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).

What do I want to be when I grow up?

As I’ve said before, I’m in a holding pattern right now.

We just moved here 9 months ago, and I’m still getting established in life, routine, church, work, etc. I still feel “new” here. Relationships are slow to come by, and feeling at home takes time, at least a year, based on my earlier relocation experiences. Finding a church base takes time too, and we’re in that process right now. But finding ministry where I can serve takes even longer, as I’m discovering every week.

So as I wait, I wonder. What do I want to do with my life? Or rather, what does God want me to do with my life?

I’m in the second half. I’m a relatively new empty-ester, and now is the time, if ever, to reinvent myself. Or at a minimum, to discover something to do with my life that gives it meaning over these next 20+ years.

Yikes, that’s a long time!

So many folks I know go to work in a new environment once their children have left the nest.  So, since this is where I find myself: where do I want to work? What kind of impact do I hope to have on coworkers, clients, the folks who God places in my life?

Am I doing what He wants me to do right now? I’m praying that I am able to minister to folks/families in my current job as a brain trainer  (like a tutor, but for cognitive skills, not school subjects). I pray every day for my students, for our sessions, that God will use me in my current job and situation, and that I will be open to where He wants me to be eventually – here, or in another job.

What would I like that to be? What skills has He given me to use? How might it be different from ministry? Is there a difference between work and ministry for me? If so, what does that look like? What job? What ministry?

How do I not look too far ahead and simply trust Him for the outcome?

 

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!

Finding a church

We’re shopping for churches. Sort of. I mean, we’d have to attend to officially be shopping, and we aren’t really trying yet. In the five weeks I’ve lived here, we’ve been to one church one time.

I don’t like the shopping analogy, but that’s what it is – trying on different congregations. Finding a church to attend regularly. Trying to determine if it’s a place where we want to become active participants, where we can contribute to the local body of Christ. Where the message of the Gospel is taught. Where we can become engaged, not simply entertained.

Some people never miss church – it’s where they are, every Sunday. On vacation. In snowstorms. Not fair-weather attenders, but faithful followers. I can’t say that’s me. I know church is important, and I have been an active member of several congregations in my lifetime, where I’ve been able to serve and be ministered to. But not since my childhood have I attended every single service the week has to offer. Not even close.

When we were first married and we missed a Sunday, I was overwhelmed with incredible guilt. Hard to distinguish if it was the Holy Spirit, or my own accusations. But like anything, it became easier to miss the more I missed. When I felt particularly guilty about missing, I might do a Bible study lesson or watch a sermon online. Not always because I wanted to, but sometimes simply to assuage my guilty feelings.

These are not pretty things I’m admitting to. I’m not proud of my spotty attendance in this search for a new church home. And I don’t want to make excuses. I’m hoping that if I write it down, it will help me figure out why it’s so hard.

In the 15 months we lived in Florida, we attended 3 different churches – repeatedly each time – until we finally felt like we might have landed in one where God could use us and we were comfortable. We were just getting settled into a routine there; that lasted a few weeks, and then we moved to VA.

So now we start over. Like I said, we’ve been to one church one time. We haven’t been back, nor have we been to the other churches on the list of potentials. It takes effort, and it’s easy not to go. It’s hard to always be the strangers, the ones sitting in the pew alone. A greeter shakes our hands and we are welcomed. Barely.

But I’ve been in this place before, and I know that relationships happen in small groups, in repeated fellowship. So I’m joining an evening women’s Bible study at this church. Maybe it will make Sunday mornings easier.

Change – a certainty

“In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”  – Benjamin Franklin

And change. Change is for sure.

Our life is about to change again, as my husband starts a new job and we relocate to a new state. I know, we just got here. We’ve been in Florida for barely over a year, and we’ve loved it. But change is inevitable, so off we go to Virginia.

And it’s ok. We’ve discovered in this past year that we love the beach and the palm trees. We love eating our meals outside and opening all the windows in the house. We love sunsets and egrets and dolphins and alligators.

And I bet we’ll love the next place. The town is just a few miles from both Shenandoah National Park’s Skyline Drive and The Blue Ridge Parkway. It sounds beautiful, and I’m looking forward to checking it out. There will be lots of mountain biking and hiking trails and historical sites. Another adventure with my husband. Another part of the country to see and explore.

Change can be difficult for me – I’ve never really liked it. It helps when I call it “adventure.”

I choose to assume that I will manage this adventure well. I am not worried about a depression relapse. I have this past year’s experience to know that settling in will take me some time – more time than I think it should – and I hope this will help me be more patient with the process. I will make friends. I will find a church home. I will learn my way around town. I will make my house into a home. These things I have learned.

And I have learned to trust God at another level than I trusted Him the last time we moved. I have learned – again, and on this deeper level – that I can trust God with all of these details. He is deeply interested in me and my relationship with Him, and He is continually at work in my life. His desire is His best for me, and He longs for me to put Him first in this move and everything else in my life.

The only thing that doesn’t change is God. He is immutable – rock steady, solid, unshakeable. He doesn’t shift like shadows. Everything that is true about God – that He is love, just, holy, caring, present, Savior, Wonderful, Light, life – these things are true about Him always. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. Hebrews 13:8 So while my life circumstances change, my God does not. And there is great peace in that truth.