Under Attack

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

photo cred to my 3-yr-old.
That's me, prayin over the chaos
My friends, I don't say this lightly when I tell you the truth: my family has been under spiritual attack.

I hope that you were able to read the previous few posts from last week regarding our "waiting season" of life at the moment.  How we up-and-moved across country.  How we took a leap of faith and settled into a new home.  How we're still waiting on the promise of a job for my husband to come through.  How we're living life on the frustrating fence built by trust and obedience that feels like it might collapse any day now.

We've lived in Nashville about 6 weeks now, and none of them have been easy.  It's not like we're facing life and death circumstances, I don't mean to belittle any hardships that others might be going through by any means.  But, our time since leaving California has been fraught with obstacles; and, well, their piling up into a ridiculous mess that can no longer be ignored.

Besides my freak accident of falling down the stairs (and being debilitated for a good couple weeks), we've faced annoying strife after annoying strife.   Just last week both our daughters caught the stomach flu.  I got a terrible cold the day after.  And the next morning, my two-year-old woke up with mysterious "bug bites" covering her arms.  After 72 hours of thinking we might have bed bugs in our house (talk about a panic attack) we see two doctors and finally get a diagnosis that she is fighting a virus that should be cleared up in about a week with Benadryl and a steroid.  (Poor baby!)

sick babies are just SO SAD
It was about this time yesterday, still sick with worry that my polka-dotted-baby might have something seriously wrong with her, that I began to ask God whether or not a plague was truly on our home!?!  I mean, I felt like I was trying my hardest to look through rose colored glasses that were smeared, stained, cracked, and barely hanging on my face any longer.  I'M TRYING HERE, GOD!  HELP!

Deep in the dark of nighttime, as I lay in bed and hold my daughters close (they slept with us the last couple nights as we had to quarantine their room) I felt a small voice of assurance echoing in my heart.  It sounded something like this, These are not signs of misdirection.  You face these adversities because you are on the right path, not the wrong one.  I never promised it would be easy.  I promised I would be here. I am.

It was the sound of truth, of Jesus, of the reality that I could no longer feel but could wholeheartedly recognize, nevertheless.  I have access to the peace that surpasses all understanding through the Savior, and that's the only thing I can cling to right now.  As my weeks are riddled with confusion, chaos, and the grief of another job rejection, I must rest securely in the unchanging TRUTH that Jesus isn't going anywhere.  Praise be.

Satan wants nothing more than to make us give up, or fight with each other, or to take credit for the job ourselves when it finally comes.  I'm thinking he must especially hate that I'm writing about it all - how I honestly struggle with finding God's goodness in this messy day-to-day struggle; but, then, I don't have to be the one finding it because God is constantly pursuing ME, seeking to reveal Himself in new and amazing ways.  I'm pretty sure Satan didn't like that I wrote all about the realities of unemployment last week - and how God is using that for teaching us to depend on Him more and ourselves less.  And I'm sure he will hate that my husband and I are growing closer and more in love through this time.

So, please, join me in not giving up.  Join me in praying openly and helping give glory to God through these hard times.  Pray for my family, that God would provide for us and protect us emotionally, spiritually, financially, and physically.  I'm not too proud to genuinely reach out and ask you to please pray for that job to find its way to my husband, that the right door would open or the right person would pick up his call.

God is using each of us, connecting us in amazing ways, building an incredible network that will somehow glorify Him to the utmost - and we are all part of that story.

Matilda, praying over the Dining Room
This evening, spawned by the encouragement from a friend, our family gathered in every single space in our new home and held prayer over that area.  We prayed against Satan and In Jesus Name spoke aloud a command to have anything evil leave each premise.

We prayed to specifically invite the Holy Spirit into each space - every bathroom, closet, bedroom, and so on.  If there was a doorway, we prayed over it.  We covered it in truth, and asked God to bring peace and thanksgiving and goodness into our home.

Some of you readers might find me kooky, or paranoid, or hyper-spiritual, or just desperate.  I'm cool with all those terms.  What's important here, what I want you to know about me is this - I'm nothing if I'm not transparent.  I'm telling you the truth about what I really believe.

I get upset, I get confused, I get angry - God knows all this.  I love Jesus and talk to Him all the time - yet, it wasn't until today that I finally put hands on my doorframe and spoke aloud my prayers openly.  Be specific.  Be deliberate.  Be fervent in your gestures and requests to Jesus.  I don't think something "magical" happens when you pray out loud or extend your hands - there is NOTHING we can do that changes who God is in any way.  But, it certainly changed ME, and it freed me of any burden I might feel in my home.  There is only one Master of the house around here in the Pardy home, and it felt amazingly refreshing to speak that out loud again and again and again.

Thank you for your prayers.  I feel them and know they are lifting me up each day.  I cherish them and welcome them and can't wait to share so many answers to those prayers as they come.

Numbskull (Jobless & Hopeful) pt. 3

Friday, July 26, 2013

Throughout this process of waiting on a job, I have wanted to kill my husband many times.  It’s fine, really, because he’s wanted to kill me too, and usually this ends with us taking a giant sigh and sending one of us out the door to relax a bit.  It’s amazing what even a drive alone can do for one’s patience.

