Sunday, August 5, 2012

refined by fire or TURN BACK NOW!

i had a funny feeling about this truck from the very beginning. 
when it first pulled up to 815 buttercup i was skeptical. 
it seemed to stretch a mile down the street. the children and i stood at the front door with mouths open. eyes wide.  
the truck had come. moving week had arrived.  
"it's huge, mom!" connor exclaimed.  
and it was.  
huge and here and right out front.  
how many families were they planning to move to minneapolis anyway? i thought to myself. but i knew the truth: that truck was all for us. only us. one family.  just the mcnatts and our 22 years of accumulated stuff.

day by day, i watched them pack us up and then load us out. and all of a sudden that truck didn't seem quite so large. i watched as the men maneuvered items in and out, trying to get the best and tightest fit to our boxes and belongings. it was only 95 degrees outside as these men went up and down our sloped driveway with thing after thing after thing. and the truck continued to shrink, hour by hour by hour.

what does it say about you and your stuff if movers can't fit all your belongings on the back of a semi-truck?  
that thought began to shamefully cross my mind as i watched their tricky loading dance. because all of a sudden i was beginning to doubt this truck and its enormity. at one point when i peeked in, it looked kind of full...or at least close to full. but there was still quite a bit left in the house. the movers kept pushing back the departure time (and day). it was taking them longer than originally thought.  

while they began to apologize for the delay, i felt the need to apologize for the amount of stuff we had. box after box after box. the truck seemed to sag. the men seemed to sag. the days were so hot. the items were so many.

at one point, i thought i might be faced with the task of sitting on my front lawn and deciding between items. "this goes...that can stay...  take this...leave that...eenie meenie miney mo."  can you imagine? talk about a yard sale! free stuff! i know we are a family of seven, but heaven help us, where did we get all of these belongings? i'm sure the men trekking up and down my driveway had similar thoughts -- perhaps ones not quite so kind. i did my southern best to smile and offer iced tea -- trying to cheer them on from the sidelines. at one point, i even suggested they go take a dip in the swimming pool down the street from our house. 

they looked at me like i was crazy and kept loading brown boxes.

i am typically a rose-colored glasses kind of gal. "it will work out," usually seems to be my motto. but waking saturday morning, i began to have some serious doubts. it wasn’t working out. how were they going to get this done? it felt like we had been moving for forever. it was our last day in georgia. we had a plane to catch sunday and a going away party to attend saturday night. the house was still full of stuff and i had to clean it from top to bottom. earlier in the week,  in a moment of insanity, i had cancelled the cleaning crew, with emotional thoughts of wanting to handle it myself. i had had visions of me and my mop doing the cleaning thing one last time. i am sentimental like that. i actually wanted to be the one to give it a final once over --  a final good scrubbing and  a little bit of loving. 

however, as saturday afternoon came and there were still boxes and big men and stuff all over the lovely vision of a leisurely last cleaning began to crumble.  i desperately began to push stuff out of the way, trying to clean underneath. i found myself vacuuming around boxes and sweeping around big men. for a brief moment i considered asking them to remove their shoes when they came in and out...but that might have been a worse idea than a jump in the swimming pool. i refrained from asking and instead kept cleaning.

long story short...i had to leave for our party. the men were still loading.  around 7:45 that evening i drove back to the house for one last look, crossing my fingers and whispering prayers. the men had just closed the door to the truck. they were ready to leave for minnesota. but as i stood there staring at that truck, i had to wonder.  things were strapped to the front and the back of that semi. kayaks and mattresses and yard tools and untold things wrapped in moving blankets.  

no way! seriously, they were going to drive 20 hours northwest like that? i glanced around, hoping the neighbors weren't watching. 
the beverly hillbillies leaving atlanta -- yee-haw!  
i laughed when i saw they had even strapped on my old (completely, completely disgusting) broom (which i had every intention of throwing away before leaving).  it was like a flag...a banner...proclaiming our journey northward!  
“watch out come the mcnatts!” 

that should have been the end, but you know it wasn't. monday night after i arrived at the new house in minnesota, my husband called me. after escorting us to minnesota, he had to fly on to chicago  -- (timely, i know).  

"honey, are you somewhere you can talk? can you sit down for just
a minute? i have something to tell you." 
{that's never a good intro to a long distance conversation, is it?}

 "umm...yeah, what's up?" i asked.
"sweetheart, the good news is most of our stuff seems to be fine," he continued.  
my heart began to sink and my stomach to turn.  
"the bad news -- you aren't going to believe this -- but the moving truck caught on fire."

it was a good thing i really was sitting down. he didn't have a lot of details and that was okay, i wasn't sure really what to ask or what to say. he knew for certain everything on the outside of the truck had burned up. a couple of mattresses and box springs and other items. the worst thing we were certain of was tyler's new kayak.  he had just gotten it for his 8th grade graduation. the boy couldn't be more excited about moving to a lake and having his fishing kayak with him. he had spent the entire summer decking it out with gadgets and getting it ready for lake minnetonka. "they kayak is gone. melted from the fire. insurance will cover everything, don't worry."  

i hung up the phone kind of dazed. really Lord?  really, a fire? what's going on here God?  after texting my friend, meritt, about the fire, her response on the meaning of it all was perfect:  "i am trying to decide between refined by fire or TURN BACK NOW!"  

so, what does all this mean? the moving truck didn't quite fit our family. the moving week wasn't quite enough for our family either.

