Living Here Now

I had another realization this week.

As this year has passed, and I’ve struggled to “settle in” to my new home, I’ve been treating it as a temporary assignment. As if we’re only living here for a year or so, and then moving again (which is what happened with living in Florida – we were there only 15 months).  I’ve been reluctant to commit my emotions to living in Virginia, because I’ve been looking to the future as impending change, and I’ve been looking back with deep longing. I was finally feeling settled in Florida when we moved, and so I’ve been missing it a lot. I’ve compared my day-to-day in Virginia to my days in Florida, and every day came up wanting.

Then a morning devotional grabbed my attention with the story of Lot’s wife; I was challenged to not spend too much time looking back. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with looking back at memories and lessons learned. But to spend time longing for days past is time wasted. We don’t live our lives backwards, and I’ve been keeping myself from moving forward by not fully embracing my current living situation. I’m missing out on what God has for me “now” because I’m focused on “back then.”

Some of this is simply the natural progression of moving and adjusting to a new home. As I’ve said before, this process takes time – a year, at least. And we’ve been a year now in Virginia, so it’s time for these things to be working themselves out. But I realized that I’ve been clinging to the past, and that’s different.

I live here now, in Virginia. And in many ways, I am embracing it: I got a job; I’m slowly making friends; I think we’ve found a church home. We’ve explored the area. The boxes are unpacked. We’ve hosted out-of-town guests.

But I haven’t given my emotions to life here. They’ve been focused in the past.

It’s time for my emotions to catch up with my actions, with my life. I’ve prayed about contentment, but with my emotions stuck in the past, it’s hard to be satisfied. So now I’ll pray that I can embrace my life in Virginia with my whole life – emotions included.

I’m going to live in the now. God gives me today. This is the day the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:74 (emphasis mine, personalized).

All packed…

Husband and I have spent the past several days in Florida, packing up the house and getting it sent off to Virginia. We took advantage of the beautiful resort spa-like pool in our neighborhood – spent lots of hours in the water, surrounded by palm trees and tropical plants.

Cleaned the house, touched up the paint, saw friends for dinner and breakfast. Stayed with a good friend once our beds were gone, enjoyed some delicious pizza and live music downtown. 

It was a wonderful trip, though incredibly bittersweet. We have loved our house, have great neighbors, and did I mention the pool?! It’s hard to leave.

Moving is difficult- such a major transition. For me, it takes a year before I can even begin to call the new place “home,” and a second year before I really feel settled and at peace. That’s a long time, and I was just getting there in FL before we had to move again. 

So I’m accepting the fact that I will feel unsettled for awhile. It’s ok. I’ll come to love our new house. I’ll find friends at church and work. We’ll develop a routine. We’ll get used to the new empty-nest (Florida was our first one) and I’ll do what I can to make it our home. Lord willing, we’ll enjoy entertaining family- and friend-guests.

I suppose I’d better get busy learning my way around town!

Homesick

I’m homesick today, and I don’t even know for which home. I’m grieving double.

We lived in FL for 14 months, so I was just finally getting settled in. I knew my way around town, had a church to call home, the start of some very nice friendships, a routine that I enjoyed most days. Liked Bible Study, loved my Moms In Prayer friends, had great neighbors. Loved my house.

Now I’m starting all over and I’m lonely. I’m grieving the loss of friends. Ok, they’re not lost, they’re just not here. And in many ways, I’m grieving the move to FL again, as I grieve this move to VA. That caught me by surprise this morning. Grief can bring back old grief.

I find myself thinking of my older home, my WI home, the place I moved from when we went to FL. I’m missing my old streets and house and friends and neighbors and co-workers and church. It’s as if I just moved from there, as I’m homesick for them all over again. Even though I went through grief when we moved to FL, it’s as fresh today as it was the first time.

Granted, I’ve only been in VA for fifty-one days. Hardly enough time to settle into a routine, let alone have any friends. But I find myself asking God, “Didn’t I just do this?” I am reminding myself that I told God I’d go where He wanted me to go. I have to remind myself, or I’ll get lost in the pity-party. I think He wanted us to come here, for my husband’s job opportunity and for new adventures together as a couple. I know we prayed about it and sensed God’s leading.

But I’m so lonely. God truly is all I have all day long. I’m trying to practice that, live in that, be content in that. God is all I have.

He is supposed to be all I need. We sing those words. We read those words. Do I mean those words? Do I live them? Is He really enough, or do I only mean it when everything else is in order, in my order?

I know that time will help. I will begin to learn my way around this new place in VA, and I pray that it will start to feel comfortable soon. It will be at least a year before I can call it home – I know from all my earlier moves that’s how long it takes. But it’s really hard in the meantime. And the days are quiet and very long.

