Thursday, July 28, 2011

Transitioning: part six - heading out

After an emotional couple of days between the last day of work and the last neighborhood get together, the focus turned to packing.

Monday was filled with sticky tape, boxes, washing out cupboards and more packing. One last trip to the dentist to have two of the little miss' loose baby teeth pulled that I could just not get out. And a visit from my sweet friend/co-worker Katie and her amazing little guy Luca. Hugs, more hugs and happy hugs too.

It ended up being a late night of going, going, going. We both fell into bed exhausted.

Tuesday was errand upon errand. Eye exam, last picture at Kerry Park (where our first family pic was taken upon arriving in Seattle), Costco, us girls getting our nails done, etc. So many last stops.

Moving day arrived. I woke up at 5:00 a.m. thinking I heard the semi pull up (it wasn't scheduled to come for two more hours). After laying in bed for a bit, Ed said, "I think I'm going to get up to greet the day." I loved that phrase. It was full of hope, excitement and so much to look forward to.

The kids were up by 6 and by 7 we were walking to the corner to meet the truck.

In a flurry of hours of activity the car was loaded and the truck was being packed. The kids played with their friends the entire day.

When the time was coming to a close, there were kid tears all around. 10 year old best friends clinging to each other, sobbing.

Seven year old best friends walking around the outside house holding hands, being followed by a sweet three year old jabbering away.

A surprise drop-in from Nancy, fabulous friend and co-worker. More tears and clinging hugs.

I finished the final touches of cleaning and took one final walk through of our home the past two years. Tears streaming down my cheeks.

So many memories. Fun times. Birthday parties. Friends for dinner. Kids running through. Ed pouring over papers and books. Hours in the kitchen creating food for family and friends. Snuggles on the couch. Hard conversations. Hurt and then mended hearts. So many memories.

I wrapped them all up in my heart and carried them out of the house with me. To hold forever.

Final hugs and tears mingled as goodbye's were exchanged with neighbors who became friends.

And then we drove away. Extracted ourselves from our Seattle life.

Drove out of the city. Out of the state.

On to a new home.

New memories.

But carrying with us those we love and an array of memories.

Never, ever forgotten.

Thank you Jesus for three years that forever transformed me more into who You created me to be. I look back and see a glimpse of how you wove our lives in your greater story. Our family is tighter because of it. Our marriage stronger. Our lives richer. Us closer to you. Friends forever intertwined. I wouldn't have changed a single moment. And there is not a single regret. You planted us in Seattle for reasons we may never know. But what we do know is that we will never be the same because of our time here. And for that I will be forever thankful. Amen and amen.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Transitioning: part five - the 'hood'

Last night, under a hot shining sun and cloudless sky, our neighborhood gathered at John and Karen's home for a goodbye BBQ.

When we moved out to Seattle, we had four days to find a house and did the best we could in that limited time. Eight months into living there, we knew we needed to find a different place. And we were more picky the second time around.

Little did we know what type of neighborhood we were landing in. Ed would IM me at work every day and tell me who he met and where they lived. Even the neighbors basset hound, Margaret. Everyone would be out and about, walking the loop we live on (only one way in and out) and introduce themselves. It was an experience we've never had before.

We settled in fast and quickly adapted to the rhythm of the 'hood'. There are very few kids around, but the ones that are became fast friends to our kids.

We felt safe enough to let our kids go out and ride the loop by themselves, knowing those on the other side would have their eye on them.

It was the first place, ever, that Ed or I felt comfortable enough to go and ask to borrow a cup of sugar, or a crock pot, or cake pan, or card table or an entire patio furniture set.

It was the first time Alina went to a sleepover. Knowing she was right across the street and in safe walls, made that milestone easier.

Seeing my kids welcomed with a smile at the door while giving away painted rocks (no room in the moving truck for them) and coming home with $1.25 and two suckers.

Even as renters, we were welcomed in quickly and lovingly.

Being invited to the neighborhood BBQ, after a month living here, that closed out the summer. Experiencing the neighborhood progressive dinner at Christmas. Celebrating a new kitchen remodel of another neighbor. Finding cookies on our doorstep or a birthday card in the mailbox. Being invited to birthday parties for friends. Or the birthday party for Lucy, the dog Alina loves to walk.

Along the way, our neighbors became our friends.

Which made last night so bittersweet.

Neighbors stood to share a words of encouragement and thankfulness to us. And hearing the words of a seven year old, Alina's closest friend, who stood and said, "As many of you know, I was really lonely before Alina moved in, and I'm glad she lived here." Seeing her tears as she walked to sit back down next to Alina and watching my daughter give her friend a big squeeze with tears in her own eyes.

We couldn't have asked for a better or more amazing place to live. It has become home and we are going to miss it tremendously.

Karen, the host of last night, adequately summed it up in a nutshell, "Once a part of our neighborhood, always a part of our neighborhood."

A neighborhood that none of us will ever forget. It has seeped into our beings and has shown us an example of what community looks like. People from different walks of life, different religions, different political views, all coming together, being themselves, helping each other out, and loving each other.

That's what I call true community.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Transitioning: part four - tears

Have you ever had a job that you love, but more importantly, you love the people that you work with? And then you leave?

