Days after Sept. 11th, I drove across the country for the first time with my brother, Romeo, and his family. Flight 93 from Newark to San Francisco was one of the planes that had crashed Sept. 11th. Romeo and his family were scheduled to take Flight 93 Saturday, Sept. 15th, rumors still coursing that that was another day of threat. I, too, needed to return to Los Angeles for my senior year to begin.
When we crossed the St. Croix River from Wisconsin to Minnesota, I was awestruck by the beauty of the grey fog floating above the snaking river. As we drove on, the landscape stretched into flat fields of green grass. Bursts of yellow sun pierced through the white clouds hanging against the periwinkle sky. I loved Minnesota.
The next day, when we reached the endless yellow fields of South Dakota, I was homesick for Minnesota, though it had been my first time there. When I returned to California, I wanted to apply to graduate school at the University of Minnesota, but someone mentioned that there were tornadoes there. With no relatives or roots anywhere in Minnesota, I dropped the thought.
And Then There Was My Sister
My sister and I have always been extremely close ever since we became Christians when I was 12 and she was 19. Though we couldn't stand each other previously, our new love for the Lord drew us together in a tight bond even until now. Her family took me in as part of their family. I loved her three children like my own, and her husband, Bob, was as my own brother. They always said I needed to move in with them in New Jersey once I graduated from UCLA. They joked that I needed to find a husband that would take me back to New Jersey.
Lo and behold, when I arrived in Los Angeles from my drive across the country, one of the first people I laid eyes on was someone new at the Bible study I attended, Andrew Mark, a super-cute guy from New Jersey of all places. For the rest of my senior year, I watched him from afar and exchanged casual conversations with him. Despite all my efforts to the contrary, convinced that he was all wrong for me, and though I would never have admitted it even to myself at the time, somehow, I was falling hard for a guy I hardly knew.
The summer after my senior year, Andrew moved across the street from where I lived. He invited me and a bunch of friends over for dinner for the first time. Hours before dinner, my sister called with completely unanticipated news: Bob had received a pastoral position in Minnesota and they were moving.
I cried. They were going to live and die in New Jersey, remember? And I would be there for some of it. Not to mention, I laughed through my tears, I finally found a New Jersey guy!
Soon after, I left Los Angeles and eventually did live with my sister and her family in Minnesota for two months, which is when Andrew and I started a long-distance dating relationship. He came to visit me there and after meeting my brother-in-law, Bob, began calling him once or twice a week for counsel ("Without consultation, plans are frustrated, But with many counselors they succeed." Proverbs 15:22 ).
Eventually, Andrew and I got married. Andrew had a job offer in Washington, D.C. and the state of Washington. Our counselors encouraged Andrew to pursue the job that would best suit his talents, since we already knew that there were good churches in both locations. And so Andrew accepted a position as a systems engineer with Motorola, and we moved to Snohomish, WA, despite our longings to return to family. We decided to make it a priority to be able to visit family in New Jersey, where both our parents lived, Minnesota, where my sister was, and California, where my brothers were. As time went on, we continued to bring our desire to live near family before the Lord, expecting Him either to change it or fulfill it.
Then, this past January, A.J., turned two. I wondered what the Lord would do, because it basically meant the end, or at least a huge reduction of us travelling to visit family, since A.J.'s plane fare would not be free anymore. If we lived in Minnesota, both sets of our parents' plane rides would be reduced to two hours instead of six and we could potentially even drive the 19 hours to New Jersey once in awhile.
This past November, Bob called Andrew. They needed more men, more leaders for their growing church. He asked Andrew to join them.
Free to Go!
After three-and-a-half years living in Washington, the Lord has fulfilled our ever-growing desire to move specifically to Minnesota. In July, Andrew's boss gave him the go-ahead to work from home, even from Minnesota! We could leave any time we felt like.
