It’s been a rough few months.  Our entire family took turns suffering from everything from the stomach flu to pneumonia, I went through a miscarriage and bad reaction to anesthesia, and we moved from my in-laws’ house (where we lived for 8 months.) in the middle of it all.  Oh, and did I mention that my husband is in ministry? . . . And given that this all was happening right before Easter, his schedule was pretty crazy.

So this move — though it occurred at a difficult time — was a move forward.  If you’re wondering how this relates to RP, I’ll give you a little of the back-story on why we chose to move.

We spent the past 6 years living in Plainfield, a suburb of Chicago with very little public transportation or places within walking distance. We had originally moved there to live close to the school where I taught, but after I began staying home with Offspring A in 2007, it really didn’t make sense to live “in the boonies” (as my extended family always called it!).

Obviously, 2007 was not the best time to sell a house, and some advised us to stay put and thought we were crazy for losing so much money on it after purchasing at the height of the market in 2005.  As every good financial advisor, and even our realtor, told us, “if you don’t absolutely have to move right now — don’t.”  And yes, it did end up being a huge sacrifice.  But some things in life are just worth the sacrifice (why else would people ever have kids?).  It took several hundred showings, price drops and late-night conversations before we finally reached our last resort, a short sale.

For us, we had several sacrifice-worthy reasons for moving (my husband did an incredible job blogging about these in his post, “Reset”).  Our reasons ranged from simplifying to re-prioritizing how we spend our time.  But the major reason we made the decision to move was to live within a walkable location.  Given that I can’t drive, this seems like a no-brainer, right?  Well not exactly.  We really loved our home and neighborhood — from the nearby forest preserve and park to the in-ground pool, huge yard, finished basement, log-cabin addition w/ stone fireplace, and 2 gazebos, it was pretty much an ideal place to raise our kids.  And though I’m making it out to sound like a mansion, it was a modest-sized 3-bedroom place that seemed to fit our four-person family very well.  Yet once the kids and I were at home, we were stuck there all day.  Besides walks to the park and having people over, we really couldn’t interact with the outside world like I longed to.

Our house finally closed in October 2011 after several grueling years of showings, failed contracts, and endless costly maintenance and repairs.  Prior to closing, we moved in with my husband’s parents in order to get back on our feet and recover from the large hit we took on our house.

And here we finally are — spring 2012 — in our new, adorable rental home with a walkscore of 92 (see if you’re curious about your home’s walk score)!  Besides quadrupling our walkscore, a few things have changed.  Our square-footage is now half of what it was.  Instead of a 2-car garage, we have a tiny storage shed.  Instead of an in-ground pool, we have an old, dilapidated barn that is off-limits to children.  Instead of 2 gazebos, we have a screened-in porch with peeling paint (working on that!). We traded our 3-bdrm newish home for one built in 1913 with 2 bedrooms and a little office with no vents.  Though the house has its quirks, it has beautiful restored woodwork, a ton of character, feels warm and cozy, and is literally across the street from my daughter’s school.  It truly is perfect for us, and it feels great to finally be living within our means and to have so much less stuff.

It’s as if there is room in our lives to breathe again.

Though we’ve only been here a few weeks, I already feel like I have a new life.  This new life is evident in the day-to-day tasks of being a mom.  For example, I was actually kind of excited last week when we ran out of milk because it was the first time I’ve ever been able to run to the store on my own for something my family needs.  My toddler and I walked to Walgreens together (okay, not my first choice for milk, but it will do!), and in the middle of one of the aisles, she began doing what I’ve heard toddlers often do in stores: throwing a tantrum.  I actually smiled while walking down the aisle pushing my screaming 2-year-old because I was finally experiencing what “normal” moms do on a daily basis.  Overrated, you’re thinking? Not in the least.
It’s all about perception.  It’s funny because I started working on this post last night, and when I went to church this morning, our pastor was talking about perception.  He talked about a formula of sorts that really resonates with me — “change of pace + change of place = change of perception.”  I feel like our family is the walking illustration for this formula right now.

These newfound errands — trips to the store, the bank, the park district office —  are not mere things to mark off my “to do” list; they are privileges.  And they have made me think about other privileges I have as a mom that I often take for granted living in the first world.  How many times have I complained about having to think of and prepare meals for my family?  Yet this is a privilege.  I am blessed to have food available to make.  I  get to decide what food to prepare.  How many people in the world even have that choice?  Washing machine?  Privilege.  Toilet to scrub? Privilege.  Dishes to put away?  Privilege.

And as soon as I begin seeing them as chores and annoyances and anything but that which they are — privileges, the joy is taken away, and the people I am serving — whether my children or spouse or friends, are robbed of the gifts I am privileged to offer.  No one wants to be served by a grumbling giver.

Our pastor went on to point out that change of perception ultimately equals a change of reality.  And for me, my reality has shifted.

I am aware that I may one day begin taking the ability to run these errands for granted — that I may not always smile while my toddler is screaming down the aisle at Walgreens.

But in these weeks — these first trips to the store and outings to the library, I want to feel all these privileges, and to enjoy them.  And I know I can’t make my friends and family feel privileged for errands they do every day.  But I do hope that even if this post crosses their minds while doing even one seemingly mundane task, their perception will shift slightly.  And maybe they’ll pause.  And feel privileged too.

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28 thoughts on “Moving Forward: And All These Privileges

  1. Love this! I am so happy for you. I can hear the joy in your words as you see a new perspective and treasure the joy in your daily privileges. Thanks for the reminder of all the privileges we have!

