Game Changer

red shoes

ruby slippers

What if you lost something.

Or it lost you. You knew it was lost when you left it, but you didn’t know the full measure of what the leaving meant.

Once you grasped the leaving and the loss, it was too late. There was no going back. You were certain you would never find it again and it would never find you.

Then one day, quite by surprise, there it was. You could see it in the distance. And all you could think was how to get to it.

Put on your red shoes and click your heels. It’s time to go home.

*  *  *

One Wednesday morning last October, I rounded the corner onto my street. Something was out of place. My husband’s truck was in the driveway.

A little background: my husband’s marketing prowess helped the company where he had worked in St. Louis to sell out of their product all three years he was there. That success in turn attracted a buyer to purchase the company. My husband was wooed to Wichita, family in tow, to lead marketing at the acquiring company. He was supposed to be at work, but he met me at the door.

tornado shelter sign

tornado shelter

“What’s wrong?” I said. “Are you sick?”

“No.”

“Did you get laid off?”

“Yes.”

We’d been nine months in Wichita. Enough time to uproot a family, plop them down on the flat prairie of Kansas, cycle them through homesickness, new schools, new churches, new grocery stores, positive performance reviews, and one nasty tornado. Nine months in Wichita and they cut him loose.

I bought my ruby slippers when he still had a job. Little did I know, they were ripe for this journey.

*  *  *

Within weeks, colleagues called upon my husband as a consultant. This comes as no surprise to me. He’s a creative, strategic thinker. A rainmaker. A walking encyclopedia of agriculture. A good man who’s really good at what he does. We thought consulting would be a temporary gig, but he enjoys the work and he’s doing well. Maybe he’ll just keep right on building his business.

Wichita is not our home. Without the job, there’s nothing to keep us here. But where to go? Home of course. And where is that?

sold sign

deja vu

Home for us is a toss-up between Missouri and North Carolina. We love them both. We didn’t expect to have to choose. Not now, anyway. The last seven months have been a roller coaster blur of weighing good options against each other and agonizing over what to do.

All that is about to end. 

We’re surrendering to our inner South. Moving back to sweet tea and barbecue. Home to where we met and married.

Friends and family wait with open arms and long drawls. Fireflies and tadpoles, tall pine trees and dolphins arching out of the Atlantic at dawn—I like to think they wait for us, too.

We’ve coaxed our son with tales of your finest, North Carolina. There’s no place like home.

Even the sparrow has found a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may have her young—
a place near Your altar,
Lord Almighty, my King and my God.
Blessed are those who dwell in Your house;
they are ever praising You. Psalm 84:3-4 NIV

Carolina In My Mind by sweet baby James Taylor.

Plans for our move are about to take over my life.
Please bear with me. I’ll blog when I can!

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63 Comments

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63 Responses to Game Changer

  1. Aimee,

    Although I certainly feel badly for the stressful part of this for you, I am thrilled to know that such a wonderful family will be coming back to my area. Just knowing you are here is enough to make this a better place my friend. Perhaps we (our families) can get together and catch up after you get settled back in. I am positive you and my wife would hit it off famously and I would love to meet your husband over a nice barbecue dinner…

    NC has indeed missed you….now click those ruby slippers and come on home young lady. God keep you on your latest journey…

    • Oh, thank you, Rodney! You are so sweet. It has been a stressful time and it doesn’t look like it’s going to let up any time soon (say the 50 some odd boxes delivered to me for packing today), but that’s okay. Not to sound cliche, but we’re trusting God to take care of us… That’s really the best any of us can do.

  2. Alicia

    We are so happy to have you home!

  3. Beth

    Awesome! It will be so good to catch up and Aimee in real life, not 1,000 miles away. Welcome HOME!

  4. Cyndi Lou

    You cannot get here fast enough for us. Don’t worry – “girls lunch” will give you plenty of blogging fodder once you are settled in. Keep us posted, and welcome back!!

    • Yes, I’ll have more material than I can write. May need to do a Steel Magnolia’s series. “Pink is my signature color.”

