Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Next Chapter

So I started this new blog and I want you to read those entries too.  Of course I do.   I am so excited about reconnecting with bloggers and my blog readers again.  It has been a long three and a half years.

So head on over, and check it out.  Some of it will be review for you, but I would love you to lead the way with comments and begin the conversation.

One of the things that I have found with those of us who are "old" and have been doing this a long time is that we often disappear from the scene and stop connecting with adoptive parents.  It is as though we have concluded that we have "been there done that" and that we don't need to help the next generation of parents.

So let's join together and share the wisdom of the last decade with those who are new to all this..... that next generation.

Come on over to The Next Chapter (but don't forget to keep reading here too!)

Bart is blogging again...

The name of his blog is "Another New Place to Love" and he has already made me cry.

The End of Multiple Eras

I was awake at 3:30 this morning and never went back to sleep. After spending 6 hours with the CEO at my new job yesterday my mind was spinning. I also learned that trying to get anything done with Dominyk here in the evenings probably isn't gonna happen. He tends to talk. Incessantly. to the dogs, to me, to himself. The words that he is saying are innocuous. There are just so. many. of. them.

So here I am at my computer not the last day of 2015 recognizing that it is the end of an era. It's not just the end of a year, but the end of a few really good runs.

Here are the eras that area all ending on this day:

1) The era of living with a lot of people. I mean a lot. Since 1999 we have had anywhere from 5 to 17 people living in our home at once. The months that there were five of us we also had an additional one home on weekends and that period of time lasted less than 5 months. Most of the time we have had between 8 and 17 people in our home. When the kids were little (at one point we had 9 between the ages of 5 and 15) life was a blur of busy chaotic adventure. We spent lots of time at parks and pools and doing things together as a family. Then we moved into the teenage years where life was basically spent in the van with me making sure everyone was where they were supposed to be. Had there been internet and a toilet in the van I may not have ever had to get out. It was also the time when drama was high, police came often, bad choices were made, and grandchildren started to appear. And the last segment, over the last several years, has been possibly the most difficult. Adult children were in situations that their choices had created, and yet we were still living with a houseful of them who we were supporting and had no motivation to move on. So even though this was NOT the reason I took this job and we have them set up with good, reasonably priced options to live independently, we did find the answer to the question some of you may be asking "how do you get your adult kids to move out." Answer: Sell the house and move far far away.

2) The era of being close to our grandchildren. We have had so much fun with our grandkids during the past 6 years. Even though all but one of them has had some drama surrounding their little lives, grand-parenting is a great gig. We will now be entering the phase of "FaceTime Grand-parenting" which many people have gotten really good at. We will still see them a couple times a year in person, but we will have to be much more intentional about connecting with them.

3) The pastoring together era. It looks like, for the next six months, we will be living an hour and 20 minutes apart. I will stay in my townhouse 3-4 nights a week and go to stay with Bart in the parsonage on weekends. While I will still be attending church with Bart, I will no longer have options to sing in choirs, ring handbells, be in a praise band, or do midweek activities. I will be plenty busy with PHFS responsibilities, but I will miss the DAILY parts of ministry that Bart and I have done together. In each of our churches there have been folks who have buried themselves deeply into my heart and I will miss them and the opportunity to do that here.

4) The Bethany Era. Wow, what a great run that was. I met and worked with some of the finest people that exist in this world hands down. Locally, we took a struggling, near death branch and as a team turned it around. I got to work with employees who became some of my best friends and I got to hire one of my best friends to be my employee. I was surrounded by people who I loved and consumed by a mission and a passion that trumps all others. On the Regional Director front I had a great team of Branch Directors who I supervised, and was led by a team of passionate folks who continue to wrestle with how to best be a ministry and a business that is authentically Christian in a very fast-growing agency, now the largest adoption agency in the world. And I cannot fail to mention my fellow RDs -- I loved being able to consider myself one of these intelligent, mission driven, authentically faithful followers of Jesus. I am already knee deep in the challenges of the future, but tears come to my eyes as I think about this being my last official day at Bethany and how much I have truly loved that job and those people.

5) The "My Husband is Right Next to Me" era. If you don't know my husband, you are missing out because he is a phenomenal person. He has been by my side supporting and encouraging me every single day for nearly 20 years. He has taken care of things on the home front for most of our marriage, but especially the last three years, so that I could do a big job. Our marriage is stronger than ever, but the era has ended of us being in the same place every night -- or at least it has been paused. I'm a resilient person, and we talk often throughout the day, but I miss him. He reminded me that he hasn't seen much of me the past three and a half years anyway, but he has been my rock every night, even if we only had 5-10 minutes to talk before we fell asleep exhausted.

