Friday, August 26, 2011

"Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself." Leo Tolstoy


Our journey toward making the biggest change for our family so far - a change of address

Oh, little blog how I've missed you! So much time has passed but we press on. I'm inclined to want to recap every little thing that's happened since I last wrote which I know is entirely impossible and is precisely why I've waited until now to even try. Never have six months been so full or so blessed for us.

What a season we're in! When I wrote last (in February!) Dirk was being heavily pursued by several head-hunters for positions all across the country. It was a good time to be a state testing director! Opportunities for our family seemed to abound yet all I wanted to do was sit nice and tight in the comfort of the familiar. In the early days of the process the idea of picking up and going to a new part of the country sounded romantic and exciting. But when the job possibilities started to transition into job offers my feet became increasingly chilly. Turns out I'd become wildly at home in good old Minnesota. Even though it took me such a long time to really settle in, make peace with winter, and connect deeply with true friends - there I was snug as a bug in our little well-oiled life. When...Bam! Time to let go of what had become familiar, tried and true, home.

Dirk was really challenging himself and had been learning so much about how we so often choose the easy way because in the end we worship comfort more than we worship God. It was an odd switch of roles to have him ready to parachute into the clouds while I wanted to retreat under the covers. Yet the nudges to move on got a little stronger and the promptings a little more obvious until it was altogether undeniable that God wanted us to move, to New England in particular.

Well, let's just get one thing straight from the start: New England is drop-dead beautiful. It's not as though God was suggesting we pick up and head for the backwoods of Kentucky (with all due respect to the deep south). On our little "let's convince you to move here" all-expense-paid vacation to the Seacoast (as the locals call it here) it was awfully hard to find anything unattractive about the place. Charm is in the DNA of the land. Patina for days in just about every piece of architecture from stem to stern. Trees that have stood tall and proud for decades line every byway and of course the ocean's lure wasn't lost on me either. And yet it was unfamiliar, unknown. This is woodsy and miles (as in 50) from Boston and the amenities that we'd become so accustomed to. But what we'd soon learn we'd miss more than convenience was our church and the friends who've become like family to us over the years.

It does seem ironic that in the very land where the early settlers came to enjoy the tremendous gift of religious freedom fewer than 1% of the population actually go to church or consider themselves Christians. It's more than a little sad to consider that much of this is potentially due to some wounds the church inflicted on some of its own. I don't know this as some sort of hard fact. I just know that we haven't always done a great job of giving people a place to feel some sense of belonging before they come to a place of completely believing in the church. Dunno. But we're here and we know that we came because we felt an assurance that it was the right move for our family. So make it home, we shall!

Of course I could keep record of all of the quirks of our surroundings (there are a few!) and make note of all that's different from what had become so familiar. But instead I choose to look ahead to what God has for us in this part of the country established hundreds of years ago. Our little town was established in the 1700s! Now that's just something worth celebrating.

So here we are. And in spite of all of the stern warnings we received that New Englanders are uptight and unfriendly we've found everything the opposite to be true. Our new neighbors have embraced us like old friends. It's not uncommon for me to get a few calls or texts a week from one of them just to see how I'm settling in. It's been the best surprise of all. To find that folks are just folks in the end no matter where they are spiritually or geographically. We're all just people trying to make a go of it on this green earth. I've always believed the best in people but this move has reminded me that the human spirit is a wonderful thing.

When I told my mother-in-law how unbelievably warm and welcoming people had been to us she quickly retorted, "But that's how you are." This sweet accolade blessed me especially much. She reminded me that we're all just about as happy as we make up our minds to be. Show love and security in your own skin and all be darned if it doesn't warm people right up to you in return. I'm not about to take any of the credit for the friends we've easily made here. But maybe, just maybe they're seeing a bit of the love of a good God in us and that's drawing them out in unexpected ways.

To be led so many miles away from so many loved ones doesn't easily compute but we do know that we are blessed to be a blessing. It would have been infinitely easier to huddle into our safe little familiar and lovely life and never let the light of our family be shared and enjoyed by anyone east of Stillwater. Yet we have been given such a treasure in our love for one another and for God. Turns out it's wonderfully rewarding to get to share "us" with another part of the world who've not had the opportunity to meet many Christian settlers who aren't so different from them after all. Guess we're kind of like the pilgrims of a new generation and we're definitely celebrating Thanksgiving early with most grateful hearts.

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