Thursday, August 23, 2007

A Quick Anniversary Post

I just wanted to commemorate that two years ago today, in that lab at the Reproductive Biology Associates, L. and E. came into being. Here they are the week we moved into our new house. They're sitting in their part of the living room, looking out of their favorite window.

This week in babies: both girls have been saying "mama" and "dada" since well before they were one- "dog"or "cat" and "donkey"(oddly enough) quickly followed. One of their new words lately is "camel,"which we assume is in honor of the crazy camel footstool that belonged to Rob's grandparents and used to sit in our office, and now is in the living room for them to play with. You can just see the camel's head in the pictures posted above. They both love camel, and several times a day I look up to find them giving it drinks from their sippy cups, patting its head and giving it kisses. I've noticed, too, that they like to grab two stuffed animals and go to their chairs and cuddle them- apparently, they are both under the impression that people just sort of have two babies. We're feeling blessed and thankful beyond our wildest imaginings that these two hilarious people are our daughters.

Friday, August 03, 2007


Well, most of you who are regular readers of this blog probably already are aware of this, but Rob, the girls and I moved sometime near the beginning of July. You may recall I had written last fall about why my children are being raised as Hogs fans and I had talked about the things I would be sad to leave here. At the time, though, leaving here seemed like something that was terribly far away, like retirement or the age 35 when I was 16. I remember when we moved to Atlanta- I was unemployed and didn’t know anyone and Rob had a social network quickly because of school and at the time I couldn’t have voiced a strong opinion about anything going in the Middle East (okay that’s a lie- I have many strong opinions about most things and I voice them frequently- it’s just that often my opinions are based on my own ignorance, rather than anything substantive, like facts) and I felt so out of place. It’s a big switch moving from a city of 50,000 to one with 5,000,000. I thought all the time about the day coming when we could move “home” to one of the towns we had come from, when I could be back with all of my friends, where the streets flowed with milk and honey and people say ya’ll a lot more than they do here. Our fifth Sunday here we visited Intown Community Church, where we we’re now members and, gradually, my heart began to change a little. Rob and I had agreed that we would visit each church we tried at least three times before we decided, just to give it a fair chance. Plus, every church we’ve ever been a part of immediately starts a building program the first Sunday we walk in the door and we wanted to give each church a chance to talk about something other than building plans. We had attended a huge church in Northwest Arkansas that was biblical and emphasized the important things and liked it, but it was so large that we never got fully connected (it was funny; we led a community group there for a while and I don’t think that we ever technically took the class that was required to join the church). And, while a great church, the teaching wasn’t terribly challenging if you’d been a Christian for any length of time; it was much more oriented to “seekers.” Anyway, our first Sunday at Intown, Scot Sherman preached about the passage in Jeremiah 29 that we evangelicals are all too quick to apply to ourselves- you know, the “I know the plans I have for you” passage. He started at the beginning of the chapter and put it in context: Israel was in the middle of their Babylonian captivity and God was sending a message to them not to trust the false prophets who were promising this exile would be coming to an end soon, but to instead seek the well-being and good of the city to which He had sent them. He actually instructed them to plant gardens and eat of their produce and to have children in exile and raise them, all the while working toward blessing Babylon, because God had promised to prosper them as He prospered the city, which leads into that misapplied verse I mentioned earlier. And I was absolutely dumbstruck; it could not have been more clear that God had brought- you could go as far as to say dragged, because I really didn’t want to visit this particular church- us there on that Sunday because He had a few things He wished to say to us. Me in particular. As we were driving away, Rob, trying to be casual, asked “so what did you think?” And I was so surprised to hear myself saying, “Let’s forget three weeks; I want to go to this church forever.” So did he. Like I was saying, my attitude was starting to change. I had decided I was going to make the most of our exile here. We joined a couples’ community group at church. Rob had a class that first semester on Wednesday night when it met, so I went alone from September to December- )you guys must have totally thought that I was making Rob up to be able to join a couples group, didn’t you?) In a very literal way, we did everything God commanded the Israelites in Babylon to do. We planted a garden in the backyard and fed the girls cherry tomatoes from it the other day before we left. We had children here. And I began to realize as moving day got closer that I was not in exile anymore. This had become home, where Robert and my daughters and my “new” friends are. And I’m so sad to be leaving.

I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that this move has been orchestrated by the Lord. Rob got a job he applied for, not expecting to get an interview because he’s not done with his dissertation, in a specialty area that is one of the most difficult to find a job (history, not Islam), half an hour from his hometown and 75 minutes from mine and got it. I know that it will be wonderful for E and L to grow up having close relationships with their grandparents, aunts, uncles, “uncles-in-law-for all intents and purposes uncles*” and cousins and the “friend cousins,” who are my Cul-de-Sac friends’ children. I know there are Ted’s Escondido Cafes and Abuelos near where we’re going. I know the Golden Driller, the most beautiful example of sculpture in the Western world is only an hour away. And I know that I will be happy here, in our new house, like I have been everywhere that God has moved me. But it feels for all the world like I’m being sent back into exile and I’m dreading the whole process of starting over. When you move away from where you used to live, you loose you’re niche and it’s always a struggle to find where it is you belong again. It hardly seems possible that we could find a church as incredible as the one we’re leaving or friends as supportive and loving and, frankly, just really cool. I’m trying to remember that time when moving to Atlanta felt like moving to Outer Mongolia and attempting to figure out how it is I was able to start over, in hopes I can do it again. Those of you in Thailand, I’m so sorry to be complaining And am touched by your e-mails and prayers), and I’m praying for your homesickness whenever I’m feeling mine.
On a lighter note, one of the things I’m going to miss is our really cute Atlanta neighborhood. Robert and I like older homes, so the one we were in is a 1950ish ranch in a neighborhood full of 1950ish ranches, all of which with essentially the same floor plan, but most of which have been completely renovated. We were about a mile and a half from the University Robert attends, which has a major medical school; so are neighbors are a blend of medical residents and law students and their young families and those people who bought their homes in the fifties for $15,000. Here are some pictures from our neighborhood:

This is of our neighbor's house and the one below was our house (you can see L. waiting for me behind the glass door).

There is this one house though, that we will especially miss. It’s the first house off of the major street as you turn into the neighborhood and we know the people around this man are so grateful for what he must be doing to their property values:

It all started with the mannequin, which used to be propped against the mailbox. Apparently, he felt that complaining about this constituted an egregious attempt to inhibit to his freedom of expression, hence the impassioned cry with purple polka dots for his First Amendment rights. We won’t find this sort of thing in Arkansas and, well, that will be a real loss I’ll be grieving, too.