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July 2017 marks the 5 year anniversary of our move to Dublin. Over the next few months I’m writing a few posts to share about that journey. You can keep up with all posts in this series here.

If you’re wondering what kept us sane during our transition…

Transitions suck.

When Liz and I attended the pastors sabbath retreat in 2010, one of the key topics was transitions.

Learning how transitions work, what to expect in he midst of them, and hopefully, how to live well in that in-between state.

Over the next year, as we prepared to head to Dublin, I read the material over and over. I rewrote the notes I had taken. I even did a Sunday morning message series on transitions once our whole church knew what was going . What I learned through that process is that no matter how well you understand the various stages of transition and all that goes with that…it is still a painful process.

By March 17, 2011, it looked like we were moving to Ireland, but not until the summer of 2012. The question was, what would the next 16 months look like. As you might guess those 16 months flew by. There were some incredible experiences, and people during that period of time. I’ll share some of them in the next post.

Today I want to share a few things that were hard. For the sake of people involved, I won’t go into a lot of details on some points, but I’m sure you will get the idea. Here’s my list (in a relatively chronological order).

  • Telling my parents we were moving. That was way tougher than I’d imagined.
  • Although initially only the church council knew about the move, we wanted to share with a few friends before it became public. Also very painful.
  • Not being able to share publicly what was going on in our lives. If you read this blog often, or if you were part of the church in Ithaca when I was teaching, you probably know a lot to what I write comes from things I’m experiencing (which is probably why not many people read what I write:-) Having to hold back something so central to what is going on in my life is so hard.
  • Figuring out when and how to tell the whole church what was happening. (We got a lot of conflicting advice) There was some thought that we should have waited until a month or so before we left and then share the news. I don’t think I could have kept this from people I cared about for so long…and as I wrote earlier, I didn’t want to just sneak out. At t same time, there are probably a lot of things that would have gone better if we’d done it that way. Who knows?
  • Watching our kids struggle. This goes back to what is involved in transitions and the impact it has on people, and the fact that they were teenagers. Sadly, we only became aware of how difficult things had been for them, a couple of months before we actually moved. Between a new baby, being focused on getting to Ireland, and ending well in Ithaca, I wasn’t paying as close attention to what they were dealing with as I wish I had.
  • Not having a support system with in our denomination. This was partly due to the relatively uncommon thing we were doing. The Vineyard has a church planting track for new church planters. We were not part of that because we were planting overseas. The Vineyard also has a missions track. We were not part of that…and could not call ourselves missionaries because there was already an established Vineyard in the UK…which meant that we didn’t fit in either track. So we didn’t have someone who had experience in doing something like this advising, or looking out for us. At the same time, we get that is what it means to do pioneer work…going places where there isn’t a well worn trail with markers along the way. While I think our transition could have gone more smoothly had that happened, I think going through what we did as a family drew us closer together, and solidified our commitment to Dublin.
  • Not directly related to the move, while having jaw surgery was worth it…timing it so I could barely speak my last month in Ithaca was not smart.
  • Finding a school for the girls.
  • Not having a new pastor who would further the work we starting in place before we left.
  • Saying good-bye to people we cared about deeply.

As I’m reviewing this, I’m thinking “Were there other painful things during that period?” Well, if there were, they aren’t springing to mind, so let’s leave them where they are.

And in the next post we’ll focus on some of the good stuff during this same period.

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