I have wrote and wrote and wrote in the middle of our move, but haven't been able to hit the "publish button" on almost any of it. Slowly it will all come pouring out at just the right time.
If you know about our move from Kentucky to Georgia, and you're my FB friend, you've gotten to see a lot of the the "highs" from the move. Typical facebook, right? Behind all those highs, there have been PLENTY of challenges, many of which I want to share. There have been so many challenges, big and small, I'm not sure where to start. Looking back, I am SO SO SO thankful for each of them. Every single heartache, stress, difficulty, worry, fear was exactly what I needed to get me to where I need to be. A girl with an ounce of faith.
Before I get to all of that, I want to write about simple Kindness. I would say that is what has made our move "bearable" at the worst of times and en"JOY"able at the best of times.
"Are you guys Mormom?" was the question that our semi-truck driver and main mover asked a few hours into our move. "Nope, why do you ask?" "I don't know, you guys are just such a good wholesome family. The blonde hair. All the extra food." Which made me laugh. (And I thought, I can't wait to tell all of my sweet sweet sweet and oh-so-kind Mormon friends! You guys really are the nicest people!) "We have our struggles just like every other family you move," I said. He and his adult daughter packed up our Kentucky home and then unpacked everything for us in Georgia. As she was leaving she said, "You guys are the nicest family I've ever worked with." Which made me cry.
They, this father/daughter duo were with us on the MOST challenging days of my life thus far. Leaving family, friends, and neighbors behind in Kentucky...there are no words to describe it. Even though I was (and still am) 100% on board with the move, and knew that it was what we needed to do, I can't describe the fear of the great unknown lying before us. The sadness of leaving people that we love behind. Watching my babies cry like I'd never seen them cry before. I won't even get into saying "See ya later" to my mom and dad and sister. It was hard. Very Hard. Painful even.
Through it all, I made up my mind that I was going to be a light, even when things felt dark. I constantly asked the movers how I could help them, what they needed, brought them water, went out to get them food, and drinks, talked to them like friends and family. I didn't want my overflow of emotions to land on them, which is so easy to do! I am guilty of doing that to Mike and the kids more than I'd like to admit. I prayed constantly, Holy Spirit, let me be a light. Let LOVE be seen through me, even when I don't feel lovely at all.
As we stayed in hotels and ate at restaurants and went in and out of stores and gas stations, new schools, my goal every day in every way was to be the kindest customer they'd have. To look at them and ask, "How are you? How's your day? Thank you SO much for helping us! We appreciate you guys!" over and over and over.
The same with Mike and our kids. Constant, "What do you need? What can I get you? How can I help you? How are you feeling? Are you okay?"
When so many of the things that brought me happiness were suddenly gone, (my home, my neighbors, my family, our friends, a sense of familiarity, "normalness" my bed, my town, our church, I could go on...) I had to beg of the Holy Spirit to help me create my own JOY by loving and serving others until I could just easily have it with my surroundings again.
A ton of JOY came from my babies. I had worried about them constantly. Fear of the unknown. Fear of change. Fear from stories that other families who'd moved shared with us. I watched as they instantly made new friends, tried new sports, and just enjoyed where they now were! (The pool, the beach, and eventually their new rooms and home.)
They'd each come home from school with both good and bad stories about their day. My heart melted when Lilly told me on the first day of sixth grade she went to sit with a boy that she recognized from the neighborhood who was sitting alone. "There was no one on either side of him, so I asked my new friend if we could move over to where he was at." It could have been the most proud of anyone I've ever felt in my life.
Or, when Carly told me on the 7th day of school, "We got a new girl in our class! I sat beside her at lunch and played with her at recess. When she lost her lunch tag, I helped her search and search the playground until we found it. I know what it's like to be the new girl."
When Lilly told Mike going into his first day of work, "Be sure to ask someone to have lunch with you and give at least 3 compliments."
There have been so many great reminders to me that even though they are all "normal" kids who can be a pain in the neck at any given moment, that inside, their hearts were SO good when it really mattered.
For all these years I have told them over and over, the BEST way to have a good day is to focus on helping and being kind to others. And they did it. And it brought them great JOY. And I'm assuming so much happiness to the people around them. Definitely to their momma. It reminded me of in the Bible when Paul said he could have Joy in good times and in bad times, and Paul DEFINITELY had BAD times. Far worse than our move. It was Paul's faith that saved him. That taught him to be selfless and to serve others. To care about others. To hold onto hope that better days were ahead.
A few days after we settled in, our neighbor told us her step-dad had unexpectedly passed away. Lilly instantly made them brownies and took them over to their house with a note. I don't remember the details of that day, but I know we were feeling down, and reaching out to our new neighbors instantly made both of us feel so much better. Hopefully it brought the new neighbors happiness into their sad time as well.
And we were on the receiving end of more kindness than I'd ever have imagined. New neighbors who invited our kids over to play, who dropped off air mattresses and toiletries while we were waiting on our stuff to arrive from Kentucky. People who barley knew us and came over to celebrate Lukey's birthday. Cards, gifts, packages, encouraging text, day after day from friends and family back in Kentucky. The list of Kindness we have and continue to receive has been unbelievable. Every single text and phone (Even the ones I'm slow to respond to!) mean the world to me.
It was the kindness we gave and the kindness that we repeatedly received that got me through. That still is getting me through. Every single day, at just the right moment, I give or get the kindness that I need to push me forward. I am certain that God sees me and hears me and knows what I need. He is giving me the strength to be my best self, even in some of the most challenging and scary times.
I'm also recognizing my great need to humble myself and ask for forgiveness when I fall apart and all of my ugly comes out! (Which sadly and truthfully, it has! Time and again.)
We are new people. Our eyes are more open to people struggling. I will never treat "movers" coming or going the same way again. In every way possible, I will do what I can do to LOVE them beyond imagine, because let's just be honest, even with all the the Highlights and Pros and Goodness that can come with a move, it is HARD! I will remember how to find JOY through being kind to others in the darkest of days. I will stop trying to shelter my kids so much. I'm going to teach them how to deal with difficult people and difficult situations instead of hiding them from the real world. We will continue to pray our hearts out and marvel at how God hears us and answers our prayers. "Mom! I have some new friends, our prayers were answered!" -Carly
We will have more faith. We will believe the verse from Romans that says, "And we know that in all things, God works for the GOOD of those who love him." These very very very trying days will serve as reminders for the rest of our lives that His promises are true. That HE really does love me. Sees me. Hears me. And that I can stop the incessant worrying about everything known to man. I can rest and have more peace, knowing that I am free to trust His will, and not try to create my own.
My daily prayer is still the Lord's Prayer that I learned in CCD on Wednesday nights as a little Catholic girl, "YOUR will be done." My job will be to Love people to the best of my ability and you, God, make my path straight. Lead me to where you need me. Make me wise. Humble. Gentle. Kind. Help us to shine our light for YOU on this new adventure.