Top it off

Decorating for the first Christmas in my new house after a moving from Ohio to Texas started out exciting as we determined where we should put the tree and hung the stockings on the new fireplace mantel. I sang along to “Deck the Halls” as I unpacked décor boxes like a giddy kid on actual Christmas morning.

Frustration began to unwrap as I uncovered broken ornaments, realized I didn’t own enough matching garland for the staircase and assessed that snowshoes and sleds looked out of place on my Texas front porch when its 60 and sunny.

Finding a new home for all my decorations just emphasized I still didn’t feel settled and highlighted how out of place I felt. So many of my Christmas traditions were tied to my geography, to the ice, snow and cold. To top it all off, real Christmas trees cost a small fortune here. I’ve always had a real tree but it goes way deeper than that. My elementary school best friend’s dad was a Christmas tree farmer and I grew up playing in trees purposed for Christmas. We sawed trees down ourselves out of the snowy woods all bundled up catching snowflakes on our tongues. I have vivid childhood memories of being lifted by my dad to put the angel on the top of the tree; I can still smell the pine sap and feeling the needles poke at me. If I haven’t inserted enough dramatic emphasis, my husband and I gave pine trees as wedding favors! Getting a fake tree felt like an exchange for my soul. Now I was feeling unsettled, out of place, and to top it off a loss of identity. Bah. Humbug!

But just as Scrooge had to resolve with his past and present in order to secure a better outcome for the future I turned to God in prayer to regain true Christmas spirit.

As I found a new location for my nativity seen and placed baby Jesus in his manager I was reminded of the biggest move in history. Jesus moved into human form and took up residence with us. John 1:14 “So the Word (Jesus) became human and lived here on earth among us.” Talk about feeling unsettled, out of place and a loss of identity!

I felt a sense of peace just realizing Jesus could relate. He submitted to God’s will, moved from the comforts of heaven to a new world, a world that didn’t recognize his identity. I will only feel settled when I invite Jesus to abide in my heart. I feel secure that I belong to a person not a place. It doesn’t matter where I moved or where I might move next. My identity is found when I remain in Him not in the past, present or future. Who am I? I am God’s and he is mine. We dwell together and that tops it all.

This year as my husband lifts my daughter to top off the fake tree with the angel, I will let it remind me what is real.

 

 

Seeing Their Faith

The Bible contains a story that is retold in 3 of the 4 gospel books about a paralyzed man who was healed spiritually and physically through the faith of his friends.

“Four men arrived carrying a paralyzed man on a mat. They couldn’t get to Jesus through the crowd, so they dug through the clay roof above his head. Then they lowered the sick man on his mat, right down in front of Jesus. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, ‘My son, your sins are forgiven.'” Mark 2: 3-5

Who wouldn’t want friends like that? Those that don’t quit on your behalf. Those that fight through opposition, take risks and persist until they lay you securely at the Healer’s feet so that you can be made whole.

Moving can cause emotional paralysis at varying degrees. You can become frozen with fear, insecurities, indecision, worry, and depression. You are crippled with grief, loneliness  and doubt. To make matters worse, the friends that once carried you in hard times now live far away.

But the Just Moved community is in your corner. And we will help lift a corner of your mat, not give up, and get you to Jesus, the healer.

I saw such friendship and faith in action by the Just Moved, Prosper Texas Spring 2016 Class Alumni last week at the Fall 2016 launch of the “Moving On After Moving In” class. They, once emotionally paralyzed by a move, have started walking again and came back to take a corner of the mat and carry the next wave of newcomers to Jesus. The Spring 16 Alumni have invited people to come find help, healing and hope in Jesus through the “After the Boxes Are Unpacked” book and the Just Moved Prosper, Texas community and class.

THANK YOU LADIES! For being the friend that cares and carries others burdens. Seeing your faith, I was encouraged. Seeing your faith, many are starting on their journey to healing. Seeing your faith, God was glorified and pleased. 

