Movin' ain't easy, Mama.

I know the target audience is specific and small. This isn't written specifically to every mom. This is for you ladies that just relocated, who are in the process of moving or have future plans to. Whether down the block, to a new state or maybe across the world. I know what you're going through. I know what you’re feeling. You're not crazy. and you're not alone.

If you don't fit within the category of having just moved/relocated, I would encourage you to continue to read for the sake of supporting and understanding your friends who may have or who are currently relocating.

To my personal friends reading this- I hope this can shed light on to what it was like for me moving. If you've questioned my choices or decisions or just wondered if I fell off the face of the earth- let this help you see me and meet me where I am in this season.

2017 was quite an eventful year and 2018 hasn't been much different. In August of last year my husband and I made the bold and exciting choice of moving "home" to Florida after having lived in Massachusetts for 7 years. It was the biggest "leap of faith" we have ever taken. Y'all if you know me and my love for flip flops, colorful shorts and poolside living- you will understand that living in Massachusetts was......challenging. THIS IS NO JOKE and I give you full permission to face palm, laugh at me and even roll your eyes. I had a serious wake up call the first time I saw snow. YOU GUYS, I seriously thought snow melted away after falling. Like- I didn't have any clue that it stuck around. FOR MONTHHHHSSSSSSS. UGH After that first snow fall I knew my life had changed. If you're a Florida cracker like me- you probably have a few "thick" sweat shirts for our harsh 50 degree couple of days of winter. You probably still wear flip flops outside in January and you probably hate having to layer up to stay warm. Welp, there I found myself, living in the blistery state of Mass with ZERO winter clothes, zero familiarity, zero friends (accept Jacob and his best friend Nick) and zero idea what I had just gotten into.

Let me back up a bit. I was 21 years old and in looooove. Jacob Jata was the man I'd been searching for. After a 3 year relationship with many ups and downs, we got engaged on a (nude) beach in Aquinnah on the island of Martha's Vineyard. (I'll save that funny and awkward and sweet story for another blog down the road. There's no shortage of writing material in this crazy mama's life.) We were on a romantic vacation in the summer of 2010. I left Florida with a naked ring finger and returned with a sparkly promise of love,hope and a new future just a few days later.
Only a couple of weeks into our engagement Jacob found a potential job in Massachusetts. He pursued the possibility and sure enough I found myself not only planing my wedding but also arranging for my first ever cross country relocation. Within sixth months we were married and two short and chaotic weeks after that, two lives became one and two homes squeezed into a one POD. We shipped our stuff and went on our road trip "honeymoon" to Beantown.(VERY BAD IDEA FOR A HONEYMOON. ANOTHER blog topic for another day. I still tell Jacob he owes me a tropical getaway with a lot of beach time and food and drinks.)
First year was ROUGH. I was not walking with the Lord and God used this time to get a grip on my heart. I saw me desperate need for him and I thank God for that time of my life because it was then that God grabbed a hold of me. I've literally been OBSESSED and POSSESSED ever since! Can I get an AMEN! Hallelujah Jesuuus!

But that relocation is not the one I'm highlighting. The recent move home to what I thought was a familiar place is what I want to share about. Because let me tell ya, uprooting and replanting an entire marriage, your family and everything you've known as a responsible adult is a whole new kind of crazy. Back when we moved to Mass, I was young, in love, I DIDN'T have children, and I was excited about the new life ahead of me. God created such a beautiful life for us in Massachusetts and so leaving almost seemed like the worst idea on the planet.

