2018 – What a Year

2018 – What a Year

This is where I start.

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A year ago today was my last full day of work with Verizon. After twenty-one years with the company, God had decided it was time for me to go in a new direction. And what a completely different direction it was!

In quick summary, we made the decision to go into the mission field, helped my mother-in-law move from our house to her new place in Alabama, visited the children’s home we’d be serving, got our house ready to be listed for sale, got rid of the last of our furniture, moved to Georgia, I almost died (slight hyperbole), I completed a solo site visit to the D.R., we finally sold our house, we spent most of June saying goodbye to everyone, and we moved to the D.R. in July. (A recap of our first two months in D.R. can be found here.)

2018 also saw me be ordained by my home church (Relevant Church) in Tampa, and had me mourning the passing of my aunt in Miami and my uncle in Puebla, Mexico. Lee and I were also blessed to be able to come home in September for her nephew’s wedding and to catch up with family and friends.

But then things went proverbially sideways with our mission life in the D.R., and after much soul-searching and wrestling with God, we made the decision to resign and come home.

It was four weeks ago today we boarded a flight to come back to the States. It’s been a whirlwind, to say the least, since we’ve returned. Reconnecting with family and friends has been good for our souls, and there is the deilghtful, romantic notion of living like gypsies, bouncing among AirBNB’s and guest rooms at friends’ homes. But my heart still hurts from experiencing a dream die and having to say goodbye to so many people that I came to love so much.

I keep mentioning in conversations with others that Lee and I failed as missionaries. Even though we did a lot of good work in the five brief months we lived in Samaná, the fact we are no longer there is, in my opinion, indicative of the fact we did not succeed in realizing our dream. Yet I know we can only grow from this experience and use what we’ve learned to do bigger and better things in the next chapter of our lives. I am very much leaning on the wise words of Ray Dalio:

Having stepped out in obedience by selling everything and going into the mission field has us now in a very unique place to be very flexible for whatever – and wherever – God has in store for us. We don’t know what that is. Lee and I are praying an opportunity in ministry will present itself, but as of right now we remain proverbially homeless and unemployed.

Still, we know God will provide as He did through every day and every event of this past year. We are not worried. We are not panicked. We are confident because we worship a faithful and loving God. And as I mentioned in the closing of my Facebook post from last year: God is Great!

“Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.”Romans 12:12 NLT

Gratis

Gratis

Today was a heck of a day. We had to get what was left of our personal items out of the garage before we close on the sale of our house tomorrow morning.

When Lee and I arrived last night from Georgia, the task seemed very doable. After all, we had all day to do it. When we woke up this morning, it felt quite overwhelming.

But God delivered. After posting on a neighborhood website that everything must go, we had several people from in and around the community show up and help. One woman took a literal truck load of items, and it was such a blessing to give all these items away.

I think the microcosm of the lesson God had me learn through all this was evident with the collection of Coca Cola commemorative 6-packs I had, some for decades. When we first started the downsizing process, I thought I’d make a pretty penny off that collection. As time passed and no offers came in, I figured I’d try selling them at a later date. Today, I just had to laugh as I saw a complete stranger walk off with all of them for free. The thing is, he was doing me a favor. Also, He was doing me a favor by reminding me to stop focusing on stuff and keep focusing on Him.

We were in need and the Lord delivered a solution. We marched all night, and the Lord delivered victory. And you just can’t put a pricetag on that.

So Joshua came upon them suddenly by marching all night from Gilgal.
Joshua 10:9 NASB

Underway

Our prayer is to move to the Dominican Republic on July 1. As of right now, everything is on track for us to meet that date. As a result, Lee and I begin the packing process in earnest. From sorting among piles for store, ship, donate, and trash, we began getting everything in order for this next chapter in our lives.

It’s getting more and more real every day. #YayGod

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Slightly Off The Level

Slightly Off The Level

Where DOES the time go?

It’s been a great week since Lee and I moved (temporarily) to Hahira, Georgia. It’s also been a busy week filled with unpacking, sorting, organizing, trashing, analyzing, re-sorting, and resting. Lee and I have basically everything we own in one tiny space, and every day has been an exercise in trying to make it all work while we live in this interim experience. Needless to say, the daily blogging has fallen by the wayside.

Calendar Marks

So in an act of self-aware rule breaking, I am using the post to cover our first week here in south Georgia. I hope to get my schedule back on track going forward.

Oscar Mike

Oscar Mike

Today was move out day. Although it’s not our final day in our home, the house is, for all intents and purposes, vacant.

