the south

Multi-Generational

Suddenly, I feel like I’ve woken up from a long nap and I’m looking around going, “am I really here?  Did this really go according to the plans we made years ago? Am I really back in the south again, reunited with my family?”

Yes.

It took about three months, but all of our IN affairs are settled, Sibby is no longer a newborn, and we are finding ourselves marching to a rhythm down here in our new land.

One of the common questions to be asked down here is, “what brought you to Nashville?”  No one, well hardly anyone I’ve met, was born here.  It is rare to encounter a native, though it does happen every once in a while.  For most of us, we came here with a story, ours being not very different than most others.

When I get to the part about my family living here, most of my friends with children look away wistfully and say, “I would love to live by my family.”  There is something about having children that, for most of us, changes our hearts back home after a decade or so of necessary independence.

Free babysitting is one thing, but a very surfacey side effect at that.  There are shared birthday celebrations, relationship building between generations, and a greater, more sensitive pulse to the daily life of those closest to you.

One of my favorite things have been our weekly “family dinners”.  Mom will pick up the girls from school and take them back to her house to play.  The rest of us join in sometime around dinner and enjoy a(n always delicious) meal together.  I look forward to these meals every week and one thing I’ve noticed is that if I go into the meal stressed or anxious about something, I always walk away feeling better.  We don’t even have to address my concern (although sometimes we do have deeper conversations about it), but there is something about time spent in company of those that know and love you best that does the heart good.

Another benefit I’ve quietly observed is the cohesiveness of multiple generations coming together.  This has been a stressful year for all of us, no doubt.  There have been new jobs, retirement, new life, new moves, new school, new friends and relationships, new neighborhoods, the selling of houses, the settling of estates, sickness, stressful parenting, large financial decisions, and then just the normal stresses of up and down daily life.  Sometimes, I think we just take note of each other as we look around the room, and say, “we’re still standing! We’ve almost reached the end of this weighty season, and it is good, very good.”

My parents, now the true matriarch and patriarch of the family, have the benefit of a life spent following God.  When my mom talks about God taking care of them, and my dad shares meaningful Bible verses, the look they get in their eyes and the passion in their voices, it feels so real. They have been able to walk with us through stressful situations and remind us of God’s faithfulness because they have an amazing track record of it.

Our little ones, down to the littlest, are so needy and dependent on us.  They have SO MANY needs they rely on us to meet but I dare say they never spend a moment in worry, wondering if we are going to provide.  They are an example of the hope that comes from a life of trusting God to care for us and believing that He will.  Little Sib, the most vulnerable among us, is no respecter of persons.  She would reach for and smile at the most unlovely person, no matter how filthy, poor, sinful, sick.  It doesn’t matter to her.  A picture of God’s love.

And then that leaves us, the twenty-thirty somethings somewhere in the middle.  I’d like to think we contribute to this generational dynamic as well.  And I think we bring a lot of (most of the?) burdens to the table.  We are making so many decisions about careers, parenting, finances, relationships, all the meaty things that will indelibly shape our future.  Some of these decisions don’t afford us much thinking time and have to be made on the fly, other ones leave us alone with them for an agonizingly long time until we are finally able to pick a side.  But I think somewhere in here, there is a picture of God’s tender mercy and grace.  I think God has given us an extra helping of mercy in this season of life where we make a lot of mistakes, sometimes we rush into things, or speak out of line, but we get by with love and forgiveness, and we let things go and move on to the next weighty matter, all the while trusting in God to provide, with the careful knowledge that He has yet to disappoint us.

“The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23

This is why we came here, I think.  To discover the character traits of God in the unique lens of a whole family and to write some stories for a watching world.

-smk

Headed South

I’ve always felt a longing to go south again.  I lived in Indiana for 10 years, but it never truly felt like home, perhaps because I never let it. The ways of the Hoosiers (a word my St. Louis background caused me to never embrace), always seemed strange and a bit bumbling to me.  The first three years I spent here, after all, we didn’t observe daylight savings.  Yes, while the rest of the country turned their clocks backwards or forwards obediently, twice a year, we moved about our lives, pretending the tradition never existed.

I always compared their food to my own; peanut butter pie was no match for pecan and pork tenderloins were a shoddy version of a catfish sandwich.  And I always missed my pimento cheese and hush puppies (I was once righteously offended when I went to a Catholic fish fry and instead of hush puppies they offered me rice.  RICE). But, as you must understand, I came here late to the game and with my heart already married to the land below the Mason-Dixon.  And it didn’t help that Indiana’s Achilles heel is their winter.  I hate the cold.  I hate the snow.  I dread it every year.  To go to the land where snow barely exists has me more excited than I can possibly say.

So while I taught myself to drive through their so-called roundabouts and find a setting sun behind a field of corn just as beautiful as a scenic mountain, I always wondered when we would go back.

The conversation extended to my parents.  We spoke of it in sweeping dreams and whispered circles.  Someday we’ll live together.  Someday we won’t be a plane ride away.  Someday our girls will be able to walk over to your house for dessert.  Someday…

We’ve been speaking of someday for eight years.  And then in 2016, someday became reality.  In April, Dad retired.  In May, they moved to Nashville.  In June, N accepted a job there.  In July he moved.  In August we  closed on our house. It happened so fast, it left us reeling, but in reality, it had been the plan all along.  And now we are going home.

Our new house will be completely different from our schoolhouse.  It will be neighborhood-ly and suburban.  I imagine our lives there will be the same, but of course augmented by bar-be-que and accents.

But to give fair credit where it’s due, I will miss our decade in Indiana.  We loved and lived in two wonderful cities, each unique in their own right.  We had fantastic neighbors in each of these places and wonderful churches.  We made friends there; deep friendships that span 10 years or one, both invaluable to our well-being.

Noblesville was vibrant and fun, the kick-off to our life with children and suburban in the best way possible. Upland was magical and sweet; the life we had dreamed of for so long.  It will be hard to say goodbye, and we will look back with longing from time to time.

But the next chapter has already started and it’s time to move ahead.  In fact, I think my moving crew just arrived.  Rocky Top, I’m coming home

-smk