February 20, 2006

A Fine Collection

"It takes a long time to grow an old friend."
- by John Leonard

We are embarking on a new life adventure…..moving to Phoenix. Moving is one of the highest ranked stressful events in our lives. And while I can see why it is so stressful, I kind of like it. It is full of potential…just like my barren rose bushes, which are gradually sending out new leaves and shoots.

I like adventures and new things….new climates, new environment, new home, and what is most enticing is new friends. I am a collector of friends. My collection includes several wonderful specimens from each place we’ve lived….and a few from different temporary environments. Those include high school, college, church groups, home schooler groups, working environments, including a Christian conference center where I worked for 2 summers in college. My collection comes out and gets sorted through every year at Christmas. I get out my address book and start walking through the years, looking at each name, remembering the faces, the events, the good and hard times shared all while updating addresses from all the Christmas card letters that pour in.

Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to be born, grow up, get married, live and die all in the same hometown. Makes me go ‘hmmmm’. But I will never know what that is like because I’m married to a pastor who God apparently likes to spread around a bit…share the wealth, if you will. =) I lived in the same city all my growing up years, high school and college years, so when I went off to attend seminary in Texas, it was an adventure! It has never stopped being an adventure since then. I met my husband the first week I lived in Texas and we were married less than a year later. It was like a perfectly orchestrated year of awakening to a new step in God’s plan…..we grew from friends who spent all their time together, to dating, then engaged by New Year’s, married June 1. And I don’t consider him to be part of my collection….he is more an extension, or a part of me…I’m thankful that he isn’t in my address book…he’s at MY address…for always!

We lived 2 years in Texas going to seminary and struggling to balance and keep up with school, working and being engaged and then newly married. There wasn’t a lot of time to nurture friendships outside of our little tiny world of early married life. Even so, we tried to keep up with a few of the friends we made there….friends from work, from a street ministry we helped out with, and from classes. Most of these people went in to ministry vocations too and moved a lot like we did and I don’t know if we have kept up to date on any of them! But I still remember fondly and feel a bond with them.

We spent 2 1/2 years in a small town in southeastern Oklahoma as my husband had his first ministry position right out of seminary. He was a youth pastor. Our first anniversary was spent at a youth lock-in, to get to know the youth. It was a strange time, as most of the people there got married soon after high school and by the time they were in their mid twenties, they had several children! So as a newly married 23 year old, I didn’t have much in common with my peers there. We made good friends in unexpected places though. One of my husband’s favorite duties there was to visit the widows from the church. He was a full time youth pastor, but the kids were in school all day, so he did some associate pastoral duties as well. These sweet, spunky ladies became good friends to us. I also had 2 women who provided me the feminine friendship I needed! One was a woman my own age who was single and a hoot to hang out with….the other was a little older than me with one grade school aged boy, but was a kindred spirit to me.

Next we lived close to 10 years on the New Jersey side of Philadelphia. If you think that sounds interesting, you have no idea! The eastern U.S. is a different world….but when we got over our culture shock, we settled down to enjoy the ride. Our oldest daughter was a brand spankin’ new 10 weeks old when we moved, and I was confined to home for a year or so while Charles was out doing church planting work with our only car. Those were hard years, but I made some dear friends, some other new mothers from our sponsoring church, who helped me feel more a part of it all and get through the new mommy scene. As time passed there, Charles worked in 3 different churches, as well as taught at a Christian school for five years. So we racked up the friends and they now fill a good part of the address book that represents my collection.

"I count myself in nothing else so happy_
As in a soul rememb'ring my good friends."_
- William Shakespeare

Currently, we have just finished up (two months shy of) 9 years here in the mountains of northern Arizona. It was like heaven to move here….we had to keep pinching ourselves when we went outside each day. Instead of living in the crowded, busy suburbs of Philly, we looked out to see mountains, forests, wildlife and a much more laid back way of life in a small town, perfect for our growing family. The friendships here were just as laid back and easy going as the peaceful scenery. There have been very few high maintenance people and a lot of kindred spirits here. I may need to invest in a larger address book….maybe a filing cabinet….

I am going to have to update my address book this year in a major way. The friends we have added to our collection here in northern Arizona are precious and plentiful! Maybe is the small town environment…maybe it’s the cold winters and cozy gatherings in warm homes. Maybe it’s just a very special place stuffed full of really special people….yes, I think it is….I can’t explain it any other way. As the years have gone by here, we’ve seen other people have to pack up and move away. And they always miss the fellowship they had here in the mountains…..there is no place like it. I’m sure we will be missing it too….but I can’t help being excited for the adventure that awaits us on this new move.

We tend to bounce back and forth between small town and large city. But no matter where we go, east or west, small town or urban setting, God prepares the way with kindred spirits just waiting to blossom into lifelong friendships much like my roses that are sending up their new shoots, soon to house many beautiful flowers.

Wow, I’m going to have to save up for all those postage stamps we’ll need next Christmas!

"Most people come into our lives and quickly leave.
It is the special few that come in and leave a footprint in our hearts.
and we are forever changed." Unknown

No comments: