembered that writing is for me a balm and a soul-grounder. Whatever else it may do, writing anchors me in myself. Perhaps this is the primary gift God intends for it within me? Who knows, but regardless I’m in a season where I could use some grounding, so I thought 7 Quick Takes might be wise for today. As long as they’re truly “quick,” I tell myself! I’m behind the proverbial eight-ball all the time these days. So here goes.

1. Coming home to a house you’ve never seen can be the best kind of homecoming. Perhaps it can even be a snapshot of heaven. We put an offer in on this 1690 southern Connecticut house (fully updated, don’t worry) the week we moved out of our house in Crete, late night calls with the mortgage brokers on the hotel landline using a calling card. My reliable mom saw it twice in person and vouched for how wonderful it was, and how perfectly suited to us, ands did not lead us astray. It was a surreal feeling visiting it the first time, but the best kind of surreal. Now that I’ve been in it for more than two weeks and it slowly starts to take the shape of a real home (and I emphasize slowly!), I feel profoundly grateful.

2. Moving middle schoolers transatlantically is not for the faint of heart. My heart, I confess it, can tend toward faintness - especially because I’m an Enneagram 2 and I tend toward adopting other people’s emotional states. My rising 8th- and 7th-graders will start school on Tuesday knowing no one (who will they sit with at the proverbial - and literal - lunch table?), behind in math and Spanish so requiring extra help through no fault of theirs, and without cell phones. Not easy for them, and it’s taking a lot for me to keep handing it all over to God, who’s committed to being their burden-bearer instead of me - a pointHhe’s quite clear on.

3. Celebrating a 10th birthday with a milestone mother-daughter trip remains worthwhile and a highlight. My second turned ten a week ago and so I embarked on my second trip to celebrate turning 10. We spent 24-hours in Northampton, MA, a place neither of us had been before. She loved everything from the way the old-fashioned hotel elevator dinged on each floor to getting to pick out the restaurants to endless window-shopping with no fixed endpoint. Our conversations were delightful and a treasure to me.

 
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4. The Mystic Aquarium really is as good as people in southern Connecticut all say. We spend the day there yesterday for my oldest daughter’s 12th birthday and it was such a hit! An aquarium to check out, if you’re local and haven’t. The sea lion show and the beluga whale were the highlights.

 
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5. Reading memoir has a calming effect on me. I started the summer with Educated, which is as riveting as everyone says, and after a couple of novels (Room and The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane) am now reading A Hillbilly Elegy. Isn’t it amazing how reading the real-life experiences and reflections of another person brings different perspective to your own situations?

6. Hallelujah for Facebook Marketplace. I have sold things on individual groups before but never used the marketplace feature, which feeds postings to multiple groups at once. We have many sundry odds and ends to sell as we try to settle into our new house, all the more because much of the stuff hasn’t been with us since 2016 when it went into storage when we moved to Greece.

7. We’ve done this before, and it’ll work out. I keep reminding myself of this as we prepare to launch, full front, into this new season with new schools and routines, the search for activities and a niche for each kid (and adult), and the effort to settle the house settled down to actual “home” where peace and refreshment can be found. Keep pressing in and on, and God will get us there.

Between the Crete departure and the Connecticut landing, we had many glorious moments of summer, and I hope that you did too.

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When you want to go home

We have a little Bible study, a few fellow moms and I, of the simplest kind. We gather in one of our homes, read a section of the Bible together, and discuss. We drink a hot drink, nibble a bit, share life and pray a little at the end, and call it good. It’s one of my favourite times of the week.

Last fall we did the book of Philippians, which I hadn’t studied in a group for ages (if ever). The apostle Paul is the writer, and he’s writing from Rome where he’s on house arrest. He writes the letter to a fellowship of Jesus-followers located in Philippi in Macedonia. Here’s one of the sections the girls and I read together.

“I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, that I also may be cheered when I receive news about you. I have no one else like him, who will show genuine concern for your welfare… But think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, co-worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs. For he longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill. Indeed he was ill, and almost died. But God had mercy on him… Therefore I am all the more eager to send him, so that when you see him again you may be glad and I may have less anxiety. So then, welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor people like him.”

Epaphroditus isn’t a big character in the Bible; his isn’t a name you remember. I’d never paid this section any heed at all… till now. Here’s a guy who volunteered to journey out from his home to visit Paul and serve him. He stayed with Paul, helped him, got really sick, improved… and now is ready to go back to where he came from.

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