I can’t tell you how many times his words from the park bench have played over and over again in my head this summer – because I have found them to be as true as they are classic:
“Mama always said LIFE was like a box of chocolates…you never know what you’re gonna get.”
You never know. Truth. When our home caught on fire in early May, I never imagined that nearly 6 months later I’d be composing a blog update from the desk in our hotel room. The 6th hotel room we’ve lived in this summer. I could never have dreamed all the adventures, tragedies, mishaps, stresses, sorrows, and yes, joys too – this season would hold for our family.
I had not planned to take such a long blogging sabbatical, but I learned something about my introverted self this summer…when life is really hard, I hold it in instead of type it out. There’s been so much to tell and yet much of what my family experienced this summer was deep and hard, and I couldn’t get the words passed my fingers onto a screen. My hubby kept asking “this has been so crazy are you blogging these stories?” and I’d shake my head and shrug my shoulders. The verse from Scripture about Mary holding all the things in her heart kept coming to mind – I feel like that’s where I’ve put the summer – somewhere deep where I’ll think and process when I can, as I can.
Since the fire we’ve had too many setbacks on our home rebuilding project to count, a car accident, several physical injuries with our children (the worst being Garrett’s broken leg), and two deaths in the family, a relative on each side. I’ll be honest, my heart feels heavy, burdened. And yet, at the same time, I feel hopeful and grateful.
I’m hopeful for a season of joy, of peace and comfort as we move home and prepare to welcome a new baby. I think sometimes God allows us to walk through the really difficult, weighty times so that the everyday blessings of life are more visible to us when we get to the other side. Hardship has a way of purifying our hearts and clearing our vision, doesn’t it? Funny how life works that way.
I also feel grateful – so grateful – to be a Christian. I honestly don’t know how I’d ever deal with a season of hardship without the comfort of a loving God and the immeasurable gift of grace – his constant outpouring of free and undeserved favor. Grace is everywhere for the asking. I’ve felt it and tasted it in a thousand ways these past six months. It has held my husband and I upright and together through a tough season, and we both feel it so powerfully.
Tonight is hopefully our family’s last night in a hotel room. The moving truck is scheduled to arrive tomorrow at our home and begin the pack-in for a move into a freshly reconstructed house.
After that, I start nesting like a crazy person. Haha! I never imagined that I’d be unpacking our home and packing my hospital bag in the same week, but that is the piece of chocolate we’ve been given. I’m grateful for friends and relatives who have offered to help me with these next few days and weeks – at 37 weeks pregnant, my work ethic is a bit, shall we say, constrained by circumstances (aka the beached whale syndrome). ;o)
As we transition home, I thought it might be fun to blog an update on each person in our family. My sweet boys have grown up SO much since I’ve shared their antics on the blog! I couldn’t be more proud of how well they’ve handled so much chaos and stress this summer. They’ve been heroic. And the Hubs – I’ll share more about him in a Team Weinert post too. I’m so grateful for him and his (at least outward) calm as I’ve whined and stressed about being due imminently and still using a key card to open my front “door” this month. He truly is my “Rock.”
Secondly, I’m hoping for your feedback on the idea of giving you a little “new house tour” here on my blog. I share small bits and pieces of our home here and on Instagram, but I’ve never given a full picture tour of our casa. Since we were able to redesign some things according to our tastes and preferences after the fire, our home really feels like “us” now, and I’d love to invite you in for a peek if it’s something that you’d like to see on my blog. I don’t edit pictures, especially in my last weeks of pregnancy, so I pinky swear it would be the “unfiltered” house tour. I’d especially love to show you the boys’ new firetruck bedroom. Yes even after “fire” not being the most positive theme of our year, my boys are still as ga-ga over firetrucks as they’ve always been, and I’m rather ga-ga over their new digs.
I hope this brief update post doesn’t come off sounding too heavy – I much rather share the happy and fun parts of life here with you, even though most of all I want to be real and honest in this space. But I wanted to wrap up this little bit of late night rambling by sharing that amidst the hardest summer of my whole life, there have been so many sweet moments, too.
We’ve bonded as a family – as “Team Weinert” as the boys now refer to our gang – in a much more intimate way. We’ve rallied each other’s spirits, born each others’ stresses and fears, and stuck together through late nights and early mornings and lots of moving all over town. We’ve done everything together, all 5 of us, and I think we all feel our family closeness in a new way. Each night I go in to check on my boys in their bed – all three have been sleeping together in a queen size hotel bed, and each late night I find the three of them cuddled together in the middle of the mattress. Last night I found Rett’s (age 2) head resting on Mark’s (age 5) chest, with Mark’s arm around him. Moments like that melt my heart like butter. I’m learning that even when life is most unpredictable and hard and stressful, the sweetness is still there, if we’re willing to reach out and taste it.
Just like a box of chocolates.