How to Make a New Home When You Can’t Stay Where You’ve Been

Our family moved into a new home in a new neighborhood. And then one week later, we left.

One step forward, two steps back…

Actually, we left for vacation – 26 hours of driving back to what still feels like home, but isn’t, and to places where our history still tugs on our heartstrings, but can’t be our present reality

The relief of welcoming arms, long-term friendships, and family relationships embraced us like the salty air: cool, comfortable, and without pretense.

There's something so refreshing about not needing to make a first impression. Click To Tweet

When life changes happen (like a ministry move, a significant loss, or a job transfer) a new normal is thrust upon us. We have an immediate choice to adapt – or not. Depending on the circumstances, we can choose to dive in to the startingover of life, and the writing of a new chapter. Or we can resist by clinging to what once was.

How to Make a New Home

We’ve moved a lot in the twenty years we have been married. I’ll be the first to admit that, in my twenties, these moves were exciting. My husband and I lived on the precipice of adventure when we were young. We looked at ministry relocation and a new home with great anticipation.

But as I’ve gotten older, (and now that we have moved away several times from people and jobs we have loved dearly), I have a keen sense of the amount of energy it takes to start life all over again. 

And this is kind of where I have sat for the past 11 months since we started over…again. 

Two new houses (first a rental, now our own), new neighborhoods, new ministry, new country… Each footstep has felt measured, like it just might take the last bit of energy that I have.

But I’ve still taken the steps…

I’ve had to, otherwise I would sink under the weight of my own resistance. 

So, how do you make a new home when circumstances dictate that you can’t stay where you’ve been? Here are some key steps I take. In fact, I will be taking many of these as soon as we get back to our new home from vacationing at our old one…

Seven Crucial Steps to Make a New Home
  • Tie Some Ribbons Before You Leave

The reality is that things don’t stay the same. The people you are leaving behind will keep on living and changing, just like you will. As you prepare to move, wrestle with the sadness of leaving, and allow some closure to come to your relationships.

A few will rise to the surface as friendships you will be willing to cultivate from a distance over the long haul. You’ll know which ones those are. For the rest, spend time thanking God for the season you’ve had together, and have open conversations that display your gratitude for the relationship you’ve had.

Give yourself permission to tie a bow on this segment of your life before moving on.

  • Drive, Walk, Sit

If you have the luxury of time to house hunt, and the ability to spend time in your new area for a bit, take advantage of it! Drive all over, walk through neighborhoods, sit in parks. What personality do different areas have? Where do you feel the most you?

I was fortunate enough to be able to pair house-hunting with teaching one of my sons to drive. With a willing chauffeur who needed to accrue driving hours, we ran the roads and got a great feel for the areas that felt most like us.

God is already in this next season ahead of you, and He can place people perfectly. Be patient to seek Him in this. Drive, walk, and sit until He shows you where to put down your roots.

  • Allow Yourself to Dream

There are always things to feel a little nervous about when heading into a new chapter. But don’t allow fear of the unknown to overshadow your hopes of what might be. Be proactive to dream.  Joy comes in the morning.

What stages of life will you (and your family members if you have them) potentially celebrate in this new home? Is this going to be a developing season, or a simplifying one? What milestones might be coming up in the next few months or years? Ask God the help birth dreams in your heart and mind for what is to come.

Once you figure out where to live, let your imagination run wild about how to permeate your home with your personality. Large renos or small DIY projects give you permission to invest your heart and soul into your new home. Joanna Gaines is my hero in this regard, sharing great insights about it in The Magnolia Story. Whether you are a professional decorator or not, let your personality shine!

  • Consider Your Potential Impact

It’s so easy to approach a move to a new home with a list of our own needs. But what if we came to it from the standpoint of the potential impact we might have there? Could God have a specific community for us to pour into?

Spend time considering what gifts you bring to the table. How might you most naturally impact the people in the neighboring apartments or houses at your new home?

Check out The Art of Neighboring: Building Genuine Relationships Right Outside Your Door to get an awesome perspective about your call to your neighbors. What new relationships might God be preparing for this next season of life? Where might God want us to let joy loose? When we approach home shopping from the perspective of our potential impact in addition to our own needs, I guarantee we will look at our neighborhoods with different eyes.

  • Ask and Listen

People love to be heard. Your new neighbors all have stories they’ve lived and stories their lives are still writing. The very best thing you can do to show them value is to learn them. Ask questions, and pay rapt attention to their answers. You are being written in.

