Sunday, April 22, 2007

"Just one thing before you leave- don't forget to remember me"

This will probably be the last opportunity I have to blog before we hit the road tomorrow. Our last week in Florida has come and gone quickly. The house looks strange; very much in that same awkward transition-like state as we find ourselves. We're surrounded by packing boxes and random items that we don't exactly know what to do with yet. We confirmed with the movers the time they'll be arriving, had Robby and Andrea over to sign the lease agreement that will change our relationship to that of landlord/tenant, and said most of our final good-byes.

We were on the phone several times yesterday with the Pastor of Worship & Arts at King Street who was trying to finalize arrangements for us to move into a brand new townhouse owned by one of the members at the church up there. At the eleventh hour, he came through for us with a place to live right in Chambersburg. The other places we had found were too far away, or there were agencies and landlords who wouldn't give us any information about the rentals since we weren't there in person. By yesterday afternoon, we were running out of options and had to face the very real possibility that we would need to put our stuff in storage while we searched for a decent place to rent. So at this stage, we are pretty confident we can move right in upon arriving in town towards the end of this week.

On my last day of work, Friday, I finished training the woman who's taking my place and left my keys. My boss took me and Gregg out to lunch at Carrabba's and let me go home after that. He expressed his appreciation for all the things I brought to his business, and for Gregg's work at the church. In the parking lot of the restaurant, it was a little weird saying good-bye for the final time. Because, most likely, it will be the final time.

Last night we went to one of Gregg's volunteer's who was hosting a Saltshaker's Dinner. We were on her list for the month of April so we had known about it for several months. Honestly, I wasn't that excited about going with all the stuff we still had strewn about the house and needed to put in boxes. Well, we showed up and saw two other couples walking up to her house that have been very instrumental in the Sound & Vision Ministry this past year. My mood instantly changed because I was happy to know they would also be at our Saltshakers. Then I saw their kids and thought wait a minute... We walked into the house and were greeted by more of Gregg's volunteers and a handful of church staff members. We were so surprised!

The host, Linda, had organized a surprise going-away party for us under the guise of a normal dinner. She cooked a fabulous meal and put out an assortment of little desserts. People also brought gifts for us. They were things like candy and technical related things for Gregg, and a few things for our new place. Linda had gotten me a huge basket full of bath salts, lotions, body washes and scented candles. I guess she knew I needed some relaxation therapy! It was such a nice and thoughtful gesture that we were not expecting at all. We didn't think we had made that big of an impact during the course of our year here, but now I know we will be greatly missed.

Leaving this place will be one of the hardest things I ever do. I've had many mixed feelings these past few weeks about moving, but I know God is with us and leading us. As I was lying in bed last night, I thought I'll actually get to wear my winter wardrobe this year and see our families more than once or twice in a 12 month period. I'm excited about those things and what the future holds for us. When I write again, we'll be up in Pennsylvania beginning a new chapter in our lives.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Starting Over

It's interesting how life goes in cycles. You end one chapter and begin another. You leave certain people and things behind to start fresh and advance to the next "level". All the people you meet and experiences you live out are carried with you throughout your life, and they're all building blocks.

Funny how you never fully appreciate something until you're about to lose it. You just get comfortable somewhere, and BAM! Things change. With less than two weeks until we move to Pennsylvania, I've been a lot more reflective than usual and pretty emotional about leaving. I know it's very likely I will never see most of the people we've met down here ever again. They were in our lives only for a short while and vice versa. We came into their world, so to speak, a year ago and they accepted us with open arms. All are sad to see us go on our way.

The prospect of moving somewhere completely unfamiliar is somewhat daunting. I've done it plenty of times before though. Going from my safe, small town to a big college campus ten years ago... Moving out of my parents' house to live with my husband when I got married... Leaving a state I lived 95% of my life in where we were a close second to family, to live 1,000 miles away in Florida. Yup, been there, done that.

So why is this so hard??

I guess because I really felt settled here. We had bought a house, made friends, gotten to know our way around- and now there's an interruption to all of that. The whole starting over thing is just hard, no matter what the circumstances. And this will be a very good move for us, I believe. But again, we are leaving our comfort zone and traveling into unfamiliar territory.

It just doesn't seem real that we're moving in only 12 days. Half the house is packed, the moving company has been chosen, people are asking us all kinds of questions about the move to be sure. But it's like Monday, April 23 could come and go and I'd be just fine and dandy to stay here. Most of all, I will miss our house. We had a lot of great times and memories in it. It was ours. And it still will be, but somebody else will be living there now. (Praise God, we found renters! Robby and Andrea were very interested in our house, and are moving in once the lease is up on their apartment).

