Rhonda has been married to Tom for 40 years. Rhonda and Tom lived in Hutchinson, KS for 19 years where they raised their 3 kids. All 3 of their kids are now married and have made her a proud grandmother of 6 (one who is in heaven) beautiful grandchildren. Tom’s work moved them to Kansas City, MO 3 1/2 years ago. Moving to a new town is a big transition in our lives. In the interview below Rhonda shares how she foundHOPE after this big transition.
What was the most difficult part about your transition?
The loneliness. I knew absolutely no one when we arrived in KC, plus we built a house in a new neighborhood so there was only one other family that lived on our street. To help with this I did something quite crazy. I bought a dog to keep me company. I’ve never been an animal person so that tells you how lonely I truly was.
Well, one day I was outside with my new puppy when two ladies walked by. They stopped to say hi and were very nice to me. I remember that feeling of longing to have friends like that in my life, but it was not to be, yet.
I should also mention that I did have my youngest daughter and her husband living in KC which was awesome, but they were dental students in the heart of KC. Needless to say I was not about to drive into the busy city. Plus they were newlyweds, and also very busy with school, so they didn’t need me popping in on them!
We did see them on Sundays at church and for dinner after, which made my Sundays very special. It helped in that it gave me purpose as I used part of the week to grocery shop and plan our meal together. I doubt they knew how much it meant to me that we would all be together for church and Sunday dinner.
In July the following year, my other daughter and her family moved into the area. Then in November my son also moved to KC. If you had told me that all of my children were going to live so close one year after moving here I wouldn’t have believed it!
I had always wanted to live in the same city of at least one of my children and their family. Here God had blessed me with all of them close by! What a special gift from God, and another lesson about trusting God and waiting on his timing!
Where did you find new friendships and meaningful connections?
I eventually started finding friendships and meaningful connections in the church we were attending.
Being a former church secretary, I took a huge step by walking into this very large church where I knew no one, and offered to volunteer in the church office. I began to at least feel like I had purpose even if it was just one hour a week.
I eventually found out about their ladies Bible study and started attending. I didn’t connect well with the first group, but I didn’t give up. I tried again and I almost walked away due to not being on the sign up list. As I was about to leave God brought a young lady up to me who invited me into her group.
They welcomed me right in, and it felt great! In fact as we were going around the table to introduce ourselves guess who was in the group? Yep, the two ladies who stopped to talk to me (and Mekali) as they walked by my house. Now, I know that was not an accident. God had that planned before I even moved in.
I have been attending this same study group for three years and I am now one of the leaders. We not only meet each week to study God’s word , but we go to lunch together, talk on the phone, and most importantly we lift up each other in prayer.
In addition to this wonderful ladies group eventually a small group spun off of that group of ladies which Tom (my husband) and I are enjoying attending each Wednesday night.
What did you find most helpful in this transition?
Of course my husband was always very caring and helpful to me. He would encourage me to get out. He listened to me, tried to understand my feelings, and he never complained when I went shopping and bought more than I should. A new house means more decorating and more purchases…..right?
Also, as crazy as it sounds Facebook was very helpful with my move. It allowed me to stay connected with my friends back home. It filled a lot of empty time that I would have had without it.
I also had a dear friend from my small group back home that I called every week, and she would even take time to call me to check in on me. She never made me feel that I was being a pest. She was always there to listen and to encourage me during those lonely days. This must have lasted for a year or more, but she hung in there. I thank God for her sweet spirit.
If you aren’t in a church small group I encourage you to find one. You won’t regret it.
What really is constant in my life during that time and throughout my life has been my daily quiet time. Reading God’s word and praying is the most important part of my day. My day is not the same if I miss having it.
No matter what’s going on in my life I can depend on God to shed light on that situation when I’m reading his word and praying.
What verse was special and encouraging to you during this time?
The verses that have always spoken to me are Isaiah 55:8-9 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
This verse has always spoken to me in pretty much all circumstances in my life. It reminds me that God is omniscient. He see’s all and knows all, for which I’m very thankful. All I have to do is trust him….not easy to do sometimes, but hopefully, I’m getting better at it.
How long did you grieve the move?
I would say the first year was the hardest. Each season that passed seem to bring back more memories of family and friends from our hometown where we had lived and raised our family.
Eventually, I even tried a part-time job. While that did keep me busy and gave me purpose it was a bit more than I expected. I felt pulled between it and being available to help my family, but I stuck it out for almost two years before I went back into retirement.
It’s been 3 ½ years since our move and I can honestly say that I am finally feel at home. That may sound like a very long time, but I suppose what made it harder for me is that I am an empty nester. I have made many moves in my younger years which weren’t as hard. Having children seems to get you plugged into the community a lot quicker.
I would like to finish by saying that I only managed to get through this move and all the others because of the strength that the Lord gave me. I believed in the promises of many scripture verses such as Psalm 28:7 “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him”.
He also reminds me to take it one day at a time. Matthew 6:34 says “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”