(This is a long post today – I’ve made it easy to skim, so if you want the gist, just read the words in bold italics.)
It’s true! We are on the move again, and this time, to ALASKA.
(artwork by Katie Daisy)
Many have asked what happened, why are we moving AGAIN, didn’t we just buy a home, what happened to YWAM, etc. I’m here to answer some of those questions and share a bit of the process.
So yes, Ted has moved to Alaska to pave the way for us -within a few days he got a job and within a week we had a home for us to rent (beginning in July)! YAY! We join him in June or July (that’s still up in the air). He will be visiting twice during that time.
It was truly one of the hardest decisions to make, buying the ticket to send Ted to Alaska earlier than us being the first and second, deciding to move our family 3,200 miles away.
So why are we doing this? Didn’t we just buy a home?! (Gosh, I love our home too!) Where to start… I’ll answer questions that have been the most frequently asked.
Why can’t you join him now? We aren’t able to join him currently due to our home here legally can’t be rented until June and because the home we will be renting from friends isn’t available until July.
Why Alaska? Ted is from Alaska. He wants our kids to be near his family for a season and to experience where he grew up. He’d like them to experience the Alaskan culture and beauty and nature – sadly, they’ve never even visited Alaska.
What about the home you own? We are renting it out beginning in July! If you or someone you know might be interested let us know. GREAT neighborhood with sweet (mostly elderly) neighbors, fully fenced yard front and back (6 ft tall backyard fence). Small swing set, huge ready to use garden space with 3 raised beds, a bean teepee setup, etc. Two sheds for storage. 3 bedroom home (one room is for laundry – less than 2 yr old washer/dryer), 1 bathroom. Small home (930 square feet) but cozy and super cute!
Anyways, here we are now, moving again. And we will be the first to admit we have put ourselves in this place. We’ve had many realizations in the past 10 months since we left YWAM and wanted to share some of our process.
For one, we realized we have felt pretty lost since we left YWAM (youth with a mission) the first time in 2010. YWAM was all we knew since we had both left our homes straight out of high school. Leaving and working mundane 9-5 jobs when you’ve been living an exciting life of exploration, traveling, feeling God’s presence more often than not, having community/friends, seeing people become believers or be healed even. It’s TOUGH to leave a life like that. If you’ve done it, you know! It’s so incredibly difficult to leave. You miss it so much.
You feel purposeless if you let it get to your head/heart. There isn’t a lot of instant gratification when it comes to your dreams and what you feel called to. You likely work boring jobs with little pay, and then it takes months/years of saving money to be able to travel, months/years of school and honing the gifts/callings you have, and the months/years of investing in people’s lives to show them Jesus and sometimes “only” seeing the slightest changes. It’s really more difficult than you’d ever imagine.
We have truly struggled with our identity outside of YWAM. Not in who we are in Christ, but regarding dreams, callings and how to keep pursuing them outside of YWAM. We both feel that this struggle is what drew us back into YWAM again.
That same year we left YWAM (’10), the grief that struck us at the loss of Eisley rocked many decisions we made from that step forward and then in the past few years we made quick decisions that honestly felt so right at the time.
‘What happened to working with YWAM?’
Before leaving for my counseling school with YWAM Amsterdam (2013), we stumbled upon a wonderful YWAM campus here in Colorado Springs (it’s truly amazing!) It was everything we wanted, longed and hoped for; a great, loving community with a huge heart for the nations, a passion about to equip people to be where they feel called, and most importantly all of the above and family oriented as well.
In June 2014 we joined staff with YWAM Colorado Springs and were so sure about this decision that we even bought a home.
But this time we joined with a different plan for income (than our years on staff 2005-2010). We felt to live off of what we made through photography to sustain us versus raising support. We only felt to try and raise 1/3 of what we would need to support our family.
I now see why people do not do that in YWAM. We rarely saw Ted. Which makes sense, required to work 40 hours a week with YWAM and then on “free” weekends and nights he was photographing for income.
I honesty lost it before we even reached a year on staff and we left, though we thought it would be temporarily. At first thought I’d had enough due to the fact that we’d had another miscarriage (in Jan), and then Everly was hospitalized for 4 days (in Feb) and by March, I was a total wreck at the end of it all.
While those things obviously didn’t help our situation at all and it was what caused the suddenness of why we left YWAM it actually wasn’t the main reason why we decided to leave. Though it took us a few months away from YWAM to see just what drew us back out.
We realized we had more time as a family and Ted (and myself with photography) had time to bring in income for us. But in order to get more time and be in YWAM, we would need to pursue support raising full time. We knew we couldn’t do that.
To be honest, we didn’t even fully try to raise the 1/3 support we had thought we would. Because we realized it was more than just the time apart while in YWAM that was difficult for us, it was also the idea of raising support that didn’t settle peacefully in us. We sat through the seminars, we read the books, and it still just didn’t settle right within us.
Ultimately, we had come to realize that we truly no longer fit in YWAM. And that was very difficult for us to come to terms with. Because we do feel “ruined for the ordinary“, an unofficial YWAM slogan, yet we don’t feel called to ask others to support our dreams/calling, even if He did place them inside of us. (Our personal feeling for OUR family on the matter! Please do not be offended if you feel called to raise support. We just do not and we are not offended by those who do raise support!)
