Thursday, December 29, 2011

Then Comes the Pang

(Am I the only one having trouble with photos on Blogger?)

Five nights ago, I drove the babysitter home. She lives just a few houses down from where we used to live, back when we lived down a lane and didn't vacuum our kitchen.

It's been almost three months since we moved. I've driven past a handful of times, but mostly I just don't. It's usually not necessary and even though I always believe I'd handle it just fine, who wants to tempt fate? My emotions have blind-sided me before. It happens.

Five nights back, I didn't have a choice. No big deal. I drove down the dark road and I knew it was coming and I felt myself getting a little chattery about it. My poor, sweet babysitter played along, asking me "Do you miss it?"

No, I don't really miss it. I really don't. It's weird. I mean, I miss some things about it, about the house, but no, I don't really miss it.

(My answer went something like that.)

I dropped her off, turned myself around, and headed back down the road. Only that time, I was alone. And that time, I slowed down just a little. I pulled the shoe-box down from its high shelf and I unfolded the old letters, from a long-ago love. I pushed the bruise a little, knowing all the while it was a bad idea.

The porch was all strung with Christmas lights, there was a wreath on the door. It looked so snowy and lovely and I had to wonder, why didn't we ever take the time to string some lights?

Here's why: We always thought we'd just do it next year.

Out of no where, a big lump formed and I pushed it down, down, down, only it pushed back a little and my eyes got glassy-feeling and I cried a little. It confused me.

Didn't I just tell her that I didn't miss it? Do I somehow not know the truth about my own self? Am I playing games with my heart? Overcompensating?

I drove home sad about those strung up lights. I felt the weight hovering over my rental-house bed.

And then, I knew. It's not the house that I miss. It was never, ever about the house. The house happened to be beautiful. It helped us live well. It was comfortable and warm. There was a garbage disposal. It was perfectly me and very well lit. I think about it in that wistful way. Sometimes at night I close my eyes and try to imagine myself walking across the plank floor, looking long out the window at all of the quiet around me. I'm quite fond of the place. I always will be.

What makes me sad isn't the house, it's who I was in the house. Actually, it's who I wasn't in the house (at least in the beginning.)

Back at that house, I was a girl who never felt shaky or unsure about my future. I knew we'd be there almost forever. We would talk about turning the toy room into another living room in ten years or so, once the toys had lost their shine. We daydreamed our future, and it the future happened right there. Of course it did.

Back under that roof, I didn't know what I didn't know. My heart didn't twist up like it does now. I was oblivious about some things and, I gotta say, oblivion can be a cozy companion. It can be free and easy, so easy that you say to yourself, "It's fine. We'll just string the lights next year."

Right now, tonight, there are uncertainties about our future. We should know exactly what comes next, but we don't. We're a little bit in limbo, and limbo's not so cozy. He's kind of a punk.

But here's something I do know. I know that we'll be somewhere. Can't that be comfort enough? We'll not be left for lost. We won't be forgotten or homeless. I'm thankful for that knowing. I took that for granted in all of my la-la-landing.

There will always be a plan for us. It might change and change again, but we'll still be us and God will still be the cozy company we need most.


  1. I am sorry for your loss.
    It was just a house I know,
    but it was your dream.
    The beautiful thing is,
    dreams still come true.
    The next farm will be better and more perfect.
    Praying for you.
    Come read about my Mommy and Daddy's farm. I think I told you the story.

  2. from a fellow garbage disposal-less girl:

    i feel you. i didn't leave our house, i'm in the same place as i was 6 years ago but everything still seems and feels so uncertain.

    glad we serve the One who has it all in His hands.

  3. The good thing about our big God is that He already knows the plan, and all the while when we think it's changing, it's actually just getting us where He needs us to go.

    He is so cool like that.

    You're cool too.


  4. hot chocolate break from damages let me read this and now i'm all weepy. i don't think patty hewes will understand. she's a tough cookie.
    when my heart begins the pre-ache at the thought of leaving this house that is my home... i remind myself that He is designing my house in heaven. all the perfect in one address. He made the sun and the stars ... i can only imagine what he can do with mood lighting. ;)

  5. God is a great companion. Uncertainty can be hard; trust me, I know. How's it going with your girl L.C.? Seems like she might have it within her to answer a few of your questions...maybe even bring home some bacon and slap it up in your pan. What's she saying, these days?

