We have, as you know, been in a new world for the last few months. We both knew we needed to come. I had my reasons and Abby had hers and many of these were the same. I love the South. I have loved it my whole life and that has scared me a little. I can remember leaving for college and trying not to count the years when I could return to the farm that had impressed my life so much. Many want to leave the “small town” they came from and return only for the obligatory check-in with the family. For me, my greatest memories at an impressionable age happened in the woods at our farm – many on horseback and many in hayfields. Why would loving my home scare me?
I think all of us have a desire to know what we are capable of outside of what is familiar and comfortable. Sure I love the farm and thrive on it, but there was a whole part of the world that I didn’t understand – The big city… It has always intimidated me. One of my favorite lines from a John Denver song that I often quote to Abby as we drive through the country is: “…mountain rivers and country livers set my mind at ease”.
There’s something settling about that kind of life. When I think about living in a large city, I wonder, “Where is the outlet for those people?”. They’re not getting on horses and escaping to the woods, and I assure you they aren’t throwing hay in the barn to let off steam. So the question became, “Can I make it in that kind of environment?”. I don’t mean just survive, but really be happy somewhere other than the familiar. Could I learn to enjoy the same outlets that people in a big city enjoy? I think Abby and I both had to know that – or at least she obliged me and agreed. (Abby would put a smiley face right here but I’m not ready to do that yet.)
Seattle has brought with it many challenges for us. The four of us started from scratch in a new town without friends or fellowship, and living in a remarkably shady 1-bedroom apartment. An absolutely perfect setting to engage our questions! This kind of situation takes you back to the basics of your faith and leads you to seek out fellowship and adventure rather than waiting for it to come to you. You have no other choice. That is uncomfortable, and that is what I was looking for.
Before we came out here, I struggled with whether or not I should be doing something in the foreign mission field for this year instead of doing extra training. I think one of the main reasons I struggled with that was because I knew the foreign field would bring out any and all the best in me and my family, as opposed to relaxing in the familiar. It was a hard decision because I really wanted to do spine training but felt that maybe I should do missions–to serve other people who were different than me in a very different place. It wasn’t until we arrived in Seattle and I realized how different it is here and realized that perhaps I had been provided with both the opportunity to train in spine and be in a “foreign” place that brought all the discomfort (and more) I was seeking. That sounds crazy, I know.
It is wonderfully challenging here and sometimes Abby and I remind each other, “Hey we live in Seattle” and then can’t stop laughing. We have seen some of the most magnificent landscape I have ever laid eyes on and have seen mountains and rivers that seem too good to be true. We get in the jeep almost every weekend and head somewhere new to explore and still feel we haven’t put a dent in the wilderness here. I really didn’t think I would ever say this but we have a beautiful view of the city, and I love it. The high rises are down to the left and the bay to the right as we look south and that refreshes you just to look on it. On a clear day, we see Mt Rainier; on a cloudy day, we know it is still there.
The highlight has been the relationships we have made. I haven’t found a lot of people here that I have a lot “in common” with, and I love it. Most of my friends here don’t do the same things with their free time as I do, but I’ve learned we are plenty alike. We were made by the same Creator and we recognize the need for true friendships and that is enough to generate real fellowship. I am learning people are quite alike and really have similar needs and desires regardless of where they live in the world and that is a valuable lesson.
I haven’t learned how to do Blogging cliff notes so this is too long but here is my current thought. We were all made to be challenged and stretched to beyond what we think we might be able to do. I am glad we came to Seattle to experience that. However, most anyone could go to a foreign land, rise to the occasion it takes to survive and possibly even thrive. What I am learning is the remarkable discipline it requires to engage a challenging life in a place that is comfortable and familiar. That requires far more intention and self-discipline and I admire those greatly who have learned how to do this. The fact is, when you are in a foreign land, you are quite aware of your surroundings as your mind perceives all this new material. You also have a tendency to reach out to people because your normal distractions are absent and you aren’t walking around like a zombie to do all your busy tasks. You are forced to engage the challenges that just living brings you and all of a sudden…. lasting memories are made.
