A Place Where We Were Loved
This was my work space on Friday.
This was my view for a long stretch of the trip to Reno. (I know, poor me, huh? I should have formed a special prayer team to storm the heavens, begging God to infuse me with strength to endure it.)
I am happy to report that I did not run into any creepy train guys, only a few characters. But what Amtrak trip would feel complete without at least one of those? (To the men sitting two rows ahead of me on the trip up: if you ever return to Reno in the future, the best spot for fishing wedding rings out of the Truckee River is probably along the River Walk in front of the old courthouse. I recommend a net over the fly fishing pole you mentioned.)
For tourists, The Biggest Little City in the World.
For me, The Land of Mixed Emotions.
I missed Christian and my friends and my old church; the Great Reno Balloon Race and Chapel Day at Kings Academy; the first snow of the season and the smell of our wood-burning stove. After an initial bout with homesickness in November/December 2012, I must confess that I no longer missed living in Reno unless I caught Nathan missing it and remember that for him, Reno was home—his birth place, where his brother lives. Reno hadn’t been a bad place to live. Not at all! Once we got used to it we were happy there. That’s where we bought our first (and only) house, learned what it meant to be part of a loving church family, and grew in countless ways. Some of my most treasured memories happened in Reno—singing, writing scripts for Easter musicals and goofy retreat skits, the Tahoe Shakespeare Festival, welcoming Nate into the world, walking him to the store and realizing that our cat, Lucia, had stowed away in his stroller. But Reno is also the place where a lot of sad things happen. Traumatic things. Losses that caused me and Nathan to have to move. Over the past almost-four years I often struggled with thinking of Reno as the place that we were forced to move to only to be dumped there. I don’t think of it that way anymore, and I have this past weekend to thank for that.
I went to Reno to speak to the ladies at my old church. They’d planned a Saturday morning brunch to celebrate my book. Originally, Nathan and my parents were going to join me. When that didn’t work out I immediately began to sense that God was sending me to Reno for more than an event. I spent the train trip anticipating something. As soon as my friends Howard and Kathy greeted me at the Amtrak station I started experiencing it—a reminder that Reno was a place where my boys and I were (and still are) loved. I spent the weekend with friends, who’d been there through the happy memories and the heartbreak. The book-celebration brunch took place in the same house as my going-away lunch. The church family that walked with me through my first year and a half as a single mom got to see the book that came from it, and hear about some of the incredible things that God did in the process of writing it, and what He has done since its release in March. After all of their love and encouragement, I got to encourage them by pointing out that their example is showing others how to support a newly-single mom. This was my chance to thank them—as Anne Lamott puts it—my “gentle, loyal, and hilarious companions.” This was also my chance to revel in how much I adored these friends!
The next morning, I got to worship at my old church, in the same pew that I usually sat in before we moved, right next to Howard and Kathy. A friend that I often sang with while attending that church was on worship team! Susan invited me to set my remaining books out in the Narthex, and the pastor announced my visit to the congregation. I felt like a celebrity! But more than that, I felt thankful for my Reno years, including the hard parts, because those were the events that drew me closer to Jesus and to my “gentle, loyal, and hilarious companions.” As I said in my talk on Saturday, I wouldn’t be who I am without those things. Or those friends. Or Reno.
I also saw my old house. But that’s a post for another time.
“For you make me glad by your deeds, O Lord;
I sing for joy at the work of your hands.”
Psalm 92:4 (NIV)