6) The short era of seeing my mom at least once a week. It's been such a great two and half years of being close to her. But nobody is more excited about our adventure here than she is. She is happy to be where she is and she is an amazing person and seeing her with my kids and grandkids has been such a joy. I hadn't lived in the same town with her since I left for college, so it's been a real treat.

7) The Era of this being my only blog. I am intentionally seeking duller moments. I am hoping that I will experience more psychic space and have more margins in my life to get healthier. So it is my intention to create a new blog called "The Next Chapter" where I will post well-written, thought-provoking, not-an-embarrassment to my employer entries -- and keep this one for family updates, reports on how often I poop, stupid things my kids say, and anything else my heart desires. Stay tuned for the link to that blog.

So as I wind down 2015, many eras are ending. But here are some things that are NOT changing:

1) My God is a God of adventure and He continues to call Bart and I into waters that are always just a little too deep. He invites us into oceans of dependence on Him that allow us to see Him do cool things. He is right there, guiding us and making our lives a great adventure as we follow him into the glorious unknown every day.

2) My kids are still my kids. I still love them. I still try to err on the side of grace. We will still be a major part of their lives from afar (or very very close by in Dominyk's case right now). We will continue to pray for them that God will change the things in them that we have been unable to change and that he will protect them.

3) My mom will remain my role model, my example of what it means to be a person of prayer, and my biggest fan from afar. I will talk to her often -- maybe even more often than I did when I was so crazy busy and lived in the same town she did.

4) My husband will remain my best friend and we will work out the distance thing and our marriage will be stronger.

5) The people around me will change but the tapestry of my life will remain altered by the relationships I have had in Minnesota. I will gain new friends, but keep the old and my life will always be full of good people and good times. As I have told many... I'm not dying or moving to the moon...

6) I will remain in a job that is fueled by my passion and impacts the things that God cares about most. I will remain challenged and enjoy the journey.

Life is interesting. Unpredictable. Exciting. And change, while it isn't always easy, is not always a bad thing.

So as several eras end, new ones begin and I look ahead to the next ones with enthusiasm as I let go of the past.

But I still gotta admit I have tears in my eyes....

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

An Almost Freaky "Coincidence"

I use the word coincidence here because I fear that I will soon be accused of using the word miracle way too often.

My brothers have chosen a completely different path in life than my parents or I have (a great lesson for me to learn BEFORE I became a parent -- kids have free will and excellent parenting doesn't always equal excellent choices by the children parented). Neither of them are Christians though my mom has prayed for them "War Room style" for fifty years. But my brother Nathan once said, "I do have to admit, there are a lot of coincidences that happen after mom and dad pray."

So this morning, as I finish out my last official week at Bethany (while already in Virginia), I want to tell you about a coincidence that even those who don't believe might admit could be related to divine intervention.

Three and a half years ago we moved to the Twin Cities. The very first night that we were there we had supper at B-Dubs (Buffalo Wild Wings) and I could swear I ordered a Caffeine Free Diet Coke... but since I was up most of the night, I think they didn't hear the caffeine free part. So either God or tons of caffeine kept me up. And God and I had a conversation. It went something like this.

"Well, God, here I am in the Twin Cities. I wonder why it is that you have me here. I know Bart has this great new church, but what about me?"

We went back and forth for a while as I thought about my passion for adoption and the number of churches that are in the Twin Cities. I kept coming back to the question "what does God want me to do?"

I don't often tell people that God told me stuff, but this time it was a pretty clear message.

God said, "You know those 12 kids you adopted? Add zero to it."

"Happy to do that, God! We really want to be done now that we have grandkids."

"No, he said, I didn't mean add zero to your family, I meant put a zero at the end of the 12. I want you to find Christian people in churches Minnesota to adopt 120 kids."

My mind started to spin and I was up the rest of the night coming up with a plan. In my job at that time I typically would place 10-12 kids a year and I figured I wouldn't be ready to retire until beyond 62, so it was a reachable goal. I made list in my head of pastors to call, and I was happy to accept this challenge.

