Tag Archives: moving

The Truth About Sacrifice

13 May

I’ve been thinking about these 2 verses lately:

“And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life.” (Matthew 19:29)

“And a scribe came up and said to him, ‘Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Foxes have holes and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” (Matthew 8:19-20)

Something I’ve learned over the past 5 or so years is that following Jesus often looks very mundane. Yes, some people are called to sell their house, car and possessions, and become missionaries in Africa. Travis and I haven’t been called to that (yet). Instead, we were called to… move in with Travis’ parents?

I have been tempted to question whether or not moving to Minnesota was God’s leading. I read a book about the Holy Spirit called Better Off Without Jesus by Chuck Bomar around the time we were moving, and he cautioned against the idea that if all circumstances fall into place, it must be God’s will. He pointed out that in the Bible, circumstances worked out for Jonah to disobey God but it was obviously not God’s will (desire) that he disobey.

But after prayer and consideration, I feel confident that our move to Minnesota was God’s leading, for a number of factors:

  1. In the back of our minds, we had always planned on moving back, unless God led us differently. For the full 6 ½ years we were in Denver, He didn’t lead us differently, and our desire to move back didn’t go away. We prayed for several years that if it wasn’t God’s will for us to move to Minnesota someday, He would make it clear.
  2. With his current job, Travis works from home – meaning he can work from anywhere – presenting the possibility to live in northern Minnesota instead of a Cities suburb.
  3. Travis’ boss told us that he’d be okay with us moving to Minnesota before we ever brought it up.
  4. Travis got a bonus at the end of the year, which paid for the expenses of moving and getting our house ready to sell.
  5. For various reasons, we were ready to transition out of our church in Denver, and things were changing at my job to the point where I might’ve still wanted to quit, so things would’ve changed even if we had stayed.

Even though God has been obviously leading us this direction, it has not been easy to continue trusting Him! The house hunt is going very differently from what we had expected or wanted, and I have had a hard time dealing with a life that is ‘on hold’ in every sense except motherhood. (Emma is definitely not on hold! She’s growing up fast.) My new rural existence is also a challenge, though it should get slightly better after Memorial Day, when more tourist-y things are open for the summer.

Sometimes I think that the sacrifice of leaving behind house and friends would be easier if it were for something radical, like living abroad. Then it would be expected to be hard, and it would be for something that’s obviously kingdom-focused. But since the sacrifice is “just to move back to Minnesota” and we’re currently living with Travis’ parents, it seems mundane. Annoying. It doesn’t seem spiritual. It’s not kingdom building. It’s just me, living in the middle of nowhere, with nothing in particular going on.

At least, that’s what Satan wants me to think.

He’s always getting me to focus solely on what I think things should look like. For many years, I felt guilty about “not doing more”, but I just couldn’t fit any formal volunteering into my schedule. Finally, I realized that serving others doesn’t have to be a formal thing. It doesn’t have to happen every Monday from 6-8 pm. It could be random thoughtful gestures, things done whenever a need is noticed. Some weeks, there would be more things to do, and some weeks less. Once I got off the idea of a formal volunteer time, I felt freed to serve as I felt moved by the Spirit.

So Satan wants me to think that moving back to Minnesota is less spiritual and sacrificial than being a missionary. Because the Christians who do radical things, they’re raising support to go live in a hut, learn Lingala and teach hygiene to sick orphans. They’re the ones really living out their faith. Me? I’m just being a coward and moving closer to my family, instead of farther away, and being a typical materialistic American looking for a house that has a master bath and gas fireplace.

Of course that’s not true! (Though I did think that way several years ago.) God has different plans for different people, and for some reason, His plan for us right now is in Minnesota. Our destination may not be Brainerd/Baxter in particular, but until He leads us differently or truly shuts all doors enough times that we get the hint, we will keep patiently looking for a house in that area. We hold our future with open hands, wanting whatever God has for us, and act with the faith that God will reveal His plans in His perfect timing.

“The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever.” (Psalm 138:8)

“This is the LORD’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:23-24)

“Life change comes when we receive life with thanks and ask for nothing to change.” (Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts)

…………………

I’ll be back soon with Emma’s 13-month update!

From Urban to Rural

15 Apr

20140413_170254Being in northern Minnesota is like being in a different world. You wouldn’t think that things were so different in the same state that I grew up in, but they are.

