“This is crazy!" she screamed, "Is your adrenaline pumping!?!"
At the base of Trabuco Canyon, on the doorstep of the Holy Jim trail, is a sweet little off-road spot frequented by many four-wheelers in South Orange County. I’d been here a few times with the boys, but yesterday was our first time taking Vivian.
“Is this what boys like to do?”
I loved the way she asked the question. She wasn't being sarcastic or "judgey." She was just genuinely curious as she watched me and the boys laughing our heads-off while driving through every bump, rock, mud pit, and creek bed on our path. It was one WILD ride.
We’re approaching our seventh year down in Southern California and it has definitely been a wild ride. These intense years have been filled with amazing highs and regrettable lows. Some of them have made sense… even been predictable: raising a family, meeting new friends, plugging into our church family, working on film projects, graduating from seminary, serving as a pastor, and for Vivian this year returning to teaching. But there have been plenty of unpredictable twists: job changes, health issues, shady landlords, relational struggles, and financial worries. But through it all we’ve seen God move mountains in our lives and we’re abundantly grateful for that.
One challenge I didn’t account for was the frequency of our moves. Years ago, when I finished my service with the military, the one thing I wanted was to settle down. As an officer I had moved, on average, every year of my military service. I lived in four different states and four different countries. That made it hard to get to know people well. I longed to take my relationships deeper, but it just didn’t happen.
Now fast forward a decade and I'm on the move again. This time with my family in tow. Probably the place where it hurts the most, is seeing the effect on Ethan. He’s a friendly and resilient boy, but he’s had to attend four different schools in the last four years. It wasn’t a big deal the first few years. This past year, though, we could see the difficulty of stepping into a new school and making friends. This was a challenge, especially in a small school where the kids had already known each other for a good while. It took some time, but Ethan made big strides. It’s good to see him enjoying school again.
To some degree Vivian and I also experience the challenge of relationship building. But now that we’ve been through this a few times, we see the great benefit and privilege of getting to know so many people in so many places. God has been our guide, stretching our relational skills to their limits. Through it all we’ve learned a lot about ourselves and the communities of people we’ve been a part of. Because of this, our hearts have grown in love and grace.
So as we look forward to the coming year, we are optimistic about what lies ahead. Sure, we have no idea what twists and turns will come, but we remain confident in God and what he will do, no matter the circumstance.
Here’s a verse I often return to. It helps give me confidence to face the bumpy roads of life.