Our lives seem so dictated by time.  What time we get up, go to bed.  What time we eat.  The time we have to say what we need to say.  How much time we have to show the people we love that we love them.  It feels, sometimes, like the time passes too quickly or too slowly.  That everything is spinning out of control or that time is standing still.

I’m not sure what to say about the time we have spent in America for the past month.  It has gone fast, in a blur, at moments.  And it has crawled at other moments.  It has filled my heart with unspeakable gladness and left me brokenhearted.

We have seen dentists and optometrists and regular doctors.  We have enjoyed praising our Father in a corporate setting.  So much.  I have listened to my husband bring the Word with tears in my eyes, wondering why?.  I have spoken to a group of ladies about the calling He has placed on my heart and been renewed.  I have sat by and listened to my girls giggle with their best friends and run with a bounce in their step with no worries in their hearts.  I have taught math lessons and basked in the loveliness of that little light going off when they get it.  I have walked the aisles of Target with an empty basket because I can’t choose for all the choices.  I have drank full cups of whole milk every time I want to.  Sometimes with chocolate mixed in.  I have gone into Hobby Lobby and become so overwhelmed that I can’t bring myself to go back.  I have wandered through grocery stores in awe buying things I never ate when I lived here just because I could.  I have had at least 4 cups of coffee a day, of which I didn’t have to make any myself.  I have sat with my grandparents and learned bits of my family history that made tears well up in heart because I don’t have enough time to hear and learn it all.  I have gone house hunting with my mom and been reminded of how much I love having my own home.  I have eaten my favorite cookies made by the loving hands of my aunt just for me.  I sat on the most comfortable couch I think I’ve ever met and been teased by the biggest, burliest, maybe hairiest, uncle I have.  I have met brand new cousins.  I saw my aunt’s beautiful new home, hugged cousins I haven’t seen in years and ran my fingers over my uncle’s tattoo that declared his love for his bride of over 25 years.  I sat at my brother’s table filled with a niece and nephews and tried to play a game that no one knew the rules to.  I have hugged my mama every day and sat in my dad’s office hearing his heart.  I got a lesson on how to make gravy from my grandma when she saw what a miserable failure of a rioux maker I am.  I have sat with my best friend for hours pursuing Pinterest for things to bake, make, and tattoo on our bodies.  My time here has been full.  It has been good.  

And it’s only half over.  So thankful for these moments.

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Our USA box!

A friend of mine from what feels like so long ago, but really isn’t, has been talking about me.  In a good way.  She told her new club about our family, and they started following our blog (don’t even ask about the nerves that flare up when I hear about someone actually reading what I write…).  Well, they were about to ship a box our direction when we got on a plane coming this direction, so they shipped it to us here instead!  What a fun surprise when we found this humongous box on the front porch!

USAboxIt was full of such exciting and fun things!  The cheers didn’t change even though we were in the land of plenty. 🙂USAbox6There were presents just for me…and that speaks my love language, so I had a super warm and fuzzy feeling the rest of the day.  I also immediately changed clothes so I could wear my new sweater.  And coffee.  That is also my language.  Ha!USAbox3There were stickers and craft supplies and more spices than any import store in our city!  Faith found the sprinkles that are little colored balls.  Those are her FAVORITE.  I’m not real sure why she loves them so much, but she always has, and those are the ones she gravitates toward every. single. time. sprinkles are around.USAbox2All the girls got wrapped gifts.  Inside were the cutest, sparkly skirts with matching shirts, a dress, leggings, and another shirt!  Abundant!USAbox5Feast your eyes upon all that goodness!  I have already loaded up and packed this away in a suitcase that comes back with us.  And I know that this all came from the depths of their hearts, because these kind souls have never met us.  The Father laid upon them the burden to bless and encourage us, and they did so in an overwhelming way that spoke to the quiet parts of my heart that needed to hear Him.  Thank you so much!

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It wasn’t like riding a bike…

When we first got back in America, I was a little nervous to drive.  I know this is slightly irrational considering that I have driven for 16 years before the one year that I haven’t driven, but it is what it is.  I overcame it when my desire to shop grew bigger than said fear.

