Wrought in Fire

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Submitted by renee on

We arrived at our new chalet the beginning of July. Another new (to us) home. The fourth new home in thirteen months.

Four homes in thirteen months! What is up with this?

I have asked myself this question repeatedly over the last year.

tent and chalet

I've also asked why on earth am I doing this to myself? Why put our family through all this upheaval? Why put me through all this upheaval? I won't go through the whole story again of why we have moved so many times.

The short story is that we had to make a large scale life change to work towards our goals. We were willing to make sacrifices (I don’t use that word lightly) in the journey to bring Damien home and have income earning and location independence.

One of those sacrifices was residential stability. A move like ours required staging.

  • Stage one: Getting our feet off the ground financially while living with my parents last summer.
  • Stage two: Moving to the Gaspé last fall and taking what was available - a seasonal rental.
  • Stage three: Finding our current chalet but needing a place to live for one month in between - which took us to Montréal.

Four homes in thirteen months.

If everything goes as planned, this current rental will be for two years. (Dear God: Please let everything go as planned.) At which time we will be launching a large scale outdoor adventure in which we won't need to live in a home for six months or so.

But right now, I'm not thinking that far in advance. I'm just getting through the challenges of this latest move.

hiking Pin Rouge

When sharing our family’s moving story - either online or in person - I worry that I might communicate the wrong message about who I am. I’m concerned, wrongly or rightly, with people’s perceptions. I know, I need to get over that. But I’d like to clear up a few misconceptions you might have about me.

I must be naturally adventurous. I’m not. I'm married to an adventurer and I'm open to new experiences, but adventuring is something I've had to grow into.

I must welcome change. Ugh. Enough said.

I can handle disorganization, upheaval and mess better than the average person, or woman. Wrong again.

I must not need stability and security; that I get a thrill flying blind. Nothing could be further from the truth.

I must be specially endowed with extra fortitude for this kind of thing. No.

The same goes for homeschooling. By the comments I get both in person and online there are people who think I must have super-human patience, wisdom and knowledge. That I am blessed with some character trait the average person is not. That my children and I must have “compatible” personalities. Ha!

I am not superwoman. I have struggled (mightily) with each of these moves. And I’m not any more qualified in character or intelligence to homeschool my children than the average loving parent.

People don’t step outside the box and try to live according to their convictions, dreams and desires because they have an extra dose of strength, character and fortitude.

You grow these traits by doing things that stretch you, that are uncomfortable, that require sacrifice. And it’s not always fun. And sometimes it hurts - like a gnawing worry in your stomach or a heartache for something you’ve lost.

I think too often we look to acts of bravery, courage and indomitable spirit and we think, “I could never do that because I’m not enough of something.” Strong enough, adventurous enough, courageous enough, compassionate enough, etc.

Here’s the truth. You don’t grow those characteristics in a vacuum. They don’t get painted on as the shiny finish. Character is wrought in fire - on hard hikes and difficult moves.

dangerous trail

If you desire to be someone who takes risks you’ll have to actually take risks. If you desire to be someone who has adventures you have to travel into unknown territory. If you desire to be someone with a story to tell, you have to open yourself up to the hard work of living a good story.

I honestly believe that to grow into our best selves, the selves we were created to be, we have to go through refining fires. Those fires will be different for each person and family. The fires of new motherhood or raising young adults. Of homeschooling your kids. Health challenges. A hike up a mountain.

My own refining fire, as someone who loves stability and organization, has been four homes in thirteen months.

There is more to come, not moving (please!), but more refining fire. As soon as we open the door in our life, even just a bit, to adventure or living a good story we are saying yes to this fire. Ouch.

But it is in this fire that we actually grow those character traits we want. Gain wisdom - wisdom is not handed out like trick or treat candy - and have experiences worth living and writing about.

Or so I tell myself.

What is your current refining fire? What do you think is being “wrought” in you through that process?




Hi Renee! Hang in there (I

Hi Renee! Hang in there (I know you are keeping a positive attitude). You will be settled in before you know it!
My refining fire is dealing with candida issues and therefore eating the Body Ecology Diet (4 months in and some healing is taking place!) and also running. I never thought I'd be a runner, but now I at least am running 3 miles at a time.
I think God is using these things to form patience w/in me and also to learn to rely on His strength as I am not able to do it on my own. And also, I think, to rid myself of pride and self doubt.
Have you read Hinds' Feet On High Places by Hannah Hurnard? It is my current read and a really great story (which also talks about the refining process). It was recommended to me twice during my Holy Yoga training retreat and I am so glad I picked it up to read. It might be a good story to relax to during your unpredictable transition.
Blessings, Sara

I love this: "If you desire

I love this: "If you desire to be someone who takes risks you’ll have to actually take risks. If you desire to be someone who has adventures you have to travel into unknown territory. If you desire to be someone with a story to tell, you have to open yourself up to the hard work of living a good story. "

It's easy to talk about it and then not actually do it!