Fast forward three months and I land this amazing job as Branch Director at Bethany. Suddenly I will have the ability to affect a bunch more kids. I jumped in and applied all the passion and energy I had into what I called the "Minnesota 500" program and began the task of finding homes for kids.

By now you know that I have moved on and my time in the Twin Cities is over. And you probably know where this blog post is going. We have software that counts placements and yes, you guessed it, we placed EXACTLY 120 kids into adoptive and foster homes between the day I started and my last day this Thursday. That is one freaky coincidence.

Last night was my first night in my new home. I didn't have caffeine last night and I didn't have a conversation with God. But I am excited to see how He unveils His plan for us here in Virginia as the days go by.

This is indeed a Great Adventure.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

It's Not Really About the Facts

We have arrived in Virginia. I am sitting at the dining room table that I'm borrowing in the townhouse that I'm borrowing for the next several months. I arrived and was overwhelmed with a great welcome! The townhouse is beautiful -- way more space than Dominyk and I need (which is SO weird). I haven't had too much space in .... well.... since a few months after we were married.

If you don't know the whole story, Bart and I were married in June of 1996. By January of 1997 we had two toddlers and by December of 97 eight and eleven year olds had joined us. By the following Christmas we had added four more kids and ... well, you get the picture.

So extra space is weird. But I digress....

Let me tell you about our welcome. I was greeted with friendly people who were happy to help Dominyk unload. Dinner was delivered. There were flowers and muffins on the table. There was even a surprise from God -- a beautiful sunset.

Our drive today was nearly perfect. If you have not driven through the mountains of Virginia you really need to -- and then keep going for another 90 minutes and visit us! The roads were dry and the weather was perfect. When we finished unloading Dominyk was incredible! He put everything in the room it belonged it. He offered to make my bed and hang the shower curtain. He even fed me dinner. I'm loving the honeymoon!

But if you asked me about yesterday, I would have told you that it felt like it was straight out of Lemony Snicket... a series of unfortunate events ... or Alexander with his Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. Here's how it went.

First four hours were awesome. I was alone, it was quiet (well, after the first 15 minutes where Dom had a very loud, explosive anxious meltdown, but after that it was great!). The dogs and Dom slept. I prayed. The roads were dry and clear and there was little traffic.

And then we hit Madison, Wisconsin and it all went down hill from there. The roads started to get icy. And they stayed either, snowy, icy or wet for the next 13 hours. There was road construction. There were multiple accidents. It took 6 hours to get around Chicago and I never went over 40. The trip, which should have taken 12 hours, took 16 and a half. I got a donut caught in my throat and threw up all over my only shirt (my extras were packed way underneath a bunch of stuff). The dogs got into a fight in the backseat. Dominyk thought he lost his wallet and obsessed about that for 30 minutes. The Steak and Shake we stopped at had horribly slow service, so we took it to go which was not good for the dogs who hadn't eaten all day. My mediocre milkshake ended up getting spilled on the shirt I had purchased to change into after I puked on shirt number one. And then, once we got to the hotel at 11:00 pm, I ended up slamming my finger in the bathroom door. AND I got a bloody nose and bled all over the new shirt that was already covered in milkshake.

THOSE are the facts.

But you know what? I went to bed happy. I went to bed grateful that I wasn't in one of the accidents. I went to bed thanking God for giving me stamina (I hadn't driven 16 hours straight without help since I was 30!)

And I realized that life is never really about the facts. It's about our response to the facts. I reported the negative things that happened because I thought the whole thing was getting more entertaining by the moment. But all those things that happened didn't steal my joy.

This is true of so many things. Life hands us lemons -- God makes lemonade. I wrote a blog entry five years ago called "My Blog is a Lemonade Stand"

So I guess you could say that I spent yesterday drinking lemonade that God made out of lemons. I pray that God will help you face your next set of negative facts the same way!

Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas 2015 -- No Room at The Inn -- I mean Restaurant

Happy to announce that it really wasn't Holiday Hell this year. It was a really good Christmas.

We started celebrating at noon on Christmas Eve. Wilson has a Christmas Eve Birthday and Salinda's birthday is on Christmas Day, so we usually celebrate their birthdays at noon. Wilson had requested Fondue, so that's what we had. Very yummy -- a delicious cheese dip with Veggies and bread and then steak and Shrimp. Salinda, John and the kids were fashionably late (an hour?!?) so the meal and gift unwrapping lasted a couple hours. But it was relaxed, fun, and low key.

