We Have Arrived!

A week ago today we were somewhere between Des Moines and Paducah, Kentucky.  A caravan of one huge yellow truck, 2 Toyota Camrys and a minivan. The first 3 hours were spent trying to stay together in thick fog. At one point we were separated for about 45 minutes. We finally figured out that a little space between us was a much easier way to travel and I spent most of the rest of the trip looking in my rearview mirror trying to see if the big yellow truck was still back there somewhere.

Since I was the lead vehicle, with the navigation system, I was in charge of making the decisions about stopping and route changes.  I never expected this job to be so stressful! It’s very difficult to lead into unknown territory and know that whatever decision you make, it had better be able to accommodate a truck pulling a trailer.

Some of the time I had a passenger. When I was alone, I found myself having some wonderful conversations with God. I was able to spend hours expressing my gratitude for all the incredible things He had done for us to make this trip easier. Some of those things were related to lessons learned while packing the truck.

On the day we packed, we had a couple of hired movers who were experts at loading the truck. They expressed their concern at the beginning that there might not be enough room.  All the expertise in the world didn’t give them the ability to load more stuff than I should have taken. We ended up having to rent a trailer to pull behind the truck and that forced us to drive the car we were planning to tow. This meant that all 4 drivers had to drive the whole time with no relief. The relational stress this caused made me realize that my attachment to my stuff had now caused problems for the people I loved. While I was willing to take full responsibility for this, it was too late to turn back so we headed out and tried to make the best of it. I am blessed to have a family who forgives and moves on.

We were very blessed on the entire trip. After negotiating the fog for the first morning, things cleared up. The list of things I was thankful for grew by the hour.  No rain, no snow, no bright sunshine that would make it more difficult to drive.  No accidents and very little construction. Great hotel rooms, good meals, no mechanical issues. We all stayed awake.  That was a miracle in itself. I was able to drive 30 hours in 3 days and wasn’t really sleepy once. I felt God sustaining me every minute. The only thing I had to deal with was that I was wearing out my voice telling God how grateful I was and singing his praises with the worship music on the radio, much to Alex’s frustration!  It’s a good think he had headphones and the opportunity to ride with someone else once in a while.

We finally arrived in the middle of the afternoon on the third day. But it still wasn’t time to rest. We still had to unload the things we would need right away. That night well after dark, we were unloading the trailer. Randy took the trailer back the next morning and then we spent the next 2 days unloading the truck. At one point I am convinced that God sent 3 muscular angels to help us unload Randy’s table saw. They just happened to be working in the section  of the storage unit where we were unloading our belongings. We were all so glad to see that truck drive away for the last time!

Now we are getting settled in. We are all finding it rather surreal that we have finally arrived. It seemed like the waiting would go on forever. We often look at one another and say, “we live in Florida,” like that will help it to seem more real.

The things I am thankful for today include sleeping in my own bed again and a room where I can find solitude when I need it. I am also thankful for the way my family worked as a team to get things unpacked. We have many adjustments ahead of us but I already have a deep sense of contentment. I am right where I belong for the next chapter of the Maxey Adventure!

Philippians 4:11 Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.

I’ve Loved It Here, I’ve Loved It There, I’ll Learn to Love It Anywhere!

I loved growing up in Delaware, Ohio. It was a small college town of about 15,000 people when I was in junior high. Our folks have lived in Delaware for over 50 years and are still there. It’s a nice little town.

I loved raising my boys in Westerville, Ohio. It was a little bigger than Delaware but still a very nice place to live. We lived there almost 20 years and have some great memories.

For the past 10 years we’ve lived in Urbandale, Iowa. One of the hardest things I’ve ever done was move away from everything and everyone I knew. I was sure that I would never be completely happy so far from home. But God surprised me.

God has made Iowa home. We’ve spent these 10 years raising our younger boys to be young men here. Some of them have lived in Iowa longer than they lived in Ohio.  We all got attached to some very special people.  We’ve loved it here too. The fact is, you can be happy anywhere if you choose to be. It’s really about the people. Your relationships are what makes a place home, not your surroundings.

