It seemed so ordained the way things worked out (our old house and the tragedy that is that, not included).
But I wholeheartedly believe the people we have met since moving here is one of the--if not THE--main reason we are here.
I met one neighbor whose little boy jumped right into my heart. He spent days at our house for about a week. The kids loved him too and they would play for hours, he fit right in immediately.
And I adore his mom.
So, imagine my surprise when she announced they were going back down South, maybe indefinitely, after only knowing each other a couple of weeks. After I had already become smitten with her little 5 year old guy.
Joe thought I was absolutely nuts when I sobbed...yes, sobbed...for a few nights.
Backing up...one day while I painted our front door, I remember feeling the amazing spring breeze, seeing this gorgeous landscape that surrounds us here and thinking, "one of my best friends could live in this street."
The possibilities of a fresh start and of starting over were so ripe. I was so looking forward to getting to know everyone in our new neighborhood and creating new relationships.
And then along came this woman who I hit it off with immediately.
And there she went, right back down South.
I couldn't understand why God would put this woman right in my path, make me fall in love with her adorable son, and then take her away again?!
That God...always working so mysteriously and all.
Here's a shot of the kids with their BFF.
He's the guy in the middle with the road rash on his head. Poor guy, took a spill off his bike the day before.
And then, after he moved back down South and we picked up our flattened hearts off the ground, we started getting to know the neighbors on the other side better.
At first, we were cautious.
They were quick with their fists and didn't seem to want to play nicely with our little buddy who moved South.
But we continued to get to know them, and got to know their parents.
And now our kids practically live in both houses as they play all day with each other, volleying between the neighbor's house and ours.
And I have a new friend--the boy's mom. :)
Not to mention another family who moved in with 2 beautiful little boys and an adorable newborn little girl. The mom is a riot and I foresee lots of texting and bbq's in our future. :)
So, the tally is up to 3 friends in our new neighborhood for me. :P
And today it hit me why we're here.
I was having a conversation with one little neighbor guy...the one who seemed the hardest to get along with. The one who was kind of "mean" to the kids. The one Joe and I were very cautious having the kids play around.
His mom and I had a conversation and she shared with me that he's on the spectrum. I think she was hesitant to share that with me for fear that I would judge her or think differently of her son.
And that breaks my heart for 3 reasons:
1) I DON'T want to be that person who judges someone because they struggle in an area.
2) The thought that people are mean to kids because they struggle makes me so sad.
3) I WAS judgmental....before I knew he was on the spectrum. I just thought he didn't play nicely with others.
And that's embarrassing.
But this was really driven home when I had a conversation with the little guy today.
He and R (our 8 year old) were working on landscaping. They cameover to beg some water and I asked this little guy if he was excited for school. He said he wasn't because school was boring.
Then he told me that he goes to a different school.
A school for kids who "fail other schools."
He wouldn't look me in the eye and it took him a long time to come up with the words he wanted to use to tell me why he went to a "different" school.
And my heart broke.
I walked over to him and put my hand on his shoulder and said, "You don't fail. You learn differently. There's a big difference. Everyone's different."
And I rubbed his back and patted his head, wanting to just scoop him right up in a bear hug.
This poor little guy.
Not only does he struggle in areas, but it obviously weighs on him that he's different. He's already told himself that he's a failure. And people like me who don't want my kids playing with someone "rough" or "bossy" help create that feeling of failure.
I am so absolutely convicted right now.
I know our job on this Earth is to love.
We are here to love others without qualifying them. Without drawing a line in the sand as to when we will or when we won't.
We are not to predetermine who is worthy of our kindness or care.
And we, Joe and I and our kids, have a specific calling here on this street to show that and to live that.
And we are training our kids up to think, act, and feel the same way about people.
And I have never been more proud than I am when I see our kids loving with abandon.
They are so innocent and free of stigma that it takes my breath away.
They are the purest versions of us that I wish we were more like.
They see people just as they are.
And treat them just as they want to be treated themselves.
And I can learn a whole lot from them.