The past several years, I have felt a bit like a gypsy. I've lived for months at a time with different people—in Columbus, Ohio... Kennesaw, Georgia... Medford, Oregon... Nashville, Tennessee. Initially it was for what I thought would be a season of restoration in my marriage. Then he decided he was done—with counseling, with marriage, with me. I stepped back from ministry—even resigned my Board—and did almost nothing but engage in intensive therapy for about a year. Then I slowly got more involved in the ministry again, focusing on fundraising efforts. My "dark night of the soul" got unimaginably darker when the funding drought left us no choice but to close. I closed down the ministry in Africa and walked away from the only home/job/community/life I'd known since I was 19. Back in the States, I spiralled again into a deep depression, unable to find my smile or my hope or my energy.
Through all of this, friends graciously took me in, opening their hearts and their homes to me. I was always made to feel completely loved, welcomed, and part of the family for however long or short I was planted there. I'll never find words big enough for the gift that was to me in the midst of my most painful season. Thank you, loved ones, for caring for me so graciously and generously, continually extending yourself for me when I had nothing to offer in return. You held me up me when I didn't have strength to stand on my own, and you loved me loudly. I am forever in your debt.
Slowly but surely, some normalcy began returning to my life, and in the past six months, the remaining "big pieces" all seemed to come together. Finally. Since February, I've been sharing an apartment with a friend. Countless people reached out—passing along furniture, housewares, kitchen supplies, and filling this place with their love and generosity. It was overwhelming in the best possible way.
I was finally able to purchase a car, which I still thank Jesus for every time I get behind the wheel. All these years, the families I lived with were more than generous with their vehicles. But there is just something about being able to run to Target when I need to without asking permission or joining someone else's errand run. It's like I've reclaimed a bit of my independence that had been lost over the past few years.
And then just a couple weeks ago, my shipment from South Africa arrived. When we'd closed down the ministry, I was left with a house full of belongings and, well, life. The majority of it was given away or left with my ex-husband. But some of it was irreplaceable—like my entire lifetime worth of photographs, family Christmas ornaments, heirlooms that have been in the family for decades, childhood keepsakes...
So I bought space on a shipping container: the smallest amount of space you could buy, with the disclaimer that I would only receive it when the container filled up, by other people shipping to the same destination. The day before I left Africa, the movers came and packed up my "must-keeps". They said there was still room left in my allotted space, so I also packed up my African baskets (a prized possession), some artwork from my walls, and a few favorite kitchen items. When they said there was a lot of remaining space, they took a few random pieces of furniture just to fill it.
And two weeks ago, 20 months after I packed it up in Africa, my things arrived here in Nashville. Unbelievable! It feels so good to have some of my "former life" back. We quickly added baskets and signs and art all around the apartment, and it looks amazing. To look around and see glimpses of my old life mixed in with my new... Man! It's honey to my soul.
This gypsy is feeling more settled than I have in a long time. And, with Africa splashed all over my apartment, I feel more at home than I ever thought possible again.
Grateful is an understatement.