The gift of my journal

Even though it has been more than two years since I moved to Michigan, I can sometimes still feel as though I am in transition and not completely settled in. It may be because the move piled grief on top of grief or because there has been transition within transition since the move—or both.

In my prayer, I have been asking what God has planned for me and I wonder if, for some reason, I am missing something—some new opportunity that will help me feel more settled. What I know for sure is that my life here does not look like my life did in Pennsylvania.

It occurs to me, though, that the primary reason for moving to Michigan was to be near my family, so it was inevitable that my new life would not look like my old one. I had no family in Pennsylvania.

Here, though, I have both planned get-togethers with my family (holidays, birthdays, weddings, etc.) and also those wonderful, unexpected encounters that can happen because I live nearby.

Last week, I was at the car dealership waiting for my car to get serviced when one of my nephews walked in. He, too, was having his car serviced there. It was a total surprise to see him, and the time we spent together in casual conversation was pure gift.

Last summer, another nephew was working on a road construction project near my home and I stopped to chat with him when I happened to pass by on my bike.

Another day last summer, when a friend was visiting from Pennsylvania, we stopped for lunch at a restaurant in Detroit and there sat one of my sisters and her husband. “That could never happen in Philadelphia,” my friend said. “No,” I agreed, “it could not.”

Yet here, the possibility for chance encounters exists, and each encounter delights me. Every one of these chance meetings affirms that moving here was right for me and reminds me how blessed I am to be here.

My New Year’s Eve tradition is to read my journal from the past year. This year, I was amazed at how many times my family appeared in my journal. Monthly sisters’ dinners, watching my niece figure skate, kayaking with my brother and sister-in-law, attending bridal and baby showers, another niece’s wedding, and many more family events fill the pages of my journal and filled my heart with gratitude as I reflected on them.

I don’t know why I could not see it before, but I am grateful for the lens that my journal offered me. Through it, I can see how my family connections and interactions have helped shape my new life and added a dimension that was unfamiliar to me. I can now see that I am actually quite settled and that I have the life I hoped for when I moved here.

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