Saturday, June 9, 2007

Hello, Neighbor!

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.


Melissa @ Breath of Life said...

I'm so sorry to hear about the mail/paycheck fiasco! How horrible!

Unlike you (the transient one), I've been in my hometown since I was three, except for my 4 years in college. I didn't think I'd want to move back to Small Town USA, but I'm so glad I'm raising my daughter here! Can't say that we have 4 seasons, though...much to my dismay.

I don't know the cities you're contemplating, except those in North Carolina. You may get 4 seasons there...but be prepared for warm summers!

Praying God will make it all clear to you & Penn.

Janelle said...

Oh, you could so move to our town. You already "know" Alana. She is cool with lots and lots of blog-minded friends. Me included. We could all be the bestest friends. LOL

Anyway, I hope you find the right place for your family. I know that is so important. We are blessed to be surrounded by both families and the most amazing Christian friends. I hope the same for you.

Keep us posted via blog world.

Also, I went to Wal-Mart today and thought of you the whole time. Girl, you need to spend more time at the Super Center! :)

Alana said...

I have to agree with Janelle, we live in a great town, although it doesn't quite meet your criteria of being close to Seattle. However, if you are going to live anywhere that is not close to family, this is the place because you already have a built in group of friends ;-) Or we could ALL just move to PEI and live happily ever after like Gilbert and Anne.

Lisa said...

Well Sista Kitty,
I have to say that I am partial to the South since God Himself was gracious enough to put me here. He loves me so!
There is no place like the South - we have a little bit of everything here in my little corner. Beautiful green fields, majestic mountains, wonderful wildlife, spring, summer, winter and fall. But, then again, like I said - I'm a bit partial.
I just hope that where ever God leads you - you will find Him there.

AKat said...

Edmond, Oklahoma! "It's a Great Place to Grow." Hubs and I are wanting to end up in Ft. Collins, though. We love, love, love it there.

groovyoldlady said...

Aaaah, crime does happen everywhere. We live in rural Maine and I - yes, me, Detective Groovy - discovered and reported a rash of mail theft. I collected 2 armloads of mail that was blowing hither and yon on our road. It was all from a neighboring town and the only open envelopes were the ones that might have checks or credit card numbers.

It was very disheartening.

HOWEVER, crime is quite low here, per capita and we have 6, count 'em 6, seasons to enjoy in Maine: Summer, Fall (ooooo-aaaaah!), Winter (not as bad as you might think), Mud, Spring, and Black-Fly (This IS as bad as you might think!)

The Small Scribbler said...

I vote for Corvallis because of the awesome library...and the bike paths...and the coffee. My sister LOVES living there. She has five kids and finds it is a very family friendly place.

I do not recommend that you move to Smallville where we are currently living. Ever.


Robin said...

It sounds like something exciting to look forward to! It's good to make a change when your little one is still little and it won't hurt him to leave all that is familiar. I think you should add Boise to your list - it's an awesome town - still feels small but has everything you need AND has direct flights to Seattle. Good weather too.
I look forward to reading about your "faith journey" because it sure sounds like you are on one. One thing you can know for certain, God will go with you every step of the way!

Debra said...

I love odd numbers...what does that mean?

pei girl said...

I sure hope you and your hubby find just the ideal place to raise little nicknack in to bad you couldn't find a place like our beautiful little Island,but I am sure you will find just what you are looking for wishing you a wonderful awesome day GB:0)(hugs from the Island)

Jessica said...

Come on down to Nashville, TN. We really live in Hendersonville, but no one knows where that is. It is the former home of Johnny Cash and is currently home to many country music stars. It is great b/c I feel it is safe, the schools are great and we have an awesome church! Plus, you get gigantic magnolia blooms.... yes, it was real! I hope things get better at least until the move! Thanks for visiting!

Elise said...

Idaho? That's where I am - but only for a couple more months. :(

Wanna add West Jordan, Utah to your list? Cause that's where we're going!

ginny said...

Well, we're pretty close to the North Carolina towns you listed. We love it here...very family friendly in our area, close to the beach, close to the mountains, close to DC. It is not close to Texas though and that is where we want to be. Austin is great and we would love living there. We have a grandmother, 3 aunts, and a handful of cousins living there. Being a Texan, I would say the weather isn't so bad. It does get hot, but you get used to it. San Antonio is also wonderful. After reading your Texas post, Austin might be more your speed. I think Travis county was one of the only counties to vote "blue" in the last Pres. election. As long as you don't let Nicknack attend the major university there...

Susan said...

Even though I was a military brat, my dad spent most of his career on the East Coast. I wouldn't want to live anywhere else. The D.C. area has tremendous job opportunities and lots of public transportation. That area would get my vote!

Sorry about all you have been going through!

Gretchen said...


I live very close to you in Mill Creek, and have lived here for about 6 years. It is definitely hard to make a home if your heart isn't into it. I pray that God will give you clarity, a sense of peace, and direction. Blessings to you.

We moved here from CO, and I grew up in Ft. Collins. Married and went to school in Boulder. I do recommend that area. If you want more "small townish", I'd look toward towns like Niwot (near Boulder) and Windsor (near Fort Collins). If you want to email me, feel free.

Blessings to you.

Jenn said...

All of those place sound great! If you want South and 4 seasons - try Richmond, VA. It has all 4 seasons and that is incredible. It is also just and 1 1/2 hours from the beach and and 1 1/2 hours from the mountains.