As we started to talk about and process a potential move back to Reno, there were a lot of mixed emotions floating around. One day I would feel completely excited about it... the mountains, the old friends, the family, the less intense weather... and the very next day I would feel nothing but fear and uncertainty. I mean, how exactly does one go back, you know? Back to a place that knew you ten years ago, and has its own view of who you are, when you are no longer that same person? It felt a little bit like a butterfly trying to wedge its way back into its old cocoon. The thought of it felt a little confining.
Through all of these emotions and doubts, though, I kept telling God that I would go WHEREVER He wanted to send me. Even if going back home would be uncomfortable in some ways, I would go without hesitation if I felt Him leading us there. It became my daily mantra: "I will go wherever You want us to go, Lord. Reno or Alaska or the Czech Republic or Timbuktu!! You lead, I follow." It was a really tense time, because there were a bajillion unknowns coupled with a complete willingness, and only a crumb or two of clarity. That combination made for some frazzled emotions, let me tell you. Most days I felt like my head and my heart were just a loud mass of noise, and I couldn't find the mute button. I couldn't turn off the questions that were swirling around in my brain all day long.
Chris was still dreaming like crazy during all of this. He had some dreams about Lake Tahoe (which is just outside of Reno) and his old high school, but none of them brought any clarity, just more and more questions. We met with our friends Brad & Bethany to process and pray through all of this stirring we were feeling, and they encouraged us to run to God with our desires and longings, and to start pushing on doors like kids who were exploring a big old house for the first time. This advice helped us tremendously throughout this entire season. God can handle our asking and knocking and exploring!! He is faithful to lead us in the direction He has mapped out for us if we will just keep listening for His voice. He will not let our feet slip or stray to the right or the left if we are truly seeking after His heart. He is a good shepherd who gently guides His flock.
We really wanted to explore all the things that we felt God might be speaking, so Chris started touching base with paint companies and churches in the Reno area that we knew of or had contact with a decade before. This was one way of "pushing on doors" out there to see if anything would open to us. We continued to meet with friends and people in our community that we trust in order to pray & truthfully process what we were feeling.
We cast some hooks out into the water, and then we waited.
One Sunday at church, Chris ended up talking with a couple (our friend Cordell's parents) who had just moved to Oklahoma City after a similar whirlwind experience of feeling like God was calling them somewhere new. They had some really great advice and words of wisdom for us that had helped them take the leap of faith and follow God's leading even though it felt scary and uncertain. They said that throughout the whole process, it was like they would take a tiny step towards something in faith, and God would meet them there with confirmation. Then they would feel led to take another little scary step out of their comfort zone, and God would meet them there with blessing and confirmation again. Again and again and again, baby step after baby step, God led them all the way to Oklahoma City. We started to pray that God would do the same thing for us.
Late in September of last year, Chris woke up super early one morning and couldn't go back to sleep. He stumbled out to the kitchen table to pray and read his Bible while the house was still quiet. As He was praying, He started to feel like we were supposed to put the house on the market, as a first step of faith.
When I woke up later that morning, Chris told me what he had felt like God was asking him, and I completely agreed. I had been feeling the exact same thing for a couple of days prior.
So. It was time to sell our precious little house, where all three of our children had grown from babies into boys. The only house that any of them had ever known... the house where we had become a family. The thought of it was completely frightening, but underneath the fear and the questions there was a solid sense of peace. I knew that God was asking us to take this step of faith, and I also knew that He would be faithful to protect us in it. I tried not to cling to the "who what when where whys?" and instead I tried to cling to God in trust. It was hard.
I mean... where would we live if the house sold right away? How would we show this tiny house to potential buyers with three boys who were like tiny tornadoes of destruction and still needed to nap throughout the day? Would we have to move into an apartment nearby so Ezra could finish out the school year? What if we still had no idea where we were supposed to move when the house sold? WOULD the house sell? Would we be able to buy another house somewhere else- in a different state- where the cost of housing is so much more? Would we rent? Was Chris supposed to switch vocations in the midst of all of this? Should he start applying for random jobs in Reno or here in Oklahoma or elsewhere, or should he continue painting? Would he be able to transfer his painting business to a different state, a different economy? Was he even supposed to?
HOW THE HECK was all of this going to work out?!? I could see NO possible way. I felt completely helpless to figure it all out.
We agreed that morning to take the leap of faith, despite the screaming questions. We started getting the house ready to sell. And what happened next was more perfect than anything we could have ever "schemed up" or "mapped out" on our own. The God of the Impossible came through and made a perfect way.