The Village Chapel, our new church home
Unemployment is like the unplanned vacation to nowhere that you never wanted to take.  In your mind, you think "Hey, maybe a little time off would be nice" and you have visions of utilizing time in between job applications to read or bake or start one of those many Pinterest projects you've been pondering.  But, it's not like that at all.  

While my husband is the one actually filling out the applications (since I'll be a full-time student in less than a month, I've only applied to part-time work), never-you-mind that this is fully a TEAM Pardy effort.  We scrutinize his resume together, we pray over emails and cover letters that are sent, and we strategize as much as possible to get his foot in the door somewhere.  It's been said that looking for a full-time job is a full-time job, and that's no joke.

But, the reality is, that we’re just not used to living in each others’ presence all the time and so, the precious moments that make up “alone time” become imperative to our survival (and happiness).  We also want to continue actually liking each other – something we both consider rather high on the list of priorities in our marriage.  ;)

So, while there have been waves of tension ebbing and flowing as the job search continues, humor and honesty have become even more essential ingredients to our sustainability than ever before.

A few times over the last couple months, we’ve been frustrated and dumbstruck at our own lack of faith.  Yes, we are here – having obediently trusted God as He has moved us across the country.  Yes, we are here with food on our table and a roof over our head.  And yet, we take turns (well, sometimes at the same time) getting angry at our situation – at how could God possibly be making us STILL wait on a job to come through!?  How, God, how?  Argh!!

You gotta love a good Jesus meme

And, then, in a moment of refreshment or humor, we laugh at our ridiculousness.  One night, we just shook our heads at ourselves saying, “We are JUST like the Israelites.  We are so dumb.  Like, gee, God, I know you’ve given us food to eat up out of the GROUND and all, and you’ve provided for our every need up until now – but, what about tomorrow???? We are grumpy and annoying, and very, very forgetful.”  It’s strange how relieving the reminder of our stupidity is to me, but it calms me in realizing just how OUT of control of the situation I am.  And there is much freedom in not being the one in charge.

Never did this feeling hit home more than last Sunday when we were sitting in church.  We are so grateful for having a church to sink our teeth into immediately upon our arrival to a new home – one of the many benefits of having family in town (who also attend there).  I’ll cut to the chase and just give you part of the Scripture that Pastor Jim Thomas at The Village Chapel spoke on that day:

Mark 8: 16 – 2116. They [the disciples] began to discuss with one another the fact that they had no bread.  17. And Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you discuss the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet see or understand? Do you have a hardened heart?  18. Having eyes, do you not see?  Having ears, do you not hear?  And do you not remember, 19. when I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces you picked up?”  They said to Him, “Twelve.” 20. “When I broke the seven for the four thousand, how many large baskets full of broken pieces did you pick up?”  And they said to Him, “Seven.” 21. And He was saying to them, “Do you not yet understand?”

Josh and I looked at each other as the Scripture was being read.  We gazed at the words again and slowly I leaned over, shaking my head and whispered, “We are so dumb.”  He just pursed his lips and nodded, knowing exactly what I was thinking.

We read this passage in times of “security” and goff at the stupidity and forgetfulness of the disciples.  Um, hellloooo? You guys JUST witnessed Jesus feeding thousands of mouths from practically nothing.  Do you seriously think He won’t provide for you numbskulls?

How many times do I need to be hit over the head with this one, God?  Well, apparently many, many times.  My humanity gets the best of me far too many times than I would like to admit.  I bitterly find myself praying for urgent provision as I climb into my comfortable bed at night.  Um, what an idiot.  Like my prayers are a little post-it note for Jesus to not forget us on His busy schedule up in heaven or something.  Good grief.

I have had less money before.  I have had plenty of money before.  I have been given incredibly generous gifts before.  I have been able to give incredible gifts before.  I have suffered.  I have celebrated.  And yet…I will still sit and worry and become frustrated with God whether He is really going to come through on this promise.  Reeeeally?  I’m no better than those numbskull disciples with short-term memory loss.

My own life history is a clear reflection of God’s faithfulness.  But, when that’s not enough, there are plenty of examples God has provided for us in His Word to knock us upside the head when we need it.  I’ll leave you with a classic Scripture, one that is probably familiar to many of you, yet never truer to my heart than now.

Philippians 4: 11b-13 [Important to note that Paul wrote this while he was in PRISON, nonetheless…]
“…for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13. I can do all this through him [Jesus] who gives me strength.

Nonsense! (Jobless & Hopeful) pt. 2

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Choosing to quit a steady job is difficult and strange, especially when you don’t know what is next.  It had been a long process of prayers and contemplation as we took the official step of Josh quitting his job, planning our move across country, and not having a job lined up for us when we got there.  

I’m sure if you think about this for a minute, you have many of the same questions I had.  It’s funny, because as your loved ones watch you take this step of faith, they also begin to worry that you’ve lost your mind – something I also took into consideration!  People tiptoe around reminding you that you have children to provide for, bills to pay, and no guarantees for the future…as if these are things that you haven’t pined over in the middle of the night, tearfully pleading with Jesus for a neon sign to show you the answer. 