We headed to the 5:00 service where we lit the advent candle as a family one last time. Mixed emotions, but we got it done. Then we were off to do our traditional Chinese buffet that we have done every Christmas Eve since 1999 when the only place open on Christmas Eve in Luverne was the Chinese place...

Except the one we were going to was closed. So we headed to Old Country Buffet reluctantly to find it was closed. Then we tried Perkins, which was open, but they only had one cook and two servers on duty so they wouldn't serve us and we ended up at the mediocre yet expensive Chinese buffet that many of us hated last year and they let us in.... So we celebrated, open gifts, ate, and by that time it was time for Christmas Eve Service #2.

This morning was very low key. I picked up my mom and we opened gifts after Tony and Taylor (who got engaged last night!!!!) arrived around 11:30. A delicious dinner prepared by Bart at 2 and then we hung out and looked at old pictures this afternoon.

Even though we had one son who hates being named here who skipped church and then slept through Christmas and there is always drama surrounding some grandchildren, it was a great day.

Now two more days of frantic organization and packing and I will be on my way to Virginia.

Merry Christmas to everyone. God is really good to us you know.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Just like 2009 -- It's All About the Baby

Six years ago I blogged a blog entry called "This Year, It's all about the baby". I remember that post, and that year, because it struck me that every single Christmas it should be about the baby.

Right now, that baby from 2009 is turning 6.

She is adorable. Compliant, kind, helpful, generally happy, and very affectionate and loving. She is a super great kid. She now has a baby brother

and she has three male cousins that were born in between her and her brother.

And again this Christmas, at this very moment our daughter-in-law is at the doctor finding out if she and Kyle's identical twin daughters will be born today or if they are safe to stay inside her for a few more days.

And I'm struck that combined with our move, this Christmas, again, is about the babies about to be born into our family. But more importantly it is about THE baby, Jesus, born to deliver all of us. It's about anticipation, the joy of advent, the looking forward to the birth of new life. It's not about stuff.

We never got around to getting a tree. We did manage to buy presents, but they are not creative. There are no Christmas decorations up and from looking around you can't tell that today is different than every other day.

But these words keep ringing through my ears as I anticipate the arrival of my children and grandchildren, the church services tonight, time with my mom, and all the things that are the true meaning of Christmas
And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow,
stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so?

It came without ribbons. It came without tags.
It came without packages, boxes or bags.

And he puzzled and puzzled
'till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before.
What if Christmas, he thought,
doesn't come from a store.
What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”
It's a whole lot more. It's about the baby. It's about family. It's about belonging.

And you know that I wouldn't be me, if I didn't point out that there are many kids across the country tonight who will go to bed surrounded by strangers in shelter care, foster parents they are just getting to know, or in a group home. They know they don't "belong" anywhere.

It is my prayer as it is every year, that by next Christmas many more children will have a home and a place to belong.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Emotional Overload

I am taking a break at this moment from cleaning out the drawers of the big desk in my office. I won't be posting a link to this blog post on Facebook because I don't want the powers that be to be annoyed that I am blogging on work time.

Wow. I'm an emotional nightmare! I just have to say it, this transition stuff is HARD WORK. All the other times we have moved it has been the bishops fault. Now, suddenly, it is my fault. It is my fault that my children are homeless and that I am taking their father away from them (even though they all have places to live at a price they can afford). It is my fault that my grandchildren won't live near their grandfather. It is my fault that my office has to transition and that my superiors at Bethany have to replace me. It's my fault that our church is losing their beloved (by most) pastor. I'm the reason for all this chaos and all this pain.

And so nobody really cares to listen to my woes... thus, here I am blogging. But I get whey they don't want to listen to my sadness... because I CHOSE this. I get what I get.

And actually, the waves of emotion come and go. I'm not on emotional overload 24/7. Just probably 17/24/7. I do sleep.

I do need to say here thought that I have had one hell of a good ride (OK, heck) here in Minnesota. I have had so much fun. Going through my desk and cleaning it out has made me smile with recollections of such good times.

I found the snake that was in my bottom drawer when I came to work my first day. I found the nun that I got as a gag gift at a Christmas party. I found the picture of me and Grandma Bethany -- if you don't know that story you should ask me sometime. I found little snippets of things that made me smile with remembrance.

And I found some remembrances of some less than fun times. When you work with people there are always times when you wish for a do-over. But life doesn't allow for that.

