This morning I have escaped to the “Upper Room” (our upstairs guest bedroom/office) for my mommy time away. I try to sneak away from time to time to a coffee shop for more focused Bible study, reading, journaling, blogging (and just a break!). With the hecticness of our cross-country move, it has not happened for some time, which means I am savoring it all the more today!
I am feeling rather fancy dipping biscotti (a sweet gift from a church member!) in my steaming coffee…never mind that I am waist-deep in unpacked boxes up here except for one chair in the corner. Unpacking and settling into a new home is taking me quite a lot longer than I anticipated. I don’t know exactly what I expected, but I honestly thought I would be “done” by now and able to spend a couple days thrifting for a few rugs, curtains, end tables, etc. to pull it all together. But that is a joke. We’ve had an obnoxious, rough round of colds (well, only Nels and I so far, and hoping it stays that way) that has slowed us down, and we’ve also been wanting to spend some time at church and with new friends, and also setting up all the new internet, insurance, utilities, etc…and it just takes a lot of time. While it frustrates my impatient and sometimes perfectionistic nature, I do see that the Lord has been speaking to me about slowing down, savoring life, not hurrying through every task but living each day to His honor and glory. (A convicting read? “Why Slowing Down is Paramount…”) Efficiency has often been my (somewhat accidental) highest value.
ANYWAY – the move. I have not updated my blog much about it, since we have had so much going on, but I’m sure most of you kind readers have already heard. In February Nels was called by the Christian & Missionary Alliance Church of Morgantown, West Virginia to come and be the Pastor of Youth. Long and crazy story short, we had visited a few weeks prior and initially declined. The week following that decision we both felt like we were grieving and were really happy when one of the elders contacted us and asked a few questions, and wondered if we would reconsider. We literally had a host of faithful saints praying for us, and as God helped us work through some of our concerns, we were happy and at peace in answering ‘yes’ to the call. There was a sweet and quiet but profound joy in seeing the Lord open the right door. I could tell quite a few amazing stories about the whole candidating process, and it was really difficult, but because of all that we have a strong inner certainty about being where the Lord intended for us to be.
So, we packed up our lives in Kansas City and moved 869 miles (give or take!) to our new home in Morgantown. God provided a quaint rental farm house just outside of town for us at an affordable price, which we were so thankful for (one of my major concerns was lack of great housing in the area, so to see this answered was a kind provision!). The weeks leading up to the move were so bittersweet. We had many goodbyes to say, and felt near to bursting with love and appreciation for our life and many relationships in Kansas City. We met, were engaged and married at Midwestern. I had my 3 babies at the same hospital 12 minutes from our apartment. And while Nels grew up in the Army, relocating often, I spent 20 years in and around the Kansas City metro and my parents live there. Our favorite haunts will be missed, my Bible study ladies will be missed, Nels’ hunting and fishing buddies and coworkers will be missed, and on and on. The time was ripe for us to move on, and we know God is continuing to work in and grow our family, friends in KC. He was gracious to allow us very special goodbye parties and we got to see most of our closest friends one last time before heading out. Our church sent us off so sweetly as well.
We loaded the bright yellow Penske truck and our big gray Suburban and headed east on I-70. Nels’s mom and dad travelled with us, doing the heftier (and more nerve-wracking!) chore of driving the big truck. On their advice, we decided to make the journey in 3 days, which allowed for a slower pace for the huge truck and my carsick Hudson, Ezra’s couple of blowout diapers, terrible rash discomfort, etc. While we did not enjoy 3 hotel stays with 3 little ones (ahhh!!), we did enjoy seeing Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and finally Pennsylvania and then West Virginia. Having Mormor and Papa Tim along helped the kids emotionally as they were quite concerned about missing their friends and Hudson kept asking to go “homey”…Nels and I were also encouraged to have them making the trip with us and praying together as we went.
On our final travel day, we travelled east through Ohio, into Pennsylvania and then south to West Virginia. The flat farm lands gave way to rolling hills and then very steep grades, massive evergreen trees and mountains. It was a very epic-feeling final hour’s drive…we kept calling Mormor and Papa Tim back and forth, excited with tidbits of conversation about the new scenery, praises that we were almost out of the car, songs of thanksgiving, etc. We had been listening to “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe” on CD in the car, and were at the exciting part when the children first arrived in Narnia, when they were told that “Aslan is on the move.” And, though I was exhausted and overwhelmed, I knew God was gently leading us. I know that He has called us to Morgantown, and I know He has plans for us, for serving Him – here.
That evening we walked through our house (which I had only seen a few pictures of!) but stayed in a hotel in Morgantown. It was one of the worst nights of sleep I can imagine, with baby up and fevering and the 5 of us in one bedroom. Nels and I were terribly disheartened because we were hoping to be at our best for our huge move in day, the day that we would meet a lot of new people and need to make lots of decisions about the house.
But, somehow the Lord gave me a boost of energy to get up early and read my Bible in the hotel lobby. I read Psalm 139. I was amazed by the love of God. I felt so loved, and His love pushed out my fear. It was also comforting to know that even though “home” was 800+ miles behind, “Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.” I was so humbled that infinite, sovereign God cared to encourage and speak lovingly to me on that difficult morning. It also brought to mind a portion I’d heard the day before in “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe”…“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
So, here we are in Morgantown! We have been blown away by the warmest welcome imaginable by the CMA church family. They helped unload the truck, have brought meals, came to pray for sick Ezra, invited us to their homes, etc. The kids already talk about their friends here (though they don’t know anyone’s names!), and I about bawled when Hudson exclaimed “homey!” when we pulled into our little white farmhouse the other day. It is starting to feel like that, and I am enjoying exploring our new surroundings and meeting many new friends. We are so excited to be serving our “unsafe” but very good King here. It is certainly an exciting adventure to follow Christ.
I’d appreciate your prayers for our church, the elders and pastors, our youth leaders, and the youth group – as well as our family! <3
P.S. I hope to share a house-tour photo blog sometime (if we ever get settled in!! ha!) and maybe a few photos of Morgantown. Stay tuned! ;-)