Friday, June 13, 2014

this leaving minnesota

it wasn't supposed to be this hard.
this leaving minnesota.

and yet, as the time draws closer,  the lump in our throats grows bigger, the emotions run higher, and the sadness of soon good-bye grows deeper.

after two years in this lovely state, it is time to say farewell.
by the end of next week, our house will be packed up and we will be heading back to georgia.

some of you are well aware. some of you had no idea.

i haven't said a whole lot about it publicly, but that's been our game plan for a while now. it's one of those things which isn't 100% easy to explain. we had the option to go back to atlanta and that's what we chose. there's no job change or anything like that ... just the chance to go back to what feels most like home. back to the place we spent almost 15 years. with emily heading off to college and sarah beginning high school, this seemed to be the best year to make this big transition.

except minnesota has woven itself into us in ways we weren't expecting. and, now, in these final days before departure, we feel a little tangled up in all that we love here: the people, the friends, the schools, the church, the lakes, the beauty, the summer ... 

but, mostly, the people.

God has been so good in providing an amazing community for us in these two years. so very good. it seems almost impossible we've become so attached to so many ... so quickly ... so deeply. it's what the body of Christ does though. north or south, east or west, when you serve the same God the connections are strong and deep and sure.

our family is living proof of this provision.

it will be hard to leave these new found friends in this new found land. very hard.
many of them have become family.  they love us. we love them. 

bittersweet. i can think of no other more perfect word for this parting.

when we made this big move to minnesota two years ago, i never imagined what God had in store for us. i was riddled with doubts about what we were doing. i spent that summer of 2012 certain we had missed God's will and we were possibly even making a mistake. somedays those doubts bordered on that frightening line of despair. i know my posts back then were filled with adventure and my very best bravery ... but deep inside this mother's heart, i was scared out of my mind: what if it was all wrong. what if this time we had really messed up. what if we had missed the signs. what if. what if. what if ...

and though it didn't happen overnight, God, slowly and surely and perfectly, revealed the beauty of His plan for our family in minnesota.

despite the negative degree days in winter, we were supposed to be here. 
despite the pain of good-byes and the hassle of moving homes, we were supposed to be here. 
despite all the things we had to acclimate to, transition through, and readjust ourselves within, we were supposed to be here.
despite all the challenges and upheavals and boxes to unpack, we were right where God wanted us.

the blessing of these two years in this too-cold-land are too many to count.

i can honestly say, our lives are richer, fuller, better for the time we spent "up north."

lake-living, intense cold, beautiful snow, ice-fishing, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, smart wool and good gear, photography, boating, jet-skiing, cabin-life, wild lilacs, walleye, new accents, dark green grass, winding trails, sunsets and sunrises on water, wildflowers roadside, bonfires and bike rides, hot dishes and bars and snow at christmas (and easter) ...
heck, emily even got to be part of a state championship volleyball team!

there's been so much. so, so much.

and so i can hear some of you asking: then why are you leaving? and though it's a good question and one we have been wrestling with for months and months, i am not going to attempt to spell it all out in this blog post. i can't. there are deep things which sway us in both directions and we had to make a decision. and i can only assure you, it wasn't an easy decision to make. we've waffled. we've felt pulled in both places. we basically wanted both. {of course we did}.  i've admitted before, i'm a girl who likes her cake and wants to eat it, too!

in my mind, i'd like to mix all the best things of the north and the south. a lovely combining of all these wonderful friends in both places ... summer in minnestoa, winter in georgia, churches, schools, etc... just this incredible mixture of everything most amazing.

it doesn't work that way though -- at least not on this side of heaven.

sometimes we have to choose. and when we choose one, we grieve the other. that's the place i'm at right now. excited about reuniting with our life in georgia, grieving what we leave behind in minnesota.

is it the right choice? again, i am not 100% certain. we've done our best to discern God's will, to measure the cost, to make the plan. neither rick nor i have received a direct message in this decision. there was no clear email or bold text from God in these past months. we've sorted it out, wrestled it out, plotted it out and prayed it out. {a lot}.
you know what i'm talking about. sometimes God remains quiet. don't get me wrong, God isn't ever confused or in a state of chaos, but sometimes He's quiet.

two years ago, when we made this move to minnesota, i wrote a post using helen keller's words, "life is either a daring adventure or nothing." } and after these two years, i believe this more than ever before. there is no regret in our decision to spend two years up north. none. not even when we were on our 39th day of negative degree cold. not even next week when we can't find our underwear or extension cords or coffee pot. no regret. not even in the fact that this will be our third move in three years. no regret. our family leaves this beautiful place better for our time spent here ... better and more certain of God's goodness and provision.

last week we were leaving a grad party when we came across the bumper sticker "no risk. no story." rick pointed it out to us as we walked to our car ... cool. we believe that. we believe that in our family ... we believe that in our faith.

