Tuesday, January 7, 2014

A Letter to the Hobbits

To my dear hobbits,

It's been almost four weeks since we've been together. Brie traveled West and I traveled South to see our parents, brothers, and furry friends. Hannah is getting a tan and warding off mosquitoes in Africa, and Emilee is keeping vigil and defending our home against Snowpocalypse 2014.

And while we have each had our fair share of adventures (and the world is surely a better place because of them), I miss you all and just want to be with you again. I want us to put on fuzzy socks, light some candles, mix up some hot chocolate, and cuddle on the couch, reading each others' eyes and giggling at everything and nothing all at once. And if any of us had pipes to smoke, I'm sure that would be a part of our celebration too.

If I know anything about hobbits (and I like to think that I do), it's that they love to be at home. Hobbit Holes mean comfort - cozy old chairs, fully stocked pantries, hot drinks, and music and stories! But where do the stories come from? Well, that is the other thing about hobbits - as much as they love home, they know Adventure lurks outside their door and is bound to make them late for supper, but is worth the risk to find treasure and a good story. No matter where Adventure takes them, their heart still pines for the home they love.

That is what I've learned it means to be a hobbit - to feel a constant tension between the thrilling quest for true love and high adventure, and the safety and comfort of home... to feel a deep contentment to be still and cling to small moments, and at the same time a deep restlessness to seek and find more. I've seen each of us really wrestle hard with that tension over the past year. Rich, deep, full life is in both places, you know. And while we can only have one or the other at a time right now, I think the tension serves to remind and encourage us that in Heaven we will have both at the same time. Our longing for home and our longing for adventure will be wholly satisfied when we are with Jesus. And I am so glad we'll be there together - just think of the times we'll have!

Until that glorious day, let's keep wrestling - going out and coming back again - to live life as fully and bravely and powerfully as possible. We'll be back together soon, and I look forward to seeing how our tale continues to unfold. As long as we keep our eyes on Jesus, and spur each other on to following his lead, I know the story will be unexpected and wonderful.

May the hair on your toes never fall out,

Constance Baggins

Monday, January 6, 2014

Reflecting on 2013

Looking back on 2013, here are some of the brightest highlights (in no particular order):
- TCF Youth Group summer trip
- Young Money Club
- Camp Imadene
- Roadtrip to Canada
- Emilee and Brie becoming sisters and hobbits
- Life on the Homestead - beautiful community
- TCF Women's mission trip
- Steven Curtis Chapman concert
- Half-price appetizers at Applebee's with community group
- Hybrid parties at the Hobbit Hole
- Live Clue game

People have come and gone from my life this year. Charlie and Auntie Midge passed away, and the Connely's and Ruhl's moved to Charleston. Brianna moved out, and Em and Brie moved in. Tall Hannah got married and moved away, and Mary and Bethany come in. Richard, Will, and Abbey were on the Homestead for the summer, and Hannah and I adopted 98 Canadian girls at camp. All our single alley neighbors moved out and several newly married couples have moved in on our street.

I've seen a lot and been all over, and have loved everywhere I've spent time - from my Hobbit Hole living room, to the picnic table in the alley, to the silent Badlands, to the Vincent farmhouse in Oregon, to the chapel at Camp Imadene, to the Road to the Sun in Montana, to mild, rainy North Carolina. I've read some great books and commentaries, seen some great movies and TV shows, and listened to some great music and sermons. I've heard some wonderful stories, and written a few of my own.

Some of the best moments have been the most spontaneous, when I just look up, take a deep breath and realize that this - this incredible, magical, beautiful, precious thing that is happening right now - is my life. I'm not sure my heart is big enough to contain all the love I've received and felt this year, and I don't know if it is strong enough to endure all the changes... it's gotten quite a workout from the effort, though. God has continued to stretch me, teach me, and challenge me in deep ways, and he's used the most unlikely things to help me hear his heartbeat more clearly. I'm thankful that he gave me life in 2013, and I can't wait to see where he leads me in the new year.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Where's Connie?

Well, merry Christmas, and happy New Year to ya'll from mild, rainy NC! Sorry I disappeared there for a while... I would like to say I got whisked away by Peter Pan, but the truth is that any creative energy in me - physical and mental - has been used up daily for the past two weeks on a huge cross-stitch project that I finally finished yesterday. Took me 11 months to finish it, and I am super proud of it! I'll post a picture of it later.

Besides the project, I've enjoyed time with my family in Winston-Salem over the holiday, as well as a few precious hometown friends. Spent some significant time in Greensboro, too - got to meet Pastor Meng Pu's sister and family in their tiny humble apartment, had a great lunch meeting with the new I-Teams area director at Four Seasons Mall, and joined Kevan for weekly potluck and concerts with his community of Christian musician friends in the Glenwood neighborhood. All around, a relaxing and enjoyable trip home.

Before all that, the Hobbits (and cousins from the Nunnery) had a big holiday feast together, with a 20-pound turkey and all sorts of delicacies to accompany it. Then we went to Valparaiso and watched The Hobbit (part 2) together, and got snowed in at Brie's parents' home. The next day we took our Hannah to the airport for her big trip to Uganda, and picked up my mom to take her back to Fort Wayne. That night when we arrived back at the Hobbit Hole, we had to get our manly neighbors to shovel us in, because our alley, driveway, and ramp were piled eight inches high with snow! The next day, after my international Sunday school Christmas party, Mom and I drove down south.

I had planned to leave yesterday to get back to the Hobbit Hole, but then "Snowpocalypse 2014" attacked the Midwest, and with predictions of more than a foot of snow and negative degree temperatures and deadly wind chills, I decided to stay put for a few more days. Kevan and Richard have promised to take me out for an authentic crepes dinner this week to make the delay worth it, and I'm pretty sure they won't disappoint me.

So that's where I've been and where I am! I'll take a couple days to reflect on the past year and look forward to the next, so stay tuned!