Embracing Goodbye

Our recent life change occasioned an above average amount of goodbyes last month. I’ve never been one to relish partings (who does, really?), and these farewells were no different.

We said goodbye to a church body who had provided a livelihood and supported our ministry. We said goodbye to students who had become a very special part of our lives. We said goodbye to a small group of friends who acted as family in the absence of our own, who hosted baby showers, shared yard equipment, served and prayed with us.

Our transition had been in the works since September, but the finality of our move wasn’t real until we started saying those goodbyes. Despite looking forward to a new season in life and ministry, there was a bittersweet edge to each hug and handshake. Each explanation of our move held hope for the future and a bit of dismay at what, and who, would be left behind.

Embracing GoodbyeI wasn’t sure how to navigate the sadness and excitement without feeling disingenuous to one or the other. I’m ashamed to admit I snuck away from a couple of gatherings early to avoid the sadness of a last goodbye. When a goodbye was unavoidable, I assured myself right along with others that this wasn’t farewell forever. And though the likelihood of us visiting Coeur d’Alene again is high, the vague promise of seeing people again felt weak.

When faced with long-term goodbyes, it seemed easier on my heart to say, “see you soon.” I could avoid the well-spring of emotion attached to parting with certain people by assuring myself that this wasn’t going to be the last time I saw them. But, saying “see you soon,” left so much unsaid.

I didn’t tell some people just how much their generosity and service meant to our family. I didn’t tell some people how much our coffee dates brightened up my days. I didn’t tell some people how much I admired their intentionality and thoughtfulness. I didn’t tell some some people how much I appreciated their consistent prayers. Because I said “see you soon,” instead.

Embracing goodbye acknowledges that there are seasons in life. Some of the sweetest relationships I’ve had have only lasted a short while and I’ve struggled against that fact. People and places will come and go and our inability to accept their transience diminishes the lasting influence a seasonal circumstance or relationship can have.

Embracing goodbye helps acknowledge the impact people have made on your life; each goodbye a little pile of stones to remember what God did through that relationship. I have many little piles of stones from our time in Coeur d’Alene and I thank God for what He accomplished through each person those stones represent. I only wish I had embraced goodbye more wholeheartedly in person.

The next chapter, continued…

Pennsylvania

It’s fitting that I’m writing this sitting on the very same couch where I hit publish on my very first blog post, two years and three months ago.

I was processing the next chapter in my life in that blog post, on that couch. Tim and I were newly married, a few hours off from driving away from my hometown, jobs we enjoyed, and people we loved. That three-day drive took us from Southern California to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.

During the last two years, we rented our first place together, Tim started his first full-time ministry job, we bought our first house, and had our first child. And, this couch moved with my parents from California to New York, where they, now, all permanently reside.

I’m sitting on that couch once again, processing the next chapter in my life. Our possessions are on a van somewhere, headed East, and we are spending time with my family in NY before moving into our new place in… Pennsylvania!

The last month’s activities (like selling a car, selling a house, saying goodbye, and packing with a mobile baby) haven’t left much room for processing, but any spare contemplative moments have been dedicated to gratitude. I replay the ways God has so obviously gone before us in this relocation and I am just thankful.

If I can borrow my own thoughts about the next chapter in our lives from that very first post:

God has proven a trustworthy author thus far, so, in faith, the pages continue to turn.  A new chapter for Team Gardner begins in December!

when your mom goes back home

Wednesday was a tough day. A rather silent trip to the airport ended my mom’s two month stay in Coeur d’Alene. Her presence for the birth of James was so special and her companionship and help during the subsequent weeks was a huge blessing to our new family of three. Though I’m feeling a bit bereft in the wake of her absence, her departure has made me realize a few important things – permit me to share some conclusions?

  • There’s nothing like having your own children to make you appreciate your mom. I’ve never been short on appreciation for my momma, but being a mom now makes me marvel at mine. I find it difficult to squeeze in a daily shower, but she was a working, single mom for six years and did both with aplomb! She was/is a an abundant source of love and encouragement, which was so evident in her joyful service to us as we welcomed James into our lives. I hope to model that same attitude for my own little family.
  • Raising children should be a community effort.  We live in an individualistic society that puts so much emphasis on being self-sufficient and independent. That attitude can stifle our ability to ask for help. As parents, we have the weight of responsibility for bringing up our children, and that’s a tough job! We need to feel free to admit we struggle and need others to share that responsibility sometimes. It’s not a sign of weakness to accept support from others, it’s a sign of wisdom.

weakness vs. wisdom

  • Community has to be intentional. This has been the most consistent lesson I’ve learned in my twenties. Community takes effort and it doesn’t happen overnight. The daily companionship my mom provided was priceless. Now it’s time to start developing more of those types of relationships with people who are here all year around because there’s no sense in being a martyr about a lack of community (which I am all to apt to do). In all my years I’ve never actively pursued community and come up empty. Chances are there are other mom’s in your same situation, wonderful older women who want to love on you, and new friends to be made if you just put yourself out there. I need to take my own advice…
  • Parenthood is another opportunity to leave and cleave. I’m super tight with my family so the initial leaving and cleaving when I got married was a bit difficult. Had God not put 2,500 miles between us, I would probably still have cleaving issues. Having a child requires a different type of leaving and cleaving. Tim and I are growing and stretching as a couple to accommodate our new addition. Our family has expanded and that requires a regrouping of sorts. I’m no longer just someone’s baby – I have one! Though I will always be my mom’s baby, I’ve added mother to my own identity and that changes the dynamics of our relationship.
  • In all things, there needs to be a sense of gratitude. I could spend way too much time bemoaning the fact that my mom is gone or that the transition is difficult, but that detracts from the joy of the past two months. What a gift! I would hate to diminish it by focusing on the negatives.

Happy One Year

One year

I created Primitive Roads and wrote my first post one year ago today. Not coincidentally, Tim and I also began our three day drive to Idaho one year ago today.  The driving force behind starting this blog was the next chapter beginning in my life. Tim and I were four months married and leaving behind family and friends to start a new life in Idaho.

The road during the last year has certainly been primitive, for me anyways. Potholes, gravel, and some unforeseen curves have made me stumble, but like I said in that first post:

God has proven a trustworthy author thus far, so, in faith, the pages continue to turn.  A new chapter for Team Gardner begins tomorrow morning!

God wrote a lot of transition into our first year in Idaho.  I am thankful that God’s mercies are new every morning as He continues to write our story.

The plot continues to thicken. If I thought our first year in Idaho was full of firsts, I think the beginning of our second year already has it beat. We bought our first house and are expecting our first child in February!

Primitive Roads has been a safe place for me to share how God is working in my heart during the past year and I pray it continues to be a space of honesty and vulnerability in the year ahead. I appreciate your support and encouragement, fellow journeymen!

Since we are surrounded by so many examples of faith, let us follow their lead, laying aside every burden and sin that weighs us down, and let us run the race with perseverance and strength, keeping our focus on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith…

Hebrews 12:1-2 (ESV with Emily edits)

Here’s to year two!

{photo credit: orangesparrow via photopin cc}