"No obstacles are insurmountable when God commands and we obey"
- - Heber J. Grant
July 9, 2014
Lessons Learned in a Move
by Marian Stoddard

Facing a move was difficult. No matter what was going to happen, it was going to be tough. The amount of work involved was overwhelming, and the uncertainties were too.

Besides the promise of direction, the bishop blessed us with patience for each other. That may have been the most important thing he said. He promised us that we would know the things we needed to do, and that the Lord would help us through.

It's so easy when you're under strain to react to things with irritation, which is answered in kind, escalating tension into anger; that can push aside the sense of partnership for the moment, when you need to troubleshoot together, not snap at each other.

There were many moments when I recalled those words, "I bless you with patience for one another," and called upon them in a quick silent breath of prayer so I could stay calm, and keep our discussion calm.

We had to simply exercise faith and set out to figure out what we needed to do. At each step of our way, we had no idea what would come next. This tends to produce two overlapping levels of thought, one of faith and one of worry. Faith never disappeared, but anxiety was often nipping at its heels.

There was no question that we were led to where we needed to move. When the owner decided to accept our application after an anxious wait, and all the paperwork was done, I met with the agent to take possession of the house. After a final walkthrough, she handed me the keys and said, "Here are your keys -- welcome home."

Home? I thought. This isn't home; home is what I have to leave behind. But in the next moment I acknowledged to myself that it would be home, because it had to be. I knew that the Lord had opened up this opportunity for us. It was still a huge change.

I asked a friend to come over and help me clean out the kitchen cupboards. She met me over here, and we started in on them. As we moved from the first section to the next, she paused and turned towards me. "I have to say, you seem to be in pretty good spirits."

"For someone who's losing their house?" I answered. "Well, we're still hoping to be able to sell our house [which we did]." I told her that the Lord had opened this up for us, so we had faith that everything would work out. And it has.

The house sold, the new house is home now, not just by default but because this is where we are and we have peace in being here.

We tried to take the changes as a bit of an adventure. It hadn't been just the two of us for nearly forty years. Even when our last daughter went off to school, we had a young family friend living with us, and our youngest hadn't gone farther than north Seattle. This was true empty-nest time.

It had been a long time since we had had a new space in which to reinvent our lives. We had done it twice in the old house -- once when we first got it and had to replace all the floors and choose paint for the rooms, find and hang curtains, and everything else that goes into rehabbing and inhabiting an older house.

Then we went through some of the same after a kitchen fire. Here we were offered a fresh start; that's been good for us.

This house sits on the corner, and the length of it runs front to back. The entry sits at the far edge of the front and opens into a little vestibule, from which you step left into the living room through an archway. Or take that step and then turn right through another arch into the dining room, then the kitchen, then eventually the back door.

One bedroom opens off the dining room, the other off the kitchen. I sent the realtor's pictures to a friend, who remarked that it was "a charming little house."

And the sunshine -- there's a great deal of light in this house. Streetside, there are large windows in the dining room and kitchen. There's a little nook, with windows on both sides, in the back corner of the kitchen.

I love the light, and I love the space. The lot is tiny, and it's been sadly neglected for a long time, but we have a garden now and I've unearthed a little patio which had been covered by blown dirt and grass for who knows how many years. It has felt good to accomplish that, small as it may be.

There are shade trees and flowering trees, and even fruit trees hanging over the back fence from the house behind, which we have permission to pick.

The bedrooms are small, but the living room is actually a bit bigger than our old one. The house has its quirks, but there's room for me to do my physical therapy exercises -- one of our requirements. I just had to figure out where the flat spaces in the floor were, so that, for example, my elbow isn't in a dip in the floor for modified side planks. That was a slightly comical challenge.

Home is about how you live more than where you live. I'm grateful that we were able to be in one place for all the years that our children were growing up. I didn't want to change, but a big part of that was because the process was too overwhelming to contemplate.

We had been there too long without the physical energy to keep it up, and we had too much stuff that needed to be dealt with. I couldn't do it, so it had slid.

We were a tremendous burden to our friends, and we had so many who came and helped, and came again. The actual moving was done in three different stages, the last one in a slight panic because we had the buyers and a sudden deadline. Our friends still greet us warmly and I know they would come again if we needed them again. That's true love, and we are richly blessed.

Some of the lessons of this move were things we learned, and some were things you could say we relearned. Our Heavenly Father truly does watch over us. He brought events and our temporal needs together in a purity that maybe we'd never been ready enough for in earlier years.

Temporal and spiritual truly were all one. We don't have security, as the world would identify it, but we have a greater measure of genuine serenity than we have ever enjoyed.

We had sacred moments in our old home, which changed and taught me. I've been musing that maybe there are no ordinary moments in our earthly lives, if we could only see. Maybe all our moments are sacred if we could understand them so.

Those indelible experiences, those gifts, abide in my heart. They will go with me when I leave this life; so what does it really matter if I have to leave a place? Grateful for the blessings of each stage in our experience, I simply hope to be faithful and faith-filled. I'm happy here. I'm home.

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About Marian Stoddard

Marian J. Stoddard was born in Washington, D.C., and grew up in its Maryland suburbs. Her father grew up in Carson City, Nevada, and her mother in Salt Lake City, so she was always partly a Westerner at heart, and she ended up raising her family in Washington State. Her family took road trips all over the United States and Canada, so there were lots of adventures.

The adventures of music, literature, and art were also valued and pursued. Playing tourist always included the local museums as well as historical sites and places of natural beauty. Discussions at home, around the dinner table or working in the kitchen, could cover politics, philosophy, or poetry, with the perspective of the gospel underlying all. Words and ideas, and testimony and service, were the family currency.

Marian graduated from Winston Churchill High School in Potomac, Maryland, and attended the University of Utah as the recipient of the Ralph Hardy Memorial Scholarship, where she was graduated with honors, receiving a B.A. in English. She also met the love of her life, a law student, three weeks after her arrival; she jokes that she had to marry him because her mother always wanted a tenor in the family. (She sings second soprano.) They were married two years later and have six children and six grandchildren (so far). She treasures her family, her friends, and her opportunities to serve.

Visit Marian at her blog, greaterthansparrows.  You can contact her at bloggermarian@gmail.com. 

Marian and her husband live in Tacoma, Washington. Together they teach those who are preparing to go to the temple for the first time, and she also teaches a Stake Relief Society Institute class.

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