Category Archives: The Journey West

Perhaps I am There for Such a Time as This…

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They are there, every morning, when I open up the store…the four of them.  They are pushing garbage cans and gathering cleaning supplies.  George, eagerly, greets me, “Hi, Vicky!”  It took him two months to learn my name…and he still doesn’t ‘know’ it.  “How long have you worked here, Vicky?”  He asks me every morning.  I answer to “Vicky,” and my answer only changes by a day or two, but he seems satisfied with the new knowledge each time I answer.

Elle is always done cleaning first.  She looks so much like my grandma, I just want to hug her.  Every morning, she brings me something…a broken product, an open piece of candy, merchandise that was out of place…and she always tells me, “Tell the police that I gave it to you!”  I assure her that the police are very thankful for her diligence.  She shares stories about the homeless cats she cares for, at her home, and promises me that she feeds them and won’t let them ever be afraid.  She thrives on praise and her smile, when she is proud of herself, is beautiful.

Freddy enjoys sharing his plans for the day.  One day he shared, “I’m going to the movies.”  In his singsong voice, he continued, “I am going to see A-N-N-I-E.”

“You’re going to see ‘Annie?'” I asked.

“I am going to see A-N-N-I-E, ” he repeated, this time making the letters with his forefinger.

“That’ll be great fun!” I answered, realizing that he didn’t know that “A-N-N-I-E” spells “Annie.”  

Many mornings, he will share, “I work tonight, right over there.”  He points across the parking lot to Perkins.  “You should come see me tonight.” 

(Oh, I would love to go see him!!  Maybe, one night, I will!!)

Finally, there is Jennifer.  She is the head of ‘Good Health’ at her group home.  She has lots of great tips.  When the four of them were heading out to breakfast, one morning, she told me, “I told Freddy that he might consider a nice salad.  That would be healthy.”

“Umm… Jennifer, I don’t think salad would be very yummy for breakfast.”  I winked at her.  “Maybe eggs?  Would eggs be a healthy breakfast?”

“Eggs are healthy,” she said. “A great source of protein!”  Freddy just turned up his nose.  His heart was set on pancakes.

I only spend about 30 minutes with them, on days that I open the store, but they have found a place in my heart.
They have become a part of my “for such a time as this.”

…perhaps, I am there for such a time as this…

Esther 4:14b Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?

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Unrecognizable

mirror

2 Timothy 1:7
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

I look in the mirror and I don’t even recognize the girl in the reflection.  The girl staring back at me has changed so much in the past two years.  

I will never forget the moment that Adrian and I, with a van full of Littles, pulled away from our house in New Prague, Minnesota.  I looked at him, squeezed his hand, and felt so much excitement at what the future would hold.  We had just sold our house, packed everything we owned into two semi truck trailers, and loaded our essentials into our camper.  We began our journey west to Williston, North Dakota.  We were chasing a dream.

I wish that I would have known, then, what I know now.  That this journey… this new job, with all of it’s promises… would require more sacrifice from our family than we could afford to give.  That there would be disappointment upon disappointment in Williston because of the housing market.  I wish that I would have known that we would spend 18 months trying to have a house built that would never be, and that the builder would take all of our money before informing us that he wouldn’t build our home.  I wish that I would have known that we’d find our “dream house,” 6 hours from Adrian’s office, and I would often be left alone with the Littles.  I wish that I would have known that I would have to take on a job, after staying home for the past (almost) 18 years.  I wish that I would have known how desperate I would feel, to go back to the way things were.

I have always felt a sense of pride in being “Beckie – full time wife and stay-home, homeschooling momma.”  I have always loved having Adrian home for dinner (nearly) every night.  I have felt safe, with him sleeping next to me in our bed.  I found security in the basics of what made us a family.  Now I feel like it’s all been turned upside down and shaken.  I don’t know how to navigate this new life. I miss my old life.

The girl in the mirror looks nothing like the girl I remember…and I really miss that girl.

The Lord is changing me…molding me…
I will go where He leads…and I will be the girl He wants me to be. 