I remember as a teenager deciding what was important in life: Loving God, Loving People, and bringing the two together. So whereas again I am on emotional overload, I am confident that over the past three years I have tried my best to do those things.

My children could use some prayer. Each in their own way are grieving. Each are reliving abandonment issues. With the combination of FASD, RAD, Anxiety, Depression and low IQs we have amongst them, some of them aren't doing well and of course, it is all dumped on me.

Last Week I read this article. Be Glad Your Kids Throw Up on You I need to keep reminding myself of this every day. If you haven't read it you should. I wish I had been able to incorporate this into my lifestyle years ago. It would have helped me and even more so my children.

So in the myriad of positive and negative emotions that this transition has caused, I am still very grateful to live a life that takes chances.....

My theme song for this move has been the Toby Mac Song "Way Beyond Me." Here are they lyrics to part of it:

Anything that I got the strength to do
In over my head keeps me countin' on You
I'm leaving the sweet spot, sure shot
Tradin' it all for the plans You got
Is it so crazy to believe

That You gave me the stars put them out of my reach
Called me to waters a little too deep
Oh, I've never been so aware of my need
You keep on making me see
It's way beyond me
It's way beyond me
Yeah, it's out of my league
It's way beyond me
It's way beyond me
It's way beyond …

You take me to the place where I know I need You
Straight to the depths that I can't handle on my own
And the Lord I know, I know I need You
So take me to Your great …
Take me to Your great unknown

Monday, December 21, 2015

You can Stop Praying for Us


So by temperament Pastor Bart (my beloved husband) and I are quite different. His approach to life is that if you expect nothing you won't be disappointed. He always anticipates that something is going to be awful.

I, on the other hand, believe that a hopeful approach is more helpful (and more biblical, but I'm not going to say that in writing). I figure if I anticipate that something is going to be awesome, at least the anticipation stage will be fun.

So when I got offered my dream job in Virginia and he agreed to come with me, I told him that God would have something awesome for him. I said that God wouldn't call me to move across the country and then get us there and say to Bart, "Oh, sorry, forgot about you, guess you're screwed."

So we had a few late night conversations in the past few weeks about all this, me, of course, being hopeful and him, of course, expecting bad things because then he wouldn't be disappointed.

So last week we got a message saying that we would soon be getting a call from a DS in Virginia that they had an interim possibility for him. And we began to talk about what that might look like. He was thinking a two or three point charge in tiny towns without a parsonage (or, if there was one it probably wouldn't have running water). I, however, was anticipating an awesome church with a huge parsonage.

As I may have told you, I have a townhouse available to me on the campus of Patrick Henry Family Services where I will be working that all of us can live in indefinitely. SO God had already taken care of that detail regardless of whether or not Bart got a job. I had to throw that in there... you'll see why in a minute.

So, Wednesday night we got the call. It's one of the flagship churches of the district. We can't tell you exactly yet because it isn't final, but it is about an hour and 15 minutes away from where I'll be living. It's a bit bigger than the church we have now. And, by the way, it has a 4,000 sq foot, 5 bedroom 4 bathroom parsonage that is sitting empty that they would love to have us live in.


So I was telling my friend Dennis, who you may or may not know, the story above. I said, "Apparently, a three point charge with no parsonage is the kind of God that Bart serves. My God is a bigger church with a 5 bedroom, 4 bathroom, 4000 square foot parsonage kind of God. And then I mentioned to him, "Problem is that we will have to live apart 4-5 days a week. To which Dennis responded, "And that's the kind of God Bart serves!"

At any rate, we now not only have one, but two houses to live in without cost until July 1. We both have challenging jobs. And it appears the schools in this town that Wilson can choose from are rated higher than others we have looked at. And the town is big enough that Dominyk can probably find work.

So for 4 weeks Dominyk and I will live in the townhouse. Then Bart and Wilson will live in the big parsonage until Dominyk gets a job and then he will move in with them. And I will have a place to myself a few nights a week.

It's going to be weird... And a huge contrast to our 2,300 sq foot house that has been home to as many as 7 teens/adult children and two grandchildren and Bart and I over the last few years. (I threw in the picture above so you can see what fun we had this weekend. We are going to MISS these kids.

So you can stop praying about a job for Bart and thank God with us.

