Well we have officially been in Illinois for a week now. It comes with so many mixed feelings. It comes with so many new decisions. Our first week here was more of a vacation. We had planned to be here that week a long time ago because my family was all going to be in town. It was emotionally confusing because I kept thinking at the end of the week we would make our 9.5 hour drive back to Little Rock, but reality kept hitting me that this is home now. Today is really the first day it’s starting to become “real”. Seth starts his new job today and Gracie & I are at my parent’s house alone. It’s beginning to hit me that we aren't going back and this is my home now.
The last week in Little Rock was HARD. Hard because we had to say goodbyes to so many precious friends. Hard because we were up so late packing night after night. Hard because we knew that it was our last week living in Little Rock. Hard because we did not quite know what was ahead of us. It was kind of chaotic to put simply.
I would not trade our two years in Little Rock for anything. God moved us there and taught us more than we could put in a book. He changed us and refined us. We are still a work in progress and this new chapter will continue that growth, I’m sure of it.
We had a couple weeks of “lasts” in Little Rock. We said a lot of goodbyes. It was full. We were blown away by the depth of friendships & community that God gave to us.
Here’s some of the goodbye’s/lasts:
-We did a bacon bomb with some of our dear friends. It was something Ted was telling Seth about one day and since that day Seth couldn't stop talking about it. What is a bacon bomb, you ask? You take a pound of bacon, weave it into a sheet and wrap that around a pound of sausage. Then grill it. A man’s dream? Yep. The fellowship with these sweet friends is truly what was the incredible part. We love you, friends!!
-My last get together with my Monday morning bible study ladies. What a send off. I arrived late due to Gracie’s 6 month appt. But I arrived to a beautiful lunch and sweet cards & gifts. We all sat around a beautiful kitchen table and shared about what lay ahead for the summer and what God was doing in our lives and our family’s lives. I just sat there listening to these women pour out the hearts and their wisdom and their desire to grow closer to God and I just soaked it in. These women were my friends- my sisters & my mom’s away from home. They walked me through pregnancy and the long days that followed after having Gracie. They brought me meals and cleaned my house and offered me continued reassurance that I could do this mom thing. They loved on me and poured on me wisdom that I will carry with me forever. I loved watching them do life. Some had babies, some had teens, some had children my age. But every Monday morning we would meet and get into the Word and share prayer requests and watch God work. We cried together and we laughed together. Ladies- I’m so eternally grateful for you. You’ve left an imprint on my heart that I will remember always.
-We had a last play date with our little friends. Brandi, Tracy & Em- I have loved walking through this mom & wife journey with you. I love watching you raise your babies and the way you teach them about Jesus already. I’m inspired and challenged as I hear you share about your struggles/victories in wifehood/momhood. Thanks for loving on my Gracie so well and for continually encouraging me that God will provide and give me wisdom and helping me figure out how to handle each new phase of raising my baby. I love you girls so much and see God in you radiantly!
-We had a last potluck with our Global team at FamilyLife. What an incredible group of people who are wholeheartedly seeking God and going to the ends of the earth to build families and marriages. We have learned SO much from simply watching y’all do life. Your work ethic, your hearts, your desire to teach us, you love for Jesus- it’s been incredible. We are honored and so blessed to have been a part of this team. You each have specific and unique gifts from God and it’s awesome to see how He uses such diverse personalities to function as a complete team. We will deeply miss you!
-To all of the individual friends- I won’t specifically name you but you know who you are. I miss you and I love you deeply. Thank you for the long walks of accountability and being a listening ear. Thank you for the long nights where we would stay way past too late having deep heart-to-heart conversations about life and struggles and victories and doing everything we could to stay awake because we wanted so badly to keep talking even though sleep was getting the best of us- thanks for asking such thoughtful questions and being so instrumental in our lives. Thanks for loving on Gracie and accepting her as one of the group and putting up with her spit up (no joke.) and crying fits in the middle of a restaurant. Thanks for helping us through the long recovery after having her and bringing us food and helping me recover. Thanks for inviting us to be a part of your “family” when holidays or birthdays, etc came around. Thanks for helping us with car fixes, computer fixes, physical therapy, nutrition, baby advice, spiritual milk & meat, babysitting Gracie, etc. Thanks for trusting us to share with us.
-To our small group- You showed us community like we never knew. You prayed through each wave and believed in God to provide. You were the hands and feet of Jesus. You showed up when people needed help, offered your skills and gifts, prayed & prayed. You showed us the beauty of transparency and vulnerability. You lifted us up countless times after Gracie was born- through the joys & sadness & challenges. You love Jesus so raw-ly and so intensely. Thank you. We miss you deeply & love you deeply!
-To our multiple mentors- thank you. Thanks for the emotional support & encouragement to work through difficult issues. Thanks for the wisdom in finances, in family, in marriage, in parenting, in work, in planning for the future, etc. Thanks for being a sounding board and stretching us out of our comfort zones because you knew it would grow us. We are so grateful for the love and time you poured into us.
