Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Here We Go Again - The Scoop on Our Move Eastward

When I was 8 years old, my parents took me and my 3 siblings on a family vacation to the Black Hills of South Dakota.  I remember how perfect our little rental cabin felt, nestled comfortably in the shade of the towering pines.  There was plenty of wilderness to explore, and tourist sights to take in.  Every cabin had a picnic table just outside the front door, and it was there that my sister and I perched with our new coloring books and fresh box of crayons, letting the silence introduce the songs of the birds, the whisper of the wind. We colored contentedly while our mother prepared lunches to satisfy rumbling tummies.

I recall distinctly that, as we colored page after page in our Rapunzel books, I couldn't help but notice how absolutely perfect, in every way, my sister's artwork appeared.  The saturated colors were bright and rich. She added red to the lips, blue to the eyes and outlined the royalty's regal garments with thick, bold strokes.  It was lovely. My pages looked nothing like that.....but I wanted them to, I wanted mine to look as pretty and perfect as hers in every way. Later in the day, without my sister knowing, I snuck off with our books, somewhere where no one would find me, and I copied that perfect page, every color, every stroke exactly the same.

Of course, when my sister discovered my handiwork, she was as angry as any accomplished 9 year old artist would be.  Her emboldened words of criticism cut across my conscience like a razor, and I bled shame and regret, but didn't know how to explain to her, nor to myself, why I had done such a thing. Looking back, I know it certainly wasn't the worst of my youthful fouls, and I know my sister would laugh if I recounted the story to her today. But, the memory of it points toward something that is concerning, something I've struggled with for a long time - that is, looking over the fence, admiring the grander green, the seemingly perfect colors and lines of every one else's life.
I catch myself, in gazing over the fence, wanting God to draw the same unmistakable, clear cut, vivid lines for me, for my life.  Lines that create an unmistakable picture that I can simply fill in with all of the lovely I can imagine.  I think that's what, deep down, I expected when Steve and I were first married - that we would always know and follow an exact plan for our life, and that that plan would make sense to us and to everyone else.  That plan would point us toward a place where we would buy a house, plant roots, raise a family, contribute to a community, and never wonder where else we could or should be.

We thought that three years ago, when we made the decision to move out to the farm where Steve grew up, that this would be our last move, this would be the place that we would always called home, this would be where we would plant roots, deep and wide, settle in and build a life that would last.

That wasn't meant to be.
About a year, or so, ago restless feelings began to stir within both of us.  We shifted uncomfortably in our seats at every conversation concerning the longevity of the water resources on the farm.  Our farm's sustainability is completely dependent upon water, upon our ability to irrigate the crops.  And, with the water tables dropping on the acreage that we own, the question becomes, "how much longer will our wells hold out?  Is there a future here for us, for our children?"

I must admit, though, that it isn't the economic state of the farm alone that has caused this shift. Concerns for our kids' education and a deep desire for community - something we've struggled to find here - have also kept us up at night. We have found that accompanying the isolation of rural living is the absence of friendship and, in that, a strong presence of loneliness. I can't help but wonder if God has withheld the fulfillment of some of our most basic needs and, as well, our deepest desires in order that we might thirst for something more, something different, for what He truly wants to give us.

When all plans and all resources are exhausted, there is nothing left to do but open our eyes and open our hearts to the possibility of change, of yet another move, and that is where we are right now.
Thankfully, aside from our ties to the family farm, Steve has also built a farm commodities brokerage business that is "portable," and will keep us afloat while we work to establish a new farmstead for our family in the central part of the state.  While this transition will be a challenge for myself and for the kids, I cannot express how difficult it will be for my husband to leave the family farm.  Even though we will more than likely return in the summer to help, this has always been, and will always be, home for him, and I so wish, for his sake, that we could stay.

Those feelings of temptation that I experienced years ago as a child, feelings of longing to have the picture of my life, now of our life look as lovely as all the other "normal" lives out there, has surfaced with great strength throughout the packing process.  It's been a fight to fix my gaze on the here and now, on what we've been given and not on what we don't have, a fight to lay down my desire for a straight and predictable path in exchange for the courage to travel the unpredictable one we're on - even though I can't see two steps in front of me. Lord, grant me the grace to trust You!