Just a couple angry toddlers here.
Questions and worries plague us as normal human beings, as parents, and as a couple that hopes for things like “a house with a yard” someday, let alone how to afford rent and health insurance on no income.  Trust me, whatever it is you are questioning, I have thought of it, I have worried about it profusely, I have taken it into account…and so has Jesus.  (But, thank you for the concern.)

The thing is, when it comes to obedience, I could either choose to trust Jesus or not.  Bottom line.  We do everything we can within our limited power to take opportunities and make the best of them, while constantly and prayerfully handing them over to God for His guidance and direction. 

And, you know what, somehow, some way, we are here in Nashville with full bellies and a roof over our head and clothes on our bodies.  We are alive and will give God the glory.  If that’s not a testament to His provision, I don’t know what is.  

Daily.  Daily, I am reminded that today was another day God provided.  DAILY.  Thank you, Jesus.

But, it is not easy to praise Jesus when He doesn’t give you what you want when you want it.  If you don’t agree with that, then you are probably lying.  (I’m just saying!)  I can act just like my toddlers throwing a tantrum for a toy in the middle of Target that I won’t buy for them.  I want to scream and pout and kick things, I’m so angry.  I want to demand reconsideration for what I think I DESERVE.  I huff and I puff, and I crumble into a messy fit of confusion.  And I always end with the same frustration:  it doesn’t make sense.

And then I cry out to Jesus.  And then I see His face.  And then I feel His arms.  And then I’m reminded of what a bloodsucking, bratty little sinner I am…and how I should get kicked to the curb and forgotten about and instead, here I am, getting comforted by the reality of a God who has given me so much, and I’m split open by the brutal irony of His love for me in one realization: IT DOESN’T MAKE SENSE.

It doesn’t have to make sense to me.  Living faithfully, living obediently, doesn’t come with the stamped regularity of a direct-deposit check into my bank account.  There’s nothing wrong with making a steady income – that’s a good thing and I look forward to it again!  

But, there’s something very wrong with hanging my hat on it.  There’s something ridiculous about placing my security in my efforts or the abilities of my husband, or even in the trust of the next employer who reads my husband’s resume.  

God is in charge.  God has not forgotten us.  God will bring a job in His time, for His purpose.  God will continue to provide.  And we will continue to bring our messy selves to His feet and be reminded of His non-sensical love and provision for us. 

More on this nonsense tomorrow!

Jobless and Hopeful pt. 1

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

“We will never move without a job in place.”  I spoke these words about this time last year, as the seeds of the idea of moving to Nashville started to take root in our hearts.  I was confident and honest, and I felt completely rationale in the definitive boundary I had placed between reality and fantasy.

It was realistic, after all, that my husband could get a good job within a reasonable timeframe.  He has his Masters degree and glowing recommendations and he was in a prestigious position at the time, working as a Director of Admissions and Marketing at a local Christian high school.  He was making enough to support our little family, and we had excellent health benefits to boot.  It was more than we could hope for, living in one of the expense-ville capitals of America: Orange County, California.

Ahh, the illusion of "security"
I don’t say this to brag in any way – we were still living paycheck-to-paycheck like most of our peer group does these days; but we were “secure” and “comfortable” enough to not worry about making rent each month.  I also say all this to set up a clear picture of where this all started, and properly introduce the path we were about to take…the path less taken, so to speak.

It was around last December when the Lord truly started to place on our hearts a steady momentum towards looking at Nashville.  Following a series of significant conversations, I had begun to look into MFT (Marriage & Family Therapy) programs offered in the Nashville area.  Upon my finding a perfect fit at Lipscomb University (more on this in future posts) I began the arduous application process and it was our first major step towards placing actual potential on this dream of moving across country.

As my application process proceeded, Josh began to put out feelers for jobs and opportunities in the Nashville area.  A few promising leads, including a job interview that even flew him out there for a meeting, gave us reason to believe it would not be too long until something came through and all our proverbial ducks were in a nice, neat row.

We prayed for a job.  We prayed for God’s will.  We prayed for God’s best for us.  And job after job began to pass through our fingers.  Rejection hurts.  And I couldn't understand how someone could "pass" on my husband!? 

My husband with the charm of a winsome politician and the credentials of a noble scholar!??  Sure, I’m biased.  But, this is a swell guy, people!  Someone who works hard and loves well.  And frankly, someone you want on your team.  I was sad for each rejection.  I was frustrated on his behalf.  And, I was quickly moving from “defensive wife” to “pissed-off human” as I lost hope in our country’s workforce. 

I got accepted into school, and we celebrated.  My husband, always encouraged by the “win” for Team Pardy, was wholeheartedly pleased at the success of our (and I really mean “our”) application into grad school.  All of this was a Team Pardy effort.  There was not going to be any option for "my successes" versus "his losses".  Marriage doesn’t work like that.  Correction – marriage can’t work like that.  There was only “OUR” successes and losses.  We celebrate together just as we mourn together, and we continue to commit to this every single day.