“Everyone was gripped with great wonder and awe. And they praised God, saying over and over again, ‘We have seen amazing things today.'” Luke 5: 26

 

 

 

 

 

 

Separate

I knew Texas summers where going to be stupid hot when we moved here. But what I didn’t know was Texas summers get so stupid hot that if the clay soil is not watered it will separate from the house risking a cracked foundation. Growing up in Michigan where keeping water out your basement was an ongoing battle, I couldn’t grasp the idea of actually having a sprinkler system to water my house. But I flipped the switch assuming the settings from the previous owner would be sufficient and took off for a month with the kids to visit the grandparents.

My husband may take excessively long showers but no laundry or dishwasher use occurred in that month. Only one man excessively showering and the sprinkler system. My face may have turned the same shade of green as the well hydrated grass because our water bill was $1200!

This summer we took our chances. I left for a month and left the system off. It had rained enough that the grass was in fair shape at my return but I noticed it hadn’t been enough to prevent the ground separating from the foundation in spots.

 

A move can dry us out, make us feel separated from God, people, and everything familiar. Just as the mercury rises on a stupid hot Texas summer day so our feelings of doubt, despair, loneliness, resentment, and fear overwhelm us and threaten to crack our sanity.

Romans 8:35 (NLT) asks, “Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or are hungry or cold or in danger or threatened with death?” Paul could have added ‘or moving’ to the list and replaced ‘cold’ with ‘hot’. We don’t have to be overwhelmed with our move because Jesus offers us an overwhelming victory. He reassures us that the natural world, supernatural world and even our own fears and worries can’t keep God’s love away. Wherever we move, high above the sky, deepest ocean or hottest Texas home “nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” That is a promise, a firm foundation, worth building confidently on and not separating from.

What comfort! But why do we still FEEL separate sometimes? Romans 8 gives us a truth about God’s love but how do we connect our emotions to the truth?

Realize a foundation doesn’t move. The soil around it pulls away when it isn’t watered. 

God doesn’t move. If there is a gap in our spiritual life, it is because we let a circumstance harden us and we’ve pulled away. We haven’t been watered sufficiently. Jesus is the water that can soften our hardness and connect us to the firm foundation of God’s love and forgiveness.

King David of Israel was no stranger to moving. He spent his teen years as a shepherd, moving with the herd. His young adult life was spent on the run from King Saul before eventually moving into the palace.  Psalm 63 records a time when he may have moved to Texas (or the wilderness of Judah but it might as well be Texas from the description). “O God, you are my God; I earnestly search for you. My soul thirsts for you; my whole body longs for you in this parched and weary land where there is no water.” (Psalm 63:1 NLT)

Psalm 63’s Three P’s to not feeling Parched:

  1. Presence. God’s presence once resided in a physical temple but today, the gift of the Holy Spirit lives in us when we accept Jesus as Lord and Savior. We become the sanctuary, the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit allowing us to enjoy daily fellowship, guidance, and strength therefore we are never alone, forgotten or forsaken.
  2. Praise. David expresses conviction to praise God not matter what. Praise can be expressed in song but also in our actions and attitudes. It is praising God for who he is and his full character. It is also remembering what God has done in the past, being grateful for the present, and hopeful for the future.
  3. Prayer. Prayer is as simple as talking, and can be as natural as breathing. It is shifting the voice in your head from talking to itself to God. David lifts his hands in prayer as a child lifts his arms to his father to be picked up and carried.

If you are feeling separated from God what practical steps will you take to have Jesus water your soul? Maybe some quiet time praying the scriptures in the morning? Or singing praise music throughout the day? Perhaps taking a rejuvenating walk in the calm of the evening just enjoying God’s presence revealed through His creation? Only Jesus, the living water, can fill in the separating gap, to soften and mold you to reach the firm foundation of God’s salvation and love.

What to expect when you are expecting… a move.

So you’re expecting a new life. Congratulations! Consider me your moving midwife, after 7 moves and 2 babies I have learned that each move, like each pregnancy, is a unique experience. Here my mover’s guide that reassuringly addresses ten expectations of movers-to-be based on my experience as a mover and a mother, from the announcement to the delivery.

