Tuesday, August 31, 2010

ignore the rambling

I was originally just going to do a general overview of our last weekend in St Louis... of course it was chock full of lots of things to do and people to see and goodbye after goodbye and I had it in my head that it would be easier to do one of my general paraphrase the weekend posts with a few pictures.
See condensed version below.
But it turned out to be bigger than just those words. And even the pictures.
We were really touched this weekend by the realization that I think we'll be missed more than we thought. It was humbling that so many friends went out of their way to say so.

This move is so different than last time. We didn't have the friends in Michigan that we have here. It was hard to originally leave Oregon and say goodbye to a lifetime of friends and family there, but we had a good amount of time to do it and the confidence that that's where our roots are and we'd be back. Leaving Michigan three years ago, however, we really didn't have many to say goodbye to... really only two good family friends. Short and sweet.
Here though, between our neighborhood and schools and college friends and our church connections, it's a different story. This has been our home for the last three years and we've built up a pretty nice "home". I knew it'd be hard to say goodbye, but it's been harder than I thought. I'm really drained after this weekend.

I'll just start from the beginning.
(and it'll be a long middle and end, so feel free to skim or skip as so desired. this is mostly for journaling my thoughts)(i also may have trouble containing the typing freeflow since i've been somwhat limited in my internet and blogging the past couple of weeks. i need regular brain dumps around here or it gets messy!)

I already mentioned Sawyer's favorite part of the whole goodbye weekend; two whole days of Reece time. While he was occupied by his love, I managed to get quite of bit of organizing done. We're having movers pack us up, but there was plenty of laundry to do and things to be put in order before they could do their job correctly. So that's how I spent Friday afternoon. Oh and we celebrated the birthday boy and had him open presents early Friday evening since we knew we'd be pressed for time the whole rest of the weekend. :)
We also went to the neighborhood's annual Midnight Swim. We had yet to go in the three summers we've been here (not really appealing with preschoolers) and Ryan really wanted to at least say we'd done it once, so we all headed down to the pool at 9pm. We only hung around for an hour or so, chit chatting, eating pizza and twinkies and letting the kids think they were so cool, swimming at night before we all headed home to bed. We had a busy two days ahead of us!

Saturday we were up bright and early, getting some errands out of the way, Savannah and Sawyer went over to Reece's again and Ryan and I went out for a little birthday breakfast and then tried to work on more house stuff. We grabbed the kids after lunch, ran some more errands and then headed over to see the Swinigans. We had a great visit, yummy dinner and happy birthday cake before saying our goodbyes. We are so going to miss those guys. Kevin and Heather went to school with Ryan in Greenville, but I didn't know them when we moved here. I don't even remember Ryan really ever mentioning them before we moved here. Then we randomly found out that they lived just a couple miles from us and that they had two kids in similar ages to ours. We hooked up right away, with them inviting us over for dinner the very first week we were here and have pretty much been fast friends ever since. The kids have always gotten along so perfectly with such similar personalities and Heather and I couldn't have been better matched as mom friends. It's just bizarre sometimes how alike we are in everything from the way we keep our house and get flack from our husbands to our views on pregnancy, parenting and everything in between. It's hard to find a really great friend in the same stages of life who is so consistently compatible with the way you live your life everyday. They were such a blessing to us. I'm thankful we're only going five hours away.

Saturday evening we hurried from their house back to our turf for a little block party/s'mores night/goodbye send-off. This was one of my very favorite things about living here; the neighbor gatherings. Whether they were impromptu in the street or a planned shin-dig in a backyard, it was always a great time. With drinks flowing and people coming and going, kids riding around, running around, playing hide and seek and flashlight tag while all the grown ups sit around in lawn chairs laughing it up. This weekend we had a firepit set up in the street out on the corner by our house and everyone was really gracious with snacks and desserts and even put together balloons for the birthday boy and a basket of St Louis goodies to send us off with.
We were reminiscing that it was exactly three years ago, coincidentally for Ryan's birthday even, that we were celebrating for the first time together at our house. It's been a great three years in this amazing neighborhood (four summers actually!) and we're so sad to be leaving it behind. I hope the newbies taking our place know a good thing when they see it!

Sunday we had a bittersweet last morning at church. Pastor Mike made mention of the fact during service and spoke a few words and in fact teared up and it so took me by surprise and brought me to tears as well and kicked off a whole day of finding myself on the verge. They had planned a lunch party for us, but honestly, the whole church goodbye thing was a little iffy to me going in. I didn't really know what to expect.
I'm just being totally honest here, and I really don't want to offend anyone reading that is part of this wonderful church, but I was ready to say goodbye. It's been a long two and a half years of us being involved in this church and we've definitely had our ups and downs. Don't get me wrong, it's a fabulous church with amazing things going on, but truthfully it's been a sigh of relief for us to not have to struggle with some of the questioning we've had about whether we personally really belonged there or not. Long story short, we tried to be involved and plugged in from day one there and while the church as a whole is nothing but gracious and friendly and not one person ever made us feel unwelcome... we've never truly felt a complete part of the family. The church started out as a small group and I think tended to be a little clique-ish and it was really hard -at least for us- to break into that. The church has grown up a lot and people have come and gone and I think it's all gotten better, but we really struggled with that for a long time. Part of the reasons we wanted to jump in and be so involved, with tech service and children's ministry and MOPS and as small group leaders, were to have an "in" to be part of that core group, to be part of something bigger, to build bonds quickly. But it was hard. A lot harder than I thought.

