A Moving Post: Our Story Goes On

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The setting for the story of our life is changing. We’re moving. It’s not the biggest, most daring move. We’re not traveling 8,000 miles to live in Africa (as my parents did with us when I was a kid). We’re moving about 100 feet. We are buying and moving into our neighbor’s house. (Insert coveting jokes here.)

Boring?

I hope not. The small story of our family moving is about more than more space, more than moving up the hill into a little bigger house. It’s about a dream, a vision, a story our lives are telling.

Overstating it?

We’re moving because we believe the setting of the new house will allow us to thrive in our passions. We believe it will help us be and do who we are and what we are called to.

Space, the final frontier. We did not need more space. We have said, “we need more space,” and have heard others say it many times. It’s sort of true, but not really. We have more space than most people in the world and in history have had. (A good measure, I think. Especially to gauge thankfulness.) We could have made it work.

We want more space. Why?

I want to set my beautiful wife up to succeed in everything she’s called to. I believe that’s part of my job (and one I’m slowly learning to do better, I hope, by grace). Gina has some hard jobs. These are jobs she loves, feels called to, and wants to do. Jobs like cooking every day to feed five…er, six, people. Jobs like teaching the kids about birds, sums, sentences, and czars. Jobs like sewing and writing, leading and loving. The new place enables her to more easily achieve success in her work. This is the leading reason for the move, in my view. But there are others.

We want to have people over. Hospitality has been on our hearts for a long time and we want to have a space that makes that possible/easier. The place we’re moving to is not huge, by any means. But the way it’s laid out allows for a lot more room to have people in our home.

The fact that there’s more opportunity for easier hospitality figures into our plans for our children. We plan to have a lot of “home games” with their friends. We want our kid’s friends of all ages to want to come to our place and to have room to operate and have a good great time. This house gives us more of that.

The place has a small hut that I plan to use for writing. A Writer’s Hut, which Chris Yokel –outstripping all competitors– has perfectly named “The Forge.” It’s kind of a dream-come-true. (Of course, it needs some work. Much like the novel I can’t wait to return to writing when things settle a bit.)

I could go on, but you get it.

We think this place will serve to aid us in our various vocations. And that’s the point of writing a little about this.

The setting changes, the story proceeds. I could go on about our situation in particular, but I mainly just want to connect the move (an ordinary thing) with our calling and our story.

I want our decisions, under God, to connect our family to the story we’re in, both in the common themes, and the plot lines particular to us.

So, here’s to the wild, wonderful adventure of moving next door!

What’s happening in your life? What is God doing to advance the plot of your story?


37 Comments

  1. Bobbi Standish

    Wow, talk about singing our heart song. My husband and I have long had this longing to have a place, yes with more room and yes for our callings both individual and as one and have not likely done our part yet to see this vision come into reality. We are not a young family any more. Children are almost all out of the teenage realm, but He keeps sending us his precious friends of one kind or another and we long to be able to share the hospitality more. But this is true inspiration to seek and ask and knock and receive, I believe for advancement of the plot (pardon the pun) as you say. Thanks for putting this out there and blessings on all the He has for you.

  2. Rachel

    If everyone was as discerning and honest about their needs and desires in a home, the residential architecture of America would be very different. Beautifully expressed.

  3. Vanessa

    In a week, I will be moving into an eighth of a large old house on Main street. The house is split into 8 single bedroom apartments – and old enough that they will allow my cat to move with me. 🙂 Moving is not uncommon in my life, being a single 20something (many of my friends wonder when I will be moving to Nashville).

    I’ve lived with various permutations of similarly-aged roommates, and spent a beautiful year with a family and their 3 (now 4!) kids – this will be the first time I will live alone. It will be an experiment in solitude – time and space to write, to practice music, to study for my library school classes. I’ll be able to walk to my job at the library, as it’s all of three blocks from my new space.

    It’s refreshing to think of moving as connected to a larger story. Some folks think it’s strange or selfish that I want to try living by myself, but connected to the larger story of creating space for solitude and writing and studying, moving makes more sense. I love your response of thankfulness for the space you are going to inabit. I hope to respond the same.. as well as invite folks over for meals, or to sleep on the futon. I wanted to live close enough to campus for folks to be able to walk to.