  1. The Announcement

Baby announcements are super cute and clever these days but chances are your move announcement will be down right devastating to some people. Your decision will result in change for them that they had no choice in. Sensitivity and tact is required for who you tell and when. Most will come around and be supportive but it may take a while for them to be happy about it. It is unfair to expect people to react to the news of your move in a certain way, especially when the initial shock hits and they haven’t had time to process. One natural response to loss is avoidance so you may feel some friends start to pull away to make the break easier. Some sentimental friends may begin to smother you. Reaction to your move is more about them and their personality then it is about you. Expect that people may respond to your news of moving differently than you hoped.

 

  1. Pregnancy Brain

It is the unofficial diagnosis for any out of character behavior during your pregnancy. Pregnancy consumes your body and mind. It is the lens you see life through. The same happens when you are moving. Moving brain: it is consuming and stressful and will make you do things you wouldn’t normally do. It becomes your excuse to get out of things or to justify other things. Ordinary things become super special because it is the “last” time. You start binging on your favorite things like a pregnant woman craves pickle juice at midnight. You’ll get locked in indecision or start buying things for sentiment not necessity. You’ll have impulses to say and do things you will later regret if you act on them like the time I threw away my daughter’s favorite teddy bear because I became overwhelmed with clutter. Expect the stress of a move to affect your brain, so give yourself and others a little extra grace.

 

  1. Baby Talk

Pregnancy brain will also alter your time and tongue. You will have new vocabulary words and start measuring time in weeks and trimesters. Mover’s brain discerns time by before or after your move date. Since the move is dominating your thoughts it begins to dominate your talk. Until you got through a move, you won’t understand how challenging it is. If someone doesn’t seem sympathetic to your feelings or interested in the details of your move, it doesn’t mean they don’t care about you. Seek out and speak out with other movers for true empathy. Don’t expect everyone to understand your journey especially if they’ve never walked your path.

 

  1. Showers

Your calendar starts to fill with well-wishers that want to shower you with love. People dote on you, help you, thank you and down right adore you. You exchange sentiments, memories and gifts. It’s great! Cherish in it because once you move, the attention is extremely missed in the contrast of being unknown. You go from being celebrated and appreciated to no sense of belonging or identity. It is tempting to want to cling to your friends and family to maintain that level of attention once you move away. Compare it to wanting to be back in regular jeans after a delivery but your stomach is deflated and flabby. Building relationships takes a time and energy just like rebuilding your body, it can’t happen over night. Expect a season of drought after your shower of love but trust that love will rain on you again.

 

  1. Nesting

When new life is on the horizon, your nesting instincts kick in. You scour realtor websites like a pregnant lady researching baby name books. You pin home décor ideas with the same fervor as nursery décor and baby registry items. But before making a new nest you have to sell and pack up your existing nest. Walking that tightrope of keeping the house show ready and living in it is exasperating. Don’t get your tail feathers in a ruffle when your realtor passes along negative feedback about your house from the latest showing instead enjoy the remaining time in your home by keeping it a safe and nurturing haven for your family. Making love in your bed is more important than keeping the bed made. Turning a box into a rocket ship with your kids is a better use of an hour than packing the box. Expect nesting instincts to soar but don’t forget what make a house a home.

 

  1. Fatigue

The strain of a move can be exhausting. Just as a pregnant woman should eat better, sleep more, exercise reasonably, and limit unessential activities so should the moving woman. Emotionally you are dealing with loss, making major decisions, and trying to help your family to cope. If your spouse moved ahead of you, ask your friends and family to help shoulder some of the responsibilities, they will assume you have it handled unless you directly ask for help. Expect to be fatigued but don’t let yourself completely deplete, build in time and ways to rest.

 

  1. Diet

When you are pregnant you tend to take better care of your health. Movers tend to go to the opposite extreme. You are eating out more due to house showing, packed up kitchens, and because it is one less thing to do and think about in the day if you just order a pizza. Poor diet and weight gain can increase the stress that accompanies a move. There are a lot of emotions that are hard to swallow when you are moving. Just as you should keep a balanced diet, balance your emotions too. Don’t eat a bowl of grief and anxiety for breakfast, lunch and dinner find some joyful anticipation, trust and faith to add to your menu. Expect digesting a move is hard, so stay nourished with healthy food and attitude.

