It’s Lil Jan here and it’s time for my update on how things are going for me while my crazy husband is out walking every day for 6 months! My last blog left off with my anticipation of meeting Steve for the 1st time since he had been gone, about 6 weeks. Of course, I was very excited to pick him up and had butterflies in my stomach in anticipation…will he remember me? will I recognize him? will he smell REALLY bad? what will we talk about? will he like my yellow dress? So many things to consider! So I left Union SC early that morning and headed North to meet my mountain man. Beautiful weather, beautiful mountain scenery and then a much-needed, beautiful reunion! I’ll spare you all the mushy details and just say…he definitely remembered me; he looked the same only hairier and slimmer, he actually didn’t smell too bad because he had rinsed off, brushed his teeth and changed his shirt in the bathroom before I arrived; we found LOTS to talk about; and I’m pretty sure he liked my yellow dress! Other details can be read in his blog #29.
After 3 days of blissful reunion, the time came for me to return Steve (Fob) back to the trail. My mom and dad and sister and husband joined us for a brief hello and goodbye as they were making their way to visit my other sister in Bristol, VA. It was good for us all to lay eyes on him to convince us that he is actually doing pretty well at this hiking thing! I drove away with a few tears in my eyes, prayers on my lips, and love in my heart and headed to Birmingham, AL to stay for the next few weeks. I had lots of activities planned while I was there and I was very excited to spend some quality time with my dear friends, The Diamonds and The Genrys.
God has given me many blessings in my life and one of those blessings is having friends that no matter how far away you are from them or how long it’s been since you’ve seen them, when you get together again it’s just like you’ve never been apart! The Diamonds are those kind of friends! Our paths first crossed when our families moved to Florida the same summer back in 2008. Despite the fact that they had girls several years younger than our boys, they homeschooled their kids, and unlike us were very much an “artsy” family, we quickly developed a bond that I would consider as close as family! I love them to my core and I was excited to be able to spend the next month with them and share in one of the most wonderful events…the marriage of my youngest son, Kyle. Not only were they letting me camp out in their basement for over a month, they housed & fed all 9 groomsmen for the wedding weekend. Now that’s great friends!
While I was there I was also able to see the girls (Carolyn, Mary Brook & Ann Marie) in the musical, Tartuffe. All three girls had large parts and did a fabulous job! The next week I was able to hear Jenny’s choir concert that she led for the girls’ homeschool group. I was also in town for Carolyn’s graduation. She’s got big dreams and I know God has great plans for her as well. One of the many things I love about being with the Diamonds is that there is always music going on somewhere. It may be upstairs in Ann Marie’s room as she listens and sings to the radio. It may be on the keyboard in the hallway as Mary Brook is learning a new song. It may be in the basement as Carolyn is creating a new dance routine. It may be Brad or Jenny singing whatever song pops in their heads. It very well could be all three girls singing songs from “Phantom of the Opera” or “Wicked” or “Into the Woods” in perfect harmony at the top of their lungs. Or even better, it might possibly be all of those at the same time! It is truly a wonderful thing to witness!
Birmingham is also the home place of my son, Kyle’s, new wife. Her family is another blessing in my life. Even though we haven’t known each other but a couple of years, they are just the kind of people that make you feel right at home! It was great to be able to hang out with them, worship with them, play games with them and of course, celebrate the joining of our two kids! Laci’s mom, Tami, graciously involved me in many of the wedding details which I thoroughly enjoyed and was happy to be there to help her finalize things. Tami & Tim had worked hard to make the day so special and all their hard work paid off! It was truly a blessed and beautiful day! More on that later.
After I had been in Birmingham for a few days, the Genrys and I headed to Harding University in Searcy, AR for the graduation of Kyle and Laci. We were all very excited to see the kids and be together again since it had been awhile since we had seen them. Jason and Rachel, my oldest son and his wife, were also coming in so it was going to a great family weekend…except one LARGE part of our family was not going to be present. Sir FOB wasn’t coming off the trail for graduation since he was going to come off the trail the following week for the wedding. His presence was certainly missed, but I think it was harder on him than us since we were all together.