In the first six months we were a part of that church we had probably a dozen different families over for dinner and reached out to several more. Yet not once have we ever been invited to dinner ourselves. Even now, after two years of being "friends" with all these people. Nada.
And I'd be okay if it turned out people just don't think like we do, maybe they just don't have people over period. But I'd hear over and over about all the things all these guys did together outside of church... get togethers and swapping babysitting and taking trips together. And I get the fact that they're good friends and they have a history and all that. They all know each other. I get that. And I slowly learned that yes, they were wonderfully friendly with us, but they were friends with each other. I just didn't know how to change that.
I struggled for a long time thinking it was just us, just me, no one had any desire to get to know us because of us, plain and simple. But after opening up and talking about it with a couple of others who knew the church or were in it with us, I was relieved to hear that it wasn't just me, that it was real and that I wasn't the only one to ever feel that. And I realized that it may not always such a big deal to others coming into the church sometimes because they have other history here. I think it stood out to us more because we came looking for those bonds and those friendships in a church family because we were basically alone coming here. We were banking on a church family. We needed a church family.
I think people -and not to be focusing on our church specifically, but people in general- -although actually I do think people of a church have a greater responsibility in this- just tend to sometimes be oblivious to the simple fact that people need friends. Real friends. It's easy for people who are already plugged in and have a full life and friends and family around... it's easy to forget I think that there are people who aren't and don't. There are people who need friends. Who need to feel truly welcome and wanted and loved. You don't have to suddenly be their best friend, but a little true effort goes a long way.
Ironically, that was the topic of the first sermon we heard on the first time we visited that church. That people need friends. Real friends to truly function in this life. He spoke much to the fact that so many people in this world are lonely these days and that we as Christians need to be loving them. It hit home to me, having moved around so much and being new to the area and I thought, great! a church that really gets it! Interesting.

Anyway, all that to say, after a summer of a little depression wrapped around this crazy in-between life we've been living and really not seeing much of anyone from church (because I stopped trying) I was a little hesitant to have this goodbye luncheon thing thrown for us. I didn't really feel the church needed to send us off. I didn't think that other than our few friends from small group, there was much else goodbye to say.
But. God is good and we had a great afternoon at a local park with food and kids running around everywhere and we did get to catch up with friends we've been missing this summer in our comings and goings and to share the details of this crazy adventure we've been on and to say some good goodbyes. It was really great to touch base with some of these people one more time and to hear that people had been praying for us and will still be praying for us and that we weren't as alone as we may have felt.
We had a great afternoon. I'm so glad we had that time and had some closure on this chapter in our journey. There really are some awesome people at that church and we'll miss lots of those families.

The Malones also drove out and joined us for lunch at the park with everyone and then came home with us for some more laid back visit time before we took off. It was really great to spend some time with them... it'd been too long!
After they left we swang by and had dinner with another couple from our small group and said some more goodbyes there.
And then came home and said goodbye to more neighbors.

Whew! Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye!
It was a lot for two days. And like I said, I'm exhausted!

But here we are in the real last week.
I headed down to Nashville with the kids for school (Sawyer starts preschool this week too! yay!!) and Ryan stayed put in STL with the packers and the movers and to get everything wrapped up to hand over keys on Thursday. I can't believe it's here already. A whole six months of wait wait wait and here we are in a couple of weeks time really saying goodbye.
It's kind of surreal. Especially since the kids and I left and the house was all put together and normal like we're just going out for the day. I don't think it's sunk in yet that we won't be going back to it.
Or that we'll have a new house this Friday! Crazy!!


Jen said...

I completely related to this post on so many different levels. I hope and pray that this move will be a fabulous new beginning for you and your family. What a fun, exciting journey. We had a similar experience at our old church and now we are at a new church that seems to be a better fit for our family. I am still involved with MOPS at the old church so we will see where God leads me on that one. Please be encouraged that you are not alone. Will you get involved in MOPS in your new town? I hope you enjoy your new home and are able to get plugged in and feel at home quickly.

Julie C said...

Hi Heather! I'm still keeping up with your blog. I've thought a lot about this entry and mulled lots of thoughts over and over in my mind. I've come to the conclusion that it would do no good to try to share them with you since they go kind of like a web instead of in a straight line. I'm glad I got to hear your thoughts though. There were plenty of times in the past when I wondered why you seemed on "the edge" at StoneBridge. For some reason I assumed it was your choice. I think I have/can continue to learn from your experience and maybe look at things differently in the future with others. Just want you to know that you are loved and we will miss you. I'm sorry you didn't always feel that love. It's hard work to plant a church and maybe sometimes some of us lost sight of the individual people in our quest to do all of the work. We were blessed to have you for the time that you were with us. I'll never forget the first time I met you - You were brand new and you showed up to help paint- with cookies! And, they were good! Thanks for sharing part of your life with us. Your family is precious and I'll look forward to keeping up with you through this blog in the future.

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