Sunday, August 25, 2013

State of the Hood - Year in Review (Vol. 2)


A little over one year ago, we were obsessively driving from our old digs to our new town to check the progress on our home. I cringe now to think of the money we spent on gas, but what can we say? It was exciting.

It all seemed so abstract back then. We'd traipse around on particle-board flooring and I would try to imagine the future. I'll be sleeping in this room...cooking in this kitchen... It was surreal, close enough to reach out and touch but so far away that it felt like a story I was reading, not a life I would soon be living.


Finally, we moved. The house was new but we stayed mostly the same. It was comforting. It was also a bit of a let-down.

Slowly, though, we were moved. Without much warning, feeling finally home but still shifting in our seats, our hearts steadied to the tune of mariachi music and freight trains.

We began to learn the routes, to memorize them, daydream them. We found ourselves saying that one day we'd see the faces behind the walls.

Maybe that's when we knew we'd found home.

I've talked about the bad news. That was easier than this. It's tricky to pin down the upshots. There's too much room for error. I don't trust my memory enough to do it all justice.

So lets just say these are neighborhood highlights. Inconclusive. Abridged by way of a flighty girl who pines for good but no doubt misses plenty.

* It turns out, there's plenty of pretty in the city. I used to worry about this and it feels pretty silly now. Flowers still bloom here and the light still catches the air in a way that makes me want to kiss it. There is beauty to be found everywhere, every single day, and it waits for me. So the girl who used to swoon at hay bales and picket fences now hits the brakes for a graffiti-covered retaining wall. She cocks her head and feels the underlying loveliness of a crumbling bungalow. And yeah, she still stops for flowers and all-things-farmy, because some things just weren't meant to be re-wired.

* We took part in neighborhood clean-up day, neighborhood Help-A-House, and the legendary funky-junk neighborhood pride parade. All of these moments and hundreds of tinier ones made us laugh at the way God flings us about without warning, changing parts of us at His whims, making us, at turns, unrecognizable to ourselves (in the very best ways). We always missed this sort of thing when we lived on our farm. We just didn't know it.

* We got to know our smallish and mid-sized neighbors. Teenagers started knocking on our doors mostly around the dinner-hour. We shared fried chicken, baked Christmas cookies and strawberry cakes. Most recently, Harmonica (as Ruby still sometimes calls her on accident) burst into our front door on a Saturday morning without knocking bellowing a much-too-loud, Boo! (We're working on boundaries. It often feels like an uphill ride.) Belinda rushed in announcing straight A's on her report card (this is highly suspicious and we didn't ask for proof - we just doled out high fives and applauded her enthusiasm.) Smaller people circled around our kids and on days like today, they roller-skate, mix potions, construct elaborate schemes and generally play together outside like a pack of little bosses, dripping in sweat, running in for quick drinks of water, too busy for lunch. Let's just say I love it.


 * We got to know our us-sized neighbors. Some of them. Not enough of them. But we've made friends for life,  we've forged connections that feel like miracles. We all take them at face value, knowing it was just what we needed. When April screams at me from half a block away, "Hey! I quit smoking cigarettes!" I feel honored to be the one on the receiving end. When Nancy with the owl-hat walks by every day at noon, I'm thankful. I feel better knowing she's here. (I'm slow in bravery when it comes to traversing a substantial language barrier that exists between myself and many of my neighbors. I'm dying to resurrect my latent EspaƱol.) 

* Chamberlain Elementary is the bomb, okay? We cannot be swayed in this opinion. Every morning I drop my biggers off at the door, where the Principal stands, greeting each child by name. Every afternoon, same routine. Because our school is overwhelmingly populated by families living in poverty, lunch is free for everyone, along with school supplies and even breakfast, if you want it. I'm not gonna lie, it's a perk. They serve "Fresh Snack" three times per week. When you walk into the office you're greeted by friendly faces and a gigantic poster, "A Child is Not a Test Score". These teachers fight for these kids, many of whom enter school without being fluent in English. They are tough and kind. Before year's end I helped with countless PTO Popcorn Days and we had 2 Chamberlain Champs under our roof. Ruby pronounces "Saul" like "Sow-Ool" and they classify the Jose's by last initial. This school is beautifully diverse and my kids don't even notice. That, my friends, is perfection to me. It's what I always hoped for.

