My time in California has come to a close. I haven't cried until I just sat down at the airport. This whole week has been so overwhelming - one of those times that you wish you could stop and look at with a microscope, understanding and absorbing it all. But life moves on and it doesn't care if you go with it. Fighting to be in the moment but also enjoy my memories.
Yesterday we all went to the beach. It is a pilgrimage to go to the beach with the Ketterers. We brought a tent, a table, charcoal grill, 3 surf boards, chairs, boogie boards and Rodee's beach crusin wheelchair/boat. I was dying laughing. I finally had the opportunity to go surfing, something I have heard so much about. I have been so curious about the feeling and the culture that is almost as important as the sport itself. And let me tell you... it did NOT disappoint. I caught two baby waves and stood up on them for a couple of seconds! The waves were really crazy and the currents were a little too strong to enjoy it out there, but I wish I could have tried it a couple more times.
Ivey whipped us up some amazing burgers and I enjoyed watching the kids have a blast. Rodee was having a great time in his wheelchair and we got to go for a little push down the sand. When we got home we had some pizza and got in the healing hot tub once again. This time Dusty joined us from way down in San Diego! Everything was just so wonderful... It is so good for the soul to be around people without any agenda. I think it is the essence of living, to just be and not worry. The ladies watched a movie and the little ones were upstairs. The dogs slept on the couch. The hot tubbed steamed as we laughed about life. Just normal, full, life.
After we got out, we all bombarded Ivey's room because I had to say goodbye. I will cherish this picture forever! We got to pray over Ivey and Michael, I want God to bless them more than anything. They give and give and give to every single person they meet. They've made the way for their amazing children to have a home, and I've seen first hand this week that it's not an easy path, but it is the one with the most meaning. If you want a cookie-cutter, Christmas card, Hallmark movie life... Don't go into the soul saving business.
Michael was telling me about Chase, the middle brother of the three white boys, and how he wanted to be called Chase instead of his real name because he said the old version of him did bad things. Michael said that early on, he had to wrap all of his children in a cocoon of love - a safe place for them to experience their metamorphosis. When we are wrapped up in the love of family, we are safe to become ourselves. We are safe to make mistakes, learn from them, and grow. I really believe that this stop in California was more than just a time with friends, it was time to experience the cocoon for myself. It's really weird, I kept expecting Ivey and Michael to put up boundaries... to say "I'm tired, let's not engage, find something to do..." I found myself being so careful about how I acted or what I said because I think deep in me, I felt like I had to earn my right to be there and to be with their family. But the whole time they just gave their lives for me, took care of me, spoke truth into me, and encouraged and prayed for me. On Thursday, when I dropped Michael off for work, he gave me $60 and said that he wanted me to enjoy myself that day. I kept feeling indebted to them, wondering what I did to earn their love. But I have since had an amazing revelation of what family is: It is a cocoon of love that makes us feel whole and ultimately empowers us to step into the world without fear, because there is always a family to fall back on.
It is so timely and just like God to do this: To show me what real love looks like before I go to try to invite my dad into the same love. When the sons of God realize who they are, they are empowered to father everyone around them and show everyone the father's heart. I have a sense that even though my dad raised me physically, I now have the tools to father his heart and to show him the power of Jesus and forgiveness. I understand now why there is so much brokenness in the world, in our friends and our families. It is because we have not yet experienced the Cocoon of family.
I left the house at 6:30 this morning, and Shawn came and hugged me in my room and even helped me bring my suitcase to the car. I had an amazing conversation with my Lyft driver about Jesus and the power of God's love and forgiveness. I am seeing the brokenness in my life being turned for good right in front of my eyes. I'm sitting in LAX now, and am just trying to wrap my head around everything. I feel like a new person. My cracked lens was repaired by Jesus and this family. I went through security and got this text from Michael.
I'll let you use your imagination for the text before that one haha!!! But when I read this I began to cry. Thank you God. Please continue to pray for this time with my father. It is more exciting by the moment, I want Him to meet God. I want full reconciliation and friendship and trust to be restored. We are about to board so I am going to wrap this up. As always, I can't thank you enough for sharing in this with me and taking the time to care. Be full wherever you're at. Taiwan here I come!
Love - Andrew