We made it to Hahira and began the unloading process. Now we’ll spend the next two weeks unpacking, sorting, throwing away/gifting, and re-packing as we prepare for our move to the Dominican Republic.

 

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Full truck in Tampa (1:00 PM), empty trich in Hahira (7:30 PM)

 

St. Packer’s Day

St. Packer’s Day

It’s a good thing I’m not Irish because this St. Patty’s Day came and went without so much as a horrible Irish accent being attempted. No beer was had, no green was worn.

While Lee spent the day cleaning, I spent most of the day packing our sixteen-foot moving truck. As I did at the end of February, I had to go into full Tetris mode to get basically everything we own into the truck. Thankfully, we have no more furniture, so all we’ve packed are our clothes, household items, electronics, artwork, etc. to take to Georgia for sorting and storing. It’s a blessing to have friends who will open their home to us and allow us to use their property as storage-central while Lee and I are on mission.

But seriously, how did we end up with so much stuff?

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An Empty Space

An Empty Space

Our realtor came by today to take pictures of the house. As a result, we had to have all the rooms cleared out for the photos. Now that he’s gone, there’s a surreal emptiness in our home.

Lee and I are really excited to move to the D.R. and start this new chapter in our lives, but there’s something nostalgically sad about leaving this house in which so many memories were made. Each vacant room is a reminder of a time in which we saw my kids grow and mature, my relationship with my mother-in-law flourish and strengthen, and my wife and I create memory upon memory with our family and friends.

I am going to miss this house, but I know it was a blessing from God and He’s asking us to give it back so He can bless us some more. Still, it’s not entirely easy, and I find myself shedding a tear as the reality of this chapter closing continues to set in.

Two Dudes and a Truck

Two Dudes and a Truck

Exhausted.

It’s been such a long day, but in the end so worth it. Danny and I loaded up a 16-foot Penske truck with items for my mother-in-law and nephew. After about 3 hours of loading (we had to disassemble my King-sized canopy bedframe), we made the 5.5-hour drive to Dothan, Alabama.

The drive was not bad (I got lost in an audio book), and when we arrived at Hunter’s place, the joy and excitement he and his fiancé expressed at the new bed made it all worth it.

Kayla and Hunter are getting married in September and kicking off a new chapter in their lives. There will be a lot of new for them going forward. Lee and I, in an effort to move into our next life chapter, have to let go of a lot of old stuff. To be able to gift them the bed and bedroom set is a blessing.

Point of No Return

Point of No Return

Today was a busy day.

Last night, Lee’s sister, brother-in-law, nephew, and his fiancé made the drive from Dothan, Alabama, to our house. They wanted to be here early in the morning so we could get started on packing up Patsy’s belongings into a truck and then make the six-hour drive back to ‘Bama. We spent the morning moving boxes, loading furniture, and getting creative with how best to fill the sixteen-foot Penske truck. My hat’s off to Lee’s nephew Hunter who Tetris’d the inside of that vehicle and made it all fit.

We said our goodbye’s at noon and off they went.

After a brief rest, Lee and I went out for a bite. As we sat at the restaurant exhausted, and while recapping the managed chaos that was the morning, the reality of the situation seemed to hit us both at the same time.

“I can’t believe we got it all to fit.”

“Mostly all of it.”

“True, but at least all the essentials are in the truck.”

*pregnant pause as we looked each other in the eyes*

“There’s no turning back now.”

“Nope!”

And there it was, like a ton of bricks on our table. We knew for a month this day would come. We’d been discussing Patsy’s move for several years. Yet it felt almost surreal to be in the conscious understanding of the situation and having a, “Wow! This really happened,” moment.

As I mentioned yesterday, having my mother-in-law live with us was actually quite great. And although we were sad she was gone, the more pressing feeling at that moment was how we’d passed a proverbial point of no return. It was a tangible feeling of commitment to our call to move into full-time mission work.

Whether or not the opportunity in the Dominican Republic works out (we are very confident it will), the fact remains there’s no deviating from our plan to sell the house. Our next step is in ministry, and our next step does not involve our current home.

Oh snap!

 

Yes, it can be a bit intimidating. If you let it, the anxiety can be overwhelming. But Lee and I have been operating from a place of obedience since we prayerfully decided to heed God’s call and go. And acting out of obedience means placing our full faith in God.

Coincidentally, we came across an ad for MyIntent.org, a site from which you can order bracelets and other items with your special, intentional word. For me, that word is Surrender. For Lee, her word is Brave. I think both words perfectly summarize our situation. We have the courage to move into the unknown because we surrender our fears to God.

Why would we ever want to turn back from that?


So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.” – Deuteronomy 31:6 NLT