Next anticipated miracle: Selling our house for a profit.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Virginia is for Lovers

Every license plate tells you that "Virginia is for lovers" as you drive through the rolling hills of Virginia.  I hope it's true because I do not believe there is a life more fulfilling than that of being a lover and I'm moving to Virginia in 11 days.

As I am saying goodbye to a different person or group of people every day I am shocked at the amount of pain that I am experiencing.  People who I didn't know four years ago have woven themselves into the tapestry of my heart and have changed me.  I will never be the same.  As we went through life together I didn't recognize the depth of our relationships and now that I am moving across the country I am suddenly realizing just how much I have invested in loving so many amazing people.

I was kind of a "Jesus freak" Christian as a teenager -- a "radical" Christian and remember reading this quote back then. 
To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”
I remember at the ripe old age of 14  (only radical Christian types study CS Lewis at the age of 14) making a promise to myself that I would always choose to love completely...  that I would make myself vulnerable and dive into relationships and not hold back.  Because I didn't want my heart to become impenetrable or irredeemable.

And so that is how I have lived my life.  Reckless abandon, deep relationships, getting all tangled up in the lives of the people around me.  Messy, hard sometimes, meaningful, sometimes annoying, always worth it.     I wouldn't want it any other way.

And so I am reminding myself during my last two weeks in Minnesota that it is a good thing that people cry at the thought of my departure.  It is a blessing that I am grieving so much that I'm afraid to start crying for fear that I will never be able to stop.  It is a blessing that I have mattered to people and it is even more of blessing that I have had so many who matter to me.

Who wants to leave a place and have nobody cry?

Today is my staff going away party.  These people hold a very big part of my heart.  We have transformed a branch together.  We have worked side by side through really hard and intense times and we have celebrated sweet, God ordained moments.  We have seen pain and grief so deep that it is hard to explain and we have watched miracles unfold in front of our eyes.   We have worked as a team... we have invested in one another, and, even though it is not work appropriate, we have loved one another.  Deeply. 

The members of my board have become dear friends.   The families that I have worked with here in MN over the years.

And then there are my beloved friends at church who I have worshipped with, made music with, cried with, laughed with.   And there are my UEC connections.   And of course, my mom, my kids, my grandkids.... the lady who serves me my ice tea at McDonalds every morning on my way to work... the list is endless.

I'm reminding myself today as I anticipate the pain that this is a decision I made as a teenager.... that this is the way I want to live.  That I never want to fear the pain so much that I don't ever get the joy that comes with relationships that are deep, invested, meaningful. 

The pain that I am experiencing now is a byproduct of the life I have chosen.   And I will leave here and the day I arrive in Virginia I will dive in and do the same thing all over again.  Because this is who I am, this is the life I have chosen, and I wouldn't want it any other way.

Wednesday, December 09, 2015


Up to this point I have not announced anything publicly so I guess this is the big announcement. We are moving.   And the transition is much harder than I thought it would be.  Ending well is harder than it looks.  So I thought I'd blog and answer some questions about the move.

WHAT you might be saying?

Yup I'm leaving my beloved Bethany and Bart and I and Wilson and Dominyk are moving to the Commonwealth of Virginia.  You aren't as shocked a we are, let me tell you.

I have a new job.

What is the job you ask?

I will be serving as Chief Program Officer for Patrick Henry Family Services.  The Chief Program officer is one of the four chief officers that run the organization.  (CEO, Chief Operations Officer and Chief Advancement Officer plus me).  My position will be overseeing three main programs.  The directors of the following programs will report to me:  A residential boys and girls home, the Hope for Tomorrow Counseling program, and Safe Families.  There is also a gorgeous Camp and Retreat Center that I will be involved with.

How did it happen, you ask?

On September 23rd I told one of my favorite people that it was my plan to never leave Bethany and to retire from my current position.   But on October 1 the CEO of PHFS, a guy my age who spent his childhood in 57 foster homes, sent me an email out of the blue asking me to apply for the position.  He had found my profile on Linked In and thought I would be a perfect candidate.  Sixty percent of the children who live at the boys and girls home come from failed adoptions and the goal is to become a child placing agency so that the can find homes for those children.  He is a dreamer and loves change (makes me look like an amateur) and will be fun to work for.  I prayed a LOT about this and finally, a month after he contacted me, Bart and I flew out for my interview.  The rest, as they say, is history.

Why do you think it’s a good fit for you?

