On Moving

I find myself surrounded yet again by boxes. Tall, white wardrobe boxes. Short, shallow boxes for books. Medium boxes that can accommodate lamps, pillows, and art.

I’ve packed up a home so many times before, it has a familiar rhythm-one that isn’t all that unwelcome. The possibility of a new start and fresh aesthetic extends a welcome hand, beckoning me forward in the sorting, organizing, and wrapping duties. And I do love unpacking and setting up house on the other end.

But on this side, the side where chaos reigns, it is certainly a test of patience and trust. Did we do the right thing, uprooting yet again? Can we manage this one more time, with kindness and without psychologically harming our children for life?

Our kids are so used to moving that at this point they’re making requests: “Mom, for our next move, I want to move back closer to Nona. I want to see her more,” my young son observed. It broke my heart. And it didn’t.

They’re finding resilience in being transient, as I have my entire life. The daughter of a Navy pilot turned commercial pilot with a sense of adventure, relocation was expected. As the wife of a gifted and goal-oriented man, we’ve moved cross country more times than many people do in a lifetime, twice with a three-week old baby in tow. These moves have given me broad perspective regarding the different cultures present in the same country—the way people behave and believe depending on the culture, and observing myself change in those cultures. I value this perspective like crazy, but it is a heavy burden, too. That could be it’s own blog post at some point in the future, but comes down to issues of relatability, responsibility, and satisfaction.

This time, we’re simply mitigating a cross-town move to a home where we crafted every detail with care, from the layout to each minute decor choice. Here we are hundreds of decisions later, about to enjoy the fruits of the labor of home building (labor being a key word).

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My fingernails, peeling and splitting, shins bruised and sore, and neck muscles tight and tense attest to the physicalness of moving transitions. Each item is picked up and assessed as worthy of continued use in our future home, something to sell, or a give-away. Each time I pack up, I’m simply astonished about the number of items we apparently “need” to live. My inner minimalist scolds my outer consumerist, “What have you been thinking?” waking me once again to the tendency to find solace in the work of amassing unnecessary quantities of possessions. I appreciate the redemption that comes with lightening our load, resolving yet again to buy less presents, stop by fewer garage sales, and restrain myself on Amazon—the burden of too much stuff isn’t worth the effort of managing it all.

Take our writing supplies alone: we own a massive amount of things to write with and I’ve been long amused by this varied pen and pencil collection. Choosing a writing utensil out of a repurposed coffee can holder usually results in emblazoned word ghosts from one of the locations where we’ve lived, haunting me from the past. Which place will it be from today? I might choose the pen from the oil change place in New Jersey, the pencil from our alma mater, Hope College in Michigan, or a remnant from my healthcare consultant days the second time we lived in Denver. Each one a small emblem testifying indeed, we’ve earned the perspective of living in that place. Each one conjures up faces and feelings—this pen’s from the place with the evil boss but also where I had a wonderful book club and loved my church. Here’s a pencil from the school where I registered my kids the day before it started, and now they’re flourishing. And so on.

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Moving so much means I know how to organize the details to make it go more smoothly. I’ve got “a guy” coming with the appliances, water softener, blinds, and landscaping within the first few days of moving in. I’ve rearranged our stuff into groups that will make more sense to unpack on the other side. Instead of packing just by room here, I’m filling boxes by categories: art, children’s books, cleaning supplies, bathroom items, etc. Furniture has been re-painted, re-stained, fresh and is ready to grace new spaces. My fingers have been covered with paint or stain for weeks.

Even the van got a touch up. Pro-tip: When you back into large concrete drums (despite having a back-up camera) and cause several hundred dollars of damage to your bumper, Rust-o-leum of a “pretty close color match” is your best friend. Just spray on gently and your bumper situation is practically a thing of the past for a mere $5.97.

Before:

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After:

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This week I pulled this pencil out of the coffee can—it represents the thread through all the moving, the transitions, the unsettledness in life. There has been a constant—Jesus.

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Despite uprooting more than 20 times in my life, there is certainty in Him. I’m on a path Home. I’ve always had an acute sense about this. My heart longs for settledness, but won’t officially find it until I’m at last with Christ in eternity—a concept I can’t quite comprehend, but have faith that propels me forward in this hope nevertheless.

This life’s just the prologue, the forward, the Act 1. Even in all of its self-importance, the reality of our day-to-day activities is immortalized only by what we’re living for.

I’ve recently started a lovely book by fellow Redbud Jen Pollock Michel. With themes of home and longing, Michel makes biblical connections to our desires and disappointments, opens our eyes to how God  is the ultimate homemaker, and gives us hope for living today with longings for our eternal home. This book has been such a wonderful companion during this moving transition, and would certainly add value to your own thoughts and discussions around earthly and eternal homes.  

Meet Jen

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Moving captures us in the earthy, the tangible and I’m longing to break free. I’m anxious to unpack the boxes, to get rid of the excess, to get back to relationships and real living.

All the while, I know that the completed move won’t solve everything, and won’t meet the deepest longings of my heart.  Jesus is the only one that has ever been a constant, real source of happiness and so most of all, I’m looking forward to spending more time in his presence. 

Home is coming. Healing is coming.

Come quickly move date, come quickly, Lord.

 

Comments

  1. Carhy Wheeler says:

    Very nice ,Heidi. I love the whole pen analogy. It’s great that you have your heart and soul open to what the move can teach you about Jesus. May He bless you all in your new home, and somehow bless every person who enters your door.

  2. Beautiful! I don’t often read blog posts (ironic, since I write them!) it’s just an issue of time. But I like reading yours and know it’ll be worth it. I especially am curious as we enter into the middle-yet-start of building a house. (I LOVE the outside of yours!!) and two more moves in our near future. We have a shared path, it would seem! I love the connections you made. Press on! I long to be settled into a permanent space of our design. I hope to see the tunnel soon, with the light at the end of it to follow 😉

  3. Kristine Rietveld says:

    Love this so so very much. Miss you, miss your writing! So happy for your new house, soon to be made your home for this season! Sending huge hugs and many blessing to you all!