* Our block is making a come-back. I mean, they planted some trees! That was a great day. Said trees are barely taller than us, but it doesn't stop us from parking our plastic lawn chairs curb-side in their wee patches of shade to read our books or watch the kids play.


*The two neighboring abandoned homes I had grown to love? Gone. Replaced by a vast stretch of grass and two apple trees with the branches almost touching the ground. (Totally asking if we can pick. Produce is a terrible thing to waste!)

* We found a church we love, one that shares our heart and soul, if not our age-bracket. (Age is so overrated.) We found people who embrace us like family. They bake us casseroles when I jet off to Ethiopia and offer to watch the Silanator. They are our people.

* Cory started working full-time at the County jail as the Chaplain. To say we never saw this one coming is the understatement of the millennium. It is a perfect fit. It turns out money is also overrated when sized up against having all we need. This was a no-brainer and we're thankful every day for the opportunity. (Check this article out. And this one for a little back-story.)

I'm sure I'm missing lots of Goodness, but you see what I mean, right? It has been a great year.

{At the airport, kids + Mommy.}

 {At the airport. Kids + The Beard.}

Our family has grown closer as we've learned to share more. This love, it is always multiplied, never divided. There's enough for us and there is no them.

Oh, one more good thing that's happened this year?

This guy is home.

He's been here for over a week.
I'll have plenty more to say about it, but for now? Just know that it's so good.

50 comments:

  1. Fabulous news that Robert is home!

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  2. He's HOME???? Whoo-hooooooooooo! Say more!

    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  3. What happened to "CMB"?? ;) I'm believing that the beard is all a part of the new job - you're right - so perfect! Miss you all! Squeeze the big boy for me, please?

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  4. I have been waiting to hear that he made it home. You hinted a little bit ago and I'm so glad he made it. Yay for a wonderful year!

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  5. *barely* got teary-eyed at the last picture. :)
    love your fridge sign about Calvin and math!
    thanks for the review...it was worth the wait.

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    1. I noticed and loved the fridge sign, too!

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  6. Yay! He's home!!
    (Also - yay for your kids' school. Always does this former teacher's heart good to hear what is going right.)

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  7. So Happy to see that Robert is home. My heart is smiling :)

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  8. You all have had a wonderful year, Shannan, the icing on the cake being the homecoming! Ours came home this Spring, too. Working hard, going to meetings, turning it around. Praying for your Big One, along with ours.

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  9. Glad your biggest is home at last.
    ~FringeGirl

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  10. LOTS of good!!!!

    I can come be your translator! Getting to speak spanish is one of the best things EVER.....

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  11. oh man. a to the men. glad your boy is home.
    xo

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  12. Robert! Love all your upsides. It was a great recap.

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  13. What a happy happy post!!! The best part...ROBERT!!!! I am so happy that he's back and proud of him for hanging tough and getting through the year!!!! Can't wait to see how God moves him!!! Praising God for all of His Goodness!!!!

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  14. A great post and the ending was oh so wonderful. I am so glad and thankful that Robert is HOME.

    FlowerLady

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  15. You've come a long way, baby. I used to drool over all the farmy goodness in your life, but this life in the "hood" has more kinds of beauty than I could have imagined. So happy you have a full house--and HEART!

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  16. Joy. Joy. Joy. Thanks for sharing...

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  17. Oh Farmgirl. Your whole family back under one roof.
    Nothing better.

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  18. Oh my goodness. I was hoping you'd give a big kid update. Better than an update is a picture. And the words "he's home." Brought years to my eyes.