It feels weird to say but I think I’m struggling with culture shock. I grew up in a town of 80,000 people, but after living in major metropolitan areas for the past 12 years, even that feels small to me. Now I’m out in the middle of nowhere: 10 minutes from a town of 350 people. I’m used to there being 3 Targets within 10 miles of my house. Now the closest one is 65 miles away. I expect businesses to be open 24 x 7 x 365. Here, they close at 5 pm on Fridays and aren’t even open on Sundays. And because this is a tourist area, a lot of the ‘area attractions’ are only open from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

Travis’ parents have deer carcasses hanging in a tree – a tree you can see from their kitchen window. They shoot porcupines and beavers for being nuisances to trees. They hunt and fish year round. They have more guns than I have fingers. They lease land from a logging company specifically for hunting.

Don’t get me wrong – I love my in-laws (hence my willingness to live with them for several months while we look for a house). And it is true that they’re farther out in the boonies than many people. But a lot of these things are just realities of living in a rural area. To visit specialized doctors or go to a real shopping mall, they drive all the way to Fargo – 3 hours away, one way. Just Walmart is 25 minutes away.

It’s one thing to visit during holidays; it’s another to actually plan on living here. To be honest, it has made me start questioning my desire to live in Brainerd (with neighboring Baxter, the population is 20,000). They have a Target, Kohl’s, Menards, Home Depot, JCPenney, Walmart and Fleet Farm. They have a Starbucks and a library. There’s no shopping mall, but I hardly ever shop at full-price stores anymore anyway.

I have a friend Emily who lives in Park Rapids (the nearest town to here, population 3,500). She grew up in Ramsey, a northern suburb of the Cities, and she said it was a big adjustment moving to Park Rapids. It took a couple of years, but now she feels like Brainerd and Bemidji (13,000) are the big cities. So it is possible to adjust.

I think a common question for city folks like me when they come up here, especially in the winter, is “What do you people DO here?” I grew up in Minnesota and have been around Travis’ family enough to know that there are lots of winter activities: snowmobiling, ice fishing, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, downhill skiing, sledding, ice hockey, broomball, ice skating. Only problem is, it’s often too cold outside to do that stuff!

I think a lot of my apprehension comes from having Emma, at the age she is. There’s a very limited amount of things she’s willing to do, and those things have a time limit – either because she gets bored, or I get tired from pushing/holding/lifting her. And for pretty much all of those winter activities I listed above, Emma is too young (though she will be old enough next winter for some of them). In the city, it was nice to have lots of parks, museums, shopping malls and playgrounds (open year round) to choose from. There were walking trails near our house. So part of my trouble now should get better once we move from tiny Nevis to bigger Brainerd.

The other part of my apprehension comes from just not being plugged in to our new life here. We’re in this limbo stage, where we’re too far from Brainerd (1 ½ hours) to start getting plugged in, and the people we meet here will be too far away to stay in touch with once we move . So I don’t have many friends or activities to occupy my time other than hanging out at home and venturing into town a couple times a week. The relaxation has been nice, but after another couple months of this…?

But when I think about why I question moving to Brainerd, my main reason is fear. Fear that I’ll be bored to death. Fear that there will be nothing to do. Fear that my city-girl self won’t be able to adapt – or won’t want to adapt – to small-town ways.

I have to admit that it’s easy for me to fall into the trap of feeling superior in a small town. “These small-town folks – how in touch with the real world are they? Look where they live. Look what they wear. Look how they decorate their houses. Look what they drive. Look what they do for fun. I’ll never be like that.”

That judgment, though, is just me trying to rid myself of some of the awkwardness I feel from being out of my element. It’s also very arrogant – saying that I know everything there is to know about the world from living in a big city, and small town people are small-minded and have nothing to teach me.

God’s love frees me from having to judge others. Being grounded in His love for me enables me to be confident in who I am in Christ, so I don’t need to prove myself to anyone. When I am confident in who I am, I don’t feel pressure to completely conform to the culture and lose my identity, but I also don’t need to dig my heels in against everything that is different from what I’m used to.

For example, I’ve been thinking about running in the winter up here. Often it’s so cold that I will have to run inside. Brainerd does not have an indoor track (that I know of) so it will be either a treadmill or nothing. I could get frustrated and grumble about not being able to run in the winter, saying “This sucks” and “Stupid small town” or I could embrace the opportunity to expand my horizons, and snowshoe and cross-country ski more. That is a big benefit of the small town! The trails for that sort of thing are MUCH closer than they were in Denver.

The anxiety and uncertainty I feel about moving to Brainerd reminds me that this move requires faith. Just like moving out to Colorado required faith. Faith that God is leading us. That we’re leaving behind everything and everyone we know to forge a new life, in faith that God is everything He says He is, and will do everything He has promised.