 

  1. The Awkward Phase

This is when you are huge, ready to burst, and acquaintances tend to say things like, “still pregnant, huh?”, “You haven’t had that baby yet!”, “I bet you are ready” and so on. Movers also experience this point of awkward encounters typically a few weeks to a few days before the official move where people don’t know what to say to you anymore. They have said their peace about missing you and you don’t fit into their daily routine or future anymore. This uncomfortable phase helps us move on just as the discomfort a pregnant woman’s body prepares her to wanting the child out. Nerves begin to tighten like a contraction. You are spent and ready to just get it over with. Expect some insensitivity at the end but realize you are super sensitive at this point and most people will mean well even if it doesn’t come across well.

 

  1. That Man

At some point in your pregnancy or delivery, perhaps during the 37th day in a row of morning sickness or when the ring of fire starts to burn you look at the love of your life, your darling husband that you pledged for-better-or-worse with, the father of the child you are bearing, grit your teeth as you resentfully refer to him as “that man”. That man who did this to you, who caused you this pain, that man who really only contributed one night of pleasure while you endured 9 months of pain. Men and women experience pregnancy and moving differently. A man does a move and a woman feels a move. Beware to not let resentment and bitterness turn Your Man into That Man. Expect to experience the move differently than your husband.

 

  1. Labor and Delivery

It’s the big day. The delivery date is here, the delivery truck is packed you are in full labor and it is intense. There is a well thought out birth plan just as the mover has laid out the logistics. However once the process begins it is hard to keep complete control of the circumstances. You ultimately have to surrender to the process and try to react the best you can as the delivery unfolds. The actual move from one city to the next is an intimate affair that only your closest loved ones and perhaps a few trusted professionals should be a part of. It is a transition, from one life to the next. It is an in-between place in the birth canal where you can’t stay but you aren’t quite all the way moved forward yet. You may want to scream or cry, you need to gasp for air as you bear the pain of passage knowing it has purpose and hope at the end. You will have a new life soon and you will be a stronger more compassionate woman to enjoy it. Expect a messy transition but enjoy the hope of an emerging new life. After all H.O.P.E. is Having Only Positive Expectations.

 

Yes! There is a more comprehensive mover’s guide to help you through your move. Pick up your copy of the book “After the Boxes Are Unpacked” by Susan Miller or find a moving support group near you at  Just Moved Ministry‘s website.

 

Open letter to the closed

Dear those that are closed to newcomers,

We might not be able to keep it small y’all but we can keep it charming.

The social media feed is blowing up with articles on growth projections. The yellow earth movers are moving out cattle and wildlife to make homes for people. Things are new, change is happening and you are reacting with fear, sadness, bitterness and hostility. The normal survival reaction is fight or flight to a threat. But I would like to suggest an alternative, be open.

We bought a home in Prosper, TX just over a year ago because we were charmed by the small town country feel that still reached the city convenances. It seems thousands of others have also been enchanted by the same North Dallas living spell and we are all experiencing a modern day Boom Town.

Let me reassure you, most people are moving here to embrace the culture not change it.

Let me beg you, being hostile and unwelcoming is doing more damage to this area than the bulldozers.

Let me challenge you, be welcoming and helpful to assimilate the newcomers into our precious Prosper/Celina culture. Where you can stand in the Brookshire’s parking lot and talk football with the employees who still carry out and load your groceries. Kids still say “yes ma’am” and “yes, sir” respectfully. And where you can make a new friend in line on a Saturday morning at the Cotton Gin for a cinnamon roll the size of your head.

Newcomers are filled with hope and high expectations. We can’t wait to see a real-long horn, sit under the Friday night lights and chew on brisket. People moving here are not the enemy of the way of life here, your unwelcoming attitude is. One of the hardest things about moving is going from a place of belonging to a place with few connections. Your “us vs. them” hostility is breaking someones heart. When you choose to stare instead of smile, you close the door to a potential new friend.

I get your side, really, I do, change is hard. Something is happening to your way of life that you do not have control over. But the good ole days are more about an open heart than an open field. Consider, who has a harder adjustment, the person who moves to a new culture or the person who has someone new move into their culture?

“Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” Hebrews 13:2

Not everyone moving here will be an angel but that is why God also said to love your enemies and others like yourself. It is going to take a little extra grace and patience as newcomers move in but the way of life doesn’t have to move out. So please, will you consider dusting off your “welcome y’all” doormat and keeping Celina/Prosper a friendly welcoming place?

 

On Your Plate

When you move, it is like your plate gets flipped. It’s messy.

It is important to grieve the things that were lost off your plate.

It is also important start over and put new things on your plate.

Divide a paper plate into three parts. Reflected on your losses, write down something you miss about where you moved from. It is healing to acknowledge and grieve those things but to also realize that they must be let go. Just like food that falls from the plate, the 3 second rule doesn’t apply here, let it go and start over.

There is opportunity and space for new things after a move. Embrace the break from all the things you had piled on your plate before your move. Finally finish that project or organize. Don’t rush to fill your plate back up again; sample some things first. Try something you’ve never done before; if you fill your plate with too many similar things from your last move then comparison may leave a bitter taste in your mouth.

A new plate means you can do new things and also BE new things. Sum it up with one word, chew on it, and let it nourish you to become a better you. Be More “_____”. Be more adventurous, more in the moment, more gracious, more open, more grateful, more centered, more intentional, more courageous, or whatever you want to become more of. Transforming yourself is more beneficial than merely giving yourself more to do.

 

 

 

 

Crack Pipe

When we purchased our Texas house, the inspector discovered a water leak in the kitchen wall from the outside of the house. Kindly the homeowner agreed to cover the repairs. Little did any of us realize how much damage this leak had caused trickling for years unseen.

The mold and damage was extensive and expensive to repair. It caused an inconvenient delay in our closing but in the end I was relieved it was discovered and the kitchen rebuilt.

Fast forward 9 months. My husband and I are outside when he groans “uh oh”. I’m in Texas now so I feared snake, scorpion or something else sinister. But it’s worse than that, its a leak. The same exact leak the inspector found 10 months ago.

The source of the problem had not been fixed.  Our plumber discovered 2 small hairline cracks in the drain pipe. Water was seeping slowly and almost undetectable. Just enough to rot the interior without exposing itself to the exterior. The internal rot had returned while the exterior still maintained its repaired appearance.

Small hairline cracks tend to show up emotionally when we move. If we don’t locate the source of the problem we run the risk of rotting from the inside out before anyone even notices something is wrong with us. We try to cover up or repair the surface issues without really sealing up the source. 

Our real problems usually are not the exterior circumstances of life, they are sourced in our heart. Discontent, bitterness, loneliness, and insecurity get covered up by fancy things, shallow friendships, appearances, and busyness. But God is like a general contractor that can come in and repair the source of your problem, the heart, and renew you.

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3

If you suspect any emotional cracks from your move will you please consider reading “After the Boxes Are Unpacked” by Susan Miller? Or better yet, come to the “Moving On After Moving In” class offered in your area. Visit http://www.just-moved.org to find one. Time to stop making external repairs to the internal problems. Admit you have a cracked pipe and you need fixed. Invite God, the ultimate “General Contractor”, in to your heart to make sure the problem is truly repaired and renewed.

 

Impress or Impact?

It is said you need to know where you’ve been before you can know where you are going. Reflecting 2015 will help give you resolution for 2016. 

When I reflect on the “Moving On After Moving In” class I hosted this fall, my hope in the beginning was that it would be impressive. So many people are moving to the area, I expected a large enrollment. I really wanted to help movers know God better and depend on Him in their move. But a desire to be impressive for God became an idol that was competing for importance over impacting people for God. God doesn’t need me to be impressive, He is impressive. He asks us to impact the world not impress it. 

On that first class morning, I sat expectantly, prayed over and prepared. God sent 1 person. I actually wondered what I did wrong. I turned over my disappointment to God because in Isaiah 49:23 he promises “those who hope in me will not be disappointed.” I realized what I did wrong was to put my hope in being impressive, not in God.

I refocused my prayers and heart towards impacting whoever showed up. As new women came God built a community that leaned Him, on the book, and each other. I became more and more impressed with God and how he was weaving each woman’s story for their good and his glory.

