Tag Archive | moving

Back to Simplicity

Note: I wrote this a month ago while we were homeless. I have no idea how I missed posting it, but I still stand behind what it says, so here it is:

Just over three weeks ago, my husband, son, and I sold our house, five weeks before we could close on another one. In October my oldest son bought a house, and he invited us to stay with him. We said yes.

At this moment, 95% of what we own is in a storage unit across town. For the first few days we visited often as we added to it and tried to find the most important things to bring to my son’s house. But for the last two weeks, we’ve not visited our things at all.

I had been writing about decluttering and living a simpler life. I think this qualifies. My husband, son, two dogs and I are sharing a bedroom. My wardrobe is in a box, and for the sake of simplicity I haven’t dug down too far, so I keep wearing the same two or three items over and over again. We have nothing personal around–photos, art, decorations. Everything is my son’s. All of my hobbies are buried in the storage shed, so I do a lot of wandering and wash a lot of dishes to keep busy.

I don’t miss most of my things. I wish I hadn’t buried my planner or my son’s gradebook. I hope I find the grade book again, because his entire fall semester of grades is in there. Our cats were farmed out to family, and I really miss them. I want my dresser so I can lay out clothes so I can see them. But for the most part, my stuff is extra.

Granted, my son has kitchenware and dishes, so it’s not like we cook over a fire pit with sticks. He has towels and toilet paper. We’re living in a fully furnished house, only very little of it belongs to us. And I don’t really miss the stuff that does belong to us.

I’m excited about moving back to my own place. Not sharing a bedroom with a teenage boy. Room to spread out a little bit. A new yard that’s a wide open blank slate. But the time here with my son has been educational. It’s nice to know I’m not hopelessly attached to my stuff. We’re moving to the country, but my son lives in an urban neighborhood, and I’ve enjoyed that, especially the variety of races and ethnic groups we meet when we go shopping nearby. It’s good to know we can thrive where we didn’t plan to be and enjoy life when it doesn’t exactly follow the plan.

God blessed us with a place in the country, but I’m glad we had this little respite to hang out with my son and live a different kind of life.

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Up a Gravel Hill

img_20170217_075026Last Monday I was able to fulfill a long-term dream. My family moved into a little manufactured house on 3.6 acres, so we are now living in the country. Across the street is a farm where cows wander all day. Behind us are horses that occasionally top the hill so we can see them against the horizon. It’s quiet out here. Roosters crow from the horse farm, and red-winged blackbirds call from everywhere.

I spent a lot of time this week thinking about slow living. I like the idea of simple living, but I don’t focus on the decluttering part as much as the busyness part. I like living slow. And yet, I’m conditioned to  fight that.

I can watch an hour of television and feel no guilt. It’s entertaining, and it’s culturally acceptable. It’s even acceptable to turn on Netflix and binge every now and then and watch a season of something in a weekend.

However, if I stare out my window at cows for an hour, I feel like I am wasting time. Why? It’s interesting to me. I love to see and hear what goes on outside. Why is it wasteful to watch God’s Netflix but acceptable to watch man’s? And face it, what I watch out my windows is a lot more acceptable to God than some of the antics on the screen I call entertainment. Am I the only one who struggles with this?

As I was ‘wasting time’ this week watching skies and clouds, I was thinking about heaven. I wish God had given us more hints about what heaven will be like. But I suspect we can be present without guilt. We can take time to pursue a thing without worrying about needing to do something else. I want to stand on a cliff side and watch the sea for hours. I want to stare at the stars and listen to the wind or the rain and not ever feel the tug of time, not play a mental list of better ways to use my hours, never feel guilt about choosing to feed my love of beauty or my love of creation. In fact, people I love might stand at my side and stare in awe with me, for what will that landscape look like, when sin no longer causes creation to groan, when all is as it was meant to be from the beginning, when I can work with God keeping up the perfection of his world and never fear working against it?

I realize this is a blog filled with rather discordant ideas and thoughts, but that’s where I am this week. I left the home where I raised my children. Only one child moved with me. We’re not around the corner from the grocery store. I feel loss as well as gain, wonder as well as emptiness. There are a lot of emotions to process, because we all know a move has little to do with geography and a lot to do with memories and heart and people. And although we didn’t move far, only thirty miles, in the world of people that’s a long way. Things aren’t what they were a week ago. And it remains to be seen what our new life will look like.

I am excited about this new step on the path. But I also know location doesn’t change the deep things. I hope to see God here on the hillside, but my sin is still my sin. My struggles are still my struggles. I’ve added images of beauty and awe, but I am still me. And I knew that would be the case, but sometimes I wish it was as easy to change the inner self as it was to change geography.