School would start at the end of August, so that gave us roughly four months to get a job for Josh, get ourselves to Nashville, and settle into a new home before my program started.  In that order.  Right, God?  Work, move, home, school.  Yes, that makes the most sense. 

And this is when God smiled.  And this is when I started to worry.  

Choosing to quit a job that paid well and provided health insurance seemed unfathomable a few months ago.  In an economy where the unemployment rate high as a kite and the cost of moving is limitless, it was impossible to consider a scenario where we would abandon the security of comfort for any imaginable reason.

But, then again, Jesus was never one to work within the man-made boundaries of reason or rationale.  God doesn’t always adhere to our measurement of “how things should work”, let alone abide by the calendar we keep. 

So, then, as job possibilities came and went, Josh and I became very accustomed to the notion that our usual “sensibilities” of how things were “supposed to go” needed to be reexamined.  It just didn’t make sense for him not to get some of these jobs he was applying for.  It didn’t makes sense…except for the fact that we had been praying according to God’s will, for Him to provide the best for our lives.  Evidently, none of those paths were the right one. 

As hard as it was to swallow, the truth of the bitter rejections was that somehow, we were dodging bullets.  Though we might never know why they weren’t the best fit for us, we could only conclude that it was better to be grateful for what was to come rather than dwell on the disappointment of the present.

Still, the clock was ticking.  Certain things had to be in place, and so we started to look into housing and moving options.  We couldn’t wait on a job forever.  We had to recognize that God’s promise for us was to provide for our needs…that didn’t necessarily mean it came with the security of a regular paycheck, like it or not.  This is what you call a leap of faith.  This is what you call obedience.  And you’re right – it doesn’t make much sense in this world.

As you may have read in previous posts, we found an apartment within two miraculous days.  Multiple miracles were quick to follow as the plans of our move fit into place like the border of a giant puzzle.  We weren’t exactly sure what the resulting picture would look like, but the parameters were set and all we could do was keep filling in the missing pieces as the information came to us.  All we could do was trust and obey.  God was moving us to Nashville.  God was moving us to Nashville…without a job.  The words I had spoken just about a year ago were coming back to haunt me.  

Never say never, indeed.

Rx: Humility

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Take a dose of humility and call me in the morning
The next two weeks after my klutzy-yet-dramatic fall down the stairs were sheer misery.  Evidently, I had been taking things such as sitting, standing, laying down, walking, and bending down completely for granted.  I had bruised my lower back/hip so deeply that the ugly colors of a usual bruise didn't even surface until about 9 days after my fall.  Crazy!  I didn't even know you could bruise yourself like that?!

It didn't help that I have this weird quirk in my physiological make-up that renders pain killers nearly useless.  I don't know what makes me that way, but my mother is the same way, so there must be something in our gene pool (I'm guessing X-Men related) that makes it so the usual dose has no effect on my pain.  I tried to explain this to multiple ER doctors in between my screams, but (as I've encountered in the past) most physicians think I am just faking it or overly dramatic, or wanting extra drugs.  Whatever, it's real.  Just ask the OB-GYN who nearly started in on my c-section before I objected with an "UM, I CAN FEEL THAT!" yelp to his very surprised "Really?!"expression.  True story.

All that to say, the pain killers helped me sleep, but that's about it.  My nerves were having to relearn how to function in my back muscles, so a constant Charley-horse contraction of muscle spasms kept me shrieking throughout the day and night.  It was so frustrating for me and completely annoying to everyone else, I know.  I understand it's no fun being around someone who is repeatedly wincing and grimacing and needing to have you please get her another blanket or drink or remote or pillow or whatever.  I hated being incapacitated.  Hated.

As brutal as my pain was, though, my husband was suffering as well (my words, not his).  He took on full-time super-Dad duty, as well as waiting on me hand and foot.  He is not a complainer by nature, but I could tell it was all taking its toll on him.  How couldn't it?  We were both beyond frustrated.  Here we were, new home, new city, new everything...and I'm couch-ridden for two weeks (and for how long, we didn't know at the time.)

A cozy companion while I was couch-ridden
The thing with healing a muscle is (as I learned) that you can't heal a muscle by sitting still.  After a few days, the only way the muscle will start to heal is if you use it.  This meant a whole lot of pain and determination on my part, and I was grateful that my stubborn streak could finally be used for good and not evil!  Slowly, slowly, after a couple weeks of wincing at nearly any movement, I started to be able to move without pain.  It was such a weird sensation to feel changes day-to-day in my healing.

It's been almost 4 weeks now, and I'm practically fully recovered.  I still have a bruise and stiffness, and it will be a while before I touch my toes again...but, I can walk and drive and even pick my girls up. Hallelujah!  If you met me today, you'd never know I was completely debilitated a matter of weeks ago.  GOD HEALS.  Also, God made our bodies HEALABLE.  That's crazy.