one of the strong "pulls"back south is to put down roots again. i long for a swing set to be assembled in the backyard for bella, for pencil marks on the wall measuring inches and years, for an address that everyone knows. adventure and risk can be awesome, but i long for things familiar and frayed with everyday routine. of course i do, i'm a mother.  but let's be honest, even those normal things can feel a little risky. even the returning right back to where we came from has it's measure of risk and "what ifs." though we are excited about settling into the home we purchased back in johns creek and weaving ourselves back into our same old church and school community, we know there are a lot of unknowns even there. things change. people change. we've changed.

but, what we have learned in these last few years, is this: even with crazy, crazy change, God stays the same.
"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." ~ hebrews 13:8

and even though when the goodbyes come next week, it will be harder than any of us ever thought possible, i know that our connections in Christ will continue to run deep and strong and sure. we might not be doing everyday life with these dear ones up north, but there is no distance in God's family.

all week i've had this crazy song from the musical "wicked" running through my head. "for good."
elphaba and glinda's lyrics don't perfectly fit our situation, but there are a few lines which certainly do. "because i knew you ... i have been changed for good."

minnesota, there's no doubt, because we knew you, we have been changed for good.

with those lyrics running through my head, i was prompted to put together a few pictures of our time here. easier said than done. i've tried to capture the highlights, the experiences, the beauty, the people, but even two years are hard to put in a neat little package. not to mention, it was a little bit of self-torture going through the photos and great memories of these last two years. a couple of times i had to close my computer screen and walk away from the project. it doesn't capture everything. two years doesn't allow the chance to get photographed with every dear friend ... but it's something and it will be a sweet thing for our family. and for that i'm glad. plus, it has been a nice escape from all the boxes and packing details!
if you're interested, i'm including the link. and who knows, maybe the state of minnesota will pay me for some good travel publicity!


Anonymous said...

Of course, you must know that there is no "returning right back to where we came from." I was transferred to California for two years and when I returned to Wisconsin (which I longed for) so many things had changed, including myself. I have to say, I feel so bad for Bella and Emme.
Best wishes, Lindy D.

Paula said...

What a beautiful keepsake of memories you created through that video.....stunning! Best of luck with the move (no moving truck issues this time around!), and all the best to you and your family as you enter this next chapter of your family's story together! Change is always tough, but with the support of family, it makes the load lighter and easier to handle. Hugs!

Paige said...

My friend you have lived and loved large in Minnesota and your family will continue to live and love large in Georgia. I am praying for this transition for your family and know you are struggling! The video is breathtaking and beautiful!!! hugs my sweet friend, next girls trip is to Atlanta!!!!

DiJo said...

To quote Rick McNatt.. "It will be OK,... eventually!" Love you friend, and I am so thankful that God blessed our family with your fabulous 7.
Especially two little pig tailed blessings born to be friends forever!

And to quote what I just put on Facebook..
"How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.." ~A.A. Milne

Emme and I will miss you dearly... But, I trust that we will be OK.. "eventually!"

The list of things I will miss is too long to scribe!!

Love Always,

Beverley Edwards said...

Best Wishes on your return to the Atlanta area. We have so enjoyed getting to know your family through
the Rouse's. You are amazing. We hope you will come back for visits in the coming years.
Bev & Al Edwards

Beverley Edwards said...

Best Wishes on your return to the Atlanta area. We have so enjoyed getting to know your family through
the Rouse's. You are amazing. We hope you will come back for visits in the coming years.
Bev & Al Edwards

Beverley Edwards said...

Best Wishes on your return to the Atlanta area. We have so enjoyed getting to know your family through
the Rouse's. You are amazing. We hope you will come back for visits in the coming years.
Bev & Al Edwards

Beth P said...

My daughter and I sat and literally cried over the beauty of your photos because we miss MN so much. Our best friends (their "extra" grandparents) moved up there from Atlanta for "two years". They are now beginning their 31st year there and, though this past winter was especially tough, they can't imagine living anywhere else. We are blessed to visit multiple times per year, even in negative digit temps! MN is a very special place and the people are equally special. Though everyone makes decisions based on their own situations - and being an Atlanta native still stuck here - I'd love a chance to be a MN resident! Even better would be the chance to meet & welcome you back to hot-lanta! I'm sure you know there are lots of great Christian schools here & we love ours! Best wishes on your move back. Please reach out if we can help.

Barb Hayes said...

We did a similar move many years ago; the best part was we had more friends and even after we moved back to Atlanta, we continued to meet them at the beach every year and have now done so for over 30 years. God richly blessed us by this move I did not want to make and has continued to do so. May God bless your family as you move and re-settle.

jodymcnatt said...

for some reason my blog doesn't allow me to reply to each comment any longer {who the heck knows why?} but i wanted to thank you each for your words. for the encouragement and the insight. we are in this very strange place preparing to say good-bye and hellos. this would be the week where any one of us could break down sobbing at the drop of a hat (or moving box). it wouldn't take much.
day one of the packing is complete and all went well. when the moving crew arrived this morning they asked if i had any special instructions. i looked them each in the eye and said, "just one: don't catch the truck on fire!" =)