  6. I love how you deliver your words! I soo needed to hear them tonight. Thank you!!!

  7. yep, not a fan of limbo myself.
    i am a HUGE fan of being wrapped in HIS arms....
    the safest place to me.
    but you knew that already!

  8. Limbo. That punk. Why does he pester me so? Thanks for knowing how to say these things.

  9. While looking backwards is not a bad or wrong thing; after all we can gain perspective (as you have). Looking forward, even when unknown can lend itself to such great adventure. Especially when there resides in you a hope in the One who holds all things in his Creator stained hands. Don't neglect the present future for the pangs of the past my dear friend.

  10. Girl, do I ever understand you 110%. Because I've driven by the house God told us to sell and then went home with a heavy heart to a garbage disposal-less rental house and prayed to not be left for lost.

    I am a year and a half out from that time and can tell you most definitely that giving up my own plans to follow God's calling for us has been the most freeing and amazing thing in a way that I cannot put into words in a blog comment . . . hang in there, you gave up a really great cheeseburger and you are hungry and I know it, but God is going to take that beef jerky you have now and turn it into a filet Mignon and you will be filled in a way that you'll never look back.

  11. Farmgirl, you repeatedly render me speechless.


  12. I am walking with you in many ways friend. And all my prayers are with u too lots of love.

  13. i have felt those feelings almost exactly.
    if i could just walk through the house one more time.....
    if i could redo that night...
    why didn't we have window escape ladders?
    will i ever be the old me again? the me who isn't always colored with loss.
    but in the end, faith comes by receiving. the 'let it be to me as you say' that we learn from mary. and THAT me, the me that receives from His hand, is constantly being destroyed and rebuilt. and that renewing is not without its' suffering. you are beautiful ms. shannan. and i am privileged to know you, to hurt alongside you, to pray for you and with you and to watch our Father love us and take care of us as only He can. xoxo

  14. Feeling that way now even though I haven't moved or sold a house or brought my family to another. It's that feeling of transition, of longing for the settled.

    You are such a storyteller, Shannan. I was right with you in your car.

  15. I relate to this more than I wish I did. We are in limbo too. I hate limbo. I want to know the plan. Soo bad. At least One of us has one :)

  16. When we were in that limbo spot in the worst kind of way and I'd give into the panic and uncertainty and curl up on the couch to sob my husband would say to me "When has God not taken care of us?" Sometimes I would hate when he said that but I was always thankful too. Even still I catch myself worrying and think "When has God not taken care of us?" and everything seems okay again. Not always right or the way I want it to be but okay.

  17. having a wee bit of nostalgic trouble of my own here in my hometown. something about it hit me today and i got all weepy. i was driving my parents' car and stopped myself from crying "in case they have some sort of recording device in here." (Really? Who thinks these things?)

    I love your words because they hit me square in the chest. And I get it at my core.

    And we need a phone call...

  18. Thank you for that. We are in the middle of moving and trying to decide where we are going to settle down, right now we are staying with family, but it is hard not knowing what comes next.

  19. oh, shannan. always grateful for your words.
    i get this. here with you, friend. uncomfortable and undecided...leaning on the comforter and the one who ordains all!

    love you. LOVE YOU. (wanted to be sure you heard)

  20. During a long period of 'limbo', I whined to God, "I don't even know where I'm going to be tomorrow".

    His reply? "No one does."

    We live with the illusion that we know and we are comforted by our illusion.

  21. Dear Shannon ~ You touch and bless so many with your words, and they in turn leave wonderful, heartfelt comments.

    God loves and cares for us all in His tender mercies. This post with comments brought the following scripture to mind.

    This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope.

    It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.

    They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.

    The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him.

    The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him.

    It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD.


    May we all rest in His loving care. He knows what is best for each of us.

    Thank you for writing from your heart. For telling things like they are, for giving encouragement and hope even when things are bleak and scary.

    Love, hugs and prayers ~ FlowerLady

  22. Mmm, so true. Beautiful and raw.

    As for me, "potential" is what I often morn the most.

  23. friend? i think you are lovely.

    thank you for working out these things right here with us. you are not alone.

  24. We lost our beautiful, self-built home to foreclosure 10 days before Christmas. Staying with family with our 3 cats and doofus golden retriever has been MOST humbling. I am trying to be content in whatever place I am at...a difficult road, to be sure. I do not know what tomorrow holds, I only know He holds my future.

