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).

Theme Word for 2017

Do you choose a word for the year?

I follow several bloggers who do this, and my folks do it, too – chose a theme word for themselves. A twist on New Year’s Resolutions, the word or phrase is something that they’ve chosen to represent what they’re looking forward to with God in the next 12 months. They pray about it, toss ideas back and forth, and eventually come to a one word or short phrase to sum it all up – their theme for the year. Examples: Return. Quiet. Finish strong. Happiness. Balance. Go bold. Rest. Pause.

I’ve been thinking – but only halfheartedly – about a word, and sort of praying about it when it crosses my mind. So I’ve not put real effort into this, but it seems that God is trying to get my attention anyway – He keeps giving me “contentment;”  the word fills my mind and Spirit. As if God is whispering to me, “Be content, my child. Stop yearning. Stop planning. Simply be with Me, and find yourself settled.”

Being content in my current circumstances – living in VA, working in my job, days of solitude, as empty-nesters, in the position of participant instead of leader, in parenting adult children, in long days of just me and the kitty until my husband comes home.

None of these things define me. They are simply where I find myself right now. God defines me, and He’s telling me to rest in Him. That I am His beloved, His daughter, His joy. I’ve entered a new season of my life, and He wants me to do that with Him leading the way. I’m to trust Him and what He says, and He’ll take care of all the details for what’s to come.

I do this by spending quality time with Him. Opening the Bible to see what it tells me about who God is and how He sees me. Praying His Word and my requests – bringing my honest self to our time together, and letting Him fill my heart with His love. Replacing my fears and insecurities with the truth about who I am in Christ.

Contentment will bring gratitude. Thankfulness for so many blessings of my life: my wonderful husband, my delightful adult kids, my home, my job and the opportunity to serve others, a church to worship with fellow believers, a Bible study to meet women who love the Lord. Living in a country where we can gather without fear for our lives as we worship and study and pray. For family. For friendships old and new and still to come.

Contentment will bring peace. Settling into my new hometown. Adjusting to my new roles. Not longing for the past or trying to figure out the future, but living in the present. Learning new things, new places, new people.  Being open to who and what God has for me each day, one day at a time. Paul said it in Philippians:

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:11-13, NIV

I can be content because God promises to give me the strength to do so.  If I have any success in my word for the year, it will be because He helped me do it – to Him be the glory.

Settling in

My last post was awhile ago. I haven’t had much to say.

In fact, I stopped writing completely. Between living in the apartment and then moving into our house, I put my journal in a drawer. I just got it out again last week when I realized I hadn’t been writing at all. I’ve found that my daily journaling helps my blogging – so I’m here again.

I wrote before about back pain – my back seized up again the day before we were moving into our new house. Not great timing, but God worked a miracle. After two days flat in bed in tremendous pain, I walked out of our apartment and into our new home, where I promptly laid down on our much-more-firm mattress. I recently started physical therapy to strengthen my back muscles and keep it from happening again. My back is still quite sore, but hasn’t locked up again. Thank You, Lord!

We’re all unpacked, except for the books – we need bookshelves. Our Florida house had a large built-in, so we need a place to put them. But everything else is put away, complete with pictures in the walls. It feels like a home.

I joined a Bible study, but was only able to attend once due to a work conflict. Yes, I’m working very part-time. But it gets me out of the house and around other people. I’m a brain trainer – teaching cognitive skills like memory and visual processing – the pieces that make up IQ. It’s a good job, and I like it.

In general, my days are long. I’m lonely, but that just goes with the situation. It takes time to get to know people and be able to call an area “home.” I always know that, going into any move, but I’m always surprised by it too.  I feel like I should be “further along” in making friends. I have to regularly remind myself that it hasn’t been a year yet, only 5 months, and the solution here is time. Time to learn my way around without GPS. Time to meet others and make friends. Time for people to get to know me.

We haven’t done a lot of exploring of our area since we moved – making our house into our home has occupied our time. But I’m looking forward to the leaves changing and taking a color drive, seeing the trees on the mountains in their brilliance of reds, oranges and golds. They’re just starting to change, so maybe we can take that drive as soon as next weekend.

Time to go to church. I’ll write more later!

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!

Natural Bridge, VA

Another hike – this one two miles and not nearly as exhausting as the previous one!

The bubbling stream was not crystal clear, more silty. The waterfall at the end of the hike was not majestic. The air in the canyon was still, and the humidity high. 

And the Natural Bridge along the way was beautiful. A lovely day for a lovely walk.