It is like a person trying, unsuccessfully, to diet for years. They fail because they are too busy and never really commit to the diet. They somehow get shipwrecked on an uninhabited island and are forced to survive on the sparse healthy foods available in that desolate place. Of course they lose weight – it required no discipline – just survival. But they certainly rose to the occasion to survive and they benefited nonetheless. We are like that person on the island who rises to the occasion of survival and we are far better for it. I love where we are and would choose it again in a second, but eventually even this may become comfortable and familiar. I want us to learn the discipline to live that kind of fulfilling life no matter where we are – to wake up to the challenges to be met and the relationships to be had. I know few people like that, but I admire them greatly.
Awesome and well done! You made some really good points and really made me think. The pictures were absolutely beautiful too and I especially like the one of you and Abby
I love the Maddox family blog even though I don't actually know any of you. I'm in a new place now, on my own without anyone for the first time, and I've been scared to "get out there." Now, I'm inspired to rise to the challenge. So, good job on your first post. 🙂
Well said. I'm going to request my husband guest blog 🙂
Pictures are just beautiful!!
Jeremiah, I think you wear pink really well! 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 Seriously, thank you for that because I know how long a post takes to write and I know how long a post like that takes to write and you, like your wonderful wife, have the uncanny ability to encourage others through your vulnerability and transparency!! Thanks for the encouragement on so many levels… and Abby, awesome pictures! We miss you guys and hope to get out there before you leave!!
ps- One time Justin "guest blogged" on my blog 3+ years ago and talked about prescribed burning long leaf pine trees… the ladies were glad that he only blogged once, you on the other hand, so long as you don't start talking about timber management might have a future in blogging!!
Love you guys!
Jerry!! I am speechless and Watson is a little jealous. He shared with me a desire to start his own blog and I laughed when I read Abby's post about your similar desire. On the matter of your "essay" I have been going through similar lessons here in Auburn this semester. We will have a follow up over new years! cross your fingers I get to come. I love y'all and for the record I think you are giving Abby a run for her money, you did a pretty good job for your first time. Looking forward to the next post.
OMG Jeremiah!! Like, that was so amazing!! I think that me and you should like start our own writing club 🙂 We could just sit around in our pink shirts and write! OMG, I'm about to pee in my panies just thinking about it!! Love ya doll. Chow babe 🙂
Such truth, Jeremiah. I whole-heartedly concur. My husband and I find ourselves living away from all things known & comfortable and have experienced the boldness born from necessity. How true your words are… what a challenge it is to be bold in the ordinary & mundane seasons. Abby, thanks for encouraging your man to bare his 'pink shirt' to the blogworld! You two are a strong team! Beautiful pics, ps.
Great job, Jeremiah! Hope you, Abby, and the girls are doing well!
WOW!!WOW!!!WOW!!! Written like a seasoned writer!! And how true your words are! You planted a lot of seeds:)) missing you all greatly!
Nice to "meet" you Jeremiah! I thoroughly enjoyed your guest post. You and Abby are each so refreshing and I have drawn great inspiration from your posts.
On a personal note, I was one who was forced into the "uncomfortable" and "unfamiliar" territory more times than I can count, and I do believe it has added great depth to my character… but the feeling, or the need for me to be in a comfortable and familiar place is like my need for water. I should sit back for a moment and reflect on these thoughts and analyze them against the points you have made… so very interesting! Thanks Jeremiah and Abby 🙂
LOVED this post. We miss your sweet family here in Bham. xx- Brooke
Impressive Jeremiah! I've been toying with some ideas that would definitely lead me outside my comfort zone. Your post hit me in the face for sure! The picture of you and Abby is so sweet. Hope yall are doing well.
WOW! I continue to learn from you two! I am starting to hope, wish, that my kids have to return, too, to Seattle! NEVER thought I would say that! You seemed to voice my feelings. I am learning! I pray that you continue with your blog thoughts. I am this really OLE' lady who seems to strave in wanting to learn from you two! :O)
Guest blogging husband person may be interested in http://www.us.thomaspink.com so he can think pink in style.
I enjoyed hearing your perspective on things. I struggle a lot with trying to get out of my comfort zone. I have a very outgoing boyfriend who reminds me daily that if I could just let go of a few things and have a little fun, life will be much more enjoyable! Please blog more often!