I'm learning a LOT of things through these challenging first weeks of our move here.  In the wee hours of the morning, when I was weary from the frustrations of the day and propped up by pillows to sleep sitting up (which I did for over two weeks) I would just pray and nag God with my discontent and desires.  These are the moments I'm not trying at all.  I'm not trying to be kind or cool or even myself.  I'm just there, whispering gratitude that's mottled with complaints.  No apprehension or pretense.  Just Emily and Jesus, in the stillness.

I do stupid things ALL THE TIME with no intention or effort behind them at all.  I had no reason for falling down the stairs - it was just one of those freak accidents that suddenly changed the course of our lives for a short while.  My actions have repercussions.  Sometimes I see them and they effect me deeply.  Sometimes they go completely unnoticed.  But, they matter, and I matter, and Jesus sees them and uses them and no matter what - we are healable beings in His eyes, regardless of our stupid actions.

I don't need to DO anything for Him to heal me or use me.  I want to control life so badly - which is ironic, because when I do try and take the reigns, I'm so bad at it!  I'm not in control here.  I can't be. I don't truly even want to be.  And when I'm stopped (albeit, against my will) and literally left helpless in order to regain perspective on who exactly has the reigns in this here life of mine, I can't deny the experience.

Needing help is humbling.  It's uncomfortable for most of us, and that's just ridiculous, because when I pause for a minute and take a step back, I realize that I constantly live in a state of needing help.  How can something be so uncomfortable if I'm in a constant state of it?  Constant.  I'm never going to not need Jesus.  Do you hear that?  Do you feel that?

Pain killers come and go.  Nerves reattach.  Muscles regrow.  Miraculous healing is present in my very being, my actual person, and yet - this world offers my soul no hope for completion.  Only Jesus fills the constant void I have for trying.  Trying anything.  Trying at all.  

Only.  Jesus.

So, if there's a few morals to this story at the end of it all (or is this just the beginning, sometimes I lose track?) I'd say this:  We all have wounds that need healing.  Sometimes these wounds are ugly right away, and sometimes they take a long time to surface.  Sometimes no one even sees them.  But, they can be healed.  We are healable beings, inside and out.

Watch your step, you might be closer to healing than you ever thought possible.


Saturday, July 20, 2013

I've been known to be sort of accident prone.  It's ironic that my middle name is Grace, because rarely do I live up to the expectation it may precede for me.  Usually this adds up to funny, self-depricating, occasionally embarrassing moments that I can chuckle about and turn into a good story later.  And, while I'm about to tell one of these stories, I'm not quite laughing about it yet.

Ten days after we made our gigantic move across country from Southern California to Nashville, Tennessee, I fell down the stairs.  But, I mean, I really fell down some stairs.  Obviously, I've lived to tell about it, so I'm fine. (Thanks, Jesus!) And usually I wouldn't want to linger on something so depressive...but, this really made an impact on my life (pun intended) so I'd be remiss not to share the experience with you.

It was stupid, really.  I wish I had a glamorous tale to tell of how it all happened, but I don't.  It was about 10pm and I was already in my jammies heading to bed.  Mind you, I'd been reprimanding my daughters ALL WEEK about stair safety and they even had a small topple of their own that led to some stern talkings-to about how we behave going up and down the steps.  (It's okay, you can laugh at that!)

I had heard our cat Zuzu (the painfully shy one) running around upstairs, so I went up to snag her.  No reason.  Just simple, stupid, normal-life stuff.  I went upstairs and picked her up, and turned to go back downstairs.  On the second step, I felt my left foot slip and in one of those awful-slow-motion-moments, I knew I was falling.  It was a perfect slip-on-a-banana-peel sort of klutzy move that perfectly landed me on my back about five steps down from the top, and then I slid a few more steps on my back.  If I was auditioning for a Buster Keaton film, I definitely would have nailed the part.

I gasped to draw breath for a laugh, when instead my face turned to utter anguish as I felt the most debilitating pain I've felt in my whole life.  I'm not kidding.  (And I've gone through natural labor pains for hours and hours.  I've felt pain!)  Josh was at the bottom of the stairs, his facial expression a mixture of disbelief and fear.

"Call 9-1-1.  Something is wrong."  I've never uttered those words in my life, so he knew I meant it.  I couldn't move the right side of my body.  He couldn't move me to the couch.  I was stuck on the stairs, crumpled over on my side, and my lower back and right hip felt like they were on fire.  What in the world did I do???

By the time the paramedics arrived, I was in shock.  I had vomited and nearly blacked out, and they couldn't find a pulse or my blood pressure.  But, I could move my toes and state my name...Thank you God, I thought.

Moving me was excruciating.  I've never heard myself sound the way I did.  I kept involuntarily screaming in pain, tears bursting out of my face.  I was screaming at the top of my lungs and my daughters' bedroom was 15 feet away where they were sound asleep.  And I'm the person who, on a normal night, will mute theme songs and commercials on the TV a whole story away just to ensure they don't wake up from the sound of the television!  It is a miracle in and of itself that the girls slept through the entire ordeal.  Again, thanks be to God.

