Twelve months ago if you had told us that our family would move to Northern Indiana this past summer, I would’ve laughed in your face. And you would’ve been right. As I look over this past year (really these past two years), the one consistency has been change.
The very first days - then months - of 2015 were filled with processing, praying, and lamenting the idea of uprooting our family from a life we loved in SoCal in order to be near extended family and Brian to begin a new full-time job in Indiana. We worked the process hard. We asked all the questions we knew to ask and did our best to answer our wise counsel’s questions. We embraced and lived into the intense emotions this idea brought up. Brian and I honored each other as we battled back and forth on whether we should move.
The beautiful thing about our process is that it was a tough decision. We knew what we’d give up in order to gain something entirely different. We were trading some very important things to us - community we adored, culture that feels ‘like us’, a city we loved, context that ‘got us’ as much as we ‘got it’… - for other very different things that were also very important to us - proximity to extended family, work for Brian, space for our kids. When we finally decided to move to Indiana, we felt like we were winning so very much, while also losing so very much. Six months later we still feel many of those wins and losses.
This year, we have learned new levels of surrender and trust. It’s hard to do the right thing, even when you know it’s the right thing! We have leaned into our family’s brokenness as our kiddos’ world was turned upside down (oh ya, their parents’ world was too!) and they expressed intense anger and sadness and have found more healing in their stories. This year our family of five has both fought against each other through the stressors of moving and have clung tighter to one another. We’ve learned that we can do hard things…together…and even when we aren’t kind and gracious to each other, we can forgive each other and hold each other tight. We discovered the joy of a backyard for slip ‘n slides and chasing each other, the gift of more bedrooms, basements, storage and play space, the freedom that comes with neighborhood buddies and living on a cul-de-sac, and the wonder of a first snowfall. This year we established Friday night “movie and pizza night” as we snuggled under blankets and recovered from long weeks.
We’ve learned a lot of ‘each other’.
Judah (7) started 1st grade even though he didn’t go to Kindergarten. He’s struggled mightily and valiantly as he’s worked hard to catch up with his classmates. My momma heart swells for how well he’s done!!! His brute intelligence, winsome personality, and magnetic eyes have won him friends and favor. He learned to ride his bike on his first try and is constantly begging to ride it. Learning to read has been a giant feat and we are so stinking proud of his progress. Judah has his own room in our big new house, which he sometimes yet still wishes he could sleep with someone like the rest of us. This crazy kid still hasn’t lost a tooth, so I anticipate that he’ll lose them all in 2016 and require dentures. Many days I pinch myself in disbelief that my firstborn is really becoming a big kid. Time is flying…
Addise (5) slays us. Our one and only girl is a fighter. She fights for love, justice, a voice, and security. She’s experienced deep healing this year as she’s fought...and found rest. We’ve discovered how wicked smart she is as she owns Kindergarten, and her fancy (new) full-time, purple glasses prove her smarty-pants. She’s into all things fashion, art, her little brother, being the best family helper, and giving the BEST smoochy kisses. Honestly, she’s my hardest to parent but I’d go to the moon for her (tears fall). She’s happiest when she’s drawing at the kitchen table or has 1on1 time with Mommy or Daddy. She asked Jesus in her heart this Fall and she means it. She loves Jesus.
Asher (3) has been our joy in this season. His insatiable love for life, wild hospitality, infectious giggle and friendliness, wise emotional articulation, and fabulously timed snuggles have been healing and a calming force in our family. He jumped into preschool 3 mornings a week and (literally) hasn’t looked back. I’ve treasured this brief window of time when he is home with me. We’ve had great adventures to parks, the library, Target, and in our new home. He’s my little buddy and I LOVE being with him. He still sneaks into our bed in the wee hours most mornings, and I’m savoring those snuggles. He literally spoons up next to me or his daddy, strokes our face, and whispers “I love you’s”. His older sister strategically cut out 2 chunks of his gorgeous long, surfer hair this Fall and mommy has been lamenting – and trying to fix it! – ever since. I’ve never seen a boy more into Darth Vader. The Force is strong with this one.
Brian is my rock and my vulnerability companion. His selflessness in this new job deeply moves me. The way he cares for our family through work and at home is a force to be reckoned with. He’s felt weak most of this year, and in it he’s become even stronger. My deeply introverted husband transitioned from being a stay-at-home dad to being gone 50+ hours a week. It’s been intense. He couldn't be happier to be in “Go Blue!” territory, which allowed him to go to TWO, winning football games in Michigan’s Big House. His excitement for mowing our half-acre long didn’t even last through the Fall. A riding lawnmower may be in our future. ;)
We celebrated 14 years of marriage and we’ve earned the intimacy we experience. We don’t do oneness perfectly, but I cannot imagine life without my partner.
As for me, my heart is wrapped up in those four above. I’m hopelessly in love with them. It’s been supremely challenging to go from working full time to the primary at home parent who travels for work. The daily hustle and bustle with three kiddos is exhausting (Hello, 7:30am bus pick-up and homework!). Managing a bustling house has required new muscle growth. The coaching and consulting work I get to do with The Youth Cartel and Slingshot Group, along with my independent coaching, speaking, and writing is SO meaningful, value-adding, and energizing. Traveling to do work I love has been a sanity booster. I’m stupid grateful that I get to do in Indiana what I did in SoCal. I hung an art piece in my bathroom that says, “she designed a life she loved” and is has become a goal.
One of greatest gifts of our move has been experiencing more life with our extended family. I’ve lost count with how many times we’ve seen everyone. We’ve celebrated more birthdays together in the past 6 months than we did in the previous 11 years combined. We experience Thanksgiving with our families for the first time in a dozen years. Our kids really know who their cousins are. We’ve had backyard bonfires, play dates, and quick weekend trips to Aunt Liz’s. When our loneliness for SoCal sets in, we remind ourselves of those gifts.
As 2015 has taught us, life with those you love is a gift. There are always little lights, no matter the season. Your family is to be treasured. Your friends are to be appreciated way more than they usually are. And Jesus is to be clung to. If you had told us a year ago all this would’ve happened in 2015, I wouldn’t have believed it. But Jesus has held us together in the midst of it all.