So…after many months of hinting that something big was in the proverbial incubator–I’m finally ready to share it with whoever might be left reading this here blog. 🙂 Actually, I’m glad I waited, because the end result wasn’t even what I expected it to be.
We’re actually in our seventh year here in Denver. To say it has been a place of restoration and healing would be an understatement. The Wild One frequently tells people that Denver has added 15 years to our life. She has found her voice as an artist, The Director has made two short films here and written his first full-length script, and for the first time in I-don’t-know-how-long, I actually love the process of making music. (That could be a blog post all its own, but maybe later.)
And yet…as it turns out, Denver wasn’t a destination. It was a stop on a bigger journey.
Around the end of January 2016, our family will be moving to New York City.
…[takes a moment for that to soak in]…
So let me fill in some of the gaps here, and ‘splain how we’ve come to this point.
As far as our mission to reach the creative community is concerned, I feel we’ve been largely successful.This has been an experiment in what ministry looks like without the trappings of institutional Christianity, and I like the results I’ve seen. No, we don’t have stacks of “commitment cards” to show for it. We weren’t even looking at that metric. In fact, in many cases we were interacting with people who didn’t just have different belief systems than we did–they were actually hostile to Christianity as they knew it. Sometimes it was something in their background, or sometimes it was that they’d had negative experiences with Christians who had been judgmental, hypocritical or both–or who had in some way misrepresented Christ to them. And by simply being among them and modeling something different for them, I think we’ve been able to soften the ground a little. We’ve even had it said to us, “You’re different than other Christians we know. We like to be around you.” To me, that’s success, because it pokes holes in a person’s mindsets about God and His people, and hopefully puts that person a little further along the path toward an actual relationship with God.
So that’s been happening in different ways during our time in Denver. But over the last year to 18 months, we’ve been experiencing an increasing amount of restlessness, in part because the communities we’ve been part of have been sort of naturally dispersing–not because of bad stuff, per se, but just life in general. While Denver has experience crazy population growth, ironically many of our friends are moving on. All but one of the The Director’s film friends have already left Denver; several of our artist friends have done the same. Many of the bands I was friends with in the music scene no longer exist, and many of the band mates have moved on. When you experience this kind of ebb, you are faced with the decision: do you reinvest into new communities for another season, or do you move on, as well?
Simultaneous with this, as we’ve been pursuing our own creative development as artists, we’ve found ourselves hitting some sort of ceiling here. With this last short film project we did, it was very apparent that The Director in particular had gone as far as he was going to go with the talent and resources of the Denver film scene. Likewise, for me as an emerging composer, there are very limited connections and projects to be done here. And even though The Wild One sells her art online and isn’t limited by locale, this year has somehow been very slow for her artistically, as well. Between all this and the gradual dismantling of our creative circles, it became increasingly apparent that our time here was coming to an end.
So the question was–if not Denver, then where? This was a question we grappled with for months, because for a long time it felt like God was silent about it.
Because of The Director’s and my current artistic paths (filmmaking for him, film music for me), the natural options were to migrate to one of the coasts: Los Angeles or New York. We had figured probably it would be L.A., but since Joshua’s next film is supposed to be shot in New York City, that was also an option on the table. As we explored living options and the overall vibe of Los Angeles, we simply couldn’t get a peace about moving there–so we started looking toward the other coast. During an exploratory trip we took this fall, within three hours of setting foot on the streets of Manhattan, we all felt it: despite it being a complete change of lifestyle, and despite the expensive housing, we had to find a way to get to New York. We needed to find a way to make it work.
During our trip home, we began brainstorming and figured out that if we paid our debt off and got rid of our car, we could actually afford New York rents with a bit of discipline. By what I now believe to be divine provision, we bought our townhome right at the beginning of Denver’s current housing boom, and the equity has skyrocketed since then. We listed it for sale, and within a month, we were under contract, at a price much higher than what we paid for it. This is giving us the seed money we need to pay down debt and secure an apartment in NYC, and start over. We close at the end of January, at which point we’ll be on our way to a new life.
It seems eerily familiar, actually. It was just six and a half years ago that we started over in similar manner by moving to Denver from Tulsa. We arrived with a month’s worth of money, and we didn’t know how we were going to pay rent until the day before our rent came due! And somehow we made it, and over time we began to thrive. I now see this was sort of practice for what was to come. Going through that experience is actually empowering us to do it again, on an even larger scale.
So…why exactly are we going to New York, and what will we do there?
In many ways, this has been more ambiguous than our move to Denver. We still feel the creative community is our mission field, but I can’t tell you yet what that mission will look like. I do know this will be a bigger, more refined mission field, consisting of passionate professionals. I think because we all are connected to The Director’s emerging film career, we feel drawn to the film industry. And obviously, there’s a huge art scene in New York as well, though The Wild One isn’t sure yet how she will find her place in it. But there’s no clear vision. We only feel we’re supposed to go, and see what happens.
This decision has not been an easy one, and we’ve often fluctuated between hope and excitement to fear and panic. We’ve built a life here in Denver, and despite many changes that have taken place in the past couple of years, I still love this place. But we now have the context we were lacking, and we see that it was not our final destination. New York might not be a final destination, either–but it’s definitely an important next step in wherever God is leading us. I believe that for years now, this journey of discovery has led us to this moment. It’s exciting, frightening and not without risk, but I know we’d have greater regret over not trying than we would over trying and failing.
So, here we are. As early as a few months ago, when I began promising to share details of what I was working on, I couldn’t have told you this would be the outcome. I thought it would be something different, or I thought this would be sometime down the road. But it’s happening now. This, of course, explains why we had an Unusual Christmas with no decorations and no gifts–all our energy has been focused on getting the townhome sold (we got our full-price offer on Christmas Eve), and figuring out the details of our upcoming move.
I’m writing this on December 31. Yesterday, December 30, just happened to be the eighth anniversary of this here blog. A long road, and lots of twists and turns. Looking back on 2015, I see it as a year of transition–a year of more questions than answers. It’s familiar ground–I’ve been here before. But as we enter 2016, it feels like an idling car that’s about to shift into gear. We’ve been waiting for the race to start all year long–and now it’s time to start.
It’s gonna be an adventure. I’ll update you here when I can.
Happy New Year!