-To PATH. You were SO hard to leave. If I could use one(ish) word to describe you it would be blown-away. I am blown away by how miraculously God is working and providing. It’s truly amazing and He is doing some out-of-this-world things. It hurts so badly to leave you because our hearts beat for the cause of ending human trafficking. We know this is something God has called us to and to be a part of you from the beginning has been nothing short of amazing. The friendships we’ve made with so many of you have been beautiful. We saw servant hearts here like we never saw before. People sacrificing their jobs and their comforts to give their time to building & creating this refuge. And what we saw all the time was complete joy in your serving. The many work days where it was hot and sticky and could’ve been down-right miserable- you worked with joy & no complaining. You gave your time, moved your families to be closer, poured out your hearts, met week after week planning and creating a program. You gave up weekend after weekend and still you had a pure joy. We are SO deeply impacted by your friendships- your realness, humor, love and passion for justice & redemption. We cannot wait to see how God continues to use this in your lives (and ours) and how He continues to grow PATH and bring forth the plans of good & redemption that He has.
-We did some “lasts” just us. We climbed pinnacle mountain one last time, went to favorite breakfast joint (a few times), got dressed up and went on a date to an awesome restaurant, took walks, etc.
-Monday girl’s group. L. I cry just thinking about leaving you. I really don’t have adequate words for how much I love you and how much I appreciate you. We’ve walked through life together- marriages, boyfriends, school, work, babies, struggles, victories. We studied God’s Word together, we cried a lot together, we laughed a lot together. I will always cherish the memories of walking into Aileen’s house every Monday night and sitting around her kitchen table together doing life. I will miss your soups and your salads, Aileen! You taught me so much about Jesus, being a wife, being a mom, being a daughter & a sister & a friend. You taught me how to sew (though I might have already forgotten!) and how to entertain well. You taught me how to be thrifty and content and make a home. You most importantly have taught me how to be free in Christ- through your words but more so through the way you live. Girls, we have prayed for each other and shared SO much together. Through it all, I am amazed at how God has worked in each of us. I don’t want to leave you, it hurts, BUT I know that God is doing awesome things in your lives and I will always be praying for you and cheering for you!
-Pregnancy Center ladies- you rock. Seriously, you’re amazing. What an incredible group of women who are giving up their lives to fight for life- not just for the babies but for the moms & dads as well. You amaze me with your perseverance and your love for these girls who walk in those doors. Your desire for good for them is so evident. Thanks for helping me through me pregnancy and having Gracie and all the awesome ultrasounds of her! I could name you all individually and speak so highly of you, but you know who you are and I love you dearly. I will miss seeing you on Wednesdays and will miss your friendships so much!!
-Little Rock- you were a completely shocking blessing. NEVER in my life did I ever think I would move there. My plans for my life were to move to Africa and be a missionary nurse and Seth do construction. Then God came in gently but powerfully and intervened. He instead moved us to Little Rock, AR. A place that will be forever dear to our hearts. A place where He took us and shook off a lot of things we clung to. Things that were strongholds and idols. Things that got in the way of loving each other well. It was not always pretty- in fact it was downright painful & excruciating at times. But the joys and victories and freedom we have found- I have no words but Thank You. Thank you Jesus for intercepting our lives and doing what You knew was best for us, even when it made no sense to us.
-This is not an exhaustive list. I know I forgot to include some. It’s just a list of some of the many gifts in my life. I appreciate, cherish and praise God for each one of you. Know that you blessed me more than I can write- I love you and I miss you. AND I know Heaven will be even more awesome someday knowing that I get to do it with each one of y’all.
A song that God continued to bring to my heart to comfort me through all of the chaos of those last few weeks was by Jon Thurlow called Fountains. In all of my confusion, sadness, anticipation, business, etc God continued to beckon me to keep coming back to Him. He didn't get sick of my ups and downs and slightly overbearing-at-times emotions, He just kept telling me to bring them to Him. I played this song over and over when I was driving or walking or packing and took such comfort in knowing He could handle it all
Here's a few pictures of some of the last days in Little Rock:
Our fancy date night! Thanks Miss Rhonda for babysitting :)
Our last climb up Pinnacle Mountain! Thanks Grandma&Grandpa Buchholtz for babysitting :)!
Krecia- my pregnancy buddy, i'll miss you and Carson! Loved my time with you at the CPC.
a few of the AMAZING crew that helped up pack & load our apartment in 103 degree heat. We cannot thank y'all enough for helping us clean, load, pack, babysit, etc. You are amazing. It takes a true friend to clean someone else's bathroom :)- love you.
Miss Rhonda- we love you girl. Thanks for all you have done for us and helping us with Gracie and babysitting her. You have a room waiting for you here :)
At a rest stop...it was a loong trip home. Seth drove the moving truck and I drove the minivan but got sick on the way home so it made for several stops!
We love you Little Rock and will always remember you!