Sunday, June 29, 2014

a few lessons learned in moving

three moves in three years. it sounds insane.
{it is}.

and it was only a week ago that we said our final farewell to minnesota --
to the beautiful place and to the beautiful people.

we traveled a thousand miles this week.
it seems more.
much more.

and just-like-that -- we are back in georgia.
or, well, sort of “just-like-that” ...
because, be assured, there’s a little more to it.

this morning, i sit in our southern house overtaken by cardboard boxes and confusion, impatient with the disorder and disarray. wishing wildly for that magical moving-wand which puts everything in its place and cleans up the chaos.

you’d think a woman who has moved her family three times in three years might have an extra shortcut or two tucked away in her arsenal.
maybe a few shortcuts, but no magical moving-wand.
plain and simple, my friends, it takes a little organization, a hefty dose of perseverance and a whole lot of elbow grease.

like most challenges in life, the only way to dig out, is to dig in.

maybe you’ve moved before and you know the drill ...
the days when you can’t believe order will ever be achieved under this new roof.
the days so piled high with belongings and stuff you wonder where in the world it all came from.
the days when you fall exhausted into your sheet-less bed with a bare brushing of the teeth.
the days when you kinda want to meet your new neighbors but secretly hope to goodness they don't come calling while the house (and YOU) look "this way."

yeah, that.

yeah, those kind of days.

our second morning here, rick and i opened 11 kitchen boxes before 7 am in search of some sugar for our coffee. 11 boxes and no sugar. so we just had to give thanks for the coffee.

it’s been almost six days and though we are starting to see some progress, we still don’t have television, internet or a working washing machine and dryer … and, at this point, it's a toss up on which service is more important. the laundry room stinks to high heaven and the kids have gobbled up our data plan like a plate full of chocolate chip cookies fresh from the oven. with three teenagers in the house, i can tell you, both laundry and internet are necessities.

but on the bright side, we have located our coffee, our tooth brushes, the dog leashes and our underwear.

oh, and yes, the sugar. the sugar has also been found. thank heaven for the sugar.

seriously, what more do we need?

there's no way around it, moving shakes things up a bit. not just in the house, but also in the woman. at least in this woman.  i’ll admit, i’m a gal who likes to sort of think she’s in control; a girl who likes to think she has a handle on it all (okay on at least a handle on a little).
but what i’ve learned in moving is: i don’t.

moving has a way of stripping you clean. there's something in the process which reveals a lot. and i’m not just talking about what we find when we move the sofa or pull up the rugs (though that’s disturbing enough to warrant it’s own level of horror). no, i’m talking about when we are stripped away of our false sense of control. when we are faced only with the option of surrender. there's something kind of crazy and confusing and humbling (oh, my goodness when a crew of people descend on your home, pack up your stuff, fit it on a truck and carry it off … a person quickly realizes that though she can say things like, "oh, be careful with that, please" or "oh, please put that here..." she is really at the mercy of many hands in a move. and though, as we experienced with the truck fire of 2012, that sometimes doesn’t end so well … i, ultimately (and somewhat painfully) think it’s a worthwhile lesson to learn.

lesson #1: we are not in control.

and yet the moving isn’t really about the moving. and it’s not at all about the stuff. as much as i like to decorate and organize it’s not about hanging pictures or assigning a cupboard to the pots and pans, it’s not even about finding everyone’s underwear.

it’s about people.

for us, it’s always about people.

the people we have to leave and the people we get to come back to.

because the exhaustion of physical moving doesn’t compare to the emotion of physical leaving and returning.

i feel it. my kids feel it.

the goodbyes a week ago were rough. brutal in some ways. heart-breaking. we have grown to love so many special friends up north.

and the hellos this week have been sweet. beautiful in lots of ways. heart-warming. we have always loved so many special friends, here, down south.

but either way – coming or going – the emotions are running sky high because we’re people and we love people and we are loved by people.

lesson #2: there are awesome people – forever friends – both in the north and the south! (i know for those of you who don't venture above or below the mason dixon line much, this might be hard to believe ...  but it's true)!

and guess what? we need these friends.

i found this out a long time ago, but i continue to be reminded of it with each new experience. when we moved to the north, i kind of half-hoped i'd have the chance to play the role of hermit. you know, the romantic recluse, holed up in her home out on the lake. i pictured myself curled up fireside writing, reading and feeding my naturally introverted spirit. i saw it as a hiatus from my reputation as an over-involved woman. i had made up my mind to limit my connections and to put the breaks on my busy-ness.

but then, hermit or not, people showed up.

friends came into my life, one by one. people that i desired to know better. people that i couldn't resist wanting to know better. people who i needed. yes, needed. here's a picture of just a few of the warm girlfriends God blessed me with in our two years in cold minnesota. these are some of the girls who came alongside me ... me the woman who thought she didn't need anyone's "coming along."
how thankful i am for them!

that was in the north and coming back to the south, i've found the same thing: this community has the same kind of love. it's the hands and feet love of Christ. after driving a thousand miles we arrived to find my (old) friends had stocked our refrigerator and pantry. it was amazing! my dear friend, karen, has done a couple of loads of laundry for me this week. she's also helped me (when i was still up in minnesota) with some interior design choices: measurements, light fixtures and cabinetry. this week we've had friends drop off dinners and pickup children. these are the very same friends who have been coming alongside us for the past 15 years. friends who were with us through babies and adoption and cancer. that kind of love is priceless.

north or south, what would i do without my friends?

lesson #3: we need other people.

friendship is good. it’s all good. even the sadness of saying good-bye. we’ve done it now two times. two years ago in georgia and now in minnesota. was it worth it?
yes. yes. yes. yes. YES! YES!

