Sunday, May 31, 2009

The summer road

Standing in the shower just now, with a window open to catch the evening breeze, I was thinking how much I love--that's LOVE--summer.  (And yes, I'm a night-time shower-taker.  There's nothing worse than going to sleep sweaty, I think.)  Anyway, I started thinking of summer plans, then summer thwarted plans, and the next thing you know, I've realized that it was just about a year ago when our African foster-child, V, showed up on our doorstep.  Talk about thwarted summer plans.  From then on, very little went the way I'd planned for the summer.

You see, I come from a long line of planners.  It's part of the genetic code in my family.  And I definitely have that marker--I think it's on my 19th chromosome--even though it's in a weakened form in me.  This was very clear to me back when my mother was trying to impose plans on me, when she'd ask--like in August--what we were doing for Christmas.  Heck if I knew in August.  That was back in the day when I had three little rugrats nipping at my heels all day long and half the night, and I barely knew what the next day held. And both of my sisters have it in a much stronger form than I do.  I'm traveling down to Southern California this week for my nephew's high school graduation, and my sister, the Dump, sent me a rundown of the week.  She's a consummate list-maker, that one is. Writes them all over the margins of papers, on little scraps of envelopes, on torn out pieces of some note or other.  And she and her boys (especially the younger one) are always pouring over things they want to do, making plans for some trip or other.  And youngest sister, RE, shoot, you should see how intentional she is with events and holidays.  She marks them all, plans special treats for her kids, her friends, me...Next to her, I'm just plain lame.  El Lame-o. 

But I do half make plans in my head.  I have an idea of what I hope the summer will look like, and I have to say, last summer was something I couldn't have planned, wouldn't have dreamed, definitely didn't hope for.  It was a left-turn into a world I never felt comfortable in, and still don't know if any of it--our care, our presence, our prayers--made a whit of a difference in that teenager's life.  She's back in Africa now, 'visiting' her father whom she hadn't seen in fully half her life.  Her mom sent her off, thinking that the shock of it might spur her to gratefulness for what her life is here.  When V left Zaire in 1999, or so, her father's family was still quite rich, had servants a plenty, lived in luxury.  Now her dad barely has a home, nor a job, and just the work of finding food is a daily chore.  I imagine it's about as difficult a culture shock for V as one can imagine.

But that's her summer.  Mine, I hope, will be a whole lot less stressful than last year's.  Time just enjoying the glory that is the northwest in summer.  Weddings to attend, old friends to see, family to treasure.  These are the small things I hope for. 

But here's the thing: I also want to be available for the unexpected.  Awake to what odd turns this summer road might have for me--for the Beve and me.  Aware that "My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," says the Lord. (Isaiah 55:8).  And it's His ways I want to plan for, to be flexible for. I wouldn't in a million years have guessed ahead of time what last summer would hold.  And yet, though it was very challenging and I wouldn't want to go through it again, I'm not sorry for it now. Believing in His sovereignty means that I trust in His purposes--even when I might never see the result.  So I ask but one thing, that like Isaiah, as we--you or I-- walk this summer gravel road (it's my Palouse-country upbringing that makes me imagine a summer road as a gravel one--all those bike rides out among the hills!), that "whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, 'This is the way, walk in it.'" (30:21)

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