It’s a Monday morning and my “to do” list is excessive. There is much to be accomplished: get more boxes, books in the attic, call the plumber, mailing address changed, and keep the house clean! We have a showing tomorrow!
My mind carries around a litany of tasks to maintain as we approach moving from our home of 20 years. I have never navigated a change like this. I have never moved from a neighborhood where I watched my children grow from toddlers to adults. Never have all the flashbacks of mothering been caught up in one place. Never have I faced getting older and looked at change like I do now. I walk around the familiar block and anticipate the cracks in the sidewalk blocks. I know every tree and house and the kind people that live in each one. We neighbors have walked our kids to school together, shared yard improvements across the back alley, and pulled off pranks that made us laugh for days.
And this house! Every room is a museum of sorts. The kitchen with the wooden bay window, morning light and miles of memories. Family dinners full of strife and others filled with laughter. The painful recollection of my husband writhing on the floor after news of a suicide.
Nearby is the office familiar with clutters of unorganized piles and the piano, where little ones whose feet couldn’t touch the floor started to make music. Around the corner is the living room; the leaded glass windows through which I watched the seasons change while I wrestled with losses and grief. The fireplace in the middle, where we celebrated Christmas eve dinner on paper plates. All of this is just the beginning of this home I love.
It makes sense then, that the idea of moving would be emotionally excruciating. I am doing it willingly, but a guard goes up inside my heart with each exciting step.
Years ago God planted a vision beyond our present home. It would be a place where friends and family would gather to be refreshed spiritually and emotionally. A place where we would make new memories and hearts would be invigorated by natural beauty. We pursued options for years but to no end. This year is different.
I can taste the possibilities now, and at every juncture I want to run to the safety of what is familiar.
I hold it so tightly that at times my chest has felt pain as it defends itself from dreaming.
We first walked this new property in the middle of March; a steep bluff above the waters of Lake Michigan. There are paths down to the water and hiking all around the wooded neighborhood. The home is cozy with spaces ideal for groups and connecting.
Both my husband and I are prone to fear, overthinking, and are cautious to change. As we considered this move, we listened for the still small voice of God. “Should we do this?” we asked. Independently, we both sensed the playful words, “Why not?” The buffer around my heart came down just a bit. I risked letting my heart hope.
We entered into the campaign of counter offers, inspections, and contingencies. Too much, not enough, needs work, costs money… my heart holds an armor that fools me into thinking it provides protection. Up and down it goes from trust to surrender, control to release. Numbers fall into place just as we sensed. An eagle sweeps by closely during an inspection. My defenses slip a wee bit.
A man arrives with a big hammer and pounds a sign into our yard. “For Sale,” it screams. We tell the neighbors we plan to leave. The guard flies back up…my emotions resemble a yoyo. Stay, go, stay, go….
Tears swell as I listen to a familiar tune:
“Every night I lie in bed
the brightest colors fill my head
a million dreams are keeping me awake
I think of what the world could be
a vision of the one I see
a million dreams is all it’s gonna take
a million dreams for the world we’re gonna make”
(“A Millions Dreams” The Greatest Showman)
A sunny May day. We approach the new neighborhood for a hike. Our college-age daughter sees it for the first time with her own trepidation. We amble along the ravine and down to the water as her steps gain pace and her face begins to light up. She begins to snap photos while she shares, “It looks like the ocean!” The dog comes alive as he sniffs about the yellow wildflowers and benches along the path invite us to dream of quiet moments of reflection and guests enjoying the same…a million dreams.
I take it all in and am reminded, “Why not?” Walk with me, let the guard down.
Maryhelen Martens is a lover of whimsy and play, beauty and depth, all of which she experiences in her relationships. She finds life in authentic conversation, walking alongside others and ultimately Jesus – who has been so kind. Each day, she draws from a larger bowl of grace for herself and others. A mom of three, she currently lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with Keith, her husband and co-laborer of 29 years.