Jackie was looking through my pictures in California from 20 years ago. Two summers of adventure, sun, unencumbered joy.

I had had a pretty hard first year in college. Now a summer later I was determined to drink the full cup of experiences and friendship and see and feel the world without promising anything to any boy, or letting any boy fall in love with me. Basically not look at this summer through the lens of heartbreak.

I remember coming back home and thinking that I had lived in three months enough for a lifetime. I had worked hard and played hard. I was financially independent, and had the most exciting adventure of a lifetime. I got close to God, I saw his creation and saw His face.

Deep pain can help us unlock the places in our heart where we experience deep joy.

Those two summers as a student in America were not a destination. I was aware that summer life is not the reality. But that didn’t stop me from drinking the full cup while knowing people and respectfully building lifetime friendships.
I remember thinking that if I were to die at the end of the summer, flying home, I will have lived a full and beautiful life ahead. No regrets.

When I returned to California just a year and a half later, married, having graduated college, I had many friendships to plug back into. Life was definitely harder with bills and adjustments. I had a job at the same research company I worked as a student but it felt different, harder, more intense.

Fast forward nearly 20 years. Jackie compares my youth life to today. She asks me point blank if I had a choice, would I choose this house with them as my kids, or would I choose that exciting life in California.
Without skipping a beat I tell her I’d choose this house, and this life and being their mom.

“You love us that much?” She asks with an intense curiosity.

As she sees the world with wonder from a preteen perspective, it is healthy and understandable for her to find that adventure appealing. I did too. I had a foundation of faith and integrity and courage. And my mom helped me spread my wings. Then, after traveling far and wide, I could settle where I saw fit.

Yes, after traveling the world, experiencing everything good and beautiful, a simple life of love and comfort, a family, is more than one can hope for. Everything has its own time. To be fully present now I had to go out and see the world. And choose for myself. Married life. Parenting. Homesteading.