Finding Your Way Forward


I changed my mind at the last minute and decided to go.

Last weekend was the annual holiday home tour in my old neighborhood. 

The place where I thought I’d always live. The historic artsy community where I moved after my sister got married and I sold the condo we’d shared. 

Where I thought I’d found the perfect house — not an old one with too many repairs for a single gal like me to tackle  — but a new one that was slated to be built on an empty lot where the builder said I could choose everything just how I wanted it.

It was my own little dream bungalow, new but made to look old to fit in with the neighborhood. 





After six months of watching it come to life {and worrying if I'd really like all of my selections once they were installed} I moved in.

I loved my house and was excited to be a part of the community. To jump right in, I served on the historic board. 

I even agreed to have my house on tour one year, although I had no idea the monumental amount of work it would take to have all of my halls decked by the first weekend in December.

More than 500 people strolled through my house that weekend, and I was surprised at the opinions strangers feel compelled to offer you about your house and decor. 

{Or tell their friends in not-so-quiet undertones, somehow thinking you can’t hear them.}





But I sold that house and moved 30 miles across town seven years ago.

Sometimes I go back to take the holiday tour, but it's kind of bittersweet. I'm not sure how I feel about seeing my old house and former friends and neighbors. 

My life was a little different when I lived there since places often have their own style, a unique personality that enfolds its residents.

But it seemed as if that neighborhood was a diamond in the rough, in transition, perched on the edge of up-and-coming, but was never quite able to turn the corner.




Maybe you can relate to those thoughts and feelings. Do you ever think about going back? To a certain place, a former occupation, a group of friends, or a way of life?

Maybe the way ahead of you is harder now and you remember how easier things seemed back where you once were. But you’ve gone deeper, lived riskier.

You've survived some serious dents in your faith. You've come through the storms that rained out your dreams.

And you rose above the circumstances and predicaments that deflated your hopes.

You’re braver, determined and purposeful, yet more flexible and even softer because now you realize where your strength lies.




I'm wondering if going back to where we came from has less of a pull because the new road we’re traveling although more difficult, holds greater gifts?

An opportunity to see the sacred work being done in us to be made holy. 

A chance to desire transformation in our weak areas that develops our character. 

Time to appreciate our flawed selves and grow grateful for the treasure buried deep inside all of us.

Sometimes there is no going back, and really, why would we want to? 

There’s nothing behind us that can’t be found in moving ahead.



After touring my old neighborhood, I stood on the sidewalk in front of my old house. 

It was still painted the cream and khaki colors I'd chosen for the exterior. The little lantern light I'd picked out still hung beside the front door.

The new owner had painted the door dark green and added a white picket fence. But the flowers I’d spent so much time caring for and the sturdy hibiscus trees that I liked so much that flanked my front porch were gone.

It all looked so familiar and yet it didn't. I found it hard to believe I'd once lived there.




But the historic school, built in 1902, one block from my old house, is now in the midst of being restored.

The new owners want to transform the old schoolhouse into an event venue that the community can use to host weddings, gatherings and social events. 

The plans for it look fantastic. It's just what the neighborhood needs.

Maybe my old neighborhood is finally poised for a renaissance, ready to turn the corner.





It was nice seeing my old neighbors and catching up with them as I visited homes on the holiday tour. 

My former across-the-street neighbor told me she's not as fond of the new owner of my house as she was of me, but she guesses people have to move on.

She's right. I think I’m already on the road ahead, making my way forward.

{And I hope you are too!}


A little note on the photos: Thanks to my friends and neighbors in Sanford who allowed me to take photos of their lovely homes!




I'm having coffee with my friends at Holley Gerth's place at Coffee for your Heart. Join me there for more posts from my blogger friends!

Comments

  1. Moving Forward is the only way to go :) But, sometimes we have to go back before we really can go forwards as your post revealed. Thanks for sharing! I stopped by via #CoffeeForYourHeart
    ~Sherry Stahl
    xoxo

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    1. Hi Sherry,
      Oh it is the only way to go -- thanks so much for stopping by here - -so grateful for your words!

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  2. What a beautiful, yet bittersweet story, Valerie. You've stirred something deep inside, my eyes fill.

    Going back is still so hard. I miss my friends, the stability of all my adult years spent in one community. I miss my work, the mountains, the memories go deep.

    But I love it here and now. I do. And I wouldn't return to that past season.

    These are the good old days ...

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    1. Hi Linda,
      I know you can relate since you recently left a place you were so invested in and rooted to -- it's so hard, isn't it? I think the trick is to embrace what each season offers, however different it may be, but that isn't so easy for me!

      Love what you said -- THESE are the good old days! xo

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  3. I have always wondered about your old house! You had mentioned it before on here, but I had never seen it! It is really a beautiful bungalow. I do have to say though, the photos of your new place are breathtaking, so I think you moved on in the right direction!

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    1. Brittany,
      I do love my new place too, but for completely different reasons! Appreciating what's in front of me and embracing seasons of change are hard, but oh-so-good! xo

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  4. Such lovely photos and thoughts, Valerie. It makes me think of how God brings us through different seasons in our lives, and each one grows us and transforms us in one way or another. Sometimes the way forward isn't pleasant, and we kick against God's way, but in hindsight we see how He uses each season to deepen our relationship with Him. Have a Blessed Christmas! Hugs!

