School started yesterday -- hooray! I know I'm probably the only one in my friend group who gets excited about the school year beginning. I've always loved school. When I was younger, I loved shopping for school supplies. Just thinking about freshly sharpened pencils gets me all nostalgic. As I got older and came to love what I was learning more and more, I couldn't help but look forward to school. Now that I study what I love on a day to day basis, how can I keep from rejoicing when the school year starts? But I don't think it's appropriate to write my school posts (coming soon, I assure you) without reflecting a little bit on the summer. I think it's appropriate to reflect on what we leave behind before we move forward to what's ahead. I've been in school mode for a little while, but I want to take this post to look back on what this summer was to me.

And what this summer was to me was unexpected. After CASI (which was amazing and marvelous and wonderful in all the ways), I expected and intended to come straight back to Lubbock and work for the rest of the summer. And for a hot second, I did come back after our family vacation, in mid-July. But then, a few important things happened.

  1. I wasn't on the work schedule in Lubbock at all. Somehow.
  2. I found when I left the house that I didn't want to. This was unusual for me: I'm usually chomping at the bit to get back to Lubbock. This time I wasn't. I wanted to be with my family.
  3. When I got back to Lubbock, I found myself aching to be anywhere but there. I found myself needing my family and desiring to get as far as possible from the place where I was.
  4. I saw Inside Out, which was not a good idea. Great movie, but in the scene where Riley comes home to her parents, I was bawling.

I called my mom that night and told her (through floods of tears) how much I missed her. She listened to me with all the love in the world and then said, "Well, baby, do you want to come home?"

Sniffles from me. "... Could I?"

"OF COURSE you can!"

So thirty-six hours later, home I went. I spent the rest of the summer working for my mother by doing projects around our house. Because I wasn't on the schedule, I could do this. And it was a real job: Since Mama had started a new job, she needed some help, so she paid me and everything. While I was there, I read a bunch, worked out a lot, cried, wrote, practiced -- and more than anything, spent time and laughter with my four favorite people on the planet. It was lovely, and everything I needed.

The thing about this occurrence was that it was completely unexpected. When Mom first offered me the opportunity of coming home -- an opportunity that was always there, though I didn't know it -- I was unsure. Could I do this? Was it a thing for an almost-college-senior, almost-21-year-old to go home and spend the summer with her family, if she needed it?

I learned that that wasn't even a question. We all need our families. We need our people. I learned that it doesn't make me less of an adult or a person if I feel the need or desire to go and be with them for a time.

It wasn't a summer I would have picked for myself in advance. But in hindsight, there's no way I would rather have spent it. It gave me rest. It gave me peace. Being at home with people who loved me unconditionally reminded me that I could walk into a fire and be okay, because I was safe in Jesus. In Jesus, I have peace. In Jesus, I cannot be moved. There is stillness and quietness in the God Who made me, and I can rest in that always, no matter what is happening around me.

What a great reminder as I go into my senior year.

Adventures are unexpected, too. I mean, honestly -- who ever expects the adventurous things to actually happen? But happen they do -- and they aren't always bad things. There's a place in Lord of the Rings where one of the characters predicts that Frodo will meet friends unlooked-for upon the road. And indeed he does. He finds both evil and good, horror and rest. And so do we. I'm learning that the secret is to accept what you're given, to embrace it with open arms. If we try to keep at arm's length the things that God sends our way, then we're never going to grow, and we're never going to experience adventure.

But I want to experience it.

So here I go: learning and trying to accept what God has given me, both the good and the seemingly-bad. But here's the deal: God loves to give good gifts to His children. What He gives us, though it may seem negative to us, will always turn out for the better. He promises that: for those who are called by Him, He works out all things (Romans 8:28, anyone?). This is why we can embrace what He has given us: because we trust Him to engineer it to His purpose and our ultimate good. He is the Ultimate Good, and He knows how to draw us to Himself.

I think that's the point of adventure anyway: drawing us to the God Who made us. Because, after all, He is the Adventure. Knowing Him is like climbing mountains and feeling the cold, cutting wind in your face. It's like rolling meadows full of sweet smells. It's like warm sunshine and starry nights and pure snows and cleansing storms and rolling thunder and the power of the ocean. And yet it's not like any of these things because it's Him. These things are like Him, but He is only like Himself: pure, unadulterated, unpredictable, and unexpected.

Unexpected, yes -- and yet He feels like Home.

And I think that's what I learned the most this summer.