Monday, April 27, 2009

Following God's Plan (Part 7 of Our Arctic Adventure)

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6

It is amazing how things work out when you are following God's plan.

By the time we figured this out we had less than four weeks before we were to leave for Alaska. All of us together.

Time to kick it into high gear.

The first thing to do would be to figure out what we would be taking and what we would not be taking. The company that Dave was going to work for had given us a relocation budget, however everything that we were going to take had to be shipped as air freight. The village we were moving to is WAY off the Alaska road system so it couldn't go by truck and the ocean here is frozen solid, so no barge service until July. It all had to go by air. Because of that, the company does provide furnished housing, so we would not be taking any of our furniture.
We decided that we would work on taking minimal stuff, because it is just that; stuff. So begins the packing and sorting.

Over the next week and a half I packed and sorted. I gave each of my boys a box and told them to put their favorite things in. I went through my house and decided on what I could sell and what I couldn't live without and Dave did the same.

Also during this time, word was getting out that we were liquidating and friends started calling offering to help. I was so amazed at the amount of help that I had. Dave's parents came one afternoon to help pack, my friend Meleea called the next day; she had a couple hours to spare and wanted to help. My mom and dad came that weekend and spent the weekend helping.

Not only were friends coming to help, but others were calling wanting to buy our furniture. I was planning a garage sale for the following weekend but before that time came I had pre-sold nearly all of our big furniture and our trampoline. The day before my garage sale, my friends Val and Kelly came and spent the entire day sorting and pricing. THE.WHOLE.DAY. That afternoon my sister Kris also came to help with the garage sale and let me tell you, she is a pro. Seriously, Kris can work harder than anyone I know. Not only harder, but smarter. She is motivated, organized and OCD. You want Kris to run your garage sale.......

Friday of the sale brought the most beautiful sunny March day that the Pacific Northwest had ever seen. That was God! The sun shined all day and the people came and came and came, including my mom, who made the nearly four hour drive for the second weekend in a row to help. By the end of the day we had sold about 75% of our stuff. We were exhausted as we packed what was left into the garage and called it a day.

Saturday's weather was much more typical of March in the Northwest, windy and rainy. Dave handled the very slow garage sale while Kris, my mom (the clean freak) and I worked inside on getting more stuff organized and packed and cleaning rooms. By mid-day it was apparent that Friday was a garage sale boom and Saturday was a bust, so Dave closed up shop and Kris and he sorted what was left and hauled most of it to the Goodwill, while some went to my friend Meleea's to be sold at her garage sale the next weekend. By Saturday evening the garage was clean except for a few large items that we knew we could list on Craigslist, but most importantly NOTHING came back in the house!

I said goodbye to my mom and Kris on Sunday morning. It was tough, I was moving over 2000 miles away in less than two weeks. I had no idea when I would see them again.

By Sunday evening, everything that was being shipped was packed. We had reduced our possessions from 1356sq. ft. to 32 moving boxes that were scheduled to be picked up on Tuesday. Our bedrooms were empty and our mattresses had been set up in the living room. We were living out of suitcases and eating off of paper plates for the next few weeks.

Monday afternoon brought an appointment with a property management company about managing our house as a rental. Ugggh, that was frustrating. Let's just say, I should have been in the property management business. The list of fees was huge, the list of services provided? Not so big. However, from that meeting came one good thing; a target rental price, and one bad thing; the suggestion that we repaint the bedrooms.

Repaint the bedrooms? I didn't have time for that! We had one way tickets to Alaska on a flight that was leaving in a week and a half but it was very necessary. So we made plans to paint that coming weekend.

Tuesday brought the moving truck and all 32 of our boxes were loaded up to begin their journey to Alaska. They started out traveling by truck to Tacoma, where they would be loaded onto a boat and shipped to Anchorage and from there they would travel by airplane. So begins the adventure.

The rest of the week passed in a blur. We were busy cleaning, dreadfully prepping to paint the three bedrooms (I hate to paint!), scheduling a carpenter friend to come and do some small repairs around the house, still trying to sell our cars, and looking for a renter for our house. On top of all this Dave was still working and I was just closing out the month for my last few clients.

