Sunday, June 10, 2012

a room with a new view

i climbed into bed well after midnight.  littlest girl asleep at my side.  two more children had dragged in covers and pillows and favorite stuffed animals and were asleep on my floor, at the foot of the bed. my midnight bedroom was busy with the snores and sleepy sighs of my youngest three children -- they wanted to be close.  i wanted them close.  my older kids and i had just arrived home from a quick trip to minnesota.  emily, tyler and i had flown north on thursday, meeting rick and taking care of all sorts of new life business:  new schools and new home and new friends... that kind of stuff.  a whirlwind visit to this place we will soon call home. but saturday at midnight i was back in atlanta, curled up with small sleeping children. and this was home. 

before turning out my light, i decided to check out my daughter, emily's, instagram account (an online place to share pictures).  i was told she had posted some photos from our trip and thought i'd take a peek before bed.  i knew what the past few days had felt like for me, but i wanted to view it through her lens, to see what she was thinking and posting and saying.  i had a good idea -- we had spent quite a bit of time talking over these past 48 hours.  it was sweet having just our two teens with us.  we even rented a small car -- talk about strange!  though we missed the younger three very much, it was kind of cool hanging out with the older kids.  good conversation.  funny memories.  relaxed meals.  not to mention we could do everything fast and more focused.  while we were in the airport waiting for our return flight to board, i watched a big family stagger by:  a mom, a dad and five kids in tow.  everyone lugging some piece of luggage.  everyone, even the very smallest child, sporting overstuffed backpacks.  a tiny airport parade of chaos, one which i knew quite well.  all of them looking a little frayed around the edges, a little blurry in the eyes...clearly they were on their return trip home.  emily and i sat calmly sipping our starbucks, texting on our phones and chatting casually with tyler. the big family stuff is all too familiar, but for the moment i was only in charge of teens taller than me...and it was easy.

or was it?  is it really easy? when i did pull up my daughter's instagram photos i came across a picture which she took while we were visiting our new home in minnesota.  it is a rental house on lake minnetonka. an amazing house that we stumbled upon in february and are fortunate enough to rent for this next school year.  it's not a house we could afford to purchase, but it will be a wonderful place for our family to enjoy in these next many months.  kind of like a little bit of vacation as we figure out life.  at least the idea has helped all of us with the transition.  yes, we will vacation ourselves into minnesota life -- or at least until the first snowfall!

this was the photo em posted and
my view
her caption below read,  "my view." sitting there in my midnight hour, i felt some emotional splintering occur in my heart over that simple picture.  her view.  her view.  her new view. you see, i know the view is incredible.  magnificent, in fact.  but i also know that our morning spent at this rental house, wasn't entirely about breathtaking views.  emily is really struggling with this move.  she is grieving the fact that she will be leaving her friends and her life here in atlanta.  i found her sitting on the front steps of this grand house in tears earlier today.  it's a terrific house.  charming and romantic and lovely.  but for my 16 year old, it doesn't come close to making up for the leaving of those she loves.   in her tears she said to me, "it's not that i'm not grateful, mommy.  i am.  i am so grateful for this house and the new school and new friends...but i'm so sad."  and what's a mother to say?  i know.  i feel the same way. i do get it.  i think minnesota life has a lot to offer...i know God has a purpose and plan for this move...i believe that He is already going ahead, making connections and laying the foundation for a new life.  but...but...but...leaving is hard. so hard.  16 or 43.

when we had first arrived at the house emily was enthusiastic, moving quickly from room to room, taking pictures and notes -- taking it all in.  she quickly staked her claim on a pretty bedroom with soft greenish-gray walls and wooden floors.   we talked about what we would do with it and how we might make it work for her.  we looked at the other bedrooms and began to formulate a plan for the rest of the children as well. tyler having no need or interest in figuring out bedrooms,  headed immediately for the water out back.  the owners were with us for the first hour...touring us around and showing us the unique features and tricky things which accompany every home.  the house is almost 100 years old.  it was built in 1920 by a wealthy family in the elevator business.  as the owners, shirley and jim, walked us through the house we were given bits and pieces of its history. while in the basement, shirley showed us a storage room where the wife of the wealthy elevator mogul had been locked up when kidnappers attempted to hold her for ransom.  can you imagine?  emily, tyler, rick and i stood there and kind of gasped.  truly?  add to that a secret spot behind a bookcase and the setting is complete for the nancy-drew-wanna-be in me. it is a romantic house, with lovely views of the water from most every window.  i think i will have no problem sitting in any number of places with my morning coffee and my writing or reading.  spoiled.  that's what i felt like looking at this place.  how in the world did we end up with this as an option?  i know my children will enjoy it immensely, and i know even my 16 year old is grateful.  grateful for a home with a beautiful view.  grateful, but sad.

