Monday, August 27, 2012

Iowa Insights

We are no longer Iowans (for the time being!)  Brent wrapped up his internship on Friday.  We loaded up the 'ole U-Haul and left Iowa at 3 pm.  After 7 hours of driving, we checked in at the Marriott in Dayton, Ohio.  My drill sergeant husband woke us up at 5:30 to get back on the road.  We arrived in Durham at 4 pm and spend the next 4 hours unpacking and cleaning like crazy people.  We were both obsessed with getting the house back to normal as quickly as possible.  {Having not been lived in for 12 weeks, there were cobwebs, people.}  Poor house.  Then, Sunday morning I jumped on a plane to Houston for a week of work.  I wish that being home for only 12 hours was some sort of cruel joke. ...But it's real.  :-)  I've had plenty of time to think over the last few days, and I wanted to share some of the insights I found in Iowa.

1.  I can live with MUCH LESS than I thought.
It's no secret that I love my home.  I love living in a cozy, homey, cute place.  To me, it's worth it to invest in our home since we spend so much time there.  However, I have lived, survived, and thrived for 12 weeks without my house, furniture, kitchen appliances, decorations, and most of my clothes.  We brought very little to Iowa - our sheets, TV, a few pots & pans, some clothes, and some shoes.  Although I did miss my home in Durham, living with less and in lesser quality than I'm used to has been strangely OK.  I didn't die without wood floors and granite counters, and the plain white walls didn't close in on me.  I have found myself telling Brent on multiple occasions how content I am.  And that's not a lie - I feel very sincerely CONTENT.  I've known for a long time that going to a fancy mall will suddenly trigger a desire for a $15,000 shopping spree for things you didn't want just ten minutes prior.  Similarly, without fancy things in plain sight, it's easier to want for less.

2.  I love my husband so much I can hardly stand it.
Since we were in Davenport only temporarily, I can't say we made many (OK... any) lifelong friends.  The John Deere people didn't really reach out to us socially.  If I lived there permanently, I would have reached out more and initiated some social events.  But the fact of the matter was, we didn't know anyone.  We did find one couple friend eventually, but for the most part, it was just Brent and me.  The two amigos.  And I loved it.  It's also no secret that both of us are introverts, so we love time by ourselves and time together.  No offense to anyone, but Brent is probably the only person I never get tired of.  I mean, never.  It's kind of odd to be honest.  No matter what we're doing, I just love to be with him.  That may be kind of sappy, but its true.  I know first hand that marriage is a series of peaks and valleys.  We've had our share of valleys.  But I praise the Lord every day that we are in a peak and have been for a while.  I felt like this summer brought us closer together and strengthened our marriage since we only had each other to rely on.

3.  I want to serve as a response to God's love for me, not out of guilt.
I tend to over-commit and do things out of guilt.  My life in Houston was marked by one over-commitment after another until I basically drove myself crazy.  That's one reason why the move to Durham was so positive for me.  It was a chance to step back, lower my blood pressure, and make wiser choices around commitments.  I always tend to feel like I'm not doing "enough" (whatever that is).  Moving to Iowa for the summer forced me to slow down even MORE, which was a really good thing.  I had some time on my hands and really no commitments, which had been basically my dream for years.  I enjoyed it, but I had a surprising insight from it.  I finally rediscovered my DESIRE to serve and commit that I had been missing for so long.  Instead of doing things because I feel bad or I feel like I should, I finally slowed down enough and got in the Word enough to where I began to re-understand the immensity of God's love for me in a way that compelled me to want to serve.  For example, I've felt guilty for years that I haven't served in a formal way at church.  They are always lobbying for people to join a volunteer team, and I never have because I just wasn't feeling it, and I didn't want to add one more thing to my list.  While in Davenport, I finally "got it".  Remember that church we visited where the welcome team was so unbelievably genuine and warm and gave us homemade bread?  That one thing inspired me, and suddenly, I WANTED to serve on the welcome team at church.  I felt the impact it had on me, and I couldn't wait to get back to Durham to sign up - as a response to God's love for me.

4.  Every place has a few bright spots.
Confession:  I cried when we first got to Iowa.  I think I already admitted that on a previous post.  It ain't no Durham and it ain't no Texas.  But I have to say... it grew on me.  The summer was SO RELAXED.  There was no traffic and no stress.  Life moved at a slower pace.  There were less options and fewer choices, but that kind of made things easier.  As we went through the summer, we found a few bright spots that we really enjoyed.  We LOVED the walking trail right behind our apartment.  It was literally steps form our door, and it was BEAUTIFUL.  We had perfect walking weather, and we enjoyed our nightly walks.  We also found a few restaurants that we frequented.  There was a great Mediterranean place where we had lunch most Saturdays and a fantastic stone oven pizza place that we ate at (ahem) six times.  I know if we lived there longer I could find more things to love if I looked hard enough.

5.  Getting sleep is worth it.  Every time.
I thought I'd leave you with a funny one.  Some might think this contradicts my #1 insight, but Brent and I have decided that sleep is so important we'll do almost anything to get it.  Especially since we know we will NOT be getting sleep from January on.  We have been married for 7 years, and we've slept in a king size bed for that entire time.  That's a long time to get used to a sleeping arrangement.  Upon arrival in Iowa, we found that they had provided us with a bed somewhere in between a full and a queen (we measured).  We tried valiantly to sleep on this bed (with Blazer) for 3 nights.  I woke up every morning tired, sore, and annoyed.  My arms and legs were literally hanging off the side.  After night three, I picked Brent up from work and he said, "We're going to the mattress store".  I had entertained the thought of buying an additional bed, but never mentioned it because I thought he would say I was being ridiculous.  Apparently, he was entertaining the same thoughts :-)  We ended up purchasing the cheapest twin mattress they had, about the cost of one night's stay in a hotel.  It was pretty funny trying to explain to the salesman what we wanted it for.  We pushed the twin up against the full/queen and put sheets over both.  It's kind of "I Love Lucy" style, but more pushed together :-)  The result is what we lovingly called "JUMBO-BED".  Y'all, it was hilarious.  And glorious.  I slept on the twin part and  Brent slept on the queen/full part.  I've really never slept better.  We decided that the equivalent of one night in a hotel is WELL WORTH it for a summer's worth of sleep.  We're going to donate the mattress to an international student when we get back to Durham.  Here is JUMBO-BED for posterity.


Shayla said...

Wow, I feel like we led parallel summers! My Montana insights are almost identical to yours, except that we didn't have jumbo bed....although, that's a GENIUS idea. I'm so glad you had a good experience in Iowa! I hope Brent enjoyed his internship!!

Liz said...

I love this post! Thank you for sharing yourself with us! :)

Tiffany Mendenhall said...

Love it. Y'all are so funny. I'm glad you saw the good in the summer God had planned for you and I am glad you are now home reflecting :) XOXO

Kayla said...

Love that bed! Hilarious! Bread does have healing powers...especially homemade. Thanks for all your insights!

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