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Filling in the Blanks

In my last post I hit some of the highlights of our move. I didn’t really want to bore people with the nuts and bolts of some of it but as I replayed those months in my mind I realized that there was more to write- much more. As I’ve read some of what I’ve written over the last 12 years I noticed that my early writings were very rambly which was fine by me because I wasn’t trying to be a writer. I just wanted to tell our friends and family that were far-off about our life and to share pictures of our adorable kiddos. I’ve noticed more recently though as I’ve tried to tighten things up and convey thoughts more clearly that I’ve become much more succinct. That can be a good thing but in this case it isn’t. So, I’ve decided to share more even if that means that I break this post into parts. My goal is to show that we weren’t just navigating the tough waters of uprooting our whole life by ourselves. God led us in every decision we had to make- and there were so many.

Last fall was beautiful in Tennessee. The weather was perfect and the leaves on the trees were changing. For the first time since we’d moved there though I was completely unable to enjoy it. It’s hard to have your heart stuck between two places. We are a homeschooling family and have been for many years. Usually we start school around September which gave the girls and I some uninterrupted time at the community pool since the schools in our county started at the beginning of August. That year was different though, I felt very strongly that we needed to start school when the public schools did which was August 2nd. So, after prayer and talking to Travis I found an online program that the girls could do for a relatively inexpensive fee (a nice bonus) and we could do school anywhere that we had an internet connection without having to lug around and keep track of books. I didn’t know then how important that would be.

It was later in that same month that everything in my life started to change. (I wrote about that here and here).

Fall is hands-down the busiest time in our lives because that’s when our family from Florida wanted to visit most years. And we were doing school. And we were still hosting life group. And I had already started to feel like I was going to have a breakdown. So I really, really didn’t want to put the house on the market until after the first of the year. But we prayed and felt strongly that we were supposed to put our house on the market then. When we talked to our Realtor she said the same thing, that if we were going to do it we needed to do it right away.

Putting our house on the market right away meant that we were going to have to disappoint some people though and I hate disappointing people. But we knew we couldn’t host Life Group anymore. I tried to rationalize keeping it, after all it’s only two Wednesday nights a month, surely I could keep going. But do you know what happens when you continue to hold onto something that you’re supposed to let go of? It starts to get really, really heavy. It started to feel like I had the weight of the world on my shoulders. I was crying easily and a lot. I felt frustrated and irritable. It was time to let go and to trust that God would provide what that group needed.

After we put the house on the market and had shown the house many, many times we finally had an offer that we accepted. It had been our plan all along to head to Florida to look for a house to buy the second we accepted a contract. But as we were planning to leave I felt uneasy, like maybe we shouldn’t take off so quickly. I talked to our Realtor and mentioned that we were planning on leaving and she really wanted us to wait to leave until after our house had been inspected. The problem was that there was a house that I’d seen online that Travis and I both really liked and they had just dropped the price significantly. I was sure that the house would sell before we got there. It was definitely a moment that we had to trust that God knew more than we did and that he was leading us. So we decided that we’d leave the following weekend. I kept my eye on that house all week but I’d determined that I would keep my distance emotionally and if it sold before we got there then that was God’s will.

Once we got to Florida I was a little nervous about house hunting. I had been looking at houses for a couple of months online and I knew that there just wasn’t much available at that time in the area we wanted to live that was also in our price rang. And as it turned out our first day of house hunting was very disappointing. The first house we saw was a rental property that was occupied. It was awkward to say the least. The tenant and his family were very, very nice but everything smelled like curry since we’d arrived around lunch time and even though the house might have worked for us it there were plenty of things to knock it off our list. The second house we saw was the house that Travis and I were very excited about that I mentioned earlier. It looked nice from the outside and the neighborhood was really nice but as soon as we stepped onto the front entry area I noticed that the foundation was cracked. And a few more looks around showed shoddy workmanship. We’d dealt with foundation issues in our first house and weren’t anxious to deal with it again so we passed on that house too. In fact, we passed on every single house that day.