Isaiah 48:17
Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer,
The Holy One of Israel:
“I am the Lord your God,
Who teaches you to profit,
Who leads you by the way you should go.”

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Oh, Me of Little Faith…

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My eyes opened before 4:30AM.  I heard Adrian getting ready for work in our bathroom.  I couldn’t help but feel a little irritated.  In addition to it being crazy early, this morning already wasn’t going as planned…before we even went to bed last night.  We’d marked today’s date on the calendar.  We were supposed to be loading trailers, in anticipation of closing on our new house tomorrow.  Instead, Adrian was getting ready to go in to the office.  As sad as we are, leaving our friends and loved ones here, it is even harder now that we have so many unknowns.  Having a date on the calendar made it easier, really, to settle it in our hearts.  Now that we don’t know what is going to happen, all that I can do is wait…and think.

I knew that I wouldn’t be able to go back to sleep, after Adrian kissed me goodbye.  In addition to the disappointment of the day, there have been some strange vehicles stopping in front of our rental house this week, several times each day, with men stepping out to take photos.  We asked the realtor about it (this house is for sale, so we thought maybe they were taking photos because of that) and she had no idea.  With Adrian gone so much, it’s pretty obvious to passersby when he’s not home.  So, after I said goodbye to him, I laid in bed and snuggled with Essie…worrying about everything.  (Because that is super healthy.)   The realtor told us, yesterday, that our rental house has had an offer that will be accepted – that’s great, if everything works out with our house in Wyoming.  I don’t particularly like getting a rental house ready for showings.  What if our house, in Wyoming, doesn’t work out, though?  What will we do?  We’ve been sure about housing so many times over the past year, only to be disappointed.  This delay has me super worried.  Anyway, as I laid in bed, the worry and irritation became almost too heavy to bear.  I walked out to the kitchen and grabbed a cup of coffee, then sat on the couch to read my Bible.  Matthew 11:28-29 says, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”  Why do I feel like this is so huge?  Why am I struggling to have faith that God has this?  So many people have way bigger burdens that they are carrying.  Why is it so easy for me to pray and believe that God will work it out for them?  Surely, God has this all worked out for HIS glory!  I just need to wait on Him.  

As the Littles start to stretch, and sleepily stumble into the living room, I will put a smile on my face.  “Good morning!  It’s going to be a great day!”  Oh, I wish that I could convince myself as easily as I can convince them.
Lord, only YOU can make it a great day!! 

Matthew 14:31
And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

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The Journey West – Faith Time

Have-Faith

The phone calls didn’t alarm us in the beginning…  Our mortgage broker is very thorough, so it only seemed right that he’d want to make sure that all of his i’s were dotted and all of his t’s were crossed.  Our credit score is higher than it’s ever been, and we’ve qualified for mortgages with him in the past.  We assumed that we’d have nothing to worry about.  Yes, there was a mortgage crisis several years ago…yes, we understand that it’s harder to borrow money from banks.  With our great credit rating, Adrian’s longevity in his employment field, and our down payment, we figured we were set.  Even after receiving many calls from our mortgage broker, asking for extra information regarding this deposit in our checking account or that withdrawal from our savings account, we felt confident that everything would be just fine.  When he called last week, though, and asked for a letter from Adrian’s employer, explaining how it would work for us to live 200+ miles from his office, I started to worry.  Didn’t the underwriter understand that there is a housing crisis here, in northwestern North Dakota??  Didn’t she know that we have eleven children, currently living in a 3 bedroom house??  Perhaps she hadn’t seen how much higher our credit score was…maybe she didn’t see how good of a salesman Adrian is…perhaps she didn’t know how desperate I am?!!  

