It's surreal to look at this picture, especially standing with Caleb and his wife, Haley. You see, this is where I spent the first six years of my life, in a village called Bludovice, near Havirov.
This path is right beneath where our house sat, and what clear memories I have of it! At the other end of it was our neighbor's house, and I used to go over and "borrow" their little black dog to play. I walked up and down this path pulling a wagon behind me, while the dog enjoyed a nice ride in said wagon. I'm surprised it was ok with this "game"!
What I can hardly believe is that now we were visiting our childhood home with Haley there too. Caleb and Haley are married! I can definitely say that I never thought about Caleb's future wife when I was 4 and 5. How special it was to share our funny memories with her and for Caleb especially to get to show her where he grew up part of his life.
When I was three, a cycle of strange illnesses began. When I was six, a doctor in the States told my parents that because I was probably allergic to our home (he guessed there was black mold, and he was right), that my parents would have to choose between my health and our house. They chose the former.
As soon as my mom and I returned from the States after that trip, we packed up our car and left. Just like that. The house was toxic to me. Even though I had spent my childhood here and called this home, it was not good for me to stay. My whole family spent the next three years in a tiny apartment while our current house was being built (we couldn't even renovate an old house because of my mold allergies).
Despite that being a hard time for our family, it grew us closer. Not to mention, we were able to move to Frydlant (where most of Dad's work ended up being with the offices here) and build our house. God had a way of working out good through my long-term sickness. It was a brave step for my parents to leave this house, but God was with us and led us so lovingly and purposefully once we moved.
Still, even though some of my memories of this house are of being constantly sick, a lot of my memories are good ones. I loved my room with clouds painted on the ceiling. We all adored the playground that Dad and the boys built by hand. Even though we shared our house with JV offices and the church youth-group, and we lived only on the middle floor, we didn't mind it as kids. It was fun most of the time. We have memories of "Pongo" the Dalmatian, of the "scary" chickens next-door, and of building "snow hotels" and sledding into marshes when the ground wasn't totally frozen.
It's hard to believe how much life has happened since we lived in this house. It was a joy to relive memories, but also to realize how far we've come. I mean, Caleb is married! We're both in college, in Chicago. Czech schooling is behind us, and the unknown is ahead of us. Life is beautiful and kind of a mystery, isn't it?