In March, we'll say goodbye to this Oklahoma land that we have called home for the past three years and hello to new adventures in South Carolina. It seems easy to type that out, and yet, there is so much weight behind our decision. Such a mix of sadness and excitement.
The truth is, we've known for a while that we weren't meant for Oklahoma long term. Every year we've lived here since my husband's job moved us in 2011, we've sat down and talked about moving. Is it the right time? Where would we go? What would we do next? Will the kids hate us? And in a way, that helped us really sink our heels into this state and explore with more reckless abandonment than if we knew we were going to be here for good. We spent many weekends just driving through the countryside and small towns, discovering and seeing through western eyes. We made it our mission to get out of our comfort zones so we could live fully here, while we were here. And as I look back, I really believe we accomplished that.
I think when you move, you become more nostalgic. You start to look at your favorite local places and remember all the good memories made there. You start going out with good friends for coffee...one last time. You notice the scratch one of the kids left in the hardwood floor, and fill in the hole in the backyard that the kids played in for fun. You look back and wonder if you grew. Are you better than you were three years ago? Did you make mistakes, but learn from them?
I believe I did. We went through some of our hardest years here and waded through tough waters. But this lead to re-learning the gospel - that grace is not a one-time thing, but an over and over again thing - and that transformed my life and how I viewed things. How I desperately needed to give myself grace, and in turn give that to other people! We weathered desperate times in our marriage, but came out standing and we grew. We learned what the other person needed in life to thrive and that a lot of love is a choice. A choice to see the good. We learned what our passions were and told God that we didn't want to hoard them up for ourselves, but we wanted to be givers. So we learned a lot about giving, which led to us learning a lot about takers. And that wasn't so fun.
We learned a lot about the kind of parents we wanted to be and the world we wanted to hand to our children. That focusing on their hearts was more important than parenting to make our life easier. That we wanted to raise independent, confident, God-honoring kids who didn't live in fear but took the world head on. We discovered we were contradictory people. That we were just as much the outdoorsy type, as we were the movie-watching type with popcorn. We were vegetarians at home, but splurged when we were out. We wanted to home educate, but have our children in a class setting. We love to travel, but are homebodies.
It's a curious thing to get to know yourself.
We also got to know other people. There were the ones who didn't understand our year-by-year living plan, but then there were a lot of people who truly got to know us. They came over for many a schooner dinner and we had long conversations on summer nights over baked artichoke dip and bistro lights. Friends who stopped by unannounced, just to visit or go on a walk around the local park. The girlfriends who traded babysitting, or offered it for free, so I could get my hair done or have a date night with Steven. Our dear church family who stood by us through thick and thin, sickness and in health, famine and plenty.
There were a lot of really good people and I learned a lot about the human spirit because of that. How rallying to help one another, is better than trying to do it all alone. How much sweeter are the successes when you can point to the ones who have been lifting you up and cheering you on and say, "They helped me get here."
We are not the type to settle in one place, but rather we are risk-takers with really big dreams and I don't think we will ever settle. Even in our retirement years, I've asked Steven if we can live on a houseboat because that's where I want to spend my last days. On the water. One with the sea. Having said all of that, we still have roots that wind and grow strong in the south and I think no matter where our adventures lead us, it will always call us home. For now, we are planting in the upstate of South Carolina. We will move into our house we own there and spend much of the spring and summer doing some remodeling...part of which, is a studio of my very own. I have some exciting things on the horizon with that and can't wait to share more as we progress! I will be writing my book...the story of my parents in raising fourteen children. They will be a mere mile from our house, which will be such a blessing for not only in the writing process, but also in having more help with the schooner crazies. I'll be gardening and learning how to be more self-sufficient...which might lead to me getting rid of my iPhone and our TV. Gasp, I know!
This blog will begin changing and you'll see more interior design, more of my studio work, more of my writing travels, more gardening haphazards, more ocean trips, and more schooner adventures. I am so excited for the year ahead.
I want to end this new chapter with a huge thank you. To the ones who have read this space that was born in Oklahoma. To the ones who lovingly accepted us into your homes for who we were, not what we could offer. To the ones who prayed over us, cried with us, rejoiced with us. You make life that much more of an adventure and we're so proud to travel it with you.