It’s hard to believe it’s been 2 years since we packed up our belongings in Atlanta, drove to Chattanooga for Jim’s graduation from Covenant College and Georgia Tech, and headed down I-59 to Southern Mississippi. We’ve been continually amazed at God’s provision for our family here – both in our workplaces, and within our community, as our Mississippi friends have become family. This past year, we’ve faced a challenging season, more so for me emotionally and spiritually. The work I’m privileged to do at the pregnancy center is beautiful but also heavy, and I’m learning about emotional and spiritual endurance during heavy and darker moments, especially when those moments turn into seasons. I’m not well acquainted with sitting in my own hurt, but when you sit with someone else through their own, it sometimes secretly reminds you of your own. No, I’m not trying to compare past hurts, but as Ann Voskamp put so delicately, “Your pain is your pain and it deserves the dignity of recognition, for that is where healing begins.” I’m discovering the depths of God’s fierce love for me, and through that knowledge, I’m forced to wrestle with concepts like contentment despite uncertainty, and being ok with knowing some seasons of life will never make complete sense this side of Heaven. We just have to be obedient to God’s calling, whatever that may be, and He will take care of the result. I’d say what year 2 has looked like for Jim and I is just that: learning to be obedient to God’s calling, even through the unknown, especially through the unknown.
Jim and I originally planned on staying in Mississippi a maximum of 2 years. Obviously, God had different plans. So here we are, beginning our third year of living in Laurel in our home. We were incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to have HGTV’s Home Town team redo our house, molding, shaping, and refining this beloved Craftsman into our home. Though the experience, we learned a decent amount of the rich history about our 1924’s home. Something that I’ll always hold dear is when the previous homeowner’s family gifted us the family golden, velvet couch (or green, depending on how the light hits it). O’Dell, the previous homeowner, lived to be 101, an avid front porch sitter and piano playing woman, beloved by many. This couch sat proudly in the living room when we first entered the house to view it before purchasing, and it cheered me instantly. That quirky, beautiful couch felt like a piece of the previous homeowner O’Dell in a way, and that makes me smile. It now sits in what was her music room, which we’ve converted into Jim’s office. I still think of it as “the piano room” too, and I’m ok with that.
I plan on writing a more in-depth blog about our experience on Home Town, but have yet to do so. The experience was overwhelmingly positive, and we’ve continued to love living in our home, slowly filling it with pieces that have a story as we make it our own. It’s almost as if our family is another chapter to this home’s story, and I love being apart of it. It’s true, there’s no place like home, but I’m willing to bet there’s something extra special about your very first home.
Along with our home buying ventures, Jim and I have developed friendships with folks here that, Lord willing, will last a lifetime. These friendships have helped us navigate the way when the waters appeared muddied, and pursued us, even when we didn’t want to be pursued, especially when we didn’t want to be pursued (because we can be stubborn like that). I believe if you’ve found one friend who is willing to ask the difficult questions, challenge you when need be, keep you accountable, and love you despite your massive shortcomings, you’re incredibly blessed. I’d dare to say I’ve found more than one friendship like that here. That’s a whole heap of blessings right there!
As for us, we plan on remaining in Laurel until God calls us elsewhere, if he calls us elsewhere. We try our best to plan, but we’ve learned our plans don’t always look like God’s, so we consider planning as “tentative.” But for now, our hopes are to say “I live in Laurel” another year longer.