Homeland.

4:24 PM


   I was able to fly home to Iowa for a quick trip a week and a half ago, and when I say quick I mean QUICK.  I left on Friday and was home Tuesday.  It was most certainly too short, but I was so glad to be able to go.
 
   The highlights were catching up with family and friends, a surprise visit from my cousin Nadine and her family, meeting the brother's girlfriend, seeing the other brother graduate, and just having a very refreshing, recharging time in general.  Charlotte took a little time to warm up to the family, which wasn't much different than I expected, but once she did, she genuinely loved each one of them.

 My deepest regrets (other than staying longer) were missing out on:
--a poppy seed muffin from The Kalona Bakery
--a shopping spree at the Amish stores of Sringtown and Central Discount
--a cup of coffee at the Kalona Coffee House. 
  And how cool is it that you can see my grandpa and grandma, Dad and mom and younger sister Sheryl all on the website's home page for the Coffee House??  It's beckoning me there.  I even took my punch card along.  O.k. talking about it is making me even sadder.  Moving on.

 
   At least Charlotte got her Kalona bar, which is as amazing as always.  Although we had this one at DJ's, and so what is that??  A Wellman bar?  Who allowed this atrocity to take place?!  I have to admit it was pretty good though.


   I never tire of watching my grandparents with my children.  Some of my friends no longer have grandparents living, or very active any longer, and I am so blessed with grandparents that love each other, love the Lord, and are still going strong.  Grandpa was his usual self, telling stories and making people laugh and dragging out nifty little invention/contraptions.  Grandma was classy and chatty and smiling and just as fabulous as always.  Time with them is never long enough.

   
   There's my brother Shane, busy graduating and giving his student address. And see that guy in the background who looks far too young to preach?  Well he delivered one of the most heart-felt, Spirit-led sermons I've ever heard.  Ever.


The Graber family.  We missed Shannon and her family, and of course the other half of mine.


Pedicures were in order for a late Mother's day/post-Graduation craziness therapy treat. 




   Janene hosted an evening of homemade calzones, fresh strawberries with dessert, strong coffee, and life-giving conversations.  These women (along with the out-of-state ones that we missed dearly!!) just hold a very, precious, special place in my heart.  They could never be replaced.

   I am always amazed at the part of me that thaws from the ice while being with old, dear friends.  It is as if when one makes a new place their home, like I did, they also agree to live under cover to some extent.  Never quite sure who to be or how to be who they once were, they live partially hidden from view, so as not to be "too much" or "not enough".  But when back with the ones who have known their truest selves and loved them for it nearly longer than anyone, they just....come out of hiding.  And in those moments I am just me....fully there and fully alive and back in the light and breathing and loving and living again.


   Charlotte's reunion with her beloved uncle Shelby was everything I hoped it would be.  These two are truly kindred spirits.


   Meeting Shawn's girlfriend Polly was also everything I'd hoped it would be, with her being just as graceful and sweet and charming as she appears.  I very much liked her and I very much hope things go well for them.  I also very much hope she isn't embarrassed that I put this on my blog.  I am just so happy for Shawn to have a little female influence (coughrefinementcough) in his life.  I mean, really,  the guy has so much going for him and is an amazing individual but he is a bachelor after all, and all bachelors need a little feminine grace in their lives, no?  I think yes.


   As I mentioned before, just Charlotte and I went this time, leaving Jocelyn and Randy behind.  The reunion was so sweet, and everything I'd hoped it would be.  Jocelyn came r-u-n-n-i-n-g to greet us like we were the Prodigal son at long last returning, and she proceeded to give kisses and say things like, "I missed you mama!" and "Charlotte Lydia, I love you, I LOVE you!"  It was very touching.  Then she commented on Charlotte's new outfit (which I knew she'd notice right away), "Oh Charlotte I love your new alphabet!!"  And of course wanted to wear Charlotte's jacket for her (which certainly didn't match her outfit but oh well) and help carry all of the bags back out to the car.  So it was so nice to know she actually noticed we were gone.

   Of course it was good/wonderful/sweet to see Randy again as well.  But Jocelyn just said funnier things.