    Thanks for sharing your moving story, and for asking ours. I’ll be curious to find out if mine leads to Nashville, or to a family and kids of my own… or both.

    I’m curious – if I might digress a little – any other stories/experience of time spent purposely living alone? Any suggestions?

  4. Ugly Biscuit

    Great post. Great pics.

    So, what is your novel going to be about?

    Also, and this querry is for everyone, I am desperately trying to put my hands on some famous or not famous books or authors that tell not only great stories but do so, poetically, almost lyrically. From my ardent research thus far, I have found Robert Louis Stevenson to be crazy gifted. (Plus, you have to remember that he was always sick and he died around 44 years of age) You can tell that Mr. Stevenson wrote and fondled words like something akin to a brilliant surgeon. Also some of Washington Irving’s work is similarly adroit and mind-numbing.
    The way i see it, surely my Rabbit-Roomers can point my size 13’s down the narrow swath to word-heaven.
    Who out there are the word-painters that melt mugs and shred noodles?

  5. Dan Foster

    SD, always appreciate your comments. I remember having somewhat similar thoughts when moving to our house 4 years ago (well, minus the writing hut). In some ways we have taken advantage of all the house offers, and perhaps in other ways not. Do not forget in the years to come your goals to serve the Lord in your house.

    But to answer your question, what is God doing to advance me now? Well, he’s done a lot lately, but at the moment he’s putting me in a rough patch at my rather ordinary job (engineer – booorrring). I’m pretty sure that I’m going to come out of this as either a better worker, or possibly, a worker in something different that he has planned for me. And it is good to remember that that destination is planned for me, though it is unknown now. Because going through the rough spot is not so fun at the time.

  6. becky from NE

    Congrats on the new home! My parents are gifted in hospitality, and it was..and is..a great blessing to our family. All the neighborhood kids hung out at our place most of the time. Our high school friends came over and played ping pong and other games in the evenings, and our college friends came over for big, Sunday dinners. When we started to move away, Mom and Dad “adopting” international students from the university. God used that home to bless many people’s lives, and to make our lives so much richer. You are doing a good thing. Praying that God will bless you.

  7. Aaron Roughton

    Sam,

    This warms my heart. We’ve wrestled with this question of space and calling lately as well. Can’t wait for you to invite me over so we can talk about it.

    May your new home be a sanctuary of peace and joy for your family, and a place from which God’s love radiates.

  8. Eric Peters

    Yet another thing I have in common with you, Sam Smith: We both bought houses across the proverbial street. Great articulate post, Sam. As usual. Now, forge ahead (that’s terrible) with your novel.

  9. S.D. Smith

    Thanks, guys! No internet now, but have a second to at least say thanks. I’ll post later when I find work. (Or, when my internet gets connected to the invisible tubes it runs on.)

  10. LauraP

    “As for me and my house we will serve the Lord.” Not only your household, but your house itself. Love that.

    Well written as always, Sam. Thanks. And may all your hopes for your new space be fulfilled.

  11. Ugly Biscuit

    Someone, please read the second part of #4 and weigh in. I thought for sure i would have gotten tons of responses.

    S.D., whats the novel going to be about?

  12. Brian

    man, Ugly Biscuit, I thought you’d have a lot more response by now, too! Maybe it’s some online group-think. Or maybe it’s because the question has so little to do with the original post. Either way, I’ll chime in.

    I noticed the picture from Jonathan Roger’s latest post was a quote from John Steinbeck’s East of Eden. I was glad to see that book get some Rabbit Room love, even if it was discreet. I’ve never seen it, or any of Steinbeck for that matter, discussed here. He’s brilliant with words and with the crafting of his stories. East of Eden is my favorite, but reading any of Steinbeck is time well-spent. Timshel!

    Oh, and congrats, Sam, on the new house.

