It might seem a bit sudden–and definitely the move date itself is coming up more quickly than we had anticipated–but honestly, we’ve been pondering this move for awhile. We didn’t say much to very many people, simply because we didn’t have details about how, when, where, and “We’re gonna leave sometime in the not-too-distant future” just seemed too vague. 🙂 We’ve spent most of this season not knowing how we could do this–and this last trip to Denver, enough pieces of the puzzle came together to prompt a commitment from us.
How is the house church handling it? Well, that’s been an interesting journey in itself, one that probably needs its own post sometime soon, because I have never seen anything like it. But let’s just say for now that they are handling things very well. We announced our intentions to them a few months ago–yes, even without the details–so they would be prepared for change. And the bottom line is that we are not the only ones going through major transition and change. It is just obvious to all that it is time for us all to let go of this particular community and let God guide us into the next season. Several families have already moved out of the area in the past year; it’s just our turn.
So let me take a moment and share how we happened to decide upon Denver.
We had lived in Tulsa years ago as ORU students, and when God sent us back here, we came fully prepared to spend the rest of our lives here. We had a lot of battles and struggles here, but we’d entered a season of rest and recovery, and we were at least mildly content, waiting on God for a second wind. But around the beginning of 2008–in fact, right when I started this blog–we began feeling an uncomfortable stirring of the soul. The “second wind” we’d been waiting for, never came. Instead, there was this feeling of dryness, this sense that we were withering away. It was obvious to us that the season of rest was ending–but there was no vision, no passion for the city that we once had. For whatever reason, God was not breathing life into our work here anymore, and it became apparent that we were going to die inside if we did not make a change.
We were so committed to stay and persevere here that it felt like abandoning our post to think of leaving; so it took awhile for it to register with us that perhaps it was actually God’s will for us to move on. We had this I’m-in-the-Lord’s-army mentality going on, and the last two places we’d lived, we felt in our hearts a direct mandate from God that He was sending us there. So we began to ask: “God, if we’re not supposed to stay in Tulsa–where are we supposed to go?”
The answer in our souls surprised us: “Where do you want to go?”
I’ve frequently compared what this felt like to being a sports player. After being drafted (read: sent) to two different teams, it seemed like we were now free agents–that God was going to let us follow the passion in our hearts to guide us into the next season.
Talking it over as a family, we realized that we wanted a brand new place, a new culture to experience, new things to see and do–somewhere none of us had been before. We also wanted a place that would be fertile ground to revive the creativity that had been dying within us, and a place to explore some of the fresh ideas about ministry we were receiving. We began to research different places, ranging from Pennsylvania to Virginia to Florida, since we’d never lived on the eastern seaboard. One of our mentors suggested doing some ministry-related travel to see what connections might come from that.
That’s when my new blogger friend Kathy Escobar invited us to participate in the Off the Map Conference in Denver. So we turned our attention to the mountains.
Even before we arrived in Denver, our research on the Internet told us that on paper, at least, Denver had all the things we were looking for in a new location–great scenery, cooler summers, lots to see and do and explore (we are explorers at heart), friendly people, an active lifestyle, and a favorable disposition to the arts. Plus–it is not nearly as “Christianized” as the past two Bible-belt cities we’ve lived in. 🙂
Interestingly enough…two weeks before leaving on that first trip, I reconnected with a friend from college, Mike Klassen, whose book I reviewed on this blog; along with Kathy and her family, Mike and his family have quickly become huge connection points for us, both a huge source of moral support. Plus, it seems lots of people in Denver are networkers; so from these two connection points, plus a lead or two from another friend…we now have literally more connections to Denver than we do to Tulsa.
Our first time in Denver confirmed all the things we had heard about it. It became more and more apparent that Denver was the place for us. Even to me–the one in my family that is most resistant to change. 🙂
And let me tell you, CHANGE is the operative word here. Once the way to make the transition became known to us and we set an arrival date, we were amazed at how much CHANGE is going to take place. Let me give you just a sample:
- We have lived in a 2000 square-foot house with lots of storage; we have chosen to move into an apartment less than half that size. So we’re unpacking boxes we’ve already packed and selling almost everything (including most of our furniture) so we can buy smaller, apartment-sized stuff.
- We have lived on the outskirts of town, in the far suburbs (almost in the country); we are moving to an eclectic micro-community where you can walk to almost everything. (Olde Town Arvada, for you folks familiar with the Denver metro.)
- We have lived in one of the most overweight states in the nation; we are moving to the thinnest state. (And I’m going there more than 50 pounds lighter than I was when I made my first trip.)
New people, new lifestyle, new ways of generating income. Lots of questions still unanswered. And we’re doing this before Labor Day.
We’re excited. We’re terrified.
And I wouldn’t trade this for anything.
Still some important stuff to tell you…stay tuned!