Thank you for such an

Thank you for such an inspiring post. I am also someone who craves organization and stability so it is difficult to imagine moving four times in 13 months! Lately I have been trying to seek out more experiences that stretch me out of my current comfort zone (part-time job that I love, mother to two young boys). I have recently dedicated myself to establishing a regular, and challenging, exercise routine. I am 1+ month in and it is going well but still requires me to push myself out the door sometimes. I also joined a volunteer group that supports our local birth center - this has forced me to meet new people and sometimes be in discussions and conversations that are challenging but also exciting, where I have to be confident in my own ideas and navigate lots of group dynamics. Finally, I recently submitted a piece of writing for publication, something I've never done before. Anyway, reading stories like yours really inspire me to stretch and challenge myself in my own life, in my own way. I am still figuring out a larger picture of my dreams but these baby steps are good to take, I think, and help me in refining who I want to be. Thank you again!

Hi Renee,

Hi Renee,

What a beautiful post, a post that lets us know you a little more. It actual brought tears to my eyes, because there are fires within me that need to be lite, and challenged. While maybe not as adventurous, and challenging as yours, these are things I need to do in order to move onto bigger ones. I'm in the process of training a rescue labrador retriever, suppose to be the easiest dog to train...this is really testing me on my committement and follow through. I'm also starting school mid July to become a health coach, this is really going to test me because I'm a very shy individual and it will make me step out of my comfort zone to approach and speak with people. I am also learning to let and not always want to control all situations, I need to turn the reigns over to god, something I have been working on in bible study each week...too bad we took a break for the summer, I really need to focus on my studies. I really need to step out of my comfort zone and start living my dreams, not just watching the movie play in my mind.

Thank you Renee, for waking me up.

Fantastic post Renee. I just

Fantastic post Renee. I just read it to my husband. I love how real you make change sound and that it is available to everyone. I so enjoy being inspired by your big moves physically, emotionally and spiritually. Kia kaha.

Hi Renee - another great post

Hi Renee - another great post! I have been following you for a couple of years now and your writing just keeps getting better and better. You have found the words to share what is in your heart and mind, and we the readers are better for it.

My refining fire these days was not something I chose. I chose to move overseas (the Black Forest is my backyard!!), I chose adoption, I chose homeschooling. I did not choose my sister's ongoing battle with cancer. It's been three years of surgeries, chemo, radiation, genetic tests, hair loss, remission, more chemo, more chemo, more chemo. At first I felt literally crushed by it all, like an elephant on my chest. I stepped into the role of nurturer, confidant, mother. I was the strong one who heard the naked truth after each doctor's consult, before it got "cleaned up" for the rest of the world. But slowly I learned to greet each day for what it really held, all the good things still in the world, still in my life. I began to laugh and smile again without a little dark cloud over my head. I'm pushing myself to create a life that is mine, beyond wife, beyond mother, beyond sister of someone with cancer. Sometimes the elephant still manages to get purchase on my chest, but I shove him off so I can truly see what is still left. And it is beautiful.

Well said, Renee. Suffering

Well said, Renee. Suffering produces perseverance, which leads to character, which leads to hope. One of the most difficult truths to live out. We have had numerous financial and serious health challenges in our family over the past few years. This week I am just focusing on not giving in to panic attacks, as we face yet another blow. I am also getting more of my writing published at a local magazine, and trying to figure out how to get out to a larger market. My character does need refining. And I have dreams that are not easy to fulfill. Baby steps and patience, and focusing on what is true and noble and right and true and trustworthy and all the other good things.

Very good post. My refining

Very good post. My refining fire is/has been walking through a difficult health issue- waiting for surgery and knowing I have a long healing time to wade through after that... and learning that it is ok to ask for help, to not be in control, to enjoy where I'm at even in the imperfect circumstances (and so on); and also, learning that my dad has cancer and has been told there is no hope. We've already lost multiple family members to cancer and this is just not ok. So I am having to make a choice about how to respond to this too (and failing often) - wanting to trust and believe for the best but also suppressing the fear of losing another person I love. Yuck. I do want to change, to be changed but I'm not sure I'm really maturing that much. I'm also wanting to respond with more gentleness, patience and kindess toward my family even when I'm in pain and stressed or worried about the future and what I cannot control. I hope I'll look back in a year and really be proud of myself for the growth I see.

Yes we know the burn....two

Yes we know the burn....two years of a refining fire ...patience, fortitude, lots of nights and days crying, and praying God why is this sooooooooooo HARD??? And then suddenly the lightbulb moment--embrace the fire, embrace the burn as growth. You have hit it right on Renee!!! And now that we as a family have embraced that ...its not easier but it hurts less....as always thank you for an awesome post....you are an inspiration ;-)

"By the comments I get both

"By the comments I get both in person and online there are people who think I must have super-human patience, wisdom and knowledge. That I am blessed with some character trait the average person is not. That my children and I must have “compatible” personalities. Ha!"

I love that quote Renee! My mom has homeschooled all 6 of her kids. Much as I love and admire her I can say she is not "super mom" she's a lot like you, she had to grow into the role. Also my siblings and I were not particularly "compatible kids." But she grew from the experience and we all turned out fine, hang in there.

My "wrought in the fire" experience was two years working in a wilderness program for emotionally disturbed boys. Wow, I had no idea how horrible cute little 9 year old kids could be! I had to learn to rely on God through that experience but in the end I grew a lot from it.