During past few weeks I have spent a lot of time sorting and packing belongings for the move to our new retirement home in Smyrna, GA. Two years ago our younger son, Jeff, his wife, Britney, and their two sons, Odin (10) and Asher (7) relocated from their home near Iowa City, IA to the Atlanta area to be closer to a regional office of Jeff’s employer. That same week my husband, Kim, and I moved from near Iowa City to near Des Moines, IA, so that I could serve the United Methodist Church in Panora, IA.
Moving can be challenging, but from the moment I first heard about the Panora UMC, I knew it would be a good place for us. Even though we only had five weeks from the day I said I was open to a move until the day the moving van showed up, I felt that God had gone before us to prepare the way. Although the church does not have a parsonage, we were able to locate appropriate housing an easy commute from Panora. In addition, Des Moines is closer to the location for the PrairieFire Spiritual Direction Practicum I planned to attend in Atchison, KS, and it has a VA Hospital where Kim could receive his medical care.
Being so many miles away from our grandchildren after having them so close to us was quite an adjustment. Then last fall our older son, Andy, who also lived in the Iowa City area, moved to Atlanta to take a position at Emory University. So, as Kim and I began making plans for my retirement later this month, it seemed to make sense to look for a place to live that was close to the ones closest to our hearts.
I wondered what it would be like to look for a house to buy in the Atlanta area while still living in Iowa, but once again it seemed clear that God had gone before us. We knew we had found the perfect house the moment we saw it. It met all our criteria: three bedrooms, two baths and all on one level. As a bonus, it had been completely renovated inside (think “move-in ready”) and was in our price range. I really came to trust that God was in this with us when the seller countered our offer to pay the full price with an offer to help pay some of the closing costs!
Buying a house is a complicated and time-consuming endeavor, but in spite of all the bumps along the way, I was certain that God had led us to this purchase. When two mortgage leaders refused to consider allowing us to close on the property until the middle of July to be sure my retirement income was solidly in place, a delay that certainly would have cost us the house, a third lender convinced their underwriters that we were financially secure enough to close in May.
Yet one more confirmation of God’s hand in this transition came just yesterday. As I pulled out my copy of The Upper Room Disciplines 2018, a daily devotional guide I have read regularly for twenty five years, I happened to glance at the name of the author for this week’s reflections on the Revised Common Lectionary reading, something I don’t always do. The author was Bradford Bosworth, listed as a writer who worships and serves at Smyrna First United Methodist Church. A few days before, after reviewing the websites for three UMCs near our new home, I had selected Smyrna First UMC as the place I wanted to check out on our first Sunday in Georgia.
I don’t know everything that will come from our move to Smyrna, but I have no doubt that, once again, God has gone before us to prepare the way. I know that I will still need to find a place to exercise, but being close to our children and grandchildren and finding a church will help us to feel at home immediately. My trust in the God who created and redeemed us continues to grow.