Last Friday, our mortgage broker told Adrian that he wasn’t sure if we’d get the financing for *our* house in Wyoming.  He said that the underwriter was concerned about the distance from the house to Adrian’s office (even after the lack-of-housing explanation), with the commission checks Adrian receives (as they aren’t guaranteed), and with the undated employment offer letter Adrian received (who even knew that there needed to be a date on an employment letter?).  He said that he still felt quite confident that the loan would go through, but he couldn’t know for sure.  All weekend, we wondered…  All weekend, I worried.  What would we do if we didn’t get financing?  Finally, on Sunday, I just couldn’t take it.  After church, I melted down.  I cried…a lot.  Not a cute, girly cry.  I cried an ugly, red-faced and body shuddering cry.  I asked Adrian, “What will we do?!”  He held me close and very calmly said, “Beck, if God wants to change our plans, don’t you think we should let Him?”  Well, yeah, but I didn’t want to be so reasonable.  I wanted to freak out.  Adrian continued to hug me.  He said, “If God has another plan, we will follow it.  We can look at more houses.”  I wanted to tell him that I am sick of looking at houses…that we’ve given up enough already…that I have trusted God enough…that I have spent the past year having faith.  Adrian wouldn’t relent.  “Beck, God has brought us this far.  He isn’t going to let us down.”  Why was he being so matter-of-fact?  Why wasn’t he crying?  Or yelling?  I continued to cry my ugly cry, with tears and boogers running down my face.  He pulled away, put his hands firmly on my shoulders, and looked me in the eyes.  “God has this.  We are going to be fine.”  What could I say to that??  I believed him.  I believe in Him.  I wiped my face and gave in.  Adrian was right.  Whatever happens, God has it.  It isn’t right for me to try to make God do what I want.  I need to live in His will…not in my own, stubborn will.  

Adrian got a call this morning – the mortgage has been approved.  It needs to go to USDA (with the 40 acres, we are going to get a USDA loan), which can take up to 10 business days, then the title company needs 3 business days to finish their paperwork.  We had planned to close on the house on Thursday, but that has been delayed.  We’d been hoping to move over Labor Day weekend – with Adrian having Monday off, paid, it would have been a good time to move.  Until we hear from our mortgage broker, that the loan has been approved through USDA, we can’t make final plans for our move.  We will continue to pack and to prepare, but we can’t move forward until we have a closing date.  God has a reason for the delay.  Maybe we’re supposed to be in church, here, one more Sunday.  Maybe He’s protecting us from something that would happen if we close on Thursday.  Whatever it is, I am going to have faith that He has the perfect time for our family to move.  I don’t have to understand it, I just have to believe in Him and His plan.

Faith is a funny thing, really…  It’s easy to have faith in some things – I have faith that God created the world, and that the wind is controlled by Him.  I have faith that Jesus was born to the virgin, Mary, and that He died and rose from the grave.  I have faith that my Grandmas are both in Heaven and that they have been made perfect.  Those are things that I just believe… I just know those things without a doubt.  Why am I having such a hard time having faith that God is preparing our home for us?  Why do I feel like I have to take control of it?  

It truly is easier to give up control and know that God has it all under control.  So…here I am, digging deep to find faith.  

Matthew 10:29-31 Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will.  But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

This Journey West has really been a Journey of Faith for my family…and The Journey of Faith continues…forever.  
It is a Journey of Life….it is so much more than just a Journey West.  

Hebrews 11:1 
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

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The Journey West Continues

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This part of our journey has been very difficult to write… I have tried to write it many times, only to fall into a puddle of tears. It turns out that Williston, North Dakota isn’t our final stop on our Journey West. After trying to find housing, for over a year, Adrian and I have had to make some pretty tough decisions.

It’s very common for people to come and go from Williston. It is, after all, Boomtown. For our family, though, it has never been Boomtown. It has been home. We have attached ourselves to our dear friends, Troy and Bobbi, and their girls, as though they are our family. We have rooted ourselves into our church, Cornerstone FBC. We have learned which roads to take to get to our favorite places. We know where they keep the toilet paper and the Scotch tape at the local Walmart. We know where to get the best coffee in town. We know which parks are family friendly and we know where the riffraff hang out. Williston has become our town. When we realized that we wouldn’t be able to find a house here, our hearts felt broken. Our realtor couldn’t find an existing farm that we could buy, and our builder couldn’t build us a home within our budget. (Actually, our builder took our money and wouldn’t build us our home. That is another story for another time.)