But now it’s time to move on. Next week I will begin a new adventure. I will have the opportunity to watch my grandchildren grow up in Clearwater, Florida.

I have a choice to make. I can spend all my time grieving over what I’ll leave behind or I can embrace the new chapter ahead of me.  As we get closer to the final day in Iowa, I am reminded that when we leave here it will be with a different opportunity than we had coming from Ohio. With the addition of Facebook in my life, I will be able to take all of my friends with me! Isn’t that generous of me? I’m taking all of you to Florida!

The truth is this. The real friends you make in your life will always be with you, no matter where you live. The miles or the years make no difference. I hope you know what I mean. I hope everyone has at least one friend that you can pick up right where you left off no matter how long it is between the times you are together or talk on the phone. Those people are precious gifts. I find myself incredibly blessed to count many friends as friends for life.

And next week, I will be given the opportunity to begin to add Florida friends to that list. The only thing that will hold me back is my own hesitance to step outside my comfort zone.  That saying, “bloom where you’re planted” is really true.  I have to allow myself to blossom and grow and not allow the temptation to become a wallflower to limit what God wants to do.

So, the truck comes tomorrow and we pull out 2 days later. And I am blessed to know that you are all coming along for this adventure!

Perhaps this post has made you think about a friend you haven’t talked to in a while. Maybe today would be a good day to make a fresh connection. Perhaps hearing from you is just what they need today.

Hebrews10:24-25 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Moving is a Little Like Giving Birth

I feel like I’m in labor and at that point where I want to say,”Hey, who’s idea was this? I think I’ve changed my mind.”

Of course, in the process of moving  and in the birth of a child, you don’t really want to change your mind, you just want this part to be over with!

I feel like we’ve been preparing to move for the past 3 months. Like when I was expecting each child, the anticipation was so exciting at the beginning. It was easier to make decisions, easier to move around, easier to sleep.  Now I am feeling the stress of trying to live everyday life around piles of boxes and realizing something I need at the moment is already packed. And sleeping is a little iffy these days.

I am ready to be done. Wishing that I could get the Star Trek guys to beam me to Florida and just be done with it.  But no, it doesn’t work that way. Now, at the time I’m most stressed and most exhausted, is the time for the final push.  soon we’ll be loading the truck and making the 3 day drive with 3 vehicles in the caravan. Or really, 4 if you count the car Randy will be towing on the back of the truck.

I know that God has been orchestrating this move from the very beginning. And I’m seeing that the beginning was much longer ago than I realized. He was working on this move for at least a year that I can see, probably much longer…

The timing is perfect, the weather forecast has been very cooperative. God was generous and gave the entire country warm weather in December just so we could get to Florida without having to deal with ice or snow, right? Thank you, Lord!

Now I just have to buckle down and finish this race. I have to focus on the outcome, just like being in labor. I have to look past the difficulties of the next few days and think about the end result. It will be worth it, but it won’t be easy. But hey, I’ve done hard before, I can do it again. God is still with me. Forever and always.

Hebrews 10:36 For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.

James 1:2-4 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

God Will Meet Your Needs and He’s Never Late

So we had this van that we’ve needed to sell. We’ve been trying for almost 6 weeks.  We’ve been praying for God to send the buyer we needed so we could get it sold before the move.

Yesterday the prayers increased as we knew that we now only had one more week left.  I had already begun to thank God for providing the perfect person at the perfect time. I knew He could do it. But still, as the days passed quickly, I have to admit, I was starting to get a little nervous.

Yes, I should know better. Yes, I’ve seen God show up at the very last minute enough times that I should be able to have perfect peace while I wait.  Well, maybe YOU do but I confess, I don’t always feel that way!