And come to these conversations prepared to share a bit of yourself too. If the people around your new home are people God has placed in your life, it’s easier to dive right in than to let the awkward silence happen…you totally know what I mean! 🙂

  • Allow Yourself to Re-visit

From my moving experiences, it’s best not to return to the place you’ve left right away. But it is important to re-visit at some point, if you are able. I’d recommend waiting at least a year.

Two things are important about this return:

1) It is a good touch-point with people you know and love. It allows you to be able to share, face-to-face, what God has been doing in your lives.

2) It also helps you see the reality that things don’t stay the same. The place and people you left are not frozen in time, waiting for you to come back. Seeing that they’ve moved on gives permission for you to do so as well.

  • Learn From Where You’ve Been

Some of us have moved a dozen or more times. Others have planted deep roots and intend to remain forever. Still, change may be coming. And either way, the past not only impacts our future, it prepares us for it.

What things about your former home did you love that you can bring to your new home? What life changes can you make right now for this new season? What mistakes can inform your next steps, and what best practices can you bring forward?

The rearview mirror is a great coach, but we need to keep our eyes on the windshield. Click To Tweet

Learn from where you’ve been, but embrace the adventure of the road ahead.

Make a new home

One Step Forward…

Sometimes change is thrust upon us. We usually have a choice about how to respond to it. Whatever it is that brings about the move to a new home, find God in it. His joy will be there too. Each of these seven steps may need to be taken one at a time, but each will help in the process of discovering a new normal in a new chapter. So start by taking that first step; it’s exciting to consider what God might do.

Your turn:  What advice do you have for people getting ready to settle in to a new normal in a new home? Comment below!

Elizabeth Joy

 

Moving Neighborhoods (and bringing joy there too)

It has been about ten months since we made the trek from the Canadian East Coast to the Midwest. And it was right about then that we “settled” into a new neighborhood. Being here has taught me some things about being a good neighbor. But the time has come to uproot again. It is time for moving neighborhoods. Thankfully, this time, our move is only 3 miles down the road.

Moving Neighborhoods

Over the last 5 days since we closed on our new home, I have made that trek dozens of times, each time aware that we are picking up and planting again. We are replacing “temporary” with “permanent”. Or, at least the kind of permanent that is possible in ministry–this will be our twelfth home in twenty years. We are so looking forward to settling in our own place.

Moving Neighborhoods

There is disarray right now in both homes. Boxes and paper everywhere! But as I drive under the canopy of trees that has become my favorite route to our new place, I’m reminded we are covered by the love of the Lord. The stresses that can accompany the packing and unpacking, the loading and unloading, quickly dissipate. As I pass the community pool, I’m aware there are so many families here we don’t know. As I see my current neighbors in their yards, I’m reminded of their warm welcome and the community they have with each other, and this inspires me to build community in my new neighborhood.

And, it doesn’t go without saying that, each time I pull into our new driveway, I’m profoundly aware of the provisions of our good Father.

It seems appropriate that at our church we soon move in to a series on The Art of Neighboring: Building Genuine Relationships Right Outside Your Door. The Lord’s timing never fails to amaze me. We best express genuine love in driveways, on front porches, and around dinner tables

We best express genuine love in driveways, on front porches, and around dinner tables. Click To Tweet

So, Joy Let Loose may seem a bit quiet for a little while as we are moving neighborhoods. But I pray God’s joy will let loose through our family. 

Elizabeth Joy

Summer Reading List: What Are You Reading This Summer? 

Summer is for sandy skin, cold lemonade, and summer reading. It’s for wind-blown hair, cousin-time, bonfires and fireworks. I simply LOVE the summer! 

We are in a particularly busy season of life where one son and I have both started new jobs, and our family is just about to move in to a new house. But vacation is right around the corner. BLESS God! It’s a twenty-six hour drive, but I can’t wait to go to some of our usual summer places and see lots of people we love.

Summer reading list

Summer Reading

And did I mention summer reading? My list for this summer is eclectic. These aren’t to resource me professionally. I read a lot for that already. For summer, I want to stay a little bit lighter. Instead, some are books that will encourage my  joy journey. And others are to help me creatively with decorating our new home. But no matter the book, I’m excited for them to become sandy and wind-blown by the breeze! I also love the portability of an e-reader, and stashing it quickly in my bag when it’s time to jump in the ocean. I have a beach bag similar to this that has always served me well. But hardcover, paperback, or Kindle – I’m game!

Summer Reading Recommendations

I wanted to share some of my summer reading plans with you. Some of the books here I’ve already read, and plan to hit up for a second round, with fresh eyes. A few I’m letting you know about even before I read them, but they’ve been recommended to me by people or sources I totally trust. Watch for updates or reviews as I make it through.

Since I’m part of the Amazon Affiliates program (see my disclosure in the sidebar) you’ll see lots of links throughout this post.

