Several months ago, I told myself that I should write a blog about our trip home. After all, six weeks is a long time to be away; surely there were things that happened that I should share. But before I ever got a chance to do anything, we learned that we needed to return to the states again. Change of plans!
So many of you know most of the story, I’m wondering why God won’t let me let this go. But he won’t, so here we are.
Too much and not enough. Too much and not enough. Too much and not enough. These words have been playing over and over (and over) in my head since last October. It’s almost like a theme, or a tag line, for our trip home. Truth-be-told, it makes me a little nervous. The last time something like this happened, I kept hearing, “You have more than you need.” That message played in my head for nearly 18 months. Little did I know, but at the time, God was preparing me for what He had in store: living in Haiti.
You can see why I might be nervous, right?
For those who don’t know, Tim and I flew back to the States on October 1st for six weeks. We knew it would be a busy time, but we also counted on having a little R&R (ha!). We spent some time in Alabama with my mom, who is battling stage IV melanoma, and her husband, who had had a stroke the week before. We met with people about Water Project for Haiti work, there was an engagement announcement from our son, a visit from our nephew and his wife, we accompanied Mom on doctor visits and scans, there was an accident that resulted in a trip to the emergency room, and some really, really, really difficult decisions that had to be made. When Tim and I pulled out of the driveway in AL to head to PA, no one felt good about us leaving, but there were other commitments awaiting us. Too much going on and not enough time.
We ended up driving through the night and arrived at our daughter’s house at 4:00 a.m. After all, I had appointments beginning at 10:00 a.m.; commitments that had been made six months in advance. Over the next few days, there were dentist, doctor and hair appointments, we spoke at a churches, met with Rotary, visited former colleagues, saw some friends we didn’t get to see our last trip home and had a surprise 50th birthday party for Tim, complete with a visit from his best friend from college. My dad and his squeeze drove from Maine to visit with us since there was no time for a trip north. Ten days after arriving in PA, we pulled out of our driveway ready to head for our next destinations. I was a mess. I wasn’t ready to go. All that time, yet I didn’t feel like I’d had a chance to really visit with those I love. I felt cheated and robbed. Too many commitments and not enough quality time.
Our fourth week home was a travel whirlwind. We spent hours in the car driving all over the eastern seaboard, setting Hilton Head Island as a destination. We made several stops in NC, getting to visit with friends and family we hadn’t seen for some time – 18 hours with the Jenkens family in Cary; 21 hours with Darrell and Kate in Edenton; and 20 hours in Ocean Isle with Uncle Tom and Marie. We arrived in Hilton Head on a Friday night. By Sunday, I was back on the road, this time without Tim, and heading west, to my mom’s house in Birmingham. A week later, I reversed the route to go fetch him. Too much travel time and not enough visit time.
Our last week home flew by. We managed to squeeze in a trip to Pensacola, FL where we met up with a brother and sister in Christ who drove in from Panama City to meet us. Following our two hours at Chick-fil-A, we set out for a reunion with some of Tim’s family. You know it’s been too long since you’ve seen someone when you can’t remember the last time you saw them. We spent the night with Uncle Mike and Aunt Hazel (best night’s sleep the entire time we were home!) and enjoyed some time at the Naval Air Station the next day, revisiting some of the places Tim hung out at as a child. Too many places to see and not enough time to see them.
When we finally returned to Alabama, there were a few more doctor visits, rental cars to turn in, decisions to be made, and things to be bought and packed. Those who depend on others to carry much-needed supplies understand best… too much stuff and not enough luggage!
And then, it was time to go. Six weeks had passed and we barely had time to catch our breath. I can’t speak for Tim, but I certainly didn’t feel rested, relaxed or rejuvenated. On the contrary, I felt exhausted. And concerned. Because this place has a tendency to wear you down, no matter how strong you are and how big your faith is.
A few days after returning to Haiti, God gave us a do-over. I need to write about that separate from this post; hopefully, I can get it done before a certain young couple celebrates a first anniversary.
Still, I keep hearing his words… too much and not enough… and I wonder what it is others might be dealing with:
- Too much debt and not enough money?
- Too much busyness and not enough down time?
- Too much selfishness and not enough sharing?
- Too much materialism and not enough philanthropy?
- Too much giving and not enough discipline?
- Too much fear and not enough faith?
- Too much anger and not enough love? Patience? Kindness?
Whatever it is that stirs you, I believe that God is in the business of do-overs. He knows exactly what we need.