When we felt that we’d exhausted all of our options in Williston, we made the super difficult decision to stretch out our search. Adrian called realtors in South Dakota, Montana, and Wyoming. He told them what we were looking for and asked them to let us know if they found anything. We got lots of emails showing houses and farms, but nothing looked like “home.” We decided that we couldn’t just keep waiting. September is coming up, and that is when our lease ends. We picked out a few of our favorite properties, in South Dakota and Wyoming, and spent a day looking at homes. We walked through seven houses. We liked some of the houses, but didn’t love any of them. On the drive to the last house, Adrian shared his disappointment. He told me that he’d prayed and had believed that we’d find our home, but that it wasn’t looking promising with only one more property to look at. After looking at two houses, we had stopped taking the littles out of the car to look. Their disappointment was almost more than we could bear.  As we rounded a curve, and looked in the distance, we saw a beautiful house against a black hill. Adrian’s eyes lit up and he whispered, “Oh, I hope that’s the house!” The realtor, driving in front of us, turned into the driveway. Adrian looked at me and said, “Beck! I know this is it.”

photo 2

We’d been disappointed so many times that I just shook my head, feeling sorry for Adrian that he felt so strongly that this house would somehow be different. After we parked the van, Adrian told the kids that they could get out and explore the yard. My heart sunk for them as they eagerly climbed out. Surely we’d be loading them back into the van with more of their hopes dashed. I looked at Adrian, desperate for him to understand how sad my momma heart felt. He just smiled at me with his sparkly smile.

Adrian and I walked up the stairs to the wrap-around porch. He peeked around the corners of the porch as I just stood, quietly, by the front door while the realtor unlocked the door. I am sure that I stole some of his joy as I stood there, feeling desperate to just get back in the van. When the realtor opened the door and walked in, she stepped aside…almost like she had planned to allow me to see the whole “front door view.” I looked up and it took my breath away. The floors, the stairs, the fireplace… It was beautiful! I stiffened my face and didn’t allow it to show the softening that my heart was feeling. Adrian walked in behind me and whispered, “Oh, Beck! Look at that staircase!” I saw it. We’ve always loved those kinds of staircases. We call them “wedding stairs” because they are the type of stairs that you can picture a bride walking down in her beautiful dress, to meet her daddy before he walks her down the aisle. I nodded, determined to keep myself from feeling anything. I’d fallen in love with too many houses… I was not going to do it, again. We slowly walked through the house. Adrian commented on everything: “Beck, I can just see us drinking coffee, out on the porch, on a lazy Saturday morning!” … “Beck, did you see the master closet?? I can totally see our clothes in there!” … “Beck, look at this stove! And these cupboards! You’ve always wanted cupboards like this!” … “Beck, look at the woodwork! Isn’t it beautiful??” … On and on, he went. After walking through the house, we walked outside. Adrian’s comments continued. “Beck! Look at this garden! I can just see you and the girls working out here!” … “Look at the kids running, Beck! They love this space!” … He was right. It WAS perfect and everything we’d wanted. It was also five hours from Williston. How would we make it work? What sacrifices would we have to make? (“We’ve already made so many,” I was quick to remind myself.) As we walked back into the house, Adrian turned to me and whispered, “Beck, I feel like we’re home.”

photo 3

The realtor sat quietly, in the living room, while we looked around. When we walked back into the house, Adrian was the first to speak. “If we were to decide to make an offer on the house…” he began. I felt a sparkle of hope begin to build. We sat and talked with the realtor for quite a while. Our littles walked in and out of the house, exploring. Soon we heard them choosing their bedrooms and what colors the bathrooms would be. Part of me wanted to join the kids in their excitement, but another part of me wanted to stop them from getting attached to the house.