Thanks for writing that Jeremiah! (You and Abby have no clue who I am, but we have mutual friends- I grew up with Mallory's family in Montgomery- and I actually remember you from Samford. One of those weird moments where I was reading the blog then suddenly realized, "Hey, I remember seeing that person at all the freshman stuff we had to go to! Small world!")
But I have really and truly enjoyed reading the blog even more since you have moved. My husband is finishing his residency this year and we are moving next summer to who knows where and Washington is on our list. (Took the military route. You make a "wish list," then they match you up and off you go to serve your time.)
Seeing God's creation has been mind blowing and thrilling knowing what all is out there to be seen and experience. I also grew up in AL and I would be lying if I said I wasn't scared about moving who knows where in the world. So thanks to you and Abby for your honesty and willingness to share your adventures with all of us. It makes our adventure next summer seem a little more bearable!
Thank you for a Wonderful Blog!! the pics are beautiful.
So glad you "filled in" miss reading the Maddox blog daily…always so interesting!!
Awesome job Jeremiah! Thank you for your vulnerability and speaking truth! You guys Rock and be Blessed! Amy Sharp
Awesome job Jeremiah! Thank you for your vulnerability and speaking truth! You guys rock! Be blessed! Amy Sharp
a frame of reference and a comfort zone are often the same thing. when when embarks on a quest such as those in the epic poems of lore the hero meets new people, travels through different cultures and struggles– the ying and yang of life. your journey adds to your frame of reference shifts your point of view and adds another measure in this maxim of life. Didn't John Lennon say Life is what happens when you have other plans.
Great job Jeremiah! I so enjoy reading about your family and all of your adventures. Keep up the good work!
Ellen Bell Hamrick
"What I am learning is the remarkable discipline it requires to engage a challenging life in a place that is comfortable and familiar."
This was my favorite part. My husband and I have moved twice now to the "big city" from Homewood, AL. We struggled, like everyone else, but you are correct; it is a challenge to face/try new things when you are comfortable. We have discovered how strong our relationship is in many ways because at the beginning, all we had was each other. I really enjoyed this post – keep writing, and good luck!
Jeremiah, Riley and I read your blog tonight and were impressed with your great thought. We know you will live this out and look forward to being a part of it. All our love and lots of hugs. The Blairs
Coming to see you SOON!!!!
jeremiah, your blog sounds just like the book im reading. if yall havent read Wild at Heart- John Eldridge and Captivating – written with his wife, then yall should def pick it up. its about the very desire your talking about. and how God instilled that in us. How every man wants adventure and purpose and every women wants to go on an adventure and be purposeful and beautiful. I've known abby forever, but reading your one blog shows how perfect yall are for each other =) ( since im a girl, i put a smiley lol)
Wonderful, wonderful guy!!! Hey, I'm giving away an angel painting just fyi!!! go to my blog and try to win sweetie pie! Miss you!!!
Wow!!! I am an on again off again reader…when time allows. This post hit me hard. Thank you for your honesty and I know God blessed you to write this and also blessed me to read it. I will strive to step out of my comfort zone and truly live. God's blessings on you and your family
Wow. I somehow ended up on this blog from the blogsphere world and thank you for sharing about Seattle. We attend Brookhills in Bham and are currently seeking the Lord and meeting with a group of people who are moving to Seattle to do a church plant. It is all scary and overwhelming and not sure if we will end up there, but the Lord stirred our hearts when they shared about going. The thought of leaving the south terrifies and excites me all at the same time…we will see where the Lord leads us, but it was a little shocking to click on your blog and see pics of Seattle, a city we've been praying about. Love the pics!!
Hey – me again, the stranger who just commented on the post about Koni. Wow – I can relate to every word of this post. 4 months into moving from the Texas flatlands to the foothills of the North Georgia mountains. It's not quite as dramatic as Seattle 🙂 but I cannot tell you how completely amazed I am by the trees in backyard! I lived in the same 30 mile radius my entire life, so this has been a huge change. Thank you for putting into words what has just been a jumbled up ball of thoughts and emotions floating around in my heart and mind.