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    1. Hi Trudy,
      Yes and yes! The way forward isn't always pleasant but it's how we grow and blossom and change and it's how we can see how God uses everything in our lives to bring us ever closer. Thank you for your Christmas wishes and I wish the same for you! xo

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  5. Gosh I totally understand- driving by past addresses makes me feel like a different person now! And come to think of it, every relationship or job I've tried to 'go back' to has never really worked out anyway-- just makes it harder to move forward sometimes... I think we do well to carry the best parts of ourselves from days gone by forward into the future instead of living in the past. Glad to have found my way into part of your future here throught the blog! We'll never know what God has for us sometimes until we move forward- even if it's just one step... ♥ Thanks for sharing the lovely decor pics- I'll be doing good to get decorations up by the last weekend in December!! And the Preservation Hall looks so awesome! What a great forward thinking idea!! Hope you are well dear Valerie! xox

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    1. Heather,
      Me too! When I try to go back, it's not the same and I realize that what was so special about that time was only for that season and moving ahead is the only way to experience the future that's already being prepared for us!

      I am so glad you are a part of my present and future, here on the blog and I'm so grateful that our paths have crossed as we move ever forward and onward, friend! xo

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  6. Those photos are amazing! Decorating does not come easily for me and I am in awe of those who do it so well! And that Hall looks amazing! I would love to go to an event there!

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    1. Hi Becky,
      I always find fresh ideas when I check out the decor of other homeowners and it's so inspiring! Thanks for popping in here!

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  7. So beautiful, Valerie. I got a little chocked up reading for a few reasons. Our first home we lived in for 14 years, where we brought home my son, and created so many memories is just a mile from where we now live. I drive by it every once in a while and it looks a little sad and unloved. Kinda breaks my heart. And too - going back to past things. Yes, I wander there every once in a while. But this---> "the new road we’re traveling although more difficult, holds greater gifts." Such truth in that, friend. God is good to take us to where we need to go and give us all we need in that place.

    Your photos as always are just to die for. The chandelier in the dining room shot - oh my, love it!!

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    1. Hi Tiffany,
      I know what you mean! When we leave someplace we loved in the hands of another and it's not kept up as we would do it, it is sad! It's hard to detach from it sometimes, isn't it? But 14 years is a long time and I'm sure you filled that home with a lifetime of happy memories! Thanks for your sweet words about the photos and I got so many good ideas from checking out all the homes and their beautiful decor -- I couldn't even include them all! :)

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  8. Given all the moves I've made in my life this brought some deeper reflection to me. I don't mind visiting the past, but I'm not interested in living there. As you said, there's nothing in our past that can't be found moving ahead. Beautiful and wise Valerie.

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    1. Hi Debby,
      I'm convinced it takes a brave soul to make so many moves! Visiting the past but not living there --such wisdom in those words!

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  9. Oh, my, I could so relate to the feelings you were having in all of this. We just recently made a long-distance move from a house we lived in for 14 1/2 years. Our sweet son wasn't even one year old when we moved there, so you can just imagine the number of memories behind those walls. I don't think I could ever stand to go back in that house because the emotions would overtake me. It is a GOOD thing that we have done, and we are so happy in our new environment, but the feelings sometimes overwhelm me as I try to adjust and absorb all that has changed in our lives. I am too sentimental to ever think of going back, in person, but I do go back sometimes, in my mind. You are right, it is best to move forward. I love coming here to your blog. It is such a blessing!!

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    1. Hi Cheryl,
      Thanks so much for your kind words! I think the places we call home always hold a special place in our hearts -- with both good and bad memories-- and when we visit them even in our minds, those emotions rise to the surface. I can imagine living somewhere for 14 years brings such an uprooting of your family but knowing there is much for us ahead, keeps us walking forward! xo

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  10. Dear Valerie, As I finished reading your post here, I had to go back and re-read your last post, because something from there was stirring around in my memory. It was this sentence again, "What if we dipped our pens in fresh ink to join him in how he’s writing {and rewriting} our stories?" And now those words of yours from last week, are fitting so well with today's, because God is always writing new as we go forward. Even when He re-writes a portion, it is in the moving forward that His purposes are shown. Thank you so much for this encouragement tonight. I needed this so much! Blessings dear friend!! xoxo

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    1. Hi Bettie,
      Come to think of it, I did have two posts in a row about old houses, didn't I?! :) They could have been part 1 and part 2! I love what you said about when we move forward, then God shows us his purposes! So grateful for you always being here, Bettie! xoxo

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  11. Valerie, can you come to my new home in the new year and help me decorate? I love the softness all the pictures portray! "There’s nothing behind us that can’t be found in moving ahead." I love this line. Even if a lesson still has to be learned, it will be learned or experiences repeated (even though the space we are in may be different) so we can learn the lesson. In a way, the road only becomes wrong when we judge the road the road as wrong, doesn't it? As you write, the transformation of our character happens as we move forward. Well I'm moving on, as they say! And confident that the good works He has for me (and you) are in this forward time too.

