I arrived in Chattanooga with my arms open wide.
Eager for adventure.
It's an odd thing how the Lord works in your life, though; it's rarely what you imagine it will look like.
When we had arrived in our previous home town, we had no family or friends, were married just over a year and excited about the possibilities.
Our pages were unwritten and I couldn't wait to fill them in living color.
I don't think our dreams were particularly big; they were simple, American dreams, the stuff of Happy Days set in the 80s and 90s. Traditional.
Pre-internet, and for God's sake, pre-social media over-sharing.
No, make that over-comparing. At least we didn't have that going against us.
The day after we moved into our townhouse, another young couple moved in below us. I remember peeking out the window to spy on them. The next week I baked brownies and took them downstairs to meet our neighbors, another young couple married with no kids.
In time, they would become life friends, the kind connected by the heart where geograpy knows no bounds.
We were off to a good start.
Over the next ten years our roots grew deep and strong. I found a job quickly, then a year later a dream job found me. I worked right until the day before giving birth to our first baby.
Two sons would join our daughter over the next four years.
We'd become church servers and church leaders, and eventually I even worked at our church.
Our circle of friends was large; with the exception of our dear neighbors, we met all of them at church.
We worshipped together, retreated together, traveled together, double- and triple-dated together, had babies together (well, not together, but you know what I mean)--a whole lot of together.
Stage of life and common faith united us. Kindred threads bound us tight.
After 10 years, my husband considered a job opportunity that would take us to Greenville, SC, closer to his familiy. We were serious enough about it to drive around town and scout neighborhoods.
I remember feeling sick to my stomach.
There was no way I was moving to that place. It felt foreign, strange, unfamiliar. I gripped our hometown with white knuckles and iron fist. It wasn't just me, my husband agreed at the time.
(Ironies abound in this:
- 18 months ago we found ourselves living in Germany, a truly foreign, strange and unfamiliar place.
- today if you asked me where I would live if I could choose anywhere in the Southeast, my answer would be Greenville, SC
Hilarious. Or not.)
Anyway, we returned home from that career-fishing trip sure about staying right where we were. Life was good. We were happy. We had a great church and wonderful friends--why in the world would we want to mess with that?
And then slowly and at times painfully, God loosened my grip on our precious little, South Carolina hometown. Things changed at church setting into motion cracks in our perfect world. Friends moved. Friendships shifted or fractured. Jobs were affected. 9-11 happened.
The entire world was spinning out of control.
There were still good things and wonderful people in our lives, but they were getting harder to see.
In around three years time, I had gone from wild horses can't drag me away to get me the hell out of here!
When opportunity knocked on our door to move to Chattanooga, to say we were thrilled is understatement. A great job in a beautiful town? The only downsides were moving farther from family and having to start over at 40.
What could possibly go wrong?
So, yes, I arrived in Chattanooga with my arms open wide...
The subsequent ten years would prove to be the hardest of my life.
to be continued....
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