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Know anyone who’s moving soon? Maybe even you?

According to a recent USA Today article, approximately 14% of the American population moves at least once each year. That’s 40 million people!

If someone you know is among them, here’s how you can help.

Let’s start with you. If you’re the move-ee, or just in the contemplation stage of downsizing, apartment-switching or relocating , give yourself way more time than you think you’ll need.

Case in point.

My husband, mother and I relocated to western North Carolina last summer after 16 years in our former home, and 10 for mom in her condo. Unlike some who have little notice, our move would follow my husband’s long-planned retirement. We spent months prior to our July move date systematically going through every room, closet and storage area in both homes. We sorted, purged, set aside, gave away, sold and bequeathed. We scrubbed and painted walls, took down photos and freshened up pillows.

Clothes, home décor and kitchen items went to Goodwill and several local charities. Old paint found a new home at a recycling center. Boxes upon boxes of books landed at the local library book sale, with specialty titles donated to the nearby college and church staff members.

WE THOUGHT WE WERE READY.

But when we returned from our annual family reunion just ten days before the move, we gazed at the stuff that remained and knew there wasn’t a snowball’s chance of packing it all on our own before the trucks arrived. Especially since the missus of the house was still working her fulltime day job. (I do not recommend going to the office until the hour before the moving van arrives. Trust me on this.)

Chances are you won’t feel ready either, or you know others who will never get their boxes and bodies from Point A to Point B without angelic intervention.

Want to earn your wings, or maybe help others earn theirs? (Bad Theology Alert: human beings do not actually become angels in the afterlife.)

But I swear the people who bailed us out were heaven-sent. Here’s what they did that you can do, too.

Provide Practical Help. Mike and I still speak in awed tones of our friend Bill, a retired physician, who spent several 10+ hour days disassembling furniture, packing up our grungy basement, and helping to load the truck for our DIY move. Another friend, Dave, gave up his day off to tackle the depths of our ancient, scary garage with contents almost impossible to pack.

Bill’s wife, Lesley, provided dinner one night as well as a boatload of moral support. John and Donna invited us to their home for a meal (Hot food! Real chairs to sit on! No moving debris!). Russ and Mitzi treated us to a meal out at a favorite restaurant they knew we’d miss. Mike’s sister Lori drove up from out-of-state to work alongside our friend Cindy packing up our entire kitchen while I was at work.

A lovely meal out with friends Russ and Mitzi shortly before our move

The women’s ministry team from church, angels all, delivered dinner and stayed on to pack our dining room. All. That. China.

Women’s Ministry team – love these girls!

The Steel family took down every mirror and painting in the house and cut up boxes to protect them. My colleague Todd came after work to crate our TV. Loretta, Sharon and Sarah rode to our rescue the final evening when the truck was full but the house was far from empty, toting carload after carload to Loretta’s garage for last-minute storage. Catherine and Richard opened up their home for our use once our own was bed-less.

Part of our rescue team on our last evening in Wheaton

In our weariness, we leaned on the strength of our faith family. We can repay them only by going thou and doing likewise.

Many of us who’d like to assist with moves are limited by little time, bad backs or long distances. Here are a couple other ways we can help.

Send mail.

The real old-fashioned kind with paper and stamps and everything. Emails or text messages, while welcome, are read and gone in an instant.

A year after our move, we’re still rereading notes and cards that arrived the weeks following our arrival in our new location. There’s nothing that says, “You’re home!” like getting personal mail at your new address. (The folks who send bills already know where to find you. Trust me on this, too.)

Make friend-to-friend connections.

Social media spans the globe. Even if you’re not on it, you have friends who are. My longtime New England friend Cindy introduced me via Facebook to her western North Carolina friends DeeDee and Maureen. Each read the post I wrote sharing my fears about starting over and both took action. DeeDee left a warm note and a flowering plant on our mailbox for us to discover the day we arrived, while Maureen invited me for a walk around a nearby lake and a welcome visit to her farm. (Someone here knew our names! Glory be!)

Another old friend, Cynthia, connected us the year prior to our move with her friends Fred and Miriam, who live an hour away from our new home. It would take paragraphs to describe the lengths to which these amazing people went to welcome us to the area, but one example stands out.

See this? It’s the menu Miriam created for the meals they left in our refrigerator the day we moved in. We were exhausted and filthy from unloading the truck and had no brain cells left to locate a grocery store.

Mike, Mom and I will never forget how it felt to open up the frig and find sausage cheese biscuits, muffins, fruit and juice for breakfast. A beautifully arranged tray of meats and cheeses for lunch. Peaches, lemonade and sweet tea to welcome us to southern living. Chips, treats and paper products (who can find the dishes on moving day?) on the counter.

Can you even?! I’llnever forget staring into that loaded frig with tears in my eyes for the goodness of God and his people.

If you’re moving soon, I pray people will pop up to help in answer to your prayers as they did for us.

Even better? Maybe you’ll be an answer to someone else’s.