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In case you've wondered what I've been up to the past several weeks (besides blogging), Steve and I have moved all our worldly possessions from Hartselle to Decatur, with all the thousand necessary steps in between. Bear with me while I share some of the thoughts and emotions in the framework of this alphabet.

A = Angst. Are we doing the right thing? Did we choose a house/neighborhood wisely? Did we make a good investment? Did we price our house fairly? Did we negotiate a good deal when we bought and when we sold? Can you picture the wringing of hands and the gnashing of teeth?

B = Buyers of our last house. I could see why they were attracted to our house. It is within sight of one child's school. The kids are excited about the pool. The wife loves the kitchen and the floor plan. The husband has never had a pool before and doesn't even own a lawnmower, but their excitement made me happy. I sincerely hope they have many happy years in that house.

C = Chaos, Clutter, Camping Out. When packers descend on your house and begin packing everything in sight, you hope, hope, hope those boxes will be labeled accurately and thoroughly. The mounting stack of boxes becomes clutter. Then when you finally get to the next house, you unpack the boxes labeled "NOW" and start camping out in your home (or at least that's the way it feels) until more and more familiar items begin to emerge from the boxes and start to find their spot in the new environment.

D = Details. Offers, counteroffers, what conveys, what does not convey, closing dates, home inspections, lists of requested repairs, and appraisals. Ignoring or misunderstanding any detail could cost thousands of dollars. It was important to stay alert.

E = Exhaustion. After days of packing, moving day arrived. I vacuumed and wiped surfaces as the movers emptied rooms while steadily repeating to myself, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." I directed the onslaught of incoming boxes and furniture when we arrived at the next place. Then, I opened all the boxes marked "Now!" in order to make our bed and take a shower the next morning. It has been a very long time since I was that tired.

F = Frustration. Waiting is hard for both Steve and me. We both want things done ASAP, but the necessary people have other things to do besides what we're wanting them to do. Summer is an extremely popular time to move. Setting up my kitchen is always one of the first priorities, but in this case, we are adding new cabinets and countertops . . . which means waiting . . . which leads to frustration.

G = Good things. New neighbors. Pretty neighborhood. Shorter drive to church. Less outside maintenance which demands so much of Steve's time. It's nearer the river and two of our children.

H = Home. What WAS home is now where a group of strangers goes to sleep. The new place is slowly starting to feel like home. We figured the grandchildren would be unsettled with this move, but they have been completely accepting and affirming. It really must be true that wherever we are, the most important thing is that we're present and ready to give hugs, unconditional love, and plenty of treats. :) It's also very true that wherever Steve and I are together, that's home.

I = Instruction booklets. We gathered those up for the appliances and such for the house we left for the new owners and started looking for them in the new house. We began the steep learning curve of how to operate the next refrigerator, stove, microwave, dishwasher, alarm system, sprinkler system, etc. etc. I imagine we could "just Google it," but Steve and I are book people. We need to see things in ink.

J = Journey. The journey from one house to the next was much more a mental and emotional journey than a geographical distance one. House A is only 15 miles from House B. A was on a winding road just barely inside the city limits in one town. B is in an established neighborhood with curbs, gutters, and such in a neighboring town. A was a house that we planned and built (with the help of a contractor). B was built by someone we'd never met.

K = Knee-deep, knick-knacks, keepers, and kindness. Three weeks later, I'm still knee-deep in boxes, but I can see a faint light at the end of the tunnel. I am continuing to reduce the number of knick-knacks I own. I determined that there were way too many keepers among my possessions and must still make progress toward paring them down. My end goal is to have a home that will be a source for extending kindness and a beacon for those needing a kind place to visit.

L = Lawyers. Yes, I know they prefer to be referred to as attorneys, but I needed to use "L." They are extremely valuable and necessary when buying and selling houses. We depend on their knowledge.

M = Movers. My goodness! Those men have to be strong . . . and skilled . . . and careful. In the course of one workday, they handled everything Steve and I own TWICE by putting everything into the van and by taking it all out again. And just one of those items was my grand piano. I'm amazed that they successfully took it apart, put it back together again, and it still plays.