I was also a little nervous about filling the gas tank.  I didn’t know which side the tank was on, so for fear of embarrassing myself by choosing the wrong side (I never was very good at dragging the gas gun over the car without tripping over something or it not reaching…), I drove past the gas station to a parking lot, parked, got out to see where the door thingy was, got back in, and returned to the gas pumps.  I pulled up, heart racing a little, but not too bad since it wasn’t super crowded.  I grabbed my credit card, got out, and went to the little magic door.  It truly was magic for there was no way to get in it.  Back to the drivers seat I went.  While I was in there searching for a magic button, someone pulled up behind me to wait their turn for my pump.

Oh dear.  Where is that little button?!!

Finally, admitting defeat, I swallowed my embarrassment and asked the man at the pump ahead of me if he perhaps knew where little magic buttons in big fancy cars hid.  I tried to explain to him that this wasn’t my car, but you know me…my mouth kept going.  So, I admitted I haven’t pumped gas in over a year, that I was very nervous, also that I haven’t been living in this country…words just kept spewing from my mouth and I had no ability to stop them.

Finally, my eyes landed on some suspicious looking buttons on the door.  I cried in excitement (to the very nice stranger helping me), “there!!  try those!!”.

POP!  Up went the trunk.  Well, it’s not that one.  One more to try…

YES!!!!  The magic door flew open!  We were both laughing by this point, and the ladies in line behind me gave up that they would get gas in this century and left.   One hurdle down, it should be downhill from there.  Right?

Yeah.  You’d think.

When the machine asked me for my zip code, I just entered a random one.

Don’t judge me.

Of course, it didn’t work, and I had to start all over.  It was then that I remembered the zip code had to actually match the card I was using.  Then the machine told me to lift the lever (there was no lever!) and choose a grade.  Funny thing is, the nozzle was already in the car.  I tried to lift the lever that wasn’t there.  I tried to choose a grade.  Nothing was working.  I put the nozzle back and took it out again, hoping that it wouldn’t start the whole process over, because if it did, I was leaving.  This is a man’s job.  Sheesh.

Lucky for us, the machine worked, the car was filled, no gas spilled, and I felt accomplished.  I also needed a nap after all the excitement.

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Cracked Rib

The day after we arrived, New Years Day, I noticed this pain in my right rib.  I couldn’t think of anything that could have happened other than really great hugs from my really tall nephews.  They are stronger than they look!  We left Fort Worth and headed to San Angelo on the 2nd, and my rib was still hurting.  Faith had also started running a fever.  So, we decided a trip to the American doctor was needed.  We went to an urgent Care clinic that wasn’t really urgent.  After 2 hours or so, we found out Faith had a sinus infection from the lingering sickness we were all laid out with over Christmas and I had pleurisy in my right lung caused from the same illness.  Yep.  It wasn’t cracked…just inflamed.  Really, I think an army of toy soldiers took up residence in my lungs and stabbed me with really sharp knives any time I moved or breathed.  They haven’t stopped yet.  The doctor assured me that after one day of anti-inflmmatories, I would be good as new.  If I wasn’t I should come back.  I waited 3 days before admitting that it was feeling worse.  Back to the non-urgent Urgent clinic I went.  After another X-ray and being weighed AGAIN (this is all kinds of wrong…why do they need to know how much I weigh?!!), I left with stronger medication and the knowledge that this doesn’t go away fast.  So, now, every evening, I take my Tylenol with codeine and an anti-inflammatory and get laughed at because my body reacts very quickly and strongly to medicine and I may start talking slow and blinking slow and becoming unable to fluidly move my limbs.  It is no reason to make fun…and pleurisy is nothing to joke about.  This business HURTS.

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Land that I love

When I looked up, exhausted with an aching back, and saw the sign saying, “Welcome to the United States of America”, I wanted to fall to the floor and weep.  I didn’t, because, well, because I don’t really think people would have understood that reaction, but my heart wanted to.  I didn’t realize just how proud I am to be an American.  And how much I love this country.  It just fits me.