Home and Heart Renovations:

The Magnolia Story by Chip & Joanna Gaines (2016)

I’m not going to lie: I fangirl over Chip and Joanna Gaines. Their rapport, their family, their style, their humility – I love it all. And I’ve already read this book. (Actually, I devoured it just last month.) But I’m going to pop it in my summer reading bag to go through it again, it’s that good. I love how it chronicles the hard work and risks, trust and courage it took for this couple to establish their business, and how through it all, their hearts of generosity, compassion, and humility shine through. 

Also, Joanna’s style inspires me, and will hopefully inspire some ideas in our new home. (Wow, do I wish we were in Waco!) I’ll likely pick up some copies of The Magnolia Journal Magazine  too for visual inspiration! 

Choosing to See (2011)

This is a heart reno book. I have a feeling this is one I may read once every 2 years or so. I inhaled it back when it first came out, and again a year or two later. It is the story of Mary Beth Chapman and her journey of grief after losing her sweet daughter, Maria, in a tragic accident. Even though it is not a literary masterpiece, it is the kind of honest that reminds the reader of God’s faithfulness at all times. I believe it will encourage the downtrodden, and help equip the one who hasn’t experienced difficulty yet.

501 Ideas Under $100

I’m excited about our new home, but there’s no denying we are going in on a limited budget. When we purchased our last house in 2013, we gutted and renovated the whole thing. This time, there is no need to renovate, as the house is only 10 years old and has been well maintained. So our ideas can go more to decorating. I think I’ll pick up something like this to help me brainstorm on the beach when I don’t have WiFi. Even though it’s a little older, I think it may spark some decorating hacks that will be useful.

Interior Design: Interior Design Basics (2017)

There is a Kindle version of this book I think I’ll pick up. I don’t know that I’d go so far as to pay for the paperback version, but at less than $3, I figure there’s not much to lose. And since it just came out in 2017, I’m hopeful the information in it will be relevant. I’ve renovated and decorated before, as I mentioned, but there’s always more to learn. And without WiFi for a while this summer, Pinterest won’t be my go-to! 

Question for you: What are your favorite Home and Heart Renovation resources?

Joy Journey Books:

Surprised By Joy – (new edition 2017)

I’m a C.S. Lewis fan, and I’m so excited there is a new edition of his book “Surprised by Joy”. This is a memoir about his journey toward Jesus, originally part of a 1955 autobiography, and then published in 1966. What I like about C.S. Lewis is how applicable his writings are still today. And I also love learning about the man behind the Narnia series (oh please promise me, if you haven’t read these yet, that you’ll add them to your summer reading list!), and the genius Screwtape Letters

Experiencing Contagious Joy – Women of Faith Series (2016)

I’ve read some books before and done some studies from Women of Faith series, and they’ve been good. But I was excited to see that there is a more recent one that centers on  Contagious Joy, and I’m looking forward to reading it. Have any of you ever read this one?

The Circle Maker – Mark Batterson

I had the opportunity a year or two ago to hear Mark Batterson share about his own journey praying circles around big dreams, and I received this book as a gift for Christmas. I’ve been waiting to read it until I have the time and the headspace to take it in. But I’ve only heard amazing reviews from friends about how powerful this book is, and how it can revolutionize our faith to believe God and pursue Him for huge Kingdom things. I recently also discovered that there is a companion 40 Day Prayer Challenge This might be something for the Fall!

Question for you: Do you have big dreams or big fears to circle?

 

Well there you have it: My Top 7 Summer Reading Plans. I’m almost ready to pack my beach bag. But first, I have to pack up my house! 

 

How about You? What Are you reading this summer?

Elizabeth Joy

Friday Fun (It’s the Little Things): Fancy Progressive Dinner

The weekend is here, which means it’s time for Friday Fun on  Joy Let Loose! This week I was remembering a Fancy Progressive Dinner my husband and I were part of many years ago. And I thought, “Why on earth have we not done that again?!” Because it was REALLY fun!

So because I want to do it again, I want to share it with you and invite you to think about doing it too! 

Fancy Progressive Dinner

Fancy Progressive Dinner

First, start by planning out your guest list. Who would really get into something like this? Is there a family you are trying to get to know? Add them in! This will work best with about four couples (or families) who live relatively close to each other.

Then, create your invitations digitally, or on paper.

Here’s what you might want to say:

It’s time for some Friday Fun!

What: Fancy Progressive Dinner

When: Friday, _________

Where: All of our houses!

