When the reality of our upcoming move finally hit me, it was like a tidal wave with water up the nose and an undertow that swamped me.
From my prayer journal:
“Lord, Today I have five hours at home to work on organizing and throwing stuff away. All I feel like doing is throwing up. I’m not kidding about the nausea. Where do I even start? Basement? Attic? Garage? Crawl space? Book shelves? I can’t do it alone. Also, I need a handyman, a carpenter, a plumber, an electrician and a landscaper. Who are they? When can they come? How can we pay them? Oh Lord, please prioritize this mess!”
And under I went, swirling in a wave of confusion and chaos, wondering if I’d be able to make it through to order and stability. I called out to God often, whenever panic started rising, which was every hour.
One day I walked into the house with several cardboard boxes, and the phone was ringing. It was my friend Sue from Colorado. “Don and I have cleared two days, and we’re flying to Chicago to help you do whatever needs doing. Don will bring his tools.” Now it was my turn to cry. God had heard my questions, and Sue and Don were his answers.
They arrived toting overnight bags full of work clothes and tools, as promised. After Sue asked, “What needs doing?” it was obvious from my stuttering that I didn’t know how to begin.
“We’ll begin in the basement,” she said with firmness, marching toward the stairs. I followed, quietly whimpering with gratitude. “Get me a marker, a roll of tape, three black garbage bags and those boxes you collected. We’ll start in one corner and work out from there.”
As I stood staring at her in wonder, Sue continued. “One bag will be for trash, black because once something goes inside, you won’t be allowed to see it again. The second bag will be for give-aways. You’ll be downsizing, so you won’t be able to keep everything. The third bag will be for keepers. When that bag is full, we’ll transfer its contents to a box, label it, tape it and stack it.”
I felt my body go limp with relief. Sue had become my life preserver, rescuing me from going under for the third time. As we worked, we talked and laughed. When we came to a questionable item, such as a science project one of the kids had worked hard on and received a blue ribbon for, I began to sink again. “We can’t throw that away!” I whined. But Sue squared her shoulders and said, “Get your camera. We’ll take a picture of it, then get rid of it.” For each “no-I-can’t” dilemma, Sue had a “yes-we-can” idea.
Meanwhile, Don was eliminating items from my “Handyman List” the way a bee bee gun shoots cans off a fence: done, done, done. Slow toilets ran faster, sticky doors opened, a stubborn computer obeyed, rotten house siding morphed into new, malfunctioning light fixtures shone, and 23 other things.
In the basement, Sue and I gradually transformed piles of debris into neatly stacked, labeled boxes ready for our move. Garbage cans were loaded and my mini-van was filled with bags for Good Will. The tidal wave had calmed.
As Nate and I stood at the door waving good-bye to Sue and Don, the phone rang. It was my sister. She was coming over the next day to help me “with anything that needs doing.” God and friends were bringing us through.