On the flip side of this love was the feeling of being completely invaded.  For the past year we have lived in this bubble where the people around us can see us but not understand anything we were saying.  I like that bubble, and it started to leak in Japan, then totally burst in Colorado.  I had this knowledge that anything I said could be overheard, so I didn’t want to speak.  I wasn’t saying anything that couldn’t be overheard, but it just felt wrong.

The first stop in the Denver airport (after all the boring stops like customs and luggage) was Panda Express.  I know what you are thinking.  Don’t judge until you have had real Chinese food.  It is NOT the same.  It doesn’t even deserve to be in the same category of food.  I will say, we rocked the chopsticks unlike ever before at a Panda.  Ha!  Next stop, Dunkin Donuts.  I thought I loved Dunkin Donuts, but I think maybe they should have to revamp their recipe or something.  Or make them fresh everyday.  And coming from someone who hasn’t had a real donut in over a year, they should take note.  Seriously.  I will say that at this point we were beyond exhausted.  Cam and I didn’t sleep any on the long flight, and the girls only got 2-3 hours.  Perhaps our tastebuds quit after Panda…

When we got on the plane to fly to Dallas, we were split up and not near one another at all.  Ellie and I lucked out and got  the first row after first class, so we had more leg room.  And to make it even better, the third seat was empty.  We were both asleep before the plane left the tarmac.  Oops.  It was a great hour and 27 minute nap though!  Cam said they all fell asleep too.  Hello jet lag!

Walking through the gate in Dallas and seeing Cam’s brother and my sister in law standing there waiting was surreal.  I didn’t know what to do!  I felt myself pause for a millisecond then rush to hug Shawna and she felt so good!  Then I turned and saw my nephews and I felt like my heart would burst.  I truly love these people we get to call family.  I wanted to hold their hands and never let go, but again, I don’t really think they would have understood my reaction.  Ha!  I got the first hug from Cam’s dad although I should’ve let Cam have it.  In a daze, we loaded up in two cars and headed straight for ChickFila.  I have never ordered myself a sandwich without cutting the pickles, but the thought that I could ask them to cut them didn’t even cross my mind.  I don’t know how to say pickle, after all.  (This has been the mindset for the past year when ordering food) Luckily, Shawna was there to ask the proper questions so my sandwich would be perfect.  And it was.  So were the fries and sweet tea.

Finally we made it to Cam’s parents house where we got to see his mama.  A sight for sore eyes I tell you…even if she wasn’t feeling top notch.  The company was great, the shower was hot and steamy and the bed was screaming my name.  I wish I could say that I fell asleep and sleep soundly for hours and hours, but my body was torn between China and Texas time, and it just wanted to drink coffee and stare at the sky.

We woke to steaming coffee and a trip to the grocery store (Cam’s dad was making us a big breakfast, which is his specialty, and needed eggs.)  I jumped at the chance to go to a grocery store that doesn’t have smelly things and unidentifiable food, so off we went.  Cam was the brave one that wielded the wheel after a year of no driving.  Cars seem to have gotten a little fancier since we’ve been gone.

When I walked into the grocery store, a grin instantly appeared on my face.  An ear splitting grin.  It couldn’t get any bigger.  My heart started pounding, and I was beyond excited.  Cam looked over at me and I saw a big grin on his face too, so I said, “You’re excited too!!!!”  He said he was just laughing at me…but I was trying to tamper down the excitement.  Truly.  I was!  But the aisle of 50 types of bread, and the smell that actually smelled good, and the flowers and sales.  Oh.  My heart was happy.  I headed straight for the cereal aisle and just stood and looked.  It was borderline overwhelming, and I didn’t buy anything, but it was fabulous all the same.  As we were leaving, Cam’s dad handed us a bunch of money and said buy whatever you feel like buying.  Whoa.  I ended up getting taquitos, velveeta, chips, AVOCADOS, salsa, corn dogs, strawberries, and meltable chocolate.  Do you see the Mexican theme going?  We’ve missed it.

Seeing our family was totally worth the 29 hours of travel and loss of sleep.  It was even worth the cracked rib I just knew came from the exuberant hugs of my nephews…

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