In Threes

We did it again. We hit a triple major transition all at once and we are still in the middle of it.

Third time now, after ten years of marriage, and I’m counting the summer we got married as one of those super transitions. 

Something that has been going on this time around is the feeling that I’m behind. Behind what, I’m not quite sure. It feels like it is the end of the summer, somehow, and I have to keep reminding myself that it is still the beginning of July. I think it has some to do with missing the cadence of Annual Conference, and that mom and dad have been living with us since the beginning of june, so June was soooooo huge that it felt like the whole summer. It wasn’t. I still have all of July to get my feet under me before I have my third year intro to RiOM but it still… still feels full. 

I’m having to remind myself that it’s still beginning. That the expectations here are different than my last appointment. I’m learning the cadence and the feel and honestly I haven’t had my first sunday yet. 

Sunrise walks in the neighborhood

So in the remembering, I’ve been taking walks. I’ve been learning grocery stores (some of which I’ve shopped at before). I’ve been getting things set up in my house and figuring out what goes where and what is still packed and what I might end up storing in the guest room when my guests get their new house at the end of the month. 

I guess it’s made this transition weightier, because my dad retired and my parents are moving up to live in the same state as we are, an hour up the road. And so they are in the middle of a massive transition that is taking two months, essentially, because they don’t close on their house until the end of the month. 

It’s been good. Full. And good. 

This year is is going to feel so different than last year. I wonder in a few years if I will remember much about salisbury besides yoga, having shingles, and that blasted staircase. Good things happed there. I loved our creek in our back yard and our next door neighbor was wonderfully welcoming with her back yard. But half the time we lived there we were in the middle of lockdown. More strict than most of our neighbors because not enough of our neighbors were strict enough. 

So I think that’s part of why I’m so ready for this transition. I am ready to change. I want to change from what our last year and a half felt like. The memories of that house will fade, and we will learn in our new walls, with our new windows, and on our new porch, in our house that is nearly as old as my grandfather. 

And in the midst of the change we will learn our new church, and set new rhythms for our family where I am doing the work and my husband is caring for the kids. And we will celebrate that our kids play with our new neighbors. And the welcome continues. 

settling in to the new office

re-membering

Today is the seven year anniversary of our miscarriage of my first pregnancy. The loss is still there, but it’s not like I need a day off and flowers for it. (Not that a day off and flowers would be sufficient for grief and loss, but… it would be more than I got when I miscarried. Hunh. Anyway.)

trees on my walk

And here is the interesting thing about this anniversary this year. It’s also the last full day of my eldest born daughter’s first year of school. Calendars have layers upon layers upon layers. 

In the years to come I also want to remember last night. Because last night marked an incredible change and neither I nor the other person involved knew it for what it was. 

Last night I hugged someone who wasn’t a family member. 

For the first time since early march 2020, probably Sarah Howell the day I got my first tattoo, I hugged someone outside my family. 

And the main reason it happened is because I said I was moving. 

I was reflecting with a friend recently about how open or not we’ll be with people around us and hugging them. And I told her I was going to be very discerning… and I think that’s true, but I forgot that my discernment is not always what I expect it will be. 

But here is what it means to live in a place where half the time you lived there was during a pandemic. Your neighbors know you because you walk down their street every single day. They will know that you were the one who has the kids who started on your back and they moved to the stroller and now they can walk beside you.

But you won’t know your neighbor’s name because your mind is a sieve for names. But you will know them, and you’ll appreciate how the seasons change and how the porch is decorated for the holidays and how they care for their plants and keep their yard cute and inviting. You’ll remember a conversation you had with her over a year ago about how she retired from nearly 40 years of teaching but didn’t get to say goodbye to her last group of students because they all went into lockdown.

And you’ll stop on the evening walk when you’re by yourself before the sun sets but after the kids are in bed. You’ll say “oh I guess I should tell you that we’re gonna be moving” and she’s like “oh well then I guess we will miss you” and then she’ll ask about your neighbor who lives across the street from you and who they go to church together so they know that your neighbor has incredibly aggressive cancer and you didn’t know exactly what was going on because who knows how to talk about these things when you don’t exchange phone numbers when you arrive and you didn’t know that was what you would need to do because they’re just across the street surely you’ll have a conversation again, you can see into their kitchen from your bed and so she’ll say do you know about her and she’ll still be crying because she’s just said hello and she’s gotten to see her  friend and she’s been there and she still tender and so she will come to you and she will mutter “don’t worry I’m vaccinated” and she’ll pull you into a solid embrace.

A hug that lasts five or ten or twenty breaths. 

And she’ll go back to talking to her neighbors and her husband, and you don’t know her name. And it will occur to you as you begin to crack as you walk past the magnolia that you see every day that this was the first hug you’ve shared in fifteen months from someone who’s not in your family.

And you’re leaving in less than a month and this. All of this. Happens the night before the seventh anniversary of your miscarriage. 

And maybe the hug was just as much for you as is was for her. 

tattoos and why I’m ok sharing a hug again (tattoo by mallory blaylock)

Experienced Moving

I’ve moved a lot. I change houses like some people change favorite jeans. I know how to set up a kitchen in less than a week, and make a new house feel like a home I’ve lived in for years. 

