My husband, 5 kiddos, and I have now been in Texas for 7 months. In some ways it feels like we’ve always been here. In other ways many things still feel very new and uncertain. I was thinking about what I’ve learned now that we are over half a year into living in our new state and here are a few things that came to mind.
Hard things are still hard things:
It is tempting to think that a move to a new state will help erase problems. Now, while it can definitely help fix some things, it will never fix ALL the things. For our family, our quality of life has drastically improved since moving from a blue state to a red state. We were able to buy a bigger home. My husband has a better job. We enjoy a lower cost of living. And we benefit from living in a state that overall has more conservative policies.
However, there is always a cost to pay. There are people and places to miss. There are always tradeoffs and I have found that I have had to train my heart (by God’s continual grace) to be OK with those tradeoffs. Understanding this has helped me greatly in avoiding discontentment because at the end of the day, problems will remain. Your children will still disobey. Arguments and flat tires will still happen. Sickness, pain, and sorrow will always be a part of life.
In the spirit of honesty, this past month has been incredibly difficult for our family. It has been full of weeks of sickness, my dad having brain surgery, our van breaking down, our beloved dog passing away, and my husband having a few out of town work trips that leave me single-mommying it for a few days at a time. These things are hard. They are normal and messy and just part of life. But they are also really hard.
The reason I share this is not to have a pity party for myself, but to help reiterate that while living in a new state (especially a red state) can bring many benefits; we still live in a fallen, broken world and thus life will still bring its fair share of hard things.
It’s OK to miss things:
Sometimes I will be driving in my car and say to myself, a little bit in shock, “I live in Texas now!” Most days, life flows along rather smoothly and I forget that we are thousands of miles away from family and friends in California. Texas truly has begun to feel like home and we are so thankful to be living here. However, there are times when it hits like a ton of bricks and the reality that we are creating a new life in a new state can feel really heavy.
There have been a few church services we have attended, that I would find my eyes welling up with tears as I sang a hymn because I was so overwhelmed with missing our old church. Or I have found myself grieving that my kids’ friends from California weren’t able to be at their birthday parties this year. The truth is that two things can be true at the same time. I can be immensely thankful with our new life in our new state and also miss people and things that we left behind in our old state.
Lots of life stays the same:
Lots of life just stays life. This isn’t a bad thing, it’s just reality. Your surroundings have changed but the groceries still need to be purchased, the dishes still need to be washed, and the kids still need to be taken care of. Work still has to be completed and the bills still need to be paid. You will find a new routine and old habits will flow along with you in your new home. You’ll still have dinner together, but the dining room just might look different. You will still go on your daily walks, but the neighborhood will be new and different.
Life has a way of just continuing to flow along and to fill up, no matter what your address may be. I have found that this reality has actually brought a great deal of comfort to my daily life. Normal routine can add an instant comfort to living in a new state and home.
Relationships take time:
This might seem like a no-brainer, but if it’s been a minute since you’ve had to build a new community, like it was for me, it sure feels daunting. Digging new roots takes time. It can also be uncomfortable and stretching. And it isn’t just my husband and I that are working on creating a new community and building new relationships. My kids have also had to start new schools. They have had to meet new neighbors and make new friends.
Some of this has been fun and some of it has been hard. In our new neighborhood, they have neighbor friends all down the street. There is always a neighbor friend ringing the doorbell to ask if they can come outside and play. This has been a sweet blessing of our new neighborhood and very unlike our California neighborhood. However, building relationships with school friends and church friends is just going to take time.
I will say as a source of encouragement, that the sweet fellowship of fellow believers is balm for the soul. While we still are very new to our church and making true friends will take time, it is still so encouraging to feel an instant connection to the body of Christ.
Plan for guests:
This has been a fun realization. When we first moved, I hoped people would visit but you just never know what time and money will allow. We have been blessed with lots of visitors. We have had so much fun hosting each of them.
In November alone, we had my mom come visit and the day after she flew out, our close friends and their three kids came to visit. We hosted my family for Christmas. We had my best friend, her mom, and 2 daughters live with us for a few weeks while they were waiting for their home here to be ready to move into. We had my husband’s mom and step dad visit in their amazing massive RV. I am looking forward to hosting many more people (come visit!). This has been one huge blessing that having a larger home has offered us.
If you want more inspiration or practical tips on hosting overnight guests read Tennessee rambler Erika’s post here http://redstateramblings.com/overnight-hospitality-3-simple-tips/.
I still have so much to learn and so many ways to grow as we continue down the journey of making Texas our home. I look forward with hopeful eyes to what the future holds for my family and I, not because this world offers any hope but because we follow a faithful God. Wherever God has led you, whether it’s to move to a red state or stay where you are, may you be encouraged to remain faithful where God has you.