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I arrived in Chattanooga with my arms open wide.
Eager for adventure.
It’s an odd thing how the Lord works in your life, though; it’s rarely what you imagine it will look like.
When we had arrived in our previous home town, we had no family or friends, were married just over a year and excited about the possibilities.
Our pages were unwritten and I couldn’t wait to fill them in living color.
I don’t think our dreams were particularly big; they were simple, American dreams, the stuff of Happy Days set in the 80s and 90s. Traditional.
Pre-internet, and for God’s sake, pre-social media over-sharing.
No, make that over-comparing. At least we didn’t have that going against us.
The day after we moved into our townhouse, another young couple moved in below us. I remember peeking out the window to spy on them. The next week I baked brownies and took them downstairs to meet our neighbors, another young couple married with no kids.
In time, they would become life friends, the kind connected by the heart where geograpy knows no bounds.
We were off to a good start.
Over the next ten years our roots grew deep and strong. I found a job quickly, then a year later a dream job found me. I worked right until the day before giving birth to our first baby.
Two sons would join our daughter over the next four years.
We’d become church servers and church leaders, and eventually I even worked at our church.
Our circle of friends was large; with the exception of our dear neighbors, we met all of them at church.
We worshipped together, retreated together, traveled together, double- and triple-dated together, had babies together (well, not together, but you know what I mean)–a whole lot of together.
Stage of life and common faith united us. Kindred threads bound us tight.
After 10 years, my husband considered a job opportunity that would take us to Greenville, SC, closer to his familiy. We were serious enough about it to drive around town and scout neighborhoods.
I remember feeling sick to my stomach.
There was no way I was moving to that place. It felt foreign, strange, unfamiliar. I gripped our hometown with white knuckles and iron fist. It wasn’t just me, my husband agreed at the time.
(Ironies abound in this:
- 18 months ago we found ourselves living in Germany, a truly foreign, strange and unfamiliar place.
- today if you asked me where I would live if I could choose anywhere in the Southeast, my answer would be Greenville, SC
Hilarious. Or not.)
Anyway, we returned home from that career-fishing trip sure about staying right where we were. Life was good. We were happy. We had a great church and wonderful friends–why in the world would we want to mess with that?
And then slowly and at times painfully, God loosened my grip on our precious little, South Carolina hometown. Things changed at church setting into motion cracks in our perfect world. Friends moved. Friendships shifted or fractured. Jobs were affected. 9-11 happened.
The entire world was spinning out of control.
There were still good things and wonderful people in our lives, but they were getting harder to see.
In around three years time, I had gone from wild horses can’t drag me away to get me the hell out of here!
When opportunity knocked on our door to move to Chattanooga, to say we were thrilled is understatement. A great job in a beautiful town? The only downsides were moving farther from family and having to start over at 40.
What could possibly go wrong?
So, yes, I arrived in Chattanooga with my arms open wide…
The subsequent ten years would prove to be the hardest of my life.
to be continued….
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My father moved us 5 times in 7 years in search of good work and finally settled in Tampa FL. I’ve lived in Toledo, OH, Kankakee IL, Atlanta, GA (2 times), Tampa FL (2 times–the last one lasting 20 years). I have also lived in Harrisonburg VA for 1 semester of college & now Upper E. TN-Tri-Cities Johnson City–I’m in Elizabethton and love this little town.
I have met some wonderful people here and love every moment in this tiny little neck of the Smoky Mountains. Life takes its twists and turns, but thankfully God is always there!
Robin – Just sat down to read your last 3 posts (been without internet for a month due to a MOVE). Ironically, we just LEFT upper Northeast Tennessee that your reader “Beth W” just named! We are now in south Georgia. I am 47 years old this time. I am so happy to be in the very middle of God’s big plan for us – so why did I just burst into tears?? I know how hard this is. We have moved SEVEN times to different states in our almost 20 year marriage. I am weary. I am grateful for the story you are sharing … I know He is there and I am happy almost all of the time. My kids are super happy and that is a feat at the ages of 16, 12 and 10! I just picked my 12 year old up from a really cool 13th birthday party and I was so happy for her. I am so appreciative of the mommies and daddies who are so kind, BUT sometimes you just want someone who KNOWS you … I guess it is basic loneliness.
Thank you for sharing your story. I will be anxiously awaiting the next chapter!
Sounds like you know how to roll with the punches :). A great quality.
We’ve moved four times in 25 years, with 10 months in Germany last year (making it 5ish). Knowing that God is present at every juncture doesn’t mean it’s *easy*; and I’m convinced sometimes it’s the hard stuff that, although not we’d wish for, it the best stuff.
((hugs)) to you on your new move; what part of Georgia? I’m from there and still have ties!!