Tag Archives: dallas

Falling in Love Again

flowers

I grew up in Nebraska, went to school in Arkansas, and moved immediately after college to Texas.  I birthed all of my kids in Texas and created a lovely suburban life in Texas.

Then, in an act that MANY thought was crazy, we moved our family to the northeast to experiment with life a bit.  After several months years of massive culture shock, I found a rhythm.  I fell in love with a city.  With her people.  With a region.  With an honest, raw life.
* We lived on an unusual street populated with people passionate about making their neighborhood better, committed to each other, and endlessly creative with ways to do both.
* We found a crazy-good church filled with open armed, lovely people who spent their energy attempting to draw my kids to deeper things, and attempting to radically transform our city with acts of service and love.
* My husband started a business that was flooded with accolades and honor, with nothing but fulfillment and financial potential.  It was the completion of a long-held dream and was a source of continual expression of his relational and professional gifts.
* We benefitted from the culture and brilliance of a town that was the home of Yale University.  We regularly attended jazz festivals in the town green, participated in arts and idea festivals in various venues around town, went to concerts and plays, got our kids golf lessons at the Yale golf course and found a Yale graduate as a Spanish tutor for our boys.
* And don’t get me started reminiscing about the breathtaking seasons, orchards, and ocean.

WE changed – were transformed by this place.  We were reintroduced to a reality from which we had insulated ourselves.  We were challenged by the tough questions of faith.  We were encouraged to rethink community, social mission, politics, social transformation, hospitality, traditions, among many, many others.  We aggressively worked to break down the “us” versus “them” mentality.  We fought fear, financial lack, and culture.

And then God asked us to leave it all.  Just when this foreign land became familiar and I became fluent in the language of the region, when the work that we’d invested was beginning to pay off and life wasn’t such a struggle, we were uprooting.

When the initial job offer was received and I quieted myself enough to ask God what His vision was for us, the direction He gave me was, “If this earth is your home, of course you’d stay and reap the benefit of your years of toiling; however, if heaven is your home, then I’m asking you to take what you’ve learned and build up another work of mine in Dallas.”

I fully believe that my investment on this earth is to build God’s kingdom, meaning that my efforts are directed towards eternal things.  To me, it is pretty clear delineation – this earth is not my home.  There were other reasons that formed a case as to why we felt that we should move, but this directive was always in my mind.

So we moved.  We hit the ground running and I felt really hopeful about what might be here for me and my family.

downtown-dallas-from-the-trinity-river_l

But the other day as I was reflecting on our short time here, the Lord stopped me and exposed a part of my heart to me that I had effectively covered. I’d moved – but if I was really honest, I hadn’t allowed room in my heart for ALL that Dallas is.  On the surface, I was helping my kids land well, showing them the joys of living in a large metroplex, exploring our new environment and investing in our church community.  But on the inside, I realized that I was looking over my shoulder quite a bit.  I was resenting the warm temperatures in winter and was envying my northern friends every time that it snowed.  I was allowing myself to be cynical when I shopped for produce, recognizing that it wasn’t as fresh as if I had picked it myself.  I was realizing (and didn’t like the fact) that it is way too easy to be isolated in this spread out city.

I know those are silly and/or petty issues, but my lack of wholehearted investment left room for resentment to creep in.

HOWEVER, I recognize that I’ll miss out on SO MUCH that God has for me and my family if I don’t fall in love again with this city.  I will never really connect if I am looking over my shoulder.  I’ll not be effective in our new mission if I don’t intentionally put myself fully in.  If I’m looking back to what was, I’ll put out a vibe that I’m not really available.  A part of me will be withheld from truly investing, and that missing part will be noticed.  Relationships will stay shallow, and I’ll be a fraction of the person I am intended to be.

All of the above is not to say that Dallas hasn’t warmly welcomed us, or that I haven’t connected with people here.  I really have, and I see the potential for such deeper relationships.  I know that God is in complete control of my growth, and that this new place has as much to add to my journey as the former place did.  In fact, I believe that the parts of my heart that became awakened to His love for His people and His earth will be some of the gifts that I have to give to this new place.  I just recognize that for all of this to happen, to a great extent, it is up to whether or not I fully embrace this city.

