(We went to this charming little apple orchard in the Blue Ridge Mountains. It was so fragrant.)
But I learned a lot about myself on this trip.
I love it when that happens.
I ventured across the country to visit my sister in North Carolina for a week. When I think about what heaven would look like, this is what I envision. I grew up in the east, but spent most of my married life in the deserts of AZ, high deserts of Nevada, and now in the shadow of the rocky mountains. There is beauty in each of these places. The trees, foliage and rolling hills in the east, sunsets and saguaros in AZ, the Sierras in NV, and fertile valleys and farmland in ID. Two things, however, take my breath away. Standing on mountain tops (maybe I should say standing near mountain tops, since I haven't been to the tippy-top of too many) and the lush Autumns in the east.
Jen lives in a gorgeous place. I wish it wasn't human nature to take things for granted. Wouldn't it be awesome to live in wonder all the time? Well, maybe a little exhausting and annoying to be with someone always in wonder, but still, to feel the wonder inside? I know I sound all flowery. But I'd like to feel that way. Being there for only a week I managed to maintain the wonder in me.
I almost never get to spend time with another family, their true selves, without having my own family to worry about. Needless to say I was a keen observer. My love for my sis grew ten-fold on this trip. No one is perfect. No family is perfect. In fact, I wondered what someone would say staying at my house for a week. Yikes. But my sister's desires are nearly perfect. Her heart is nearly perfect. I want to be more like her. I learned that there's not one perfect way to parent, to go about a day, to feed your kids, to read scriptures and have family prayer. She was always adjusting, adapting to make things work. I loved it. I realized I was trying to be too regimental in my mornings. I've tried to be more like her and I'm less stressed in the mornings and somehow all the "needfuls" get done.
The great part about learning from my sister was that she never preached to me or tried to tell me this or that was the best way, like she was the authority in good parenting or mothering. She just went about doing good. Ever-humble, that's what she was. That's what I loved.
One last thing I learned. Towards the end of my visit we were all sitting together. I was laying on the floor feeling lonely. It was weird, I was surrounded by people who loved me, yet I still felt unsettled. I was missing the part of my life where I knew one person was always mindful of me, someone that I mattered the most to, and vice-versa. I was missing Ben. I realized that we really are becoming ONE in our marriage. "One" in the sense that I don't feel complete without him. I felt relieved because I think I'd always prided myself on my independance, as much as I love Ben. I didn't need anyone else, really (this sounds awful, doesn't it?). I could get by on my own if I needed to. But I also wanted a totally strong marriage. Ben and I haven't been apart much since we've been married--talk about taking things for granted--so it took this trip to help me see that I really do need someone. And not just anyone. Ben.
So, my trip was wonderful. I left NC ready to tackle my own life again. To be a little better. And maybe with a little desire to move to the east coast . . . just a little.