But, when God calls you to Go- You GO! And we felt Him calling. I had prayed, Oh, I don't know, every single day for seven years, for Him to call us back to warm, sunny Florida. What I hadn't realized is that while I truly longed to be closer to family, to me more comfortable in my flesh away from the winter, I also had deep, deep roots. My faith grew in Massachusetts. I had been blessed with the most amazing spiritual sisters. I welcomed my babies into this world in Massachusetts. We bought our first family home. We (Jacob) spent countless hours painting and spackling the walls of the house we cradled our babes. We had a church family that were some of the first people that actually knew me. Outside of Jesus and Jacob- I had a community of genuine believers that walked alongside of me and cared for my soul. I gained true spiritual freedom in Massachusetts. I learned my identity. I learned that I was loved by the almighty God of the universe. That he calls me daughter. You get the gist. I grew to LOVE Massachusetts. So while I longed to be back in Florida- I had abundance and a quality of life that I couldn't have even of dreamed of.

When we felt God call us home, it wasn't in the way we had imagined or even wanted. (SHOCKER ;) ) God called us to move in faith. One day we called our realtor and just put our house on the market.Jacob quit what was maybe his "dream job," and we prayed for guidance. We didn't line up a home or a job in advance. We just prayerfully felt led to do it all in faith. Our house sold in a couple weeks. WE got 9 offers. Some of which were above asking price. We saw this as confirmation and so we accepted what was the best one. God basically worked out all the details and there wasn't much hindrance at all. WE announced our move to our family and friends and before we knew it- we were road tripping BACK to Florida. This time with A LOT more stuff, with two kids and we left behind what felt like a group of friends that were actually our family. Blood family is almost always guaranteed to be in the picture. While I knew I would miss my family when I moved to Massachusetts, I knew that we would stay connected. And we surely did. I grew to love my parents and appreciate them more living in Massachusetts. But when we left Massachusetts there was this unknown of whether or not I'd ever see some of those folks again.

And THAT was just the very beginning of the hardest journey I have ever taken.

We arrived back on Florida soil in mid October and I still hadn't fully processed the undertaking that we had just endured of selling, packing up our house and the details of all that. To sum it up. IT WAS CHAOS. I still have this vivid image of the movers piling out of their truck and almost barging into our house the evening they came to pack our things. There was so much moving tape. The screeches and specific sound of the tape being unrolled and wrapped around the blanketed furniture is seared in my brain. I watched them literally man handle decorations I had put so much thought into. They handled it just for what it was. They didn't consider who had painted it, of gifted it to us. They didn't care if it was a piece I'd saved up for, or searched online for for months. And truly- they shouldn't care. It's not their stuff, and they were hired to be efficient and they were hired to wrap, tape and move. Sure enough- there they were, sweating and grabbing corners of things together. Working away without much care. ANd there I was, watching them while reminiscing and saying goodbye to the nooks and crannies of our 1912 home. I knew deep down in my soul I had peace- but Oh did it FEEL like complete disarray. This was another layer added to an already difficult choice of moving.

OHHHH... Did I mention we just had our second child that previous April. And I had at the time a really lively and rambunctious 2 year old. (who is now 3 and even more cute and rambunctious!) Hannah came into our lives on April 26. Little did I know a few short months ahead of me would be filled with relocating her and the rest of her new family.

So, while we were packing, moving, organizing, say our farewells and tying up loose ends I was also a regularly scheduled mama of TWO. One funny thing I laugh about the night we had the movers come was trying to find a quiet place to nurse Hannah. I thought I found a secret corner in an emptied out room- when a Russian accented sweaty mover whips open the door to grab some rolls of tape. Only to be met by my engorged milkers and fussy babe. "Don't mind me...just nursing the baby." I managed to say as I was also choking down my pizza dinner. Momming seriously increases ones ability to multi task. And who else out there has ever spilled food in their kids hair while nursing and eating?! It's a skill of mine.

