Our One Month Anniversary

Today we celebrate one month in our new home in Idaho! As I reflect on the last month, I’m struck by how much things are the same and different at the same time. The foundations of my life – my relationship with God, my family, our values – are my constant rock. But there are so many little things that are new and different! Trying to get used to a new town, remembering roads and landmarks, finding new resources (doctors, groceries, entertainment, etc.) can feel overwhelming some days! Those days I am especially thankful for the solid family that we have and for the undeniable Word of God that brought us here.

In the book One Thousand Gifts (see my post a couple of days ago), we are challenged to practice gratitude for all those little things that are so often overlooked. So, here are a few “Idaho-Gifts”:

Wide open spaces
Blue skies & sunshine
Farmland scenery on every drive
The park behind our house
A more-accessible yard
Eggs from a friend’s “backyard” chickens
Raw milk, less expensive
A smaller house to keep clean
Carpet that isn’t white!
Everything in closer proximity
Reciprocal zoo membership
Being close to Mark’s parents and brother/sister-in-law

Now, on that note, we’re headed to Mark’s parents to celebrate Memorial Day! Blessings to you.

~ Judy

Life Begins Anew (part three)

Yesterday, I left you behind our big yellow truck as we closed it up just after sunset. We were drained physically, mentally and emotionally. Throughout the day, as it became clear that we wouldn’t make it to Idaho before nightfall, we made adjustments to our plans and prepared ourselves for a night of driving. As it happened, I believe it was a huge blessing in disguise.

We packed the kids up into the van and Debbie drove them around the block while Mark and I said our goodbyes to the house that had been our home for the past year and the place where our daughter was born. We went our separate ways inside, and when I got to our bedroom – to the place where A was born – I finally broke down and sobbed. I felt like part of me was dying. It was heart-wrenching sadness and grief. Life was passing so quickly and I was afraid of forgetting all of the precious memories that I held so dear. It’s easy to remember when you see the place those memories were made every day. It’s much harder when you have to close your eyes and picture everything in your mind.

We finally tore ourselves away. I got into the van with Debbie and we left Mark to put a few things into the cab of the truck and head out. We made it 5 minutes down the road when we got a phone call. It was Mark – he couldn’t find the key to the truck! We turned around and headed back. After another 10 minutes of searching by flashlight, Mark broke back into the house to check there. No luck. The key was gone. Thankfully, he called the rental company and they were able to make him a new key right away. He drove up and got it, leaving Debbie and I to rest and relax a bit. When we returned and we finally got on the road for real, it was 11:30pm.

The road trip to Idaho couldn’t have gone any smoother, especially considering the conditions! Mark picked up his brother and ran a couple of errands, leaving Seattle at 12:30am and arriving at Mark’s parents’ at 8:30am. Debbie and I took turns driving, making only one major stop at 3:30am. We fueled up, took the kids to the bathroom, fed them each a peanut butter sandwich, nursed A, and headed back out without incident. The kids slept until 6:30am. It was a perfect car ride, and despite our exhaustion we were able to make it through safely. I really appreciated all of the quiet time to think and process through everything that happened. It was very therapeutic for me (did I just say that?!?), crazy as that sounds!

We arrived at Mark’s parents’ house at 7:30am, had a delicious breakfast, and crashed on the couch while the kids played with their grandpa. 🙂 Around noon, we headed out to see our new home for the first time (Mark saw it a couple of weeks prior when he visited and signed the lease).

When we got off the freeway to the road that led to our house, I was speechless. In fact, I almost started to cry – the drive was so beautiful! Farmland all around, wide open spaces, mountains in the distance, blue skies and green pastures. Just stunning! One of the things I had lamented was losing the “green” of Washington – in the Seattle area, there are trees and flowers everywhere you look, and mountains in the distance. Seeing what a beautiful drive I would get to enjoy every day, I felt like God was smiling down on me, assuring me that He loved me and delighted in seeing me happy.

And with that, I’m going to wrap up my little story. Our life has turned in a whole new direction, and we are excited to see what God has in store for us as we continue on this journey!

~ Judy

Life Begins Anew (part two)

So, you know that heavy weight I mentioned? The idea of moving was much harder for me to come to grips with than it was for Mark. After all, he was moving back home, where he still had friends, not to mention his parents and brother/sister-in-law. For me, the thought of starting over was scary and depressing – I had worked for years developing the relationships I had in Washington. For an introvert like me, the thought of doing that again was exhausting – besides, I really liked the friends I already had! But on that Shabbat, Mark said something to a friend that spoke to me heart and gave me the strength to keep pressing on over the weeks to come. He said that the last time he heard God’s voice so clearly was when he was in Costa Rica and God told him to change churches (another story for a another time). His obedience to that difficult directive was the main event that made us who we are today. Not only did it bring us to our congregation and the Messianic walk of faith, but through relationships that formed there we learned about attachment parenting, natural birth, and all sorts of other things that have had a big role in our family’s formation. Anyway, it occurred to me that just as that act of obedience brought about all of those blessings, this act of obedience would as well.

And so, clinging for dear life into this promise, I began to plan our relocation! Mark found a job – he actually found it the day he had the dream/vision, but interviewed and got it a couple of weeks later. I scoured craigslist for a week in search of a home, and found one. I started a moving journal to keep all of my lists and notes – that little book and I were inseparable for weeks! We stopped doing school so that I could focus on all I had to do. We worked hard to find balance in our lives those last weeks – we knew we needed to get a lot of work done in a short amount of time, but we also had a deep and almost desperate need to spend as much time as possible with our friends we were leaving behind. Plus, we knew that all of the busyness was going to take its toll on our children and we wanted to spend as much time together as a family as possible. So we planned, packed, AND played! We went to Jump Planet, took a ferry ride to get ice cream, and went to the zoo. We savored every Shabbat at BT and celebrated Passover with friends.From the time we received Mark’s job offer to our moving day was only three weeks, and wow, did the time pass quickly! We gratefully accepted every offer of help and had several friends come play with our kids or help me pack.