it was a risk.
i know people questioned us. “how can you pick up a family of seven and move a thousand miles away?”
don’t you know how hard this is for kids, for teenagers, for you?”

yep, people questioned it when we made that first big move.
heck, WE questioned it!

but it was so worth the risk. my emily summed it up beautifully last week in her instagram post:

this is the same girl who stood at the delta counter two years ago sobbing that she’d “never find friends like the ones she had in georgia.”
and now she (and all of us) shed tears to leave what we found in minnesota.

worth all this coming and going? worth all these tears?
 to quote a few northern people i know, “you betcha!”

lesson #4:  it’s good to take a little bit of a risk. even if it involves some heartbreak, headache and tears.

my wise friend, diana, texted me that we need to find “joy in the tears.” is that possible? yes. because, as a.a. milne said, "how lucky am i to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard." 

our final night in minnesota, di captured our girls in this photo. her own beautiful form of photographic torture. what a picture! right? people who don’t even know us can look at this and want to cry!

it’s precious and it’s a precious reminder of God’s provision. because, honestly, that’s the other big lesson we’ve learned: God provides. always.

this little friendship between bella and emme is a perfect reminder of how God takes care of us whether we are moving or staying.

i mean it might be a little strange if i lined up all my kids with all their special friends, stuffed bears and balloons … so this photo is just going to have to represent the same thing for all of us.
(if you are big into being fair then just go ahead imagine the rest of my kiddos and their buddies lined up on the shoreline with the sunset and these props)!

but seriously, lesson #5: God provides. 

when we moved to minnesota two years ago, i had this crazy kind of prayer on my heart. well, let’s be honest, i had a lot of crazy kind of prayers on my heart. for that matter, i had a lot of just plain crazy. but one of the things i kept talking to God about was (and this might sound weird) a chinese friend for bella. not that i only ever want chinese friends for bella … not at all … but i wanted at least one. one. you see, for some strange reason, i had this vision that everyone “up north” was blond-haired, blue-eyed and named olsen. and though there are a lot of them and that’s cool, something in me desired a friend for bella who might share her story a little. sound strange? maybe it is. i don’t know, but God just laid that on my heart.  i mean it people, He LAID it on my heart. like i couldn’t escape that prayer request. and so i just kept praying it.

emme and bella's first play date
and then y’all know the story. first day of school at chapel hill and BAM! there she was, “little emme.” little emme AND her mama … right there waiting for us. like God could have just wrapped them up in a big red ribbon and said, “see jody. see, I provide. I heard you and I always provide.”

me and my pal, diana.
and we got not only a good buddy for bella, but i got a good buddy in her mom, too! crazy, right?

and isn’t this really just like God – to provide immeasurably more than we can ask or think up or imagine?

“now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to the power that is at work within us. to Him be the glory!” ~ ephesians 3:21

and that’s another lesson we learned up north: not does He just provide, but He provides in abundance. He didn’t just provide for bella and me, He provided abundantly for each of us. i could tell you more stories than just these ... because each one of my children is leaving minnesota with the blessing of dear friends.

lesson #6: God provides abundantly!

lesson #7: God hears our prayers – even the strange ones!

God is in charge of the destination and God is in charge of the details. He can go before us, come behind us and take care of everything all around us. we move (for some of us a lot). He never moves. He never shifts or changes. He is constant. and He is constantly with us.

lesson #8: God moves mightily, but He never changes.

and as i drove away from minnesota just a week ago, i found myself a little overwhelmed with the thought of what was ahead. the truck. the boxes. the stuff. the mess. but more than that … i found myself overwhelmed with the lessons i have really learned in moving three times in three years.

stuff is stuff.
people are important.
God always provides.
God is with us – whether we travel 1 mile or 1000.

and drinking your coffee without sugar (once in a while) is okay.

AND ... having a great friend who also happens to be a great photographer is an added blessing. these photos below also came from our last night in minnesota when diana whisked away our two littles while i was doing the final big pack and clean. i will miss diana's amazing photographs, but she knows, as much as i love her pictures, i will miss her 1000 times more.

so, i wrote this saturday morning ... and now, i'm posting on sunday evening. i should probably tell you the good news: after a visit from a tenacious (and super nice) plumber, we have a working washer and dryer today! still no tv or internet ... BUT. we. are. getting. there!


Barb Hayes said...

Thank you for the wonderful journey your words gave me this morning. In my lifetime (79 yrs.), I have moved 27 times...some great, some very hard. But in each move God has grown me, provided for me and, best of all, given me an abundance of lifetime friends. My life verse is Eph. 3:20 and you captured it perfectly in your piece. You have abundantly blessed my day.

Joy said...

North or South GA? I'm a South GA girl with two grown daughters from China. Love your blog & your photography.

DiJo said...

Having a hard time coming up with the words through the "joy in the tears..." Life is just not quite the same without you two here to meet us at the pool today.

Thank you for this sweet post.. Amazing when you really think about what God orchestrated for all of you in such a short time.. Especially, in an old gym at a little Christian school... Abundant sweetness...

Miss you!

snekcip said...

I don't comment as much as I need to, but I have to say "This post is simply AMAZING"! BE STILL MY HEART with the picture of Bella and Emme Jade on the shoreline!! That is truly a AWARD WINNING PHOTO!! This post...the writing, the pictures..just amazing. I really love your writing and the way you so eloquently write it with a twist of humor! I love how God entwined people in such intricate ways. I "met" your family through one of Diana's photos above (The one of Emme Jade and your Bella balled up in a fit of girly giggle). Wishing your family continued blessings on your move back home.

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andrea chiu said...

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and for inspiring us.
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