Saying goodbye can be hard.
That morning when you wake up and know that your job is packing everyone up and leaving those you love isn’t fun.
There would be a return to normality soon, and it would be nice to sleep in our own bed and in our own room without five extra bodies. There were things to look forward to back home for the rest of the summer, but the parting was bitter-sweet.
I cried when it was time for hugs and had that empty feeling that comes with the end of a good visit, knowing it could be a long time before it happens again.
Bathroom stops, hugs, tears, prayers, kids in the car, more bathroom stops, then we were off.
“Mom, can I have the iPad?”
“No, let’s wait until we’ve been on the road longer.”
“Mommy, I’m hungry! Can I have a snack?”
“We just ate breakfast; let’s wait a bit.”
Silence. I pulled out some knitting. For a brief moment, we traveled with no conversation; the weight of our departure still sat heavily on me and on my husband.
“Mom, may we please listen to an Adventures in Odyssey?”
It started to rain. Not a bad time for rain. Maybe it would help to clean off the spattering of insect carnage all over the front of the new car.
As was typical, there was road construction along the way. Every time the car stopped, Little Sprite began to wiggle and fuss, hoping it was time to get out. She must have been so bored, being still too small for a front-facing car seat. Our oldest who was sitting beside her helped out greatly to entertain her whenever this happened.
We entered Canada with little trouble. Some of the roads during this stretch rise and dip crazily and bump along because of the frost heaves and boy, could this pregnant mama feel those!
By the kids’ bedtime, we had reached Destruction Bay where we found a motel for the night. Rather than spend more money on food, we pulled out the last of the cheese, crackers and summer sausage from our cooler, making an easy dinner from that.
We stayed up just long enough to watch “Charlotte’s Web” with kids who’d all napped along the road before attempting to sleep ourselves.
I woke up on the wrong side of the bed the next morning. Actually, the fact that I still claimed a side of the bed after that restless night was a miracle. The room had become stuffy and too warm with all the little bodies in it. I struggled to get myself and the kids ready, feeling acutely the lack of sleep. My sweetheart took our oldest girl and brought back breakfast from the restaurant before loading up the car. I felt a twinge of guilt for the attitude I was already having when I saw my breakfast contained sautéed mushrooms; a treat he knows only I enjoy.
There was fighting between half the kids as we buckled in and tears from Little Sprite as soon as she realized she was going back into the car seat. Oh, there were still many miles before we could stop again… My husband told everyone to hush and we prayed for God to help us with our attitudes and bless the remainder of our trip.
Passing through the rest of Canada was beautiful. So much green. Towering mountains capped with snow right in our faces, it seemed. Rolling hills partially shrouded in mist. We even saw some wildlife along the way: lots of little brown rabbits darting across the road and even a brown bear grazing beside the guardrail. Since I literally had a captive audience (hehehe) I continued one of our read-aloud books, a story about George Muller which interestingly enough, really intrigued our oldest girl as she urged me to keep going.
Then at some point along that road (and in the middle of a very exciting Adventures in Odyssey) I drifted off to sleep waking up just as we neared the U.S. border in Haines.
We entered cell-range again and I took a minute to catch up on the incoming texts I hadn’t seen before. Once in the heart of the town, we hunted up a snack and COFFEE. We found, oh joy of joys, an Aztec mocha from Mountain Market. Oh my. Yes. Another one, please. Then it was off to pay a visit and drop off some items to my husband’s aunt who lives and runs a business there. As we had a number of hours before we needed to line up the car to board our ferry back home, his aunt recommended a local playground so the kids could run off some energy.
Once we did that, it was back to Mountain Market for more coffee (I know, I know…it had been a long drive, ok?) and another tasty snack before going to check in at the ferry terminal.
I was so thankful for the clear day-no rain. We parked the car and decided to take the kids down to the beach beside the ferry terminal while we waited for our boat to arrive around the corner from Skagway. The kids explored and threw rocks in the water. My husband and I talked about our trip impressions and thoughts of going home.
My thoughts were busy dwelling on the beautiful places we’d seen; the accessibility to much more that we didn’t have in our smaller Southeast location as well as living possibilities. Family was a bonus, of course. And we even felt like with our larger family we “fit in” more with the demographic. I was having lots of “grass is greener on the other side” feelings.
The ferry arrived…an hour late. By now, we knew we wouldn’t make it home until around 11:00 that night. I walked on early with Little Sprite and our oldest so as to secure a location for us all while my husband and the other kids boarded in the car.
The four-hour ferry ride felt like the longest part of the journey to me. We had attitude problems with all the kids and we felt trapped in the small confines of the boat. We snacked, read books, played games, ate dinner, watched movies, and walked, walked, walked with fussy kids. My husband took many more turns walking or taking kids outside for talks than I did. I know he was exhausted too but he tried so hard to keep me from having to get up a lot.
Arms loaded with droopy kids and bags, we finally docked, loaded up in the car and drove home. I felt like crying; I was so worn out. We shoveled everything into the house and then crawled into bed. I was thankful I’d decided to put clean sheets on the bed before leaving! And our neighbor, who’d fed our kitties in our absence, had baked a beautiful loaf of bread and left it on our kitchen counter for us, having noticed our fridge was empty. What a sweet surprise!
As I drifted off, I had a lot to pray about. I was thankful for all of us making it safely home again. I was also thankful for the trip we’d had. And while I was sorry for my attitude of discontent, I realized the trip had awakened, not for the first time, thoughts of moving somewhere else someday and I needed to take some time to analyze those.
I’ve often thought that while living in this world you someday “arrive” and make your home “forever” somewhere and there you will finally feel “settled”. There is a comfort in feeling “settled”. But more and more I realize how temporary it all really is and as believers this world isn’t our home and any attempt to try to satisfy ourselves with making it so is contrary to what God asks of us. I’m sure there will be times again and again, when we have missed being near our families. And there have been times (and will be again, I’m sure) where we are dissatisfied with where we live and feel that by changing our location all our troubles or the dysfunction of people or places around us will vanish. But obviously, changing locations doesn’t solve anything; I’m plenty dysfunctional on my own and there will always be some degree of it wherever we go.
So while the trip was so wonderful and so worth it, I had begun to be discontent and as I prayed I realized that God has us where we are right now for His own purposes. I may have a desire for change but trying to force something without clear direction from Him would be a great mistake. I must be content with where He has placed us. It may be He asks us to drop everything and go one day to someplace totally different or He may ask us to stay put forever. Either way, I don’t want to feel so tethered to one place that I miss His best for us; I want to be able to joyfully obey.
Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
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