Sunday, October 26, 2014

Why Sundays are the Hardest.....

What a whirlwind the last two weeks have been. On Wednesday, October 15, we signed  papers and bought a house! Yes, Zack and I have done this several times in the past, but never in a different state than Kentucky.....not much was different in terms of the paperwork, but it was a strange feeling knowing we had bought a house in a town where we really don't know anyone. It was the like the final piece making this whole thing seem real!

The weekend before we close, Zack and I had driven to London with the kids on Friday night, got up Saturday morning and packed a Penske truck, then drove back to Charleston the same day. It was a quick and hard trip. Not something I want to do again. But, in the long run it saved a lot of money, as everything packed in the Penske truck was less the movers had to pack and bring, and that is where the savings came in :)  So, on the day we closed, we had a Penske truck packed full of our things to unload, and the movers brought the rest the following day. My mom's cousin's daughter and I connected on Facebook, and we found out that she lives very close in the next subdivision! She and her husband were so kind and offered to help us unload the truck on Wednesday. She also took the kids over to her house and let them hang out so we could get some work done. Also, on that same day, my parents came into town to help out. I was so excited for them to see our house and well of course just to seem them!! So we had a great crew of helpers, and got the truck completely unloaded Wednesday evening. The next morning the movers showed up and brought in boxes as fast as they could. All of our furniture, boxes, everything we owned was either in the garage or our house in about two hours. Needless to say, it was two hours of total chaos.

That same week one of my dad's favorite cousins also happened to be in town! They were so gracious and on Thursday night (the day the movers came) brought us a wonderful dinner. It was so nice to see them and the dinner was much appreciated. She brought me a sweet framed reminder of My Ole' Kentucky home, and brought all the kids UK apparel....definitely needed down here!

We truly have felt very blessed with the help, support, and love we have been shown over the last couple weeks. We could not have gotten moved in and settled in the short amount of time we did without the help and thoughtfulness of so many. So a big thanks to all who have helped and prayed!!

We have spent the last week unpacking, painting, organizing,  changing out light fixtures, decorating,  and taking things to Goodwill. God help me not to buy anything else I DON'T NEED!!  We really love our neighborhood and our house. It is actually less space than we had in London, but I honestly think the space we have meets the needs of our family just as well, if not better, in most ways.  We don't have a huge yard, but the yard we do have is flat (of course, this is South Carolina :) and we are very close to our community pool and playground, and there is a huge field to play soccer, baseball, etc. So all we have to do is hop on our bikes and we are there in a jiffy! Speaking of bikes, it's a great neighborhood for bike riding as well. So here is the house....I think it looks more fancy and bigger than it really is. It is an older home, just a comfortable house. I don't have any pictures of the inside of the house to share yet....but soon :) We really love it and feel very blessed to have found it.

My amazing inlaws were here with us almost the entire week and were a HUGE help. We painted our kitchen (which wasn't as easy as it sounds because it was covered with wallpaper :) installed several light fixtures and ceiling fans, and of course checked out downtown and Charleston's amazing parks. They left today after church, and we all already miss them. We had a great time.

Speaking of church, today was the third time we have visited Summerville Baptist Church. The church is about 15 minutes from our house, right in the heart of downtown Summerville. It is a fairly large church, with two church services and soon to be two Sunday School hours. It is a very traditional Southern Baptist Church, so Zack and I feel right at home in that regard. We have felt very welcome at Summerville Baptist, and the kids love it. No tears at all for Emmie, which we honestly think God used to help us decide between this church and another church we had visited. The minute we would pull into the parking lot at the other church, Emmie would break into tears. There was no rhyme or reason for this! But at Summerville,  Emmie just walked in, went straight into her class, and said "bye mom!". We have attended Sunday School each Sunday we have visited and the class is a good size group of 30 somethings, all that are in the same season of life as us. They have children's church for the kids, and Awana on Sunday nights, which the kids absolutely love. It has been fun watching them get excited about putting God's Word into their hearts. We haven't made it to a Wednesday night service yet, but they have a church choir and they practice on Wednesday nights (a must for me :) and the kids also have music and missions on Wednesday nights. Oh, and they have a church softball team (a must for Zack). Most importantly, we have found the teaching to be very Theologically sound.