The next morning we left for Florida. We packed into our blue mini van with so many snacks and Disney movies. We made lots and I do mean LOTS of stops on the way. 24 hours of driving broken into about a week road trip may be one of the funnest and most emotionally damaging episodes of my life. For real- I need therapy. Didn't help that Jordan didn't want to watch much else outside of The Grinch? Jim Carey's weirdo grinch voice has a dedicated place in my brain. It's labeled "things I don't care if I never hear again." Also in that part of my brain is the sound of moving tape.;)

The first three months living back here in the "promised land" were... let's say... HARD and pretty much CRAPPY. I went through a serious spout of anxiety. There's a specific moment I realized something was really wrong. We were walking out on a beautiful peer at a restaurant. It was a pristine day. The weather was perfect, the kids were behaving, Jacob was in a particularly good mood. But I felt like at any moment that peer was going to cave in and we were all going to go with it. My mind was lost in fear and worry. I had the hardest time shutting out irrational thoughts. Typically I am an easy going, fairly worry free kinda gal. I never understood anxiety and the grip it can have on your health. I would be fine one second and then in the next I was fighting for breath on the edge of tears. I don't think I have yet to fully process what we just endured as a family- so in those first few weeks and months I was extra fragile.

Meanwhile all around me, life goes on as usual. Friends that I was reacquainted with couldn't understand because they had no reference of experience. The women I did know that had relocated were also in the trenches of transition and were still processing their own feelings. I do have to say, those few conversations with gals in the thick of it like me, were saving graces. I treasure those morsels of kinship. There's nothing like having companionship in an unknown place. My other friends could try and support me and did the best they knew how. But honestly- until you live it- it's hard to explain. Hence why I am writing this to you today.

Just before opening my computer, a new friend of mine sought some comfort from me. I see this woman as a divine friend God has given me for this season of my life. SHE GETS IT. She and her family just relocated here from out of state. She's got new EVERYTHING. She opened up about her feelings of being overwhelmed and all the new things she was facing. Her kids are in new schools (two different schools),she and her husband have new jobs, they have a new home.... basically it's all unknown. We chatted a short while and I was able to encourage her. She is just a about 5 months behind where I am.
Thank the Lord I am finally feeling rooted and settled and at the end of the entire transition. While I may still be processing some things- I was able to truly and authentically tell her (and YOU) that by and through God's grace, with his love and his provision that the chaos and the overwhelming moments DO subside. and to think! Here I was living so close and not coming alongside of her like I so desperately needed someone when I was transitioning. Which is exactly the motivation behind this blog today! Girl, DON'T lose heart. Stay steadfast. You are not crazy. It does get better.

To you who have moved, or are in the process: HERE ARE SOME THINGS I HAVE LEARNED:

GRACE. GRACE. GRACE. Give yourselves GRACE, ladies. Yes, we women are super heroes. We wear the hats of wife, mom, house maid, cleaner, chef (or line cook) and all the others. We have the gumption and strength to muscle through. And we DO IT. WE are not weak and we are not failures. We are prone to control and we often expect perfection. We desire success and long for our children to be happy and healthy and to ultimately know and love Jesus. Gosh we want so many good things, so badly. We pray earnestly, we barge the gates of heaven with prayer and supplication. We seek God in all we do and we expect goodness all the days of our lives. Even in the midst of trial we can forge on. We can put our heads down and pull through the other side. We don't let ourselves dwell in the way of the sinner, we instead put ourselves at Jesus' feet. We eat up what He has for us and we realize faith is the only thing we can be completely full from but at the same time incredibly hungry for more. We are daughter of God almighty. And you, my dear sister are in one of many of those harder seasons. So pull through, sit at Jesus' feet and let him carry you. And give yourself some dang grace.

Maybe you're not feeling very super hero-y. Maybe you feel super crappy, super scared, super alone. But that's not for you to decide. You are a super hero because Christ dwells in you. So believe that. You are not to be scared because Christ has conquered and has shut the mouth of your enemies. He has a plan and a purpose. He wants you to know Him more in this time. He wants to show you just how much He loves you and will carry you through. He has good things for you on the other end of this move. There's people you need in this new land, and there's people in it that NEED YOU. There's friendships waiting you never thought you'd gain. I'll tell ya, one of the most amazing gifts God provided was NEW friendships right from the start. We have some of the most amazing neighbors and friends. These relationships are only just beginning to blossom. But they wouldn't be in the picture had we never made the move. So, no- you didn't make a mistake in moving. If you haven't met the people yet- they're out there. Get your butt in a Mom's group. Reach out to that girl with the cute style that always catches your eye at church. Be bold and be confident that God will give you the people.

