I am moving.
After nearly five years living in this Main Street apartment, I am actually moving. It seems strange but I believe I've lived here longer than any other place my entire life. I suppose that reality speaks volumes about my turbulent sojourn here upon earth.
I have actually been looking to move for a few years. I miss having a yard and living in a neighborhood but my looking never amounted to anything. Either I didn't see a better situation or the better situations were out of my price range. Lebanon is an extremely expensive place to live but is, in my mind, worth the expense. I have undeniably fallen head over heels for this small city. It is the place Heavenly Father led me and the place where I have been allowed to rebuild my life.
Recently, following a series of significant changes in circumstances, I bumped into a small home for rent only a few moments away from my current location. It has a wonderful yard that backs up to a city park. The neighborhood is private and quiet and the wrap around deck looks over the river. It feels like the perfect place to continue raising my children. Other than a change in address, nothing else will change for us. The children will continue to attend the same schools, the same church, the same music lessons, etc. My effort to maintain stability will not be derailed.
Today I started packing boxes. I remember when I moved here. I had relatively nothing - an older Durango, my son's dog, my daughter's cat, a washer/dryer, couches, a kitchen table, the bed Emma was born on, a radio, and my books - lots of them. I remember my landlord knocking on my door one night while I was sitting on the floor in the middle of the living room listening to Yo-Yo Ma and the rain pelting against the tin roof. I had nothing - no money, no job, no realistic hope. I had rented the apartment with my very last penny (and hope) because I felt, after all my searching, I had indeed found the place I could raise my children when they arrived in the fall.
Sitting on the hardwood floor alone that night, hugging my knees, I wondered where Heavenly Father was hiding - or if he was playing a joke on me. How much faith could he expect me to have?
When I heard the knock at the door I jumped out of my skin. I hardly knew a single soul in the area. It finally occurred to me that it was my landlord. When I opened the door to him, he stuck his head into the room, looked around for a second, then laughed and said, "Oh! It's cello music! I am giving a seminar downstairs and we can only hear the bass coming through the floor. I thought you were playing some hardcore rock up here! I was coming up to ask you to turn it down."
We laughed and realized that the radio setting physically upon the floor was more the problem than the actual volume setting. He suggested I put it on a table then looked around again and asked, "Where is all your stuff? It's like an empty bowling alley in here!" I cringed. I didn't want to tell him he was looking at "all my stuff". With feigned confidence I explained I would be filling the place up soon. He looked a bit incredulous and the echo of our voices bouncing through the empty space didn't help matters any. He left me alone with the deep sound of cello and my even deeper fears. I cried through the night and the heavens cried right along with me letting out a few sobs of thunder every now and again.
As is usually the case in life, things eventually worked out. Heavenly Father showered me with untold blessings day after day. It was as if the entire population of Lebanon suddenly decided to put their furniture out on their lawns with free signs attached. My aunt Linda dedicated what felt like her entire existence and savings to helping me create a home in a space that didn't try hard to make good first impressions. Together we painted, yard-saled, cleaned, and ran 10,000 flights of steep stairs with the things we felt would turn Main Street into home.
I also got a job. Not any job but exactly the right job. I would have scrubbed floors with a toothbrush for less than minimum wage if someone would have offered it to me but Heavenly Father is so kind. He led me to employment that was not only respectable but to a boss who was almost too perfectly matched to my personality to be real. I was standing in a U-Haul store when I received a phone call from him telling me that he had made the decision to hire me. I started jumping up and down right in front of the long line of grumpy people waiting for their rental trucks. I began yelling, "REALLY? REALLY? Are you sure? REALLY? THANK YOU! THANK YOU SO MUCH! THANK YOU! Oh gosh! Thank you!" I only stopped when he told me he was going to fire me if I didn't calm down immediately.
He didn't know what was at stake. No one except my best friend and Heavenly Father really knew what was at stake. The blessings continued to pour in from my church family who embraced me and never allowed me to fail. I was not alone and I gathered courage to press forward from all the people around me who, for whatever reason, believed in me or just didn't know enough to not believe.
Tonight, as I walk through my home packing boxes, I am reminded of how far I have come - how far I have been carried. I admit I am frightened to move. It is another big leap of faith in my life. I don't understand the significance of it right now but it feels exactly like the right thing to do and the right time to do it.
The pictures are coming down. The walls are beginning to show again. The memories of the struggles I have endured are washing back over me. I am quietly, carefully packing them up to bring them along with me because they are the evidences I have of God's love. They are the evidences of my faith rewarded and I never want to leave them behind. I never want to forget.