The Jesus Calling devotion today was EXACTLY what I needed to hear:

“Trust Me, and don’t be afraid. Many things feel out of control. Your routines are not running smoothly. You tend to feel more secure when your life is predictable. Let Me lead you to the rock that is higher than you and your circumstances. Take refuge in the shelter of My wings, where you are absolutely secure.

“When you are shaken out of your comfortable routines, grip My hand tightly and look for growth opportunities. Instead of bemoaning the loss of your comfort, accept the challenge of something new. I lead you on from glory to glory, making you fit for My kingdom. Say yes to the ways I work in your life. Trust Me, and don’t be afraid.”

Are you a city-goer or small-town folk? 

Have you ever made the switch from urban to rural, or vice versa? I can see that going either way would be challenging!

A Bittersweet Farewell

11 Mar

We got word a few days ago from our Realtor that our house appraised! So now we are in the final stage of closing.

Which means we’ve started packing. The easiest thing to pack right now are all of the house decorations so yesterday, I took everything off the walls and boxed them up.

Looking around Emma’s nursery at blank walls and bare shelves, I felt sad. I love her nursery. And even though we’re taking all of the decorations with us, and can paint her new room the same yellow if we want, it won’t be the same.

Last night, as I lay awake for a bit in bed after getting Emma down… again, the full weight of reality hit me: We’re leaving. We’re going to drive away from this house and never come back. It will never be our home again. We will never belong to our church again. We won’t shop at this Target. We won’t check out books from this library. We won’t see mountains on the horizon.

Sure, we’ll come back to visit. But it will never be like this again.

We knew that leaving our life out here would be hard. But I think I underestimated it. We’ve been having dinner with the families in our care group one by one. It has been so good to connect with them and I’m sure we’re all wondering why we didn’t do this more often before we were leaving the state. Our going away party is this coming Saturday and even though part of me thinks it’s weird to entertain when your house is bare bones and near-empty, it also feels very fitting.

I am grateful for the sadness though. It means we’ve connected and let our hearts be engaged here. We didn’t stay on the sidelines or watch from afar. We take with us memories that will last for a lifetime, some of which I plan to share on the blog in the next week or so.

Though this transition is laden with sadness, we are also very excited for the next chapter. I know that for things to change, they can’t stay the same. Even if we were staying, things would change. So we have to press on in faith. That’s the great thing about having an omnipresent Savior. Wherever we go, He goes with us. He’s been faithful to us in Colorado. He’ll be faithful in Minnesota.
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71dea5b44f335fc9c5ca4323eacc0f2c“Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy!” (Psalm 126:5)

Our house is under contract!

25 Feb

Our house is under contract! It was only on the market for a day before we received a full-price offer. We accepted the offer with a 30-day closing and right now, are in the midst of inspection items and a looming appraisal. If all goes well, our closing date is March 20, and we give possession on March 22.

I can’t believe it’s actually happening!

I finally told my boss and co-workers that I’m moving to Minnesota. Most of them were not surprised. Hmmm… guess I’m not that good at keeping secrets. But they were all happy for me, and sad to see me go. Our departure is definitely bittersweet.

Since my mommy brain is mush, and I won’t remember this stuff next month, let alone a year or more from now (I’ve probably already forgotten stuff!), here’s what we did to our house to get it ready to sell:

  • Packed up and filled a storage unit with about 75% of our stuff
  • Repainted our kitchen cabinet doors
  • Removed all closet doors and treated with Liquid Gold
  • Replaced all family pictures with landscape scenes
  • Puttyed, sanded, spackled and painted the office ceiling, and spots in the hallway, kitchen, master bedroom and laundry room
  • Scraped, washed and painted the exterior soffit and fascia
  • Hung small piece of wood between roof and fascia for new gutters to be installed
  • Had new gutters installed
  • Painted:
    • The hallway and one wall in the living room
    • Both bathrooms. Twice. (FYI, pastels are not in.)
    • Two walls of the master bedroom (We used a color that we had a full gallon of, but no idea why or who bought it)
    • Half of the laundry room (Half was semi-gloss, half was flat – we have no idea how that happened)
    • The laundry room doors and trim
    • The bench in front of our house
    • The china cabinet in our kitchen
    • The master bathroom vanity
  • Finished the windowsill in the master bathroom and added a piece of white trim above the tile
  • Replaced the front exterior light fixture and house numbers to be more modern
  • Had the carpet replaced (which involved removing everything not attached or contained within a piece of furniture – including our closet organizers, pictures on the walls, bed headboard, file drawers, and low closet shelves – and then putting it all back; we hired them to move the furniture itself)
  • Replaced the toilet seat in the main bathroom
  • Spent 3 whole days deep-cleaning our house with a toothbrush and bleach (I actually took work off to clean our house.)
  • Bought new throw pillows for bed and rug for kitchen
  • Bought new nightstands to replace our crappy makeshift ones: a nightstand we rescued from the curb, and a garden table

This is what happens when you leave many house projects only half finished. And totally slack on cleaning.

