Relocation Adventure: Moving Forward

Part IV of IV

Click here for Part I of IV.
Click here for Part II of IV.
Click here for Part III of IV.

MovingWith a new job, a new home, and an imminent sale, it was time to pack the truck and be on our way. Weeks earlier, we’d asked the local U-Haul operator to reserve a truck for us, but we didn’t expect we’d get one of the new ones sitting on her lot. She insisted she would save one for us and that we needn’t even put down a deposit for it—in fact, she wasn’t equipped to accept one.

I was anxious about handling a loose and heavily loaded truck on precarious roads, around low bridges and canopies, and through just about anything else my mind could imagine—and imagine it did! When I picked up the truck a few days before the closing, to my amazement and as promised, we received a brand-new truck. A new truck would certainly help allay some fears.

We were also concerned about loading this truck ourselves, and wondered what help we might muster on such short notice. There was no need to worry. We found the help we needed—no more, no less—and exactly the right kind of help. (And thank you! You know who you are.) We even had someone who knew how to tie down the load. All we had to do was drive the truck to Tennessee, untie the knots, and find someone who could help us unload. By the way, the contents fit snugly inside the truck, the truck didn’t tip over or run out of control down hills, and the load did not shift one iota—despite the potentially disastrous scenarios that my mind had concocted. Our new neighbors even helped us unload!

Big decisions are often affirmed in a variety of ways. The relative ease and speed with which we transitioned spoke loudly to us. When we crossed into Tennessee and saw the welcome sign to the “volunteer state,” we knew we had come to the right place with our volunteer efforts! It was another heaven-sent tidbit to bolster our confidence as we ventured deeper into unfamiliar territory.

Two days after arriving in our new home, an event with impeccable timing brought about yet another unusual blessing with happenstance too improbable to fathom. My hometown pastor and his wife, who lived in “another world” 1,500 miles away, just happened to be “in town” to marry off their son. Debbie and I attended the wedding and celebrated their good news even while sharing our own with them.

As it turns out, an administrative detail in Debbie’s hiring process became a blessing in disguise. She’d been told shortly after interviewing that she’d been recommended for the position. However, the central office found a problem in transferring her teaching certification to Tennessee and rejected her application. What seemed like a cruel twist of fate allowed us to unpack and settle into our new home together without the encumbrance of a new job in a new location. To become certified, Debbie studied for a difficult praxis exam even while school had already begun. She aced the test a month later. Shortly thereafter, she was invited to join the school’s staff. When she arrived on her first day, her principal greeted her warmly with a hug and said, “We knew you were the right candidate all along!” Life was—and is–good.

To top it off, on our second week in Tennessee, Debbie ran into and introduced herself to the founder and CEO of findingbalance.com, an organization that partners with TheHopeLine for follow-up with young women with eating disorders. Years earlier, volunteering for this organization was a mere fantasy for Debbie. Now, it is a reality!

If you’ve been considering a big move of any kind in your life, taking the first step toward it will tell you much about whether God has ordained your pursuit. He may simply be waiting for you to take that first big step of faith. Your strong urge may be the seed to a greater calling. Embrace the challenge, and enjoy the ride! Rest assured you will experience great joy as you venture forth, and you will grow in confidence and faith. You may be faced with a more uncertain future, but then again, they’re all uncertain—even the ones you face from your comfort zone or in your own land of limbo.

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Relocation Adventure: Finding a Home

Part III of IV

Click here for Part I of IV.
Click here for Part II of IV.

Roughly a week before the scheduled closing of our condo in Massachusetts, we traveled to Nashville to look for housing. Debbie had impressed her Skype interviewers enough that they wanted to talk with her in person. That interview would occur during our home-hunting trip.

We met a broker upon arriving late on a Friday afternoon and obtained listings of some houses for sale and for rent. It was a daunting task to find quality housing in such short order without knowing the area, especially in the fast-paced real estate market in Middle Tennessee. On a ride through one particular neighborhood late that evening, we looked at a larger house for sale and agreed it wasn’t right for us. As we drove away, Debbie looked across the street and said, “Awww, isn’t that house cute? I’d like a house just like that.” However, it wasn’t for sale and discouragement had begun to set in.

On Saturday, we were committed to finding a rental. Options were limited, expensive, and twelve-month binding leases were the norm. We spent several hours at only two apartment complexes and neither seemed right. Five o’clock rolled around too soon, leaving us empty-handed and disappointed.

We returned to the motel that evening believing that we’d need to find housing after we returned with our belongings. The following day, Sunday, we planned to go to church and lunch with some friends Debbie had met years ago in Massachusetts. We’d then attend some open houses in Franklin, several miles to the north. Regardless, I emailed the broker for a list of less expensive home rentals, and I received a list from him of only six homes in the greater area and narrowed it even more based on proximity to the school where Debbie would interview.

Church and lunch the next day were great, but our schedule was lagging. We departed at two o’clock for open houses miles away from 2-4 pm. Since a few of the rental options were on our way to Franklin, we decided to drive by them. We liked the looks of the first home on the list, but no one was around and there was contact info. I asked Debbie where the next house on the list was located.

“It’s a block over on a street we were already down Friday evening, so there’s no need to go there,” she said.

“Well, we’re here anyway, so we may as well check it out,” I replied.

New HomeAs we turned down the street for the next house on the listing, to our amazement, the cute little house that Debbie had called out two nights earlier had a sign in the window: “FOR RENT, no pets, no smoking”! Debbie dialed the number on the sign while I explored the premises. I couldn’t see any activity inside, so I walked around the house to check out the back yard. Meanwhile, Debbie’s call wasn’t going through.

