It’s been over a month since we last talked to the interwebs, and a lot has happened. This is partially not our fault. Up until a couple of days ago, we had spotty internet service or no internet service at all. Now we’re thumping along well enough to get a few thoughts down on paper.

Since the last time we talked, we have moved to Alabama, purchased a house, and started a new job and a new school.

One thing I have learned is, I’m not a flexible person. I try to be, but I hate it when my plans change. I make my plans based upon what I assumed would be. However, what would be, even for the most thoughtful, forward-thinking individuals is sometimes not what they had in mind.

  1. I thought my company (the same one I worked for in Texas) would have issued me a new laptop when I started working here… “Sure, Beth. Go ahead and pack up the home computer. I’ll take the backup hard-drive and update our records when we get to Alabama.” Whoops! Not so much (my company takes good care of us, so I’m not upset about this, it just wasn’t what I expected). This lead to a lot of phone calls to the bank, tracking every receipt we had, and using the courtesy computer in the hotel lobby late at night (so other people don’t see my financials as they are walking to the ice machine).
  2. I thought the hotel that we stayed at for three weeks would get us two rooms right next to each other. Nope. Rooms 106 and 132 were definitely at opposite ends. This led to a boys’ room and a girls’ room and a severe lack of communication with Beth. Usually we debrief a day after the kids go down, but when the kids were out, we were stuck in our rooms about 200 ft away from each other. I missed Beth a lot those three weeks! We did primarily use one room for storage, and the other was for living.
  3. I thought we would buy a house on the west end of town with an acre of land. The week before our house-hunting trip, we told the real estate agent helping us that we wanted to look at a bunch of houses, but we were about 75% sure there was one in particular that we wanted. She told us she would let the listing agent know that they would have serious buyers at the end of the week and not to make any decisions until then. That’s when we discovered it was a short sale, possibly going into foreclosure, and that property would be tied up for months and months. We expanded our search a little and wound up in a house on the east side of town on the side of a hill/baby-mountain with 1/2 acre. I think we are happier here than we would have been at the other place, but this house wasn’t on our radar until we found out that the other house was unavailable.
  4. I thought up-state Alabama would have less traffic than the DFW area. Our new town of Madison has a red-light at every intersection and tons of people driving all over it. On Thursday of last week, I kid you not, I drove into the middle of a parade. My 30 minute trip to the hardware store for some light bulbs turned into 2 hours of inching our way along the main street of our town. The favorite thing our GPS likes to say is, “Make a U-turn whenever possible”. We thought that should be Alabama’s state motto (Don’t – It really is nice here). Having said all that, we are starting to find the back way to get to things, and can navigate pretty well. One of the blessings about the house we picked was that it is 6.5 miles from work. Now that I know the best route, I can be there in 10 minutes… I’m estimating we will be saving about $300 in gas every month.
  5. I thought that I would get every other Friday off like I did at my old job (again, I thought it was the same company with the same practices). When I asked my boss if the current week or the following week was the off-Friday, I got a stern, “We work five days a week, every week” answer. Oooo! That was definitely going to ruin my plans for this Friday, and every other Friday for the next 30 years. However, it didn’t take me long before I adjusted from 9-hour days to 8-hour days, and most everybody at work works a few hours extra each week and take off early on Friday. That’s been really nice.
  6. I thought our house, being bigger than it was in Texas, would make it quieter, spreading out the people over a larger area. That doesn’t pan out so well when the house is pier-and-beam (not a slab foundation like we were used to). It is amazing how I know where every child in the house is by how the house is rattling. It also gives me an edge for playing hide-and-go-seek. I’m amazed at how a heavy-footed 60-lb Colombian can make four times as much noise as a 200-lb man.
  7. I thought my wife was wasting money ($40) when she bought a super-market end-cap when I asked her to find something to put the TV on. I got home at the thing was in 12 pieces in my driveway with the comment “it needs a little work” coming from her. I, with a very bad attitude, put it together, cleaned it up, mounted some feet to it so it wouldn’t ruin the carpet, and started putting our electronics on it. My thought was, I can always use it in the garage if this is a stupid idea, but half-way though, I caught the vision. It fits perfectly in the space we have, it’s querky and fun, and the little diamond-shaped holes and groves built into it are prefect for zip-tying chords for electronics (organizing wires is a passion of mine… a couple of notches down from God, Beth, children, and Mt. Dew… it may be tied with Mt. Dew.)
  8. I thought our sectional would go in the fun room with the crazy super-market shelf entertainment center. I measured it, and it was 1.5 inches more narrow than the hallway… It got jammed. Then two adults got jammed. Then a wall sconce (however you say that… light on the wall and not on the ceiling) got messed up. Then I got angry. Then, we bought a couple of cheap futons that seem to fit the space even better, and we used the sectional in another part of the house that quite frankly, we didn’t have plans for. That reminds me, yesterday, one of my kids asked me, “Who is ‘Quite Frankly?'”
  9. I thought, after six weeks, we would be close to finding a church home. We are not. Lots of visiting, lots of red-flags, and lots of “when in Rome” moments. We know our old church didn’t have a monopoly on how to do church, but it’s amazing how conditioned we get in doing things a particular way. We’re trying to be open-minded and not Pharisee-ical (It’s a new word, trust me), but at the same time, not water down our convictions. In a lot of ways, it’s been good to re-evaluate where we stand on a lot of issues and talk through the things that we believe and why we believe them as a family. We found a church last week that we really like, but we still need to talk to a pastor, and find out more before we make a hasty decision. We are still probably a month at minimum from joining a new congregation… We should probably write a blog about how much we will miss our old church. To be continued…
  10. I thought that the dogs would be a minor detail that we would have to be mindful of during our move. No. Our company-paid flight to Alabama to move the family down was a no-go because one of our dogs was a particular breed that isn’t allowed to fly due to notorious respiratory issues. That really made the rest of the family sad, and resulted in a two-car caravan across three states with seven people and three dogs over 12 hours. I also had to “negotiate” with the hotel when we showed up with three 40-lb dogs when their policy was no more than two 25-lb dogs in the hotel. The new house has no fence, and our basset hound has issues with doing stairs which every entrance to our place (on the side of the hill) has. This has resulted in a lot of dog walks, patience, and care. We are a lot more mindful of the dogs and their needs than we have been in years at our old home with a fence and dog-door. When we adopted kids, they definitely took a back seat, but we’re a lot more involved with them now than a month ago.

It’s interesting how we always think we are the captains of our own destiny. We plan, we envision how we want things to turn out, we busy ourselves working to that end, and there is no doubt that God allows us the free will to act on these things. However, in this move to Alabama, He has reminded me of all the subtle directions He has steered my life. Almost all of these things, though frustrating, had a silver lining.

I hate it when it feels like the wheels are spinning off and my great plans are falling apart, but I’m finding that’s when God does His best work. That’s also, when we do the best at depending on Him. I’m not quite to the point of “counting it joy” when I have various trials, but I can at least see why James says so.

At the dinnermesa,