I’m sharing some reflections on our move that took place this time last year, in part, for my own preservation of them. I haven’t recorded some things that I really want to remember. And of course the common thread through all of this is that God is good.
Who? What? And Why on Earth???
These questions can be lumped together and it’s pretty simple. My husband, Will, had a fantastic job in Northern Virginia. He worked for a health system that loved him (his going away party was the most over-the-top parting in history — there were many, many tears, extravagant gifts and even a poem written and read in his honor). They were beyond good to him. But as many new opportunities as they gave him, Will really wanted more responsibility. The problem was his amazing boss, whom we both love, wasn’t going anywhere. When a bigger role opened up here in Chattanooga, it was tempting. In some ways it was hard to leave such a fantastic organization where Will was so valued — needless to say we prayed about it a LOT. Ultimately, when we decided Will would accept the job, we both felt good about it, but that it no way meant we were anxiety-free. We were embarking on a new adventure but also leaving a very good life.
How It All Unfolded
We put our house in Falls Church on the market in September, and Will agreed to have his first official day here on November 30th. All five of us had come on a recruiting trip in August and it had rained every minute we were here. In October, our big boys were accepted to the private school we had quickly applied to, and this was a tremendous blessing. That piece was settled. They could start in January. All five of us made another trip here in October, and were able to begin appreciating just how lovely the area is. We looked at every conceivable neighborhood, but then we visited our church and that sealed the deal. Will insisted that we live on Lookout Mountain. Our realtor showed us many houses on Lookout, but none of them felt just right. When I got back to Falls Church, I spent yet more time online looking at houses (God only knows the hours I’ve spent looking at houses online). I came across the one we now live in. Our realtor hadn’t showed us this one. It looked perfect, even the paint colors, with the exception of one pink bedroom, were precisely my taste. I flew back to Tennessee by myself, and made an offer. Neither my husband nor my sons had stepped foot in it.
It’s not the most fun thing to buy a house for five and be the only one that’s actually seen it. My sons hated the pictures of it — they had seen more palatial houses on our trips here. In fact, the four of us had picked out a beauty on a golf course that had the best basement I’ve probably ever seen. But Will nixed that. It wasn’t on Lookout. On our October trip we went by that place one last time to try to convince him. It was empty so we peered in the windows. We walked around to the back to the incredible walkout basement and were greeted by a dead bat. This did not help our cause; no it did not.
Despite Will’s insistence, the boys did not embrace the idea of living on a mountain. Nate gets car sick, or used to — I think the mountain mostly cures that. None of them could get over losing that basement and instead getting no basement. To add salt to the wound they all looked at the exterior picture and said with disgust, “This looks just like our house in Falls Church!” They were not happy, not happy about leaving the life they knew and loved, not happy about living on a mountain, and definitely not happy to be moving to a house that was not one of the McMansions the realtor showed us (they also knew that we were paying more to live on the mountain and getting less; it’s hard not to have them learn such things with stacks brochures at their fingertips). But I told them it would be great, and mostly I believed that.
By God’s abundant grace, we sold our house after just a couple of weeks, and closed on it in the middle of November. We were able to rent back through November 28th. Last year, Thanksgiving was on November 26th — Will’s birthday. He is more than slightly obsessive about Thanksgiving. It is his favorite day of the year, even more so those years when it’s also his birthday. The movers were coming to pack on the morning of the 27th. Did that change anything about Will’s favorite day of the year, which was also his 44th birthday? Of course not! We ran the Arlington Turkey Trot, had mimosas while we watched the Macy’s parade, played a very competitive game of football in the backyard, and had a full Thanksgiving dinner. We even watched Elf, just like always, although the birthday boy was in bed by then.
We were blessed to have my sister (Laurie), my niece (Caitlin), my nephew (Dane), and Caitlin’s friends, Britt and Cam (now her husband). Before the ten of us sat down to dinner, Will made a speech.
“Remember in Rocky III when Rocky was getting ready for the rematch with Clubber Lang?” Will began. “Apollo Creed is his trainer but Rocky is dragging during their workout. Finally, Creed was like ‘What’s wrong with you?” And Rocky says, ‘I don’t have it today. We’ll get em tomorrow. I’ll be ready tomorrow.’ What was the next line? What does Apollo say?”
I had no idea what Apollo said. I imagine eight others at the table that day had no idea what Apollo said. More than likely, you don’t know either. But Dane knew!
“There is no tomorrow,” Dane answered in his quiet, understated way.
“That’s right!” Will laughed, then shouted, “There is no tomorrow!”
That, Will explained, was how we needed to approach this Thanksgiving. NO LEFTOVERS. The movers are coming in 15 hours. There is no tomorrow! It was hilarious. I know my man has used many a sports analogy to motivate performance. He is a great leader, but not many people have occasion to give such an important motivational speech at Thanksgiving.
But as the following passage so poetically describes there really is a time for everything — even a time to uproot, even a time to motivate dinner guests!
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace. What do workers gain from their toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him. Whatever is has already been, and what will be has been before; and God will call the past to account.”
Ecclesiastes 3:1-15 NIV
What really strikes me as I get older is not that there is a time for this and a time for that, but that those “times” often all mesh together. I’ve experienced joy and peace in the midst of sorrow. I’ve laughed some of my best laughs in the middle of stressful circumstances. The aim is to be present in the moment, to realize that I am just a mist here for a little while, and that God has a plan. My job is to be thankful in every moment.
May I do just that not just at Thanksgiving but every day of the year!
Love to you and yours!