Suddenly, the back door flew open. After I apologized for being in his backyard, the man warmly invited us in. He and his wife had just purchased the house Thursday. Their sign had fallen out of the window, and they just put it back today. They were preparing the property for rent. Within an hour (even as another interested party had come to the front door), we had given this couple a deposit check. There was a supernatural level of comfort between us. Two hours later, our new landlord helped us save some money on a new refrigerator.

With home in hand, we were upbeat. The next day, Debbie was beaming after her interview. They would talk with several more candidates that day and decide who to hire. On Tuesday, we parked the car near the airport and flew back to Massachusetts to write our final chapter there.
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For the final part IV, click here.

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Relocation Adventure: Choosing a Destination

Click here for Part I of IV.

As it turns out, the offer on our home came from the type of buyer Debbie could really relate to—and for whom she had been praying. This would-be buyer fit her ideal perfectly: a young, female professional in education. She was even headed for the same town Debbie had taught in for eighteen years. Our condo seemed destined for just the right person, but our heaven-sent buyer’s offer had some potential snags. Don’t they all? However, there wasn’t a chance in heaven this deal would fall through.

As rookie home sellers, Debbie and I began to walk through the vagaries of what makes real estate deals tenuous. Home inspection issues and financing-imposed delays couldn’t prevent a closing originally planned for the fall from moving up to the end of July. The transaction was coming together so well that it seemed nothing would stop this freight train. Suddenly, we needed to find another place to live!

Anyone who followed our cross-country tour in 2014 knows that we both volunteer as Hope Coaches for TheHopeLine. We had discussed moving closer to its headquarters south of Nashville to help the organization with special projects as needed. As a decision about where to move became imminent, another opportunity arose that would test our resolve to move closer to TheHopeLine.

We visited Atlanta and interviewed with a missions organization, and soon I was offered a paid position. Over the July 4 weekend, Debbie and I went on a personal retreat to pray, fast, and discuss the pluses and minuses of each of the two options we had. The advice of people who knew us well lined up with what Debbie and I discovered on our retreat–as clear and unequivocal as if God Himself had whispered in our ears. Nashville and our interest in TheHopeLine fit better than Atlanta, despite forgoing a full-time paid position with benefits for a worthy cause and organization.

Tennessee Bound?Immediately after I communicated our decision to the missions organization, Debbie received a request for an interview with a school system near Nashville for a position she had been eyeing for some time. Perhaps we should have figured out last October that God was calling us to the Nashville area. The car we rented in Pennsylvania to return home from our last stop on TheHopeLine Tour had Tennessee plates. It was time to find a home in Nashville.

For Part III, click here.

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Relocation Adventure: Preparing

Part I of IV

Although adventure in life takes many forms, Debbie and I had an adventure this past summer like none other: a relocation adventure. We moved from Marlborough, Massachusetts, to Thompson’s Station, Tennessee. We’re acclimating to a new culture, a warmer climate, and a different pace of life.

The ease with which we moved, from listing our home for sale in Massachusetts in May to securing a rental property and a job for Debbie in Tennessee in July, seemed a bit supernatural to us. That’s why I’d like to share it with you, because it testifies about Someone far greater than us. Let me explain.

“Limbo” was a common word in our household since we married in 2010. Bicycle touring wanderlust appeased our restlessness temporarily, but a deeper stirring prompted us to search for the greater purpose of our union. We dedicated our quest to daily prayer. We weren’t sure where God was leading us—either to a place or a purpose, but we had begun to realize that we weren’t finding that greater purpose where we were. This revelation led to listing our home for sale, a first step toward discovering our destiny, though we didn’t know what steps would follow.

Houses go up for sale every day, but, at least for us, preparing for sale didn’t seem that simple. The process of blending the lives of two formerly lifelong singles is an ongoing one. Moving would mean paring down our belongings. Cards from my high school graduation, college essays, University of Maine sports memorabilia, and touching mementos from Mom’s estate became attic reading assignments that tugged my heartstrings in different directions. Memories were competing for space in the moving van.

The weeding out process is a daily exercise deferred either to spend more time on enjoyable activities in life or to avoid the emotional decisions required to move on from earlier days of comfort, affirmation, and security. For me, it was both. The details and the sentiments had caught up to me. Rather than allow them to bog us down any longer, it was time to process through them.

Buried in snowAfter an entire winter of picking away at the catacombs of our old single lives, we’d approached our appointed time, unbeknownst to us. We’d been buried not only in snow but in details.

Thankfully, Debbie brought a friend into this marriage who doubled as our kick-starting angel. He knows the entire home-sale process like we know bicycle touring. He dropped by for a visit in mid-May and, without our prompting, exclaimed, “You guys are so close. All you need to do is….” He spelled out two or three steps to make our home ready for its initial showing. He offered to cart a few remaining pieces of clutter away in his pickup while strongly urging us to call our broker immediately and request an open house. “You don’t want to miss next weekend,” he said. “It’s the biggest weekend for home showing in the year.”

A week later, we held an open house and received an offer $5,000 over our asking price. We knew our time had come.
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For Part II, click here.

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Kingsley Grant’s Midlife Launch podcast

Kingsley GrantI enjoyed some time last month speaking with Kingsley Grant on his midlife launch podcast. I shared my story about leaving a long-term career and a comfortable life in Maine. Kingsley, who is a speaker, author, psychotherapist and certified relationship coach, has entitled the podcast “It’s Never Too Late to Get Started.” You can catch the episode at Kingsley’s website or on iTunes.

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