That was yesterday.

And it was hard.

Much harder than I thought it was going to be.

The day started like any other. Come in, fire up the computer, answer emails, chat a bit, and start editing.

And then lunch time came.

I heard everyone outside our office. I knew there was going to be a good-bye lunch. And I vowed I was not going to cry.

When I was told to come, I opened the door and there was a tunnel of all my co-workers cheering me.

I ran through the tunnel of cheers with a heart full of love for those I work with.

And sadness.

Throughout lunch people shared memories and amazingly sweet thoughts of me. It was very humbling. And very tearful by many.

The dam broke when my dear friend and children's ministry co-worker, Mary, started to share. Tears, sadness, thankfulness, grief and joy.

And it continued when my other dear friend Katie, and children's ministry co-worker, shared. The three of us have been through a whole lot the past years.

I couldn't have asked for better people to work with. From office staff to pastoral staff to custodial staff to ministry staff. I am going to miss them all terribly.

Throughout the day there were hard good-byes and many hugs.

The end of the day drew near. Desk was cleaned out. Out of office was on. Everything was wrapped up.

One last trip up to the 3rd floor office to turn in my keys and fob.

And shed more tears.

And stock up on more hugs.

And chat one more time with friends.

And more hugs.

And that was it.

Mary and I walked out together. She didn't want me to walk out alone. And I didn't want her to walk out alone.

As I drove away, I turned to look one more time at my work place of the past 2 1/2 years. A place where I met amazing people who were a part of molding me even more into who I have become today. People who have encouraged me. Shared their lives with me. Chatted with me. Loved me. They have settled in my heart and will stay there always.

The tears flowed all the way home.

I walked into our house, straight into my husband's awaiting arms and let the sobs come.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Transitioning: part three - a ministry goodbye

Leaving is starting to sink in a bit.

The last time we said a hard goodbye was three years ago. I remember the tears that flowed while standing in our driveway. Not wanting to let go. But in the back of my head I knew we'd be back.

Not this time. More than likely, we won't be moving back to the Seattle. And that's what makes it hard. I'm also leaving a ministry that I have poured myself into over the past two and a half years. A road I've never traveled.

I'm now realizing how much I immersed myself into the volunteers and families at my job. And now it's coming to a close. The goodbyes have already started. There will be a many more this Sunday as it's my last Sunday on the job. I've already started hearing, "my kids are so sad you're leaving" to "I'm really going to miss you" to the "what are we going to do without you" comments. Comments that are not easy to hear and squeeze my heart.

It's hard to imagine not being here. Not going into church bright and early on Sunday mornings. Hearing "hi Jean!" by the kids. Getting hugs from the little ones. Chatting with the volunteers.

This is going to be harder than I thought.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Review of An Unlikely Suitor by Nancy Moser

Head back to the year of 1895 and follow two girls who come from two very different walks of life. One immigrant. One high-class. Follow their journey as their worlds collide and take a turn in opposite directions. How class barriers are broken and independence is born.

With twists and turns throughout this book, it will leave you wondering what happens to these two girls whose lives live outside of their society.

I really liked this book. To a certain point. Towards the end it got way too mushy and romantic for my taste. I enjoyed seeing how the two main characters blossomed into womanhood sans romance and how they learned to fit into the skin they were born with. I did like seeing how two societies were so far apart from each other and seeing how a friendship was forged despite the rules.

Bethany House sent me this complimentary copy to review for them.

Review of Another Dawn by Kathryn Cushman

Another Dawn is about a young single mom who is faced with caring for her father, whom she has a rocky relationship with. Undertones in the story are her sense of self and learning to defend herself in her choices and learn to accept who she was created to be. She learns that running from problems sure doesn't make them disappear, but facing them head on helps develop a strong sense of self and a determination that was buried way deep down in.

A very different read than most I've had before. Controversial even, in today's society. Even though it was fiction, I believe a lot of parents weigh the pro's and con's of what they "should" do and "shouldn't" do as seen by the eyes of society. And yes, I'm being vague with what the subject is, as I don't want to give away the whole premiss of the book.

This book left me thinking how I view the subject at hand, and also the viewpoint of other parents who may chose differently than me. A definite good read.

Bethany House
sent me this complimentary copy to review for them.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Transitioning: part two

Yesterday at work, my farewell article was edited and published in our monthly parent newsletter. One more stamp of finality that our journey here is coming to a close.

July marks a month of lasts.

Last time to head to the ocean.

Last time downtown.

Last day at work.

Last day at our house.

But there is still so much to do between now and our last day here. Two weeks of Kids' Summer Adventure for work and all the prep that will happen leading up to those two crazy weeks.

And there is still so much packing to be done. Some that can't happen until right before the moving truck comes. No matter how many boxes I pack up in my kids' room, more stuff multiplies and forms out of no where. I'm still mystified as to where my daughter is hiding it all!

But one thing that is not a last, is me. I have become more of who I am while living out here.

And that is one thing that will not be left behind.

Nor will it be packed away, sealed shut in the black darkness of a box, to be opened at an unknown time.

All of who I am will be transitioning.

To a different house.

Different scenery.

Different city.

Not as new beginnings.

But continuations.

Of who I am.