  • Family #1 provides their home and the appetizers from 5:30-6:15pm
  • Family #2 provides the main course at their home from 6:30-8:00pm
  • Family #3 provides dessert and coffee a their home from 8:15-9:15pm
  • Family #4 provides their home & munchies/games from 9:30-end.

It’s going to be Fancy! So let’s pull out our best dishes and put on our fanciest clothes for a night on the “town”.

The Menu

Next, work together with the other people (a week or two in advance) to co-ordinate your menu. You want to find items that complement each other well, but also have options that work for everyone. Once the items are finalized, create menu cards to display on each table. I’ve created a sample menu you can use if you like it!

Fancy Progressive Dinner Menu

Download the PDF free!

The set-up

A while back, I posted about Family Traditions. Several of them could come in to play with this Friday Fun activity, including helping your kids learn how to properly set the table, and having conversation starters at each house. After all, it is never too early (or too late!) to learn proper etiquette, and the safety of friends’ homes is a great place for that. Also, spills and broken dishes are always forgivable; lifelong lessons need practice.

Spills and broken dishes are always forgivable; lifelong lessons need practice. Click To Tweet
Other ideas

There are as many ways to do a Fancy Progressive Dinner as there are people to dream them up. Get creative! Here are just a few ideas to start you off:

  • Base your evening on a Roaring Twenties theme, complete with swing jazz, mint juleps, and Gatsby-inspired fonts.
  • Follow an Indian theme, including flavorful curries and sweet punjabi lassi.
  • Make it a black-tie night, and make all of your decor black & white.
  • Incorporate a mystery party that requires numerous locations.

The possibilities are endless!

Fancy Progressive Dinner Follow-Up

Finally, it’s always a great idea to follow up a dinner party with a proper “Thank You!” And in this case, where several families had to open their homes and provide part of the meal, I’d suggest it is a definite must! Allow leftover menu cards to double as Thank You notes, and pop them in the mail 1-2 days after the event. Because the more you can show people value, the more they are built up. And the more people are encouraged to open their homes and build community, the more they will desire it. After all, it’s in the little things that we often discover joy. And it’s in community that we best let our joy loose.

It’s your turn: Have you done a progressive dinner before? What ideas do you have? Leave a note in the comments below.

Elizabeth Joy

 

 

4 Lies that Steal Our Joy (& the Truth that Sets Us Free)

Joy is real. It’s an actual wellspring that can sustain us, strengthen us, and spill over to people around us. Joy is promised to us in Scripture, so why do so many of us feel we have lost it? What is it that comes along to steal our joy?

A primary reason is that there is an enemy that is real whose goal is to steal our joy. His lifeblood is to steal, kill and destroy. His nature is to lie. What greater power could he have over us than to deceive us, stripping us of confidence, and silencing our wellspring of joy?

Thankfully, we can identify lying thoughts, take them captive, and make them obedient to Christ. For the good of our souls, it is absolutely essential that we name the lies, and replace them with Truth.

For the good of our souls, it is essential that we name lies and replace them with Truth. Click To Tweet

 

At  Joy Let Loose, we passionately pursue the kind of life that explodes with joy. So we want to help identify 4 Lies that Steal Our Joy (& the Truth that Sets Us Free.) It takes practice, and often a whole lot of accountability, to recognize, name, and replace the lies. But I promise you that freedom and joy lie on the other side!

4 Lies that Steal Our Joy
(& the Truth that Sets Us Free)

4 Lies that Steal Our Joy

 

  • Lie #1:  I am less than… 

Oh, how easy it is to look at ourselves in light of everyone else! It’s incredibly simple for the enemy to gain access to our perspective as soon as we begin to evaluate how _____ we are compared to anyone else. Have you experienced this?

                                      I’m not:

pretty enough

smart enough

thin enough

energetic enough

spiritual enough

young enough

______ enough…

It takes very little time for a comparison mindset to steal the wind from our sails and suck our joy dry. But Scripture is clear that we only need to see ourselves in light of Jesus Christ. In Romans, Paul says that if we follow Jesus, then the Holy Spirit testifies with our spirits that we are God’s children, and co-heirs with Christ. As a co-heir, we are joined with Him–adopted as God’s sons and daughters–and compared only to Him.

Truth: I Am Enough

God says that we are enough.  Psalm 139 says we are fearfully and wonderfully made. God’s gift of grace in Jesus Christ to rescue us from sin and transform us in to His likeness demonstrates pure, unrestrained love.

The next time the lie comes to your mind that you are not ____ enough, capture it. Name it as a lie. And replace it with the Truth that God sees you, chooses you, and loves you enough to call you His own son or daughter. He sees you as welcome and wonderful enough to join with Jesus.

