Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Harvest Moon, One Year Later (Sept 22)

Tonight, September 22, we will see a Harvest Moon --- the fat yellow moon nearest the autumn equinox. This means that the day and night are of roughly equal length. Harvest festivals were traditionally held at the time of the harvest moon. When the hard work of reaping and gathering had taken place, thanks were given for the bounty yielded by the earth and there was wine and song and feasting.

Two thoughts are on my mind during this "Harvest Moon Time"
First, my mind is very much with our real home and our dear friends in Atlanta. The flooding the past week has been unbelievable and unlike anything I have seen. The worst flooding there in over 100 years! It feels eerie to be far away and yet to still have our heart with our Atlanta family during this surreal devastation. Just take a look at "Spaghetti Junction!"

Word is that our house is doing just fine and our friends seem in relatively good spirits thanks to frequent Facebook updates - even with road closures and everything basically at a standstill. Atlanta, you are in our prayers in the coming days. Prayers for your "harvest" to bring sunshine and some much-needed drying out...SOON! So much for that drought from years past.

Second, during this harvest moon I am reflecting on our life in Belgium one year later. And grateful for all those who have made this incredible abroad opportunity possible. It was exactly one year today that Kirk flew over to Brussels; Connor and I followed a month later. Our move and time of transition was the most exhausting and overwhelming time in my life to date. I remember thinking, "What are we doing? What are we thinking?" while all our furniture was packed up and moved out and I quit the good job I loved. Yet somehow through it all I knew we just needed to persist one foot in front of the other. God's plan for us was clear to Him. There were countless unknowns and it took a lot of faith and trust in each other to make this leap across the Atlantic. If only someone could have told me then all the happiness, joy and new experiences that awaited us. I am sure it would have been much easier. But life never happens that way. The work to learn and grow is what makes the "harvest" all the sweeter when it happens.

I am not going to lie....our first months here were a struggle. We snapped our fingers and lived in a new country, speaking French, without friends or roots or even a knowledge of where the grocery store was. For goodness sake we didn't even have a stitch of furniture in our new home (the air mattress got old quickly!) Our family was a six hour time zone difference away. Also in one day I went from a FULL fulltime corporate job to being a stay at home mom. We took everything familiar and comfortable and did a complete 180.

But over the course of a year we have found wonderful friends. American, Canadian, British, Irish, and Belgian friends that will be forever knit into this experience. Getting out and making friends is the most challenging and the most rewarding part of being abroad. But friends here quickly become even more - they are your family too. We have joined a church, I became a member of the Brussels Childhood Trust, and I found a place to volunteer at the American Women's Club of Brussels. Life fell right into place. It is hard not to doubt during those initial times of loneliness that all of this would be possible and we could find normalcy in a foreign place. But we did. Now life has a lovely cadence and rhythm over here (most days).

Kirk jumped full force into work. He manages clients and staff that are all French or Dutch. He joined in to a new professional culture and his experiences and confidence are greater because of it.

And best of all our travel opportunities lined up for us in a way I could have never dreamed. Kirk was counting the other day and I think he came up with our tally of 24 countries to date! Wow. We have seen a lot. We have learned about different cultures, religions, and lifestyles - definitely we are more worldly. We have basically kept our suitcases permanently packed and kept open minds for where the flight deals would take us next! Travel over here is addictive and for every place you go you learn about five more that peak your interest. While the major trips requiring airline travel have been amazing, I also have loved the local weekday trips. Getting in the car to dart to the Netherlands or to France to see a village market or smell flowers...these are experiences I would have missed on a "grand tour."

My prayers are that our European exposure with Connor will help her develop into a more well-rounded girl and woman. Even if she doesn't remember, we will be able to teach and tell her of this immense travel blessing as she grows. News and events from around the world will certainly be more personal and hopefully she will realize how close the world really is and how much we have in common - despite our differences.

Thus, we celebrate our "harvest" on this harvest moon night. We know and count our many blessings. One year down. Six months to go. Who knows what will be around the corner next?!?!

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