N = There is NO such thing as a perfect house -- even if you build it yourself. There will always be electric outlets in weird places, closets that aren't quite large enough. Light fixtures that aren't your favorites, Water pressure in the shower that is wimpy. Shelves, flooring, and bathroom fixtures that could stand to be adjusted. Furniture that fits perfectly in its original spot now looks either too small or too large in its new one. One has a bigger garage, but the other has a large porch. One is all on one level. Another has an upstairs bonus room and guest bedroom. In one, I got to select all the wall colors. In the other, every room is painted the same. Things I thought I'd absolutely HAVE to change are slipping further down the priority list. There are both good surprises and just "surprises" with the new place.

O = Open door. Our children and grandchildren already know that our door is open to them at all times, but we want our old friends and the friends we have yet to make to find that to be true for them as well.

P = Packing. We took numerous loads to the dump (or should I call it the landfill?) and still more loads to Goodwill. We asked ourselves what will be needed immediately? What will I actually want to see when I unpack a box at the next house? Which things are necessary, important emotionally, or "spark joy?" Which things will the kids want when we're gone? My guess is very little. How could 2 people manage to accumulate so much stuff? Ridiculous! When we returned from Ecuador, we practically started from scratch. I remarked to my cousin Ginger that I didn't have "stuff," so she brought me a beautiful glass serving dish. It is so convicting how that one serving dish has grown to multiple boxes filled with stuff. (I'll probably be writing much more about that subject in the future).

Q = Questions. How? What? Why? When? Where? How did we get in this mess? What in the world are we doing? Why did we start down the road of uprooting ourselves AGAIN? When can we schedule the moving company and sign the papers? Where will we put ____ in the next house?

R = Restaurants and Refrigerator. Normally, I enjoy eating out, but when you are having to do that for EVERY MEAL, it becomes a chore and is very expensive. We got a new refrigerator for the new place, but it wasn't delivered until six days after we moved. Who knew that could be so critical for existence?

S = The trap of STORAGE. At our former house, we had worlds of storage. Now I believe it was actually too much storage. It lured us into thinking we could find room for anything we might buy. Our present house has floored attic space but not nearly as many closets and cabinets. If something can stay in the attic for months, even years, at a time, why have it in the first place?

T = Tape. Assembling packing boxes, filling them up, and taping them shut requires a lot of tape, and ripping off those big strips of tape is noisy business, especially with frayed nerves. T can also stand for tape measure, which was used repeatedly to determine if our old furniture would fit in its next location.

U = Unbelievable number of boxes! The mountain of empty boxes in the garage grew to a staggering amount as we began unpacking. Fortunately, we found out about a family who is moving to Spain soon and gave them as many boxes as the wife could cram into her van. We've got almost the same number piling up again. Do you know of someone who could use them?

V = Valuable. I'm sure that most of you fall in the same middle-class category to which Steve and I belong in which our homes are our most valuable assets, financially-speaking. The material possessions inside our homes also hold value in our minds and hearts. From a spiritual perspective, I believe our homes and possessions are at their most valuable when they are used to meet the needs of others, extend biblical hospitality, shelter our loved ones, welcome friends, and model Christian behavior. I pray that our new home will be at its most valuable in the years ahead.

W = Warm welcome. The neighbors we've met so far have been friendly and very welcoming. We already feel that we fit in, and it feels good.

X = Examine. Before we bought our present house, we wanted to examine it inside and outside as thoroughly as we could. The buyers for our last house did the same with ours. None of us wanted to be caught in a "Buyer Beware Nightmare." As much as possible, we also examined all the documents that came our way during negotiating processes and at closing. Again, this was no time for unwanted surprises.

Y = Yard. Everyone in our new neighborhood takes pride in his/her yard. We've gone from almost 3 acres to barely 1/2 acre. Steve can now mow and edge in about an hour. We're hopeful that the time he's gaining from less yard maintenance will lead to more time for writing, preparing his Sunday School lesson, and maybe doing a little more fishing.

Z = Zoning. In a neighborhood/subdivision with an HOA, there are rules and regulations about what homeowners may and may not do. There are rules because we are within the city limits of Decatur. Being in a certain zone means that our mail is picked up at a certain time and our garbage is picked up on a certain day. A particular fire department is assigned to our zone. I may not like all of the rules, but I like the order and protection they represent.

So, that's what we've been doing. Hopefully, now I'll be back to my desk with plenty of God-directed thoughts to share. Thank you for your patience.

These verses are true whether you move a block away, 15 miles away, or to Timbuktu or Siberia. Hallelujah!

Psalm 139:9-10 -- "If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast."

Isaiah 58:11 -- "The LORD will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring."

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