This July our family took a trip back to St. Louis, a city where we used to call home. For Jeff it was his first trip back in 10 years. For Jayden it was his first visit since we moved home to Nebraska when he was only 7 months old. For me it was my second trip back in the 10 years. We have always wanted to go back and drive by our old house, visit some of our old favorite spots, show Jayden where he was born, and of course go support our beloved Cardinals team and enjoy yet another game of baseball.
On our way down to our hotel we decided to drive by our old house in Troy, MO and take a tour of the town. The people who now live there probably thought we were stalkers as our White Edge circled the subdivision multiple times with a crazy lady hanging out the passenger seat snapping pictures of it. Our house wasn’t big or super extravagant, but it was our first house and we built it. As we drove by we were all talking at once…”they put up a fence,” “she still has some of the same flowers I planted,” “they made a 3rd parking spot in the driveway,” “Mom, this is so embarrassing,” do you think some of our same neighbors still live here?” “Look at how big that tree has gotten!”
In the front yard stands a Bradford Pear Tree, one of only two trees on the entire lot. We planted that tree on the day we did our in vitro fertilization procedure. It was a free gift from our building company. It was also something to do that day while we anxiously waited to find out if we were going to become parents. It was a symbol of an important time in our lives. Looking at it, I think both Jeff and I were in awe. It’s so big now, just like the 11 ½ year old in our backseat. That very tree is so symbolic. A reminder of how fast the time has gone.
The rest of our time in St Louis was spent doing a lot of the same. Driving around to our old favorite places. Driving through our old apartment complex, walking and biking along the Missouri River in Old St. Charles, eating in some of the same restaurants, sharing ice cream from our favorite ice cream shop there, driving the same busy interstates, and going by the hospital where Jayden was born. The whole time we were talking and being flooded with memories, wrapped up in emotion.
I asked Jay after looking at our old house in Troy which one he liked better and he said, “our house in Hildreth, I love Hildreth.” That filled my heart with joy. It made me feel good knowing we left a brand new house, nice paying job, big city life filled with opportunity for a smaller, older home and simpler life and that is what our son loves too. When he saw the size of the school in Troy he said, “I would hate that.” When he saw the size of the High School football stadium there he said, “I would have liked to play on that field but only once.” It was then I began to wonder what our life would be like if we had stayed. I wondered all weekend….
-would he have even made the football team to play?
-would he even play any sports at all?
-would his Dad ever have gotten to coach him?
-would I have ever pursued my dream of becoming an RN?
-would be so active in a church?
-would we have ever found a church?
-would he be such a great student?
-would I like his friends?
-would we sit on our patio every Friday night with our friends like we do now?
-would he be so close with his grandparents?
-would I have grown to like running like I do now?
The list goes on and on.
My mind was in wonderland all weekend and my heart consumed with different memories. It was great to come back and visit a city that will always hold a special place in our hearts. It was there where Jeff and I went through many joys and struggles early in our marriage. It was there where we were given the right connections to make our dreams of becoming parents a reality. It was there where we realized what was important, what we wanted for Jayden and what we didn’t. All part of God’s plan. His plan to take us there for a while, and to take us back home. Over the last few years I’ve started to understand and appreciate that time more. Part of it is age and maturity, but I think after this recent trip it is even clearer that He knew what He was doing the whole time!
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6.