The movers will be here soon.  It's time to say good-bye to Gertie (she's been the sweetest little house on the prairie), to all that is familiar, and hello to the new and hopeful adventures that await. No more gazing over the fence, or, rather, at all the lovely in everyone else's story books.  My eyes are fixed on my own page, and it's all about looking forward from here.
Wish us luck - and if you pray today, remember our family in your requests, if you would, please.


  1. I'll remember you in my prayers today. I identified with so much of what you wrote here. We are a military family and as a child I moved about a great deal too.

  2. Prayers will be following you all day! And tomorrow. And the next day. While I know how difficult this will be for you, especially your husband, I look forward to seeing what adventures await you all. You have a wonderful attitude that will be very beneficial during the move.

  3. Beautiful witness of being open to God's will in your lives. 28Peter began to say to him, “We have given up everything and followed you.” 29Jesus said, “Amen, I say to you, there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for my sake and for the sake of the gospel 30who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age: houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and eternal life in the age to come. 31But many that are first will be last, and [the] last will be first.”

  4. What a lovely post Susan. Best of luck with the move. And if it's worth anything, I think you have just about the most beautiful colouring book I have ever seen. Hugs & Blessings from Susan Bell Flavin

  5. Definitely praying for you and your family, Susan!!! Moving is both hard and exciting and I hope that this is a smooth transition for all of y'all!!

  6. I couldn't feel more in tune with your post; so much that it almost struck through my heart. My family isn't planning a move but I can completely relate to those "looking over the fence" feelings and feeling like I am constantly questioning the choices that I have already made. I feel a lot like I've brought myself to a soulful drought. I've not lost my faith by any means and I'll be glad when these feelings subside. Prayers for you and your family on your move.

  7. My heart needed this today as well. We are a military family and always on the move (10 times in 10 years). We have never lived anywhere more than 18 months as a married couple. Sometimes it is quite disheartening. His family has a farm back in Southeast Nebraska and we too hope to get back there at some point. However, it is a very small town and my mother-in-law said it was a very lonely place to be when they first moved there. She said that only in the past several years has she felt a part of the community (I honestly believe that many people thought they would up and move when the farm didn't do so well). I wonder myself too....if me dreaming of that farm life is just a case of "greener on the other side". I worry that I would have a hard time making friends as well since many people that live there have lived there since birth. We do move ofen as is but I have had many years of learning to make friends in the best and worst of situations...perhaps God is molding me for life on the farm...or even elsewhere. :) I pray for peace in your family's decision.


  8. One thing I've learned in our 7.75 military moves is the grass is always greener wherever you water it most, aka- bloom where you are planted. And the stronger your roots, the easier it actually is to dig in deep again when you are transplanted. I guess it's easier for us in the sense that we don't really have much of a choice about when and where we go, so we just have to adapt when the changes come rather than make tough decisions.
    Well, I take that back a bit. Sometimes we have to decide whether not to move when they are transferred. That stinks no matter what you choose ;o)

  9. I will miss you, and your family.
    What many of us don't know is that there are indeed others that see our "grass" as greener. Those onlookers in turn don't realize that they also are envied. You have a beautiful family, Susan. Thank you for sharing it with us.
    My prayers are with you.

  10. Change is so hard. I can relate to so much of what you're feeling and will definitely keep your family in my prayers.

  11. This brought tears to my eyes. Richard and I are longing to move out of state but part of me is horribly torn at the idea of leaving our family behind. We depend on them so much for help with the kids. They are the first people we call when a vehicle breaks down, etc. It's so scary...even as a grown woman with four children! I pray your family is settling in well in your new home and that the boys are adjusting quickly. We have also been saying that should it be God's plan, He will provide for our move. He will provide the perfect buyer for our house and He will lead us to our forever home. Trusting is hard sometimes but what else is there, really?


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