The picture for this blog post is a windmill panel that is signed by each woman that attended the first “Moving On After Moving In” class in the Prosper, TX area. Each name represents a life that impacted me. Through that class I learned way more than I taught. I was impressed way more than I was impressive. I learned to care more about impacting people than impressing people.

 

More Than Time

I lied and I need to take it back. I’ve consoled myself and others that it just will take more time to feel settled in after a move and that it will just happen with time. Truth is it take more than time.

A wound will heal in time but it also has to stay clean to prevent infection. Moving wounds up emotionally, sometimes sever, sometimes it is just some surface scratches. Either way there is a level of healing that must take place after the losses and changes experienced with a move.

Moving is a vulnerable time in our emotional and spiritual lives. With time, good attitude and reliance on God our wounds heal well and with minimal scarring. However an open wound is so susceptible to grime like anger, bitterness, fear, comparison, anxiety, disappointment, loss of identity, depression, and grief that infection often occurs.

No one can determine how long a wound will heal. There are factors like infections or repeat injury that can delay the natural process.

Exodus 15 introduces us to Jehovah Rapha, “I am the Lord, your healer.” The Israelite nation was in the midst of a major move across country and culture when bitterness and comparison crept into their hearts over not having fresh water to drink in the desert. They doubted ability to provide but despite their doubts and complaints God still demonstrated his ability to convert bitter water into refreshing drinkable water.

What grime has infected your emotions over your move? Where does your hope for healing lie? In time or in Jehovah Rapha, the healer? What area of your life and move has become infected? In God’s time He can cleanse and heal our wounds.
My hope and healing is in Jesus, who “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” 1 Peter 2:24

From Apples to Avocados

It is fall on the calendar but the thermometer has me still thinking summer. I am in the process of accepting that the fall of my expectation isn’t coming.

Having lived in Michigan and Ohio my whole life autumn means colorful leaves falling like confetti celebrating wonderful things like sweaters, leaf piles to jump in, and pumpkin patches. Now that I live in Texas my fall sweaters are thin and sleeveless, leaf piles don’t exist and if they did I would never jump in one for fear of snakes, fire ants, giant spiders and scorpions, and the fields didn’t actually grow the pumpkins that sit in them. Pumpkins also cost a small fortune here because they were imported from places like Michigan and Ohio.

I really miss the apples. Fall in Michigan meant red, green, and yellow apple everything. It’s apple orchards where I climbed the branches to reach fresh apples and played apple baseball with my family. It’s apple cider from an antique press and carmel apples sticking to my hands, face and teeth. The cinnamon apple smell recalls memories of sculpting statues from apple pie dough with my grandma Harriet and canning applesauce with grandma Ruth. But I live in Texas now, I’ve moved from apples to avocados.

I’ve made a far enough physical move that cultural differences exist. I miss the simple comforts of the familiar. Simple things like apples that I have taken for granted my whole life are now only viewed in the pages of a magazine not experienced out my back door. I can reminisce but I can’t replace or replicate the apples of my life.

In Susan Miller’s book “After the Boxes Are Unpacked”, she writes “Moving is more than loading and unloading boxes. It’s leaving behind everything familiar to face the unknown.”

It’s our longing of belonging that drives us to hold on to things (usually a little too tightly), take things with us or try to duplicate it at our next location. The danger comes when you compare the old with the new instead of cherishing the old and embracing the new. My friend Ava wisely advised, “Comparison is a thief. It robs you of joy and contentment.”

Ecclesiastes 6:9 says “Enjoy what you have rather than desiring what you don’t have.”

I remember feeling distaste for a new playgroup of women and children in Michigan because I compared them to my old group in Ohio. Once I finally let go of comparing the two groups I was able to start over with the new group and embrace them for what they were, not resent them for what they were not. It was unfair expectation I had put on them and when I put my hopes back on God instead of other people and things, I was able to move ahead in new friendships.

Hebrews 13:5 says “Be satisfied with all you have for God has said, ‘I will never leave you or forsake you’.” At the end of the day, no matter how many times I move, there is contentment and comfort that I always belong to God no matter where I move, to the land of apples or avocados.