We are finally getting settled in. The kids have been enjoying their weekly Classical Conversations, we've found a few homeschool groups to plug into and we've made some real connections and friendships. We found out that one of our homeschool family buddies lives only a block away from us, so we've been able to visit with them quite often!
Well...I'm glad we've gotten through October. It was a month of decisions and I got off the rail a time or two. Just a few weeks ago we were still struggling with the newbie syndrome, not knowing anybody in our new city and feeling completely unplugged. The kids were complaining about being bored and I was seriously considering taking them to school. That is until I visited a few schools during the season of "La Dia De Los Muertos" and realized the heavy influence Halloween would play on a given school day in October, given the Mexican cultural influence in our town. Maybe we're a little peculiar, but in our family we don't like to observe the occasion at all, and in fact, my kids find it offensive. Even a simple trip to Walmart when all the Halloween decorations are out in the open bothers my 9 year old-- she'll run to the other side of the cart just to avoid having to pass the decoration. Sounds extreme, but you never realize how spiritually sensitive younger (and even some older) children are until you expose them when they haven't been exposed. I prayed for peace about continuing to homeschool, and what can I say. I have all the peace and the strength I need to keep going in that direction for now...and the kids are back to a new norm.
I looked at my daughter's Christmas list the other day and realized how extravagantly LONG it was (and how expensive most of the items were). And my ears have been more attuned to the sound of complaining from the kids about what they don't have...and it makes my skin crawl. It's to the point that I will not let it slide again. So we're doing something about it.
After a talk about thankfulness I realized that my kids probably have never truly been exposed to those in need (besides our distant relationship with a Compassion International child Ny supports).
It also came as a shock to my own system to walk out of the bagel store a few days ago with bagels for me and my kids...and walk right past a homeless guy in downtown Monterey who was digging through the garbage can to find a MYO yogurt someone had just finished off and tossed in. He took it out and finished off the rest. I kept walking to my car. I looked back. I kept walking. Then I looked in my own hands, realizing fully that I had just purchased three toasted bagels topped with yummy cream cheese. Yeah, I was hungry and my stomach growled. I had to get my daughter to a doc appointment and needed a bite before we settled in a for a long wait and the bagel was my plan . It was MINE. And God said, "No. You give to those in need and I will provide for yours." So we did. We backtracked our steps, gave him the bagel...and I will never forget the look in his eyes. He said "thank you". Simple transaction, but powerful, because as I walked back to my car I kept thinking how good it felt to do the right thing. And I also couldn't help but to wonder how in the world any society could solve a problem as complicated as homelessness.
From that moment forward, I have been thinking of ways our family can help our cities on the Peninsula...just contributing however we can.
We have a homeless shelter/soup kitchen nearby and I'm hoping to carve out a plan for our family to get plugged in with that soon.
Meanwhile, we have Thanksgiving coming up soon-- and I can't help but to wonder what this year will be like- not being with my parents and brother back home in Alabama - celebrating the holidays for the first time ever without them. It will be different for sure, but trusting God that it won't be a lonely one. He's sent us some great friends in the past 6 months who have really reached out to us in so many ways.
So I'm grateful for so much this season- new friends and old friends, family nearby and family far away, and the fact that God has blessed us with so much to be thankful for- like a new home and neighborhood, new educational opportunities for the kids (Classical Conversations), and mainly just the stability of family life together and the love we share with one another.
We've had some tough times these past 8 months or so, just trying to figure out our new identity in two new cities (and in a different region of the U.S. at that!)...but it's finally beginning to feel a bit like home. Not the old home, but a new one. The dust is settling, the hardest part of the transition is over, and we can finally breathe. The kids are starting to feel more at home, and things are getting better. And I am thankful.