Thursday evening brought another answer to prayer. My sister Angie called. She and her husband were available to come that weekend to help us paint, and they would bring their paint sprayer. Once again GOD provided; my sister and David are the ultimate do it your-selfers.
They made the three and a half hour drive to my house on Friday night after both had worked all day. Bright and early Saturday morning we began the monumental task of painting three bedrooms. While David went to Home Depot for the primer and paint, Angie and I began masking all the trim and sheeting the windows and floor. The primer had to be rolled on which took just about all day, but we were able to spray the paint on and by 5:45 that evening the job was done! David and Angie packed up and headed for home, hopefully knowing how much they had blessed us in their less than 24 hours with us.

Then it was Sunday and we were heading into our last week in Washington..........


Saturday, April 25, 2009

We interupt this long, drawn out story for this

My good friend Eryn and her husband Matt are in the process of adopting a little girl from Ethiopia. They are amazing people, with amazing faith. Ever since they were youg newlyweds they have felt called to foreign adoption and they are now walking through the long a tedious process. It has been amazing to me to watch them step out in faith, knowing that this is what God has called them to do, and to see how God is meeting their every need.

Eryn is a super crafty and ever resourceful lady and she creates and sells the most amazing things in an effort to raise funds for their adoption. She has some new items for sale on her blog that I absolutely fell in love with:

She has handcrafted these from recycled t-shirts and is selling them along with some of her other creations.

Please take a minute to stop by her blog, look around, read their story (it's inspiring), order some of her goods, or just leave her a note of encouragement.

As soon as my boys have their new t-shirts, I'll post a picture of them standing on the Alaskan tundra in their Ethiopia t-shirts!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The phone call (part 6 of Our Arctic Adventure)

part 1

part 2

part 3

part 4

part 5

Monday afternoon the phone rang.

It was my dad.

No big deal, right?


You see I could count on my hands the number of times my dad has called me. Only because he is a man of few words and the fact that I call my parents often enough that he never really needed to call me for anything.

I answered the phone and we proceeded to have a great conversation. Ever since the day we told my parents about our move, my dad had been very excited. He's kind of an adventurer and at one point in his marriage he actually also packed up his family and moved them from Washington to Alaska, which is how I and my younger sister came to be born in Anchorage. He was excited about our new adventure and he and I spent the next thirty minutes looking online at different websites with information about Kotzebue. Just before he and I hung up he said something that spoke very loudly to me.

He said; "So, why aren't you all moving together at the end of the month?"

So I kind of stammered back; "ummm, well, we want to leave Ben in school until the end of the year."

To which my dad replied; "oh, well, I think you are making a mistake. I think that you all should be leaving together at the end of the month. You should get there and get the boys in school so that they have time to make friends before summer. The world does not revolve around Ben and you all need to be together."

This caught me completely off guard for two reasons. First of all, how did he know I was struggling with this very issue? I had said nothing to anyone, after all I was strong and independent. Secondly, in all my years of marriage (nearly 15), this is the FIRST time my dad has EVER offered his unsolicited advice. Like I said, my dad is a man of very few words, and butting into other peoples lives is not his thing. Yet here he was speaking to me about the very heart issue that I was struggling with. He didn't know. As a matter of fact, I didn't even tell him at that moment. I'm not even sure to this day that he knows.

We hung up the phone and I immediately the tears started flowing again. I sat there and bawled and bawled. What were we going to do? It was in that very moment that I realized that, although we were doing what we believed God wanted us to do, we were trying to do it according to OUR plan and not GOD'S plan.

In that moment I experienced something that I have rarely experienced. Complete brokenness.
I had no idea what the next step was. I had no idea where to start. I had no idea how this would all work. I had no control. And there I sat, crying and crying.

It didn't take me to long to figure out what the next step was: Pray. (yeah I'm smart like that)

Pray and surrender. Admit that I wasn't in control (and never really was) and ask God to show me what the next step for us should be. So pray I did, and immediately I knew what needed to be done. I needed to talk to Dave about this whole thing.

When Dave got home that evening, I barely let him walk through the door when I said "I need to talk to you."

I told him all of the struggles that I had been having about staying in Washington without him, and I told him about the conversation with my dad. Then he told me about a conversation that he had had with some good friends about this very issue and about how hard it would be on our marriage to be apart for that three months. We hashed it all out, we talked about all the work that would need to be done in order for us all to be able to leave in less than four weeks, and most importantly we prayed.