And that list doesn’t include all of the ‘re-dos’ we had. Our house project mantra was, “Two steps forward, One step back.” For example, when staining the windowsill in the master bathroom, Travis taped off the vanity. When he removed said tape, part of the fake wood veneer came with it. So we had to remove the vanity and paint it. After painting said vanity, we tried to hang it back up. Somehow, we didn’t get one of screws in the right place and it literally busted out a 3-inch chunk of sheet rock. The vanity is now held up with 3 screws instead of 4. In the midst of that debacle, we scraped some of the new paint off the vanity. OMG!!!!

Another instance: Travis and his dad redid our main bathroom last February. In the course of that project, Travis repainted the door trim. We didn’t even know it was possible but that extra coat of paint made the bathroom door no longer shut. So Travis pounded on the trim, busting it loose from the wall. After a few finish nails, the trim was anchored and the door shut, but now the trim and surrounding wall needed to be painted. Again.

Those were the worst things, but there were other little ones like having to repaint a piece of baseboard that was now uncovered by shorter carpet. Or touch up trim in the hallway that had had paint seep on it from underneath the painter’s tape when we painted the walls. Or another one of my favorites, having to repaint the kitchen drawers because someone dripped red wine all down them, and it wouldn’t come off without removing the paint along with it.

But it was all worth it to have our house sell so fast. It was really helpful to have a Realtor with an eye for decorating and staging.

The buyers are a young couple buying their first home. I like to imagine that they’re newlyweds and just starting out like Travis and I were when we bought this house, our first home. I hope they build lots of memories in it – that they host barbecues on the deck in back; play horseshoes and narrowly miss hitting the neighbor’s shed; climb up on the roof to watch the Carnation Festival fireworks; get their hands dirty doing landscaping and gardening; have fun decorating the inside; rock out in the garage while working on their cars; spend cozy winter days on the couch watching the snow come down thick; run hundreds of miles on the neighborhood greenway; walk to Dairy Queen on summer evenings; and so much more. I love this house. And even though it has been a bugger at times (ripping windows out with sawzalls and having the heavens open while half the house is sans shingles), I will always remember it. Actually, those bugger things are some of the best memories.

Now that I’m crying, here are the pictures posted with our listing. (If you’re interested in what the house looked like before, click here.)

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Any change, even a change for the better, is always accompanied by drawbacks and discomforts.

– Arnold Bennett

If You Give a Mom a Muffin…

25 Jan

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Emma got some of the “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” books for Christmas. I had actually never read any of them before that, but they are very cute!

The other day, I saw this poem on Facebook and thought it was hilarious. After a little searching on the interwebs, I found the original post and author.

So go read If You Give a Mom a Muffin. It’s worth it!

That’s all I got for today. We’re getting our gutters installed and having a painting party. Sunday and Monday, we’ll be busy packing everything up for carpet to be installed on Tuesday. And we’re meeting with our realtor again on Friday. The to-do list is getting shorter! I’ll post pictures once our house is on the market.

Have a great Saturday!

Monday Randomness

11 Nov

Here’s some randomness for you on this Monday morning:

1) This is over now, but this past summer/fall, Travis traveled so much for work that his boss kindly gave us a $50 stipend to go out to eat every weekend. And we took full advantage of it! At first, we just ordered food or got takeout, so that we didn’t have to deal with Emma freaking out in a restaurant. But the last month and a half or so, we went out to Red Lobster, Macaroni Grill, Texas Roadhouse, and local restaurants Colorado Plus Brewpub, A Taste of Home Cooking, and Trattoria Stella. Some outings were too late and Emma was fussy but usually she did really well. And now that she can sit up in a high chair, eating out is even easier.

2) I finally spent a couple hours Saturday and yesterday making baby food for Emma. I made butternut squash, green beans (which she didn’t like!), carrots, spinach (pureed with a banana to make it a bit thicker), and sweet potatoes. I think we’re set for a while!

