Today is what Paul and I refer to as our “Tenniversary.”
June 28th is the anniversary of the day our family arrived in the south. We spent our first night in Nashville after a scorching three-day cross country drive in a much-too-packed suburban full of kids, boxes and a whole lot of hope.
Leaving California wasn’t easy.
We left with only three of our four kids. Our oldest was a college grad who wanted to stay in Los Angeles. Boy howdy, that was tough.
We’d felt the nudges of moving for awhile, but Texas was where we thought we were supposed to be. Tennessee was a two year process of praying and planning.
I come from a long line of Californians who came to the west coast in the early 1900s. They left Europe for a better life, never to see their families again. Planting themselves in California, never to depart, not for anything, no matter what.
The last to leave everyone for a better opportunity was my great-grandma. A teenager of nineteen, she boarded a ship for America and never came home. I wished from time to time I could ask her about what she’d felt like then. A move like ours was unprecedented since she’d left Croatia.
Seven years ago, our silver Chevy Suburban drove in to Nashville on the hottest June 28th in Tennessee history and I worried it was an omen of awful days to come. Thankfully, I was wrong. I hesitate to sound like that “crazy Christian lady” who over spiritualizes everything, but to say anything else would be dishonest. God opened door after door and poured out blessing after blessing when we parked our car here.
It Wasn’t Always Easy
Things weren’t always easy, like making new friends in my middle age, or watching my kids make new friends in junior high. Our family went through hard times in more ways than I can write, but He was overwhelmingly, over-abundantly faithful.
We’ve had hundreds of friends and family stay with us over the years. (Yes, hundreds) We’ve shared over and over and over all the things the Lord has done for us since we’ve been in Tennessee. For those who don’t want to hear us talk about Jesus, we share the financial benefits; this seems to appease their appetite for information.
The truth is, faith has been the biggest factor and the greatest lesson for us and I pray for our kids.
Our move here opened up the idea of walking by faith one step at a time wherever God is pointing, trusting that He will catch us every step of the way. People talk about that all the time, but how many of us truly do it?
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. James 1:22
Arriving in Tennessee
Our bank account was not bulging at the seams as some would want to believe. And, while I am NOT a “name it and claim it” kind of Christian, only after we packed up our home in California, drove for days and stepped into this state did the Lord bless us financially with work for my husband. We had no idea how that money was going to happen for us. We rented when we arrived. But, that first year God provided financially in ways He never had before.
Money to pay the bills was a huge relief, but it wasn’t the greatest blessing.
Our time with family and friends who now come to visit for days at a time has been the sweetest thing.
The hurried lives we led back in California gave us no time to really spend together. A phone call or a passing birthday party where we had a few minutes here and there is not even close to the time we’ve been able to spend with aunts, uncles, cousins and friends since arriving here. It’s been the best part of leaving.
The more we know about what’s happening in our home state of California, the more we want to share Tennessee with everyone we love. But, the truth is, this is where the Lord brought us not them. It may not be where He brings our loved ones. You can’t blame me for wanting to collect everyone I love and bring them close.
Our move has been our best decision but it was God’s decision first. Paul and I reflect on days like this one, and all the work that went into getting here. We laugh about it now, that we didn’t listen to California friends who tried to warn us of the humidity, tell us, “Nothing is any different there.”, or the naysayers who told us, “You’ll be back.”
What I’ve Learned So Far
My children are all grown up now. These are the lessons I learned from our cross-country leap of faith. The same ones I’d share with you if we were talking together over coffee:
Faith in God grows when you don’t just read about faith but walk it out.
You don’t have to live somewhere just because future generations chose to live there.
Your family needs must come first, before coworkers and classmates, friends and relatives.
Your kids will grow up, so take God’s hand and make your own way.
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