On the ferry!

All too quickly, our last week in Washington was upon us. Our congregation prayed over us and sent us off with a blessing. We spent time with our most cherished friends. We packed up the rest of our stuff and purged a ton. (I love throwing things away, but that’s another post too… 😉 Mark’s mom came to help us those last few days, which was a godsend! I kept very busy, not really taking any time to process through the intense flood of emotions that I carried with me throughout the days. I wanted to, but I just didn’t feel free to – there was so much to be done and I had no idea how we’d pull it off.

On Thursday afternoon, we picked up the truck and started packing it. Our plan was to pack the truck on Thursday and leave Friday morning. Debbie (my mother-in-law) and I worked to do as much as we could, as Mark was still working (albiet, from home). That evening, a couple of men from our congregation and Mark’s brother came over to help Mark load up the truck, and it soon became apparent that our truck was too small. So there I was, desperately trying to hold it together, frantically trying to get the last-minute packing and cleaning done, and suddenly faced with the fact that I’m going to have to choose some of my possessions to leave behind at the last minute! I had been praying for the Lord to help me simplify our lives, but this wasn’t what I had in mind! 😀 We packed until around 11pm when our amazing and selfless friends had to head home and we had to collapse into bed. The lack of space made packing so much harder, and the truck was only half done. We spent our last night in our home on the living room floor, and awoke early to finish the packing.

In the morning, the three of us got off to a slow start due to our frazzled brains from the day before. A friend of mine came around lunchtime and brought with her energy and a fresh perspective that proved invaluable! With her help, we worked the afternoon away, stopping only for our walk-through, at which point all of our belongings were on our front lawn. When she had to leave, it quickly became apparent that we couldn’t do the rest of it on our own, so I called a close family friend and her wonderful husband came and helped Mark finally finish the job. We had to leave behind our tv and beautiful tv armoire, a few storage items, our lawn mower, our garage freezer, our sukkah (so sad!), and many other little things. But the job was done. We were packed – everything our family owned was in a big yellow moving truck. We closed that big back door around 9:30pm, after the sun had set on Friday night. What a way to begin Shabbat!

(To be continued…)

Life Begins Anew (part one)

Two and half months ago, my husband received the news that would change our family’s life in a major way: he was losing his job. It wasn’t a big surprise; his workload had been steadily shrinking for the past year as his company went through structural changes including outsourcing oversees. But the timing of it was very coincidental – the lease on our house was about to be up as well, leaving us completely footloose and fancy-free for the first time in our married life… or at least as much as we could be with four young kids running around!

For years – since shortly after Eliza was born – we’ve talked about moving to Idaho. We were mostly alone in Seattle, at least as far as family went. Mark had a brother and sister-in-law living there, but that was it. His parents lived in Idaho and mine in Colorado, and the rest of our siblings were scattered around the country from California to Minnesota to Oklahoma. We didn’t like raising our children away from their grandparents – we felt like this was depriving them both of something very special and important. Plus, raising four kids is a lot of work, for which we had no help, practically speaking. People weren’t designed to raise families as islands – we were made for community and for family!

Anyway, we realized quickly that this opportunity to move was open to us, and began thinking and praying seriously about what we should do. And it wasn’t an easy thing to think about! There were so many pros and cons! Despite the fact that we had talked about moving for a good five years, in those years we had built up many relationships that we cherished. The idea of leaving them was heart-wrenching! Plus, we enjoyed the culture of Seattle and what it had to offer in terms of enjoyment and family fun. But the prospect of being close to Mark’s parents was very appealing, as well as the slower pace and wide open spaces that Idaho could offer.

About a week into our decision-making process, our rabbi caught wind of our situation (Have I mentioned that we are so blessed to have an amazing rabbi/pastor? But that’s another post…) and left the following comment on my Facebook wall:

“Remember, God speaks to us by his Holy Spirit through the word, prayer, people, circumstances, dreams and visions. May you hear a clear word from Him.” 

That night we went to bed full of hope and expectation that the Lord would reveal His will for us in due time. In the early morning, Mark had a dream/vision that replayed in his head over and over for the next few hours. In it, we were returning to Washington from Idaho, and encountered some major problems. In his mind, he kept thinking, “We should’ve stayed in Idaho, we should’ve stayed in Idaho.” The content in the dream was compelling on its own, but the fact that it kept replaying in Mark’s mind all morning was even more so. Then, a bit after breakfast, I found out that a couple we know had woken up early and prayed for us, probably right before Mark had his dream. It seemed quite clear that the Lord was speaking to us. So, for the next few days we pondered this.

And I’ll be honest, it wasn’t this joyful excitement over God’s revelation – it was more like a heavy weight, at least for me. Relocating is no easy thing, especially with four kids! And remember how I mentioned how attached we had grown to our life in Washington? That was all I could think about some days. Then, Shabbat came, and with it it further confirmation, through both His Word and people. At this point, we had received God’s direction in every way that our rabbi had mentioned, and we knew for certain. We were moving to Idaho.

(To be continued…)

My boys, enjoying a snack on our back deck!