    • Thanks Tammy! You heard the weekly struggles in our study this winter, so you for sure know that my perspective has definitely shifted! And thank you for passing this post on to others.

  2. What and awesome story, we have only been attending The Orchard Community Church for a very short time and have not met many people yet but this is such a beautiful story and glad to know we are not the only one struggling in life but know there is peace in change.

    • Thank you for taking the time to read our story, Rose and Tim. Yes, there is peace in change, and you are definitely not the only ones struggling– there’s a whole “tribe” of us, as Scott terms it. 🙂

  3. Joy’s blog about privilege + change in my perspective – my grumbling lately about everything lately especially cooking = a CHANGED attitude today from where I began (and great meal for my family tonight with me realizing the joy in it!) Thank you my friend. I needed that…really!

  4. You have given me a brand new perspective Joy!!! I LOVE hearing how the Thomas family is doing these days and how this move has enriched you in so many ways! Much love to you!!

    • Thanks Heidi! We miss you guys so much! I hear you’re heading this way possibly in July, though, so I hope we can walk all over town together w/ the kiddos. 🙂

  5. Loved this post. Thank you so much for sharing your life’s journey with us, from your heartaches to your joys. .(One of my favorite things about my “small” house is its “walk score”. I can walk to Aldi and Target, the post office, and shoe store and McDonald’s all without crossing a major road. The only downfall is that we are quite a distance from the bus line.) While my blog is not RP centered, my most recent post is about parenting from a new perspective. Thought you might enjoy it if you have time.

    • Thanks so much Tracey! I’m definitely going to continue reading your blog– I love your writing (when we selected your piece as the contest winner, I was wondering/hoping you had a blog!)

      You’re like– I wish I had a Target to walk to! (and Aldi’s has such great prices compared to the places I have to shop for groceries– Peapod is my current grocery friend for sure!)

      Thanks again for reading, and I look forward to more of your posts!

  6. Hi Joy! I’m so grateful Tammy H. shared your blog – I SO enjoyed reading this post as it really resonated with me and some difficult times our family has been going through. I, too, was moved by Scott’s equation about perspective and feel I’ve been making a bit of a shift in my realit(ies) for some time. I look forward to reading more of your posts.

    I wanted to make one more comment though, you briefly mentioned in the beginning some of what your family was dealing with recently and I wanted to express my deep condolences to you in the loss of your unborn baby. Prayers to you and Ben as you grieve this loss. I have a number of friends with, collectively, many babies in heaven and the comfort of knowing they have made it there help them through the grieving process. May God bless and comfort you both. I’m also sending (((hugs))).

    • Thanks so much Chris. Your words and prayers are such a comfort. I know those shifts in reality can be painful though freeing, so prayers to you and your family as you go through your trials.

      Thanks for taking the time to read our blog!

    • Thanks Em! The only sad part is not living near you. but I have lots of fun summer plans in mind for us. 🙂 Can’t wait to read your next post!

      Sent from my iPhone

  7. There certainly is peace and joy in change; though it is difficult. Thank you so much for the reminder of perspective. You are an amazing writer and an even more amazing woman and mother. I am so proud to call you my daughter. EnJOY spring in you new abode, with two of the cutest grandkids ever!!

    • Well I do have to agree about how cute your granddaughters are! (Lucy LOVES the pink cross necklace you sent, btw!) We are enjoying spring and cannot wait until your visit this summer– no more annoying, long trips to Plainfield and trying to figure out the car/ride thing! love you!

    • Thanks Scott! And I love how everything this past weekend related to not only what was going on within me and my life, but apparently tons of other people as well. How does that happen so often?!

      • 16a13835133Hey! I just came upon this site today while looking up for some dinfereft fitness terms in yahoo. Stuck around a little to check things out and read a few of your articlese280a6 enjoyable stuff. Ie28099m going to be sure to come back later on some time and catch up. 184

    • Thanks Neil! Being in real estate transition is tough– the storm does come to an end eventually though!

    • 16a142351caDefinitely believe that which you sttaed. Your favorite reason seemed to be on the internet the simplest thing to be aware of. I say to you, I definitely get annoyed while people think about worries that they plainly do not know about. You managed to hit the nail upon the top and also defined out the whole thing without having side-effects , people can take a signal. Will probably be back to get more. Thanks 187

  8. I love this! Great post, and I learned some things I had never heard of, from the Walkscore to the little nuances of life you have been missing in some way (the screaming in the store, etc).
    Thankful for you guys and that you’re a part of this community… great writing too!

  9. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this post, Joy! Thank you so much for writing and sharing this. Thank you also for sharing a little bit about your story at church this past weekend. I was crabby leaving for work this morning. How many people would love to wake up to head to a great job on a Monday morning? I was crabby when I woke up after only four hours of sleep because my band played Saturday night, and I had to be at church at 7:30 to play on Sunday. How many people would love to blessed with the talent to play an instrument? How many people would love to be surrounded by the talent and amazing people we have serving at the Orchard? I could go on and on and on and on, but just know that you deeply moved and inspired me with the post. I love that I’m able to play music and share your husband’s gift. I hope Spring and I can get to know both of you more in the months to come. “Embrace!”

    • Thanks so much for checking out my blogpost, Tim! And thank you for reminding me of these day-to-day privileges as I sit here scowling at a pile of laundry (it’s amazing how quickly I can forget something I wrote about it with such gusto just a short while ago– that’s why I have to continue preaching this to the person who needs to hear it the most– me!) I hope you had a great Monday. Ben has been mentioning wanting to get together with you and Spring for awhile now (he told me the awesome engagement story– I was gone that weekend!) Let’s set something up soon!

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