When my daughter and husband packed up their children, dog and all their earthly possessions and moved from the beautiful Blue Ridge mountains to the shimmering coastal islands of the Outer Banks of North Carolina, there was much excitement and anticipation of what the future may hold for them. They were embarking on a new journey. Their mountain friends and neighbors threw going away parties for them, gave them many departing gifts of remembrance and some even helped load furniture. I was there to offer a helping hand with the grandchildren. One of my daughter’s friends who was also there helping, kept commenting, “I’m not crying. I just have leaky eyes.” I must admit, witnessing the love and friendships shared by their mountain friends made my eyes leak too.

That was four months ago.

Sand and Surf
A boy longing for the sea

The sand and surf was a draw to the grandchildren,

especially the middle child. After all, being around water is in our blood. All of the male relatives on my dad’s side of the family were or are fisherman (mostly of the bass species).

Surfs up
Surf’s up!

The mechanics of the first airplane at Wright Brothers Memorial, located at the end of the road from their beach abode, and the area

Lighthouse
A guiding light

lighthouses drew the oldest grandchild’s attention. The youngest grandchild, being a little social butterfly,

Playmates
Playmate found

          was excited to meet new playmates.

What began as dreams of  an “island life” turned into an extended adventure of reality.  They learned that when the tourist season ends, most businesses also close. The 800 square mile area goes from a vibrant, buzzing community of 225,000+ folks from May to September, to a population just roughly 35,000 when the tourist season ends. The limited supply of merchants from which to choose from for necessities may require a drive to locations one or more hours away.

Just shortly after moving to the coast, evacuation orders were issued for Hurricane Florence. This was a new experience for them. They made the 3 1/2 hour drive to my house and stayed with me for the week. Shortly after returning to the island, they were struck by Hurricane Michael. No evacuation order was issued for Michael. Forecasters didn’t expect the island to receive much impact, if any, from the storm. Not so. The sound side waters flooded the bulkhead protecting Colington Island. My daughter and what few permanent residents who live there found themselves cut off from the main OBX island for several days. Many of the residents lost much of their belongings. My daughter was fortunate.

OBX Michael flood
Hurricane Michael’s aftermath

The water did not make it inside her home. Again I had leaky eyes. I was so relieved no harm had come to my daughter and her precious family.

Being a family who enjoys experiencing the outdoors (hiking especially),

Sand dune hikes
Footprints in the sand

the arts and culture, and sports, they were saddened to learn the opportunities were somewhat limited. It’s sand, surf and limited soccer. (Now don’t get me wrong. These three things are some of the middle grandchild’s favorite things! The sand not so much the mama’s. It’s a constant battle to keep sand out of car, the house, the washer & dryer…you name it. Sand finds a way in.)

However limited the opportunities or remote the humble abode they rented, they enjoyed their time on the island and look forward to many future vacations there. Notice I used the past tense. Seems God may have been using the experience to grow them in other ways and called them back to the mountains. 

Let me share with you how God blessed them through all of this.

My son-in-law’s previous employer recently called him and offered his position back, and he accepted. One of my daughter’s clients upon hearing she would be moving back, because she would be local again, increased her contract. One of her other clients had let her telecommute with the move to the coast, and is allowing her to continue to work from home upon her return to the mountains.  The children are able to return to their previous schools. And, because two offers on the sale of their mountain home during the past four months fell through, they still have their home. (God grace is sufficient and abundant! My eyes leaked.)

Their experience these past four months brought to mind my favorite bible verse, And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.”Romans 8:28-29 (NIV)  (And of course my eyes leaked again.)

In the course of a week after being offered the new positions, learning their house is still theirs, and the kids being able to pick up where they left off at their previous schools, they again loaded up their belongings and made the return trip to the beautiful Blue Ridge mountains on December 17th.

When they drove up they were met with loving neighbors and their mountain “family” waiting with leaky eyes and open arms for their return. As they entered their home they found this.

BlueRidge Friendship
A Blue Ridge homecoming

This too, brings to mind another precious scripture verse.

“Sweet friendships refresh the soul and awaken our hearts with joy,

    for good friends are like the anointing oil

    that yields the fragrant incense of God’s presence” (Proverbs 27:9-11 TPT)

And you probably guessed it, I have leaky eyes again.

May this holiday season bring remembrance of the One who blesses us with sweet friendships that bond us as family with many brothers and sisters.

Merry Christmas!

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I praise you and offer up a heart of gratitude for your protection and provisions. I thank you for the special friendships that make us family. Bless the readers this holiday season. May they receive the best gift of all, the friendship and assurance of Christ in their lives. – Amen

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