You know something? Sometimes I weep because I know you are so so good for me. Sometimes I am speechless because the Lord brought us to you and I never knew how wonderful it could be to spend time here -- to open myself up to your beauty and a positive experience that was so different from our last move. You are nothing like I imagined. Sometimes I think God has a sense of humor, because I waltzed into this city thinking it would be a piece of cake to spend some time here in this "temporary" place and then move on to our real home.
I'm guilty of unpacking all of our boxes except the one that really matters; the fragile heart and all it hides. Forget the good old fashioned bubble wrap; I thought the best way to keep my heart safe from you was to never unpack it, to hide it away and make sure no one got to it -- not here, anyway. It was reserved for a different city. You see, there was a scribbled word written in permanent marker that said RALEIGH, and I made sure you knew it. Don't get too comfortable with me, sunshine state. Don't try to win me over, okay?
And then something happened I never expected. I faced challenges I never knew I could face, and everything was new and scary and Aaron and I had to forge a new path, but we couldn't do it alone like we planned. Why is it that when you plan to "do it alone" it never works out? Again, God really has a sense of humor. I started 2014 with a mission to cling to my New Year theme: Be brave. Be constantly surprised by all the good that can happen. Look for the beauty in the process. And you know what happened, Orlando? YOU happened. God is pouring blessing after blessing over me, and I cannot believe the beauty that abounds. See that? I was -- and still constantly am -- surprised by all the good that is unfolding.
Suddenly, I could appreciate the scary things: the challenges I am facing both mentally and physically, the unknowns of my professional life, the many ways we have to let go to let something new in. I found myself returning to this hidden heart, unwrapping it, and dusting it off. I wanted to share it with you, Orlando, but I had to take baby steps.
And then we started growing in Lake Baldwin Church and God really made me feel exposed. I began to see a counselor for different things, which is scary if you've never done that before. I was pursued by friends and families, and one friend in particular sat down with me for coffee and said, "I want to go through this journey with you" even though she didn't know me. She wanted Aaron and me to be a part of her life, her kids' lives, her family's life. And that wasn't something I had to piece together; she told me that. I have never been sought after in this way, and it changed everything. Suddenly I was scared my heart would break because it was used more than I intended here, but I realized I was waking up and making roots.
I unpacked this heart and put it on display like it was my favorite piece of artwork in my home, and you know what happens when you put your heart on display? You sit and have a beer with your landlord around a fire pit. You explore new neighborhoods and actually let your mind daydream about buying a home there. You volunteer to play the ukulele with twos and three-year-olds in church. You babysit your friend's dog when she goes away for the weekend. You drink coffee with your friend at 2 in the afternoon while she does laundry and puts her kid to sleep. You go to baby showers and weekly farmers markets and you stand around a familiar kitchen while your husband and friends brew beer. You laugh and embrace the crazy weather and you tell people the inmost fears and desires of your heart because you want to be known. You have beautiful talks walking brick streets under mossy trees. When you put your heart on display, you pass it across the table at a potlock dinner with friends and say, "What do you think? Do you think this part here can be fixed?" Because you want to share the good and the ugly. You stop pretending.... you really, really do.
Now I'm not saying that handing your heart over is always a bed of roses; no matter how much I love you, Orlando, you're still a transient city, just like Houston. You make it hard on the people who love you because people will always leave. I'm also not saying I can predict the future or that we'll watch our babies grow up here. I don't know where we'll be in one year, two years, five years, or 13 years, but none of that matters. I want to live here, now, and really live here, even if it costs me heartache down the road. You make us want to stay, despite how transient you are. People we love may leave us or we may leave ourselves, but you're worth the risk... and that is the best surprise of all.