  13. lefthand30

    Recently I celebrated a milestone birthday. In the weeks leading up to that day, I looked where I had been, where I was and want direction God might have me go. I did not spend hours on end reflecting but took some time to think amongst the stuff of life. The direction I’m suppose to go isn’t super clear, yet. It does appear that it has something to do with writing. A few weeks ago, I was browsing the used book section at a local store. Every book that stood out to me had something to do with writing. I bought a few of them and have been reading about writing. I think it’s high time to put pen to paper and see where it takes me. Will it be a poem, song, essay, short story, devotion, play or book? At this point, I haven’t the foggiest idea. I pray that whatever it may be, it affects people as much as some of the posts, songs and poems that are here. Some have deeply touched my soul, others have smacked me upside the head (in a good way) and still others have drawn me closer to God. That’s what is happening in part of my life.

  14. Brian

    Thanks for sharing this. In many ways it affirms what we would like to do with our own house and with our kids as they continue to grow.

    Ugly Biscuit – Try Mark Helpin – especially “Winter’s Tale”. On the back of my book one reviewer says he “writes like an angel” and I have to agree.

  15. Profile photo of Andrew Peterson

    Andrew Peterson

    @andrew

    Thanks, Sam. I happen to think that making our homes beautiful (within our means, of course) is yet another way of building the Kingdom on earth–surrounding our children and friends with a little picture of the New Jerusalem. It sounds silly when you’re talking about drywall and spackle, but it’s true.

    Ugly Biscuit: I heartily echo Brian’s recommendation of Mark Helprin. I’ve read Soldier of the Great War, The Pacific, and Winter’s Tale, and loved them all. Especially Winter’s Tale. I honestly didn’t know words could do what he makes them do in that story. Annie Dillard’s work is in the same vein–her sentences crackle with energy sometimes.

  16. Becca

    Ditto on _Winter’s Tale._ Breathtaking. Haunting.

    Also _The Memory of Old Jack_ by Wendell Berry. That novel never seems to get the attention it deserves, as it’s always overshadowed by _Hannah Coulter_ and _Jayber._ The protagonist is an older man who is slowly losing his sense of time, forcing “place” to become the plot cohesion instead of chronology. It’s a whole different sort of currency that gives the piece a dream-like quality.

    If you are into oral story as well, I would check out the narratives of Jay O’Callahan. _The Spirit of the Great Auk_ would be a good starting place. I wept like a child when I heard it. (Though I haven’t listened to his recording of this story.) Also, _The Labyrinth of Uncle Mark._

    Jay’s command of oral language seems to be unique. Though truly, there are quite a few professional storytellers who maximize on the lyrical nature of language (which is why I was drawn to that program of study as a writer). Some tellers focus mostly on cutesy-feel-good tales, but the art is vast and full of music. In fact, many storytellers play instruments as well, which I believe influences many of their word choices.

    There were places in _The Secret Life of Bees_ where I found lyrical resonance.

    _Owl Moon_ (children’s book) by Jane Yolen

    Tennyson, of course. Cooleridge, of course. Blake, of course. But they are poets.

  17. Ugly Biscuit

    Thanks Brian and Andrew, I will make haste to obtain said tomes with the uppermost alacrity and unbridled eagerness. Winter’s Tale it is!

    By the way, what specific pearl of Annie Dillard’s canon should I sink my promethean tooth into first?

  18. Becca

    Also, certain sections of _My Name is Asher Lev_.

    My list might be biased. I love novels that use very simple words musically but powerfully.

  19. Ugly Biscuit

    And thanks big bunches and great gobs and snot bubbles of humbled merrimint to you Becca as well. Anon, I will lay hold of each and every charitable charge you have so graciously sat at my undeserving feet.

    One more petition if I may, is Oliver Twist any good?

  20. Becca

    Last week, one of my children referred to Dickens as the Thomas Kinkade of novels. Being grounded until the debt crisis is resolved isn’t too harsh, is it?

  21. Ugly Biscuit

    Van who?

    Well, actually, being of the tortuously optimistic ilk, I don’t like unnecessary tubs and flagons of despondency just for the sake of being a miserable wight who enjoys doling out unbearable and hurculean bundles of anguish and utter bleakness.

