On Moving and Being Moved

Today, our house in the suburbs is going on the market.

No one is as surprised about this as I am.

My husband, who grew up on a dairy farm, has been wanting to move for a while now. The country is in his DNA. Every day, he drives out of our neighborhood to the lone gravel road nearby to run on the soft earth instead of the pavement. When he needs to pray, he goes to the woods. I have noticed him getting itchy and claustrophobic in the suburbs for a while now. I have started to notice it starting to show up in my own soul too — this sense that it might be time.

In the decade since we moved into this house, it feels like the landscape has become, busier, faster, more insistently suburban. Once the road we live on was a horse trail, the neighborhood across it, a Christmas tree farm; now they’re talking about adding another lane.

In May we began to, offhandedly, scroll through properties on Zillow.

By June, I was spending my early mornings staring aimlessly out into the summer sunrise, asking for a sign.

The answer (or non-answer) that I felt resound in the quiet places of my hesitant heart during that time was this: Ours has never been a relationship that was about signs.

And it’s true. God has never been miraculously clear with me. There has never been a pointing arrow or a lightning bolt illuminating the exact next step. Instead, it has seemed that in my life, there is a slow shift, a sense of being moved. Usually, it begins by walking into an empty room — by letting go of one thing and walking into the void, believing that it will open up into the next right thing.

In the first weeks of July, it began. A realtor friend from church came over. We filled out paper work and got pre-approved and tried to remember how long it’s been since the roof here has been replaced.

If you’ve wondering where I’ve been over the last month, why the blog has been radio silent, it’s because I’ve been here. I’ve been excavating ten years’ worth of the accumulated detritus of our life on Eagle Street. I’ve been photographing the kids’ artwork and getting rid of the originals; I’ve been getting rid of expired Jell-o and expired Sudifed and the junky, sparkly swivel chairs that we bought at a garage sale a million years ago.

I’ve been behind the refrigerator for the first time in, apparently, 7 years or so. I know this because I found pieces of a magnet set that we got for Dane’s first birthday underneath, and because there was so much dirt-sludge back there I had to use a paint scraper to get it off. I’ve been at Lowe’s color matching paint from the basement and at Micahels buying clearance vases and at the Salvation Army drop-off. I’ve been on Pinterest, trying to find the best way to get stains out of my carpet.

Yesterday, I made one last mad dash through the house, scrubbing and spraying and sweeping and making beds. I stuck the hamster in the linen closet behind the box of cleaning supplies and the goldfish behind the towels.

The photographer walked up with his camera as I pulled out of the driveway, van full of recycling, house as clean as it’s ever looked.

*

I have been thinking a lot these past months about this house – the one we finally got after three rejected offers on other homes.

It sits at the northernmost edge of the Minneapolis suburbs on top of the Anoka County Sandplain. The soil in our neighborhood is classified as Merrimac Loamy Fine Sand, which basically means that we have to water the grass constantly in the heat of the summer.

Sandy land. In Sunday School, I learned the words to a Bible-verse-turned-song, and I sang them almost every week.

Don’t build your house on the sandy land.
Don’t build it too near the shore.
Well it might be kind of nice
But you’ll have to build it twice!
Cause you’ll have to build your house once more.

I can remember every hand motion –fist pounding like hammers against one another, then hastily flattened and rearranged into the sloped roof of a house. Who can remember what we were thinking, imagining, understanding as we cut waves through the air with our hands to indicate the wild water, coming?

And yet, in the barren aftermath of my faith upheaval, my husband and I bought a house on the sandplain. And I think it maybe saved my life.

Here in the sand-soil suburbs, I slowly found my way out of despair. We have spent long evenings sitting on our flaking deck, drinking wine and talking about faith. The conversations are everything I so desperately needed: soul-bearingly honest, seasoned with swearing.

In this house, I became a mother. I became an author and a blogger. I found God again in ways that I never imagined.

And why not a house on a sandplain? What is sand, after all, but broken rock – the porous product of time and love and pressure and heartbreak? For a decade, we have found healing for the loamy After of our faith crisis in this home. And there is no doubt in my mind that it was exactly the right place for us.

But I also can’t deny that a recurring theme in my life this year has been the idea of soil. I’ve been thinking a lot about the earth. About what it means for me to find myself grounded in a world that feels so frantic and fast and fearful. In the garage, we raised ducks and watched them make themselves at home in the world, on the sandy shores of our pond, and it was the best thing I did all year. I find myself drawn to books and poetry that is rural in nature. I find that I am drawn, more and more, to the dirt, to the outdoors, to the earth.

And, after all, my relationship with God has never been about signs. It has always gone like this – themes that begin to echo and reverberate until they clarify into invitation to the next new thing.

Today, it begins. Hopefully this weekend, there will be showings. Hopefully, soon, there will a home that’s not too far away from here – but that’s on some quiet gravel road in the country. Hopefully space to raise ducks and chickens and to keep honey bees. Hopefully good, rich soil for growing things.

For now, I am standing in my half-empty house, trying very hard to keep it looking clean. I’m walking into this empty room, waiting to see where it will lead.

33 thoughts on “On Moving and Being Moved

  1. Congratulations on your move! That definitely explains why you have been so quiet lately. I was just thinking yesterday that it had been awhile since you had posted anything. Can’t wait to see your new home and see how your family adjusts to life in the country. Wishing you all the best as you enter this next chapter of your life….and wishing you a speedy sale at the price you would like to get. 🙂

    1. Thanks so much Paula! Yes — putting a house on the market does not leave tons of time for writing. Add the kids being home from school for the summer and all bets are off!

