From Solo to Ensemble: Gather With Other Newcomers to Ease the Impact of a Move
by Jesse Prentiss
The book After the Boxes are Unpacked by Susan Miller sat collecting dust for years on the book shelf. A sweet, well-meaning couple from my mother-in-law’s church gifted it to us when we moved out of state as newlyweds.
It went in and out of cardboard boxes from Lowell, Michigan to Akron, Ohio. Then from Akron to Stow, Ohio. It wasn’t until the Stow to Ada, Michigan move in 2009 that I finally read the pages. The move had broken me. I was seriously shattered so the casual conversational writing style was like a letter from a friend. It helped give me words to express my feelings, comfort that I wasn’t alone, and hope that I’d get through the move. It was a tool that helped redirect my focus off of me and my problems and back to God, to his plans, purpose, and glory. I don’t usually understand God’s plan or purpose but I trust He has one.
When we moved back to Stow, Ohio from Ada, Michigan in 2011 I became confused as to what God was up to. Even though I was less than a mile from my previous house, I didn’t fit back in, it was like the band had marched on without me and I wasn’t sure which song to pick up to get back in step.
I love the lyrics from the hymn “Come Thou Fount” that say, “Tune my heart to sing thy grace, streams of mercy, never ceasing, call for songs of loudest praise.” When I allowed God to tune my heart with grace and mercy I became an instrument that was ready to play a new song for his glory.
God is the master orchestrator. One Sunday I saw the announcement in the church bulletin for a book study of After the Boxes are Unpacked. Then I noticed the women’s ministry leader was one row ahead of me (not just a coincidence, considering the 5,000 plus congregation meets in several venues over several service times). My heart strings were pulled. I was ready to play, so I approached her and asked if I could help with the class. She said they had been praying for a co-leader and welcomed my help.
When I reacquainted myself with my After the Boxes are Unpacked book I reread the inscription from the sweet, well-meaning couple, Phyllis and Elmer. “Just in case you end up moving here and there a lot – this may be a blessing.”
At the time I was in my 6th home in 10 years. For me, that qualified as A LOT. The book was a blessing and so was leading the class and the relationships I formed with the women and the lessons I applied to my life about God’s loving provision. A community that is woven together with laughter and tears creates a residence in your heart that always has the welcome mat out for whenever your paths cross again.
Now that I am in my 7th house and third state I have a new song to learn. A new friend shared Psalm 33:3: “Sing to Him a new song, play skillfully and shout for joy.” However, I’ve learned I don’t sing a cappella all that well. So let’s have a sing-a-long. Moving has a tendency to put us a little out of tune so perhaps together we can laugh and cry and learn to sing a new song. Together.
Jesse is having a "sing-a-long" with newcomers to Prosper, TX. Together, they go through the study that accompanies After the Boxes Are Unpacked. The study is offered twice each year. Go to U.S. locations of ABAU studies and scroll down to find Texas.
Jesse Prentiss is first and foremost a child of God. She has been married to Jared Prentiss since 2000 and they are blessed with a son and daughter.
She still calls Michigan home, where she was born and raised, and lived in Ohio for most of her married life. Her husband’s corporate moves have relocated them several times before their latest stop in Texas in 2015.
She received her first copy of After the Boxes Are Unpacked in 2001 as a gift and has gone on to help lead the study based on this book in Ohio and currently leads it in Texas.
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