We still need to find some place to rent up in Chambersburg. It doesn't seem there are a whole lot of renters willing to take pets, so that really limits our options. I hate to think it, but we may end up having to give Tess away. It's very difficult to look for a place to live from down here. We're definitely feeling our way in the dark.

I'm also in the process of looking for jobs online. I really really can't stand the whole job search. Interviewing, selling myself, dragging my butt from place to place just to be told "We're sorry, we've hired someone else". Ugh. I just want to be one of those people who have had the same job for 20 years, or a SAHM. It's frustrating. But. it. must. be. done. I know I could end up landing a really good job that I like- it's the process of getting there that turns me into a basket case.

The center director position at the pregnancy resources place has been filled, I was informed by the executive director there. She wrote me back a very nice email, thanking me for my interest. She also mentioned that they hope to open another center sometime in the beginning of 2008, that they will need a director for. That's great, but unfortunately that doesn't help me right NOW. I do still want to volunteer though, so I'll check out that option once we arrive & get settled. By staying involved, it could increase my chances of getting the future center director position.

Our small group is throwing us a going-away party next Tuesday night, an hour before our usual meeting time. They have all been extremely supportive, asking if they could help us pack or if there was anything we needed. I know that I will miss them all very much. A girl at church I wanted to get to know better is coming over tomorrow evening for tea. She's on the "Traveling Tea" ministry, which caters to people who are in transition. How I wish we could have known one another better. She expressed to me how much she wished that, too. It made me both very happy and sad at the same time.

I'm trying not to get caught up in the frenzy without taking time to appreciate our last few days in Florida. So many things to do and consider and finalize. It's intimidating. God is still on His throne, however. I read this little inspiring verse today: "When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, then Thou knewest my path." (Psalm 142:3) Very applicable, wouldn't you say? I may not know how all the pieces are going to fit together, but He has already laid out the path that I will walk and has gone before me. How great is our God! I can have confidence and peace in the midst of uncertain times.

More updates on the moving process to come...

Monday, April 02, 2007

Moving Update #1

This weekend: wow. It went by in such a blur. Cleaning, grocery shopping, calling people who have rental listings, narrowing down moving companies, packing boxes. Only 3 weeks to go! Yikes.

It's a bit overwhelming, but I can already see the pieces falling to place. Tonight we're showing our house to a couple from our small group who's interested in renting it. They currently have a one-bedroom apartment and wanted to upgrade when their lease ran out to a two-bedroom. We offered our three bedroom house with a screened in porch and large backyard to them for the same amount that they'd pay for a 2 bedroom apt. We had to come down from our original price to be realistic. After talking with our realtor (who was actually the listing agent for our house last year when we bought it), she confirmed what we already knew: that the market is pretty sucky right now and we should rent out until it turns around. She gave us some ballpark figures of what homes in the area are renting for, and when Gregg told her what this couple wants to pay she immediately said, "Take it!"

I'm kinda bummed we have to settle for less than our original amount, but will be very grateful if Robby and Andrea end up renting our house because we know they'll take good care of it and we'll at least be able to cover our rent and utilities up in PA. I'll be so happy to get that settled this week. After getting several quotes I think we've chosen a moving company, too. King Street Church told us not to pay a cent out-of-pocket for it, either. They are picking up the entire tab and giving us a $500 stipend for any incidentals, such as moving boxes & supplies, gas and hotel stays along our way up there. That is such a huge blessing!

Gregg started packing the "storage room" and the guest bedroom on Saturday, while I cleaned and organized to get ready for the showing tonight. It's amazing how quickly boxes get filled. We went to Sam's Club and bought 30 to get us started. No doubt we'll be going back soon to get more. But, this time we are expert packers! Having done this only a year earlier we pretty much have it down and will (hopefully) be even more efficient.

Tomorrow is my one year anniversary of working here at my job. Yeah, just in time for me to leave. My last day will actually be on the 20th. I'm spending the last two days training the woman who's replacing me, and I've catalogued a lot of the tasks I do on a daily basis so she can reference back to it. I'm hoping and praying to get a really good job where we're going. This one has been okay. I've learned some skills I can take with me. My boss said that I've been a great employee and asset to the company, and he's sad to see me go which was very nice to hear.

Yesterday and Saturday as we were driving around, I took note of how beautiful and green everything is. I will really miss this area; it is so pretty and we were so privileged to live here. I am really looking forward though, to seeing the seasons change. I love autumn and I'm so happy we'll get to experience it again!