After that conversation, I felt peace. Yes, I still had this crazy long list of things to accomplish in the next four weeks and my husband would still be working during this time, so most of it I had to do without much assistance from him, but he was there to help when he could. However, I also had peace in my heart. Peace that I had not felt for a very long time. Peace that came from realizing that God was asking us to go; all of us at the same time to step out on the (frozen!) waters together.

Peace that I knew came from following God's plan......................


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Our Plan (Part 5 of Our Arctic Adventure)

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Sorry this has taken so long.......I'm a major procrastinator.

So Dave and I talked and formulated OUR plan.

We decided that he would head up to Alaska at the end of the March to begin his new job and the boys and I were going to stay in Washington until the end of the school year and not pull the boys out of school. So while Dave would be starting his new job, I would be working on packing what we would take, getting rid of what we wouldn't be taking, sell the house, and do our best to prepare ourselves for life in the Arctic.

That was our plan.

That week we met with our realtor (Dave's uncle) about the prospect of our selling our house and the news was not good. The housing market in our area was FLOODED with foreclosures or short sales and all of those houses were pulling the market value of ours down. We would be able to get just barely what we owed on our house, if that at all. Frustrating, but not the end.

After that meeting it seemed like the best option for us would be to keep our house and rent it out. So we scratched "sell the house" off of my overwhelming long list of things to do.

As we headed into the last weekend of February, with OUR plan in place, I started to have this feeling that something wasn't right with our plan. I started to feel like the nearly three months that Dave would be in Alaska without us was not what God had planned. However, I told no one. I mean after all, I'm a strong girl, I am independent, I can handle all the tasks at hand. Maybe that was just the problem.............I am strong and independent. What would I need my husbands help for, forgetting the fact that I am supposed to be working towards repairing my struggling marriage and not working towards fostering my own independence. But still I went along with OUR plan.

That Sunday afternoon, I get an e-mail from a good friend with a worship song attached. Her message said; "we sang this song at church today and it made me think of you and where you are at right now." The song that she sent me was "Vineyard Musics - If You Say Go".
Holy Cow. That song perfectly described what I was facing:

"If you say go, we will go. If you say stay, we will stay. If you say step out on the water and they say it can't be done, we will fix our eyes on you and we will come."

I listened to that song over and over that evening. Each time crying harder than the time before. I just didn't get it. We were going. We were all moving to Alaska, so why was I having the feeling that something about our plan wasn't right.

Monday morning I woke up hoping that my awful feelings about our plan had gone away. They hadn't, and I just didn't get it. All day I had this argument going on in my mind. One part of my brain was saying "We're going. We're doing what God wants us to do." But there was the other part of my brain that was saying "yes, but you're doing it under your terms, not God's." For the better part of the day I tried my darnedest to ignore the part that was telling me I wasn't doing it on God's term and I was successful for most of the day.

Until my phone rang...............


(but you'll be happy to know that I am going to write the next part right now. It will auto-post sometime tomorrow!)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Hell No (Part 4 of Our Arctic Adventure)

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

That's what I said.

It was a Thursday afternoon when he told me about the job and it's arctic location. I spent that evening researching Kotzebue, Alaska and managed to find just about all the negative things I could about it. Let's see, it's 30 miles NORTH of the arctic circle (and I hate to be cold), mayonnaise costs $16 per jar, gas is $7.50 a gallon, there is 20 days of straight darkness in the winter and there are no restaurants. Yep, that's why I would not be moving to Kotzebue Alaska.

That weekend was a busy one, we were having a bowling/sleepover party for Ben's birthday and my sister Kris came to town to help and hang out. Have I told you that Kris is my best friend? Add that to the list of why I wasn't moving to the arctic. It was bad enough that we already lived a little over two hours apart. That Friday, I started sharing what I thought was the funniest job offer ever with everyone I saw. It went something like this; "Dave got a job offer in a native village 30 miles north of the arctic circle. Isn't that hilarious!"

Kris and I talked about it a lot that weekend; looked online at everything we could find about the village, and laughed at the thought of Dave and I and our boys living in the frozen Tundra.

That whole weekend, while I was laughing at the job offer, something was going on in my heart and mind, something that played over and over in my mind all weekend long..........

"You asked me for an adventure."

That was it. All. Weekend. Long.

"You asked me for an adventure."

I tried to ignore it. Honestly, but it never went away.

I can't say that I heard an audible voice with it, although that would have been cool, but it was just the constant thought in my mind that weekend.

