• Dana L. Butler

In Which I Try and Break Through the Fog of Transition


Where do you start when it’s been weeks since you’ve written and your entire life has been flipped upside down during the days on end of writerly silence?

This move has been the best kind of change, but my goodness, it has been disorienting to me.

Friday evening, December 12th finds us navigating Denver rush hour and making our way to our new apartment complex here in Littleton, CO — minivan, moving truck, and Stan’s Ford Explorer in tow.

Several local friends meet us at the apartment complex gate, and we’re soon joined by a few pre-teen neighbor boys who offer their box-carrying muscles to help us unload into our new home.

Our dear friends Ian and Sue, who pastor our church family here, are among the crowd of friends. Maia falls in love with Ian, and Sue unpacks most of my kitchen (much to my relief) while I try to channel some of Isaac’s stir-craziness into helping carry small items in from the truck.

Our apartment is little — almost hilariously smaller than our old 6-bedroom house in Kansas City. {Which, by the way, closed without a hitch, purchased by our sweet buyers who love Jesus and want to love people in our former neighborhood. Could not be a sweeter set-up. God’s faithfulness just floors me – His perfect orchestration of every detail of the sale of our home, despite the long wait.}

And the smallness of our new home by no means takes away from the relief of being here. Actually, fitting into a smaller space feels good, y’all. We have downsized and purged and simplified, and finally, we are home.

Stan and I drive down the road and gaze at the mountains, and we sigh with relief to be back here. We reminisce as we drive by the places we had our first conversations, the places we fell in love.

And while the kids are excitedly exploring their new city and relishing the mountain view with Mom and Dad, their overall adjustment has felt slow to me. Getting used to the altitude; to a new, smaller space; to a new city; meeting new friends; adjusting to sharing a room for the first time — it’s all fairly daunting to a 4-year-old and an 18-month-old.

I do have complete peace that they will even out and settle well into our new life here. Already, they are more peaceful and settled than even just several days ago.

But the combination of their out-of-sorts-ness, and the mountains of boxes that have demanded my attention, has led to zero downtime for me in recent weeks.

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So how’m I doing? Welp, I think sleep deprivation and travel and unpacking and learning to do life with my two littles in our small space with Stan working from home — it’s all relegated me mostly to survival mode.

And in the midst of all the upheaval, my Grandpa passes away in North Carolina the day after we move into our apartment. I’m so thankful he’s free from pain, that He’s with Jesus and with my Grandma who passed away end of September, but I’m pretty sure the grief of these back-to-back losses is gonna catch up with me unexpectedly one of these days.

And it does hit me in some measure, as I’m unpacking my kids’ room and I come across stuffed animals and dolls and toys made for me or given to me as a child by my grandparents – items I’ve saved for my own kids. I remember how sweetly my grandparents always loved me and I’m reduced to tears over how much I miss them.

I told Stan the other day that though I’m beyond thankful to be here, it doesn’t quite feel real yet because my heart has felt buried under moving boxes and unprocessed loss and general exhaustion. Told him I knew I needed to write, but didn’t have a clue what I’d say.

And even now, 500 + words into this blog post, I still don’t quite know what I’m saying.

But I’m here. I’m showing up, finally.

I slump into a chair at the Starbucks down the street from our place, nurse my venti coffee-with-too-much-cream, munch on my pumpkin bread, and try however haltingly to put pen to paper and pour my heart into my journal.

I spend some time reading in Luke, trying to orient my heart at least a little bit to the reality of Jesus, to Advent — and the miracles of John the Baptist’s birth and Gabriel’s announcement to Mary wrap themselves around my heart.

The extravagant sweetness of God’s master plan to pursue the hearts of man softens me a little, sprinkles a few drops of water on my dry ground.

And despite my distracted borderline numbness, the whisper of the Holy Spirit is tender and close:

Soak in My love, Dana. You can’t give out what you’re not positioning your heart to receive.

Oh yeah. Right.

I’m realizing how the noise of my exhausted desperation to get our new home unpacked and settled has overridden my quiet burning for stillness before Him. My need to slow down long enough for His nearness to invade my senses and His tenderness to embrace my soul.

So I’m sitting still here today, y’all. Diving back into Luke, into the sweetness of His pursuit of my heart — how it’s woven through the Christmas story, through the Advent season, through the reality of my life in these days.

He is Immanuel and He is here. Right now. With me.

And with you. To meet every need of your heart.

May you know His intimate, personal nearness in whatever ways you need to know it in these days, my friends. May it be awakening and comfort and peace and healing balm.

Merry Christmas. And thanks as always for walking with me here, for waiting and praying me through the silent times. And for grace, as I share these words today in all their un-put-together rawness.

So much love to y’all, dear ones.

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