That night I noticed that a new house had come on the market while we were on our way down to Florida. It was a really vibrant shade of green that I wasn’t crazy about. The inside though had been updated in a super cute cottage style that I really liked and it had a *pool*! My oldest daughter, Amanda had been sending me house listings for a couple of months with houses that had pools. They were mostly unsuitable and I joked that she sent me pictures of pools with shacks attached to them. I didn’t think too much of the house because though it was in our price range it was at the top and we didn’t really want to go that high.

The next morning I woke up at 6am-again- because our Realtor is an early bird and we set out to house hunt. I don’t remember much about what we saw that day except for the green house. As soon as we set foot inside I knew it was our house. It was much older than our current home and less upgraded but it just felt like home. We’d be losing about 450 square feet but each of the girl’s rooms were big enough for a queen size bed, it was something we really wanted since each girl has a queen size bed and there are very few homes with guest rooms big enough. They were already giving up their friends and life in Tennessee so we really didn’t want them to have to give up their beds too. The kitchen was not as spacious as the one I had and I was going to lose my big island and we were also losing a laundry room and a bedroom but there was a separate living area that we could use as Trav’s office which was another must since he would be working from home full time. What we lost in interior space though we got in spades outside. With a lot that was over a third of an acre (more than double our current lot) and a 600 sq. ft. screened in patio with a pool it was definitely worth the trade off. After all, we’d be doing a lot more outside living since we wouldn’t be trapped inside the house for 5 months of winter.

So after seeing another house and taking our Realtor’s advice to sleep on it before we made an offer we prayed about it and decided that we definitely wanted to move forward with the green house. We made an offer and to our surprise they accepted it….with one small exception- they couldn’t close when we wanted to. They actually couldn’t close anywhere near where we wanted to since the wife was having a C-section two days before our closing date in Tennessee. That left us with a giant dilemma- which I will talk about in my next post.

Until next time…

Amy

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Moving On

I’m going to say this in the most succinct way I know how- moving is hard. I have discovered that every time we make a move to a new place I get sort of numb. Emotionally I feel detached and out of sorts and it takes a while before I can get my footing again. I don’t write during these times because even though I’m normally pretty level headed I can also be really dramatic and feel like the world is going to end (I was a music major after all). Whenever I write during a “Chicken Little” phase I end up wanting to crawl under a rock and hide…or delete my post- either way. I say all that to say that the fog has started to clear and I’m starting to feel more like myself again. Our life here is still really new but I don’t feel like my life is something I’m watching happen from a distance anymore.

In my last post I had a lot of questions that didn’t have answers and I’m happy to say that most of them are answered. We sold our house in Tennessee and while I was relieved to have it over with I wasn’t really happy about selling it. I wasn’t ready to move yet and I was kind of bummed but knowing that we were doing the right thing helped. We also bought a new house and it isn’t pink…it’s froggy green but that’s better than pink to me. Although in a funny turn of events, our oldest daughter and son-in-law bought the most adorable little bungalow in an historic area of Lakeland just two blocks from a lake and downtown and it is most decidedly pink! Pink with green trim to be exact. It looks great and fits in perfectly with it’s historic surroundings but they do plan on painting it at some point. And their moving into their first home is something that I was here for. For the first time in over 5 years I wasn’t sharing this experience via Instagram or text messages, I was here. Or rather, we were here. We all helped them move from their condo to their new house, her little sisters took some cast-off furniture and things for their rooms and helped clean their old place. Travis gave Daniel advice on the mechanics of home ownership and other things that we girls were too busy to pay attention to.

We were also able to go to birthday parties for our nephew and niece and my brother-in-law and hosted a birthday party for Amanda (three of those parties were in one weekend). My parents stayed with us for a week so we could go to Amanda and Daniel’s college graduation (with a BS & MBA respectively). We’ve seen long lost friends and reconnected with family, found a church home and our girls are starting to make friends. And the sobbing that happened every afternoon is starting to subside- moving is really hard on kids.

