A Gap

After six weeks of what I will call the "moving process", I feel as though we may be starting to settle in here.  As of today we have officially been in our new house, well new to us, for three weeks.  All these time lines may not hold significance on a grand scale but alas for me they mark the beginning of a new season.  A new season for our family.  Just as each season has been marked by something, a word, an event, a location, etc., this one is no different.

Returning to a place we have lived before has been quite eye opening for me, on so many levels.   This city, quaint and idyllic in many ways has changed.  It's people are different, I'm different, heck it has been five years.  There should have been no preconceived notions here.  Except there were.  There always seems to be with me.  We had visited rather regularly for the four years prior and I viewed this little town as my utopia.  No harsh winters, friendlier population, less expensive.  You name it and I cited it as better and wouldn't hear otherwise.  Catch my drift?  Yes, I'm sure you do.  Given that information I think I may have crafted a script in my head of what our homecoming would look like.  The friends we would  reunite with, the schedules that would be cleared, instantaneous connections made, the ease with which we would all re acclimate and feel at home.  As often happens the transition has not gone down quite that smoothly.  It has been marked, just not in the way in which I had expected.  

The road has been bumpy.  There were school disappointments and after a longer than anticipated summer break we were all ready for a little structure.  I really can't believe I just typed those words, but yes, it is true.  Living in the unknown can be unnerving and scary and while the Things were champs this Mama knew they were craving some direction.  A little disclaimer here;  Our unknown, the trials we faced throughout this process, they're ours.  I am choosing not to compare them to others' struggles or our first world problems.  The five of us are here, where God has placed us with challenges He is using to refine us, teach us and sanctify us.  The way only He can.  So while they may not have been "big" on the scale of troubles, we claim them and the hugeness we created out of them.  Which some days was more than others.  Wink, wink.  Moving on.  I spent many days, even weeks, agonizing over our schooling choices.  We wavered between home schooling, public school and online classes.  Lengthy conversations were had between counselors and advisers in between tours and research.  Throughout this decision making process I have found myself more grateful than ever that we live in a country where we can choose the education that best suits our children.  In the end, that is after Thing 3 was told her credits would not be accepted and she would have to take up to seven final exams before she would be admitted, Thing 2 chose to home school for her last three credits of high school and Thing 4 was offered an opportunity to intertwine football and his academics, I can confidently say that homeschooling is the path for us.  At least for right now.   

Amidst the schooling decision we were house hunting and finalizing relocation details.  Our temporary housing situation was a gift.  An apartment for the five us plus Polo to reside until a permanent place was found, no hotel or eating out three meals a day for four weeks.  Thank you very much.  It was a respite of sorts and we established a routine while living there.  Every morning and at least once, maybe twice, in the evening I would scour the real estate sites in search of a home.  With our family's size and budget, not to mention, the four legged creature we choose to claim as family, this proved to be another difficult task; One which I wasn't necessarily expecting.  Have you noticed the pattern?  The market here is booming.  Rentals are available one hour and gone the next.  Prices are sky high and corporate property management teams seem to rule.  These were all bumps in the road that we had to learn to navigate.  Husband Jared was assisting with all this and stepping into a new role with a new company.  I think we calculated that within our first few weeks of moving he was only home for about four days.  That took a toll on me that I wasn't expecting as well.  Anyhow, we would Face Time and usually the conversations were dominated with house talk.  We spent one of our first days here, rather unsuccessfully, with a realtor looking at potential rentals.  With our reality check in place our search continued.  Phone calls, emails, loads of driving through neighborhoods and lots of tours in homes that never felt just right.  In the end we found a house.  In the very first neighborhood we lived in back in 2006, go figure it is the exact floor plan of that home too.  And in the way that only God can we found the house when we weren't even looking for it.  That seems to be His way.  As we were nearing the end of our paid for time in the apartment, with only two rentals available and one well over our price point, a house that was on the market for sale becomes available to rent.