and so much of it is about our view.  i don't mean the view of the lake.  though i will never grow tired of staring out at that --- summer, fall, winter. winter. winter. and more winter. i think so much of what we are going through right now depends upon our view -- how we view this transition, how we look at what God is doing with us, even how we view our relationship with Him.  it is easy to get caught up in everyone else's view.  so many people seem to have them.  since we announced to friends and family our plans to move, we have had no shortage of opinions on the matter.  these are loving friends who don't want us to go...but sometimes it is difficult to talk about it with so many.  for a while i started to avoid social gatherings (rather extreme, i know) because it was too hard and too tiring to talk about.  "the move" became it's own, stand alone, phrase in our home.  at one point, not too long ago, emily kind of blurted out, "can we please stop talking about the move for awhile?"

but now here we are, just a summer's throw away from it all.  though we will be back and forth a bit with sports and things in july, officially, all seven of us will board a plane on july 29th and head north. we are still choosing to view it all as an adventure.  God is expanding our borders and increasing our territory.  He is giving us a chance for a new view.  not that we were looking for a new view, but how about a broader view? a bigger view? isn't that a little bit how life is supposed to be lived? though we all know that doing something new can be a really good thing for us, we still want to control it.  for me it goes something like,  i'll do THIS new thing, but not THAT new thing.  i'll take THIS step of faith, but not THAT step of faith.  maybe you don't do that, but i sure do! i'm okay with a new view, as long as i feel God has left me some measure of control.  well, it doesn't work that way does it? He can change how our life looks in an instant.  one day we don't have cancer, one day we do.  one day we have a marriage, one day we don't.  one day we have money in the bank, one day it's gone. one day our child is running through the backyard, and one day she is fighting for her life.  our circumstances change all the time.  and if we decide to let our circumstances dictate who and how we are -- we're in deep water...lake view or not.

last night as we were driving home from the airport, i was listening to a little snipit of interview from the lead singer of tenth avenue north.  he was explaining that the song "love is here" was written from a place when he realized he, "needed to stop looking at my circumstances and start looking at the cross."  i was driving home kind of worn out from our busy few days, but those words just kept rolling around in my tired brain. stop looking at the circumstances and keep your eyes on the cross jody.

when the new house doesn't feel like home.  when the teenage daughter sheds tears.  when the little guy has to walk for the first time into a brand new school.  when the middle daughter feels lonely.  when we can't find the grocery store or the post office or the coffee shop.  when we take the wrong turn off the highway.  when we stand awkwardly in a room not recognizing a single soul.  when we long for the things and people we left.   keep our eyes on the cross, family. keep our eyes on Jesus.

before we left this rental home yesterday, rick and i sat down in one of the rooms with our two oldest and talked.  we had just experienced an emotional moment with em and we needed to come together for a few minutes before closing up the house and heading for the airport.  we wanted to give the kids a chance to verbally process the weekend a bit.  one of the things the four of us discussed was how blessed we felt to be moving from one community of believers to another community of believers.  each one of us agreed that we couldn't imagine making a move as a person or as a family who didn't have Christ as the anchor.  i cannot imagine what that would feel like to just get up and go and not have Him as the connecting point between two cities, two lives.  now i don't know if it would be quite as scary as getting kidnapped and locked in the cellar, but it could be.  without Christ and the fellowship of His people, what would bridge the gap? what would carry us through? i am sure looking at the view without the lens of Him and His faithfulness would be most overwhelming.  and yet this is how so many people go through life.  no anchor. no bridge. no lens.  just themselves and their "i'll make it work" attitude.  no thanks.  no mam.  uh-uh.  this crazy mother of five would crumble in a day.  if there is one thing i am certain of, it is that i am not strong enough, calm enough or steady enough to do this on my own.  as i hugged my sweet daughter on those front steps of our soon-to-be-house saturday morning, i was more sure than strength alone is not nearly enough.  

and whether our view is a lovely lake or a cement wall or a daughter in tears or a hospital room or a dirty kitchen (like mine right now) prayer is that we see it -- whatever it is -- through the lens of a loving God. 

. . . . . .

funny thing, when i was 16, my family made a big move too.  and though it wasn't across the country, i did change locations and schools.  ironically enough, my new address was 137 lakeview lane.  

i see morning coffee here...even if i have to wear a parka and boots!

this lawn slopes down to the water - looks like a good place for a party.  who's visiting us?

i know the lake is cool, but i'm looking forward to these beautiful hydrangeas everywhere!

there's a little playhouse on the property -- a perfect spot for bella!

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