It’s been almost a year since we packed up all of our possessions and loaded our family of 7 into an RV, as we took the long trek from California to Texas.
On August 18th 2021, we said goodbye to California as our home and set out as a family on a huge new adventure. We had prayed and we had cried. We had said many hard goodbyes. We had made lists and plans. But, at the end of the day we were simply doing what we believed was best for our family. So, now a year later, do I look back at our decision and think it was the right one? Yes! A resounding yes! Was it an easy decision? Absolutely not! But, hard does not always equal bad.
I’m sitting in a quiet corner of my favorite little local shop, sipping cold brew with worship music blaring in my headphones as I stare at my computer screen. I so desperately want to have something deep to share about what I have learned from moving to Texas. But, the truth is that there are no deep truths that I have discovered. Instead, the Lord has used this huge life changing move to solidify very simple things in my life.
So, what have I learned looking back over our first year as residents of the Lone Star State?
I have been a mama bear from day one of becoming a mom. But, my natural tendency to protect and love my children has increased exponentially as we made the decision to move our family out of California and into Texas. We have many reasons that we believed this was the right move, but the driving force was always giving our 5 children a better life. Not a perfect life. There is no utopia here on earth. But, we wanted to give them a life in a state with more freedoms. Moving to Texas has solidified time and time again that family matters. What we are teaching our children matters. How we are raising them and discipling them is our highest calling while they are in our home. (I share more on discipling children in this post: http://redstateramblings.com/disciple-them-well-raise-them-well-love-them-well/.) Our move so vividly reminded me how quickly the time with our kids in our home is passing. One of the greatest blessings of our move is that we have grown even closer as a family.
Another great blessing has been that extended family and friends have now moved to Texas with us. We are so blessed to have people we love join us in Texas. Having family here with us is such a blessing. I am so thankful that my children still get to be near and grow up around some of their extended family. (For more encouragement on moving with “your people” check out this post: http://redstateramblings.com/have-to-move-take-your-people-with-you/.) This past year has solidified again and again that family matters.
My Marriage Matters
In the midst of hard and difficult times, your partner usually receives the brunt of your negative emotions. I’m embarrassed to say that I cried into my husband’s shoulder many nights as we navigated our new life in Texas. On the flip side we, as a couple, have been given the opportunity to celebrate so many new and exciting things in our new state.
A lot changed when we moved: our location, our support system, our kids’ school, our church, and our familiarity with surroundings. What didn’t change was our commitment to one another. We are a team–through and through. All of the changes, however, did require that we seek to meet each other’s needs in this new season. Because there were new needs. At the beginning of the move, there was a lot of uncertainty. This meant that I needed more emotional support. Having a new job and a new routine meant my husband needed encouragement and support of a new kind.
Investing into our marriage in our new state has blessed us beyond measure. We have grown closer. Our love has deepened. We understand each other better. We in no way have a perfect marriage, but doing something hard like moving our family to a new state reminded us anew just how deeply thankful and blessed we are to have one another. This past year has solidified that, aside from my salvation, being my husband’s wife is my greatest joy and blessing. My marriage matters.
Back in California, we frequently hosted parties, dinners and events. I love having people over and making them feel welcome and comfortable. I enjoy the planning, the cooking, and the hosting. In California it was easier to have people over because we had close friends and family who made it comfortable. It was easy to stay in our comfort zone or sadly even be complacent in being hospitable. But being in a new state, with very few people we know, has made hosting more difficult and dare I say, awkward.
However, I have been newly encouraged to invest in being hospitable. This means getting out of my comfort zone. This means inviting people over who we barely know. This means starting the conversation at church. This means stocking the garage freezer with popsicles for the neighbor kids. It doesn’t always come naturally, but I know that putting in the effort to build community and relationships in our new state is so important. This past year has solidified that God created us for community and that hospitality should be a part of the Christian life. Hospitality matters.
In the words of Allie Stuckey, “Politics matter because policies matter because people matter.” https://alliebethstuckey.com/ Living in a red state means living in a state where many of the policies align more closely with my own personal convictions. I am thankful to live in a state that still strives to follow the rights laid out for us in the Constitution. I am thankful to live in a state where abortion is no longer legal due to the overturning of Roe v. Wade–to name just one of many policies I am thankful for here in Texas. For more of my thoughts on Roe being overturned check out this post: http://redstateramblings.com/goodbye-roe-v-wade/.
I know that living in a red state has many benefits. I am so thankful to be the recipient of the trickle down effect of good policy. I’m thankful that we have a better quality of life in Texas. However, politics are not infallible and I am very aware that red states and blue states alike are all a part of this broken world. A world that is desperately in need of Jesus. Texas could become a blue state and while I would be very disappointed, my God would still be sovereign and in control.
However, I know there are things we can do to help keep red states red and to help the communities we live in. One vital thing that we can do is vote: http://redstateramblings.com/youre-going-to-love-voting-in-your-free-state/. We can also volunteer, get involved with local government, and “raise a respectful ruckus” (quoting Allie again!) when we see destructive policy creeping into our schools and communities. Here are some things we should not do: http://redstateramblings.com/how-to-destroy-your-new-state-in-5-easy-steps/.
Politics run rampant with propaganda and divisive arguments, so at the end of the day we need to remember that the ultimate authority is never our political officials or even the Constitution. Our ultimate source of truth is the Word of God. We are to “live not by lies.” Thus, the Bible needs to be our guide. All that being said, this past year has solidified that politics matter because they create policies that affect you and me and the people around us.
No matter where you live, it can be easy to struggle with contentment. Moving to a new state did not take all of my problems away. It won’t take all yours away either. But, having a “perfect” life is not what brings contentment. Contentment comes from relying on God’s sovereignty and grace. Joy flows from thankfulness for the abundance of undeserved gifts that fill our days. Moving to Texas has brought some tough times like receiving a difficult diagnosis and watching a loved ones’ health decline, but it has also brought so many blessings! You could have a beautiful life full of blessings and fall into depression and self-loathing if your eyes are not fixed on Christ or you could have a difficult life with problems of all kinds and still serve your family and God with joy and peace. Mindset matters!
If you have moved recently, it could be very easy to bemoan everything you miss about your old state. You could lean into negative feelings of loneliness or sadness. I met someone the other day who had recently moved to Texas and all she did was complain. However, what was so telling was that she complained about her old state as well. This type of mentality makes it very difficult to find joy. If not checked, this type of toxic mindset can lead to a very scary downward spiral of discontentment.
On the flip side, if you are not able to move and you see many people you love leaving for a new state, it could be easy to have a mindset of self pity and feeling left behind. While both situations contain real emotions, we need to check our hearts and strive for contentment with the situation God has given us.
So, wherever God has placed you and whether you are walking through a valley or in a mountain top season, I pray that you fix your mind and emotions on the Lord. He is the only source of true joy. Filling our minds and hearts with truth and thankfulness is life-giving. This past year has solidified the understanding that mindset matters.
Cheers to our One Year Anniversary living in the Lone Star State! We feel so thankful and blessed to be here and we look expectantly to all that lies ahead in the coming years.