I must say that today has been the hardest day we, as a family, have had since we got here. Sundays have been the hardest anyway, because it is on Sunday that we feel the biggest loss. We loved and were loved so deeply in our home church and in many ways, we considered them our family. We visited our fourth church today, and while all of the churches we have visited have had their positive aspects, we just always realize that we are not home. Up to this point, I have been the one hit the hardest with the homesickness. To be honest, I have been very surprised at how homesick I have been, but nonetheless, I have been, and terribly so. The kids have seemed pretty good, though, and as long as they are good, I can be good, too. It has all changed in the last 48 hours, though. Megan has had a really hard time getting to sleep the last two nights and wants her bed at home back, not to mention, she keeps pooping in her pants for some reason. Emilie is getting weirder by the day and Clara, well, she is still doing very well. She certainly misses home and talks about home, friends, and Grandmas a lot, but otherwise, she's been steady. I guess what really broke me today was what happened at church. It is very normal for me to get teary during the music time. Music affects me so deeply anyway, but church music is so different here. So I guess that is what makes it add to my homesickeness. But then, while I was mouthing the words to the song today because I was too choked up to sing, I looked over at Alyssa and she was crying, too. It took us both about three songs to stop. At lunch she said, "It was already a song we sing at our church, and then we got to a part where the trumpets come in...", and then she stopped because she was choked up again. (There are no orchestras here that we have found, thus, no trumpet entrance.) For the first time since we've been here, Jeff is homesick, too, so I guess we're just having a rough day.
So, in light of all the sad stuff, I wanted to share with you one of my BEST memories since we've here. As I shared before, my brother, Thomas, came up here with us to help us move. That was really great, because 1) I love his company and it was very good to spend that time with him. 2) He is made of solid muscle and was a huge help to us, and 3) it felt like we still had a little piece of home with us. We worked so hard for the first week and half we were here, we decided to do some fun things before he left and show him a few of the really neat things about this town. So, we went to the South Bend Chocolate Factory.
We went to Silver Beach.
And he and I went to Chicago. I have never been to Chicage, and he used to live in Chicago (and I think would really love to live there again). His plane was flying out of Chicago, so he and I went two days early so we could spend a day together and then he spent the next day by himself. We rode the train from Niles to Chicago, which was definitely more cost effective, not to mention I still couldn't find my way home from the grocery store at that point, much less find my way from Chicago. Once we got there, we rode the "L" to the area Thomas wanted me to see first. This was my first subway ride ever (MARTA does not count...especially after seeing this transportation system).
The first thing we saw was the Buckingham fountain, which absolutely took my breath away when we walked over the hill. I couldn't get over how BIG (and loud) it was!
We walked through Grant Park and saw the big bean. (Okay...that's not the real name, it's just what I call it.)
The amphitheater aliens built...at least that's what Thomas told me. :-) Brothers can always be trusted, right??
Then we went to the Navy Pier. That was so very cool....I can't wait to go there with Jeff and the girls.
We rode the World's 2nd Largest Ferris Wheel. (40 buckets...or whatever you call them)
This is the view of Chicago from the top of the ferris wheel. It takes 7.5 minutes to go around one time.
We saw the big anchor from the 3rd Chicago warship,
We did the Macarena...I mean, Macaroni....oh, wait..... Heeeeeeyyyyy Macaroni!!!!
And I ate my first authentic Chicago-style hotdog. Overall, we just had a great time being together. It was while we were at the pier that I got a text from Jeff that scared me to death. Clara woke up that morning very lethargic and throwing up. Remember that miracle I mentioned before? Well, this was it. Her glucose numbers and ketone numbers were the worst I have seen them, and I was in Chicago with no transportation. It would have taken a minimum of four hours to get home. I was convinced I was going to end up meeting Jeff at the hospital once I got home. I called her doctor, and in the few hours it took for her to get back with me, Clara quit throwing up and seemed to be feeling a little better. By the time I talked to Dr. Kendall, she had not thrown up in three hours and was able to keep a little soup down. She said to have Jeff check her levels again, and depending on that and whether or not she threw up again, we would have to take her to the hospital. In the meantime, we had many friends praying for her...that's all I knew to do at that point. When I hung up with Dr. Kendall and Jeff took her levels again, everything was normal. Praise the Lord! There is no other explanation but the healing power of God. She could have never come out of a crash like that on her own.
With Clara doing much better, Thomas and I continued our day together. The last thing we did was go to the Field Museum across from Soldier Field.
At that point, I was exhausted. I am not quite the trained athlete my brother is, and my legs and feet were failing me. It was "free" day at the museum, so I didn't feel bad sitting a while to catch my breath.
Really, this was one of the best days I have had in a long time. It was just relaxing and fun, even though we didn't really do anything "spectacular". We just enjoyed hanging out together. In many ways, I saw Thomas the happiest and most at ease I have ever seen him. I realized that day, that a lot of who Thomas is was created when he lived in Chicago. He seemed to be at peace with the world and with life, and very happy just to be there. It also made me realize how very proud I am of him for the sacrifices he has made to be where he is for his family.
Finally came the part I had dreaded all day...."Good-bye".
While I thought I had no more tears left in me after all the "good-byes" I said at home, they must have had plenty of time to replenish. I got on the train and could NOT quit crying, no matter how hard I tried. The only "up" side to that was that the train was very full that night and people were having to fill in all the seats to make room...except me. It's funny how people pretend not to notice you when you are blubbering like an idiot, but you know they are thinking, "I am NOT going to sit beside that blubbering, dripping-with-snot woman". So while it was not intentional, it was nice to have some space on the way home (except for the really LOUD woman across the isle from me...Facebook friends know who I am talking about).
So, that's it. The memory I have been going back to whenever I get sad. The memory that lifts my spirits right before I realize, again, how homesick I am. Don't get me wrong, I know without a shadow of a doubt that we are in God's will. I just realize now the sacrifices that are sometimes necessary to do the work He calls us to. He never promises us happiness, just peace.
Hopefully I have not depressed you. Just trying to be real. Sometimes when I am typing here, I feel like I am talking to my friends. I miss that. :-)
Much love to you all!! A fun post about all of our Fall fun is coming in the next few days!!