So last night at 10:00 I was sitting in my living room praying because my husband had just left to meet a potential buyer.  A man who called at 9:00 to say he would pay cash for the van agreed to meet Randy at a neutral location and make the deal.  I’m sure you have figured out that my stress level was a little higher at that moment than I would like to admit.  I was praying protection, praying for the money to be real, praying for the deal to be done so we could just get beyond this hurdle.

Perhaps you wouldn’t have been fearful but after the things in the news these days and the fact that this was a Craigslist ad responded to late at night by a man who said he’d just moved here from out of state….well, let’s just say my imagination could easily run a little wild.

So Randy left, I stayed home and prayed. My two adult sons had agreed to meet him there too, just to be safe. And they ended up bringing another friend with them. So there was Randy and his 3 bodyguards waiting for the buyer to show up.

When the man arrived they began to talk and while they were talking a white van pulled up, stopped right in front of our van and several young men got out. Randy said he was ready for an ambush.

Do you know the scene from the movie Back to the Future where Doc and Marty are in a deserted parking lot late at night and a truck full of terrorists show up?  I can imagine that scene might have been what was going through my husband’s mind at that moment.

But the deal went through easily and Randy even drove the van to the mans apartment.  They were a very nice group of young men and frankly, the buyer was probably just as concerned about his safety when Randy arrived with his entourage!

I learned some important things from this experience. First, I was reminded that God is never late. By waiting until now to sell the van, we had the  luxury of having 2 vehicles so I could get things done while Randy was at work. He only has 3 more days so now that isn’t a problem.

I also learned something while I was praying and struggling with fear for Randy’s safety. God quietly reminded me of these verses in the Book of Luke.

So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. “For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened. “Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he? “Or if he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he? (Luke 11:9-12)

I asked God for a buyer for the van and that is exactly what He gave me. I didn’t need to worry that He would send something that wasn’t safe for us. God is a good Father. He wants what’s best for us.

And this experience is especially meaningful to me because, as some of you know, I have been keeping a “Gratitude Journal” which I began at the beginning of the year with the goal of reaching 1000 things I was thankful for. This morning I wrote #1000. A buyer for the van.

Thank you Father, for always providing at just the right time!

 

Date Night Stands Even During a Cross-Country Move

Friday is date night. Yes, we are moving in a week but some things take priority and our marriage is one of those things. We don’t usually do anything extravagant. Often it’s just a cheap $20 meal at a local restaurant. We’ve also been know to go shopping for things we need for the house, the standing joke from the kids reminds  us of the time we bought a new toilet.

This week we won’t be doing anything big. We will just take time to get away and sort of reset our focus.  We’ve been so busy it sometimes feels like we don’t have time to connect at all. We discuss the logistics, the to-do list, and the zillions of details that require our attention. But we don’t have time to talk about our hopes and dreams about what this next chapter of our lives might look like.  Those discussions are what happens on date night.  We take the time to dream and to share our excitement about what lies ahead.

We also take the time to be in awe of what God has done to make this adventure happen. There are so many things we have seen God do that were completely unexpected. He has brought together so many details in such a seamless way that we are amazed. We will take the time to tell Him how grateful we are.

And we will continue to pray together for the rest of the details that need to come together in the next week.  We still need to sell our old van, we still need to make decisions about many small details. But God has again shown Himself to be faithful and we know He will not let anything slip though the cracks.

This week’s date night won’t just be about us though. Sometimes your priorities  have to make room for others. Tomorrow as we leave for our night out, our first stop will be the funeral home.  As I wrote last time, we have a friend, John, who on Tuesday had surgery for brain cancer.  Yesterday  another friend, Doug, came to the end of his battle with brain cancer after 3 difficult years.

We may be moving, and our lives may be changing but the lives of those families have been turned upside down.  Their names and their faces come into my thoughts over and over throughout the day.  No matter what I have on my plate, I will chose to make time to pray for those we love.  Will you continue to pray for John and his family? And will you please add Doug’s family to your prayers as well?

Life is often hard, but God is always good.