October 17, 2011

The Agony & The Ecstasy

The past few months of furlough have been like leaping from one mountaintop to the next - exhilerating but exhausting.  We've been living like vagabonds; weeks have gone by and I haven't been able to put my suitcase away.  I love the traveling, I love seeing people, I love all the yummy things we've gotten to eat, the places we've gotten to see.  But I'm starting to wear a little thin.

David asked me today how homeschooling went (he had jury duty, of all things).  I replied, "Well, okay, I guess.  I didn't have to leave the room and cry."  Maybe that was an exaggeration of how schooling is going - but at times it can be supremely frustrating trying to school the kids in all the craziness of our lives right now. 

It's weird to be in this in-between place of having said goodbye to our home in Tarakan, and never having seen our new home in Papua, and having no permanent home in America. I feel like I don't really belong anywhere at the moment - except on the road, atlas in one hand, eighth-grade math book in the other, yelling over my shoulder, "We'll be there when we get there!"

That would be the Agony.  Here, my friends, is the Ecstasy:

Watching Hurricane Irene Slide By the Georgia Coast:

Ole Miss home game against BYU with my dad and younger bro and family.  It was a cultural experience for us all.  After the national anthem was sung, Zoe asked, "Is it over?  Can we leave?"

Swimming in Papaw's pool in Mississippi

Fishing with Papaw

At Cafe du Monde in New Orleans, Aunt Judy and I contemplate the beignets we've just ordered.

Sugar-coated goodness.

With my sweet cousin Leslie.  We have so many fun memories together of vacations spent at our grandparents' place.  She and her family live in a suburb of New Orleans that was heavily damaged by Hurricane Katrina.

On our way to Colorado for Anna's wedding, we stopped in Texas.  We went to church at the Village church in Dallas, and heard some great teaching from Matt Chandler - you can hear him for yourself here.  After several Sundays in a row of giving our MAF presentation, we welcomed the break from hearing ourselves talk.  :-)

We broke up our long drive through Texas with a stop at the kitschy restaurant Big Texan.  We watched, with a mixture of awe and revulsion, as the man below attempted to eat the Big 72-ouncer.  If he could eat the whole meal in an hour, he got it for free.  When we left, he had barely made it a dent in the steak and was sweating profusely. 

The wedding week in Colorado was immensely enjoyable - lots of kids playing, food, late night talks, and celebrating David's sister Anna and her now husband, Rich.  Here they are at the rehearsal:

Lovely Anna on Wedding Day

The nieces were the bridesmaids.  Here they are with Grandma and Grandpa.

The whole family, exceptin' Carol and her crew.

Mr. and Mrs. Lebedda

After the wedding we booked it back across the country at break-neck speed - well, for us.  One day we drove 700 miles, with only two quick stops - no small feat considering there were six bladders on board.  Why the hurry?  A trip to Florida to speak at two churches, and Disney World!  I know it's probably rather juvenile, but I love Disney World.  David would say it's more like an obsession, but really, it's not.  I just want to get the most bang for our Disney buck, which means getting up really early to beat the crowds.  And having the day all planned out so there's no aimless wandering, wondering what to ride next. 
The family gave me a hard time about being a commando with my Disney plan, but it works and we had hardly any wait on rides and only a few meltdowns.

This trip, we discovered that Zoe is a little adrenaline junkie and loved the roller coasters - she just didn't care so much for the noise.

Unfortunately she was too short for this one.  That's David and Luke rockin' it in the front, Grace and I behind them.

David will probably kill me for this one, but it cracks me up.  A silly moment in France, in Epcot.  Unfortunately I don't have a picture of our favorite Disney moment.  We were in Magic Kingdom and a thunderstorm was rumbling through.  We dashed over to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad it ride it one more time before they shut it down.  We were the last train they go out, because the heavens opened and it absolutely poured on us.  Lightning and thunder and rain on a roller coaster - it was crazy fun!  I could hear people down below cheering us on.

We wrapped up our time in Florida with these friends, who have been pen pals with our kids for a few years.

These have been the mountain top moments.  But there have been lots of every day, ordinary times that have been just as enjoyable.  The kids taming a kitten at their grandparents' farm.  Eating cereal any time of day.  Walks under moss-covered oak trees at Skidaway Island State Park.  Hearing my dad laugh as he reads the comics to the kids. Watching my nephew smile as we put a puzzle together.  I am thankful for these little moments that help me enjoy our furlough - despite the craziness of it.


Anonymous said...

I love reading your posts, Natalie. Overall, with very few hiccups, your furlough sounds amazing. Your feet will feel firmly planted again soon, I'm sure.

Natalie said...

Laura, I hope I get to see you this trip! Please let me know if/when you're heading to Savannah.

Sarah said...

Love, love, love your post and pictures!!! You know I'm all jealous as heck about you going to Disney-and thank you from the bottom of my heart for posting the French picture! Grace is looking so much older-she's beautiful, it makes me get all teary and stuff. Keep enjoying your time despite the rootlessness. Praying for you guys.

cldimmitt said...

Your blogsare such a joy to read. I will pray more specifically regarding homeschooling onyou the move:) not easy. Really enjoyed seeing you at church. We love you guys. The pics were great. Anna's wedding looked like a blast:)! God Bless You mightily in the preparation for the new work He is putting calling you to. Love, Cindy D.

Alida said...

Wow...it sure looks like you all are having a great time in the states!

Lisa McGown said...

I loved seeing your pictures. My husband went to Ole Miss. I went to Miss. State. I am with your son, I'd ask to leave the game too.:) We have been living in Florida and our children "don't get" southern culture. sigh. We also visited Bali this past spring.