“We had everything right except the year. And the place. And the people!” – me to Rod, in one of those moments than rang a whole lot more true than what I had initially intended.

We have been here almost a year. (I started writing this a month ago…)

But we aren’t in the same place we were when we arrived. Not really.

Turns out, what we thought was a destination was just a direction. And moving here? It was never about a job. It was about obedience.

People told me upon the move that it would take a year to get settled. Little did we know. So little did we know.

The thing we thought we moved here for…it collapsed. Right on top of us. We thought it collapsed around November, but now we look back and see that it was a house of cards all along.

That collapse took my wind. I literally stayed buried in the house for days at a time, unsure of what to do, not wanting to see anyone, having no idea what was going to happen and so, so sick of talking in hypotheticals, again!

Every time hope started to rise, something squelched it. And before long, I went from feeling depressed, anxious, and scared to something worse: apathetic.

What carried me through those weeks turned into months? Well, there is always my one-two punch of God and Rod. Fortunately, God never changes, and my Rod and I naturally take turns on our emotional see-saws. A support network was available at home (here in South Carolina) and ‘abroad’ (Chicagoland). My kids’ school, in ways the staff doesn’t even know, was invaluable to us. And our church? Oh journeychurch. All I can say is I am pleased to finally introduce you to me – not unsure, beaten down, needy me, but fun, capable, what-can-I-do-for-you me.

There was one other thing as well:


I can’t say that the beach always solved my problems, but without fail, every visit there calmed my soul.

~

We were on the beach with friends and family on the day last month when our new steps were ordered. Pieces had been coming together for a few weeks, but there was finally a call to Rod that said: You have the job… and all the while the details of my new job were lining up.

By lining up, I mean doors have been flung open before us. No more kicking down walls. The way is being paved!

And it was time to let go of what was and what could have been, and march/saunter/skip toward a new day.

It’s amazing how quickly something can go from being the question and topic of your every day to something you just want in the past, or as one of my oft-quotes Buffy episodes puts it:

Burn it down, gentlemen. Burn it down and salt the earth.

I don’t mean that to be harsh. I know people were hurt by the failed project for which my family moved to town. But I have had to make peace with that. None of us can get back what we lost; but I do believe that the same God Who provided for us when we were at our lowest will restore to those who gave of themselves truthfully.

Just two months ago, we were semi-employed, benefit-less, beaten down, depressed, uncertain, embarrassed, defeated, and struggling. Everything from our security to our ministry to our rental agreement for our house in Chicago seemed to be falling apart.

~

Now here we are: one year as residents of South Carolina. We came here to run a theatre together. I struggled with putting my girls in school, we struggled with letting Paige go away and leaving Josh and so many others. We struggled to find  church and friends. We struggled with living ‘so far away’ from the people we went and places we go. And here we are.

Better is one day in Your courts than thousands elsewhere.

Rod is now a corporate manager with a telecommunications company. I am a manager for…a new, family and Christian-focused… theatre! We are both highly involved with our church. We’re planning to homeschool the girls for kindergarten. Paige is home after her first year of university, and Josh and Kirsten are moving here in June. I was able to visit Chicago 5 times and haven’t lost any connections just because of geography. Also, we’ve had a unique and steady stream of loved ones coming to visit us. Next month, we are moving to a beautiful house in Murrells Inlet, closer to “everything.” (And if a 45 minute move from a one-level house to a one-level house really isn’t so-much-easier than moving 1000 miles away from a two-level house with basement while your husband’s back is out, don’t tell me!)

All of that sounds great. Even as I am writing it, I can hardly believe how our circumstances have changed in the course of the past 6 weeks. There is so much more to the story: people and conversations and decisions that paved the way, lessons learned in the desert that have permanently changed my perspective, and the absolute deepening of my faith in God.

So here’s to you & happy anniversary to this world I exist in called Chicagolina. Here’s to piles of flip-flops in my foyer, sand in the car, pork BBQ/hush puppies/chicken biscuits/shrimp&grits, sweet tea (once a day!), Donut Man, azaleas, the state park, Market Common, knowing the difference between business and bypass, knowing which Walmart has the cheapest milk depending on the tourist season, still watching the Chicago local news and craving Aurelios, belonging to two churches, new traditions and sweet memories, saying “y’all” in my head but still saying “you guys” out loud, feeling at home in two places, and quite possibly, never having to wear winter gloves or snow boots again.

My Chicagolina, you have not been what I expected. You have been better. … not only because of what exists in this place where I have settled, but because of What is constantly with us, guiding us, rescuing us, comforting us, blessing us. If a year of mostly uncertain times is what it took to get me focusing my efforts in the right place, than I probably got off pretty easy.

And it’s better…so much better…

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