Saturday, July 5, 2014

Independence Day Reflections

Fourth of July is one of my favorite American holidays. It always has been. I love the tradition of gathering with friends and family for a BBQ, enjoying the heat of summer, cooling off in a pool and watching the fireworks. 

In our hometown, many people head to a large sports complex with blankets and coolers in tow. Kids and adults alike sit in lawn chairs or lay out on the grass underneath the night sky (the sky really is dark and beautiful there because there isn't a ridiculous amount of city light overpowering the natural light of the stars) and watch as colors are splashed across the sky celebrating our nation's independence.

This year my Fourth of July celebrations included a trip to Whole Foods with my little shopping buddy.

A walk along the river on a rare cool morning which involved racing, spinning in circles and a really fun game of pushing and "crashing" the stroller.  

He'd purposely veer it off into the fence yelling "Craaaa". 

He'd then laugh and do it all over again. 

We splashed in puddles. 

We drank chocolate milk by the marina and watched the boats and the ducks. 

Eli picked me flowers. 

There were also milkshakes. 

Delicious chocolatey milkshakes that we were supposed to share but someone *ahem* Eli did not leave much left for his mama. 

Having moved to Germany when we got married, we haven't actually had the chance to really celebrate the Fourth of July for a few years now. It was fitting, however, that the day we moved back to America was July 4. 

There was something really special about flying home, moving back to our home country, on the day our nation gained its independence. As we drove the hour from the airport to our hometown, we saw two fireworks in the distance and we just knew: it was time to be home in the good ol' US of A.  

It was two years ago around this time that we sold everything we owned in Germany--furniture, light fixtures (not lamps, literal light fixtures that hang from the ceiling) our kitchen! Yeah, apartment living there is a little different. We packed up 11 suitcases that by the grace of God we somehow only had to pay fees for 3 of them despite the 2 bag a person rule and we flew back home on July the 4th, 2012.

I was 25 weeks pregnant then...

and I am 25 weeks pregnant now

and that's about the only thing about our life then that is similar to our life now.

Two years ago we had no job, no health insurance, no place to live, a dwindling savings account, no idea what our plan was, no contract possibilities or negotiations and we were moving back in with my parents, a very humbling thing for a mid-twenties, college educated, married couple with a baby on the way. 

My Dad had just undergone his second round of surgery in 6 months to remove tumors that grew big and grew fast, even through the 6 weeks of chemo and radiation he had just undergone. We were holding our breath, wondering if this was it. If the whole cancer thing was going to be our new reality, until his body couldn't fight it anymore and he'd be gone.    

It was a low point for sure, and yet we had hope. Hope that God would work. Hope that He would come through for us. Hope that He had not abandoned us but that He was only preparing us for the next season, despite not having any idea what the heck that next season was for us.

We wandered in the desert, quite literally being that we were in Arizona in the heat of the summer, for 6 weeks before God gave us an answer and brought us to the big city. 

He restored to us a job. A place to live. And, most important to us at the time, health insurance. 

Since coming here, he has restored Luis's confidence and his career. He has gifted us a son who is the sweetest, happiest little boy and another child on the way. 

He has blessed us with with an amazing community of friends who are so supportive and encouraging, some who we have met through the most random of ways which shows me that it was God specifically bringing that person to us at the time we needed it the most. 

He has been in every little detail and has blown us away with His grace, love, goodness and faithfulness. I couldn't help but feel overwhelmed yesterday by how far He has brought us in such a short amount of time.

It's easy to forget what God has done when life starts to "get good" again; when the trials are over and things get a little bit easier to handle. The day-to-day consumes us and suddenly, the desperation for God that was so real in the heart of the storm is but a distant memory in the past.

On the 4th of July, we remember our nation's independence, and celebrate the freedoms we have as Americans. But I pray that amidst all of the festivities year in and year out, I will never forget that it is the day the Lord brought us home. It was a key step in His plan to bring Luis to the MLS and us to New Jersey. And it was all part of His bigger plan to grow our faith, to shape our character and to allow us to experience His grace and love in ways we never had before.

So while I didn't watch fireworks, and I took a nap instead of barbecued, I savored every moment of the day with my son and I reflected on all that it symbolized for me: that I was blessed to be born into a nation where I was given rights and freedoms and that I have a God who loves me and provides all that I need and so much more.

Happy holiday weekend!  


Unknown said... Best Blogger Tips

Interestingly, yesterday I was able to watch only the last minute of Luis' game against Houston. I was so excited to turn on the TV and see the game was aired, for I have never seen a MLS game. I smiled and thanked God for blessing you all and caring for you. Happy 4th, God bless the USA! Thrilled to see Luis play, and so proud of you both very much!

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