This post is probably gonna be really boring to anyone but my kids. And it might be boring to them, too. Right now, anyway. Just giving you the heads-up. Feel free to skip. :) And I promise I have more "Joshua" posts on the way...that's the real reason people show up here! :)
The summer before my 10th grade year, we moved from Taiwan...to OOOOOOOOOOOklahoma.
Just two years before, we said good-bye to the United States, and began our journey overseas. And we all cried. Because we were moving to a ROCK.
Once we got old enough to realize what my Dad's job entailed, when he would come home with his "orders," we would get out the globe and try to find the new place on the map. And we'd trace our finger along an imaginary route from where we were...to where we were going. We nearly always cried about it, because God was so gracious to provide friends for us in every place we lived...and now we would have to leave them.
You cannot imagine the WAILING AND GNASHING OF TEETH that went on when he came home and told us we were moving to Taiwan. First of all, we couldn't even find it on the globe. And, second of all, when we DID find it, it was the size of a tick.
Seriously? This HAD to be a joke.
And someone (I blame one of my siblings) said, "we are moving to a ROCK." So that's where that phrase came from.
So, two years later, our family of 6 was piled on a military cargo plane, leaving Taiwan. When the wheels left the runway, everyone cheered. And we cried. It was bittersweet, ya know?
And when we finally touched down in the United States...everyone cheered again.
And then we headed for Oklahoma.
If I thought I stood out in Taiwan, well...I stood out even more in Oklahoma...if that was even possible. I mean, I remember when a new guy was transferred to my Dad's office in Taiwan, and we went over to their house to welcome them. They had a teenage girl my age who had led a very different life. I remember being in her room and she was unpacking all of her stuff. She asked me if I wanted to listen to any music, and I said, "sure!" She gave me the choice of several different groups...to this day, the only one I remember her saying was "Bread."
Now, where I came from and in the life I'd led..."bread" was FOOD.
But, that's the group I chose, because BREAD. And I acted like I knew the songs and loved the group. She turned it up really loud and then tried to talk to me. I remember thinking, "why is she trying to talk over the music," and "this is hurting my ears."
And it hit me: I was 15 and I was not cool.
There would be many more times to come, but that was the first time I remember feeling really ODD.
But then we showed up in Oklahoma.
Our family had lived for 3 months in a military guest-house, while our belongings were shipped to the United States. While our parents worked, we hung out at the guest-house pool every.single.day. And I wore the same two-piece, hot pink bikini...every.single.day.
When we arrived in Oklahoma, we were all VERY tan. VERY.
Combine that with the fact that we'd lived on an island for the past 2 years, and my mother had been having some Chinese lady make all of our clothes. My Mom would buy the material, and point to things in the Sears or Penney's catalog, and the sewing lady would magically make outfits appear. My 2 sisters and I nearly always had matching or color-coordinated clothes. We rarely wore them at the same time, but sometimes we did...inadvertently. We almost always wore "out-fits." I never didn't "match." I never even owned a pair of jeans. And I was in the 10th grade.
And I had now moved to Oklahoma, which, next to Texas, has got to be the blue-jean capital of the world.
I think that, on my first day of 10th grade, I wore orange pants and an orange flowered shirt.
Was that wrong?
Oh, never-mind the fact that every other person in my very large high school wore boots and jeans.
Walking into the lunch-room/cafeteria that day...well, it just wasn't happening. I wandered down a hall and somehow, by the grace of God, found my way into a snack-bar area. I happened to have some money, and I ordered myself a Coke and a bag of Cheetos. And I ate by myself.
But, over the next few days, I started seeing of the same strange and lonely people, and I struck up a conversation with a girl there...and she became my first Oklahoma friend. Her name was Aurora Ash. We ended up riding the same bus, so I would see her in the mornings and at lunch...and on the ride home. I think that was the extent of our friendship, and you know? That's okay. She was there in the loneliest time for me, because there would've been no way I could've gone into that cafeteria.
Again, God had His hand of protection on me.
At some point in the year, I met a girl named Karen. I think that was her name, anyway. She was in one of my classes, and she was getting a car. And, not just any car...she got a CLASSIC. It was a Falcon, and she was stylin'. She lived near my house, and agreed to pick me up for school so that I didn't have to ride the bus anymore! Also, for the first time in my life, I got to be a part of things in my school...Karen and I were both on the pep club, and I got to ride to and from all the games with her.
Our family had joined a growing and dynamic church in our town, and my parents were very involved. It was through that church that I first met Janet and Linda. They took a chance on the dark girl in the orange pants, and we became the best of friends. They challenged me in my walk with Christ, and were with me through all the struggles of a geeky high school girl. It was so awesome to finally have great Christian friends.
Janet and I only had to take 2 classes our senior years, so we decided to take another 2 classes at a local Jr. College. And then we ate at Braum's nearly every day for lunch. It's a wonder I didn't weigh 300 pounds.
I miss my 17 year old metabolism.
Janet decided to go to college locally, and I can't remember about Linda. Janet also got married right out of high school. I remember that I was in her wedding the night before I moved to college.
I chose to go to Ouachita Baptist University, even tho I did not know one soul in the entire state of Arkansas.
Once again, I was the geeky new kid...only this time, it was by MY choice. I had to trust that the God who had protected me all of my life...had gone before me to prepare the way.
On my loneliest days...8 1/2 hours away from home...in a strange place...God continued to pursue me, to remind me that I was held in His hands.
I had no idea that the experiences I had growing up...moving a lot and always being the new kid...would provide me with a resilience and inner strength I didn't know I had. I had no idea that roommate I was randomly assigned...would introduce me to a blonde-haired, blue-eyed boy from her hometown in L.A. (that's Lower Arkansas), who happened to go to the college across the Ravine; that he and I would eventually marry; that we would have the family we have, the children we have, and the life we've created. We didn't know the twists and turns our lives would take. I always say that if we knew, like if we could've looked ahead, we would've run screaming into the woods...because how could we ever survive some of these challenges? We couldn't. Not without God.
I didn't know any of that when I took that step of faith and chose to go to OBU. Walking my parents out on that first day, and watching them drive away...I had no idea how God would work all of this out for my good and His glory.
But, He did.
"Surely Your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life..." Psalm 23:6