Housing and schooling, those were two top concerns of ours entering into this relocation.  Of course moving with three children and one who is currently away at school brings an elevated level of "concern" to the situation.  Never before had we embarked on a journey like this without Thing 1.  The other Things felt it, I couldn't not notice it.  When we stopped for meals I would still ask for a table for six.  I'd look in the back of the car for her face or ask for her coffee order.  Strange.  We made our best attempt to include her in the process.  Face timing is a magical gift from technology. At each of our stops we'd call and share our surroundings, the treat we were indulging in, the hotel we were staying at and yes, she even had a tour of the apartment.  It kept us connected and I am grateful. I think it might have helped Things 2-4 as well.  Your siblings, they say, are the only people in your life who share your story from the beginning.  I'd say that's true.  They are the only ones that know what growing up in your household was like.  Needless to say they are important in weaving together your history, your memories and their influence has the ability to shape you.   I can say with confidence that has been true for my brother and me.  I pray that our four lean on one another, and are bound together by greater bonds as they journey this life together.

Husband Jared and I did not make the decision to relocate lightly.  One of the weighty pieces was the community that each of the Things had created and become a part of.  There were tight friend groups, mentors, teams, Bible study groups and classmates that felt more like family than friend.  Leaving those people behind was tough to say the least.  We encountered attitude, disappointment, sadness, and yes even some bouts of being ignored once the finality of what was happening became reality.  The Things were involved in the discussions and prayer surrounding the potential change and their opinions and feelings were all taken into consideration, however when you are a teenager and your parents inform you that you are possibly going to be plucked from all that you have come to love and trust there will be push back.  This isn't their first rodeo and probably not their last but that doesn't seem to lessen the sting of saying goodbye.  On the heels of "see you later", they all returned to a place where they had grown up for four years, so they knew other kids here.  People change and move on and all that has happened so for them it has been a slow moving dance of finding their community.  Isn't that true for all of us?  The waters rise, the tides change and here we are standing at the edge waiting to be invited in.  We're working through that and no doubt there have been some big life lessons learned.

Finding your place, your people, a community of acceptance and grace and love is a challenge.  God is working through it all, teaching us things we thought we had already mastered; You know, with all the moving and change we've experienced before.  And what comes before every fall, pride.  That nasty five letter word that gets the upper hand on my every time.  I thought we had this one in the bag.  A familiar location, family, friends, all that jazz and then we got in that car and drove away from Eden Prairie and all that we knew and loved for the past four years.  Then it was just surreal.  We walked into a city that was home and that we referred to as "our home", even while living up North.  Now it was home and it became our assignment to create an environment for ourselves and the Things that felt as such.  I carried a bag of expectations with me and never once did it look the way I thought it would.  In some ways I was surprised with the ease and in others I shook my fists and asked why.  Then I'd receive a text or message from a friend near and far and the expectations would be shattered and turned into God kisses.  I'd be discouraged over the inconveniences and speed bumps and the timeline in my mind that wasn't coinciding.  Sometimes I was aware of my propensity to complain and harden my heart, the lack of effort I put forth and the distance I created between myself and God.  Other times not so much.  I would watch the Things be flexible and forgiving and so filled with grace that His presence was undeniable.  When I withdrew Husband Jared would meet me half way and hold my hand until I was ready.  Or at least while I was venting.  Maybe he was afraid I would break something.  There is no pretty way to wrap this up, there are always two sides to every story, the beautiful and the ugly.  Or as an author I admire, Glennon Doyle Melton says this life is "brutiful".  Brutal and hard and at the same time beautiful and awe inspiring.  And we are all walking in and through that daily.  So this season has a marking too, just like all the others.  An understanding of expectations, how they can lead to unnecessary disappointment and how I get in the way of myself most often.  As if that makes any sense.  A season of remembering that gratitude and thanksgiving can be transformative.   He is so good even when I think He isn't.    For now I will put all that in my bag, hold it close and try not to forget.  At least until the next time I do.  Such is the way of life.  Always learning, being filled with more and more grace and continuing on.  We will do that here where He has us until we're not.  Then we'll take what we've been given here and move on and share it in the next.  

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