   The entire time in Iowa I felt a sort of emotional frailty.  Like at any given moment I could have burst into tears.  I think a large part of it was due the unfortunate events of the previous week with the mill burning down, and part of it was due to the homesickness I had been battling and everything just culminated in a big pile of hot, messy emotions.  

   I feel so loved at home.  So understood.  So valued.  And really, can anyone understand fully unless they themselves have done it?  Made the transition to home in a different place?  So please save yourself the trouble of trying to understand if you haven't.  Because you just couldn't.  Much like I couldn't understand if I had never moved away.

   But I will say one thing.....and if you're a young bride or bride-to-be contemplating moving away from home, then it's best you just close your eyes and back slowly away from the screen right now.

IT GETS WORSE.

   I wish I could say it gets better, but more truthfully, it gets worse.  You start out on the peaks of the newlywed high and life is glorious and the sky is the limit, and there is absolutely nothing that could bring you down.  So to be honest, the whole homesickness thing doesn't factor in much.  You're too busy and happy and wrapped up in  your world to even notice much.

Then kids come along.

  And suddenly, the idea of grandmas and grandpas and family members surrounding on all sides seems a luxury too extravagant to even dream of.  And then your children grow a little older, and form memories and relationships of their own, making it even HARDER to say goodbyes at the end of a visit.  Because now, suddenly, the pain of goodbye is not only your own. Then your parents grow, and your grandparents grow, and everyone looks just a little bit older each time you see them and you think, "What about when they start to need help?  Need care?  I will be thousands and thousands of miles away and completely helpless to do anything."

There's the younger brother's basketball games.
And the younger sister's volleyball games.
The dinner theaters with the siblings in starring roles.
The family reunions, the BBQs, the 4th of July.
Christmas.

   The list goes on and on and on until suddenly, your brief visits home seems like pitiful drops in a bucket of a wealth of life and love and memories that you will ALWAYS be missing out on.  From now until the day that you die.

   So I suppose my advice to you, young bride, or bride-to-be, or whoever you are, is to not fall prey to the old adage that "Time heals" or "It will get better".

Because sometimes it doesn't.


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6 comments

  1. I understand this and you're right.
    I grew up in Ohio and then moved to Pennsylvania. It is a piece of cake at first- so fun and exciting.
    I truly felt like people didn't know or appreciate what I had to offer. (that sounds ridiculous, but anyway)So it felt like a loss--my people at home KNEW me.
    But my experience has been that after a few more years it gets easier again. Enough changes have happened in my hometown now that going home doesn't have the same feeling it used to.
    Good post!

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  2. When I see someone write a post about "going home" I know what they are feeling. Only someone who has moved knows the true meaning of that. Ah yes, so much truth to this leaving and cleaving deal! I grew up in Indiana and moved to OH. I echo a bit of what Andrea said, it was hard, still is hard sometimes but after 14 years this is home too.

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  3. I saw Polly in your pics & about couldn't believe it! Didn't know she was dating your brother, but she IS indeed a dear soul! Small world! :)

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  4. Oh, I could have written the last few paragraphs. I know EXACTLY what you mean. I was fine til I had kids! And then a month or so ago I had a cruel dream. I dreamed that my mom only lived 3 hours away. I could go visit her on day trips!! I was so sad when I woke up. :/ The horrible thing is that right when your kids are finally loving to be with them, it's time to leave. And, when you finally do get to be with your mom and siblings, you now have to share the precious time with your children!! Like, I love seeing them relate to grandma, but sometimes I want to talk to grandma, without them thinking they need her attention all the time! But hey, I'm not helping things here, am I?! I guess we just need to be thankful for family, near or far. Because at least we do get to go home, even if it is just a few times a year.

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  5. well said...at least you have Randy's side of the family. I have neither :( My parents used to live only 4 hours away...but alass they moved an additional 12 hours away...LAME SAUCE!!!

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  6. Neat post Shelley! Great pictures! Glad you were able to go to Shane's graduation. Yeah for Shane! You communicate so well and stir my heart..... for the real homeland. Heaven. Dear ones will never move away or age, family will all be together...always, all friendships will be so deep and so perfect, and better yet Jesus! Until then.....we have Jesus. Love you sis, Shannon K

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