Anyway, that’s enough rambling for this post. Next time I’ll try to be more organized. My physical life will be more organized as I work through boxes. The emotions should be calmer as I work through the new distances from my adult children and my friends. I might even post a blog entry with a specific point. But until then, if you find yourself on a meandering path, feel free to share that with me. I get to write to you all the time, and I’d love comments or emails with your stories, too. Everyone’s path includes stories worth telling, ideas worth pondering, insights worth sharing. Feel free to share yours. Here in the country I have time and space to hear and ponder with you.

A Job Well Done

file0001984548061My husband, youngest son, and I are putting our house on the market. This means all those repairs we’d neglected–we are working on those. All the clutter we stopped seeing ages ago–it’s time to open our eyes and deal with it. It’s taken an insane amount of time, which is one reason this blog has been sitting in silence for a while.

When we moved into this house we were a family of five. Our kids were ages 4-9. Within a year another one arrived. Most of my kids’ childhoods happened in this house.

Now, this post is not a walk down memory lane. Truth is I’m not all that sentimental about houses. But I remember what it was like to have little kids and a house, and I wanted to spend more time dealing with the kids than the house. The house was background, and the family within was foreground.

So now, nearly two decades of semi-neglect later, I’m trying to get my house ready, and I want it ready fast. I’m not very patient. My first instinct is to cut corners. Make it look nice, even if problems are hiding under the surface. So what if the whole place falls apart in a year? As long as it looks good enough to sell…

Right. I’m trying hard to think about the family that will move into this house. It means I might spend a little more than I want for things I’m about to leave, like the new kitchen faucet, which should last forever without dripping. Some young mama living in this house doesn’t need dripping faucets. Or the floor I’m putting in the laundry room because I didn’t bother a year ago when the water heater blew out–it’s true I got cheap flooring, since that’s all I could manage, but I’m doing everything I can to make sure it’s put down well so it won’t be a problem for a long, long time.

The fight between my impatient self and my kind self has been rough. I fear that I’ll finally get this place ready to go and all the houses I’ve been watching will be gone, and I’ll be homeless. But I know I need to do my best. No, my work isn’t the same as a professional, but I do my best within the budget I’ve been given. And I won’t fix everything, but I’ll be honest about what works and what doesn’t. The problems won’t be huge, like hidden mold in the basement or a colony of bats in the attic. Whoever moves in should be able to focus more on the people within these walls than the walls themselves.

God has talked to me in the silence while I lay tile or paint walls. And more than once He’s had to say Do that again. That’s the sloppiest trim painting job I’ve ever seen. What’s wrong with you? or Don’t you think they deserve a laundry room floor that isn’t peeling in the corners? And I laugh and sigh and put on another coat or lay another tile. I work for Him. And that means a job well done, even when the last thing I want to do is put up yet another coat of trim paint.

When Someday Might be Soon

sun-on-mist-through-treesAnyone who knows me knows I have always wanted to live in a country setting. I want to look out the window and see beautiful scenery and not just neighbors. It’s never been feasible for us to move, mostly because of money, so it’s just a dream. Someday, I say. Someday.

A couple weeks ago a few events happened that made me rethink the someday part of that dream. I saw a couple houses in our price range that had land and beautiful scenery. My son got married, and another is closing on a house, so our family is shrinking fast, meaning we could do with smaller spaces, which might be more our price range. My husband’s job is in a location that makes it easy to head out to a country setting without him spending half his life in the car.

So we talked to an  agent and decided to put our house on the market. I’m painting and repairing and working myself to death to get it all ready. And while I do, I worry. And I doubt. And I question the wisdom of this. We have a perfectly fine house. It’s on a pretty lot, considering we live in the city. There is no reason for us to move except that I want to. It will be expensive, and it’s work. My husband and son couldn’t care less, so it’s happening just because I want it to, and wow. It’s been hard to tell myself this is okay.

My husband isn’t happy with his job. It doesn’t use his skills, and the pay is much lower than his last job (he was an engineer who lost his job about eight years ago), and it’s second shift, which has been hard. When we decided to move, he stepped up his job search, thinking maybe he could find a new job before we move, and then we could simply move to his new location. I’m fine with that. I hate for him to feel trapped and not to be challenged by his work.

So I’m worrying about finding a new house and whether it’s worth a move just because I want it. Feels decadent. And he hopes to find a job before I find my long-awaited country house, because he would hate to find a job three days after we settle and force us to move again.

Today he got a call from a recruiter about a job that’s close to us but far enough that it would make a country life easier. The job would make more money, and it is in a small, rural town close enough to our big town that I could easily keep my son involved in his life. It would be the best of all worlds. It would be amazing.

And my thoughts about this? It could never happen. That isn’t how God deals with us.

God must get so tired of me for doubting His goodness and His love and His power. I fall into this same pattern of thinking over and over and over. And yet the Bible makes it clear He isn’t tired of me. He doesn’t get frustrated and make my life hard just because I expect it to be hard. His love is huge. Of course He could give us a good job and a good house at the same time. He’s done it for other people. It’s not an impossible dream. And if He does or doesn’t do that, it doesn’t change His love for us. He isn’t a big meanie who doles out blessings like a miser.