So why did I title this post "Why Sundays are the Hardest"?  I just told you what a great place our new home is and how great Summerville Baptist is, and what good experiences we have had here. What is hard about it? This is what is hard about it- On Sundays, I am reminded of this:

These people are not here! 

And come to think of it,  lots of other people we love aren't here these people....

And these......

And of course these....

  Zack and I both agree, we are in some type of grieving season right now. We are faking it for our kids....I mean, they know we miss our friends, but we don't mope around and cry all the time. We try to be positive and encourage them, because they are doing awesome!  But inside, we feel a huge hole. I am not sure if everyone has such a special group of church friends, co-workers, and high school buddies like we have been blessed with, but I have to think it is a pretty special, once in lifetime (or maybe twice in a lifetime :) kind of thing.  They are the kind of friends that you want to have for the rest of your life. They are the kind of friends that you want your kids to grow up with so they can have friendships with their kids. They are the kind of friends that know you and still love you. They are the kind of friends that right now, seem like we will never have again. I know what you are thinking- you'll make new friends. And yes, I know that God is faithful and is capable of bringing new and wonderful relationships into our lives. He can do whatever He wants, and I do trust that He will meet all our needs.  And I even believe that He is using their absences to create character in us that wouldn't have happened otherwise. But these friends will never be replaced. A piece of our hearts will always be with them, and with our church body at First Baptist London- we miss all of you terribly! 

Zack and I both know God desires to work in our lives here in South Carolina. We are trusting Him to grow us, mold us, and lead us. He already has through this time of separation from family and friends. We are relying on Him more and more each day to guide and direct us as to how He desires for our family to serve Him where He has planted us. We have decided the only way to go about this is to go "all in" here in South Carolina, whether it is for a few years, or for the rest of our lives. So we plan to get involved in every way we can- church, school, community. We want to give God our best and let Him lead us. So many of you have texted or emailed to let us know you are praying for our family as we transition. To think that you would pray for us is just overwhelming and we feel so blessed. Thanks for your prayers. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Beauty of Charleston and Giving God our Dreams!

 One thing you can't deny about Charleston is that it is a beautiful place.....

 Especially downtown. The architecture and attention to detail of the homes, shops, landscaping, etc. It is lovely. Picturesque is a good way to describe it. The water is serene and tranquil (hopefully most of the time, anyway). I can definitely see why people like to visit Charleston, and some decide to call it "home". Now, as you probably know, I am still up in the air about whether or not I would ever want to call Charleston home, but one thing that the Lord has shown me over this last week is that my attitude needs to reflect the reality that for now (and until further notice) it is our home, and there is something great, wonderful, and God ordained  for our family here. Through prayer, daily devotions and Bible readings, God has shown me that He is ready and willing to do great things through our family in Charleston, if we will but only ask! Consider this thought from one of my daily devotion readings from the magazine Journey: "If we get to know God and His perfect and loving character, we'll joyfully release our dreams into his mighty hands and wait with great anticipation to see what He'll do with them".  I realized that I have not been releasing anything since we arrived here, and especially not joyfully. You see, I have realized it all comes down to how I view God, and if I truly trust Him. If I view him correctly, as the loving Father He is, then I have no reason to not put my full trust in Him, and that includes my hopes and dreams! Consider Jesus' words in Matthew 7, verses 9-11: "Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" 

It struck me as I read this passage how much I love to give gifts to my children. I love to see their reaction, their smile, their excitement. But even my best attempts to give good gifts do not come close to comparing to what God desires to give us as His children. Now I am not speaking of material blessings, though sometimes we are blessed in that fashion, but I am talking about the abundant Christian life- a life that is so much more than possessions and earthly things. A life that has eternal purpose and value.  I am asking God to each day help me to release my dreams for this sort of abundant life to Him, trusting that He loves me beyond my comprehension, and desires to work in and through me, for His glory.