Moving is not all about houses. It is also about leaving the familiar and moving to the unknown. It’s about changing out communities, finding new friends, and learning new places. It’s about losing and gaining things at the same time. 

My favorite moving day story is from when I was sixteen. We were leaving a place we had been for four years that we didn’t really ever feel we could call home. There are various reasons for that, most of them are not my story to tell, but for my own part I was not leaving any friends my age behind. I was glad to be leaving. 

Our driveway was black sand that ingrained itself in the carpet and any other surface it came into contact with. Each time I got into the family van, I would snap my feet together to shake the sand off my feet so that the sand transfer would be as minimal as possible. When I got in the car that final morning, I intentionally did not shake the sand off my feet, because I had run across the passage in Matthew 10 where Jesus sends out his disciples to preach about the Kingdom of Heaven. In verse 14, Jesus tells his disciples to shake the dust from their feet if they do not find welcome or listening ears. I didn’t shake the sand off my feet because I refused to say that the blessing of God’s peace was not present in that place, even if I hadn’t encountered peace while I was there. 

On the last day when we were packed up and the house was clean and empty, we went to have breakfast with a couple that were friends with our family. They pulled out all the stops. Biscuits, eggs, sausage, and this amazing concoction of blueberries with sour cream and brown sugar. Don’t knock it until you try it. June is prime blueberry season in south Georgia. That breakfast was the final good memory to have in a place that didn’t have many other good memories. 

Some moves are like that, a time to leave bad memories behind and move forward into new experiences. Some moves are heartbreaking, leaving behind longtime friends and loved spaces for the unknown. Some moves happen because of graduation or getting a new job or moving closer to family. 

I imagine that my perspective on moving is different than most folks, because I grew up expecting to move, and I chose to work in a profession that expects me to move. I never expected to be in the same place for a very long time. I always wonder where the next place we will live will be, even if that new place and new move is a long ways off. It means that my roots don’t get very deep. But it also means that I am always looking to learn something new about the people I meet. I become more curious each time I find somewhere new. I always know that the blessings of God are present even if I don’t yet know where to look. 

New Starter

The Egyptians urged the people to hurry and leave the country. “For otherwise,” they said, “we will all die!” So the people took their dough before the yeast was added, and carried it on their shoulders in kneading troughs wrapped in clothing. —Exodus 12:33-34 (NIV)

I’ve read the story of the Exodus at least once a year since I got my own bible in third grade. I’ve read about the Ten Plagues and the Israelites leaving after the Angel of Death visiting each home of the Egyptians while the Israelites were saved because they had the special marks on their doorways. I’d read about the feast of unleavened bread and not having yeast in their homes for a week.

This week, reading it again I noticed the people of Israel having to pack up in the middle of the night and carry their bread wrapped up in their cloaks before the bread could rise, possibly before the yeast could be added.

Yeast is a living thing that feeds on sugar and makes air bubbles. Yeast in the time of the Israelites was probably a small jug of starter that was kept alive and added to bread a little at a time, with little bits of extra added back to the jug every so often to keep it healthy.

Bread is a basic necessity, and so yeast is as well.

Imagine a people who leave in the middle of the night, carrying only what they can on their backs. These people are headed out into the desert where they will wander for forty years to learn who and whose they are.

They have left their starter yeast behind because they are going out to start a new life. 

This new life will be different down to the bread they bake. It won’t taste like the bread of Egypt because they won’t have any of Egypt’s yeast to put in their loaves. Even this incremental change will be hard to take, and they will complain about not having bread. God will provide them with bread that is sweeter than what they have ever tasted. And soon enough they will tire of that as well.

But they will learn to make new bread in a new land. They will start a new home in the land that is promised to them. And they will gather a bit of yeast from a neighbor and create a new starter jug for the bread that will sustain them through their lives.

They will become a new people. Little by little. Even down to their bread.

SnowMelt

It was so good to have our first snow in our new home. We only lost power for an hour or so, we had everything we needed, and we didn’t have to make any hard decisions about leaving home in order to get to work or go out for an emergency. It was beautiful, the white blanket that covered what we are only now beginning to recognize as home.

It was nice while it lasted, but now it is time for it all to melt. Our back yard is still a bit dangerous with the sheet of ice covering the blanket of snow—my husband nearly got his car stuck on his way to work this morning. The ice is still hanging out in the shaded parts of our road, threatening to send us sliding out off the road… not something I want to try with my baby in tow. And I want to see if we have any volunteer flowers that are waiting for the first hints of Spring… I’m ready for it, even though Spring is still two months away.

It’s odd, the way that the snow melts and water runs off from the mountains that would be puddles in summer. Water keeps coming from places that we normally see as dry. Its like with snow, the water took a pause. With rain, the deluge is immediate. The ground is immediately sodden, and then can work it’s way to the roots and trees. With snow, the water is kept in holding. Until the sun or warmer weather melts it, the water stored in the white blankets is kept in a holding pattern, waiting to see if it will gently water the earth, or erode down to the bedrock.

We wait for the snow to melt. We wait to see if anything changed under the weight of the icy blanket. Did something get pushed aside when the snow plow careened through the neighborhood? Did anyone skid into a new place, creating a path out of a green space? Did the trees get damaged by the ice, or are they stoically waiting for the thaw with the rest of us?

What is coming next? How much will the melted snow reveal? And when will these new things take their place?