We’ve come to realize we were really fortunate. We started YWAM very young (18 + 19), got a taste of traveling, living overseas, experiencing different cultures and falling in love with the people of the countries we stepped foot in. And now, we have these dreams and hearts that long to be doing something bigger than ourselves thanks to our time in YWAM, yet we no longer feel called to YWAM/support raising to accomplish this (again, personal for OUR family).
I’ve struggled with a self-made idea that God can’t use us the same as when we are in a specific ministry, or in a specific country yet as we’ve reflected on our almost 5 years outside of YWAM (before and currently) we’ve seen Jesus use us in day-to-day life: working full time, going to school, being in neighborhoods and at work with many broken, hurting and lost people we’ve realized loving people, wherever we are, in whatever capacity we can, is our calling.
And for us, we’ve realized, right now that looks a lot like being Christ to neighbors, to listening to the momma across the street who felt unworthy to be loved, to be Jesus in a way that was relatable even to those you sat by at the community college, to listen to people you worked with who felt lost and purposeless, to be home with my kids – raising them up to be sensitive, strong, loving, giving, honest, authentic, compassionate (Christ-like in the flesh!), etc… For us, in this time, maybe for years to come, this is where we will be and what we will be doing.
In the past 6 months we’ve realized we are at a fork in the road for our lives: do we continue on the path we’ve taken for many years (both since HS) to live the way we’ve lived in YWAM or go out on our own, trusting that we can survive outside of what we’ve known for years and pursue our dreams that way. Trusting Him for finances, which for us looks like trusting Him for a job to help provide for our family. Whew, let me tell ya, THAT was tough this fall ;)
At first, when we left YWAM the second time (April 2015), we felt like failures. I can’t even express how difficult that was. For me it was a breeze initially because it meant I got to see my husband! But then reality set in.. what would we do now? We were offered to take a “leave of absence” and come back which is what we initially thought we would do.
But in the past 10 months away, we feel as though we had an epiphany for our family. We aren’t failures or flakey for leaving YWAM, again. We aren’t failures for moving our family again.
We weren’t leaving for anything besides the fact that we knew this life no longer fit us. We know who we are and are confident in making decisions that best fit our family, who we are and the dreams and values we have. Perhaps God brought us back so we would see this wasn’t for us and we could close this door for good.
Also, we weren’t leaving hurt or upset. We found so much healing in our short time back in YWAM. God used the base leaders of YWAM Amsterdam and then YWAM Colorado Springs leaders to bring a lot of healing to our minds and hearts. When we shared we needed to leave staff (only 9 months into our 2 year commitment), the YWAM COS leaders were incredibly compassionate, understanding and caring. We waited to be reamed. And rightly so for leaving our commitment early and also because we were leaving a huge hole in the communications office where Ted had many things resting on his shoulders. Yet they actually didn’t question us but instead wanted to be sure WE were going to be okay. They even cried with us. We were blown away. (Even after we left staff, they allowed us to be a part of a YWAM homeschool co-op for Chase and a YWAM preschool for Shailo!)
We left staff with YWAM in April 2015, and have since have many questions regarding why we left. I just felt with the questions throughout last year and the ones that come in daily regarding are sudden move to Alaska, etc, I should probably clear the air a bit.
It’s taken me a while and a lot of processing to figure out how to share these things, almost 10 months in fact, when I know some of you reading this could very well be in YWAM currently. I never want to hurt someone with anything that is written or spoken by me. My hope and prayer is that you know your journey is your own and ours is ours! Stand confident in what you feel called to.
We had an offer to be “prayed out” of YWAM, we just didn’t know how to best say these things besides just saying it was for emotional purposes that we left. It wasn’t entirely false, that was why we left so suddenly, like I’ve shared above. But we didn’t know how to share all of this to a room full of YWAM staff.
But I feel so strongly, that we each have our own calling and purpose. Just as many feel called to raise support for dreams and share this. We feel called as a family to pursue a different route for our dreams and are sharing this for the first time. This is tough, sharing. Please, see my heart and why I am sharing these things if you are in YWAM currently. This is our journey, our process, and it doesn’t mean we are against YWAM or other ministries – we love YWAM. I hope my kiddos each do a DTS someday!
I also felt in writing this publicly, perhaps another person who has left YWAM needs to hear these words, needs validation that life outside of YWAM is difficult, and that you aren’t alone but that it’s possible to continue on with your dreams/calling. And maybe you need encouragement to keep going where you are currently. Maybe someone needs to be reminded that you can be used wherever you are, you are making a difference, even if it doesn’t look like what it once did.
I shared with Ted and realize putting myself out here and allowing many people into our process is vulnerable. But I also feel this is really necessary. I have invited many of you along our journey from day one with YWAM back in 2005 and it shouldn’t end because we’ve decided to leave YWAM.
It’s interesting, but now that I’ve finally answered the hard questions, I feel relieved! I have many pending drafts right now that I would like to share but this post was a must.
Much Love to you and yours! Please keep Ted in your prayers and thoughts. Maybe even send the man an encouraging word? He’s missing his family something fierce! I believe this is harder on him currently. I have 3 littles to keep me occupied (though I too miss him like crazy)!