This past week we had a wonderful visit from my mom and her best friend, Belinda. The visit came at just the right time as my homesickness had seemed to peak the day before they came. We had a great time visiting the quaint downtown of Summerville and its many boutiques and unique stores, checking out the awesome consignment and Goodwill stores (and they are awesome!), driving through the many subdivisions,  and of course exploring downtown Charleston. We tried out a great seafood restaurant downtown called the Noisy Oyster. Very yummy.

In just a few days both my parents will be here as we will be moving into our home. We are all excited to have the chance to be able to run and scream and "spread out" once again. The kids have been troopers over these last several weeks and have had to learn a new type of respect when it comes to apartment living. If you know my kids you know they tend to be loud and rough and tough, and you just can't do that in an apartment with neighbors all around (we found out the hard way....a couple times :) I am very proud of them for being so flexible and patient as we have waited to move. I am very proud of them in general. They continue to get up every morning bright and early like troopers, and have great stories to tell me when I pick them up. They are making friends and challenge me to have as positive of an attitude as they do!

I promised to write about our experiences visiting churches here, and I will definitely do that in the next post. We have had good experiences and have been treated very kindly, but have found that Sundays make us the most homesick of all day. We love and miss our church family. More to come on that soon.....

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Starting Week Three in Charleston....

We are starting week three in Charleston!!! Everyone is doing well and though we are still homesick, things are becoming somewhat more normal. I thought I would write just a quick post to show you a little about what our life has looked like since the big this post mainly the kids schools and where we are currently living.

Let's start with where we live. We have been living in temporary housing since we got here. We live in a 2 bedroom (mostly furnished) apartment in Summerville, South Carolina. It is about 3 miles from our new home (we will be closing in a little over a week....yipee!!), and about 5 miles from Caleb and Noah's school, and about 7 miles from Emmie's school. It is close to lots and lots of shopping centers, restaurants, name it! So it is a very convenient location. We live on the third floor, so carrying bicycles up and down has been quite a work out(we need it!). Though it is small (only about 800 sq. feet), our family has had a great time here. There is a community pool and playground, and the kids like riding their bikes here. Lots of bonding :) Here are some pictures:

Next, the kids schools- Noah and Caleb attend Eagle Nest Elementary. There are over 900 students in K-5! It's huge!! School starts here at 7:25, and dismisses at 2:10. Charleston is a very, very diverse area, which is awesome. There are children from a wide range of ethnic groups in the boys' classes. I or Zack take them to school each morning. Even though our apartment is only about 5 miles away, it takes about 45 minutes round trip due to the traffic. Very crazy!!

Here is a picture of their school:

Emmie just attended her new school, Windsor Hill Arts Infused Elementary School,  for the first time this past Friday. She received speech services back home in London, and she will continue to do so here in South Carolina, thankfully. There were no spots available at the boys' school, so this school is the next closest school to where we live that also can offer Emmie the speech services she needs.

Many of you know the difficulties Emmie had when beginning preschool in London last fall. I was very concerned that this would be a tough transition for her, but the day before she started she went in and met her teachers and saw her classroom and did great! Her first day went just as well! She walked into the school like she had been there all along, went into her classroom and was ready for breakfast. I am so amazed by the progress she has made in a little over year. She had a great first day on Friday and is ready to go back tomorrow. In South Carolina, the 4K program is only half days, so Emmie still gets to spend time with mommy too :) I like that. Emmie's school is a little smaller than the boys' school, but still has over 700 students! From our apartment, it takes me about one hour to take Emmie to school and come back home. Really crazy!  Here is a picture of Emmie's new school, her classroom, and of Emmie on her first day:

The way in which the kids have adjusted to their new schools has been a such an amazing thing. We are so thankful and thank God for answering our prayer for our children! Noah was even invited to a birthday party this past weekend by a classmate- he had a great time. Caleb tells stories everyday when I pick him up about what he and his new buddy, Luis, have been doing at recess. Though we know they still very much miss their friends from home, it is a huge relief to see them talk with such enthusiasm about their new experiences.

Our next challenge/adventure is to find a church to call home. The past 2 Sundays we have visited two different churches....more to come on that next time.

Thanks for all the prayers and encouraging texts, emails, and Facebook messages. They mean so much!