Adventures in Moving

For those who don’t know, my husband accepted a new job in Midland, MI, which meant moving from our longtime home of Colorado. We left Colorado two weeks ago yesterday, so I figured it was time to put together a bit of a synopsis of where we’ve been, where we are and where we’re headed. This is perhaps a bit more detailed (and long!) and personal than a normal blog post, but so many people have asked to be kept posted about our move details that I felt the blog was the best place to contain the information. Plus, I don’t want to forget the crazy adventure that was our move.

After our house in Arvada had been on the market for three and a half weeks and we had had around 47 showings (I lost track a little at the end but that’s very close to accurate), it seemed good to accept an offer from an investor who was willing to pay cash and close in 12 days. Despite the fact that he paid somewhat less than we had wanted to sell it for, it was apparent that 46 other people weren’t willing to buy it for what we wanted to sell it for.  That, and it’s really hard to pack and move when you have to leave your house for several hours each day, and keep it looking beautiful at the same time. So, we gratefully accepted and we closed on our Arvada house on December 23, with my mom acting as power of attorney.

The week of our move was busy. Monday, December 14 I was gone half the day at Bible study and an overdue lunch with a friend and then mostly packed the rest of the day, with some help from a friend and my mom. The girls were out late at zoo lights with my brother and sister in-law. That night brought a big snow storm which cancelled school for the girls. It was kind of nice for them to be able to sleep in after having been out late the night before.

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However, that also meant that Tuesday morning I spent an hour shoveling the driveway. I then left for 5 hours to go train my replacement for my former job at the Independence Institute. My mom packed my pantry and some other things and then I came back to pack some more. That night, Naomi was up off and on for two hours vomiting. I was up with her for most of that, doing laundry in addition to everything else.

Wednesday, my mom helped with some more packing, shoveled the driveway more, and then begrudgingly left, though she felt that perhaps she should stay and help. But I had three friends come and help pack up the kitchen and some other things. The kids and I left the house night to go to our final AWANA at church.

That night I slept from 11 until 1, then got up to pack some more, tackling the walk-in closet, which was my nemesis, then went to bed at 3:30, slept until 6, got the older kids to school (who would be picked up from school by friends so I could stay at home to over see the movers), came home and packed more and waited for the movers to come. As you can see, my house wasn’t quite ready.

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I had planned for Naomi to go to a friend’s on Thursday as well, but she couldn’t go since she had been sick, so she spent most of the day huddled by a heater in her room with the iPad and eating corn dogs, until the computer and wi fi were unhooked and then she watched videos on my phone the rest of the time.

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The movers were running late, so they got to the house around 10:00. They were booked for five hours. I figured I would still have time to pick up kids from their friends’ houses, go get Ben from the airport, and maybe make it across town (from the airport to Hampden and Sheridan) in time to sign power of attorney papers so we could leave first thing Friday morning. Sometimes I’m a little too optimistic!

The first thing the movers moved was the piano. They spent at least 45 minutes maneuvering it out of the house and onto the driveway, then trying to figure out how to push a piano made of steel through 6 inches of ice on the street, up a metal grate ramp at a 45 degree angle into the truck in 20 degree weather. They did finally get the piano in and began working on the rest of the house.

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I still had a few things that were not packed, but I didn’t think it would take long to finish those up. But things always take longer than you expect. So I was packing, they were packing, another friend came by for a little and she helped pack…. It’s amazing how much stuff we have!

In the midst of this, one of the movers asked if he could warm his hands in my oven because he has muscle spasms and was trying to unclench his fingers. In that process he broke a finger.

By 2:30 I realized that I was not going to have time to pick up the girls. I called the moms and asked if they could drop off my girls at our house, which they were able to do, thankfully!

The movers told me at 3:00 that the guy with the muscle spasms and broken finger was slowing them down so they wouldn’t charge me past 3:15. They ended up staying until 3:40 and even then, there were still a few things in the garage to put in. But I needed to leave because Ben was already at the airport and they were past their time limit.

We went and got Ben, spent the next hour or more in traffic (glad to be moving away from all the traffic!), and went back home to finish packing the trailer and our van.

I think it took almost three more hours to pack the rest of the stuff and get the trailer bulkhead in to secure our things. We ended up using 24′ of trailer space. Yikes! And I thought we had pared down! We left our house right before 8:00 and headed to a friend’s house for a late dinner and a warm and comfortable night’s sleep. Ben asked how I felt and I said, “Amazing!” Even though it had been a stressful and exhausting week, it felt good to have accomplished so much… Though only with the help of many people and God’s strength.