About a week or so after we closed on our house we bought Disney passes and so interspersed with all of the aforementioned things were Disney trips, lots and lots of Disney trips. I’d gone to Disney parks many times but I’ve never gone this much in a single year. I think it helped me transition from Tennessee to Florida just to be able to have some really fun days. And also I’m nearly an expert on Disney parks now so I have even more things to write about 🙂

Is it what I expected? I’m not completely sure but I think it’s been better. Our house now is not the brand new home with the highly desirable upgrades that our last home was. It’s older and has some nice upgrades but also needs some updating- currently the counter top in our master bathroom is mauve, blech. We think we’ll be in this house for quite a while though so there’s time to update it when were ready. And we have a pool! We had a community pool in our last house and the first summer it was really nice. By the third summer though there were a lot more people living in the neighborhood and the kids seemed to run amok and made a mess of some things so it wasn’t as fun to swim there. I actually spent last summer dreaming of having my own pool, never imagining I’d have one.

In closing, so far our move has been great. There have been some challenges (the aforementioned sobbing) but the Lord has brought us through it. The girls are currently at camp and I’ve seen pictures of the things they’re doing and it looks like they’re having an amazing time. Before we left Tennessee I told Halle that this was an opportunity for her to learn to trust the Lord, that He knew what was best for her and that He had a plan. I think I was telling myself that too. I knew that God is faithful no matter what the outcome but taking those steps of faith can be scary. And I’m happy to say that out of all the moves the Button family has made, this one is the best.

 

Blessings,

Amy

When Facing Uncertainty

In my last blog post I talked about finding peace and I truly thought I’d gotten a handle on why I wasn’t peaceful and what I needed to do about it. And as it turns out, being determined to continue doing what I was doing wasn’t all there was to that particular storm.

It’s a long story and I won’t share all of it but at the end of it, Travis and I decided that we’re moving back to Florida to be near our family. We’ve lived in Tennessee for all but 11 months of our marriage and while those years have been really difficult I have still considered Tennessee home. Sort of. Really, I think it depended on the day. I’ve often wondered if other transplants feel as conflicted as I have. I’m not sure if it’s because Florida is so completely different than Tennessee or because it’s so far away but I’ve often felt like a fish out of water. When we’d go home and go to the beach I’d wonder why I ever left and then we’d get back to Tennessee and I’d see the hills and trees and think that I’d stay here forever. Forever is a long time to be away from our family though. It’s always come down to what God was asking us to do. Always. When Travis’ mom passed away last year our first inclination was to move immediately. The house didn’t matter, our church, our life, none of it mattered but that wasn’t God’s plan for us at the time. Of course, we had no idea that there would only be 5 weeks between her diagnosis and her passing. There really was no time for us to move then.

This past summer, Travis really felt like God was asking him to be willing to move. We’re settled here. Our kids had made some really strong friendships and I didn’t want to turn their lives upside down. We had done that with our oldest daughter when we moved here and it was really hard for her. I wanted things to be more stable for them, I wanted things to be more stable for me. Apparently, I don’t like change as much as I did when I was in my 20’s. So when Travis passionately told me that he felt like God was asking him to be willing to move I didn’t take it so well. I’m pretty sure that I said, “I’m not moving”! It was about two months later that I was heading to my parent’s house feeling like I was caught in a whirlwind with no idea how to find peace. Peace comes in obedience.

So, the last few months have been a flurry of activity, getting the house ready and we’ve put it on the market. And when the activity was done and I had a moment to try to figure out my feelings I realized that there are so many questions that I don’t have the answers to. What will it be like living near our family? They already have their lives and I know they’re busy so how do we fit into that? What will our new house look like? I’ve been looking at houses and there’s nothing like our house there in our price range. Have you ever seen Florida houses? Some of them are pink. I really don’t like pink that much. Where will we go to church? We’ve gone to the same church for 11 years and I can’t imagine not being there. Will I miss Tennessee and be miserable?  Will I ever see my friends again? People I’ve laughed and cried and prayed with. The people who have seen me at my absolute worst and still loved me anyway.

