I could hear the rumbling and wrestling upstairs after the dinner plates had been cleared. I could see this was as good of an opportunity as I would get….and I could feel the lump in my throat and the pit in my stomach knowing deep down he needed to hear the words my heart had been holding onto so tightly.
It was time.
But I didn’t want to speak up.
I didn’t want to let it out.
I knew what would happen if I did.
I wouldn’t be able to take them back.
Words are like that, ya know.
Once you put them out there you can’t reign them back in.
They have an impact.
And I knew, once I let these go, it could potentially alter the entire course of our lives.
“I want to share something with you,” I said quietly, halfway hoping he’d not heard me.
He set down his phone, pulled up two chairs, sat at the kitchen table and waited for me to begin.
Deep breath. Exhale.
“I need you to know that I’m okay leaving here. Leaving California that is.”
The moments seemed to slow down and with each sentence came more heartache, more sorrow…yet buried deep within simultaneously more freedom.
“When you go visit for your interview, I need you to not worry about me, and my preferences, or how I might struggle. You need to hear His voice, not mine. This is about where God would lead us, not where I want to be.”
For so many reasons I don’t want to move. Maybe it’s having moved so much growing up and the dread of doing that yet again. Maybe its that I did think being here was a long term plan and I’m still adjusting to it not being one. Maybe it’s the OU grad in me that never wanted to live in Texas.
There is no doubt I will forever hold a special place in my heart for California. The beaches, the weather, the culture, the trees, our school, the neighborhood, the people, Disneyland…are all amazing parts about being here. There’s no denying it’s an incredible place to be.
But it’s not just that. There’s more to it.
I’ve fallen in love with the work God has done here, in this place, in our family and in our hearts.
The Lord has used this location, this season, to grow us through hardship, to sharpen us through struggle, and to cause us to trust Him through sorrow. He chose to put us in this lovely place, but has used it to have broken us, in order that He might restore us and guide our affections toward Himself.
We have learned to see Him as a good Father. One that will never leave, never forsake, and will always love. He isn’t out to ruin our lives. He provides, and always will. And He answers, sometimes in a way we may not have preferred, but He does in fact answer…and I’ve learned His ways are far better than mine.
We have learned to see one another as a gift. One that is not deserved, never to be taken for granted, and always to be cherished. Marriage is a blessing, not an inconvenience. We aren’t in each others’ way. The way is with each other.
We see life through new eyes now. Fresh eyes. Eyes that are wide open to see where He is moving, which creates in us willing and available hearts to go where He is leading. Most importantly to trust even when we can’t fully see.
For the past few years we have been making continual intentional radical shifts toward a richer marriage, a more fulfilling family dynamic and a slower pace of life…with all orbiting around Jesus at the center.
Some of this shift involves saying no a lot more. Some of it involves saying yes to the unlikely. And now, that shift has led us to leave a place we have come to adore.
As a couple and as a family we have become relentless about chasing after the most meaningful parts of life, the mattering things*, if you will.
We don’t always get it right. We do miss the mark. Sometimes we have to check and recheck to make sure our motives are in the right place. But, we find ourselves constantly resetting and continually asking questions about what it is that is most important.
What are we chasing?
What are we fighting for?
How should we spend our time? Money? Resources? Energy?
What are we pursuing?
What is pursuing us?
What takes away from the most important things?
What adds to them?
Why should we do this/that?
Together, by God’s grace, we are becoming more and more firm and united on what it is we want life to be about. We want to thrive where are at, not just get by.
We want to value the things that mean the most in life. Marriage, family, relationships, people. We want to cherish our kids and the time we have with them. We want to enjoy close friendships and settle in to live among a people and a place with the long term in mind. We want to use our time, and everything we have, in ways that are a blessing to others and not put ourselves in a position where we are continually drained, exhausted, or overworked.
I’ve often joked that we want a porch swing and the time to enjoy sitting on it.
But truly it’s not about a location, a home, or a swing for that matter.
For finding hope in any of those things would be like trying to catch water in a broken vase.
Bottom line is this: We don’t want to get to the end of our lives and realize we pursued the wrong things, that the ladder we spent our days climbing was up against the wrong wall all along.
With each new phase and each new turn we want to adjust to keep our real priorities in line with real life.
These past few years have reshaped us and morphed us into very different people than the ones that moved here all those years ago.
And that’s a good thing.
That is what living here has meant to me.
We needed the challenges, the hard things, and the struggles…because it’s through the more difficult parts of life when we grow the most.
It’s often the things we taste as most bitter that turn out to be the things that bring out the sweetest sweet.
These last couple of weeks here by the ocean will be ones of loosening the grip, grieving the loss, letting go, moving on, and embracing the sadness in stepping away.
It’s necessary to feel this part, and to feel it completely.
In it’s rightful place.
This is part of the process. And it’s okay to feel it.
Because there will come a day, very soon, when I will set my face toward what is ahead and chase with my whole heart the opening of this next chapter; the continuation of the story and the steadfast pursuing of the richer more mattering things.
That chase is growing in us both an undeniable joy and a peace that passes all understanding.
This chapter, here in CA, is coming to a close.
But like all good books, the closing of one chapter only opens to another. I’m not sure how the story ends, but we are so glad you all are along for the journey. So thankful for all of your prayers, concerns, care, affection and encouragement.
And if it gets tough, if my thoughts become blurry, if my heart begins to look backward or I’m tempted to forget I may need you all to remind me just as I want to encourage you today:
Keep chasing the mattering things.
*The term “mattering things” originated from an author and friend of my husband’s, Zack Eswine, who wrote an amazing book for pastors entitled “Imperfect Pastor.”
Home Search Update: I am happy to share with you that we signed the official offer on the farm house with the one upstairs bathroom. And it was accepted! (It does have another full bathroom downstairs by the way! And we can figure out how to use both in the most resourceful ways possible.) Down the road we may look at doing an addition to the house, which would be a dream come true for the designer’s heart in me, but as for now we plan to see this home as a blessing and thoroughly enjoy every bit of it including the larger acreage, the chicken coop, the pool, the garden and all the rest that comes with this old charming farm house. I’m sure it’ll be tough at some points, but we aren’t afraid of hard things. We’ll figure out a way to find joy in it! We still haven’t closed, but when we do I’ll be sure to let you know! I can’t wait to share this next chapter with you all!!!