Finally, on Sunday afternoon, after my sister had gone home and I had repaired the damage of a weekend of 9 year old boys, I acknowledged the leading of my heart.

"Okay God. You are right. We asked you for an adventure, but can I say wrong adventure God?"

Hmmm, probably not.

So all night Sunday I wavered. I knew I needed to talk to my husband and tell him that I was wrong in my original response, but I was scared. This wasn't the adventure that I had hoped for.
So that evening I prayed.

"okay God. I'll consider this job offer, but if you really want us to go you'll have to clear the way."

Haha, funny when we think WE can put stipulations on GOD!

On Monday morning, before Dave went to work I said to him; "okay, if you want to LOOK into this job, then let's do it. But let's be sure that we ask all the right questions, pray about this and make sure that this is exactly what God wants us to do."

That day Dave called the gal back and told her that we were interested, but could she provide us with the name of someone that lived in this village so that we could ask some questions. No problem, and by the end of the day we had spoken to the guy that would be Dave's boss. He was completely honest with us about life in the village; it was different, and it was tough, but taking the job with this company was the best thing he had ever done for his family (they had moved from the Seattle area four years ago to go to work with this company). We talked a little bit more with the HR gal from the company about the opportunities within the company and the logistics of such a move and everything just seemed right.

After a couple of days of back and forth conversations and e-mails between Vancouver and Alaska, and lots of prayer, Dave and I decided to accept the job offer. We called the company and by Wednesday afternoon the official offer was in our e-mail. We printed it and read it over and over. Dave signed it and I started worrying and asked Dave to hold on to the offer and not fax it back until Monday. I mean, we needed to be sure that this is what we were supposed to do and the company was wanting Dave to start on March 30th which meant being in Anchorage for orientation on March 30th and being in Kotzebue to start at the store on April 1st. It all seemed impossible

Apparently, I had yet to figure out that I wasn't in control of this.

Again we were heading in to another weekend and I had lots of fear. I was scared, but Dave and I talked alot about it, and again after much prayer, we decided that this was the adventure that God had for us and so we decided that we just needed to take the step of faith and send the offer back.

We then needed to formulate our plan.

TO BE CONTINUED.................

Monday, April 13, 2009

Movement on Job Front (Part 3 of our Arctic Adventure)

Part 1

After five months of waiting for a move on the job front, suddenly there was something.

And it wasn't good.

On a Tuesday afternoon in early February Dave got word that his store (he was an assistant grocery manager) would be closing within the month and that was all he was told at that time. When he came home and told me that I was scared and frustrated. I had been laid off from my job in October and had since then been working on starting up my own home-based bookkeeping business, and while business was picking up, it was not nearly enough to really support us if Dave were to be out of work. So fear set in. How would we survive? We were barely making it already and Dave being out of work would only add to the financial crunch.

On Wednesday when Dave arrived at the store he was given some good news and some bad news. The bad was that the store would be closing sooner than previously thought. The good news was that the company was going to take all of the managers from the division (5 stores) and throw them all back in the pool to re-interview for the existing management position. So basically there was 20 managers and 16 positions. In that moment God gave me a sense of peace. I knew my husband was very well qualified and had more experience than most everyone else. Oh, and by the way, the interviews were the next day. Yep, Thursday.

Dave interviewed the next day and then we waited. Through the weekend. Finally, the next Tuesday we heard that Dave had gotten one of the positions in an area store. Unfortunately, we learned that it was going to be in a store that was 40 minutes one way from our house AND it was in the neighboring state that had a state income tax AND that state is none to friendly in offering refunds to employees who live in our state, but work in their state. So, not only was his gas expenses and commute time more than quadrupling, but he also had to take a 9% pay cut because of the state income tax. But he still had a job and we would just have to adjust our lifestyles and cinch the belt tighter, and I would have to put all of my effort into growing my business quickly.

And so we set out learning how to live on less, and being thankful that Dave still had a job in an economy when many did not.

And still he continued searching.

Three weeks later the phone rings, and rings again and rings again. Suddenly Dave has a job offer, an interview scheduled for the next day and another interview for the following week! After talking over the one job offer Dave and I decide that it is not the right job for him (or our family) so he turns it down. The next day is a phone interview with a grocery chain in Alaska. Dave hangs up from that interview feeling very confident that he had done well. The very next day the gal calls Dave back and gives him a tentative offer, along with a warning to "research this, look at where we are asking you to go, and really discuss this with your wife." She then asked Dave to take the weekend and call her back on Monday if he was truly interested.

