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Dishrag Summer, Part III

Filed under: — jen d @ 11:14 am

Me and Tomania
the cottage
paul and tomania
all four of us
one more shot of the kids
the dock. or one like it
me and jeremy*

Well, August has pretty much gone up in dust, so I guess I can post my final blog for the summer summaries. I started off the beginning of this series talking about how I had no desire to return to routine, responsibility, and other forms of reality; I officially negate that paragraph. I’m suddenly more than ready to get up and go. I’m ready for cool, crisp days, vivid fall sunsets, and other seasonal joys like pumkins, first frosts, and caramel apple ciders. But more than that, I am itching to get moving, to straighten out the affairs I’ve let curl and smolder in a pile in the dimmest corner of my brain, clear out the clutter in mind and body, and do some things. As in, accomplish something. And not just anything; I’ve got a few specifics in mind. Lord willing in the months to come I’ll have more to write about our annual IBCB fall student furniture and household goods giveaway, new Bible studies and church family or friends, happenings I anticipate surrounding our blossoming church youth group, and, on a more personal note, my continued pursuit of biblical counseling training and certification with the National Association of Nouthetic Counselors.

I made a new friend this month who has somehow gven me a rather firm kick in the pants regarding this particular issue. Jeremy (that’s he in the blue shirt above, and again with me in the boat) lives only a few hours away from Faith Baptist in Lafayette, IN, one of the largest and most comprehensive NANC training facilities. We met up in Mere Point, Maine, and the subject of Nouthetic counseling, NANC, and Faith Baptist came up naturally in conversation as we talked about our undergrads and spiritual backgrounds (which I discuss a bit in this post, if you want more details). Jeremy is familiar with the program and several key staff members at Faith. His dad, Paul and Tomania’s pastor, is in the process of becoming a NANC Fellow, and Jeremy has considered taking part in some of the programs at some point himself. I was happy to talk about the program with someone who knows so much about it because just that previous week, I’d been thinking independently about the possability of taking what I learned in the counseling program at the University and going to the next level to obtain NANC certification and the further training that would go along with it. I hadn’t wanted to mention the idea myself to my own pastor, because I wasn’t sure about the program details and how long training would take, etc. ; but then suddenly I’m sitting in Pastor’s living room, just days away for leaving for Mere Point, and Pastor turns to me himself and says, almost out of the blue, “You know, you should consider getting NANC certified, Jennifer.”

Well, then. Providence? Just maybe. Several subsequent discussions with Jeremy (and all of his enthusiasm for the program and personal encouragement) have bolstered my motivation and desire to pick up again where I left off in undergrad. I’ve been looking into the program, and stumbled across their annual conference brochure. They are holding this year’s event in New York state, and it’s only about a month away. I read through the list of topics, pre-conferences, and speakers and pretty much started thinking that I’d have to get there, one way or another. It’s not that expensive; it’s over a couple of weekdays, but the Lord has already provided me with opportunities to have someone sub for me at work — someone who needs the extra cash, too, which is always nice. My mom is more than 100% behind me, if that’s possible, and is already talking about it as if I’m going. Hopefully the conference isn’t already full! But, if there’s space, and I get the okay from the boss (my dad), and the Lord wills (obviously), then I plan to have some good material to post come about October 6th… We won’t talk about the possibilities for February yet, though.

So, August. What happened? Well, I already mentioned Mere Point. My long-time best friend Tomania, her husband Paul, and their friend and pastor’s son, Jeremy, headed up to Maine right after the Trinity youth missions team left Boston. We met up at the cabin with Paul’s parents and their two chihuahuas, Tinker and Toby, and also with Tomania’s mom, her friend Lil (and awesome lady from my old church), Tomania’s brother and HIS four friends, and finally her grandma. People came and went, but we four were there all week.

Mere Point has a certain mystical quality about it; I’m not sure what it is, but it seems to steal time right out from underneath you. It’s actually more like a time warp. You arrive, you relax, you feel like you’ve got forever and a day to be there, and for the most part, time is kind and lumbers slowly along, embellishing the illusion. Even up to the last day or so, the prospect of having to leave again holds no real reality, even if you stand around complaining about it. It just doesn’t seem imminent, somehow. And then, bam, you find yourself somehow in the car again, with all of your bags, heading in the wrong direction (i.e., south) and back to reality. Its quite a shock, really, and the only thing I don’t like about taking trips up there.

I guess it’s partly just having a really good time existing, without feeling any need to be running from one place to anther in search of occupation and entertainment. You end up being perfectly happy to do stuff like sit around laughing at each other and doing puzzles, of all things, playing cards, just talking, or just not even talking. You just are. It was great to catch up with Tomania again and to just be with her. It was also great to get to know new friends, and to just exit reality for a little while in general, as painful as re-entry can be.

After returning to MA after that first week, I turned right around again and headed up to Vermont with Allie for an abbreviated meeting with her wonderful family. I really do love her family, and I’ve only spent a sliver of time with them. They are kind, generous, open, and, well…how shall I say it? They are simply incredibly sane. I felt very calm and safe with them, and well taken care of. I know at least one reason why their kids are so happy and genuinely well-behaved. If ever I have a set of my own, I hope I can glean some advice and wisdom from the Thompson’s example. And Vermont is beautiful, and very green; it reminded me somewhat of Austria and southern Germany, which is always a bonus. We spent a good bit of time outdoors, hiking up mountain roads, through streams, and over hills. I left feeling happy, healthy and clean.

After that I was home for a little while, which time I spent either daydreaming about the fading summer or trying to clean up the mess I’d left in my various spheres of responsibility before I’d departed for Mere Point. It is still a work in progress, but the fact that I can see past the rubble and look forward with great anticipation to something productive, for a change, is a sign that things are getting back in order. The third week of August was spent again in Maine, back at York Beach, where the summer began. This time I was with family, so my nights ended earlier and left me alone with the ocean and a lot of time to think. I am ready. For something. It may not end up being a set of big changes, but something is changing. It is nameless now and amorphous, but there, and with this new direction, I feel I’ve at least got a path to start out on – however widely it may diverge in the next few months. And I’m happy with that. I’ll try and keep you posted along the way.

*Photos from Maine courtesy of Paul and Tomania Kelly and Jeremy Oliver.

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