Maybe you're waiting for the right job to unfold. It was almost feeling like we would never see Jacob work again. He even reconsidered his passion of being in the wine business and started interviewing for new roles. But now he's steadily growing in his new position and is starting to love it more and more. He went through his own dark season while here. Having said goodbye to everything he knew for something new- he also grasped for joy and wrestled with self doubt. It took nearly four months for him to start working.We lived on savings and prayed A LOT.I have gained SO MUCH respect for my husband. He led us through this all with so much wisdom and patience even while being uncertain and afraid. I love his faith and his strength. So, ladies give your husband so much grace. Be patient and be the best freaking cheer leader you can be. I am a PROFESSIONAL at telling my husband his strengths and reminding him who is in Christ. And likewise, I saw my husband grow in his love for me and the way he encouraged me.

Maybe your kids are really struggling with the change. I witnessed Jordan turn into a different kid over night. Tantrums and so much emotional sensitivity. With living in a rental home (that most of us had never stepped foot into prior to moving in) and us basically living out of boxes the first three months of being here- structure was almost non existent. And if you know anything about kids- it's that they love structure. (Or maybe it's that they could survive on snacks and that they like to repeat themselves.)However- Don't even consider that you're somehow damaging your kids by this move. If God called YOU- He called your children as well. Ever entertained the thought that maybe your moving here was actually to plant your child in the land that they'd impact for Christ one day? Maybe their future is what God had in mind too. Not just yours. Your kids will flourish. They will thrive where you are. Promise. And just to throw it out there- You won't be angry or frustrated forever. YOU ARE A REALLY GOOD MOM. Be so proud of your strengths, repent and let God change the rickety parts of your mama heart. He can and He will. One of the most amazing victories through all of this is that I can say with certainty that God has given me a new heart in the area of anger and patience. It's so baffling to consider that amidst the most chaotic time where anger and impatience just seem more justifiable- God chose to show me His sovereignty and He knocked it right out of me. (through a lot of alone time full of tearful and genuine repentance with the issues in hand as a sort of offering. God does not reject a broken and contrite spirit ladies. Cry OUT TO HIM!)

Maybe you're battling anxiety like I did? Irrational thoughts or feelings? Let me say, in the hardest emotional seasons of my life are also the seasons my faith has grown the most. Get in the word of God. Let his TRUE WORD become your guide. Your feelings don't represent the truth. Often our flesh says something other than what God does. Let his word overpower your feelings. BELIEVE what He says. Expect what He offers you in faith. He says He has peace that transcends understanding waiting for you. His burden is light and his call for your life is not a daunting one. He wants you to cast your cares ON HIM because HE CARES FOR YOU. He promises to work everything out for your good and for His glory because you love him. YOU HAVE to trust his word more than you trust your feelings. If you don't take anything else- take that you NEED God's word in your heart and mind to combat the lies of this world, even your very own fleshly emotions. AND REMEBER THAT HE LOVES YOU!

Ugh. It's hard. It's terrible. But it can also be so good and so amazing. If someone offered to take me back in time and if they said, "I can just take you from the happiest part of your life here in Massachusetts and transplant you to your settled, future happy life in Florida without the difficult transition..." I would say "No thanks." I met Jesus afresh over the past year. He is my friend. My true companion. My anchor in the storm. His strength was made known in my weakness. He is my guide, my lamp, and the lover of my soul. I can say that genuinely. I went deeper in my faith because of the relocation and now at the other end I can honestly say IT WAS WORTH IT and I'd do it again.

I hope that meets some of you where you are. I love you, sister. Hang in there and let God show you His presence. He is after all, holding your hand right now.

Shelly Jata