2013: A Look Back – Part 1
On this day in 2013 I never would have pictured myself where I am today. We were buying our home, we both had steady jobs, and we planned on starting our family soon. It all changed in a few short weeks, however. But first, a little backdrop…
Over the past several months (June through December 2012), I had been wrestling with the direction life was going. I really felt like there was “more” to be had, but I wasn’t sure what that “more” was. God had been knocking on the door of my heart to deal with some things that I was unwilling to deal with. I thought they were childish and to focus on them felt immature, selfish, and irritating because I believed I should be beyond all of those issues already. I really believed that 2013 should be a year of big changes, but I saw no hope for any change to take place. The biggest issue at stake was that Cami and I were on very different pages. I really believed that we needed to uproot and do something drastic.
Cami and I had agreed to a 5 year plan, if you will, for having children. Unfortunately, we were not in a place to do both. I know you’ll most likely never feel ready to have kids, but I felt so unprepared on so many levels. But, as 2013 drew closer and closer, I realized more and more that I would need to die to those dreams and hopes, and lift up Cami’s of being a mom and having kids. It’s not that kids were not part of my hopes and dreams. They are, now more than they ever have been. It’s just that the timing didn’t seem right to me yet. In my personal time with God, I came to the place of surrender inside that it is the husband’s job to die, according to Ephesians 5. I placed those dreams and feelings on the altar and pursued my current course at the time with everything I had.
During the first half of January, I went to a training in Denver, CO for my job at Youth for Christ. I left a little early to spend time with my family there and in all was gone about 10 days. When I came back, it was Cami’s birthday so we went out on a date. The subject of kids came up and I thought we should start planning. But Cami stopped me and told me that she had been praying about it, and God gave her a complete peace about waiting to have kids. God told her that if she would wait, that she would get everything she could ever dream of in return. That He would mold me into the father that I needed to be for our kids. Basically God gave her promises to hold dear in her heart if she would let me pursue something “more.” I started tearing up as soon as she said this. I felt a burden lift and suddenly every door on the planet seemed to swing wide open.
At this point, I would have done anything. If God had lined things up for us to go on the mission field, we would have. If He had sent me to seminary or university, I would’ve gone. I really didn’t have a picture of what it needed to look like, but there had been one thing I wanted to do, if I was given the chance, so I thought I would start there – the ministry school at Bethel in Redding, CA. I had wanted to go for a couple years, but I always dismissed it quickly because it just wasn’t going to be possible. But now… now it just might happen!
First, I talked to my best friend Rob as well as my friend, mentor, pastor, and spiritual father, Jim. I told them about the conversation Cami and I had, as well as what I wanted to do. Both of them were very supportive and said they believed this was a good course for us. By the end of January, I applied to the school. I informed the board at my job as well. In March, the school set me up with an interview. I decided to drive down with Cami so we could visit the school together. Once we were there, they even asked her to be a part of the interview. I really wanted this to be a decision we made together, since it would impact our lives in a major way. Everything went really well, and we left Redding believing that it was where we are supposed to be. I got my acceptance email that day after the interview on the drive back to Oregon. Wow… it might actually just happen! Now, only the minor things remained like selling our house, finding a place to live in Redding, as well as jobs and, oh by the way, tuition for school.