Friday the 18th we drove from Arvada to Littleton to sign power of attorney papers, then headed out of the state.

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After an uneventful 10 hour drive, we stopped in sleepy Stuart, IA. Kyria woke up not feeling well, and while I was out in the car moving things around, she vomited right in the hotel entrance, fortunately on the tile and not the carpet. We continued on the road, armed with vomit bags from the mom who was going to watch Naomi before she got sick. Fortunately, Kyria was the only one who was sick in the car.

We made it to Ben’s parents’ house, our temporary home until our house in Midland closes, by dinnertime Friday night and were thankful for a place to rest.

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I was finally able to rest and my body knew it. I barely ate any dinner, then collapsed in my bed and dissolved into a puddle of tears. That night I had the stomach bug that Naomi and Kyria had. A friend at church asked at AWANA how I was able to be there the night before we were planning to leave. I said I wanted to end well. I wanted to finish what I started and be faithful to the end. God gave me the strength to do that, but it doesn’t mean it didn’t come at a cost. I’ve been paying the price for the last two weeks through illness and tiredness.

And I didn’t do everything perfectly. Part of me felt like a failure for not having packed more earlier on so that the last week wouldn’t have been so crazy. Life isn’t always tidy and neat. But through it all, God gave me strength to do what I needed to do.

Two days after we arrived at Ben’s parents’ house, I dragged (almost literally) the kids on the 1 hour and 40 minute drive to Midland to see Ben’s office, drive by the house and check out the library.

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The rest of our time here feels like it has been marked mainly by illness. Ben’s mom had a respiratory virus when we came, we shared the stomach bug with her on top of that and Kyria and Naomi picked up the respiratory infection. Lizzie also finally succumbed to the stomach bug. We rounded out the craziness with a trip to the ER Tuesday night for Naomi, who was writhing in pain with an ear infection. She’s better but not quite herself yet.

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We have had good times too though. We had a nice Christmas and were thankful to spend time with Ben’s brother Brad and his wife and two kids earlier this week (and thankful that it doesn’t seem that we shared any illnesses with them!)

It’s been a very low key atmosphere around here and the girls are enjoying time to sit with Grandma and play word games on her kindle or just sit and chat. I’m enjoying sleeping in. Especially last week and earlier this week, I took on most of the responsibility of planning, shopping for and preparing meals so Ben’s mom could rest. Not only was it a blessing for her, it gave me purpose and something to do.

Ben has yet to work a full week between traveling to and from Colorado and the holidays, but that will change next week. While we wait for our house in Midland to close, he has been staying with us at his parents’ house on the weekends and driving to Midland Monday mornings and staying at a hotel during the week. It’s not ideal, but we’re hopeful we can close on the house the week after next and get settled in up there. (You can see pictures of the house here if you’d like to look.)

We’re thankful for all of you who have helped us on our adventure whether by word, deed, or prayer. God has good things in store for us and you’re all part of that. Hopefully it won’t be as long before I write the next part of our story as it took to write this.

One reason I didn’t write before now was because things were just not very fun, and seemingly not very interesting. On Tuesday, the (In)courage blogger Angela Nazworth wrote about the gift of being open and vulnerable. During some hard times when she had closed herself to hard truths and many of life’s pleasures she writes, “I branded myself a fraud . . . After all, aren’t Christian writers supposed to always be brimming with feelings of joy and words of encouragement? . . . I’d chastise myself, adding shame to my sadness.” I appreciated her honesty and felt similarly. I couldn’t muster the joy and encouragement I wanted to bring to this blog. I’m not sure I have yet. But I was encouraged by her words of wisdom, “Being open allows you to pour yourself out while you’re being filled up. Open leaves us vulnerable and fertile for change. It’s the open places in ourselves where hope roots and thrives.” I know life isn’t always joyful. Sometimes it’s just hard. But when we open our hands to those messy areas, and invite in God and others to speak life into us once again, we have the opportunity to heal and hope.

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Patience Isn’t Hard Until You Have to Wait

I’m a very patient person… until I have to wait longer than I want.

I say all the right things… I’m trusting God, it’s in His hands, it’s in His timing. But is my life showing the fruit – patience, joy, peace, kindness? Not so much.

So why? Why can I say that I’m trusting God, but my feelings and actions don’t reflect that trust?