  5. best of luck to you on your move! It sounds like it is definitely the right move for you and your family!

  6. Jennifer

    Beautifully written Aimee. While your time in Wichita was short, we cannot imagine our move here without your family. You were the first smiling, shiny faces we met when we, too, were quickly relocated to Wichita (Wichita?!) Seeing you at home, in the neighborhood and at church eased the sadness in our hearts when we missed our old home. You will be missed a great deal. We will always have fond memories of you, Jeff and Theo. We wish you all the best with your move!

    • Oh, Jennifer! We are going to miss you and all our neighbors. This neighborhood has been such a blessing to us! We’d be in much worse shape had it not been for kind people like you surrounding us here in Wichita. Any chance we could convince you to move with us? There are a lot of great banks in NC :)

  7. Congratulations on selling your house and making the decision to move back to North Carolina! I look forward to reading about your adventures in returning “home”.

    • Thank you, Janis. I think we may need to collaborate on some travel posts highlighting the many great locations to visit (and eat) in the Southeast United States :)

  8. JoAnn Alumbaugh

    I wish you all the best as you begin a new adventure Aimee. You’re so right about Jeff – no doubt another, more attractive door is opening for him in all the right ways. He will be in demand, whatever he decides to do, and with a strong, intelligent woman at his side, you two will be unstoppable! Please let me know if I can help in any way. All the best.

    • Thank you for your vote of confidence, JoAnn! It means a lot to me and to Jeff. We are excited about our move and the possibilities!

  9. roy

    I cannot help but feel ( just a bit ) like the ugly stepchild…..
    Just kidding. I have spent some time in NC as a youth – good times.
    One thing to remember through this – God is good, all the time.

    Live the adventure.

    • Roy, this was an excruciatingly tough decision. Lots of tears have been and will continue to be shed. It’s not what we expected or planned, but God is good. All the time. And we will visit Missouri often as we have family and friends there, too.

  10. Lyn

    Wichita is losing good folk but it is truly a gain for the South! Please know I will pray for you and your family and reach out if any of your STL friends can help in any way!

  11. Kelly F.

    I am so thrilled for you! I know how much you love North Carolina–as does anyone who reads your blog posts! Congrats to you, Jeff and T!

    • Thank you, Kelly. We already miss our St. Louis friends and T’s classmates from when we left to move to Wichita, and we’re missing them all over again with this decision. But I think it will be for the best. We’ll certainly visit St. Louis, and we hope you’ll visit us if you get the chance to come south :)

  12. Kim

    Congratulations!! We have gone through some similiar situations…moving from the south to the midwest. We loved St. Louis too! Wen is actively looking for a new job now. We decided to focus on Richmond with NC as the next step possibility! Maybe we’ll end up neighbors! Good luck in your move.

    • Kim, I would love to be your neighbor. We’ll start our own writer’s circle! I didn’t realize you lived in St. Louis. I wonder if we were there the same time. Tell Wen he needs to narrow his search geographically. I’ll message you our coordinates.

  13. Christel Oliphant

    And Finally I can say “Welcome Home!” Your family , and lifelong friends await you !!

    • Thanks, Christel. Next lunch, I’m buying. I saw you’re hosting events at your farm now. We may want to book a fall birthday party for a certain young man…

  14. Congrats! That is fantastic. I would like to visit North Carolina someday, so I look forward to hearing all about your stomping grounds. Good luck.
    http://www.crystalcattle.com

    • Thank you, Crystal. You are welcome to visit me anytime in NC, but I must warn you. Once you visit the South, it will be tough to leave and you will definitely want to visit again… Ask Katie Pinke about that.

  15. Jenny

    Wow! I hope we get to see you over the summer when we visit NC!

    • Well, I would hope so! Let me know when you’re coming my way. We have to get our kiddos together and I’d love to see you, Mike, Jane & M.

  16. Diana

    Ain’t no place finah than our sweet home CAROLINA!!! Happy for your return…praying God works all details in an orderly, timely fashion so you don’t have to delay! Hugs!

