The Best of Times / The Worst of Times

"It was the best of times; it was the worst of times." -Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
 
There is so much to tell about the last few days; so many good (and bad) things have happened. Tuesday was such a special day; I was working in the kitchen when the phone was for me and Hannah called to say that they were having a "little get-together" at their house that night at seven and asking if I would like to join them. I thought it sounded like fun, but I must not have been as sure as she wanted, because she finally told me, "Well, Nicole, I hope you come, because the party is for you." And so I found out that they were planning a goodbye party for me. It was so sweet. We played a hysterical game called, "Picture Telephone" which is basically the same as the game, "Telephone" except you use sentences and word pictures to describe what is going on. They played one round about me, and one round about Charity who is also leaving. Everyone would write down, "When I think of Nicole, I think of....." and then some sentence. The next person would try to draw the sentence, and then they'd fold the sentence away to where the next person could only see the picture and not the sentence. They'd try to recreate the sentence based on what they thought the picture was saying, and then so on. Some of the results were really funny, for instance, one was, "When I think of Nicole I think of escaping a tornado."
It was so much fun. We eventually did lots of fun things and after everyone else had left, Elaine, Hannah, Betsy, Lisa and I had a sleepover. It was so much fun.....I am so thankful to the Behrs for surprising me with it. Thank you!!!!!!!!!
 
Wednesday was quite different. I was off work (my only real day before Sunday to pack) and I was loading up all of my media mail objects. I needed to have a very dreaded conversation with one of my girls, and things came to a little bit of a head on Wednesday morning so I went to the kitchen and picked her up about a half hour before lunch. Betsy knew what we were doing and I think we all figured that the conversation would last maybe 10 minutes or so. I was dreading it, because I tend to be nonconfrontational anyway, and especially towards one of my girls....but what was being said had to be said. We ended up talking straight through lunch, straight through announcements, straight through cleanup. At the end of the hour and a half, I was a little exhausted emotionally, but I am very thankful to say that our conversation was very productive and that God worked through it. He is such a good God! I went home and kept packing while I talked on the phone for awhile, and then took a break to start a little note to Catherine who is out on deployment with STEP, and then called my mom, and then called Jay. That boy can always make me laugh so hard; all three of my phone conversations yesterday did such wonders for me. Finally it was dinnertime and I was talking to Jay and entirely uninterested in dinner so I just stayed home and right about then a flash flood came up; it was quite the terrific storm. The thunder kept jarring me so I finally went out in the living room where the shades were up and I could see what was going on, and after that the thunder didn't surprise me. Cassia came home and her cell phone had somehow malfunctioned, so she and I went to my office to call tech support (aka Mom, but after that didn't work we actually called Cingular cell support) and we spent the next hour and something in my office getting that issue resolved, talking to warranty representatives and getting a new phone on the way, and then eventually going home and having another prolonged conversation with other girls in the house. At 10:15 I had to go pick Charity up from the Switzer's house and when I got back from that I finished up some last-minute things. It had started out as a terrible day, especially with the whole "confrontation" issue, but I was thankful that God gave both of us grace and gave me a very nice rest-of-the-day.
 
Today has been the strange day. I got up this morning and Danae fixed my hair....it's very cute I might add...and I came waltzing into work to get some things done. I've been cleaning out stuff in my office so I took all of my personal documents from the last while and sent them to myself over email, so that I could keep them even after I've gone home and don't have my office computer with me. While the email was sending, it hit me----I had accidentally sent the documents to the email address I sent things to mostly, namely, the address to remotely post to my blog. Oops. I panicked. I called my mom asking her to rescue me from the dread position I'd gotten myself into, and thankfully she obliged. I then went downstairs and was getting Faculty ready for a meeting to be held there tomorrow....when I remembered that I'd been wanting to take out the trash at home, so I went down there to do it and......someone had left the garage door open, and so an animal had gotten in and our trash was, to put it nicely, strewn out all over the back yard. Strewn really is a nice word; it was more like catapulted around and then subjected to flash flooding and other elements which meant that it was covered in bugs and other things that I really don't feel like discussing over the world wide web. So I went out there with my trashbags and started cleaning the stuff up; our back grass hasn't been mowed in a long time so I felt like I was wading through a wheat field or something....trust me, it wasn't fun. I finally got the trash into the back of my trunk, and threw it away. Then I came back to the FH. Well, of course, it would be that we have these annoying little flies breeding in Faculty and the way to send them to the Happy Place for Flies is to put out red wine vinegar mixed with dishsoap, which will attract them and poison them once they partake. So not only was I basically covered in......junk but also Faculty smelled like the rich aroma of red wine vinegar which, trust me, was not pleasant to be around. I practically doused myself in some nice-smelling liquid to reverse the effects.
 
And then I went into the kitchen to talk to Betsy about something and she handed me a gift and said, "This is for you...." I thanked her and once I got out into the hallway I started to open the card. Today she'll be leaving and won't be back until after I'm gone; the tears came before I even read the words inside.
 
Dear Nicole,
"Nevertheless you have done well..." Phil. 4:14
Words cannot express what an incredible friend and godly woman you are. I'll miss you a lot. I'm also excited how the Lord will bless you in the days ahead as you serve your family. Thank you for always being there for me and filling in for us whenever we need it. Your joy and excitement for life exuberates to so many. I only wish I had half your energy. I love you very much.
Love in Christ,
Betsy
 
I promptly lost it. It wasn't supposed to be this hard, I thought, as I vacuumed in Faculty and tried to see through my tears. I was supposed to be excited to go home---and I am---but I didn't know that it would be this hard. These people have loved me and have shaped my life for the last year, and it is so hard to imagine leaving them, possibly never to see them again.
I am determined not to think about it now. I'm glad that I'll be busy over the next few days, too busy to think about it. I will wait until I get home to feel the full ramifications, when my family is there to remind me afresh whenever I see them why I came home in the first place. But now, in these last moments, I realize that I will need extra grace, because leaving my life here behind me is one of the most difficult things I've done in a very long time. I am thankful for ALERT and I am very willing to go home at God's direct call, but it certainly isn't easy.
 
"In our progress toward...happiness my station is new;
and if I may use the expression, I walk on untrodden ground.
There is scarcely any part of my conduct which may not hereafter
be drawn into precedent." --George Washington
 
I got that quote by email this morning, and I want to keep it in mind. I want to lay the people I love and the life I have come to enjoy out before Him with open hands, trusting that what He has in store for me is far better than anything I could have asked for myself. And it is.
 
But oh, I will miss them.