and so I'm offering this simple phrase

When I walked into the sanctuary on Sunday morning the band was still practicing – I was early.  I sat my stuff down, picked up the orders of worship for the morning and sat down to look over them.  I didn’t even hear the doors open or the approaching footsteps.  It wasn’t until I heard the cheerful “Good Morning” that I even knew she was there.  I looked up and smiled, genuinely happy to see her.  I stood up to give her a hug and as we embraced she said, “Welcome home”  with a tight squeeze.
Last Thursday I sat around the table with the seven most important people in my life and as we went around sharing our thankfulness, I had a hard time coming up with mine.  Partially because the littlest of them was sprawled across my lap trying to usurp my turn as her own.  But even more so because there were just so many things in my life for which to give thanks.
First of all, there were those seven people around the table who have stood by me in this last year as I uprooted my whole life and moved.  Those seven people who, while in the midst of their own life struggles, took the time to listen to me, process with me, pray for me, encourage me, help move me and helped me to see where God was moving.  These seven people who make up so much of who I am – a daughter, a sister, a niece, a Godmother, a Tia.
There are all the privileges that I cannot take for granted – a place to live, clothes to wear, food to eat and the ability to provide for myself.
Friends near and far who have sang my song back to me in so many ways when I thought I’d lost it.  Friends who call me out on my crap, who take the initiative to care for me in ways that are meaningful and intentional.  New friends who are taking note of who I am and how I was created.  Seasoned friends who are taking the extra steps to be in my corner even when I get so wrapped up in myself that I forget to tell them that I moved to Minnesota.
But mostly – I am thankful for the places God has brought me through and this place he has brought me to in this last year.  For someone who has moved as many times as I have, the bravery that it takes to embark on a big adventure is a little lost on me.  I got caught up in the movement, the excitement of something new and shiny.  But the shininess eventually wears off and what you’re left with is the reality that you have moved to a brand new place where you don’t actually know anyone and people don’t know you – not like you had it before.
For me, the brave thing isn’t the move.  It’s not the packing up all the things you own, it’s not the searching for a new place to live, it’s not in creating the new routines and finding the new coffee shops.  For me, the brave thing is what comes after all of that.  When all the hype wears off and it settles in that you are in a new place, surrounded by new faces and it’s on you to find your community.  Building your life in this new place – that’s the brave part.
Thankfully, this place that God brought me to makes even the scary part that requires my bravest movements easy.  So this advent season my anticipation is for this new life – the beautiful pieces are already starting to fit together, like a puzzle that I’m putting together without the box.  I can’t quite see the image yet but I’ve found the corner pieces and the outer edges.
And it’s that framework that gives me the ability to hug back and respond, “It’s good to be back” and mean it.
*title from the Christmas Song