  17. Elizabeth Ward

    Aimee-
    I am so happy that the door has opened for you to return home. I know your heart has been there for a long time. Blessings to you sweet friend!

    • And blessings to you, Elizabeth. Love and miss you. And I still have you on my interview/guest post list. I haven’t forgotten–we’ve just been a bit overwhelmed, as you can imagine.

  18. Amy

    Parallel lives…we too, are moving back home. Except our home is Southern California. We’ve wooed our daughters with stories of family bbqs, long days at the beach, and old friends (with kids their age). Fingers crossed for both of our families that our landing is soft and that our summers are happy. Prayers!

    • Amy, are you kidding me? First the Texas Rio Star and now moving back to our old stomping grounds with kids? We’re in the twilight zone, you and I. Love it. Thank you for reading and commenting. Here’s to soft landings and happy summers!

  19. While I’m sorry this had to come through a stressful time for you, I am incredibly glad you get to go home! Sometimes the “what” is only the right part, and maybe the “why” or the “how” doesn’t seem to be…. but in the end, it is all right.

    • You’re so right, Nusy. I’m not sure we’ll ever know the “whys” and “hows,” at least not until the end when we can see how it all came together. I hope you are well. Your status updates tell me it’s been a challenging semester. Keep it up! I just know I’ll need a good attorney in CA one of these days!

  20. loridraper

    Proof positive that every challenge is a new opportunity in disguise. I don’t envy you. Our family relocated so many times when the kids were little. To me, Move is a dirty four letter word. I will patiently await more blogs when you’re more settled.
    Lori

    • Thank you in advance for your patience, Lori. I’ll be around the blog because I’ll need a break between packing boxes…and going insane…in a good way of course! :)

  21. There’s no place like home!! Wow—that’s how I felt moving back to California too. The journey was rough, but you learned and you grew and you spent nine months in Wichita. Why not? God has everything under control. :) Happy moving!

    • Thanks, Ariel. I’d ask you for moving tips, but since we just moved to Wichita a year and a half ago, it’s all still pretty fresh for me. Lots of learning, lots of growing, and lots of packing!

  22. WooHoo!!!! :) And I wondered why our sky was such a lovely shade of Carolina blue today! ;)

  23. Krista

    I have a vision of us, hugging and jumping up and down in the Southern Guilford parking lot, not yet freshmen, but we had just made the cheer leading squad. After lunch last week, I kind of wanted to do that again as we were leaving the restaurant. So happy you are coming home!

  24. Ging

    I am so very happy for you! There is no place like home :). You are finally headed back to an ‘Ina’ state! I’m excited to have such an important reason to visit NC.

  25. Lorrie

    Come home Aimee. North Carolina is ready for you! Prayers lifted up for you and your family.

  26. OH Aimee!! You are witness to one of the greatest things about God’s Plan… no matter how stressful the turn is, or how great the cost of the circumstance… His plan is ALWAYS perfect. Welcome home, my friend. The journey awaits you and your precious family! :)

  27. Lisa Smout

    I have been wondering where you all would end up. I was hoping for STL, of course, but am really happy for you all to get to end up in NC. I am so glad Jeff has work and is using his skills for consulting. We will be praying for your transition.

  28. Sorry to hear about the layoff, but as always, God works in mysterious ways, so often turning bad into good, especially when we allow him to work and rule over our lives. May your trip and transition go well. Y’all have rolled with it all so far, you’ll surely be able to do so again.

    • Hi, WA. I’ve had a very, very bad day today, and your comment comes as a treasured word of encouragement. Thank you so much. God is in control.

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  31. Thomas maultsby

    Yes trust in God Aimee. He will provide! I’m glad North Carolina is calling ya’ll home. The best barbeque in the world, family and life-long treasured friends. Deciding on whether ya’ll want to go to the beach or the mountains for vacation. And good schools for your children. Tarheel basketball and football! Amen to that…yeah! But things will get better. :) Thomas

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