And so I prayed that if the Lord, indeed, willed for us to move to Minnesota, that He would make it easy and fast, so that Andrew wouldn't have to worry about anything, considering all that he's so recently gone through with cancer. Here are the ways in which He has answered exceedingly and abundantly more than we asked or imagined (Eph. 3) so far:
1. As we considered our options for moving our stuff, they were all expensive. Since we had always hoped to move, everything we acqired here was either free or next to free, so that we could leave everything behind. The few things we needed to bring with us, we didn't want to spend much to move. Then, our friend, Steve Hickok, approached us at church. He was moving his mother-in-law from Wisconsin to here. So he was going to drive an empty truck and trailer there. He would be driving through Minneapolis, would we like him to drop off our stuff for us in ten days?
2. Then we thought maybe we should wait until Andrew's scan in August to make any decisions. We asked the Lord to make His will unmistakably clear to us. A couple of days later at his July appointment, Dr. Futran felt into Andrew's mouth and throat. He said, Andrew's healing looked ideal and he was fine to move. Dr. Futran said he does not expect cancer to return.
3. Additionally, Dr. Futran almost took a position at the University of Minnesota this summer. His best friend and colleague, Dr. Yueh, took it instead. Dr. Yueh was one of the people on the team who had had made the decisions on Andrew's treatment back in February. Though we hadn't really looked for Dr. Futran, he is probably one of the best surgeon's in the world for oral cancer (I mean, how many double MD's have you heard of?), and now we have this other super doctor, who already knows Andrew's case as well as Andrew's doctor, and will be moving with us! He will be twenty minutes from where we will live.
4. So then Andrew was concerned about working long-distance indefinitely. Though there is virtually no travel necessary, Andrew eventually wanted to be able to work on local projects in Minnesota and have local co-workers. So Andrew called up the Motorola manager over Minnesota, with whom he was acquainted. It turns out that someone was actually leaving his group later this year, and they could use another engineer in the Minnesota office. The man would be transitioning out about the time that Andrew would be finishing up his project in WA. To sum up, Andrew will be working from home in Minnesota on a Tacoma, WA project for the next few months and then will transfer to the Motorola office in Minnesota.
5. The only real work we've had to do for our move is clear out each of the rooms in our home of anything not necessary for staging it to sell our house. That took about four days, but we really enjoyed it. We felt so grateful all the way through for the opportunity to rid unnecessary clutter from our lives and not have to take it with us! We had so many things that we thought we needed, yet now that we are living so sparcely, find that we are doing just fine without them. We are really excited not to be bringing much with us. It has greatly minimized the work moving usually requires.
6. And then we weren't sure exactly what day we should leave. Our house is on the market, and we didn't want to wait around for it to sell, in case it was like the other houses on our block that sat on the market for several months, one even waited for nearly a year. So we asked the Lord for wisdom about what day to leave. So, it turns out, Andrew's been playing phone tag with our friend David Ward. David used to go to my church back in New Jersey and now he is the worship pastor at Redeemer Bible Church in Minnesota, where we will be serving. David did the music for our wedding and one of his songs inspired Gracie's middle name, Olivia. Andrew finally got in contact with him while, it turns out, David was driving with his family to Seattle for a vacation. David offered for us to caravan back with them to Minnesota on August 27th.
Summed up, look what God has done:
1. Delivered belongings
3. Doctor departing with us
4. Does job he loves from home, then transfers to MN Motorola office
5. De-cluttering delightful
(the only work we've had to do for this)
6. Departure date decided
(and the added benefit of caravanning with old friends)
Friends here laugh that they think the first time they met us three or so years ago, we told them that we wanted to move to Minnesota. Even when Andrew took his job, his boss knew we would only be here temporarily until we could move near family. We came here open to whatever the Lord willed for us, even if it was to stay here. But the Lord grew in us a desire to move to Minnesota rather than New Jersey. And now, He's answered the prayers for it to be fast and easy. Thank You, Lord!
We have yet to sell our house. So please pray it will sell soon. We will see how the Lord answers that prayer.
Come and visit us in Eden Prairie, Minnesota!
"Dad, what happened to my bed?"