We are working on our 9th month in this apartment and I have been feeling the "it's time to move again itch" (since 8 months is our average stay anywhere) - but we don't have to right now. At this point our plan is to stay here, in this apartment, until RMED starts which is about April of 2012. That would mean 22 months in this apartment. That is really close to a record for us.
Moving every 8 months has caused me to live in survival mode most of the time. I spend 2 months thinking about packing, then 2 months trying to get settled, then 4 months living in a mostly unpacked state then start the cycle again. I would love to perfect the system so that it would only take about a week at either end and a whole lot more "real living" where ever we temporarily land. I have spent several years of the last 11.5 years of my life packing or unpacking and it is amazing how much stuff we still have! I have a friend who has moved every 6 months of the last couple of years because of her husband's job. She seems better at it than me but I think that she really did a pare down this time when she moved across the country because she unloaded a lot of stuff that she can't believe that she has held onto so long.
Anyway, since we aren't moving right now I decided that we should try to make this apartment someplace that we want to live. Really live. Not just survive until we move to the next place. We have had a few trials since moving here, mostly of the bug variety - bed and moths - but we have conquered both. We have figured out what to do with much of our stuff. There is a lot of storage in this apartment (probably too much!) and most everything has a home now. This last weekend we had our Coffee-Mate party and it was an opportunity to re-arrange our home and get it a little closer to how we want it to be (more clutter-free). I finally feel like our apartment is more like a home than a trash heap and it feels nice.
There has been a hunger in me for a long time to have that "life more abundant" that Christ talks about in John 10. I feel like I have wasted my life for the last several years running around trying to put out forest fires with a squirt gun. It is exhausting work and I often feel defeated and like I am suffocating. God has brought a few resources into my life that have been very helpful but there are some steps that I have to take. There is a quote that I loved from one of the books I am currently reading (One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are by Ann Voskamp) that struck me this week. Ann quoted Jean Pierre de Caussade: "When one is thirsty one quenches one's thirst by drinking, not by reading books which treat this condition." I have done a lot of reading and the reading has helped give me ideas and change my mind and I am starting to take action.
There have been two blogs that I have been reading pretty faithfully lately that I feel God is using to help me get to the place where I can live that abundant life. One is unclutterer.com. It is a great blog that has been helpful in trying to rout out my hording tendencies. I long to have a simpler life and know that clutter has often suffocated me and caused me not to want to get together with others because my home is full of it and hindered my relationship with my kids because I can't do stuff with them because I am always dealing with our stuff. I have put many of her suggestions into action. I have borrowed her book Unclutter Your Life in One Week from the library a couple of times but I haven't taken the time to actually do what she recommends. I am on the waiting list for it again and I hope to be at a place where I can actually "drink" while "reading about drinking" the next time I get it.
The other blog that has been impacting me is A Holy Experience. I subscribed to Ann's blog at the end of November because I was looking for a Jesse Tree devotional to do as a family during Advent and I had to subscribe to her blog to get the link to her free ebook. I figured I could unsubscribe later but after checking out a couple of her posts I was hooked. She has amazing photographs (I think that is what first drew me in) and she struggles with a lot of stuff that I struggle with as a follower of Christ, a wife and a mom (she also homeschools her 6 kids). It is nice to know that I am not alone in these struggles and in almost every post I am challenged in some aspect of my life. She has labeled this year "year of here." Around New Years K-love was challenging listeners to pick one word for the year and the Lord impressed on me the word present. I long to be actively present with my family in particular but also with others around me and I was struck with how much her year of here aligned with what I wanted for myself this year. I am also reading her book along with the Bloom book club and it has really challenged me to be thankful and look for things to be thankful for. She had been challenged by a friend to come up with 1000 things to be thankful for and it made a tremendous impact on her life and her list continues. So far I'm at 26 but I am noticing a difference already. She says: "This pen: this is nothing less than the driving of nails. Nails driving out my habits of discontent and driving in my habits of eucharisteo [thanksgiving]. I'm hammering in nails to pound out nails, ugly nails that Satan has pierced through the world, my heart. It starts to unfold, light in the dark, a door opening up, how all these years it's been utterly pointless to try to wrench out the spikes of discontent. Because that habit of discontent can only be driven out my hammering in one iron sharper." I am so thankful that God has brought this blog and this book into my life for such a time as this. God is conforming me, transforming me. It isn't comfortable and I am far from arriving but I am starting to move, not to a different location this time but away from merely surviving to a more God honoring, fulfilling life.
OK, I don't know if any of this blog has made any sense and it is incredibly long (that's what I get for not blogging for so long). I have many more things to say. I have a list of many more things I would like to blog about but it is late so I am going to go to bed. I'll close with lyrics of a favorite song that I can still hear my mom singing with her guitar:
He's still working on me
To make me what I need to be
It took him just a week to make the moon and stars
The sun and the earth and Jupiter and Mars
How loving and patient He must be
'Cause He's still workin' on me
There really ought to be a sign upon my heart
Don't judge her yet, there's an unfinished part
But I'll be better just according to His plan
Fashioned by the Master's loving hands
In the mirror of His word
Reflections that I see
Makes me wonder why He never gave up on me
But He loves me as I am and helps me when I pray
Remember He's the potter; I'm the clay
And I am so glad He is still working on me!!