I had no desire to move away from my beloved Northeast.  John had come home from work a few days earlier informing me that the company he worked for was picking up and moving to Tennessee and wanted him to go with them.  They told him all the usual things:  It will be a great opportunity; The cost of living is lower; Housing is cheaper; yadda yadda yadda.   He, being such an adventurer, thought it would be totally great.  A chance to experience another part of the country!   He had already lived in four other states and had explored a good part of the Midwest and the East Coast on a solo motorcycle trip.  This would be fun!
 
I, on the other hand, being the more cautious one, wasn’t so sure.  No, that’s not exactly the truth.  There was no way in he** I wanted to move away from the North, from my family, my friends, my house, my home.   I was 7 months pregnant with our third child, the other two being 3 years old and almost 2 respectively.  I had a network of family and friends here whom I could rely on.  Why would I want to leave that, especially on the brink of child number three’s arrival?   I had only lived in one state all my life.  It’ not that I don’t like adventure because I do.  Well, sort of.  You know I’m feeling adventurous when I order a Hawaiian pizza instead of the usual Pepperoni Extra Cheese.   That’s adventurous, right?
 
So, we did what we always did when we were younger, less experienced, self-focused individuals convinced of the rightness of our own positions. 
 
We fought. 
 
According to him, I wasn’t being supportive.  According to me, he wasn’t being sensitive.  Sound familiar?  I’ll bet it does. 
 
Anyway, one night after yet another round of arguing the finer points of why we should or should not move, one of us came up with the bright idea of praying about it.  We decided to lay it all out on the table.  I had a list of concerns that I wanted answered.  We would pray about the list then visit Tennessee to scope it out and see what God did.   We both agreed that whichever way God answered, IF He did, we would follow.  If it was really obvious that my concerns were unfounded, I agreed that we’d move.  If it was really obvious that my concerns were telling us something, John agreed that we’d stay.  It was a true stretch for both of us and not just a little scary.
 
And so, we prayed over THE LIST:
  • Schools:  Schools in our area were rated pretty well.  How were the schools rated down there?
  • Being away from family and friends:  Was it worth it to leave them?
  • Crime:  Where we were living had one of the lowest crime rates in the country.  What would it be like in Memphis?
  • Cost of living :  Is it really cheaper to live there?
  • Heat:  So, just how hot did it get and for how long?  I get ill in the heat.
  • Racism:  What about the rumored problem of racism still being alive and well there?  Where we lived, people were just people.  I had had very little if any real exposure to racism growing up.  I certainly didn’t want my kids learning it.

We researched schools online before even going for our whirlwind weekend tour.  Schools in the Memphis area had some of the worst ratings in the country at the time.  We read more negative reviews than I care to relate.  

Schools:  Check.

During the plane ride down, a couple across the aisle from us struck up a conversation.  We told them what we were doing.  They piped up that they had actually moved across country and lived that way for five years.  They were heading back because “you just can’t underestimate the value of having family and friends close by.   It is really important.”   John and I cast sideways glances at each other.

Family / friends:  Check.

While we were in Memphis, we visited a local Wal-Mart.  We were greeted by a police officer at the door instead of the usual happy-face-sticker-giving-60-something-year-old Wal-Mart greeters that we were used to.  When we made a comment about it, someone in the store piped up “there’s usually three of them.”  While perusing the store, we overheard one worker telling another of how she had gotten robbed the night before and one of her neighbors had been robbed the previous week.  Couple that with the gated communities complete with bars on the doors and windows that the realtor had showed us as “the safe neighborhoods” and we were ready to cross another item off of our list.

Crime:  Check. 

 The reason we had entered Wal-Mart in the first place was to check out prices.  We also visited a large chain grocery store.  I was a frugal shopper and knew my prices well.  They were exactly the same or higher but they had the added benefit of sales tax, something we were not used to.  Yes, the property taxes and electricity bills were lower, but the additional taxes on other things made the cost of living just about the same.
 
Cost of living:  Check.
 
I am used to six months of winter.  When we asked the realtor about heat, she laughed and talked about six months of summer and living indoor with the air conditioner.  Tennessee has an average of 120 days over 90 degrees.
 
Heat:  Check.
 
By this point, it was pretty obvious that we were not going to be moving.  But the real kicker was on the flight home. The lady in front of us was a friendly Memphis lady on her way to visit with family or friends and she liked making small talk.  She asked what we had been doing in Tennessee and where we had looked at houses and whatnot so we told her.  She got this funny look on her face and said “Oh darlin’, if you move to Memphis you don’t want to live in THAT neighborhood.  It was a nice place and then the blacks started moving in.  If you ask me, neighborhoods just go right down when blacks move in.”  Blink.  Blink.  Did she really just say that?
 
Racism:  Check.
 
Every single item on our list was answered, some of them in glaring neon.  We’ve laughed a lot over the years at some of the “in your face” ways God made his will clear during our two days in Memphis.  The best part about it though was that we had come to a decision peacefully with neither of us feeling like we had lost a fight or were giving in.  We were together 100%.  That was the best answer of all.
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