God sees you, chooses you, and loves you enough to call you His own son or daughter. Click To Tweet

 

  • Lie #2:  I don’t have enough…

I’ve lived lots of places. Most of them have been in (North American) depressed economies. But God recently called us to minister in a very wealthy area. Feeling out of place? A little! But I’ve found that it doesn’t matter whether I live around luxury or lack, the enemy still likes to throw darts about it.

When I had to rely on WIC to afford milk for our kids, I thought, “I don’t have enough.” When we struggled to pay for car repairs or to fill the tank, “I don’t have enough.” When our oil bill exceeded our mortgage payment…same thoughts.

But in those seasons of scarcity, God proved again and again that He is enough. His repeated, miraculous provision through the hands of the generous showed me that, in fact, I had so much that I could overflow it to others. When bank statements made no sense, still there was just enough for us not to sink. When we were not sure how we would make it to another pay-check, bags of groceries and plentiful harvest would be waiting on our porch. 

Recently, we bought a house. The house-hunting process in a wealthy area proved to be a tempting place to begin to say, “I don’t have enough..” But I’ve learned not to pine after what I can’t have, and to be content with what is possible. And high in the mountains of Haiti, I was reminded again that He is enough. And not only do I have enough, I have enough for others too. I will not be defeated by a poverty mindset. My God provides.

I will not be defeated by a poverty mindset. My God provides. Click To Tweet
Truth: My God Provides

So whether you are in a season of luxury or one of lack, be wary of your thoughts. Gratitude and contentment are always possible as we lean into the Lord’s provision. Challenge the lie that you don’t have enough with the truth that He will provide for all of your needs in Christ Jesus.

 

  • Lie #3:  My circumstance Means no joy…

Let’s face it: life is plain hard. Many of us struggle against realities we never dreamed possible, and navigate circumstances that seem too much to bear. Energy gets zapped, hope seems lost, and a joyful perspective seems impossible to find again. But our joy is not dependent on circumstances alone. In fact, it is dependent on our God.

In a previous post, I quoted Dallis Willard who said that joy is “not pleasure, a mere sensation, but a pervasive and constant sense of wellbeing. It claims our entire body and soul, both the physical and the non-physical side of the human self.”(1)  Abiding joy is what causes the widow to turn toward God for solace, and makes the cancer patient intent on leaning in to each remaining moment. 

Truth: Joy Disregards Circumstances

Our circumstances might dampen our feelings of happiness, but the wellbeing that is found in Jesus will not be shaken.  Joy remains. We must peer through the fog to remember it and lean on its strength. When Isaiah prophesied in Chapter 52 that deliverance was coming, he instructed the Israelites to lean in to the promise of salvation, and to take off chains and shout for joy, even as they waited. They weren’t to hold out for rescue before they rejoiced about it.  

Joy disregards circumstances. And our disciplined rejoicing in faith can yield the fruit of abundant joy. So the next time your life circumstances threaten your wellbeing, and the enemy whispers to you that your joy is lost, refuse to believe it. Claim the truth that the joy of the Lord is your strength, and lean in to it.

Claim the truth that the joy of the Lord is your strength. And then lean in to it. Click To Tweet

 

  • I’m just not a joyful person…

I know people whose nature is to exude happiness. Their thanksgiving is inspiring and their energy is boundless. I know others who express joy through patience and contentment. Still others depict joy in their compassion and generosity. It takes on different forms, and is not a one-size-fits-all quality.

Joy is a God-like trait, and a fruit that grows in us as we grow closer to the Lord. It becomes our very nature as we are transformed to be like Jesus. I am introverted in personality, and even-keel in temperament, so I have often thought I may not be joyful. I’ve questioned where my joy is. But Scripture shows joy in many forms: it looks like perseverance in trial, exuberance in praise, confidence and gratitude for God’s provision, and deep and abiding faith.

Truth: My Joy is Unique

So, when you are tempted to think you are not a joyful person, shake off your one-size-fits-all definition. Your joy is unique. Joy doesn’t look just one way – it is not only exuberant, chipper, and boisterous. Instead, remind yourself that joy also abides, remains steadfast, believes fully, and bears patiently. Ask the Lord to restore to you the joy of your salvation.

4 Lies That Steal Our Joy
(& the Truth that Sets Us Free)

 

Lies & Truth

Joy, my friends, grows in us as we grow in Christ. It is bold and it is active. The enemy of our souls is a thief and a deceiver., and he wants to steal our joy. So I pray today that you will see fruit in your lives from unearthing these 4 Lies that Steal Our Joy (& the Truth that Sets Us Free.)

How about you? How do you take thoughts captive and claim what is true? 

Elizabeth Joy