Location. Location. Location. My husband and I have sold and bought three homes in the last 10 years, all in the greater Los Angeles area, and for within 5% of the previous price each time, but the size ranges were 810 square feet (those last little 10 do count!), 1350 square feet, and 1900 square feet. Location. Location. Location. It matters in real estate, and it matters in the shaping of me.
Seattle is the place that grew in me a love for coffee, and refined into me a deep appreciation for sipping an espresso out of a porcelain mug with a pretty design and the company of a sweet friend or a wise book.
Seattle taught me to not let a little rain ruin your plans. A little mist cannot deter a walk around Green Lake. Bad canoeing skills do not have to steal the laughter from under the 520 bridge. Discovering yourself alone on a Friday night does not mean you cannot be happy.
I learned that I can be at the end of my rope, and pray, and then find that there was a net all along and I was made to jump. My church there gave me untold Wednesday night hours of prayer under stain glass windows and the canopy of soft music. I am grounded when I hear the melodies of old hymns on the piano.
Seattle has my mother, my father, my brother, my sister-in-law, my nephew and my niece. Seattle is my forever home. The women that I roomed with in college gave me my first taste of an eternal truth that sometimes friends become family. I love Seattle and the people there but God called me out.
I drove every inch of the 5 freeway from Canada to Mexico in my 20’s and have had all the adventures one would expect a woman of that age to have. I have little pieces of my heart all over Los Angeles, now. I am like a gourmet food truck groupie traveling around experiencing the goodness all over. I fell in love with my husband in Pasadena, so it is eternally romantic to me, especially city hall at night.
Seal Beach gave me entire new sides of myself. I too could love biking; I too can love authentic Mexican food; I too had an unforced rhythm of being with God that looked unique to me, as everyone’s does.
I became a mother in Irvine so that place undoubtedly holds a thousand joyful and also desperate tears. I felt more like a missionary there, more than I ever did my summer in Haiti, but I loved the people there and l learned to love God in-spite-of, mostly because God loves me in-spite-of, and that is just the richest of loves.
I have had a few hundred coffee appointments with college students and volunteer mentors these last six years in work and ministry in Azusa. Every time I feel a little stagnate, their passion, their questions, their stories renew me.
And now I tuck my littles into bed in Canyon Country. We are the very last stop on your way north out of LA in which there is an In&Out (burgers!) and a gas station. After that you are in the desert. We are at the edge of the city, with its busy, and its people and its needs. And we are at the edge of open space. For me, it’s becoming a thin space, where heaven and earth feel a little closer. I was made to give and contribute and make a difference in the lives of others; we all are, really. But I also need clear space for me to be contemplative, alone and with God. These are the times when I am open to being refined. My new home is giving me both.
Seattle was the place that first taught me my world is abundant. I have enough. I am talented enough. I am lovely enough. I am smart enough. I am enough. Even more, that in the face of obstacle, I can persevere, and God can redeem. When others might think the cup is half empty, I can proclaim it over-flowing, not becomes of myself, but because of my God. I can be more than I thought possible.
California was the place that first taught me my world has limits. When the culture around me in not so subtly saying, ‘You can do it all,’ I have learned different. I cannot do it all. And I know I cannot do it all right now. I must make choices, and the more I love my own choices, then the less I need to even consider what other people might think about them. Further, I do not know it all and I decidedly need other people and their expertise to be the best version of myself I can be. It is going to take a village to raise me right.
These are the two sides of the same coin that God has been turning over and over again in my hand. My life is abundant and my life needs limits. This is what God has taught me, and so this is what I write about. This is the picture my life is making and the canvas God is using is mostly my life as a parent and in my family. I am trying to be as close to the artist as I can, which for me right now, means writing down what I see.
For more on why I write, check out http://www.jeaninesmithonline.com/2014/02/04/on-why-i-write-fixing-my-heart/