Excerpt from My Upcoming Book

Sometimes, like Abraham, you have to leave Ur before you can see Canaan.

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I am almost finished with the book I promised months ago. It will be available on Amazon in January. It is a book about dreaming, failing, persevering, friendship, and seeing the unthinkable. The book consists  of my journal entries over the past three years. It chronicles my journey (and my family’s) from pastoring, becoming extremely unsettled, walking way from jobs with nothing on the horizon, moving to Washington, and then ending up where we are now. It is very raw and honest and quite often feels like a roller coaster. Depression, fear, anger, and other emotions marked the path.

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My heart is to encourage people to follow Christ into the unknown places that he is calling. Sometimes, like Abraham, you have to leave Ur before you can see Canaan. Frequently, God only gives you bits and pieces. He wants trust. He is jealous over your trust. He hides information so that in the end, you must look into his eyes and take the leap because his “yes” trumps the pending uncertainty.

The following excerpt is from September 1st, 2015. After pastoring for over 10 years, this was my first full day after stepping away. Yet, no door had opened.

“…this means that there is now nothing for the Fall. Now what? We have believed that it was Fall all along. I gave up both jobs. I am so far behind in academics because of the years that you had me pastor. And now, you are going to drag your feet and toss aside a semester of my life? I was hoping with all of my heart that you were going to show me great favor and even accelerate this part of my calling. I “feel” so far behind academically, yet you are not allowing me to move forward. Nothing? No job, no income, and no philosophy? Nothing? And if you don’t open a door, how am I to see your face and be confident that you will speak when the reason we are where we are at is that we thought you did speak. It so looks as if we were wrong. Why are you going to waste me?”

I will keep you updated.

Home Sweet Home

We have not had a home to ourselves in quite some time. Over the past 26 months, we have had our own place for only eight months.

We have not had a home to ourselves in quite some time. Over the past 26 months, we have had our own place for only eight months. Here is a snapshot:

  • Four months at my in-laws in Picayune, Mississippi.
  • Six months at the house of Thomas, Rachael, and Titus Lambert (among our very best friends) in Spokane, Washington.
  • Eight months in a house that we rented in Spokane, Washington (just our family of three).
  • Two months at the Lambert’s.
  • Three weeks at my in-laws once again (my wife and son; I was still in Spokane at the Lambert’s).
  • Three months at my parent’s home in Winnsboro, Texas.

That sums it up. Yesterday we were given the keys to our own 2-bedroom flat. It sits next two an 11-hector park with cherry trees, a beautiful and clear brook, little bridges, walking paths, foxes, and brown trout (so I hear). IMG_1600In addition, it is only a five-minute walk to the nearest bus stop so that commuting, especially for me, will be easy. Bus 11 and 16 go straight through the Morningside district which has great shops, local restaurants, and our favorite cheese shop! It would be easy for Allison and Ezra to hop on a bus and take little adventures.

So today it happens. With a 3-year old and one on the way, my wife finally gets to create “home” again. She has given up so much. The first half of her pregnancy has been without a home of her own. As a man, I can’t really imagine what she must be feeling. At this point, a woman really wants to “nest,” to start preparing the space for the new family member. All of this has been on hold for Allison. Suitcase after suitcase, air bnb after air bnb, move after move, she kept going. She is the reason we are here.

I tell her all of the time, “I would not be getting my doctorate and we would not have the opportunity to live in Scotland if I were married to any other woman.” She, unlike most, is willing to sacrifice comfort and security for the great unknown.

I suppose this post has concluded with more of a tribute to Allison than anything else. It is well deserved. Thank you Allison for being a woman who was willing to trade material items for adventure. The American dream is overrated (stuff, stuff, stuff).

We will now create a home again with our little lamps, chairs, books, wooden toys, and a simplicity that now constitutes the fabric of our family. May the Lord use us now in our new, little mission field.

Our First Ten Days in Edinburgh, Scotland

You think things will go one way and they don’t. They hardly ever do, right?

Where do I begin? The idea of trying to share everything from the last ten days is overwhelming. As wonderful as it has been, it has not been easy. One challenge is always followed with another.

IMG_1440We traveled for almost two days. Before flying from Boston to Iceland, we had a chance to hang out with Joe and Megan Weidemann. They really took care of us. We would have left Boston worn out if not for them. After all, we had a three-year old son, five suitcases (almost everything we own), and two backpacks. They made that step easy.

