Category: moving

2 Years

So what were the questions…?

Basically, they all started with “how long before…?” Some of them were quite simple, but took longer than I’d have thought, like:

– we find family doctors?
– I can go from one end of the strand to the next without using Google Maps, and I don’t panic when someone asks me for directions?
– we don’t immediately turn to tourist traps as our recreational destinations?
– people ask me where to go to get their hair done?
– I have a regular-standing-girls-night-out again?
– I know other parents?
– I say we are going to a Pelicans baseball game or to get Mexican food without smirking?
– I learn that Walmart must be avoided on the weekends from April-August?
– we have a hang-out worthy patio, with party lights?
– we become south-side snobs (again!)?
– we have favorite beaches. Ranked. (for the record, MB State Park, followed by Huntington State Park, followed by Surfside Pier).
– we form opinions about bike week? (for the record, in favor)
– I have random run-ins with people I know? (for the record, that actually, suddenly, seems to be happening more here than it did in the Chicago south suburbs where I lived for 35 years!)

But then, my heart, there are the other questions, the ones I spoke only to myself or my husband… the ones to which I didn’t really want the answers… the ones that I still can’t verbalize, even though now…I know.

They involve moving on…relationships…instincts…feelings…home. They’re a little scary and a lot bittersweet. In some ways, acknowledging the answers to those brings me to the exact same tight rope feeling I had when we first moved.

The last question that shares the answer is: How long will I be the new girl?

Incidentally, the related question that is still unanswered is:
How long will I feel like the new girl?

I hope it’s 3 years…or maybe even 2 and a half.


ridearoundwithyouNothing on this ‘adventure’ – and I mean nothing, and I mean adventure – has gone how we thought, planned, hoped. We have lived through some of the hardest times of our life here…and we have celebrated some of the best. And that is what to hope for, it seems… balance, perspective, and faith to face whatever comes.

I can’t be thankful enough for not just the ride, but who shares it with me.

Happy Chicagolina-versary.


Wow…two years!

May First

14 years ago
I moved out of my parents’ house permanently (third time total) and into my own apartment. I had a new ‘career’ job and a new car. It was a scary, somewhat dark time in life. I was 22…able to care for my own financial needs, a little cuckoo when it came to everything else. Thank God for His protection.

12 years ago
I moved out of that apartment into my own condo. I signed a mortgage contract that legally recognized me as a “single woman,” and though that was not where I wanted to be, I was like, “Booya! I am 24 and buying my own home!” I also adopted my first cat…sweet, beautiful, 5 year-old Raymie. Neither of us slept that night. It might have been the moving food (aka, White Castles).

3 years ago
We put our house up for sale on a sunny Saturday morning in Homewood, Illinois.
In Nashville, Tennessee, where we were planning to move, there was a horrible flood that wiped out historic places and many homes and businesses.
We celebrated my Dad’s 65th birthday with a fab party.

2 years ago
After 2 days of emptying our house, Rod and I dropped our babies with Mom & Dad and drove our moving truck with trailer to our new home in Conway, SC. Rod’s back was out. We knew no one. Our brother-friend from 2 hours away came with a friend of his and emptied our entire household into our garage.

1 year ago
After our initial ‘dreams’ in South Carolina were all shattered, Rod and I were in the middle of starting a new theatre, moving our church, planning to move our home (about 45 minutes away to Murrells Inlet), and both starting new jobs. In that madness, I took the girls for a visit to Chicago. Good for the soul.

Yesterday, we helped some friends move who were in kind of a desperate situation. It seemed fitting to ‘pay it forward’ in this way. I have no idea why I moved on May 1st so many times :) We currently are renewing our lease for a year, and we’ll see what happens from there. I won’t see Chicago again until almost August, but I will see my Dad, the birthday boy, and the rest of my family (yaaaaaaay!) in 37 days when they come for a beach vacation/family reunion.

Life rarely ever goes as planned. It used to bother me and worry me and make me second guess. I’m learning that it is simply…life. We will keep moving along, rolling with the punches, and all those other cliche but true things.

Happy May.


Hey! I’m proud to return to one of my favorite stomping grounds as a monthly columnist! Check out a few more words on the subject of change over at Absolutely Gospel!

and in health {part one}

and in healthWritten late night on Wednesday, March 6, 2013

There are certain occurrences that make me want to run home… to Chicago… even after nearly 2 years and an internal voice that often whispers, This is home. But sometimes, things happen there… momentous things… like a baby is born to a sister, or best friend breaks her foot and needs help for 6 weeks, or a gramma goes into the hospital, or there’s a retirement party, or someone is moving away to a place I may not ever get to visit, or any other of a dozen (a hundred?) things.

