By Ann Kelley
You’ve settled in to your new home. The kids are back in school. You’re husband is off to his new job. Suddenly, you find yourself with hours to fill in a town where no one knows you and you’re afraid you’ll get lost just going to the grocery store. You may be tempted to stay within the security of your four walls, but you know that will only add to your loneliness.
Use these 15 ideas to launch you into a plan to make the most of each day.
Start by taking care of yourself:
Read and meditate on the Beatitudes found in Matthew chapter 5, verses 3-11. I highly recommend that you read these in The Message Bible paraphrase by Eugene Peterson. Jesus is teaching about contentment here and he has a lot to say to you.
Get your blood pumping. Working out affects your whole mood and outlook for the day. Anything from a brisk walk to a spin class will give you energy to face the future.
Keep a water bottle within arms’ reach at all times. Water is cleansing and refreshing and contributes to maintaining a proper weight. Your body will thank you.
Be quiet. Turn off the TV, your music, the computer… anything electronic… and ask God to speak to you. I’m not talking about an audible voice here, but He wants to instruct, encourage, and guide you and he’ll do that through your thoughts and feelings. But He can’t always get through to you if you’re never quiet. He’ll use scripture too.
Examine yourself. Now that you’ve spent time listening, consider how you might like to take advantage of being the newcomer by making some changes in yourself that you’ve always wanted to make. This is your opportunity to redefine yourself. No one in your new community has any expectations of you. Have you always wanted to be more bold? Make the decision to invite a neighbor over for coffee.
Journal about this time in your life. Writing can bring clarity, release, and a reminder of any conclusions you reach. Years from now you’ll enjoy reading what you wrote and being reminded of this period in your life. (Check out the journal from Just Moved Ministry that is a companion to After the Boxes Are Unpacked by Susan Miller.)
Bring flowers inside. Keep flowers on the table, counter, or in your bedroom. You’ll be surprised how much they can lift your spirits.
Now let’s turn your focus outward:
Be neighborly. We don't know if they are shy or just too busy, but neighbors aren't always the first to say hello. Bake some cookies and knock on your neighbor's door to say hello.
Volunteer. Opportunities abound for volunteering. From the local school to the hospital to the homeless shelter -- no offering is too small and your time and skills can make a real difference. While you’re helping, you’re also meeting people!
Be an explorer. Every day decide on one new place you’ll investigate - even if it’s just the DMV. It could be an area like a lovely park or neighborhood you’ve heard about. It could be a business or attraction that interests you or is historically significant.
Be a joiner. Join a fitness class, the library book club, a political campaign, a MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group, a neighborhood watch… you get the idea. A “joiner” more quickly becomes a “belonger.”
Find a Bible study to attend. By all means, find a church to attend regularly, but beyond that, become a part of a smaller group that is doing a Bible study. Your best bet as a newcomer is to find or start an After the Boxes Are Unpacked study. Contact us here at Just Moved Ministry to learn more about this great way to make friends, connect with the community, and discover God’s perspective on your move. (email email@example.com or call 480.991.5268)
Go back to school. You don’t have to be pursuing a degree to sign up for a class at the local community college or university. There are plenty of choices for those who are interested in personal and professional development. Take a guitar class, hone your writing skills, take a computer class… just sign up for something that interests you.
Choose one room at a time in your home to give your attention to. What can you do to make the room more inviting, more comfortable, and to more clearly reflect your style? Carry measurements and color swatches with you so that you are prepared to make a decision should you come across something that you’d like to buy for the room.
Remember that the rest of the family is also having to make lots of adjustments to this move. When family members get home, stop what you’re doing and give them a warm, loving, and interested reception. Ask about their day. Be a good listener. Act as if each of them is the most important person in your life.