    In Christ alone,

  25. This whole post and comments has brought tears to my eyes. Such sweet people here. God Bless You All!

  26. Comforted by the fact that while MY plans might've changed....His plans for me remain. He's not thrown a curve by news. It's His news. He's known all along. I might be getting twitchy from the ride, but He's not. Resting in that.

  27. I can totally relate to your post. Although my husband retired from the military over a year ago, I still miss our rental, old farmhouse that we lived in for ten years. My new home is shiny and really nice. It has a huge floor plan but it's not the same. I used to look out my windows at the pasture, trees and pond. Now I'm in suburbia. My babies were born there. I still miss it.

  28. hugs for you sweet girl. change is good and change is hard. BUT there is always, always a silver lining. I am old ..I know these things.

  29. hugs to you dear friend.
    in instances such as these (and there have been more than a few for us these last couple of years) my husband always reminds me...'what's the worst that could happen?' 'are you going to die tomorrow?' 'and if you die tomorrow that's okay, 'cause you know where you'll be.' he's right (sometimes it annoys me & i don't want to hear it), i'd rather poke at that bruise. just yesterday i was driving & thinking 'i am not a shop'...'my identity is not a business.' we've only owned it for 6 short years. how quickly i went from feeling humbled to have it, to 'it' being my identity. (not saying that's where you are now, 'cause i think i remember you writing about that back in your 31 days, perhaps you are well past that phase). but i'm also excited for our new chapter in 2012 & am excited for you also. let us remember fondly the past & focus with joyful anticipation on the 'exciting' unknowns the Lord has in store for us. much love!

    Jeremiah 29:11

  30. Ahhhh.

    This reminded me of me.

    We've decided to sell our house in 2012, or try to, I guess. It's odd because although I have loved living here, I felt ready to move back to the city (or near it). We bought this house thinking we'd fill it with a few kids and that hasn't happened. It's too big for just two people and two dogs. We have rooms we don't use. I know it's time to move on. We want to adopt. We'll have to save money and downsize in order to fund it all, etc.

    Yet, this last month I have felt pangs. I feel a surge of it when I look outside and imagine my 25 rosebushes (knockout roses! All planted this last summer)belonging to someone else. Stupidly wondering if someone in the future will lovingly care for my plants. I walk around the rooms and feel sad.

    I've almost made myself re-read your 31 days of letting go series. But I think I have to do this first.

    Sigh. I hear ya, kid.



  31. Wow -- this hurt when I read it, mainly because I went through exactly this about 4 years ago when we sold our first house. I felt like someone had peeled off my skin. For months I wandered around feeling emotionally stripped. I thought I was crazy, identifying so much with a building, a garden (oh my -- it still hurts when I think about my garden).

    Praying for you, kiddo.

  32. Oh I so know how you feel! Isn't it funny the plans we make and then the odd feeling that comes when God moves us in a different and foreign direction? The feelings of uncertainty, yet peace. The feeling of fear, yet excitment. The feeling of being out of control, yet resting in knowing who is in control. The feeling of stretching, yet knowing He enlarges us for great things and our own benifit!
    It is a winding journey you are on and I am proud to say that after 6 years of living in limbo I finally feel settled (at least partly) and that in the end we all have deepth of character for trust what He is doing while we hang out in limboland!

  33. The unknown...the can be stinky...when we stare at it too long.

    But then we THE One who knows...THE Comforter...and we realize we're safest there, in the unknown. We're in His plan.

    Now...if I can just stay focused and stop taking my eyes off of Him...

  34. I needed to read this and the comments, too...we find ourselves in foreclosure and ultimately leaving our home of the past 19 years...sometimes I still can't believe it is all happening and feel so many poor decisions were made over the years...the worst thing is me worrying how I am going to tell everyone; I do know there must be a plan and I have to keep thoughts and prayers to you and yours, and best wishes in 2012. Thanks for sharing.

  35. Yes!! That's it. Thank you for explaining what I've been feeling and have not been able to process. I'll tell you what...I also like who we (me and my boys)have become because of our move. Wishing you a wonderful 2012!

  36. Ahhh, leaning into the coziness of God. Sometimes we have to be forced.

    Thanks for reminding me to appreciate the garbage disposal. You really don't until you have lived without one.

  37. he will never leave us nor forsake us. amen sister. love you.