As I’m counting my blessings in this blog, I have to put my two sons high on the list…right after God and FOB! They have both brought so much joy to my life and I pray that we all have many years of joy and blessings together and now I have two daughters to bring even more joy and blessings! As graduations go, Harding’s ceremonies are always uplifting to attend. As I stated in my last blog, I love going to Harding for whatever reason. It’s just my little slice of Heaven on Earth. The day after graduation was Mother’s Day and it was wonderful to be able to spend it in worship with my kids and of course, a big Mother’s Day dinner. I haven’t had both of my boys with me for Mother’s Day in several years, so this was a great treat. Once lunch was over, Kyle and I headed back to Birmingham in his car to start the Wedding Week activities. The 7 hour car ride was a great opportunity for us to catch up on all that’s been going on with him, his future job plans, his thoughts on the wedding and marriage, and of course for those of you that know Kyle, some deep, religious musings!
After we got back to Birmingham, the next big news was that Steve surprised us and came into town a day early! He had had a rough week of weather and was ready to be back amongst his family and friends living a “normal” lifestyle (like bathing every day and sleeping in a bed!) I was very happy to have him back with me and was as content as a pig in a mud hole, especially once Jason and Rachel arrived because then my family unit was all together again in one place! That puts a smile on my face anytime!
So the wedding weekend finally came around and I was so happy to have my parents, siblings, nieces and nephews from both sides of the family in attendance, along with friends from all over. We couldn’t have asked for better weather for an outside wedding and everything was just perfect! God was certainly smiling down on us all as he witnessed this blessed union. The bride and groom were so happy and I pray that they will always remember how much love was felt by all that were in attendance on that day. You can read more and see more pictures on FOB’s blog #40, if you’re interested.
Once the wedding festivities were over, then I had to face the fact that in one more day, I’d be living the single life again. It was time for my mountain man to head back to the mountains. I knew he was getting antsy to be back on the trail, but he was also sad to have to leave me again. We didn’t have a set plan for our next rendezvous, but we knew it was going to be at least 6 weeks or so. As I’ve said before, being apart from one another is not something we look forward to, but in order for him to accomplish this “bucket list” item, he’s got to move on. He knows that I am with him in spirit and that I’m praying and thinking about him constantly and I’m know he’s doing the same for me.
I planned to stay in Birmingham for another week and a half so that I could see Kyle and Laci when they returned from their honeymoon. They had a great time visiting the Seattle, Washington area and I was glad to spend one more night with them before I headed back to South Carolina.
Before I sign off, I would be remiss not to mention the blessings of being able to spend time with my parents and sister and husband while Steve has been gone. I know that I will treasure the memories of this time here with them and I hope that I’ve brought some joy to them by me being here. I have been truly blessed by two wonderful, God-fearing parents that have raised me to know and appreciate the love of our Heavenly Father. My older sister, Carol, and her husband, Scott, have been so wonderful to let me call their home my home for a while. I was also able to spend some time with each of their daughters, Summer and Dana, which was a treat as well. While I’ve been here, I’ve developed a new hobby…adult coloring books…the newest craze. Carol and I usually start our day with a cup of coffee, a coloring book and gel pens! It’s really not just for kids anymore and it’s great mental therapy, just like the experts profess it to be!
So, what happened next? I left for Virginia and spent a few days there with my friends Chuck and Jana (yet again another blessing). We lived in Virginia while Steve was stationed at the Pentagon and it was great to see some old friends from our time there. I then headed to Slatington, Pennsylvania, to pick up my crazy, hiking mountain man! We’re staying in Kempton at a nice Bed & Breakfast for three days to catch up and bask in each other’s love…and the blessings just keep coming!
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