As news of our impending move has been filtering out in bits and pieces, my inbox is full of messages from friends wanting to know the details of why and when we are moving to Texas. In an effort to get the full story out in one place, we blog it. 🙂
For the past few months, our question to the Father has been "What? What is the next move, the next step, the next thing you have for us?" The question wasn't borne out of a desire to get out of dodge. We have sincerely been in a place where we just needed to know that what we were doing was truly what God had for us. It was a dream come true for us to get to live here at all. That's a fun story….
I grew up 8 miles from my mailbox in rural Alberta, Canada in the foothills of the Rockies. Barry gew up in small town Alabama in the forests of the Smoky Mountains. Texas was where we collided and grew together. Even though our years in Texas were amazing, we never adjusted well to the concrete, the crowds and the heat. When Russell, Ivy and Elliott were really little, we started longing for them to have what we had as children….space, woods and mountains.
Barry and I took a scouting trip to see if we could get a feel for where we would want to live. I told Barry I wanted to live within an hour of the airport, so he drove as fast as he could from the airport, for an hour, and it landed us in Teller County. The beauty in Colorado is so familiar to our upbringings that we felt ourselves coming alive, with every mile between us and the city. Still, the cost of living was so high in Colorado, I had trouble believing that this was a dream that we could ever really live. We drove to Mueller State Park and we sat outside the gates while I muddled through my doubts and fears about this plan. We prayed together there and I felt like the Father was saying to me, "You can stay out here and never know what's in there, or you can go on in, trust me and get to see it." We bought a pass and drove on in. Mueller State Park is an old ranch-turned-park with an incredible view of several mountain ranges. There is no better place to see the whole shebang than from this vista. As we stood up there together, in the chilly October wind, looking out over this breathtaking tribute, we knew we had been issued an invitation to walk on into something we had been dreaming of. We kept that state park sticker on our car for the months to come, to remind us of the invitation.
We put our stuff in storage and lived with family for six months to save up money for a down payment on a house. We arrived with a suburban, a uhaul, our trademark purple trailer and zippo money. Our parents were worried about us, to say the least. We checked into a hotel room to await our house closing, scheduled for the following day. My mother in law flew in with the baby who was too little to make the journey by car and we holed up there together, excited and nervous. She dumped out a bag of mail she had intercepted for us and had been saving for us for a couple of weeks. I went through it and, in God's perfect timing and flair, there was an unexpected royalty check there for $7000.00. We freaked out and marvelled that this provision would come to us on that night, and not weeks before. If we had opened that check even 5 days prior, the drive to Colorado would have required much less trust. I have never forgotten that kiss from God. I took it as straight up confirmation of His earlier invitation to us to walk on in.
Our years here have been stupendous. We have lived our dream every day. We have never, for one minute, taken our surroundings for granted. We were followed out here by scads of our most precious friends. Brian and Cathleen Hobson were transferred out here within mere weeks of our arrival. Mark and Christi Bovee followed a summer later. Stefanie Rohman & Beth Gilchriest left their families and jobs to make the pilgrimage. Ryon and Rebecca Fuqua were on their heels, baby in tow. How could we ever have planned that? Here was our community, with us, in our dreamland. We have journeyed here together through collaborative artistic ventures, church experiments, epic worship, camping tromps, romances, weddings and divorces, babies born, heart failure, job losses, cancer, hurts and heartache, healing and redemption, real, beautiful life.
And then there are the natives. While at first we took their non-Texan demeanor as stand-offish, we soon experienced Colorado goodness in new for-real Coloradan friends. We have lived here, in a patchwork community of transplants and natives, in real community. Dales, Vilgitates, Rohmans of all sorts. We have lived a kind of community that most people only dream about. We are in each others lives, day in and day out. I have come to know that in this family, I will be encouraged, confronted, trusted, kept accountable, comforted, taught, honored, fed, prayed for, forgiven, rescued, supported…..the list of goodness goes on and on. Community, however is not the God here, Jesus is. True community is a mere byproduct of the pursuit of Jesus as the focus, above all things. Jesus is the author of that beauty and it is as much a tribute to Him as the vista from Mueller State Park.
So, when the call came on a Tuesday morning with a job offer in Texas that needed to be responded to by dinner time, my first response was, of course, no. However, when we took it to prayer, we both realized that God was very swiftly answering the "What now?" question we had dared to ask. We knew that we knew it. It broke our hearts to know it. This has been our home for nine years. We will move out of our house 9 years to the day that we moved into it. Samwise was born here. Our family is here. Our mountains are here. There is no disfunction here that makes us shake the dust off of our feet as we leave. There is only deep gratitude for the goodness we have known here, in God and people.
The morning after the job offer came, Barry and I drove around in stunned silence at the shock of a decision like this. We drove to Mueller State Park and wept as we walked up to our familiar vista, the Sangre De Cristos, the Collegiates, Pikes Peak, Raspberry Mountain. Barry, who is as connected to this land as an aspen tree, grieved for what he is leaving and offered gratitude for the gift he was given. Even as we drove away, we knew the invitation still stood.
Since God hasn't changed, this new chapter of the invitation is no less good than it was the first time around. Our good Father isn't into ripping away things that are dear to us, to accomplish some tactical purpose of His that we will have no heart connection to. The same trust required to move to the mountains is employed to move back to the city. The same God invites, the same God supplies and fulfills. After nine years of knowing His goodness in the mountains, we are confident that as we walk on in, we will continue to know His goodness, to the fullest.
Barry is already in Texas. He has been doing leather and vinyl repair in vehicles for the past year in Colorado and will continue to do so in a much more productive environment. The kids and I will follow him when school is over in May. Our house went on the market on Friday. Barry will be studying his commute and trying to figure out the best area for us to relocate to, but it will be in the DFW area. The kids and I are trying to get the most out of our remaining weeks here, getting lots of friend time and living it up in Colorado.
Now that we are over the shock of this decision, we are full of hope! We are excited to see what God has for us in the DFW area. Texas is where we soaked up so much of God! Texas is where we learned how to walk in community in the first place. Texas is where we fell in love and where three of our babies were born. Texas is where we were sent out from! Texas is the mothership! We are excited for opportunities, provision and connection. We love Texas and more importantly, Texans! So many dear friends of ours are ecstatic about our return and that is paving the way for us to return.
We can encourage you, if you are standing at the gate of an invitation from God, walk on in, up to the vista. See it, taste it, feel it, live it. Know His goodness in the land of the living whether that land has a slope or not. You actually CAN turn your back on your fears and choose to trust. The only thing you will ever regret is any time you wasted, muddling through your fears, sitting at the gates, afraid to enter in. He is always, always, always good.