After leaving Texas on Monday around 7pm central time, we arrived in Edinburgh at noon Wednesday (Edinburgh time). We were tired beyond words. When we arrived, Allison’s cell phone and my computer were dead. However, we did not have universal adapters for the electrical outlets in the UK. Again, it is the little things that add up with an international transition that can wear you down. We decided to crash. We feel asleep around 2:30pm and woke up at 9pm. Yep, we were that tired. We woke up, walked to the Morningside District, bought some groceries, returned to our air bnb rental, ate, and went back to bed.

Not having a power adapter was a major problem. My work is remote/online, so without it, I could not do my job. We checked at the grocery that night and they did not have any universal adapters. We saw one more shop open in Morningside. We entered the store and there they were…plastic gold! Each adapter was three pounds ($3.96). Little did the young man know that I would have paid any amount for that adapter that evening. We bought two.

We quickly realized that it was going to take an act of God to secure a rental property. The market moves SO FAST. I had to spend hours each day scanning different property websites, calling property managers, setting up appointments, and then studying google maps to find out which bus goes where and coordinate the time of it all. It was mentally and emotionally exhausting. On top of that, more than once we would receive a call that the property we were supposed to see that day or the next had gone under contract. Again, the market moves at the speed of light.

By our first weekend, it felt impossible to secure a rental. We were a bit discouraged. Family and friends really began to pray for us. I got up early Monday morning and made a list of properties that fit our criteria (I had been doing this every morning upon arrival). I called and set up as many viewings as possible. Awkwardly, when you view properties in the UK, you do so with several other individuals/couples/families. Whoever is interested then submits an application. Even if you like the property, you are up against so many others. The chances of securing a property is slim. We felt this pressure because until you secure a property, you are jumping from one air bnb to the next. That is exactly what we had to do yesterday.

Our goal was to be in our permanent rental before school started (tomorrow).

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We were so naive. There was never a chance for that. However, thanks be to the Lord and all of the people praying for God’s favor, our application was accepted for a property that we absolutely love only six days after arriving. We were so relieved. However, we can’t move in until this Friday, September 15th, so yesterday we had to pack up everything once again, book a large taxi, load up all of our belongings, go across town, and move into another short-term rental. We are tired and a bit weary.

You think things will go one way and they don’t. They hardly ever do, right? After 2.5 years of keeping the dream alive and living out of suitcases, the extra week felt like a bigger deal than usual.

To give you an idea of how difficult an international transition is, we still don’t have cell phones. So listen to this. Before getting a cell phone, you have to have a local bank account. But as an international student, I can’t get a bank account until I have secured a rental property and have a fixed address. This felt nearly impossible. On top of that, once the rental property is secured, you have to make a special trip to the school to get a Bank Introduction Letter. You then have to take this into the bank of choice and then you can set up an account. Then you can get cell phones.

Needless to say, everything is like this. You need A to get B, but without C, you can’t get B. This has been the transition life.

Another difficult part of transition is that we really miss family and friends. You can’t have everything in life. We could have stayed close to our friends in Spokane. We could live close to family. However, we would have never taken this leap. With every gain, there is a loss (and I suppose the opposite is true; with every loss, there is a gain). Right now, especially because we are not yet settled, the “losses” feel heavy.

In the middle of it all, we have stopped to take everything in.

In Morningside, we found the most amazing cheese shop ever. We have already been to that shop three times to get “Prima Donna Maturo.” This is a hard cheese produced by a family in the Netherlands. Whoever the family, they are God’s gift to the world. This cheese is brilliant (as they say here in Edinburgh).

We went to Holyrood Park and saw Arthur’s Peak first hand. It was breathtaking. We cannot wait to set aside some time to scale the peak.

We are a bit proud of ourselves regarding public transportation. Thanks to Allison, we wasted no time learning the system. We arrived on a Wednesday and by Thursday, we were using the Lothian buses. During my doctoral years, we will not own a car. Public transportation is splendid and so simple. We are figuring our way around and Ezra is having the time of his life. The busses are “double-deckers.” When we have a longer trip, we go upstairs. We sit in the very front when the seats are open. It brings my heart joy to watch him. He comes alive. He loves the simple things.  Traveling with a young child has its challenges, but at the same time, he brings something to the experience that you could never have otherwise. A child is truly amazing. No wonder Jesus told people that they had to be like kids to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Adults are no fun. Adults are too serious. Adults are too hard to impress. Adults would rather be anxious while missing the beauty around them.

That is enough for now. We move into our place Friday. School starts tomorrow. We are going to go view the building where I will be studying for the first time today. We wanted to see it as a family first before I report in. After all, this is our accomplishment. We did this together.  Now one of the deepest desires of my heart is for the Lord to make Edinburgh a very special place for Allison and Ezra.