  2. Just moved this weekend. No house to put on the market as this is our first (and, please God, only) purchased home. But I can definitely relate to cleaning out the stuff. And now that we are here and our basement is full of boxes of stuff that we can’t believe we ever got into a teeny duplex at all, we plan to clean out and give away more of it.

  3. Great to read your words again Addie…I’ve missed them. We moved to the country 13 years ago, and we have chickens, and bees, and wild ducks in our pond. It felt so right, and we have never looked back. Although Target runs are not nearly as convenient, Target never fed my soul like a garden or wide open skies. Don’t drive yourself crazy trying to make everything perfect…country living is a little more wild and harder to tame like a home in the suburbs. Enjoy the ride!!

  4. So excited for you! You know where we live, so I am somewhat prejudiced towards the country life. Your boys will absolutely love it and thrive in a setting like that. Hang in there with the cleaning and packing away. I have loved the adventure of each house we have moved to or built, but I detest the showing a house and the physical drain of moving. And yes to the chickens, we had so much fun with them.

  5. I live on a 10 acre yard the country. It’s so peaceful & private! Plenty of room for a bountiful garden & lots of lawn mowing💚. We raised our children here & I am so thankful for the 40 years we have been privileged to call this place home. Wishing you much joy in your new adventure!
    PS Living here has saved my husband’s sanity- an oasis from the stress of work etc!

  6. Addie, congratulations on the move and on a beautifully-written reflection as well. I love your description of the “slow shift”; like you, I’ve learned to trust in those subtle nudges, to enjoy the process of being moved into the next right thing.

    At times faith feels like a road trip for little kids, like falling asleep in the backseat and waking up in a new place. We’re not always conscious of having traveled very far, but sometimes we wake up and realize that we’ve been moving slowly, gently, and surely all along.

    Anyway, really appreciated the reminder today. <3

  7. As a fellow soil lover, this makes my heart Happy. Excited to hear what comes next. (And hopeful it might be closer to a certain little river town we both enjoy 😉 )

  8. I hope you’ll consider reading my blog. My tag line is: I come to the ground. The ground comes to me. I hope everything falls into place with your move and that you find a wonderful piece of ground and home. I very much enjoy your writing.

  9. Hey. I am entering a new season too….leaving a house and town I have been in since I was 19. I got married here and had two foster children and three of my own here. We are now in the throws of moving to start a church. It’s a little scary but I also know it right. Thank you for being so honest and telling it how it is. You inspired me in my trail of darkness. Thank you so much.

  10. Yay Addie!! Lovely to hear from you! I love particularly the permission for a relationship with God to not be about signs, but shifts.

    Frankly the thought of living in the country makes hyperventilate with fear (extrovert city girl) but I’m excited for you (and looking forward to the photos). Sending much love to you. Hope the new house includes ducks.

    1. Thanks lady! Don’t hyperventilate! You can enjoy my ducks from an instagrammable distance. Ha!

  11. I love this so much, Addie – what an exciting season, one that, in your blog, sounds so serene and peaceful, like just the right thing. I’m sure it’s filled with the chaos and stress of reality, but the undergirding sure sounds calm, like all those broken grains of sand have been pressed down and packed back to sedimentary rock. <3

    1. Beautiful image, friend. And yes, not so serene right now. It still feels right…just chaotic. Looking forward to the end of limbo and the beginning of something new.

  12. I won’t lie, the first thing I did when I saw the title was scroll-scroll-scroll to see if you were moving to my town. 🙂 But considering that I live in a city, that would more than defeat the purpose of your move. Thank you for sharing your journey (literal in this case) with us. Your words are beautiful and thought-provoking as always. So excited for you all to get closer to nature.

  13. Thanks for this, it really struck such a cord with me.
    We, too are moving to sandy-land – 5 minute’s walk from the beach; waiting for someone to come and like our much-loved house enough to pay for this house on the hill, where the foundations fit straight onto the sandstone.
    We also are not people of ‘signs’ but were sure this was the right move to make – why is it not happening yet?
    We have to trust that Our Father knows what He is doing.
    God bless you, as you move.

    1. Yes — I totally get that. We made an offer on what we thought was THE HOUSE and didn’t get it. Hard to understand what God is up to sometimes.

  14. This is so lovely. I can’t wait to see how it all plays out but let’s plan on me coming over to sit on your deck at least one more time before you move. xo

    1. Absolutely! Maybe we can even get Andrew to drag the TV out for us and rent a Hallmark!

  15. I came here from Emily’s newsletter. Your words were breathe of fresh space I needed this morning. While I’m not currently moving houses, ev.ery.other.thing in my life is changing..for the better. But new is still hard and breathing in fresh air is an act of the will. Thank you.

    1. Thanks so much for stopping by and for your kind words Marcy. “new is still hard and breathing in fresh air is an act of the will.” — yes. This I understand. Grace to you in the changes!

  16. Beautiful, Addie, and so good to hear your words again. I grew up in the country and my parents still live in that house and whenever I make the 45-minute drive from my suburban home (which I love) to the rural, winding roads of my childhood, a little part of me sighs and relaxes and slows down. It’s quite lovely.

  17. “God has never been miraculously clear with me”–I feel this truth acutely and have spent long hours wondering why God couldn’t simply tell me what He has in mind and wishing the signs I once thought were from Him weren’t my own invention. To be honest, I’d rather not have to resort to try to understand God’s will through themes, but similar to you, it’s all that I’m left with. Glad that you are finding grace along the way, as I am–slowly.

    I blog at the intersection of faith and depression at roadcalledhope.com and would love it if you checked it out/guest posted!

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