I was running errands one afternoon and I was listening to the radio. One of the DJs was talking about her dad and said that he was a pastor that had resigned his church and right after that had broken his leg and had been house bound for 6 weeks. Being unemployed, house bound and without a church family was weighing heavily on him. But in the midst of it he sent a devotional to his kids declaring how good God is and that he would take care of him. I thought, “What a blessing it is to hear someone declare the goodness of God before he has the answers, before the deliverance comes”. Tears streamed down my face and I was encouraged and I knew that I had to write about this before I have the answers, before the house sells, before we know where we’re going to live- God is good. And I know that He’s going to take care of us, I know his plans for us are “For His glory and for our good”- Dale Evrist

One hurdle that is already crossed is Trav’s job. He’s been given permission to keep his job and work remotely from Florida. As stressful as moving two states away is, having that resolved is a huge blessing. Two out of our three kids are ecstatic about the move, our oldest, Amanda who lives in my hometown already and, Chloe, our middle daughter. She says she’s always been a Floridian she just hasn’t been able to live there. Our youngest is very much like me and is taking it pretty hard but even in that I’ve seen God help her get through it. I don’t know how to feel a lot of days but thankfully I don’t have to rely on my ever-changing feelings, I can rely fully on God to bring us through this.

 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. Romans 8:28

 

Blessings,

Amy

Seeking Peace

Isaiah 26:3, Psalm 34:14

Last week was a rough one. It started with appointment after appointment, homeschool is in full-swing, our Life Group joined with a second Life Group at our house for a special series our church is doing and ended with me having insomnia and a sobbing meltdown. You’ve had those weeks too, right?

After talking with Travis for a while he suggested that I visit my parents. Their house is only 3 hours away and I jumped at the chance for a change of scenery and the chance to spend time with my mom and dad. Travis thought it would be a chance for me to clear my head and get some clarity. It’s good for me to listen to my husband because he’s very often right.

Talking with my parents was part of what I needed and Saturday morning as I checked the verse of the day on my Bible app I gained some perspective on my lack of peace…

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you”. Isaiah 26:3

I suddenly realized that the hurricane that was going on inside my head, the stuff that kept me from sleeping and from paying full attention to what the people around me were saying was because I wasn’t keeping my mind on God. My mind was on circumstances and situations as I tried to figure them all out. I was not at peace then but I knew that I would be. I also knew that I was going to have to fight for it.

“Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it”. Psalm 34:14

The message that my parent’s pastor preached on Sunday helped to break through the storm of confusion in my mind. He talked about our purpose and how there are many things that we do in our lives that lead us to the big, true purpose in our lives.

I realized that I was struggling, once again, with my purpose. Homeschooling my kids has changed a lot this year. Instead of me leading teaching on most subjects, we’ve switched to a completely computerized program. The girls do all of their reading, assignments, quizzes and tests on the computer which grades them automatically. I suddenly had very little to do on that front outside of helping them when the computer froze up or dropped the wifi signal. And since they’re both doing some sort of Algebra, math duties have been handed off to Travis because he taught middle school Algebra and Geometry when we lived in Florida. The girls immediately loved the new program. That should have been a huge relief for me but since I need structure it left a huge gap that quickly turned me into a confused mess.

Here’s the thing, I have a type A, need to conquer & accomplish things type of personality and doing the laundry just doesn’t float my boat. Although, I’m 100% certain that laundry doesn’t float most people’s boats. But last night, when I prayed for clarity my current purpose became crystal clear. It hadn’t changed from when the Lord made a way for me to stay home and raise my kids nearly 12 years ago. The confusion came in because I didn’t want to continue doing what God had already called me to do. But when I repented for not wanting to do what I was supposed to do, peace came. I also recognize that this is a season. This season will end (and I will cry because my kids will be grown up) and I will once again be able to conquer something other than homeschool and laundry. Until that day I will be faithful with what I’ve been given to do.

This past weekend I pursued peace and I found it- it was right where I left it. If you find yourself in a state of confusion and turmoil go back to the last place that you were peaceful. I bet you’ll find it too.

Blessings,

Amy

 

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What’s True About You?

Recently I was watching Murder She Wrote on Netflix. Do you remember that show? I didn’t watch it when it first aired in the 80’s because I was a kid and had much more important things to do. Halle, my youngest daughter, loves watching it with me and she asks questions about the hairstyles and decor and what it was really like to live in 1980. In the most recent episode we watched called, Sticks and Stones. As the story unfolded I thought about how what was happening on the screen was a very clear picture of what happens to believers when the enemy is at work.