    I have been told by many a ravenous reader that that is precisely what one finds in books like, ‘Bleak House’ and ‘The Curiosity Shop’ and ‘David Copperfield.’

    There is beauty in melencholy don’t get me wrong. But who wants or should imbibe, one thousand two hundred and forty-three pages of it?

    Just my thoughts.

    Oh yeah, Van Gogh!

  22. Ugly Biscuit

    Once again, thank you to all who bent their time in my direction.

    God bless all of you!

    Even Nicholas Sparks who lives right up the road from me, of whom i have met and furthermore greeted with a firm handshake and a small bit of confabulation. (Which I dare say was far removed from highlight status)

  23. Ugly Biscuit

    Becca, i’ve been looking into WB since you told me about him. He seems to be popular in poetry collections as well. Any that you would recommend?

    He is also from KY which in my book deserves a big fat check and five gold stars.

  24. Becca

    _The Memory of Old Jack_ is my favorite. However, it isn’t quite as easy to read because of the time/place stuff I mentioned earlier.

    Also, _Jayber Crow_. _Hannah Coulter_ is on the list. Certain pieces of _A Timbered Choir_.

  25. Heather Fitz

    Since you asked . . .
    Our plot has had a big twist. While I was busy doing what your wife is now doing—cooking, cleaning and homeschooling (that’s the Cliff Notes version)—my four children became young adults! There were times I thought it would never come to pass. As rewarding as it is to be all-things-to-all-people under the Big Top, there were times when I wanted to escape the circus!

    Then, like the momentum of Spring, my little budding branches seemed to unfurl and mature over night. One of the saddest realizations I’ve had is this: there was a moment, unbeknownst to me, that I held my child for the last time.

    Sure, I can heave my 13 year old “baby” into my arms for kicks, but there was a time when I held each of them less, as they grew more. And there was one time when it would be the last time. And I didn’t know it 🙁

    How many of these little “last times” do we miss in looking ahead for the “first time”?
    (The first time we can leave the kids while we run for a coffee date, for example). Kinda sad.

    Thankfully, there are many more sweet memories that fill me with joy and hope and wonder at God’s grace and lavish blessings. More to praise than to regret.

    And now? The plot thickens because I, too, have an appreciative husband who continues to enable me to do the jobs the Lord has set before me. Things have changed and motherhood is no longer all-consuming. I’ve discovered a love for writing and my man has gifted me with a laptop as his way of cheering me on in my new endeavor. What an amazing blessing to have the support of my husband, rather than indifference!

    It’s evident your wife has fully embraced the race set before her, and you have done all that you can to make it possible. But I know there are days that she would like to sit on the sidelines and watch, (or maybe lay down and become a speed bump along the track!). Encourage her that those moments are few in the grand scale of motherhood. Remind her not to lose sight of the little victories and to savor as many Kodak moments as possible. All too soon the finish line looms large and the track empties and there is a whole new set of events that she will get to participate in! It’s wonderful to walk away with a smile on your lips, and a sense of victory and gratitude in your heart.

  26. Jim Rohde

    S.D., your writing about the plans for your ‘new’ house (including for Gina and the kids) reminded me of A.P.’s “Planting Trees” lyrics (which I was listening to in my car just a couple of days ago). May your hopes and dreams for the new home prove smaller than what you all build there – and best wishes with getting The Forge ship-shape…

  27. Ugly Biscuit

    You have to post pictures of ‘The Forge’ when your done fixing it up. Also you said that you were getting this new house because the layout would be better for having people over…………so when can i come over?

  28. JWitmer

    Sam, thanks for sharing, and for asking.

    For the past few (several?) years our lives had been contracting, narrowing in focus. We had less and less energy for things beyond the essentials as we were blessed with first one, and now three high-energy children, I struggled to find a way to provide for my family, we worked hard to become living organs in a new church body, and to make our home first livable, then beautiful.

    Now we’re expanding again. More financially secure, more relationally grounded, with a home full of beauty and life (thanks to the “squandering” of my wife’s prodigious gifts at home), more accustomed to finding God’s rest and joy in the midst of chaos, I’m finding us drawn outward on nearly every front.

    It’s scary. But it’s good.

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