Never say never. For the past nearly 11 years we've lived in SoCal, Brian and I have said "we'd never want to move." We love SoCal. It's become home to us in every way. We've both now lived in Orange County longer than anywhere else. Eleven of our 14 years of marriage have been in the OC. We journeyed through rough waters of marriage and infertility and job loss here. We became parents three times over here. We bought our first little (very little) home in Tustin. We fell in love with the cultural and ethnic diversity...oh the food options! We found ourselves in the ethnic minority in our church (and found ourselves very much at home with that reality), and discovered entirely new facets of God and Kingdom living because of it. We found family at a local church for so many years...friends who became family whom we will forever deeply love and treasure. We fell in love with the beach, all the days of sunshine, and the beautiful running trails. We happily explored this vast state and made it our home for the past 11 years.
Home isn't a location; home is people, a place to belong.
So we will build a new home ... in Northern Indiana. It's a God-sized story, so settle in with a cup of coffee and get your "amens" ready. We've said for years that we want to live an "only God" kind of story, and this is yet another one to tell.
On New Years' Eve eve (December 30th, 2014), my mom called me. She said, "I have an idea, but you have to promise to 1) not to laugh and 2) pray about it." I promised the latter, not the former. She went on to explain the company my brother, Matt, works for was hiring a bunch of managers to lead divisions of the company. And together they thought this company would most definitely hire Brian. I asked some questions during that phone call, and Brian could see my face throughout the conversation. He thought something was wrong by my facial expressions.
Immediately, I knew this was something we needed to consider. I quickly shared everything with Brian and he practically shrugged off the idea. I didn't. Something inside me told me this was for real. For the next couple days, Brian and I didn't talk about the possibility, but I went into a dark place. I think my spirit knew we needed to pursue this, but it could also mean leaving this place and the people we so deeply love. I cried multiple times and finally I broke down to Brian.
So during the month of January we began talking about it with some wise counsel and with each other. For the past year, we've asked our intercessory prayer team to consistently pray about three things:
- Brian working full-time again - after nearly 3 years of being a stay-at-home daddy, Brian's ready to get back into the work force, especially since Asher can go to preschool this Fall.
- Our finances - living in SoCal on one salary of independent contractor income has proven to be quite challenging. Add in the fact we don't have family nearby, and considering future planning...it's just been unnecessarily hard.
- The ability to move into a bigger home - this is connected to the first two points, but leaving our condo would require more financial reserve which we just haven't been able to move toward in the past few years. Living in 1050 sq.ft. with 5 people, 3 of whom are rapidly growing, is a pressure cooker of stress!
In mid-February, Brian submitted his resume to Lippert Components (an RV manufacturing company that's grown from $70M to a $1.3B company over the past 15 years!). We didn't hear anything for nearly a month. Hmmm... Brian kept reaching out and expressing interest. They finally responded and Brian began a series of phone conversations with different people. Easter Sunday morning, Brian actually drove out to Corona and met with one of the HR Managers (she was on vacation) for a brief meeting to get a sense of chemistry. The process continued to move forward. Finally on April 20th they asked if he could come out to Indiana for a "final, more formal interview and to do some house hunting".
The last two weeks have been a whirlwind!! Here's the detailed play-by-play:
- Week of April 20: I am making final preparations for the Women in Youth Ministry Campference I am leading in NC; Brian arranges for a final interview trip to the South Bend area; we are feverishly house hunting online.
- April 22: We list our condo for sale...we decide I'd rearrange my trip home from NC and join Brian in South Bend to do some house hunting.
- April 23: We celebrate Asher's 3rd birthday ... complete with a day at Disneyland on the 24th (thanks to a generous friend!).
- April 25: Condo open house!!! (Getting your house ready to sell with three little ones is no joke.)
- April 26-29: I lead the Women in Youth Ministry Campference in NC with 60+ women attending. It is incredible.
- April 27: We receive an offer for our condo...$5K above asking price! I find myself e-signing seller documents in NC at midnight and excitedly house hunting online in IN. (Funny Note: 9 years ago, I was signing papers to buy this condo while leading at a youth ministry retreat at Forest Home! Some things never change.)
- April 29: I fly to Ft. Wayne at midnight in preparation for the house search.
- April 30: Brian flies in at midnight to prepare for the final stretch of this job interview. (My mom flys from Ft. Wayne to SoCal to watch our babies while we do this.)
- May 1: Brian's final interview at Lippert and he receives a verbal offer!! I spend the day house hunting in the South Bend area, and Brian joins me to look at a few houses in the afternoon.
- May 2: Brian and I house hunt together and find "the one".
- May 4: We submit an offer for a house in the South Bend area (Granger specifically)...it's accepted with only a minor change in closing date!!!
- May 5: Brian accepts Lippert's official offer to become a manager in one of their divisions.
Here's our new house...I can't wait to make it our own!
Why Are We Moving?
It's time. It's the right thing to do. Remember those three things we've asked our intercessors to pray about this past year: Brian's full time employment, our finances, our housing? This move is the answer to all those things.
PLUS...Our kids need their extended family, perhaps especially our oldest two. We want them to grow up knowing their cousins, aunts and uncles, grandparents, and extended family. Living in Granger, IN will make us 3 minutes from my brother's family, less than 90 minutes from grandparents, Brian's sister's family, and my youngest brother, and a few hours away from his two other sisters' families. The schools are fantastic. It puts us back in Big Ten country, 2 hours from a few of our dearest friends in Chicagoland, and 45 minutes from Lake Michigan (our new "ocean").
PLUS...I can work from anywhere. In fact, there are some great benefits to me working in the middle of the country (ie shorter flights/trips). My bosses at Slingshot Group and The Youth Cartel are uber supportive of this move and have been incredible throughout this discernment process.
What Happens Next?
We begin packing our life up in SoCal and prepare for life in N. Indiana. Our Granger house closes on June 30th, so we'll let our kids finish up their school year and head out on our cross country commute by the last week of June.
In the meantime, we are committed to saying goodbye to our friends and loved ones here. We have a bucket list of things to see, do, and eat before we leave. I'm sure we won't be able to finish it all! But dangit we will try!
If you have moving boxes and supplies, share the love. If you want to help us pack boxes, God bless you...come on over! If you wanna watch our babies while we pack, holler!
Grief and Gratitude
Our 2015 phrase has been: "change can mean loss and change can meet a longing" (Scott Cormode). It truly does. We feel a ton of grief and loss in leaving this place we love so much. And yet this move is meeting a metaphorical ocean of longings that cannot be met in SoCal.
So, we grieve as we celebrate. We cry quite a bit. We hug our friends a little tighter. We shop Trader Joe's with greater passion. We pick up our kids at their amazing preschool with full hearts. We speed down bustling highways toward the beach with a great anticipation. We drive past our old church with gratitude for what was and who we became there. We slip our flip flops on with a little smile for how many days a year we can actually wear them. We find ourselves detouring drives to see places that have meant something to us. We look at Palm Trees and bougainvillea and jasmine bushes and desperately try to lock their colors and smells in our hearts.
And we also dream of not missing any more birthdays and holidays with family members, and summer nights with fire pits and fire flies. We imagine frequent trips to the Michigan beaches to get our beach fix. We envision our kids growing up in this house, bringing their friends into our sanctuary. We're already designing how we want to finish our basement to become "the spot" for friends and family to hang out. We celebrate an amazing job for Brian to grow and flourish and use his abundant gifts. We eagerly await physical space for our kids to run around and be kids, and a backyard to play in. Our kids can't wait for a puppy! We have a lot of uncovered dreams that are now possible because of Indiana.