This is when even more miracles started to happen. After we got back home, we put our house on the market as soon as we could – which ended up being the end of March. Cami worked for a real estate company and her boss graciously agreed to cut most of her commission for selling our house – which was a tremendous blessing. I’m not sure what the housing market was like where you live, but I doubt it could have been much worse than it was in Madras. We purchased our home in 2011 for less than half what it originally sold for in 2007. The housing market hadn’t really recovered at all, and we had hoped to possibly make one or two thousand on it, at best, after taxes, fees, and commissions. However, we priced it high, hoping for some room to barter. A week after the house was put on the market, we got an offer, which was good, but not quite what we were looking for. We waited on it a couple days, and the buyer’s agent told us that her client wanted us to counter at the full price, and that she would accept. What?! Basically in less than 2 weeks we had a full price offer on our house! Even when it was priced higher than we expected get at all! The next hurdle was the bank assessment. The struggle was for them to find any comparable sales. The week before our house went on the market, a bigger house sold for $7,000 less than ours did. Basically, there wasn’t a comparable sale for them to base the loan off of. This part of the process took a few weeks longer than it should have, but in the end, the assessment went through. After everything was all said and done, we ended up making about $11,000!!! During the interview for school, the interviewer, Dave Harvey, prayed said he really believed that we would receive $10,000 to help pay for school, the move, etc. I didn’t believe him at all, but that number stuck with me and it was what I really prayed and hoped for. I couldn’t believe God came through like that!
Even in the midst of that miraculous process, I still somehow struggled. I had started looking at the housing and rental market in Redding, and it was expensive compared to Madras. The house we were buying would have easily gone for $1,500 a month in rent in Redding. Which was more than twice what we were paying to own it in Madras. I started looking at where we would have to live and I really struggled with anxiety and frustration. I really hadn’t planned on making a sacrifice in that area of our life. The best deal we could find, that would allow us to keep our dog, Bella, was still more than we could afford on our current salaries – let alone the fact that I would only be working part time and we still hadn’t found work yet. Then, about a week before we moved, we met a friend at church who said she was moving down, and would be interested in renting a place with us. She was able to pay exactly the difference between what our budget could afford and what the rent was! Another miracle! God reminded me that He has all things in control, and that I don’t need to worry or stress. Cami also ended up having a job lined up to start the day after we moved down! Within 2 weeks she already got a $2/hour raise.
I took the first month to try to find a job that I would actually enjoy. If I couldn’t find anything in that month, I was going to take whatever job I could get. Again, my attitude really bottomed out. I started to get cabin fever really bad. No matter how much I looked, I could not find a job that would work with my schedule or one that felt fulfilling in any way. I started to get really mad at God, even after everything He had already done. I don’t know why I acted this way, but I did. About two thirds the way through the month, I got an impulse to Google computer repair near me. The first name to pop directed me to a site that I really liked. The things that the owner talked about reminded me of how I would want to run a business if I had the chance. I worked up the courage to call him and just tell him that I liked his site. And then I asked if he was looking for help… and he was! Long story short, I started my job with him exactly a month after we moved down. Everything that I wanted to do in a job, he offered, and I was pretty excited about the opportunity.
The final miracle before school was our new car. When we moved down, we found out that we would have to register our cars in California as well as get them smog checked. We found out that our old 1992 Subaru had no chance of passing the test. We had done lots of work to it to get it as far as we did, and there was no way we could repair it to operate in California. Also, it had reached the point that it would barely work. We had no idea what to do about it. We had been praying for a newer Toyota Camry for a about a year. We really like the practical things it offered that made it a great, roomy, family car. We just didn’t think it would ever be a possibility. However, just for fun, we decided to drive up to the local Toyota dealership to see what they had to offer. Again, long story short, we ended up coming away with a brand new Camry! That car has been a tremendous blessing to us. We have made a couple trips back to Oregon in it. We no longer have to worry about our car smoking, or dying on us in the middle of traffic, or not having A/C in 115+ degree weather, etc. All of those issues were ones we tried to fix with our other 2 cars, but couldn’t. God blessed us beyond our wildest imaginations with that car!
These are just some of the blessings and events that got us where we are now. There are more, but these are the key things that got me up to school starting. Right before school, I wrote a blog about my personal, inner journey. That would be the next part of this series, technically. The next blog I write will be about what God has done in my life since school started – which really is the most exciting and drastic. I share this all with you, so you can know a little bit about why I am where I am, and where I’m hopefully going. I hope this blog finds you well, blessed, and growing.