“Nebraska, huh? What brought you here from Nebraska?”
That’s the typical response we receive when people ask where we’ve moved from. The population in this area of Middle Tennessee is increasing rapidly, so it isn’t uncommon to bump into new-to-the-area “transplants”. However, it must not be very often that people hear our great home state mentioned, because all of a sudden, we have their full attention. Of course we know that it’s ours for about a half a second, so we just smile and give them the short version.
For a while, we would simply say we moved for Kel’s job – which is sort of accurate, but not really. While any move across the country is life-changing, we live in a day and age where people’s jobs relocate them. That’s nothing extraordinary. So it almost feels like a cheat – or at the very least a shame – to leave it at that. Not because we long to spend hours talking about ourselves, but because God has orchestrated so much in this journey, and that story is one that ought to be shared. It’s a story that really can’t be done justice without pointing to the intricate details woven within the tapestry. A story that I believe will somehow, somewhere, perhaps even in ways I cannot comprehend, be used for a good greater than our own. It is a story that, although we aren’t able to share in a momentary exchange with strangers, we are able to share here with you. One comprehensive narritive told in a series of weekly chapters.
And it starts a little something like this…
It was a Sunday morning in late September 2015. I had woken up before anyone else and was lying there trying to decide whether the risk of waking up the remaining members of my peacefully resting family was worth getting out of bed for a jump start on my day. In that moment, my phone rang making the decision for me. It was my mom calling to let us know that Grandma was being taken to the hospital for what they expected to be emergency surgery, and given her age it was serious.
The rest of the day felt like those days tend to feel when all of a sudden everything is changed. What started out as driving the hour to be there just in case something went wrong during surgery, rather quickly descended into a dazed state of saying final goodbyes. The loss was unexpected and felt at depths which I’d not experienced previously, and yet bits of consolation could be found nestled inside the knowledge that, in ways we may never fully understand, God’s timing is ultimately perfect.
The fact that life goes on was evident that week as we attempted to sift through the confusion of feeling both extreme sadness and peace simultaneously, while also facing the reality that we were quickly approaching the expiration of the time we had set aside to discern about our next home. With 60 days remaining on our short-term lease, we needed to make a decision on whether to extend it for another month, or put in our notice to vacate.
We had initially committed to four months in the apartment, and moved in expecting clarity to arrive any day. Yet there we were, three months later, having already extended our lease to five months, still having to explain to folks that we weren’t really sure where we would be living next. And we thought that was difficult to make sense of on day one. Each sunset added to the feelings of despair, and by day ninety we were just about ready to admit that maybe we had been wrong after all.
At this point, all that we knew was that we were determined to be out of the apartment by autumn’s end. And since we had already extended the term once, giving our 60-day-notice was really the only option we could seriously consider. So, on day ninety-five we stopped by the leasing office to set an official end-date for our stay at the apartment. That was our last stop before heading out of town to be with family.
Over the next couple days we would be surrounded by loved ones, several of whom we hadn’t seen in years. Over and over, we answered the questions of where we were living nowadays or what we were up to with, “Weeeelllll… it’s complicated.” For a long time, we’d been addressing that inquiry with a certain level of shame. Even though deep down we knew our reasons for getting to this point were rational, it still felt like we were two less-than-sane people making a humiliating confession. On this day, however, that response was surprisingly offered with relief. For the first time in months, we were thankful for the question mark. We were grateful for the ability to focus solely on the goodbye we were there to say.
Exhausted and emotionally drained, we returned to our tiny apartment knowing we had nothing left to give. It had been a long road leading up to this point, and even though it didn’t seem right to allow those months we spent learning to “let go and be still” to be wasted, every last bit of our endurance had been depleted. We were at the end of ourselves, and that night, for the first time in six months, we felt at peace with the decision to once again start looking seriously for a house in Nebraska.
Coming up, next week:
House Hunting in Nebraska –
“We felt as though God was laying it on our hearts to go ahead and sell our house without a plan in place… That was it. Just, “Sell the house even though you don’t have anything else lined up yet”.”