things were bigger and harder and longer than anyone had estimated. but life is kind of like that sometimes, isn't it? and often we really don't know it, until we are smack dab in the middle of something crazy like this. 

well, the next morning i had a brand new team of movers at my minnesota front door.  "mrs. mcnatt, we have your items and are ready to move you in."  i peeked around the six men standing on the front steps of this strange house. all i could see was a tiny u-haul in the driveway.  "uh, where's the truck?" i asked hesitantly, wondering if what was in that little u-haul was all that had made it -- talk about shrinking!   
the head guy was quick to answer, "oh, don’t worry mrs. mcnatt ..."
(i began to giggle, worry? me worry? why in the world would i worry?) 
"we had to park it at the front of your neighborhood in order not to block the road...we'll just shuttle the things from the big truck to the house, if that's okay with you." 
the company had sent the regional director to supervise the move from this point forward.  apologies were issued and assurances given: "we are going to do everything in our power possible to make sure this move goes smoothly from this point forward."  another giggle almost escaped. this had been one of the craziest things i had ever been through. starting with the first team of packers failing to show last tuesday when they were supposed to and ending with a truck fire en route. 

i thought to myself, "smoothly from this point forward" sounded good to me!

before showing them around, i had to ask, "well, is our stuff okay?"  the head guy spoke up again (clearly the other men had been instructed to do nothing more than smile and nod). "yes mam, we do believe most everything inside the truck is fine. today we are going to unload your items marked here for the house. tomorrow we are going to inventory everything marked for storage and we will carefully assess if there is any smoke or water damage at that time." 

as nice and polite as this man was, his answer sounded a bit rehearsed. but i am pretty sure he had driven to my house doing just that -- rehearsing. what man really wants to tell a woman who has just moved her family 1000 miles that her stuff was on fire or damaged from smoke and water? clearly, this guy drew the short straw back at the relocation company's home office.

i opened the front door wider, "well, come on in guys, yes, let's give this another try."  and i went to look for some sweet tea...


i found out later, it was this team of men who had gone to recover our items after the fire in georgia. the tractor had ignited and burned, so this new crew of men took their truck to the scene of the fire and hitched it up to the trailer full of our stuff...and then drove to minnesota. can you imagine that scene roadside? in a strange way they had rescued us and we didn't even know it.  

on that truck was a whole lot of stuff which could be replaced...but also on that truck was a whole lot of stuff which was significant to us: important papers and picture albums and various treasures. i hadn't held anything back. when moving a family our size across the country, it's not like we could load up our cars with the most dear things. we only loaded a couple of suitcases with our essentials, grabbed the children and barely dragged ourselves onto a plane bound for minnesota.  
everything else, absolutely everything else,  was on that truck. 

yes, this whole thing was kind of crazy and i am still trying to decide what it all really means. without doubt my friend, meritt, had the best response when she said, "i'm not sure if God is telling you to be refined by fire or TURN BACK NOW!" 
but yesterday morning, i woke early and sat with my devotions and my coffee and i looked out at the lake we now live on. i was amazed at the beauty before me. even in the midst of this chaotic week, God allowed me a moment of pure loveliness. how could i complain about even a truck fire with this view waiting me each morning?  breathtaking and full of blessings.

and it's not just the beauty of the lake view.  no, it is also the beauty we see in our friends. the beauty of our old friends checking up on us all week -- messages and phone calls. so many loved ones praying for us back home -- letting us know we are missed.

and there has also been beauty with new friends... one sweet friend, heidi, called and offered to pick up a box spring for us. she and her son loaded it onto their minivan and delivered it to our house so emily could have her bed and finish putting together her new room. that meant so much for my 16 year old. heidi also provided a bike for sarah to use (her bike also a victim of the fire). this week some friends, jerry and peggy,  brought lunch and dinner in the same day and invited bella for an afternoon of swimming. another family, the robertsons, took the kids on a boat ride and then out for some ice cream one evening. those moments in these past few days have been blessings as well.  
yes, without a doubt, it has been a very long week. but, once again, i realized we had our true treasures and we had little to complain about.


Simply LKJ said...

So thankful you all arrived safely. Sorry to hear about the moving truck. Glad everyone was okay, and praying the contents is as well.

Leslie R. said...

Thought of you as we sang this morning, A good song for you this week as you continue to unpack:

“Shout to the North”

Men of faith rise up and sing
Of the great and glorious King
You are strong when you feel week
In your brokenness complete

Shout to the North and the South
Sing to the East and the West
Jesus is savior to all
Lord of Heaven and earth

Rise up women of the truth
Stand and sing to broken hearts
Who can know the healing power
Of our awesome King of love?

We've been through fire, we've been through rain
We've been refined by the power of Your name
We've fallen deeper in love with You
You've burned the truth on our lips

Shout to the North and the South
Sing to the East and the West
Jesus is savior to all
Lord of Heaven and earth

Rise up church with broken wings
Fill this place with songs again
Of our God who reigns on high
By His grace again we'll fly

Aus said...

Morning Jody and all - well.I.didn't.see.that.coming!!

Guys - I don't know if I want to laugh or cry - are you sure we aren't related? Stuff like that seems to only happen to us!

Still - I hear the lightness and maybe even joy in your words - and I know that for certain you guys are survivors - and that's what its all about.

Glad and relieve that you are settled - safe and whole - and thanks for sharing this insight into your joy.

And views don't get any better than that!

hugs - prayers - aus and co.