I'd never ridden in an ambulance before.  I barely remember it because my eyes were shut almost the entire time as I focused all my physical resources towards tolerating the pain.  My brother had rushed over as soon as Josh called him (after calling 911) and so, he stayed there until my sister-in-law and their kids came over to stay at our place to be with the girls in case they woke up.

Josh and my brother followed the ambulance to the medical center just a couple miles away (though, it seemed like one of the longest rides of my life).  Everything was bright and weird and blurry and unsettling.  I just wanted answers.  Answers and massive amounts of pain killers, please.

Two CAT Scans, an IV, a catheter, and about six hours later, I was released with a very boring diagnosis.  A bruise.  Okay, not exactly just a bruise...a to-the-bone-deep severe contusion on the right side of my lower back/hip.  The muscle had basically been ruptured by the blow of the fall, and so I was sent home with four prescriptions of pain killers and muscle relaxants.

I had no idea what was in store for me when it came to recovery.  All I knew was, I'm going to be okay.  And for the moment, that was enough relief for all of us.  The healing process would be a whole other ballgame.

(Stay tuned tomorrow to hear what I learned through my recovery and how I'm doing now.)

Home Sweet Home

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Well, as you can imagine, I was just itching to get inside our new home.  Since we'd travelled over 2,000 miles and waited weeks and weeks to see inside our new home, I was at my wits end to get inside this apartment I'd rented for our family sight unseen.

I think I exhaled the deepest sigh of my life upon entering our new abode.  Parquet flooring (real wood! no laminate!) welcomed my eager feet on our first level.  The space was clean and open and smelled of fresh paint (ah, sweet relief!)

The dining area was ample, with a new light fixture hanging in the middle of the room.  And the kitchen was small but adequate.  I quickly noticed it's charm in some of the mismatched cupboard doors and a piece of the counter that was completely different than the rest.  I love those sorts of things - signs that life has happened here, and it welcomed us with all our creativity and flaws.  Character, if not love, makes a home.

Dining area, just to the left when you walk in

The upstairs bathroom. Yay!

Jesus mug, making his home in the new kitchen :)

And this place has plenty of character!  Some quirky tile in the bathrooms (yes! plural! a whole half-bath upgrade from our last place) and non-turning door knobs on the closets in the bedrooms (as in, they are just knobs) soon began to tell me that this was exactly the perfect place for us.  Not perfect, but charming...quite a bit like us.

The bedrooms are both good size, and for once, our massive king-size bed actually has room on both sides for walking around it.  The carpet upstairs was new too, just awaiting the many juice and crayon stains I'm certain my girls will mark their territory with all too soon.

Breaking in our space, one messy meal at a time.

And, above anything else, was the one space that captured my heart:  the laundry room.  Innovatively tucked beneath the stairwell, was a little closet that would hold my soon-to-be new best friends (Mr. Washer, and Mrs. Dryer).  We didn't have a washer and dryer in our last home, and so it genuinely is a game-changer to our lives as we get to wash and dry our clothes in our very own space.  Not only that, but there is a dishwasher in the kitchen!  Yahoo!  No more scrubbing out sippy cups!  So help me, I am determined to never take these appliances for granted.

Dance PARDY in the living room!

All in all, our new home is AWESOME.  We just adore it, and are eagerly and slooowly making it our own.  As we hang pictures and fit all our belongings into their new spaces, we're grounding ourselves into new habits and routines that will soon become "normal".  But, for right now, it's fun exploring all the new crevices of our castle.  We proudly hang our "P" on our door, marking our territory (pun intended) for all to see where we reside.

The closets are filled with clothes.  The cabinets hold our dishes.  And as these early days fly by, we're doing our best to fill the rooms with prayers and laughter.  These walls await many memories we're about to make.  Thank you, Lord, for providing our new home.

Come visit!

Sight Unseen

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

One takes many risks when deciding to pick up and move across the country.  Sure, there's the cost, the inconvenience, and even the courage you have to muster in order to conquer the distance.  But, in our case, there was an additional mystery added to our venture.  We had never seen the apartment we were about to move our lives into.

Now, I've moved into a new space "sight unseen" before; but, that was way back before a husband or children were in the picture.  I figured I could just about get by living anywhere, and indeed I did.  But, this was a whole new ballgame.

When the final decision was made that, yes, indeed, we were officially moving to Nashville.  I started scouring the internet in search of our next home.  I had limited criteria, "safety" and "location" being at the foremost of my priorities.  Certainly, "cost" was a MAJOR factor as we anticipated the probability of moving without a job in place.  But, the nice thing was that when you live in California, just about anywhere is going to be cheaper than your used to, so that was a huge bonus in our favor.

I clumsily bounced around various websites, filtering out the scary ones and weeding through the unattainables.  Still, I wasn't really finding anything that seemed to fit our needs.  Then, a friend of mine in Nashville emailed me a very casual "maybe check out this place" as a friend of a friend of ours lived there years ago.  The thing was - there was no website, no photos, no nothing to go on what this apartment complex actually looked like from 2,000 miles away.