3) I wasn’t sure how I would like cloth diapers once we started getting into solid foods, since Emma’s poo would also be more solid. But it actually hasn’t been bad at all. Her business comes off really easily, either all by itself or with a little spray from our shower hose, and it really doesn’t gross me out at all. So I think we’ll keep going with the cloth!

4) Our church’s single and young married group had our annual Chili Cook-off yesterday. Travis and I have won twice with our elk chili, but we did not take home the trophy this year. No matter. There were some really good chili recipes this year! And the chili that won was the one that I voted for. It was called ‘For the Faint of Heart’ and had no heat and no meat. Unconventional, but delicious!

5) We’ve started packing up our house in preparation for moving/showing. We also went to Home Depot and got a new exterior light, a wireless doorbell (since ours was broken), and some paint samples. Moving at this time of year definitely presents some challenges, especially when there are things outside that need to be painted and stained. We weren’t really planning to move this quickly, but with the condition of my mom’s health, we’d like to move as soon as possible. So we’re trying to figure it all out quickly and try to get this stuff done while the weather is still nice.

6) Emma has been sleeping better since last Friday but still doesn’t seem to quite be herself. At church yesterday, she lasted 5 minutes in the nursery before having an inconsolable meltdown. She was fine sitting and playing with me though. I might take her into the doctor today to see if it’s an ear infection.

7) Travis’ birthday is coming up at the beginning of December and I’ve actually taken the time and effort to plan something fun. He’ll be traveling for work on his actual birthday but we are going on a date night the Saturday before his birthday (for the first time since… a long time!) and I am so excited! God has really put it on my heart to make our marriage more of a priority, so I’m doing that.

8) We’re volunteering for Operation Christmas Child again this year, the day before Thanksgiving. I’m looking forward to that too. I didn’t go last year because I was pregnant and didn’t think I could handle standing for 4 hours straight, but I’m ready this year!

9) We’ve decided that we’re going back to Minnesota for Christmas and will stay 2 weeks – the week of Christmas and the week of New Year’s. While it won’t be as relaxing as Christmas past, it’ll be Emma’s first Christmas, which I’m really looking forward to! She is too, though she doesn’t know it yet. And it’s always great to see our families.

10) We’re staying here for Thanksgiving though. I’d like to do a Turkey Trot but Travis might go play in our church’s Turkey Bowl. Maybe Emma and I will do it ourselves… Or maybe I’ll try to find a friend who’d be interested. For dinner, we’re getting together with friends from church who also won’t be with family. Can’t wait! I love the holiday season! I might just start putting Christmas decorations out now…

The Move is On.

8 Oct

So, we are moving to Minnesota.

We’ve been planning to move back pretty much ever since we moved to Colorado. Don’t get me wrong – Colorado is an awesome state and we have loved living here. We have a great church, great friends, good jobs, nice house, and have done a lot of fun things here.

But… our family isn’t here.

And… there’s just something about Minnesota that makes us love it.

Sure, the summers are humid and full of bugs. The winters get down to temperatures I won’t even mention and snow sticks around until April. Many Most days are cloudy. But the truth is, as much as I like to complain about those features of Minnesota, they also endear me to the state. Minnesota is not for the faint of heart.

So why now? Well first, we were waiting to have kids. Check.

Then, we were waiting to talk to Travis’ boss about moving, since we were hoping that Travis would be able to keep his same job and just work from home in Minnesota. We got the green light a couple of weeks ago! 

I’ll have to quit my job but I’ll probably try to find something – whether a part-time ‘for fun’ job or volunteering opportunity – to get me out of the house and keep me sane. Since we’re really close to being debt-free (we’ll only have about $2K left in student loans by November), we don’t really *need* my paycheck. And finding a part-time job that pays me like my current job would be tough.

Anyway, so moving is no longer an IF but a WHEN. All that’s left is to sell our house. We met with a realtor last Friday and are planning to put our house on the market in January. We have some a lot of work to do to get our house ready to sell, but October is the Month of Hunting so nothing will get done then. We could probably finish everything by the end of November but not many people are looking at houses in December, so January it is.

To avoid having to coordinate selling and buying a house across 1,000 miles, we’re going to move into my parent’s lake cabin about an hour north of the Cities for a few months while we find a house. We’re looking at houses in the Brainerd area.

We’re definitely excited to move back, and get a new, bigger house where we plan to live for the next 20ish years, but it’s definitely bittersweet leaving Colorado. We’ll miss it!