Coast to Coast Series: The Decision to Go

Coast to Coast Series: The Decision to Go

It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end. – Ernest Hemingway

With thousands of miles to go, the end looked sweeter and sweeter. But with old friends to see, new people to meet, and lessons to learn, the journey itself is what gave us a new perspective on so much while deepening the relationships that were all around us.

Baltimore Inner Harbor

Baltimore Inner Harbor

We have been here 3 years now. We have a house. We have a baby. We have friends. We have our life. Baltimore, MD is unique in so many ways. Only 3 years ago we were moving from SC to Baltimore.  A big move in our eyes. We were leaving behind a house we bought and fixed up. Leaving behind a good church we loved. Good friends that we were close to. We were leaving our families. But here we were just outside the city line of Baltimore, serving at Arlington Baptist Church. We built relationships, invested in lives, and developed a love for the city.

Ellicott City

Ellicott City

We enjoyed the historic towns, the inner harbor, the good coffee shops, and the snow. Yes, we actually did—enjoy the snow, that is!

Even with its rough spots—our house being broken in to, gun shots heard outside, high cost of living, etc—we had made it our home. We had no plans of going anywhere anytime soon. We were there…to stay…until, of course, God moved us again. The current pastor at our church in Baltimore had resigned, and our church began going through a transition of looking for a new pastor.  After 3 years of ministry in Baltimore, God, in fact was showing us He wanted us to move. Again. Why? Maybe it wasn’t right, but I definitely asked that question. More than once.

Last Sunday at Arlington

Last Sunday at Arlington

Here is the story of how God moved us to Fremont, CA. It’s a story of pain. Faith. Love. Trust. Joy.  A story with high points and low points. It is our story: the story of how we moved from Coast to Coast.

Let me back up just a bit. Several years ago when Ricky was in high school he met a missionary by the name of Bob Bixby, who had visited Ricky’s church. Bob really made an impression on Ricky and over the years they stayed in touch. Around the time of our transition, Ricky re-connected with Bob through emails and Bob informed Ricky that although things were going great at his current church of 12 years, God was moving him to California to church plant. Having been the pastor and planter of his church of 12 years, this was obviously a huge decision for him and his family. Later that month, Ricky and Bob attended the same conference where they were able to talk about the next step in both of their lives. Bob mentioned that he and his wife had been specifically praying about asking another couple to join them in helping with this church re-plant in CA. Next thing we knew we were being asked to seriously consider partnering for this effort and were offered a trip out to see the area and learn more about this ministry. As you can imagine Ricky’s response was one of both shock and excitement. He never imagined California would be in God’s plans for us.

Meanwhile I was visiting some friends in WI, while Ricky was away at this conference. Interestingly enough, I was learning about a possible coffee shop manager’s position in the area that would be a good fit for Ricky. Doors were being opened everywhere for us.

Since Ricky and I were away, I received a text message that went something like this: “ hey babe, want to go to California to see about partnering with a pastor in church planting?!” My initial response was something like, “Oh no…who is he talking to? Is he serious? And what is he getting us into now? Five minutes later I texted, “Sure, let’s check it out! Why not?!” Of course the normal thing to do right away when you realize there might be a slim chance you’re moving away is to check out the housing options/prices in the area. So, that’s what I did! I honestly didn’t think moving to CA was a serious option. I was blown away by the housing prices. Like astonished. Let’s just say unless God richly blesses us—and I mean RICHLY blesses us—we won’t be buying a house anytime soon. 😉

Our trip to Fremont was scheduled for late February. Before we took the trip, Ricky and I spent some time praying and discussing what our needs and goals were looking into the future. There were two main things that were important to us when deciding what our next step/ministry would be. The first– a ministry where our family—children and us, as a couple, could really spiritually grow in, get involved in, and whole-heartedly commit to. And the second, an opportunity/job where Ricky could financially provide for his family.

Our Trip to California.

We had a full day of traveling scheduled—first flight (2 ½ hours) with a layover in Houston, and a second flight (3 ½ hours). {Post coming later about flying and driving long distances with a toddler. }

We arrived around 6 pm California time, around 9 pm our time. Hudson’s bedtime is 8 pm. I had already mentally prepared that this day was going to be long. Very long. We would need to meet and talk to people, and get settled in our hotel. There was a prayer time and fellowship planned for 7 oclock that night. I wasn’t sure how we would do with going to the fellowship, but we decided to go.  I was so nervous about keeping Hudson up that late.  I just kept telling myself, he will be ok. If he cries, it will be ok.   Although quite a bit more hyper and crazy than normal, Hudson did just fine until around midnight our time, 9 pm California time. It was time to go. I thought maybe since Hudson didn’t “go to bed” until really late, maybe, just maybe he would sleep in. Not the case. He was up bright and early at 5 am. You just learn to adjust, stay calm, and go with the flow. It will be ok. 🙂