This is a lovely city filled with lovely people.  I am eager to see what God has in store for me as I learn to put myself out there even more!

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We’ve Arrived!

After all of the packing, all of the prayer, and all of the miles logged into our van, we have moved into our new home.  The journey was so intricate that one might be discouraged to make it; however, we were sure of our decision and took the complications one step at a time.

The first bump in the road was the house itself.  My husband had driven many miles and hours with a realtor to find us a rental home in Texas.  While he found one on which we put an application (and had the application approved), less than a week before we were to begin our drive to Texas, the home owner pulled out. That left us scrambling to find a place in Texas, while Ken was back in Connecticut.  Our amazing realtor, knowing what kind of home we were looking for, found us another home TWO days before we were to leave.  It is lovely, and has room to fit our big family!

Now that we’ve been here about two months and I’ve had a few quiet moments to reflect, here are a few of my unedited observations of Dallas.

Dallas is HUGE.  I mean, populated, spread out, and intricate.  Thank GOODNESS for GPS on my phone.  It has saved me.

Dallas is BUSY.  The energy with which people travel and move is dizzying.  One of my sons said, appraising of the massive road system (during a non-rush hour time frame), that it looks like there has been a mandatory evacuation of downtown and people are fleeing home.   There seems to be an unspoken sense of urgency that my family is feeling and observing, but in which we are not participating.

Dallas is DIFFERENT.  The city that I left seven years ago feels foreign.  I attribute that to several factors:
– I/we have changed so much.
– We’re living in a different area of town.
– The city has grown and changed quite a bit.
– Very few of our former friends have reached out and talked to us/invited us over.  (I don’t say that resentfully or with hurt feelings…just stating a fact.)
We’re making great new friendships with the community with whom my husband is working, but it isn’t like stepping back into a familiar set of old clothing.  One other element to this feeling could be that, when we lived here before, my world was very small.  I didn’t travel very far outside of my neighborhood, and certainly didn’t travel downtown.  This time around, I am living in every inch of the city, venturing to places that I would have never dreamed of journeying before.  (Thank you New Haven for making me brave!)

Dallas is BARREN.  This is probably the only point that really is a criticism, the only point that has been soul-crushing (at the risk of sounding too dramatic.) After having lived in New England, complete with more trees than can be counted, an ocean as a landmark in town, bicycle lanes wildly used but taken for granted, orchards and pick-your-own places less than 1/2 hour away, and hiking as an ever-present option, Dallas is lacking.  The problem is that we moved at the beginning of Fall, when New England comes alive, when all activities are centered around the outdoors – acquiring pumpkins, picking apples, going through hay mazes, driving around to look at the stunning backdrop of changing leaves and enjoying the crisp temperatures – to be dropped in a region where the climate doesn’t sustain orchards, there are very few outdoor activities (it is still to stinkin’ hot!), a sweater is the last thing you’d think of, and the leaves on the trees don’t change colors – they just burn up and drop off.  It is surprising to me how much I breathed in the activities of that region, and how I find that don’t breath quite as deeply down here.

There have also been a few lovely surprises.

The new community that we are developing is welcoming and warm.  We have jumped into a new church meeting in downtown Dallas that has welcomed us with open arms, and I feel the potential of a few great friends here.

Our kids have found friends pretty quickly within that new community.  They’re not linked as heart-friends yet, but at least they have found kids their ages with whom they can spend time and be accepted.

Our home is great, and our landlord is amazing.  He has permissioned us to really live in the home and make changes if we wish, and greeted us with a welcome basket and a $50 gift card to a local restaurant.

The area in which we live is diverse and convenient.

We have enjoyed visiting some of the places that were familiar when we lived here before.  We’ve visited parks, our former homes, and favorite restaurants, watching the kids’ faces as they stretch back in their memories for anything that they recognize.

No change is easy, and yet, we are thriving pretty well.  I am challenged to completely embrace my new city and see what God has for us in this new environment.  I’ll keep you posted along the way!

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