Well, we’re officially relocated to San Antonio. Although moving in the military isn’t as bad as moving in the civilian world (primarily because somebody packs you up and delivers your belongings to your new house, at their expense), it is still a major upheaval. We still don’t have renters in our house, and we are still in temporary housing (called TLF in the US Air Force world). On this base, we’re in a one bedroom apartment with pull out couch in the living room, a full kitchen, and a bathroom. The table is a ledge— fits the children, but not us, so we tend to eat on the couch in the living room. Worst of all, our dog Mollie isn’t allowed so she has to stay in a kennel.
People have asked me, how are your children handling the move? Here is what I want to tell them:
They are doing fine. They are a little more quick to anger, easily offended, unsure of boundaries, and a bit fearful of the unknown. It’s stressful, but it’s not unbearable, and in some ways it’s a grand adventure. In spite of the changes, they are taking their cues from mom and dad. We are the ones who set the tone here. So we intend to dwell on the good and not the stress. God helps children as well as adults to trust him, and we have found him faithful to do this.
- We talk repeatedly about how God put us here, like Asaph tells us to do in Psalm 78. I feel like a broken record, but it’s good for me and them to remind them: God has a house for us; we just haven’t found it yet. God put us in a state that has beautiful birds, didn’t he? God always leads us when we put him first; that’s why mommy and daddy are praying for wisdom to know where to live. That’s why mommy and daddy are spending so much time looking at houses. With these comments, we’re reminding them that God is actively involved in their lives, and that his direction is good.
- In our prayers, we’ve thanked God for his provision in the past, present, and future. Thank you for leading us to New Mexico, for leading us to a good church there. Thank you for our friends. Thank you for where you’ve sent us now. Thank you for the house you have for us and so on. The other night, Laurel prayed and thanked God for the TLF. Lee and I looked at each other and smiled. Truly– TLF could have been full, and we could be living in a small hotel room without a kitchen. We had been grumbling privately to ourselves about renters who backed out at the last minute, of obstacles, of Mollie in a kennel. Thankfulness reminds us that God has not forgotten us, that God is not capriciously withholding good. It helps mommy and daddy to trust, and when we repeat God’s blessings to our children, we are strengthened ourselves.
- We’ve reminded our children that they can be both sad and miss their friends, and happy at the new place God has placed us. Children quickly perceive fake cheerfulness. On the other hand, our wallowing in their sadness and the headache of moving likewise gives children a false picture of reality. Showing them that humans can feel more than one emotion at a time is giving them truth that they need to understand what they’re feeling and put it into the perspective of eternity. We’ve taken them to Philippians 1, where Paul’s longing for his brothers and sisters in Philippi motivate him to thank God for them and pray for them.
- We talk constantly about what’s going to happen next. For months we’ve been talking about a new place. We went early with our children to look for a church. It would have been much easier to leave our children behind when we went to San Antonio, but in the long run I’m glad we didn’t. As we talk and explain the process, they settle down. They wanted to know what was happening to our belongings, where they were, if the workers would play with their toys, if we were in a new house for good. What I discovered was that responding to them was more important than knowing the unknowable. For example– it’s stressful that we don’t know where we’re going to live. But we have explained that mom and dad are looking for the right house. We talked about the criteria– we are looking for a house that’s a wise use of God’s money, a house that we can use to serve the Lord with, a house that will be good for our family (including pets). Giving them this kind of information often before they ask has eased their minds, even in the midst of tremendous uncertainty. We know that as believers, we walk by faith and not by sight (II Corinthians 5:7). Nevertheless, our faith is not blind. We can truly rest in uncertainty because of our knowledge of God. Likewise, we give our children knowledge as a means of loving them and helping them to grow in their ability to trust their parents and God.
- Our children have needed many more hugs and physical closeness. I was with the children in the car, waiting for Lee to run an errand, when Laurel said quietly, “I miss our church people in New Mexico.” Comments like these remind me that the quick tears and tempers have a confounding factor, so I’m much more likely than normal to stop and address the whole issue, and not merely the anger or whining. On the other hand, I’ve had lots more than normal opportunities to deal with conflict and whining. 🙂 Remember our Good Shepherd? He gently leads his young.
- We’ve also kept the children busy. We spend several hours a day at the sand park near us. The girls have enjoyed helping with the laundry (the laundry room has front loading machines that they can reach easily). David has helped his dad run errands and work on the car a bit. Philippians 4:8 tells us that part of thinking right is filling our minds with good, profitable things, not merely emptying our minds of complaining and fear.
When Paul talked about his trials, he didn’t minimize or hide them. He did put them into the perspective of eternity. Each Christian faces difficulty in some fashion or another. We should not fear suffering or discomfort. Pray for me that I will be able to see those obstacles in the light of eternity, and then share that perspective with our children.
II Corinthians 4:7-18
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed— always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So then death is working in us, but life in you.
And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I believed and therefore I spoke,”we also believe and therefore speak, knowing that He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus, and will present us with you. For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God.
Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.