  •  It is a Christian organization and leadership values what I value
  • I have always dreamed of working at a group home to help them do it better than what we saw when a couple of our boys went from one to another when they were teens.
  • There is enough to do to keep me busy for years.
  •  I would not be managing a budget and ALSO fundraising for it.  
  •  I will be a primary decision maker.  Nothing will happen in the organization without my      opinion.  I’m sure nobody is surprised that this appeals to me. 
  • It will allow Bart and I and our youngest son to move far away from some of the drama and hopefully jump start some of our older children to more independence.
  • There are some cool opportunities and possibilities for Bart there.
  • They offered me a lot of money and a company car.  (OK, so this isn’t the primary reason, but it did help me make the decision)
When will you be leaving?

I start my training on December 30th so Dominyk and I will leave with both dogs on December 28th.   I have told Bart several times, "If Dominyk calls you from somewhere in Ohio on December 29th saying that I dropped him off with a cardboard box and a marker, he is NOT lying."    His OCD has been a bit out of control and I think about the 45th time I hear, "mom, mom, mom, mom, how much longer" I might lose it.   But anyway, assuming I don't kill him or drop him off, he will be working on the campus for a few weeks until Bart and Wilson join us.

After Wilson finishes his semester, he and Bart will be driving down preceded by the moving truck (we think).  

What will Bart be doing?

He wishes he knew!  The DS at the United Methodist Church in the Lynchburg area knows that he is hoping for a church.  He has applied for an innkeeper/chef job at the retreat center, and now we are just waiting.  I believe that God has orchestrated this whole move and that He has a plan.... but it would be nice to see a little bit more of it about now.

How can we pray for you?

1)  Pray that Bart gets the perfect job for him.
2)  Pray for our adult children as they move out on their own (miraculous answers to prayer on this one I should tell you about sometime).
3)  Pray that we can sell this house in time for the move/
4)  Pray that we can find the perfect house in our priceline (and if you want to throw in a little extra, I really want a porch and a main floor bedroom).
5)  Pray for the people and jobs we are leaving behind.

Why is this transition so hard?

Dangit, we LOVE these people!   When we moved to the Twin Cities we decided we weren't going to move again.  We settled in.  We developed meaningful and lasting relationships.  I planned to retire from Bethany and I invested everything I had in my branch, my region, and my friends at the national office.   We have 12 kids here and only 2 want to come with us.   We have 5 grandkids here and 2 more coming (identical twin girls being born within the next month!!!)

Everyone we tell is shocked.  Most of the people we tell are sad.  (Some aren't, but they are pretending to be).  When I am at work I kinda feel like I shouldn't be, but I have a lot to do to get things transitioned.   Another really hard thing for me is that one of the best friends I have ever had is going to be having the interim director job and he is walking around being Mr. Charming to everyone when he was NEVER charming around me :-)

At home the kids are anxious -- abandonment issues resurfacing, stress is high, and we are doing a lot of child care for Gabby and the baby.  Gabby is fun, helpful, and very easy.  Carlos is 15 months old.  Need I say more?  He is a very big, very busy boy.   We are trying to pack with him here ... so stress is high at home.

I am thrilled about the next chapter.  I loved the last one.  But this page between the chapters is making me an emotional nightmare.

But there are a few things I have learned over the past several decades.

1)  God is good.  All the time.  And His ways and His plans are good.
2)  If we follow His plan, it all works out in the end.  If it hasn't all worked out, it's not the end.
3)  Whenever you move to a new place old friends don't stop being friends.
4)  Love multiplies.  Wherever you go there are lots of strangers waiting to become your closest friends.  The people that we met during my interview trip were amazing and we can't wait to get to know them.

I keep telling Bart that all of these awesome people that we are having such a hard time saying goodbye to were strangers to us 4 years ago.

So even though this transition is tough -- maybe the toughest I've made since I left BWC in 1992, I know I'll be where God wants me to be.  It's my dream job.  Virginia is beautiful.  Winters will be mild.  Friends, kids, and grandkids will still be able to text, Facebook, and Facetime -- we aren't going to the moon and they do have internet in Brookneal.

AND some of you will be closer to us than ever before and those of you who aren't -- we encourage you to visit the area on your next vacation.  We will be 3 hours from Virginia Beach and 3 hours from DC, 7 from Nashville, 7 from Atlanta, and only 2 from Raleigh/Durham NC....

If you haven't gotten this far, thanks for reading.   Now the secret is out!