It was a Friday when I called their leasing office.  Against all odds (and the manager actually told me, they never have openings for their 2 bedrooms) there was an opening in mid-June.  On Sunday, I emailed our application.  On Monday morning we got a call that we got the apartment.  Done deal.  Whoa.  What had I just gotten us into???? 

This is when it started to really sink in that we were going to move.  We had a new home waiting for us.  We just didn't know what it looked like.

Fortunately, I was able to have my sister-in-law and my friend drive-by the complex and scope it out a bit.  It appeared well taken care of, and nothing scary on the outside.  I got a few photos sent to me of the premises and even our new front door.  But still, the inside was a mystery!

So...you can only imagine my anxiety, my hope, and my relief when we pulled up and I saw a clean, stable, brick building before me.  The grass was mowed, the cars in the lot were normal (nothing up on cinder blocks, thank goodness) and a few nice big trees dotted the lawn in front of our new home.  The time had come....ENTER!

Tune in tomorrow for a look INSIDE!  :)

Last Leg

Thursday, July 11, 2013

BACKTRACK here and read about our ROADTRIP.

We were more than halfway there.  We just picked up our girls in Kansas – alive and well and bubbling with excitement to get to their new home they’d been hearing about for weeks.  I can only imagine this idea to their little toddler minds.  What did they envision?  What did they fear?  What did they anticipate?

All I could think about was “Just get there.  Just get there.  Just get there.”

Our plan was to drive about 10 hours the first day and get to St. Louis and stay the night at a nice hotel as a family, then we would only have about 6 hours to cover the next day before moving into our new home.  It was a good plan, but another flat tire brought a major time setback, and so it was 9pm before we checked into the hotel.  I don’t think the girls crashed in bed before midnight.  Oy.

crazy girls...crazy TIRED girls

The hotel was great (I would highly recommend the Drury Plaza at the Arch in St. Louis if you ever find yourself there) but we had our sights set on our own home and our own bed and our own everything – and sometimes when you just long for home, it doesn’t matter how nice your surroundings are…if it’s not home, it’s not home.

The next day brought as much frustration as it did fruition.  We were so insanely excited for this final day to be here; and yet, traffic and cranky toddlers have a tendency to obscure joy into pure anxiety.

We had invested in a DVD player for the car prior to the move.  This was gold.  [Insert judgment for my modern parenting skills here.]  It paid for itself tenfold before the first movie even finished.  Still, toddlers want to MOVE and their car seats aren’t exactly designed for energy-expenditure.  By the third viewing of Wreck It Ralph, I thought I was going to lose my mind.  I couldn’t take being asked “Where are we?” one more time.  And this was just about exactly the time we got stuck in traffic.  Again.  Seriously?

Suddenly it seemed like months of preparation had narrowed down to this final tunnel of squandered hope.  I thought I might lose it.  My last nerve was being frayed as we drove on and on and on, until a single vein of trust started pulsing inside me.  “Just get there. Just get there.  Just get there.”

Traffic.  Yuck.
And then, the city appeared.  Two thousand miles of road and fear and mystery and anticipation and anxiety and worry and doubt…now, behind us.  We pulled up to our new apartment complex.  We had never seen it before and not even seen photos of the inside of our apartment.  But, the sweetest sight was my family waiting there to greet us. 

My brother, sister-in-law, and their kids who live just minutes from our new home were waiting with open arms to welcome us to our new life.  My girls ran up and hugged them, and suddenly for the first time I felt a new clench in my heart:  “Finally,” I thought.   “Hugs of hello.

We were here to stay.


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

We just packed up our lives.  We’re moving from California to Nashville, TN.  BACKTRACK here.

Josh and I had a long road ahead of us.  We romanticized the idea of traveling the 1,300 miles to get to our girls on the way to moving to Nashville.  I mean, who doesn’t love the idea of a roadtrip?! 

Road TRIP!!!!  Tunes and snacks galore, not to mention the many mindless hours to just chill and see God’s creation.  It all seems so poetic until you are actually on the road and you just find yourself eating out of boredom and having to pee all the time.  Not exactly the pioneering paradise we dreamt about. 

I’ll admit, I was mostly clinging to my husband’s expectations.  This was actually my fourth time to drive cross-country, and so I knew the lack-luster feeling of just wanting to GET THERE.  As much as I tried to revive the Jack Kerouac in me, I grew anxious and annoyed with each mile, trying to summon my patience with beef jerky and twizzlers. 

We stopped at his folks in Arizona the first night.  That was emotional in and of itself, because it would be the last of the good-byes that fell into the category of “not-knowing-exactly-when-we-will-see-you-next” and I just hate that.  It’s always so much easier to say good-bye when you can at least tell yourself how long it will be until you say hello again.  But, we forged ahead, 6 hours down, and many more to go.

About 13 hours later we ended up in Tucumcari, NM.  We stayed at a crappy hotel (hey, I call ‘em like I see ‘em) where I’m pretty sure there was a coyote graveyard in the back and meth being sold in the ditch out front.  In other words, it was lovely.  But, we survived and showered, and got back on the road as soon as possible.  About 5 more hours into the next day, we got a flat tire on the moving trailer.