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  19. Welcome home to our biggest grandson!! We can't wait to hug on you. I also love that your neighbors are becoming family too. That is what Jesus meant for us to be to each other. He would be right at home in your neighborhood.

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  20. This post makes me so happy! See the pictures of you and your husband with your kids gave me an overwhelming reminder of how God loves us! Then to see Robert home with the rest of the kids!!!!! My heart just jumped right out!!!

    Thank you so much for sharing and inspiring! Can't wait to see what next year brings!

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  21. This is so good...it made my morning! I'm so happy that your biggest is home!

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  22. Hugs to you and yours on your great year. God is so good.

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  23. Loved every bit...and I'm so glad your boy is home!

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  24. That picture of you guys at the airport is so cute! And The Beard cracks me up. But the picture of all your kids - in your words: swoony.

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  25. Good Lord I love a good odyssey. Thank you for letting us ride along and a big thank you Jesus for Robert's return.

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  26. I was really hoping Robert would be included in the good news post. When that last picture scrolled into view, I gasped a happy gasp and cried a happy cry for you. I'm so glad he's home.

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  27. awe! Thank YOU Jesus!!! All of the joys and blessings, but especially Robert :)

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  28. Aw, way to end the wrap-up. It's so easy to forget the good when sometimes there is a lot of hard. Everyone (as in my husband) should be forced to do a year wrap-up!!

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  29. I love the places and ways you find beauty and the way you share your heart so freely with others. Thankful Jesus meets us where we are and is really all we need. Bless you and yours as you venture on!

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  30. So I have read your blog a lot time. I know about Roberts kids and girlfriend and his time behind bars. I don't however know about him. How did you come to find him in this big bad world? How did he become your son? How long have you known him??

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    1. Everything (I think?) written about Robert is under the Category "Big Kids" on my side-bar. :)

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  31. Have loved these last two posts!

    And that last picture seriously brought tears to my eyes ... so good, indeed!

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  32. i literally just burst into tears seeing your robert on your sofa.
    seriously.
    too much.
    in the best possible way, obvs.

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  33. Your Robert is home?! At practically the same time as our Nicole?! Oh my goodness - - it's been a bit chaotic (good chaos) and I haven't been able to keep up with my blog reading. I'm SO HAPPY for all of you! Blessings!!!!! I wish we were closer to share a tea! I truly know your joy!

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  34. LOVE!

    So happy to see the pic of Robert home.

    You failed to mention "and we have a cat"

    I'm also IN LOVE with my new city life. I hadn't lived in the city since around 28 years old. I love the diversity. I love seeing ALL people as I'm walking or driving or picking up groceries. I love the sweet brown babies across the street, screaming with glee as they run and play in their diapers and swimsuits. It is bliss.

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  35. He's hooooooommmmeeeeeeeee!
    i'm crying, dancing, rejoicing, reveling all at the same time!
    sounds like a great year, indeed! God is so GOOD!
    xo

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  36. Totally trying not to sound like a stalker/freak....

    I am absolutely sobbing with happiness that your Robert is home! Can't wait to hear about it, but just know that I have a 'Robert' too & I've followed & learned from your journey with your Robert for a year.

    From this strange middle-aged woman in Canada: I'm so happy for you.

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  37. You bring me joy and that last pic? Good stuff momma...the best :)

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  38. You bring me joy and that last pic? Good stuff momma...the best :)

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  39. That last photo slays me. Hip hip!

    I am giddy over all the goodness and beauty that came your way this year!

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  40. The last photo! LOVE LOVE LOVE!
    Where do you live that is so populated with Latino's? I truly think your school sounds like a little bit of heaven. I'm pretty sure God is working on me through you. THANKS!

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  41. Happy happy happy!!! And please tell Robert that there are internet strangers pulling for him!

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  42. Oh, goodness - somehow I had missed this post. Luckily, I went back to see if Part 2 was ever posted. It's so nice to hear of the joys...and giggle at The Beard.

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