So where does the doubt come from? I’ve had plenty of things in my life work perfectly. Healthy babies that grew up to be healthy adults. A roof over our heads even after months on unemployment. A great church. We have cars that run and toilets that don’t. So where do I get this idea God puts a limit on how good things can get?

I’ve been like this forever. It’s something God and I hash out over and over and over, my doubt that He cares about the little things, that He works in the details. The big stuff, sure, like salvation and justification. Heaven. I have no doubt he loved me enough to send Jesus. So why do I think a few details are beyond Him? And where do I get the idea that He wants me happy, but not too happy. Life can be good, but not too good.

I don’t have answers for that. I have the feeling the next few weeks are going to shake a few things loose. I’m a mom who’s spent the last quarter century putting myself second to my family, and right now I’m asking my family to sacrifice so I can see trees. You bet I have some things to learn here. And my marriage–whatever happens with the house and a job, we’re about to make some changes. We’ve not moved in seventeen years. And in more personal ways we’ve been pretty stationary, too. Big changes in our outer world will mean big changes in our relationship. And that’s exciting and scary.

So. We’re putting our house on the market. Simple words. People do it all the time. My son is a mover, so his entire livelihood depends on people moving from place to place. But it feels huge and strange, and it’s bringing up a whole lot of emotions and shaking loose a whole lot of wrong thinking. And God is there waiting, smiling, urging us to seek Him and work through it all and maybe for once get a real picture of His love, maybe one I can keep hold of for a time.

I’m excited. I’m terrified. And as the words of this blog leave my fingertips, I know this is God calling me to come closer. Whatever happens, He stands with outstretched hands and beckons me to come close so He can take the burden and work through the questions and grow me into the person he wants me to be. City, country, good job, bad job–He can and will work through whatever He has planned for us.

Step of faith? Step of selfishness? Doesn’t matter. He’s part of it and loves me, whatever the motives, whatever the path, whatever the outcome.

The Restlessness of Hope

I said I wouldn’t do it again.  I promised my heart I would spare it the frustration, but then I went and did it anyway.  My husband got a small lead on a job, and I sent my heart ahead a little while to dream and ponder and hope for a new life in a new place, the thing we’ve longed for so long.

The call came out of the blue.  He interviewed for a local job a couple weeks ago, and they’ve said three more weeks until they decide, but honestly I’m not terribly excited about that one.  Of course I want it to work out, but it’s temporary, and it’s local, so there is no adventure in that job.  But the one out of the blue–it’s distant, and it’s permanent, and it would mean an end to this waiting.  Practice is supposed to make perfect, but I can’t seem to apply that to patience.  The longer I wait, the more I hate waiting.

Headhunters are always encouraging, and this was no different.  In three days they called three times to make sure he was willing to move ahead on this.  They contacted his references (a first) and made it sound like there’s a real shot here.  So, to be fair, we went online and looked over the city where the job lies.  Not impressive, really.  Not a climate we could love, and it’s missing churches in denominations we prefer as well as home school support groups.  For lots of reasons, it’s not ideal.  But it would mean an end to the waiting and the beginning of something new, which made it a paradise.

We told them of course we would relocate–you know all about beggars and choosers–and then it was finished.

It could be weeks before we hear anything.  Likely, we’ll never hear anything again.  The wise course is to continue as though it never happened.  Keep our hearts engaged here fully and completely and do what God has set before us today.  Stop wondering about what might be.  We have a plan–graduate school–and it’s sensible to stick with that unless God gives us a clear path in another direction.  A clear path is pretty much a job offer, nothing less.

Hope is funny, though.  It’s powerful.  Every time my husband has a lead, my heart goes ahead and lingers in the new place for a time, dreaming of the future I might have there.  I go online and look around, trying to imagine what the place might be like, and where things are, and which people might become my people.  It’s exciting and completely and utterly frustrating.

I wish I hoped for important things with such restlessness and discontent.  If I hoped for heaven with such fervor, it would change everything in my life.  I wouldn’t work so hard to make this world my perfect paradise because my heart would have moved on.  It would be busy looking forward, planning ahead, packing up for the new home.  Things here would mean very little if my heart hoped for God and his heaven like I hope for jobs here in this place.

I suspect I’ll never stop looking ahead when my husband gets job leads, and maybe someday that hope will be realized. (Yes, I’m still struggling with some of that faithlessness from my last post!) But I know for certain my hope for heaven will be realized, so I need to send my heart ahead to look around and get excited and dream a little bit about what it will be like and who my people will be.  I think, if I could master that, I would feel less frustration here, and I’d be much more willing to do whatever God asks than I am now.  I would accept the restlessness and not try so hard to find perfect satisfaction in this world.

So, here’s to focusing my hope on the right things and possibly gaining a little patience with the things of this world as I do.  Regardless of how things pan out in the near future, the long term view is amazing, and I need to spend more time gazing there than I do now.