Moving Summer

This summer’s move was not supposed to be this hard.

When it’s the third time moving back into your house, you kind of expect to be able to put things away fairly quickly, get things in order without too much trouble. After all, I should know where everything goes. I mean, my husband and I are pretty experienced at doing this move-in thing, and we expected it to be a breeze. I expected to have everything finished by the end of July leaving August to actually get to enjoy having my husband home, go camping/hiking, and be fully refreshed and relaxed for the school year.

orange plastic container on brown wooden table

Long story short, we experienced delays and obstacles even before the packing began, lived for a month in a hotel with 3 dogs, and had to make major renovations/repairs that continued weeks after we moved into the house.  All these circumstances caused unpacking to be put on hold well after we typically would have had all the boxes already discarded.

Just when I thought we were making significant progress, there was another water event that caused me to have to repack and redo the items we had already put in storage. It’s amazing how much water one load of laundry can spill onto the floor.

nature water blue abstract

This summer, I put into practice Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” Actually, knowing the full context, “ . . . for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content – whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or need. I am able to do all things through Him who gives me strengthens me.” (HCSB)

Today is the first day of school in our neighborhood. School has unofficially started for me as well. The house isn’t finished, and now I no longer have the luxury of time devoted just to getting things settled. And it would be easy to feel overwhelmed with all that still needs to be done.

However, all along this school journey, I have seen how God has given me the strength and perseverance to do the work required. As I look forward to this school year, and another planned moving summer right after graduation, I will continue to trust that He will continue to provide just what I need.

I refuse to allow the anxiety I feel over all the work still unfinished to consume my time and thoughts. Instead, I will take out time each day, in some small significant way, to remember His faithfulness and give thanks for each new day. I can expect God to hear my prayers, to show His love, patience, and faithfulness.

I recognize that this summer’s move has been full of delays, and at worst, inconveniences. Many others may be dealing with much more serious issues. Scripture is full of encouragement, and it can apply to all kinds of personal trials and adversities. We are often disappointed and disheartened by circumstances and relationships that don’t work out as we expect. But we don’t have to stay stuck there.

sea dawn sky sunset

Here are a few of the verses I try to remember to stay positive:

“Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (HCSB)  Philippians 4: 6 – 7

“Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”  Matthew 6:34

“Because of the Lord’s faithful love we do not perish, for His mercies never end.  23 They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness!  24 I say: The Lord is my portion, therefore I will put my hope in Him.   25 The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him.  26 It is good to wait quietly for deliverance from the Lord.”    Lamentations 3: 22 – 26

Moving Back

IMG_3461

Our family is moving again – as was planned.  This will be the third time moving back to our house, to a “home base” as you might call it.   If you’ve followed my blog from the beginning, you would know I began writing this  blog when I faced major upheaval in significant areas of my life (The Rock Tumbler), and that I move frequently (See About and Let Me be your Home).  ‘Where are you from?’ is never a simple question to answer.  The short one is ‘Texas’, or the place I last lived.

Due in part to my life’s frequent relocations, building a community of friends is a challenge because it takes time to develop enough shared experiences, to build trust, and to get to know people.  I’ve learned how to get involved just enough to not be too lonely, to appreciate those people who share of themselves, and who allow me to share with them.  It’s a vulnerable state of living to always be the “new girl”.

I just want to share two quick things here that I’ve learned while living in Williamsburg, Virginia.  This small, retirement community, centered on America’s colonial history, is quite relevant in today’s modern world.

First, I’ve learned how important it is to maintain one’s health now, so that I can still kick butt when I’m 70 and older.  Just because there are a lot of older people here does not mean people aren’t engaged in athletic activities, like running, yoga, cycling, and so on.  Watching women several decades my senior working out with better strength, cardio, and endurance was inspiring.  I want to be that person when I get there.

Second, the Christian community here is thriving, and God is moving across so many lines.  I attended the Williamsburg Community Chapel (The Chapel), and the opportunities to engage across the community are phenomenal – intergenerational and racial diversity are celebrated assets.  One such opportunity is a collaboration with the Historic First Baptist Church of Williamsburg.  This church was officially established in 1776, by slaves, and is still vibrant and active in the community.  These two churches are working together for the Williamsburg community to make things better.  I had the privilege to attend and meet several members of this church last summer and was overwhelmed with the spirit of unity among their members.  I am so encouraged to witness how God is moving in these two amazing churches, and I imagine the impact this collaboration will have on their community, and throughout the Christian family.

