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Monday, April 19, 2010

View From my Patio

Twenty years ago my husband and kids encouraged me to move to a place in Northern Idaho. I was extremely content with where I lived. I had great friends, a comfortable house, and my mom lived near by so I could see her often (my husband likes my mom for those that are thinking he wanted to move to get me away from her). I had a part time job that I loved, did I say great friends :), and I plainly did not want to move. It took some real soul searching and many prayers to finally decide to go.

I went from a 2700 square foot home to about a 1000 sq. foot home. I went from 5 bedrooms to 2, 3 full bathrooms to 1, a huge kitchen, laundry room, pantry, living room, etc. to one small room that contained all the above. I think we were out of our minds! On the plus side, we went from 7 acres to 80...maybe that is not such a plus in some ways which I will explain later but for my husband and myself, we have never been city people and this amount of acreage was great.

The story of how and why we moved is amazing to me. I won't go into the why but I do want to mention the how...more the how I made the decision that this was okay to move. My husband and I are not movers so when he made this opportunity known to me, I was less than thrilled. My husband and sons had gone on a guy's trip of camping and fishing. Their destination was Montana but they ended up in Northern Idaho where his uncle lived. As they drove into town, the kids asked their dad to see if there was a place for sale that we all might like (we meaning them). They stopped to check with a real estate office, stated their request (a place of about 80 acres, trees and meadow, river, and backs up to forest land), and walked out with directions to our new home.

Now you might ask what "I" was doing. Well, I was in Japan with a group of students. We had gone there for a three week educational/cultural trip. I had spent the last 3 days of my trip in Tokyo then onto a very long flight in which I had not slept for almost the last 3 days - Why you ask....I had teenage boys AND girls to chaperon...need I say more! Anyway, while I was gone, my daughter stayed with grandma while dad and the boys took this fun trip. When I got home from Japan, they were waiting for me at the airport with a huge surprise. WE WERE MOVING! I reached our car with hope of crashing and sleeping all the way home but when I opened the car door, I was greeted with a dashboard full of pictures and some very excited kids all ready to pack up and move.

I was exhausted and even discussing a move was not something I could do as I was on the verge of tears just with the jet lag. I listened to their excited chatter and fought those tears all the way home. They were so disappointed that I did not have any excitement in MY voice. I finally told my husband that there was no way I could make a decision at that time and would not make one until I had plenty of rest and could weigh this out in my mind. The decision took about 6 weeks.

I don't know how you have tried to make life changing decisions but for me, prayer was huge. I prayed every day that my family would forget this silly notion and let me be. That didn't work. I felt this uneasiness inside. I then prayed that my husband would realize that dropping everything we knew, leaving his work (but he was self employed) and my job that I loved so much, leaving family and friends, and a comfortable home, was not the best decision. I was in a constant state of distress. Why had my family done this to me? They loved where we lived. They were all in sports, school and church activities, and they had great friends too. Why would they want to leave all of that?

One day, I can remember it clearly in my mind, I changed the wording in my prayers. I went from "please help me convince my family that this was a huge mistake" to "Father, please let me know what Thou wants me to do". Everything changed from that day on. I knew without a shadow of a doubt that we needed to move. I had not the foggiest idea what life would be like in this new location but I knew it was something we had to we did.

I told my husband that he needed to enlarge the house. There was no way our big family of 7 (well actually we only had 5 because our oldest son was leaving to join the military and our 2nd son had to finish his senior year in high school where he was - he would live with my mom for that year) could possible live in that little tiny house with only 1 bathroom and virtually no bedrooms for the boys. Due to such a huge variety of circumstances that I will not go into, it took us 15 years before we added on to the house. We crammed our family into those 2 bedrooms (we did have a small basement that we converted into a boys room) and itty bitty living space. We live 20 miles from town out in an area where we see no cars, have few neighbors (none real close) and where quiet is a normal to the point that silence sometimes is not golden.

There are dozens of stories about life out here in the country/woods whatever you would call where we now live and I am sure some of these stories will surface at some time in my writings. You may ask how life is going here? Honestly, it had some extreme rough spots - like when our road washed away with spring breakup, extreme loneliness took over until I learned to enjoy the peace and beauty, coldness in the winter overwhelmed me to the point of much crying, and much more. But my life changed here. I learned to come closer to my Heavenly Father. I began to enjoy the peace and beauty of God's creations. My house has now grown to a much more livable size which includes a much better way of heating so now I enjoy the inside as much as the outside. I treasure the days we have had here. I treasure the times I had with our children. You know, a lot of talking and closeness comes about when you have to drive 20 miles to and from town. Your kids can't get away from you so you can hash out a lot of problems, have some great conversations, and really find out what your kids are thinking. We didn't get TV, radio, high speed Internet, and most of all, no cell phone reception. My mom used to tease me that the world could come to an end and we'd never even know it. What we did do was spend a lot of time together, played games, talked, ate dinners together, laughed, enjoyed the beauty, played on our private beach at our own river, rode horses into the most beautiful country you could imagine, and made memories. Of course this is my viewpoint. Maybe the kids saw it differently as they had to make arrangements to either go to a friend's house or to have them over to our house...none of this run over to play with the neighbor kids stuff. Maybe they didn't like all those talks in the car, I don't know. What I do know is that two of our sons now live on either side of us on the 80 acres and another son lives in a nearby city. One son is a pilot and flies home often and our daughter talks with us daily. I am happy.

So I just wanted you to see what I see when I am sitting on my patio. I hope from this picture you can feel the peace that I feel as I look onto the vast beauty of God's creations. I see those memories. I see my sons shooting bottle rockets into the air and watching them land on the trampoline (ugh!), I see the horses running in the fields with their manes flowing in the wind (we no longer have horses but we do have deer, moose, and an occasional bear), I see the kids laughing and playing down at the river, I see my dogs chasing gophers and playing tag with the grand kids, I see a place for my family to come home to, I see my life - a life that I am grateful to my Heavenly Father for guiding me to what HE wanted me to do, I see a gratefulness for this time I have had with my family.

This new phase of my life, our retirement and older age, may bring changes that I am not ready for...such as selling out, moving, leaving all of this. Am I ready for this as a change in my life? Not really. I am scared, nervous, and not ready to make that decision. When the time comes that I feel that uneasiness in my soul, I will know that it is time to ask the question - "Father, what do you want me to do?" and then, do as HE requests.


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