Now, let me tell you, if you are going to break down somewhere, you probably aren’t going to want it to be in a place named Hooker (Oklahoma).  But, seeing as we had no choice to the matter, we did break down there.  So, as we waited for Penske to come to our rescue, I climbed up into the moving truck and kept Josh and the cats company.

Ah, yes – didn’t I mention?  We were traversing with 2 CATS.  They were just as giddy about the long car rides as I was (okay, not even that much) and thrilled to be parked on the side of a windy highway where we were suddenly at a halt.  Ugh.  The only thing worse than sitting in a car and traveling at a slow pace is sitting in a car and not moving at all. 

But, we made it.  Penske came to our rescue, changed out the tire, and we were back on the road having lost only our patience and two hours of travel time.  All in all, we were grateful to be in one piece and keeping our cats alive.  Not only that, but we were inching our way closer to sweet reunion with our girls.

I’ve never been happier to see such silly, squealing girls.  They ran out to greet us, and it was like Christmas and my birthday all in one.  They looked bigger and louder and much more happy than I remembered them.  They molded like butter into my arms, and my aching heart that was so empty from all the good-byes in California was urgently bursting with completion. 

Our family was together.  Our family was whole again.  Our family was ready to embark on the final adventure towards our new life.

Nashville or bust.


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

It’s been too long since I’ve written.  I can always tell when it’s been too long because I start to second-guess myself and avoid the idea of writing and then stalling and stalling and stalling until the inevitable finally occurs.  I can tell it’s been too long when I start to wonder if I should, or if it’s worth it, or if I even need to…when, clearly, I can’t live without it.  So, here I am; enduring and persevering through the insecurities of getting back into the swing of a new normal.

In case you haven’t heard (or are stumbling upon this somehow) I just moved across the country.  Not just me, but my husband and two young daughters (and oh yeah, two cats) as well.  I’ll be rolling out several posts about how this all came about, how we did it, and what life consists of now. 

If you’ve been reading the blog regularly, then you might see a few changes coming.  I’m hoping to start posting more often, though possibly in shorter form.  I, maybe just like you, don’t have gobs and gobs of free time (if you are shrugging at this irrelevance to your own life, then perhaps this blog is not for you after all) and so, I’m hoping to work towards the art of brevity yet meet with you more often.  How does that sound?  (As always, flying by the seat of my jammie pants here.)

Anywho…us Pardys have recently trekked 2,000 miles from California to Tennessee, and are on this-side-of-the-brink of starting a brand, spanking new life.  Crazyville.  It’s still a little much for me to comprehend.

I don’t know where else to start except “move-out day”.  Boy, was it a humdinger.  I had just flown to Kansas to drop my girls off at my folks for a few days while (according to plan) I would fly back to California, load up our lives into a 16-foot Penske truck with my beloved, and haul east.  I had never been away from my girls for more than 24 hours before, so this was new territory for my emotions in a multitude of ways.

I believe this is what you call "to the gills"
Flying back to California was emotional enough.  It hit me upon my descent into LAX that this was, for the last time, my final flight “home to California”.  From this point forward, I would forever be considered a visitor instead of a resident, and that was difficult to accept. 

My husband picked me up from the airport and we set out to have dinner (disregarding that it was already midnight) at our favorite Thai restaurant in LA.  (Please, someone visit Toi Rockin Thai on Gardner and Sunset and send my regards to the Thai Spicy Spaghetti.)  We just had to.  It was our last chance.  Plus, our kids were 1,300 miles away, it just felt wrong to not fit in a date somehow!

When I got home for the last time and walked into our apartment, it became clear to me that I had entered a twilight zone of sorts.  This was not my home.  This was a series of rooms filled with memories and mere remnants of somewhat-recognizable objects.  My emotions were engaged with the location, but my senses were entirely confused by the surroundings.  Boxes and bare carpet.  Disassembled furniture.  Suitcases and cords.  This was a barren land of a life that was ending…and that life was ours, our California life together.  It was sad and weird and uncomfortable.  And it was just the final motivation I needed to force myself to forge through the next 24 hours.  No one would want to stay in that kind of uncomfortability for long.

I won’t relive it entirely.  I can’t.  Waking up the next day to a series of goodbyes and the sheer, physical labor of packing up a moving truck was too much for me to ever want to think about doing again.  It sucked, bottomline.  I had to put my best friends to work, packing and stuffing everything familiar into a giant box on wheels, and then hug them goodbye.  It’s hard to say which I went through more that day – duct tape or tears.  I wanted to take one last look at everyone and everything and engage all my senses into everything I saw so it would be impossible to forget.  I did the best I could.  I hope it was enough to remember.

And then.  Deep breath.  We left.

Tears streaming down my face, I looked out the back window of my car one final time, my sad friends waving and the sun glaring and my vision getting all foggy in my steamy glasses, and I pulled forward and out into the open road that suddenly looked entirely different to me.  The street I had lived on for so many years was now just the road out of town.  It was no longer home. 

Home was many, many miles away.  My heart was going to have to catch-up to it.

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