By Melissa Miller
“How did you prepare your children for such a big move?” A friend asked.
Our recent cross-country move sparked questions from a friend who may face a move of her own in the future. As moms, we experience job changes, moves, deployments, school shifts, and even hormonal changes in our kids. Navigating change for our families takes intention. When it comes to change, the right balance is key. We can’t dismiss the weight of change, nor can we tie our life’s fulfillment to it.
When considering the move from California to Florida, I despised the idea of “dragging my kids along” for the ride. I prayed “God if you’re leading the way, speak to my children’s hearts as well.”
For the most part, my husband and I knew our move was on the horizon about one year ahead of time. We loved the idea of being closer to my work/ministry and closer to Brandon’s parents, but we weren’t 100% positive. This provided a great opportunity to bring our kids along in the process of seeking confirmation. Here are some tips that helped us in our journey:
Pray about it as a family
We didn’t come to our kids and say, “We’re moving!” We said, “We think this is where God is leading us, but we aren’t certain. It’s something we want to pray about as a family. We want to hear your thoughts, and we also want you to pray about it on your own.”
For months, every night at the dinner table we prayed about it together. We took a trip to our potential new town, praying earnestly before, during, and after the trip. We wrote down our prayers. We asked God for wisdom. We tuned our ears in expectation of God’s direction. This process gave me confidence that God wasn’t going to speak one thing to us, and something different to my kids. If it was right, we’d know it was right - even if in some ways it was hard.
2. Welcome real thoughts and feelings
We talked about our thoughts, fears, uncertainties, dreams, hopes, and possibilities. We invited open discussion and open feelings. There was a time when 4 out of the 5 of us felt confident about the move, but one of us remained uncertain. We didn’t try to convince or coax her to “get on board with the plan.” We prayed, we listened, and we waited. She shed tears, expressed fears, and we assured her that she can trust Jesus no matter what the plan is.
Almost every night for weeks, our daughter expressed the same hesitations. We didn’t minimize those - we were going to miss our church, our friends, and so many other things too! I’ve learned over the years in my own life, if I stuff feelings down, they will eventually come out later. Taking time to fully process emotions is important for both us and our kids. We can’t be led by our emotions, but we can’t ignore them either.
3. Empower your kids
I can’t recall how many times we said to our kids, “We believe in your ability to hear God’s voice” but we said it a lot! We encouraged them in all the different ways God speaks; through His word, through our circumstances, through our desires, through Godly people, in worship, in dreams, and more.
This process led to each of my children individually experiencing a moment of God-confidence regarding the move, even my most hesitant. God, a gentle shepherd, held my kid’s hearts in His hands during this time in a special way. My journal felt stacked with gratitude at God’s faithfulness. The beauty of not rushing the process or the emotions, is that we crossed over from fear to excitement as the move approached.Each of us felt empowered in our own personal relationship with the Lord and felt a sense of trust as we made the leap. As we empowered our kids to seek God for themselves, the purpose of the move became clear and exciting. This move wasn’t just about ministry for mom and dad - God held a purpose for every single one of our family members. We created a document of all the different ways we felt God speaking to our hearts during this time. This verse jumped off the pages to us time and time again:
Psalm 121: I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip— he who watches over you will not slumber indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord watches over you—the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all harm— he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.
We’ve only been in our new town for a few months. Although we are still getting settled, we see God’s fingerprint every day. The grandparents drive down to visit us this weekend. Our formerly hesitant daughter said the youth group “felt like family.” And our new church has a huge ministry/community of adoptive and foster families. As we approach the last stages of our own adoption, we can’t help but smile at these little details.
As you consider potential changes coming on the horizon, pray about it as a family, welcome real thoughts and emotions, and empower your children in their own relationship with God. If it’s the right change, in time you’ll find yourself crossing over from fear to excitement. The will of God is always the best place to be.
Melissa Miller is married to her best friend, has three children, and is in the process of growing their family through adoption. They live in a small coastal town in South Florida. Melissa works for "Married for a Purpose" and is passionate about helping marriages and families thrive. She enjoys reading, writing, cooking, and beach days with her family. Check her out on Instagram and Facebook!