As we leave the small town of Williamsburg and return to the crowded and fast-paced Northern Virginia area, I wonder what the next year will bring.  It’s another short-term and temporary move.  I know how easy it is to get caught up in work and worries, to not engage with others on a meaningful level. We’ve lived there several times, and each time is a new experience.  Things change so quickly, that each time is like moving to a new place.  Will old acquaintances be welcoming?  Will I need to start new?  I expect it will be a mixture of both.

Pastor Travis Simone of The Chapel wrapped up the sermon series of the Kingdom Mission by talking about what partnering with God looks like.  To my amazement, he pointed out that the mission involved partnering and leaving.  I’m leaving Williamsburg, but I’m leaving having been strengthened by the community and partnership of the many believers at The Chapel and others in the community.

I’m moving back to Northern Virginia.  We typically stay only a few years at a time, and that hinders the ability to create lasting friendships.  Each time has had a significant atmosphere and set of friends/experiences.  I wonder what God has planned for this next stay.  So, I’m moving back while still “moving forward in faith“.

Let Me be your Home

“You don’t know anybody?”

“You really don’t know anyone in the room?”

The youth leader’s eyes open wide as he hastily scans the group of teens chatting in small groups looking for some proof to counter our assertion.  He even asks a few as they walk by, “Do you know these kids?”

He fumbles for words as the true meaning of the situation becomes clear.  Finally, a grin appears as he shakes his head, still in disbelief, welcomes us to Sunday school, and asks us our names.  “Wow, you really don’t know anyone and you’re here anyway.”

My family had returned to Texas after living in Mississippi for several years.  My father believed in going to church every Sunday, and not just worship service – Sunday school, too.  Maybe other teenagers would have refused to go, or have been embarrassed by the attention, but my younger brother and I took it in stride.  We were used to being new faces in a crowd of people with established friend groups.  We had learned to smile, adapt, and make new friends.  For me, the joy of being back in Texas was worth whatever uncomfortable social situation I could encounter.  I’ve never had quite the same open reaction as that, but I have been in the room without knowing anyone too many times to count.

Even though I vowed as a teenager I would never leave Texas again, I met this wonderful man whom I married and who promptly got a job out of state leading to a life of transitions.  I didn’t know when or if we would get to live in Texas again, but both our families lived there, and we visited every opportunity we could afford.  After 14 years, my husband was able to get a temporary post in Houston.  When my husband told me, I cried. It had been so long.  I embraced every bit of Texas culture, people, and weather I could.  I prayed God would help me when it was time to leave, and the closer that date came, the more I went to God about it.

I prayerfully thanked Him for allowing us to get a few years back in Texas, asked Him if we would get to return again, and how many more moves before we would settle – hoping it would be in Texas.  He gave me this answer. “Let Me be your home.”

I found the answer just a little bit frustrating.  No answers to my specific questions, no clue as to where I would eventually be, or the duration of enduring new places.  Just – “Let Me be your home.”  What does that even mean?  I struggled with it, and tried to figure out how I was supposed to obey Him.

Sometimes people ask me if moving around so frequently is hard.  It is, yes.  It’s hard to make close friends in short amounts of time, to leave friends, and to see relationships within communities that have grown over long periods of time when I cannot have that experience.  I long for a place to call home, for community, a safe place to stay where you are loved, cared for, and a place of belonging.  I know I have a heavenly home for eternity, a REAL place that far exceeds anything I can imagine.  That’s great for later, but I also need a place to call home in the Present!

As I spent time studying His word for clues to show me how to do that, I was confronted with the truth that my identity is in Jesus Christ, not in being a Texan.  God faithfully revealed to me through the Holy Spirit and His word, promises and instructions showing me what it means to let Him be my home.

He tells me to abide in Him.  He says He is my refuge.  He reveals to me there is nowhere I can go where He is not there, I am a member of the body of Christ which is bigger than my local church, and I am never alone.  Even today, I found yet another verse that encourages me, “I am like a flourishing olive tree in the house of God.”

For me, I don’t know when or where we will eventually settle.  It may not be in Texas, but I trust God to cause me to feel peace and at home wherever it is.  Whether you are in a new place this season, your family is far away, or in a place you cannot call home, you can find peace, refuge, joy, and know that you belong when you believe and trust God and Jesus Christ.

May the Peace of God be with you!

Here are the scripture references:

John 15:5

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

Psalm 139:7

Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

2 Samuel 22:3

my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation. He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior— from violent people you save me.

Psalm 52:8

But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever.

Colossians 3:15

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.

Hebrews 13:5 [Full Chapter]

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”