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    1. Hi Lynn,
      Isn't it interesting how similar things can happen to us throughout our lives yet as we change and move forward, different purposes are shown to us, different lessons learned? I love what you said that the road is wrong only if we see it as wrong -- in the sense that what God allows to happens to us can be seen with his eyes. Lynn, I am very confident that God has great things for you in your next move, next bend of the road, next steps into your future! xoxo

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  12. I love your old house, but that is no surprise! ;)
    Although going back may have some appeal, the road ahead is what is best for us. Keep traveling on!

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    1. Hi Sarah,
      It was a super-cute house! :) Ahhh you knew I'd love this: Keep traveling! :) xoxo

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  13. Hi Valerie- So beautiful once again and I think the Lord had it timed just right for me to read this today- I was just about two hours ago missing my two older kids wishing I could go back to the old days where they were here under our care and a part of the fabric ever my everyday life- Though they are tucked into my heart and are in my everyday I miss being so closely knit into what they are doing. I love your words about the road ahead carrying greater gifts and why would we go back - there is nothing back there we can’t get up ahead. Thinking on that and letting it settle to my deeper parts and asking God to help me see 'ahead’ so beautifully! I have had multiple medical problems and that plus Christmas has made me feel like I am drowning at times :( - I wasn’t able to write my blog but have missed connecting there. This feels like homey place in cyber world for me- Thank you for your lovely thoughts amazing photos and bringing me to the feet of Jesus once again! xox susie- Ps I love your old house! the cutest!!

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    1. Hi Susie,
      Oh I've missed you these past few weeks but I'm sure the holiday season is keeping you busy! Your words are so encouraging to me . . . I so try to keep a certainty in my heart that yes, there are still GOOD things ahead for me and I haven't missed them, and I hear echoes of this in your words of thinking about the days when your kids were smaller and closer :) but I can't help but think things ahead may be different and strange but still GOOD because God is so good to us. I am praying for your health to improve and I am praying that God shows something precious to you this week that you would notice that it was a love-note just from him to you! xoxo

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  14. What an ADORABLE little neighborhood and home!! I'm in a season of moving forward, and I'm trying to let it be an adventure instead of allowing myself to be immersed in fear and freezing in place. We'll see how that goes! :)

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    1. Hi Kylie,
      Missed you here in this space lately, friend! Oh I am with you girlfriend, in letting life be an adventure to us -- shall we go together?! :) xoxo

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  15. Hi Valerie,

    What a neat step back into memory lane for you and for some peaceful neighborhood peeking and reminiscing with you. Thanks for letting us into that season of your life. It's such an interesting, bittersweet, and poignant moment to glance back or revisit old sites of life, old seasons, and to remember who we are, who were were, and to watch what has changed or stayed still.

    Thanks for letting me slip nostalgic with you,
    Jennifer Dougan
    www.jenniferdougan.com

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    1. Hi Jennifer,
      Thank you so much for stopping by tonight and sharing my little journey back to my old (sweet) house! I hope this Advent season brings you much reflection and joy and peace!

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  16. Oh Valerie—this is so beautiful! Love all the stunning photos and sharing your walk down Memory Lane. Life is such an interesting journey—as you know, I'm all about the seasons right now ;) Thanks for sharing your heart... so glad I found you at #CountingMyBlessings

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    1. Hi Laura,
      Thanks so much for stopping by and joining me in my old neighborhood! :) I think when we decide to say yes where God is leading us, we never know where the path ahead goes and you are so right that it's always an interesting journey!

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  17. Loved your reflections here. I think sometimes it's in going back to a place we used to live that we see how much we have moved forward, and sometimes how much things have changed there too. This is thought-provoking as I have the chance to go back to an old place to visit next year and I'm not sure if it's a good idea or not.

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    1. Hi Lesley,
      Oh that's so true! Only when we revisit that old place can we see how far we've come! I can't wait to hear your thoughts about visiting someplace you've been before too!

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  18. Valerie. As usual your contemplations nudged me a bit. I need to examine the possibilities rather than the problems with the regret of the past. Sometimes you have to move on due to natural consequences. You burn bridges and have to continue on. Perhaps you were the one that had to let go of things because you failed. And then even there God can give you new possibilities. Not the same ones of course. And that brings sadness. But maybe these new places , new people, and new circumstances reflect a more humbled, deeper heart. A heart reverent for the chance at new. That's kind of where I am. Sad of what I lost due to my own shortcomings, but realizing that in Gods grace and mercy He can put us in new places or with new people, even now.
    That house is lovely. I know it was lovely when U lived there. And I can't imagine uprooting a hibiscus !
    Love to read your thoughts as always

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    1. Hi Somer!
      The words you've written here are so true and impactful that even though we walk through failures or have been humbled in some way, our hearts change and we can't be the same. But God brings something new out of those barren places - -he promises to -- and somehow that's the beauty, isn't it? To see what he remakes and revives and renews out of those old places! xoxo

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