It was that evening that my husband came to me and told me about this possible job offer. He was very excited! Then he told me where the company was asking us to go. I had never heard of Kotzebue Alaska, so I immediately went online and Googled it. Then I promptly turned to my husband and said, "Hell no, I'm not going there."

To be continued..........

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Hanging by a Thread (part 2 of Our Arctic Adventure)

So the door to North Carolina slammed shut. Literally. One day we were in salary and relocation talks with the new company, the next day Dave was no longer a candidate for the position. To say the least, we were bummed. We truly thought this was our adventure. There was no good reason why this should not have worked.

Well except for this one good reason: Our marriage was hanging by a thread. Literally. And within two weeks of learning that we would not be moving to North Carolina, everything came crashing down. Not over one particular thing that either of us had done, but over lots of selfish behaviors and years of poor communication and stress on both of our parts. There was pain, there was anger, and there was hurt. Lots of it. And there was threats of leaving. Again from both of us. It was tough and very stressful. But you know what else there was, that I am certain would not have been in North Carolina?

Friends. Amazing friends that were committed to walking alongside us through this very dark time. Friends that had been with us since the beginning of us and friends that we had only known for a short time. Before calling it quits, we agreed that we would get counseling. Neither of us wanted it to be over. We both understood that we had said vows that meant that we were to be married to each other 'til death parted us', but we were hurt and we needed help to get past the pain. We started meeting with our pastor and his wife, who happened to also be the ones who encouraged Dave and I to start dating over 16 years ago.

During that time that we were meeting with our pastor I also had a small group of amazing girlfriends that were holding me accountable to the changes that I needed to make in my heart. Within that group of friends was a gal that I had been acquainted with, but had not completely connected with. That did not stop this friend from seeing a need and jumping in to meet it. One evening she called me and asked of she and her husband could take Dave and I out on a double date. They wanted to take us to see the movie Fireproof.

That evening out was such a blessing to us. It came at a very critical time with a very critical message. Our marriage was worth fighting for. It was at that time that I realized that my God cared so deeply for me that he shut the door that we were going to step through and by doing so he was protecting my marriage. Because I am certain that had we gone to North Carolina all the hurt and pain would have still come to the surface but we would not have had the support we needed to get through it. We were still in Washington state because God knew that was exactly where we needed to be for the stormy season that we were in.

So there we were, still in Washington, committed to working to repair our marriage, and praying for a new job still.

Five months would pass before there was any movement on the job front and then all the sudden there was something.

TO BE CONTINUED...................

Monday, April 6, 2009

Our Arctic Adventure

Seven weeks ago I had never heard of Kotzebue, Alaska and now I live here.

It has been a crazy ride and the story that goes along with it is a little long, but worthy of telling, so grab a seat and a warm cup of something to sip and come along as I tell you the tale of how we came to live in a native village 30 miles north of the Arctic Circle.

My husband Dave has been in need of and searching for a new job for the better part of the past year. Last spring he left the company that he had worked nearly twenty years for to go to work for a new company. It became quickly apparent that the move to the new company was not the best for him or our family. So Dave began looking for a new job.

One evening while he and I were walking through Ikea (my idea of a hot date!) we were talking about the need for a new job and the idea of taking an adventure. In that discussion we decided that we wanted to be willing to go anywhere that God led us. We wanted to take our kids on an adventure somewhere outside of our tidy little suburban bubble. Now don't get me wrong; I LOVED my suburban bubble. It was cozy and comfortable. It fit me well but after that evening we both started praying for an adventure along with a new job for Dave and I always jokingly added "I'll go anywhere as long as it's south of the 47th parallel".

In August of last year Dave got a call from a head hunter in his field that was looking to fill some positions with a company on the East coast and within a matter of a few days and after quite a few phone conversations it looked like we would be moving to the Raleigh-Durham area of North Carolina. We were excited, especially as talks with the company moved forward, to begin what we thought was our new adventure. Unfortunately, or actually fortunately, things ended up not working out with that company and shortly before we were to fly out to check things out in North Carolina, God closed the doors. At that the time we were very sad that this position had not worked out, but looking back we can clearly see many reasons why that was not the adventure for us.

One of the most evident reasons why that move did not happen would rear it's ugly head shortly after those doors slammed shut.

TO BE CONTINUED................