In the idyllic town of Cabot Cove something strange was happening. All over town people were receiving anonymous letters. The letters were accusatory, pitting neighbor against neighbor. One accused the lead character, Jessica of having an affair with a friend’s husband, one accused a local businessman of cheating on his taxes and one said that a local fire was arson. It seemed bizarre that suddenly and for seemingly no reason these letters started appearing. As the episode progressed the investigators realized that one of the letters was true and that all of the other letters were sent to bring confusion and to make the truth seem like all of the other lies.

I tend to observe people. Not in a “people watching” sense. I observe people to try to determine where they’re coming from and I listen, really listen, to what they’re saying.  What I see very often is people who are Christians but that walk out life according to lies that they believe about themselves. I notice it often in people that grew up in an abusive home or if a parent’s actions weren’t outright abusive, they were careless with their words, called them names or berated them when they didn’t get things right.

Dummy!

Useless!

Loser!

Liar!

You don’t think!

Can’t you do anything right?

I can’t stand to even look at you!

The words sting and may not break a bone but can certainly crush a spirit. I have watched many people, including people that I love, walk in the brokenness that those kinds of lies bring. I call them lies because that’s what they are. Unfortunately people that grow up constantly subjected to those things often seem to live down to those expectations or they work very hard to be successful to prove that those things aren’t true about them. The truth though is that anyone who has confessed Christ as Savior has a new life.

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! 2 Corinthians 5:17

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:2

Several years ago I was walking through a season of brokenness. During that time God was lovingly and patiently walking me through it. One Sunday as I was at church worshiping I suddenly saw a picture in my mind of my birth certificate. On it nothing was written except that in the box that said Father was written, God. In that moment I understood that I no longer had to live according to anything that happened in my past. Jesus was the new standard for my life. I was no longer bound to live up to or down to any standard set for me by anyone else, I was only bound to Jesus Christ and his will for me. That moment set me free from things that I had carried with me for years.

So how do you find and walk in freedom and recognize the lies that Satan bombards believers with? I’ve narrowed it down to 5 steps that might seem too simple or basic but as someone who has walked through many difficult seasons- one might even call some of them impossible- this is what I did. And, quite frankly, this last month or so has been really difficult for us as a family and this is how I got through it. With the exception of #4 because Travis and I have been part of the same church for more than a decade. The impact that ministry has had on our family is immeasurable and we wouldn’t be the people that we are today without it. Now, on to the steps.

Step 1. Read the Bible daily.

Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path. Psalm 119:105

It may sound too simple but if a believer doesn’t regularly read the truth of the Bible they can easily be deceived by the enemy. Lies becomes obvious when compared with the truth. Is your path off of where it should be? The Bible will help make that path straight.

Step 2. Pray daily.

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. I Thessalonians 5:16-18

The Lord is near to all who call on him,
to all who call on him in truth. Psalm 145:18

Simply put, praying is communicating with God. Pour out your heart to him and listen to what He has to say to you.

3. Worship

 Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening.  Suddenly, there was a massive earthquake, and the prison was shaken to its foundations. All the doors immediately flew open, and the chains of every prisoner fell off! Acts 16:25-26

Some days I crank up worship music in the living room for a time of worship or while I’m doing housework. Worship drowns out the enemies accusations and gets my eyes off of me and onto the one who is greater than my problems, bigger than my fears and failures and gives Him the praise that He deserves.

4. Find a Bible believing church

Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.Romans 12:4-5

And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near. Hebrews 10:25

A believer should never try to go it alone. Do you know what happens in the Savannah when a zebra gets separated from it’s herd? It gets eaten. I need other believers, you need other believers. Don’t fall for the lie that church is just a bunch of rituals or irrelevant or not for you. The church is the body of Christ and you are part of that. Pray and ask God to lead you to the church that He wants you to be part of.

5. Resources

There are many resources available but one that I’m really familiar with and have a great deal of respect for is the ministry of Neil Anderson. His ministry is centered around those who are bound and broken finding freedom in Christ.  I went through a series of teachings on his books Victory Over the Darkness and The Bondage Breaker several years ago. It was truly life changing for me in that it helped me to recognize the things that I believed about myself that weren’t true.

I’ll leave you with this, a short list of some of the things that are true about you if you are a follower of Christ:

freedom in christ

Blessings,

Amy

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