A friend gave me a framed picture with Romans 15:13 on it:

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

I’ve been focusing on the word “believing.” Always the analyzer, I’ve been examining what I really believe that has me so down and grumpy. Below are the “verses” (from the Marya’s Impatience Version (MIV) Bible) I’ve been believing:

Delight yourself in the LORD; And you will have to figure out a way to get people to do what you want them to do.

“Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also that you can manipulate circumstances to suit your wants.”

And we’re pretty sure that God causes most things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

Okay, don’t go quoting those to yourself. I don’t recommend the MIV.

It occurred to me today that God has shown me some of the things He wants for me and my family. The desires that He has given me are also His desires for me. And if He desires those for me, He can and will bring those things to pass. Maybe just not in the timing that I’d like.

So instead of believing verses from the MIV Bible, I’m choosing to believe what God actually said:

Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4)

“Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me.” (John 14:1)

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)

My circumstances may not change, I may continue waiting. But my attitude changes when understand that God is on my side, when I believe what God has said and trust Him to act on my behalf out of His love.

What To Do While Our Prayers Go Unanswered

Recently God answered a prayer that I’ve been praying for the past three years, or maybe more. I had no idea that it would look like what it does. But it’s good.

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. (Matthew 7:7-8)

I was asking, seeking, and knocking. And nothing happened. For three years. Some of you have been asking for longer than that. In fact, the prayer isn’t even completely answered. Yet. Why did I have to wait so long? I’ll never know all the answers, but these are a few I see looking in the rearview mirror.

I had to understand better who I was in Christ. If I didn’t have the confidence that I am a good fruit tree, loved by Jesus who is my strength and my help, I would have been overwhelmed by the answer.

I had to figure out what it was that I really wanted. I’m not so sure this had to happen before my prayer was answered, but it is an incredible overflow blessing. I can move forward with more certainty of what I want my life to look like. This makes decisions a whole lot easier, and more fun!

Some of my wants had to change. In some areas of my life I wasn’t even sure what I wanted or if I wanted anything. In other areas God began giving me different desires, and ultimately a way to live those out.

I pursued some glimmers of hope that my prayer would be answered. Some of those glimmers faded away. Others have helped me transition toward the answer. I have learned good lessons from them all.

What are you waiting on the Lord for? Maybe you’re not waiting for the same reasons as I had to wait. But don’t ignore what God is doing in the waiting. The little areas He is working on in you right now, He will use to bless you in the future – when you continue to ask, seek, and knock. Like my friend Janna says, “It didn’t look like I thought it would, but I still got what I wanted.” Because when we ask, seek, and knock at Jesus’ door, His plans and our desires blend to create something more beautiful than we could imagine on our own.

Not Quite Minimalist : Project 333 Becomes Project 345

I did it. I actually went through my entire wardrobe (even my sock drawer!), inspired by Project 333.

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                      Neat and tidy socks!

This is what I didn’t need in my bedroom closet:

  • Bagged up 27 articles of clothing, 11 pairs of socks (6 were my husband’s, who actually had 9 more pairs than I did!), and 3 pairs of shoes for donation.
  • Sent 14 items of clothing to hang in the storage closet.
  • Packed away 26 pieces of clothing in a box for another season.
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Clothing waiting for their turn in the closet.

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            Before Project 333

As I went through my stuff, several thoughts continued to run through my head:

Scarcity (I highly recommend this great post about scarcity, abundance, and wise donkeys):

  • But if I get rid of this shirt I don’t really like, I might need a shirt like this and I won’t have one.
  • What if I can’t afford to replace this item I don’t really like?
  • I paid more than $5 for this (which is a lot for me!). I should keep it.
  • Someone else paid more than $5 for this as a gift for me. I should keep it.

Conclusion: I have enough to wear that I can get rid of some things that are not quite right for me. If it’s not right, it’s not right, no matter where it came from. I also made a list of what would be helpful in my closet for this season so I can keep an eye out for a good deal.

Joy:

  • Does this spark joy?
  • Does everything have to spark joy?
  • Is there a reason I have to be joyful about a white turtleneck?

Conclusion: Some items are more for utility than others, but I’m finding there is a difference in how much I enjoy even basic pieces. Some just feel, fit, or look better. As I shop for clothes in the future, this awareness will be important. I will be more selective about what I purchase, which saves money in the long run. I will know better what I will really wear and love, so I can be more confident purchasing high quality items that may cost a little more, but will last a long time and bring more joy.

