Over Christmas, I noticed this post in my Facebook memories, and I was struck by the enormity of the change our family has been through since then. What on earth made us do it?
In December 2017, we came to Northern Ireland for our pre-Christmas holidays, before heading to the Netherlands for Christmas celebrations.
I remember, on the plane from Belfast to Amsterdam on that Christmas Eve, mentioning to Simon that I was really sad to leave. It’s unlike me to be fighting back tears at take off!
We often discussed, and dismissed, the possibility of moving to Belfast. This time, we just couldn’t see why the time would be right at all. We’d just re-mortgaged; work was going well; the boys were thriving at school; we were committed to a range of voluntary activities; and we loved being in the midst of family and friends in our community.
A couple of weeks later I had to go back to N.Ireland at short notice because of family illness. In the same fortnight, we decided I ought to turn down a job opportunity which I’d previously been hoping for. It became clear we had hit a fork in the road, and the time was perhaps right to explore the prospect of a move.
It’s hard being the grown up when contemplating change, isn’t it!? Weighing up the options and making the ‘right’ decision feels like an impossible task.
We decided to be open about our plans (or lack thereof) right at the outset, as the news would be out as soon as our house went on Rightmove! We had lots of tough conversations with friends, many of whom couldn’t see why we would contemplate such drastic change when we said were perfectly happy…and when we clearly didn’t have a strategy.
Our house went up for sale on 23 February. In the months that followed, there were some viewings and some (insulting!) offers. We found, viewed, loved, and lost a property in Lisburn, and did lots of research on schools. Simon had some positive conversations about work opportunities, as did I, but there was no progress on the house sale. Easter passed, half term passed, and the summer holidays began.
We came to the conclusion that we had misunderstood the signs, and that perhaps moving was not the right decision at all. One Friday morning, on the back of a house viewing with some unpleasant repercussions, we decided to take the house off the market. But by the end of the day, the house was sold to a completely different party. The move was on!
I keep a journal, and often write prayers in it. On that weekend I wrote: It is wonderful to leave our home in the hands of sweet, gentle stewards; a family who belong here. Bless every day of their lives in this home. And guide us. There are so many plans to make, so much help needed…please provide us with a house, please provide us with a car, please provide us with two places at the same school for the boys, please provide work for Simon.
Simon handed in his notice at work. We told everyone our news, and two weeks later we had a busy weekend of house viewings. We saw lots of places that ticked all the boxes on paper, but none of them seemed like home. Reluctantly we visited this one, which met the ‘bedrooms + home office’ criteria, and nothing else. We knew the moment we arrived that this was our new home.
Despite the local schools being oversubscribed, we went ahead and secured the house. On our return to Lisburn in at the start of the school year, we visited the two best local schools with the intention of joining their waiting lists. As we sat down in the Principal’s office at our school of choice, he said circumstances had changed at the end of the summer, and he could offer both boys a place. We were surprised and delighted. The next morning we visited the second school. The Principal greeted us, explaining that things had changed the previous day and he could offer both boys a place. How amazing – to go from no school places one day to having a choice the next!
The rest is a tale of admin, logistics, stress, sad goodbyes, happy memories and much of it is documented elsewhere on this blog.
I’d say, looking back on 2018, that we experienced an irresistable call on our lives. It would have been a whole lot easier and less costly to stay put, but here we are, excited to see what lies ahead for us in Lisburn in 2019.
Moving has not been quick or straightforward, but every hurdle was overcome at just the right moment. There’s the encouragement we need to tackle the year ahead; knowing that, with faith, we can face whatever comes our way. I pray the same may be true for you.
Happy new year!