In the midst of mourning what we are leaving behind, I am also looking ahead to many good things once we move to Indiana. Since I grew up in the midwest, many of these things are close to my heart. Some of them I took for granted until we moved to California and left them behind.
1. Land - One of our dreams for a while has been to have more space to do things like have a large veggie and herb garden, get more chickens (we currently have five but could easily use the eggs from 10 or more chickens) and maybe even a couple goats or a cow (fresh, abundant, raw milk... would be amazing!!). And even just land to spread out and not feel so confined, like it feels like some times in SoCal.
2. No Street Sweeping - Ok, I totally get why the city does street sweeping, and understand that I benefit from it because our streets look much nicer than they would without it... but regardless street sweeping is such a hassle. Most of the time that Alex and I have lived at this house we have given our only prime parking spot away... first to our roommate Katy, and later to my Mom. That leaves us with three cars (because we house our church's van) parked on the street to move for street sweeping twice a week. And that one time you forget, they pounce on you with a $50 ticket, which we inevitably get 3-5 times per year. Or you are out at a friends house and don't think to look at the street sweeping sign and bam- before you know it they nail you. Its also slightly heart-attack inducing every time you hear the street sweeper come down the street, especially when you can't remember for sure where the car is parked.
I look forward to no longer having this twice a week stress in my life!
3. No Black and Brown Widow Spiders - Ugh. Black widows have been my arch nemesis since we have moved here. I'm constantly spider-checking Esther's toys, checking under plant leaves in the garden and going on night spider hunts (widow spiders are nocturnal, so the best time to hunt and kill them is at night when they are out on their web. During the day they find a crack or crevice to hide in). I have had several close calls with them (mostly when I bring in garden produce that they are somehow hidden in) but God (truly in his grace) has prevented me (or anyone else in the family) from getting bitten. But I will breathe a bit easier when I no longer have to wonder if they are hiding somewhere nearby. Yuck.
4. Fall. And rain (especially thunderstorms). And maybe even snow (a little bit). As much as I love having perfect weather 80% of the year, I also miss seasonal changes and the smell of rain. I wish that I didn't have to water my garden 1-3x times per week, every week, as long as I want it to produce. I'm even looking forward to snow a little bit (mostly for Esther's sake, I think she is going to love it!). And SoCal thunderstorms are sooooo lame. They happen once or twice a year, and involve a couple cracks of thunder, tops. Laaaaaame.
5. More pouring in, less pouring out - Ever since we have been married, Alex and I have been doing ministry and constantly pouring out to others. There are things I love about doing ministry, but it can also be very draining at times. Don't get me wrong, I don't think ministry is optional; all believers should be doing ministry, should be serving others in some capacity. And we will continue to do so after the move. But in Bloomington, we will be some of the less spiritually mature people at our church, and I really like that idea. We will also not be doing foster care for at least a year or so, which will be a nice break. Both Alex and I see this move as an opportunity to grow in our faith in a way that will make us much better parents, more prepared for the mission field, and much stronger Christians in general. It reminds me of one of my most favorite verses: "And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen and establish you" (1 Peter 5:10). After several difficult years of tearing us down in many ways, I think God is going to use the next few years to build us up again. And I'm really looking forward to it.
6. More normal cost of living. - Cost of living in Southern California is completely insane. Taxes alone on a small house run about $500/month! In the midwest you can rent a small house for that price (the first place Alex and I lived was a one bedroom house for $550/month). When we are no longer putting 75% of our monthly budget towards rent and basic bills (not even including groceries), life will seem more normal and sane.
7. No traffic. Even if we were moving back to a smaller city, like Columbus or Indianapolis, the traffic would be nothing compared to here, but we are moving to a town where it will be almost non-existent. In the LA/OC area random traffic on Saturdays, at 11pm at night, and at noon are all things we have experienced (and don't even get surprised about any more). There are some places on some highways pretty much always have traffic no matter what time of day you travel. Don't even get me started on "traffic hour" which is really like half the day around here. I have never liked driving, but I like it much less since living here. The thought of congestion free roads and predictable travel times is very, very appealing.
8. Friendly People - Let's be honest, Californians are not the most friendly people. Especially on the road, where everyone is trying to kill everyone else to get to their destination one minute faster. Even in neighborhoods, people aren't that friendly with each other. We have had to work hard to get to know our neighbors, and still feel like we're hitting a brick wall at times. The culture in the Midwest is different... people generally trust each other, and there is less competition and people generally want the best for one another. I look forward to being back in this kind of environment.
9. Green grass. And trees. - Any green grass in Southern California is only green by artificial means (chemicals and/or lawn sprinklers). I miss naturally green grass. Real grass. And as much as I thought I would love palm trees, I miss "regular" trees. Especially forests. I can't wait to go hiking in a forest again, and not the desert landscapes that are typical of So Cal hikes.
Indiana, here we come! Less than three weeks until we leave!