33 Items:

  • Do I really have to have only 33?
  • I don’t think the purse should count… or the laptop bag… or the coats…. or the necklaces… or the scarves…
  • What about the things I wear only at Christmas (I don’t normally wear red, but I do at Christmas because it’s so festive).

Conclusion: I did make it down to 33 (I based my list loosely on the list here) but only if I don’t count necklaces, scarves, coats, or Cuddl Dud type undershirts (I confess to having a healthy fear of being cold). I tried to minimize those things, but if I count those items, it adds up to 45 items.

So Project 333 became Project 345 (3 months with 45 items).

Considering that I eliminated more than half of my wardrobe from my bedroom closet, I’m pretty pleased.

How do I feel?

I love the space in my closet.
I love that I can see everything all at once (I even hung up my turtlenecks which used to hang out in a box under my bed.)
Not everything in my closet sparks joy. And that’s okay for now.
I’m a little worried that I will get bored with my choices.
I’m keeping a few things in reserve in the storage closet just in case and for special occasions (like Christmas).
I’m finding fun new combinations that I wouldn’t have used before, such as a purple necklace with a cranberry colored shirt.

As I went through my clothes I realized how very much I have. When I saw that I have enough attire that I love (or at least like) to keep me clothed for the next three months, those pieces that I’ve been keeping because of my scarcity mentality were much easier to part with.

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              After Project 333

Sometimes we have to let go of what we secretly don’t really like for God to bless us with more than we can ask or think. And sometimes that blessing was right in front of our eyes all along. We just needed to clear the clutter to see it.

Clear the Mental Clutter by Clearing the Physical Clutter: Project 333 Begins

I just have to share. Not because I’ve done much of what I’m about to share, but because I already feel the joy and abundance this will bring to my life when I’m done.

Today I read about Project 333 via a guest post on Money Saving Mom. Project 333 is where you pare down your wardrobe to the essential 33 items that you will wear for the next 3 months. I am so ready for this. I have been thinking about my clothes as I’ve thought about the main idea of “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” which is to only have things in your home that spark joy. I’ve already gotten rid of some things that I knew didn’t spark joy.

But I was feeling a little stuck.

What does bring me joy? Some things I wear because they’re useful, so they’re just there, but they don’t necessarily bring joy. Ah, but if I can only have 33 items that are essential, that shifts my thinking yet again. I could ditch the black skirt that is starting to fray at the seams because surely there are a couple other skirts in my closet that I could wear instead. (Her list of how to build a capsule wardrobe breaks down the number of items of each kind of clothing she keeps, which I plan to base my list on, though mine will be a little different. Sunglasses just aren’t an essential part of my wardrobe!) And all you do with the things you aren’t using for 3 months is store them in a box, so if I really miss it, I can get it back (I just have to trade for something else).

It’s Not About the Clothes

Am I interested in narrowing down my wardrobe so I’ll have more space or a cleaner house? Maybe partially, but I think it will help me not have to think as much about what I wear each day, get me thinking about how I can eliminate clutter in other areas of my life, and will allow my brain to focus on other, more important things.

Courtney at Project 333 linked to another post about her Desire Map, which piqued my curiosity. The idea is to look at your desires and get down to the main four or five. Whether we’re looking at essential wants or essential clothes, getting rid of the extra stuff in our life helps us get to the core of who we are and what we really want.

I was curious about this blogger’s list of desires.

And they are not physical things.

In our materialistic society we think we want the new dress or the cute scarf (and some of those things do bring some pleasure and even a little joy), but when we get down to it, it’s not things we want. Here’s her list:

  • Joy: I am so happy to be right here. I’ve been saying that a lot lately, and I am smiling more.
  • Light: This was my word of 2013 and now it is one of my CDFs (core desired feelings). And I mean light in every way you can imagine.
  • Benevolent: I want to give more of my time and money to those who need it most.
  • Free: Yep, more freedom.
  • Rapturous: I want that feeling of being swept up by falling in love everyday.

One of the things I really want is a less cluttered house. What happens when I achieve that goal? I get to pursue something even more important, like studying the Bible, playing games with my kids, or planning a date night with my husband.

Cleaning out my closet isn’t just so I can have a cute wardrobe or even a cleaner house. The reason I want a less cluttered house is because the process of making my physical world more orderly helps me figure out what I really want and gives me the mental freedom to go pursue it. And that leads to an abundant life!

