If you haven't guessed, today marks one year since we touched down on US soil. To live. Indefinitely. Reflecting on the last 18 months of our life, a strong image came to my mind - like a mind movie playing out, a pictorial reflection that touches on some the vastness of 'everything' - putting it all into some sort of concise place - a creative expression of the story. For some it might seem a weird way to write about it, but for me, whether or not I can depict it in words, it captured my heart to put the realness of adventure and hardship, celebration and grief, encouragement and comfort in one place and acts as a strong reminder that we are still right where we are suppose to be - and actually theres no greater place to be!
We're walking.... on a winding trail through a mountain range - - its rocky and yet green, dry and hot, cold and wet, forest clusters, open expanses and deep ravines flowing with clear waters. The sun is strong, warm and radiant.......and today the sun is shining in perfect circle against the crystal blue sky backdrop. Its vast and bigger than anything we've seen before....this expanse before us has snapped our breath away more than once.......The trail we've followed winds up and down and round and through all kinds of terrain - some bits were super tricky to navigate, having to fight to find the path and some bits where the path widened, brought sweet relief.
But today we are stood still for a moment -we've reached a high plateau and are struck to silence - its the six of us - hand in hand - a team - a stronger one - in silenced awe - just taking where we are in......
Out ahead of us there a beautiful horizon, a blue sky painted with some colour interspersed b the strength of the sunlight, theres the shadows cast by mountains and trees - its beautiful... like a panoramic thats too big to even put into words to even closely give it justice. As we stand we are still - really still - all six of us - mainly just in awe of the creator of ALL of this landscape, this journey - both of whats behind and in front of us. Its good to be stopped for a moment and to be reflecting - to take in and feel, to see afresh that, with the amount of time we've been walking on this trail, we've gained some stamina which enables us to now be better prepared for new challenges that might pop up around the next blind corner. Theres a sense of learning in our spirits, gained, that means even the unknown 'bears' that have come out of the dark to scare us, somehow now, no longer have quite so much of a shock factor. In fact now, we are posed to expect them, standing firmer on this path, and more
I take a glance back over our shoulders - the backdrop of huge mountains we've made it through now bring a sweet laugh to my lips, because as I catch the memories - the exciting venture of new things and even those of the thick dark forests and the ravines we've crossed, the load is lighter because we've somehow learned we no longer need some of our bags - they were just making the trek harder. The darkness of the night is still pin-pointedly vivid but the light of each new day took the coldness, the loneliness, the fears and displaced them. That somehow each time, the light of a new day helped us to gain a new breath, stopping us from getting stuck in those long hours, days and weeks. I smile as I can see each of the rock faces that gave us shelter from the winds, that were just too strong to walk through. In each of those unique clefs we discovered, big enough for us all to hide in, I can distinctly remember the precious life giving moments, the kind that take you from deep desperation to life, where we just held each other, bringing warmth, so that through tangible touch, we brought restoration when it felt like there was nothing left ......I can still see and feel the really rocky parts where as we climbed the rocks just kept slipping under our feet. We grazed our knees, twisted our ankles and cried in pain and for which even now, some of the scars are still healing, but we can't help today as we stare and stand awhile, but hold a smile - the kind where your eyes tell a story that no words could. The warmth of the sun is an ever present reminder as it beats upon us now, that it was always there, that it was there Every...Single.....Day. Sometimes we could feel it, sometimes we couldn't, but it never left the sky.....and with its warmth on our shoulders, and our eyes drawn back to the expanse of the view ahead, theres a sense of rest in how far we've come.....a sense of achievement. Whew!! Like a moment when you squeeze someones hand because words cant say it! But we've done it..... we've made it a long way...... Yet I would be lying if I was totally peaceful with where we are - theres a stirring to keep pressing on - to enjoy this moment, to breath, but all in the knowledge that theres so much further to go.... its a peaceful passionate stirring. As we stand looking I reach to hold the little pendant around my neck that reminds me 'We don't give up' in this family of ours, we were made for this, that we made a promise a long time ago now.... to go where He leads, to be obedient to His voice - not matter what it costs, how hard it feels, because just as we've known on this road (one of the hardest trails we've walked) theres so many little surprises and mind blowing explosions of torrential rain to dance in as well as countless moments of joy that leave you SO thankful. Just SO thankful..... and for these little signs of life, like the little flowers that glistened in the sun reminded us and caught our attention along the way - for these we will never forget.
In this very moment now I feel a rock through the sole of one of my shoes, whilst the other sits snug in the smooth dirt. Theres sweat on my brow, a tear dropping off my chin, a deep chuckle inside, a stitch in my side thats been there a while, possibly from the sheer endurance required to make it to this place. Theres still a little vague ache inside because even as we stand together taking in the distance I can feel the very real touch of little hands cupped in my own and the sound of little voices starting to whisper again 'I cant walk any further mom' ..... a bitter sweet reminder that we have to continue to daily receive the ever present sustenance to help us rallying our troops for this next part of the journey.
Its then, that I turn and look Steve straight in the eyes and as I do, I'm so aware our hearts are singing the same song. Grateful. The look that says 'we know this is where we are suppose to be, we know this journey is refining us in ways we didn't even realise were possible, moulding us and our children and our children's children and the generations that will come after that.....to be all that God would have us be and to do the things that God has had in His plan right from the beginning. We know we are putting our footprint in the dirt of this trail, and it will change the trail even though we can't always see it on the surface immediately. We stand stronger in the knowledge our lives our in the hands of our Creator, that He's strong enough when we aren't and He's more than enough for ever single day thats ahead'. He's rejoicing over us. He's rallying us on. He's our joy in every step.
And so we breathe.... shut our eyes and breathe......We breathe the fresh air of these mountains that we walk, with a deep sense of joy arising even in the presence of aches of the heart and we hear the birds that have been singing and surrounding us, whose song is louder with the passing of time because they are becoming familiar..... like a cheering squad of fans who knows so much of the journey, takes us just as we are and who've witnessed much of the winding path.... who we can even give feed now because they started to trust and whose song encourages us and reminds us of how deeply we are loved.
And so we start to walk again and my image ends to the sound of feet on the path...... We will keep walking this adventure..... Hope-full. Joy-full. Faith-full. Keep pursuing fiercely and passionately the maker of this universe..... because we are blessed to be a blessing and nothing else on earth matters. Its not about us..... its actually about Him. With our eyes fixed on our Creator, with our faces tilted to the sun, we know we are empowered to keep walking and never loose the sense of awe for the One who walks each and every step with us.