A few weeks ago I shared that Penn and I have been discussing a move.
Actually, we've been talking about this for about three years. However, Penn's compensation package includes housing. A house we could never afford in this area, by the way. So that has been one of the little somethings that have kept our feet firmly planted. Another is Penn's annual bonus, which amounts to about 10% of his annual salary. Not a vast fortune, by any means. But what the end-of-year timing of this bonus does is put a moratorium on the "should-we-move" debate from about this time of year until January. After six months of long hours and busy days, Penn has earned half that bonus and we're not going anywhere until the check is safely in our savings account. Interest bearing, of course.
But after the New Year, we're moving. We don't know where, but somewhere. No more debate. It's time for a change. The evening after I posted a this, Penn leaned back in his recliner and sighed, "We are soooo out of here. You don't even know want to know what I saw on the way home." I could guess. I won't share it you, because it's too gross.
You know how if you're trying to conceive or expecting a baby you suddenly notice all the pregnant ladies and babies everywhere you go? That's what has been happening to us, lately, in our neighborhood. I don't necessarily believe in "signs," but I have prayed for God's direction about all this. So I'm not surprised that he's been opening both of our eyes to things that reaffirm our desire for a change. I started typing out each of about a half dozen incidents that have taken place during the past six weeks or so, and then thought better of it. You probably don't want to hear the details. Let's just say that, almost literally, every time I leave our house I see something troubling and I think, "THIS is why I don't want to raise Nicknack here."
The final straw was two weekends ago, as we celebrated his first birthday. Toward the end of the party, a woman came into our driveway, carrying our mail. Which she had found, scattered around the street. While our friends and family stood around our dining room (which has a very large window looking out to the street and mailboxes), singing "Happy Birthday" to our son, someone was busy tampering with our mail. And this person stole Penn's paycheck. With the stub that has his social security number printed on it. This incident, along with with several disturbing incidents we've observed and a string of petty crimes that seem to have affected everyone we know, prompted us to throw in the towel. This really will be our last summer here.
I hope you know that all of Seattle isn't like this. We just happen to live in one of those areas that isn't quite thought of as desirable. All the little neighborhoods along the sound, like ours, are lovely. But our little pocket of peace is surrounded by some pretty unpleasant areas. And Penn has a "niche" job, so a change in career almost guarantees a change in state.
I know Christians aren't called to insulate themselves from the world. I don't want to live in a bubble. But everything in moderation! Some wonderful people are called to urban ministries or to missions in the darkest corners of the world. Praise God and thank God for them! But I can honestly say that I don't feel that calling on my life, at this season. No place is safe from danger. There are dark elements in even the smallest, most quiet, and most quaint of communities. And even if we somehow found ourselves stranded in solitude on a deserted island, we would still battle the sin in our own hearts. There is literally no safe haven, this side of heaven. But there is alo literally no place in the universe to hide from God's love, grace, and redemption.
So I'm not looking for some kind of Utopia. We'll just have to wait and see what kind of career opportunities present themselves. I'm still praying for discernment. And if God intends for us to stay here, I'm sure he'll let us know somehow or make it difficult for us to leave. But my prayers are focused less on whether or not we should move and more on the hope that God will send the right opportunity our way. And, if it happens to be in a cute little town with affordable housing and a direct flight to Seattle (for our parents' sake...and ours!), that would be the icing on the cake!
Here is a list of places I think would be ideal:
1. Leavenworth/Wenatchee/Cle Elum, Washington
2. Coeur D'Alene/Sandpoint, Idaho (we are vacationing in Sandpoint later this month!)
3. Corvallis, Oregon (I lived there briefly, and it's one of my favorite towns)
4. Boulder or Ft. Collins, Colorado
5. Chapel Hill or Greensboro, North Carolina
6. I really want to add Austin, Texas to the list. As you might know, I love Texans. But I would have to have air conditioning and access to a pool. And a basement. (Tornadoes!) And I would most definitely be on a first name basis with the best exterminator in town. And I'd have to talk my husband into it, which would be tricky.
7. Your hometown, because I'm sure it's the best! And if so, let me know why! Bonus points if it is southern and has four seasons! (I've always wanted to try living in the south.)
8. Okay, I don't really have another town. I just hate odd numbers. So I hope our new community accepts oddballs.