What do you think of doing Project 333 with your closet? What is it you really want? I’d love to hear from you!

Know Who You Are: Is God Mad at You for Taking a Nap?

You have two hours of time that is unscheduled – what do you do? Clean the kitchen, read a book, take a nap, play the piano, go grocery shopping, take a nap, mop the floors, hike, watch TV, take a nap, declutter, exercise, cook, take a nap, eat, blog,…? Is there a “right” answer? Is there “one thing” you should be doing every moment of every day? Will God be mad at you if you don’t do “the right thing”?

Oh, I have been there:

“I can’t rest, I have too much to do.”

“I’d like to read a book, but I really should do laundry.”

“I feel like I need to get away for a few hours, but I should really stay home and help my husband take care of the kids.”

“I’m so tired, but I should bring a meal to that new mom.”

I obviously can’t tell you exactly what you should do with your time. However, three simple but powerful ideas help us wade through the choices bombarding us every moment:

  • We must get proper rest to be able to serve others
  • We must have a proper understanding of who God made us to be, uniquely, to help guide our decisions.
  • If we have God’s Spirit living in us, we’re delighting in and walking with Him, and all our options are good, we can choose what we want because our wants are infused with His life.

Rest

There are times when we have energy and time to devote to those more mundane tasks of life. But there are also times when we need to rest, renew, and restore ourselves.

Ultimately it is Jesus who gives us rest: “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) But I believe there are many ways He gives us rest: reading, writing, walking, time with friends, naps, sitting and staring out the window, listening to good music, etc… What is it is that refreshes you, that brings rest to your soul?

Who God Made Me

How do we know what refreshes and restores unless we allow time to explore what that is for each of us individually? Think about these questions:

  • What do you find gives your brain a rest from your to-do list?
  • What areas of service do you find energizing rather than draining?
  • Where are you and what are you doing when you feel most connected to God?

These are important questions because God never intended for His people to be weary, exhausted, unhappy people. If you can’t answer these questions, I encourage you to start noticing those things that bring rest, energy and connection, and to find ways to do more of them.

Christ-Infused Living

Have you rested in the fact that, if you are a believer in Christ, you are a new creation with God’s spirit residing in you? “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Emphasis mine, Galatians 2:20) Yes, we can chose to go back and pick up the old man (click to see one of the funniest Beth Moore videos!), but the old man has no power over us as it did before we became children of God. We are good fruit trees.

If I choose wrong, I trust that God will show me that. I won’t be able to focus on the book I’m reading, I won’t be able to nap, I’ll be unsettled about this activity, etc.

A Thousand Ways to Glorify God

What do we do? The laundry needs to be done. The kids need care and attention. We need rest. So am I saying we should ignore those responsibilities? No, I’m suggesting that when we nourish ourselves with that which refreshes and restores, when we focus on those things that fill us up because of who we are, and when we follow God-given desires, we will have renewed energy to fulfill our responsibilities.

I believe that God’s grace allows us to choose, not restricting us to “one right choice” but offering a wide array of options. As Ann Voskamp says,

There are a thousand ways in a thousand seasons to make a life glorify God.

God has given us freedom in His grace. Let us walk (or nap) in His freedom joyfully.

Know Who You Are: 5 Reasons Why What We Do Matters

Last week I wrote about finding my identity not in what I do but in who I am in Christ. When I let what I do define me, I can become disappointed, discouraged, and depressed, because I’m not perfect. I will always be less than satisfied in my “doing” identity.

So if identity is not best rooted in what we do, what do we do with what we do? If I am truly accepted and chosen as God’s child, does what I do matter?

Of course!  Here are five reasons why:

  • We are commanded to be doers. “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.” (James 1:22)
  • What we do affects others’ perception of who God is. We are ambassadors for Christ and what we do reflects on His name – whether good or bad. “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16) “…Whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ…” (l Peter 4:11)
  • God put thought and preparation into our good works. “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” (Eph. 2:10)
  • What we do should flow from a heart of love for God, not from a heavy burden of duty. “In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.” (I John 5:3-4)
  • We are members of the body of Christ, each with a unique purpose to accomplish so the body will function properly.“For the body is not one member, but many….If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired.” (I Cor. 12:14, 17-18)

So what we do matters greatly. We have so many options in society of what to do. How do we choose? How much choice do we have? Is there one “right” thing to do each moment? Is God unhappy with us if we choose “wrong”?

I will explore these questions in the future. Stay tuned!