Fremont Central Park

Fremont Central Park

We had a great Vision Casting meeting at the church where we learned a lot about the needs of the Silicon Valley. We learned about some of the diversity that was represented in Fremont. We learned some statistics on the religious makeup of the area. We learned that this area was in desperate need for good, theological churches, and ultimately in need of a Savior. We were excited about the possibility of ministering in Fremont, and although a very family friendly, moral area, Fremont is a city mostly without Jesus. It is an extremely rich, expensive, high tech area. Companies like Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, are all headquartered here in the Silicon Valley. We also visited some great parks while we were there. Hudson loved the birds and the water.

Crepes

Crepes

The weather, of course, was absolutely beautiful. We spent a day in San Francisco at the Wharf. It was such a neat experience. The bay, fish and chips, cool weather, live music, and people everywhere, reminded us a little bit of back home in Baltimore. However, the West Coast has its unique differences from that of the East Coast. Of course, a  trip to San Fran wouldn’t be complete without trying their crepes. One word: amazing.

Our trip was coming to an end.

Family at San Francisco Bay

Family at San Francisco Bay

Back Home

Upon our return home we began to really pray that God would show us the exact path for our lives. The trip gave us a good idea of who and what we would be working with. It gave us an idea of the area and how expensive it would be to live there. I wasn’t ready to make a decision. In fact, I  didn’t really want to talk about any of it when we got back home. I needed some time to let everything soak in. In my heart, I think I knew that this was where God was leading us. But I wasn’t ready for it. We decided to seek some council from several individuals. We prayed. Discussed. Asked questions. Other opportunities that Ricky was pursuing started to fall through. Doors were being closed. But California was still staring us in the face. The reality of everything that would need to be done in order to get ready to move, not to mention the actual move itself, was daunting.

Saying Good Bye to Home

Saying Good Bye to Home

About 2-3 weeks after our trip, we made the decision. The decision to go. To really step out on faith and do what we felt God was leading us to do. Ricky and I made the decision together. It was not one-sided. After telling our friends and family, we immediately began preparing our house to be sold. We decided to sell most of our big furniture items. The cost to have our belongings shipped to California would be extremely expensive, so if we could bring those costs down that would help. Moving meant finishing all the house projects we kept putting off.  What a blessing it was that Ricky could do a lot of the work himself. It was hard for me to look at the little home that we had put time, money, and work into making our own, and know that we would soon be leaving it. This is where we had brought Hudson home to after he was born. It was special.  Yes, I understood that this earth is not our home, but I was overwhelmed with the thought of moving again.

Good Bye with the Davols

Good Bye with the Davols

The next few months proved to be some of the hardest for Ricky and me. Unexpected financial burdens came up. Our air conditioner broke. More things needed to be done on the house in order to sell it. We had to say goodbye, yet again to friends. It was non stop preparation day in and day out for those few months before we left Baltimore.  In some ways it felt like we were about to do the impossible–Moving thousands of miles away with no money, no job, a new church, and new challenges. But the mission was clear. Ironically, we who were  “poor” were being called to go and tell those who were “rich” that they needed something: Jesus.

I can’t begin to tell you the overwhelming amount of love and support we received from those in Baltimore sending us off. If you are reading this, you know who you are. And we thank you. God used so many people to overwhelm us with love, encouragement, money, and support. I think we may just have died without those people. Friends helping me pack. Pastors meeting and praying with Ricky. Others sharing tears with us through kind, encouraging words as we said goodbye. Each new place you go. Each new person you meet. They are special. And they have a purpose for being in your life.

The Harlans

The Harlans

As we neared the end of our moving preparations, we said goodbye to Ricky’s sister, Eunice. She had been teaching at Arlington Baptist School for the past 2 years. She felt God leading her to be a missionary teacher in Texas. We greatly enjoyed having her nearby, and I know Hudson always enjoyed having Aunt Eunice around. 🙂

From here we would travel for a month, raising financial support. Ricky would be helping in many ways with the church plant, but it would not be a paid position, at the beginning. The goal would be to find a part time job, as well as raise partial financial support.  I would fly first with Hudson to SC, while Ricky stayed back for an extra week finishing up the final preparations on the house.

It was time to say goodbye. To our home. To Baltimore. To that porch. To throwing rocks across the street in the pond.  It was hard to say goodbye, but all I could think about now was getting on that plane and getting to South Carolina. I didn’t want to think about packing another box or painting another wall. Two weeks with my mom, my in-laws, family and friends. Let the journey begin.

My Family

My Family Beginning our Journey