I have no idea how many times I declared something along this line,
"There is no way I would ever live in LA."
In hindsight, and since that's exactly where I've ended up, I wish I would have gone with Florence or Madrid or perhaps even Maui, but no, and in all sincerity, fortunately, God brought us to the precise place He had planned for us. It's been nearly a year since we made the move from rural Southern Oregon to the suburbs of Los Angeles. Though it feels like yesterday and simultaneously like always. For some of us (ahem, my husband) the relocation is still a work in progress-the contentment might be present but the joy in it has yet to present itself to him. To him, Los Angeles is a career pit stop to somewhere better-somewhere with rivers rushing down mountains, forests littered with pine needles and fallen logs, and air so clear and clean that when you breathe you add an extra day to the end of your life. Which I have to agree, sounds fantastic. But God continues to encourage me in something bigger, something not about what I think life ought to be about but about what He says life ought to be about. And it's not about me; it's not about comfort; it's not about taking vacations; it's not about owning a house; it's not about 401Ks; it's not about retirement savings; it's not about any kind of savings, really. Nor is it about living somewhere with great schools, clean air, and amazing surroundings-it's about living a life completely devoted to knowing Him and making Him known; to showing His love and proclaiming His Word. As benign as many of my longings are I know if they are my focus, if they are my intent, and my desires then i'm terribly amiss on everything.
Knowing this is often more than it's not- easier in practice than its application. I was not so fortunate to grow up middle class let alone upper-middle class - we were poor. My parents had a landscaping company during the summer and a few weeks here and there in the winter. During the busy summer months my little sister and I would be forced to tag along from yard to yard to yard. Unlike my older sister we were too young to be of any assistance, and as such we would swim when there was a pool, or sit under the shade of a tree when there was a tree, and when there was not we would lay prostrate under my fathers 1979 Jeep Wrangler in attempt to escape the hot Texas heat. Sometimes we would earn $5 to weed a garden bed, money I deemed 'savings for summer camp', though i'm most certain I spent each crisp Abraham Lincoln on candy at the corner gas station. But during those idle hours loitering in the shade I would daydream, daydream of having a nice house like the yards of the homes my parents poured sweat mowing, and of the worry free life I imagined went with the periwinkles and edged sidewalks. Now, as that grown-up I envisioned so long ago, the little girl that was me with her high hopes of a comfortable life has to monthly- sometimes weekly-often daily come to terms with kingdom perspective versus entitlement misconception. I remind myself, and my children to their annoyance, we are due nothing. Everything is an extra, even the air we breath, the sometimes smoggy brown LA air.