And, it is not that I don't want to move to Michigan...but, I really don't want to leave Tucson. I don't want to pick up from what I have grown to know, appreciate, and dare I say, love for the unknown.
...and my sadness is not about Michigan...it's about the goodbye here.
I just don't want to do it.
I came here as a stranger in a strange land - and I leave with such love in my heart for the people and the place that is Tucson.
The fact that I can say that is really quite a testament for what God has taught me in the desert. In some ways the desert has threatened to harden me - just like the sun bakes the ground into hard caliche. But, I have also learned to be receptive to the rain, to the word, and to realize that with just a little hope, a little care, a little consistency - life can flourish.
It has not been easy. The first year and a half I was so angry at being here - in this desert - so far from home...from what is familiar and lovely...and green and lush. When I returned back to the Midwest in June 2012, I cried for a solid 20 minutes while driving through the Minnesota/Wisconsin countryside because I realized just how far I live from all that I love and hold dear.
I identified strongly with the Israelites, who have just left Egypt bound for the 'Promised Land' - and suddenly find themselves in the desert. And, they were pissed. Where was God? Oh? He's in a pillar of fire and a cloud leading us? Then, why the hell are we in a desert? Why do we have to fight others for our land? I thought that leaving Egypt, life was just going to be all "milk and honey" - but no, first we have to fight off the blasted Egyptians [oh, yeah, God took care of them in the Red Sea] - but STILL. Now, we have to fight off others? Seriously? Can't we just go back? Wouldn't that be so much easier?
That was me. I didn't really expect moving or marriage or life to be so hard. ...and for a large chunk of our time here in Arizona, I felt alone - abandoned - forgotten - in this desert. It has not been an easy four years.
But, a turning point came last year...after we did Marriage Encounter and started taking ownership of our health...and I came to this point of acceptance. I stopped being angry at Tucson for what it wasn't.
It wasn't Iowa. It wasn't home.
But, if this phrase from the Psalms is true: "The Earth is the Lord's - and all that is in it" - well, then, it was part of God's country - albeit wilder and drier than the "God's country" I'd been used to. And, if Acts 17 is true that God has set the times and places for us to live - then I was called to be here in this time, in this country.
...and as my heart softened, as my hands opened, my vision was transformed to recognize the beauty in the desert. I saw the streams in the desert and the times of refreshment that can come to the driest of places. I have seen the transformative power that just a little water can bring to a landscape. The colors that can appear overnight.
...and this place that was foreign, so different, so far from home - became my home. And these people who were so different from my people - have become my people.
Leaving is going to be much harder than I thought. I leave behind friends who have become my second family - and it's just as hard as leaving behind our families at the airport has been the last 4 years. We leave behind our first home - and I will miss this beloved little place.
We leave the place where Dan and I became a family. This place has shaped us into who we are and has a significant role in who we are as one. My heart is full and it's spilling out in tears of gratitude, humility, sadness, and love.
"When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he exclaimed, 'Truly, the LORD is in this spot, although I did not know it!'" (Genesis 28)