Goodbye Inverness…

So I’m all packed up and ready to go.

Literally. I’m leaving in the wee hours of tomorrow morning (I can still say ‘wee’ as I’m in Inverness for a whole 10 more hours!), to begin the rather epic trek to Exeter. My playlist is ready. The van is loaded.

Boxes of books. A couple of suitcases of clothes. A guitar. A few other musical instruments (glockenspiel anyone?). Two large paintings.

I have realised that I have far too many jackets.

And a lot of odd socks.

And I have said my goodbyes.

It’s been a tad emotional.

Now, as you may have guessed (if you read this blog on a semi-regular occasion), today I had my final Dores Inn breakfast.

SAD TIMES!!

I mean, the breakfast was great (as always), but there is now also a definite sense of breakfast-loss deep within my heart!

I know, I know, I’ve considered the abundantly wonderful attributes of a Dores breakfast many times before, and I don’t intend to go there again today, but I have to at least set the scene…

Because as well as the food and scenery at Dores being stunning, the staff are also pretty great. And one manager in particular, has been faithfully, faithfully amazing in his service over the past 4 or so years I have been frequenting his establishment. It was he who first called me a ‘Breakfast Regular’, took a note to keep in the kitchen of how I liked my eggs, and gave me abundant free tea refills.

The man is, quite frankly, an absoute legend.

And today I had to tell him it would be my last Dores breakfast. Because I was moving. To Japan. (I mean, it’s not like you can ‘pop’ back to Dores from Sapporo to indulge in the French Toast once a week…)

In complete seriousness, it was a bit emotional.

He jokingly said that he might as well not open on a Saturday morning… And then we said our farewells.

But, but, BUT, and here came the particularly moving bit, he then came running out of the Inn a few minutes later with a large gift box of my favourite tea to take with me.

Because he didn’t want me to leave without something to mark the occasion. And how better to mark any occasion than with plentiful amounts of someone’s favourite tea.

I was really moved to be honest.

I gave this legendary manager a big hug goodbye, and blinked the tears out of my eyes.

I sat back in my car with the girls feeling like my heart, all-in-all, was full enough to burst, and thought that it really is funny the things and places and people that you’ll miss. And it’s funny the things that people remember about you.

Like the fact I love my scrambled egg made with extra cream, or that my favourite-ever tea is a special blend of Darjeeling and Earl Grey. I mean, that’s not the big stuff, but I guess sometimes, it’s the little-stuff-that-makes-the-big-stuff.

And relationally, there is a lot of power in noticing the small things.

I had some interesting and uplifting conversations throughout today. Final face-to-face chances to chat about the things that matter. Final opportunities to talk through experiences and scenarios and hopes and dreams over a real-life table in a real-life coffee shop. And I found that the theme of our chat came back to this idea. How everything is really rooted, and firmly rooted, in the fact that Jesus knows every-tiny detail of our frame. He knows how we are wired. He knows what motivates us. Nothing is hidden from His sight. He has memorised us. He doesn’t miss anything.

I love good conversation. Quality time. Honest, open sharing. People who I can be real with, because they are real with me. Friendships that honour people and glorify Jesus.

But I often wonder how many people settle for the shallow reality of surface relationships. With the unwillingness to be vulnerable. With the fear of what others may think or say or do.

Fear can be so crippling.

But in the light, in His Light, there can be no fear. And I am still learning that the parts of me which feel so weak, or feel like such a failure, or of which I feel so ashamed, are actually the things that God can use, by His power and grace, to reach into the hearts and lives of others.

It’s funny the things that people remember about you. It’s funny the things that really matter.

You know, I used to worry more about the acceptance of man. About what other people thought. About me. And that kind of fear can be so crippling. Because I believe we should honour others, and never humiliate others, and love others deeply and truly. I believe that we should be quick to repent and quick to forgive. But I also know that the One who sees all of the tiny little things, and the One who knows every thought in my mind and every hair on my head and every tiny scar on my heart, is also the One who accepts me. Who tells me that I am whole and lovely in His sight. Who enables me to live free from fear and free from shame.

Because when a relative stranger shows themselves to know you a little better than you thought they did, when their kindness moves you, I find it a challenge. A good one. A challenge to keep pressing into the relationships and friendships that truly matter and are deeply real. A challenge to take the opportunities to share about what Jesus has done with all those He has brought into my life, in word and deed. And a challenge to remain rooted in the God who doesn’t ever miss a nanosecond.

So tomorrow I will be driving. And driving. And driving.

Tomorrow I will offically leave Inverness for good.

But I am so thankful for so many lessons. For having learnt so much about the faithfulness of God. Because even what has seemed so ugly to live through, can produce what a good friend of mine calls ‘beautiful scars’. That which God has redeemed.

Forever redeemed.

Oh, and as it was our last Dores experience as a whole-group, we obviously took the opportunity to pose for some stupid photographs… 😉

My heart is happy.

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