And sometimes, things happen here, and I find myself caught off guard because it is still new, because even though this is home, the natural, instinctive reactions I might have had to a circumstance 2 years ago do not yet exist in this version of our life.

It happened this week. It was a simple phone call… well, two really. One came in the late morning, when Rod said, “I have to go have my blood work done again.” He’d finally gone for the check-up we’ve all been nagging him about for three years, as his weight, energy, and strength have dropped. His doctor identified a level that was so low she thought it must have been a lab error. So he went back to the lab, and I went to Google. As soon as I started reading symptoms, I knew it was not a misread. I just knew. (“I knew like you know about a good melon.” {When Harry Met Sally}) But Rod went about his day, taking care of business and even pausing to buy me an anniversary present, two weeks early. So after a hectic work day, I got home, prepared food for the girls and snacks for our Wednesday night church classes, and forged ahead.

Then another call came, the one I’d talked myself out of expecting. Rod confirmed: he had to check into the hospital to be dosed with calcium and tested for causes of his dangerous shortage.

And I was gripped with panic. And tears. And, “Oh my Lord, how do I manage all these pieces?” Because I wanted to be with my husband, but I have little girls, and big kids with jobs, and friends with jobs and kids of their own, and another friend who’d had surgery earlier that day, and my MOM AND DAD ARE A THOUSAND MILES AWAY!

Cue the goodness… knowing who to tell was key. Rod did not want grand announcements and fussiness.(No church phone tree, no Facebook). I texted my co-workers. How awesome for me that they are pastors and friends as well? The prayers were immediate, as was the support. A few key people in town were contacted, ones who had the right words (‘Pack a phone charger!’ among them). A few others were contacted with the no-holds-barred I am panicking. Please help! I had a good cry while I ‘got stuff ready’ and then got over it. Because we have to.

Paige, the Glue, Paige, our daughter, who is always there for us, was there for us, was there for her sisters. And a steady stream of people offered their presence. And some others offered scriptures (Hi, Psalm 139). And Rod’s boss… who lives 4 hours away… offered delivered meals and lawn service (I have yet to meet this man, but I love him).

We are blessed. In good times and bad, lean times and plentiful, sickness and health. There is honestly nothing that derails me more than my husband being unwell. Even in this case, when he feels fine, having him away from me physically, and in the emotional sense that automatically seems to accompany it, is sucky to the core. I hate when *I* can’t take care of everything he needs. I hate when he is in a place I can’t reach. And quite honestly, even though I am all Woman… Hear Me Roar, when it comes to our marriage and our family, I don’t like being the strong one. It is his place, and he is really, really good at it.

When he is away for work, I have learned to embrace the quiet of nights after the girls are asleep. Music or videos play on my little tablet, lights are dimmer, and I enjoy the silence. With him in the hospital, i want brightness and noise and distractions. I want not to be lulled asleep by soft glows or mellow tunes, but pounded into unconsciousness by sensory-overload. I want him back where he belongs.

To be continued.

related adults

Even though I don’t feel so much like the new girl in town anymore, there are some conditions that sort of shout You aren’t quite at home to me, namely:
– the prescence of my parents/the girls’ grandparents
– the prescence of people I’ve either known all my life or act as if I have

So…it is really, really, super nice to have related adults living here. Josh and Kirsten are getting settled into their great new apartment. And…Paige is going to remain in South Carolina rather than going back to Kentucky (her story to tell, not mine…I trust in her future, and I love having her here).

So…we spent much of our weekend performing manual labor:



We’ve been really blessed, especially in the last half of the past year, for adults in our lives to support us, who can be called upon in emergencies, child care crises, birthday celebrations, etc. But having adult relatives here is…well, the bomb.


We are moving somewhere between the 23rd & 30th. My official packing plan is 5 boxes/day (this is at night, after the 12ish hour days we’ve had for the past few weeks. I. Am. Superwoman!) But first, there was unpacking to do, and we all know it must start in the kitchen. As of their first night, J&K could cook…if they wanted to!

And I’ve concluded that love is…

…packing them…

…before packing us!

12 months of Chicagolina: Better

“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…