So I’m learning, at a deeper level, to listen to God in the stillness. To hear Him assure me that He is enough. He is all I need. He will supply all my needs. He understands my tears. He will draw near when I feel broken-hearted. He is the lover of my soul. I will tell myself these truth-promises until my eyes dry and I can rest quietly in His arms.

Getting My Attention

I just love it when I realize that God is teaching me a lesson, when He speaks to me from several venues, but always the same message. And when I get it, I say “Ohhh. I’m listening now, Lord!”

A couple of days ago, I was reading my devotional from Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. I love this book – such a great way to start my day. The point of her message was that when I chose to spend time with God, meditating on His Word, He will give me His peace to replace my fears and worries.

I then opened my email, read an e-devotional by Ann Voskamp (A Holy Experience), and was reminded that I am not what the media would tell me I am, but that God is the One who sees me as beautiful. When I think of myself as fat or out of shape or unattractive, I was encouraged to replace the messages from magazines and TV with the truth of God’s Word, that He calls me Beloved. He sacrificed Himself for me, He loves me unconditionally, completely. He sees the inner me, and I am beautiful in His eyes.

A couple of emails down, I read my e-devotional from Jennifer Lee, and it reminded me about taking my thoughts captive and making them obedient to Christ (2 Cor. 10:5). So when I’m thinking that I don’t measure up, I wish I had a better body, I feel inadequate because my days are long and I don’t see how I’m contributing anything to anyone, then I need to recognize that these are not thoughts from Christ.  They are lies that cause me to question my value. But Christ says I’m valuable, I’m treasured, I’m important, I’m loved – so much that He died for me. And His words are Truth.

After journaling about these lessons and finishing my morning emails, I flipped on the TV as background noise for while I was knitting. Enjoying Everyday Life with author Joyce Meyer was on, and I found myself watching instead of knitting. She told the audience to be careful with thoughts, that dwelling on the negative ones is contrary to how God wants us to think. “Ohhh, I’m listening now, Lord!”

I recalled Philippians 4:8: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” 

Four separate venues, but all to get my attention. God wants me to think truth, not lies, and when I do, I will be flooded by His peace (You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!” Isaiah 26:3).

God reminds me that I am His treasured child and He has a plan all worked out for my good. I don’t need to fret about our relocation and living situation, or my body image, or what my future holds. I am to spend time with Him in His Word, and keep doing what He gives me to do. And when I choose to release my worrisome and negative thoughts to Him, He will give me His peace to replace those thoughts.

I’m so glad He got my attention.

 

 

Playing House

I’ve been here a week. First, we lived in the Residence Inn, then moved to an apartment a few days ago. “It’s like camping,” my husband says. Or playing “house.”

In getting ready to move, I packed up my things – my shorts, my favorite tank tops and some t-shirts and jeans, several pairs of shoes, my travel bathroom supplies, and my pillows. I gathered my Bible and study, my electronics and knitting bag, my Kindle and some coloring pencils and books. I tried to guess what we would need for the next couple of months, and we loaded up the stuff and the kitty and drove from Florida to Virginia. We left our furniture and most of our belongings behind. We hope it won’t be long before our house there sells and we can settle in here.

In the meantime, the kitty and I will spend our days in this two bedroom apartment, while my husband works a few miles away. It’s a nice place, and feels very open and roomy. The furniture is sparse but comfortable.

I plan to use my time to explore the area, try to learn my way around town, and hike in the mountains once a week.  I have little confidence that I will find a ladies’ Bible Study – they often break for the summer. Still I’ll look, maybe starting with churches where we might like to attend. I plan to write regularly – either blogging or personally – and hope to be disciplined about it! I’ll go to the pool, which doesn’t come close to the spa-pool of our old neighborhood, but is still sun and water.

I will try to engage with other people several days a week – at least to say “Hi” to someone besides kitty and husband. This may mean that I grocery shop every day, or find a local coffee shop – something to get out of the apartment and with others so I don’t isolate myself.

With very few of my own things, I feel like this is just pretend. I hate to spend money to buy household supplies I already have, but it’s funny to not have my stuff around me. This feels unfamiliar, even unreal. Like playtime, not my new life.

It causes me to stop and evaluate my relationship to “my things.” Firstly, I can see that I own too much stuff, since I only need what I have now. Secondly, nothing is mine – it all belongs to God, and is only on loan for me to use in the first place. So I’ll use this time, this opportunity, to test what is really important. It’s not stuff. It’s relationships. And the closest ones I have now are God and my husband. I guess that’s where I’ll spend my time and attention. I suspect that’s what God has in mind anyway.