  38. Shannan,I always feel like I've already told you a story that I'm about to tell you. I'm comfortable with you like that. I was the one who walked away from my home and my ex. One day I was at a stoplight and the song from Hill Street Blues came on the radio and suddenly I was bawling. It wasn't the song, it was the golden warmth of our home, the security and safety that came rushing back to me. In the spring when the daffodils bloomed, I asked my daughter to pick one and bring it to me and she did. Hang in there, girlie. God will carry you safely to wherever you go. xo, Cheryl

  39. My husband and I just moved from China to Korea, and I'm right there with you on this journey of uncertainty...and expectation. Thank you for reminding me of the truth I often forget.

    I was listening to my current theme song, and you came to mind. May it encourage you, too:

  40. like a ton of bricks, i was hit by so many words in this post. "we always thought we'd just do it next year" "I knew we'd be there almost forever. We would talk about turning the toy room into another living room in ten years or so, once the toys had lost their shine." how many times have i said these things...even this year. your journey (pangs and all) is inspiring to me. i want to be in that place of isn't enough good enough. a work in progress, slowly but surely. thank you for your words. i've followed you for awhile. hope you have a merry christmas today (12-31-11)!


  41. Your words hit home for me. I too am in a shaky uncertain place. Thank you for letting me know that I am not alone.

    I hope that you find much peace in 2012

  42. Now that's something I've never thought of...that "we'll be somewhere." That is comfort in the most wonderfully minimalist way. I'm gonna hold on to that one. Happy New Year...wherever this year may lead you and yours. : )

  43. Shannon,
    I've been following your blog for months now, but I've never commented. Just want you to know how encouraging you are to me. Thank you for your openness!

  44. A lovely thing to read on this first day of the new year. I love your strength and vulnerability. Thanks for sharing it. xo

  45. I still drive by my old house from time to time. For some reason, it looks dreamiest at night with the lights on inside. Christmas lights get me too. It will always pull at my heartstrings because of it's place in my life...and that's okay. I don't have to live there to enjoy the memories.

    Don't be too confused by the emotions. You'd have to be superhuman to never let it tug at your heart from time to time. I'm betting that by now, you've got it all back in perspective.

    Bless you, rental girl. You'll be somewhere and that's a fact! I'd hug you if I could!

  46. The first time I read your blog, it was your post about knowing you would let go of your farmhouse. I cried. But it was a selfish response. We had recently embarked on our farm living adventure and I couldn't read your words of resolve. They forced me to think of letting go when I was just learning the ropes.And I didn't want to think of it. We've been here two years this month. Periodically I have to pry my fingers loose and remember who my Center is. And if He takes me somewhere else, He will reveal Himself there too. Thank you for sharing your heart.

  47. a hearty amen to the following:
    'He's kind of a punk.'
    'We'll not be left for lost.'
    because there's everything in that, yes? God knows exactly where we are, so we're never lost. never left.

    ps yeah, but did *their* wreath have the naked babies?
    pps L&L just introduced us to damages. if you don't hear from me for the next 36 hours, we all know who to blame (and co-blame).

  48. well, this spoke to me alright.
    right where I'm at.

    thanks S.

  49. I wanted to share that your post gave me goosebumps and stirred up some emotions about the uncertainties of my future and I can't thank you enough for being so incredibly open and honest.

    All the best,

    Amanda @ Bullfrogs and Bulldogs

  50. living in the loss of what was is not for the weary.
    trusting God for the present and for what will be is beautifully challenging.

    praying for you in it all.

  51. I respect you and your husband for letting go of the comfortable and stepping out into the unknown. You made the hard choice and I don't doubt it will be mind blowing.
    I just need to say- I know exactly how that feels- I'm walking through it now, except for me, it's not a house, but a husband. I mourn what was lost and what has been found. I head into the future with only God as my vision because all the dreams from another life can't exist. But in it all, I know this is His good for me. That's the only promise I've been given. That's what I'm holding on to.

  52. Sister. I hear you, I'm with you, and I love you!! :)

  53. I am new to your blog and drinking it in. We are an American family living in England. We sold our home and brought everything with us. We live in a rental house. Our future, too, is unknown - how long we will live in England, and where to next? Wishing you a wonderful 2012 wherever you may be. XOLaura

  54. So, *this* is exactly how I feel. While folks are naming a word for the year and making plans, dreaming up big schemes of goals and such, I'm standing in wonder over the unknown. It's kind of scary not knowing what will happen. Facing the reality of that truth really knocks me over. But, it's also freeing and exciting, and there's nothing I can do but choose Trust. And, what you said breathes peace back into me--we'll be somewhere and not forgotten. Yes, that should be enough! I want it to be enough!