Adrian and I finished talking with the realtor, and gathered the littles to leave. Adrain, again, whispered that he felt like we were home…that he didn’t want to leave. The littles were still talking, excitedly, about all of their plans – a treehouse, a fort, chickens and goats, a pink bedroom, movie nights in the basement… I allowed myself to share in their excitement a bit. It *would be* nice to have a real home, again…and this house, even though it wasn’t where we planned to live, would sure be great for raising our family.

In the back of the van, there was a lot of fun planning going on. The kids seemed to have forgotten all of the dashed hopes from before – the houses that we couldn’t buy, the houses that weren’t built. They had already wrapped their hopes in this house…five hours away, in Wyoming. Adrian and I talked, too. Everything that I shared was about fear. Everything that he shared was about faith. I wanted to be mad at him, to make him see it my way. Couldn’t he see how scary this was? Couldn’t he see that we would be leaving everything we knew, again, and starting over? How could he be so sure?!!

After two days of deep discussion, lots of tears, and tons of prayers, Adrian made an offer on the house. A week later, we were able to come to an agreement. It was a bittersweet moment. It is such a wonderful blessing to know that we will be moving into our own home, again, soon. It’s a beautiful place to settle, and it feels good to know that our bigger littles will have somewhere to come “home” to when they venture out on their own. It makes us very sad to know that we will soon be leaving our friends behind, and that we will have to take an actual trip to see them. (Five hours in a van, with eleven children, is a trip.)

We are all looking forward to making memories in our new home…and we can’t wait for our friends and family to come out to visit.

To quote Phoebie, as she tried to grasp the sweet, and not the bitter: “It just looks like our ‘Journey to the West’ is continuing.”

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The Journey West ~ One Year Later

It’s hard to believe that it’s already been a year …and… It’s hard to believe that it’s only been a year.  When we set out on this adventure, our hearts were so filled with excitement!  We had huge dreams…a farm, some cute farm critters, land for the kids to play, room to grow.  It became clear, however, as winter approached, that we would be lucky to find a place (any place) before the snow hit.  As the months ticked by, the camper grew smaller and smaller.  Adrian was busy trying to get customers, so he wasn’t home much.  I was home (in the camper) all the time, constantly thinking about the lack of housing.  My belly was growing, as Baby Esthyr was getting bigger, and my maternity clothes were all packed in a trailer, stored between North Dakota and Minnesota.  I longed for my things in the trailer – our furniture, our kids’ toys, our pretty decorations, our clothes…  Finally, it just got to be too much.  My grandpa was sick, back in Minnesota, and my life in North Dakota felt completely out of control.  I loaded the kids into the van, said good-bye to Adrian and my new friends, and drove back to Minnesota.  I spent a week, crying and praying for direction…spending as much time with Grandpa as I could.  At the end of the week, when Grandpa was feeling better, I knew that I had to go back to North Dakota and accept whatever was there.  

Adrian found us a little, 3 bedroom house to rent for $3500 per month.  (I know!!  $3500 per month?!  Welcome to the most expensive city in America!)  Adrian and our dear friends got the house ready and, a few days after I got back to North Dakota, with the help of our church family, we moved in.  Though the house was tiny, it felt huge after spending four months in the camper.  We couldn’t unpack all of our boxes, but it felt great to have many of our things in our rental house. (And my clothes fit a lot more comfortably, once I unpacked my maternity clothes!)  We secured 10 acres, and made plans to start building our home in the spring.

The winter was long, but we were thankful to be together in our little rental house.  

As winter turned to spring, the deal we had made to secure the land fell apart.  Sadly, the land owner died and our contract became void.  Remembering how quickly spring becomes winter, as if in the blink of an eye, we started a new search for a home.  With the housing crisis in North Dakota, finding a home has proven, again, to be nearly impossible.  We have had a wonderful Realtor helping us with our search.  She has become a family friend, and has taken our situation to heart.  Even with her passion for finding us a home, the financing has not yet caught up with the growing prices here.  Even though we qualify, financially, for the homes, our mortgage broker isn’t able to finance the homes because of FHA and HUD limits.  

We have been offered another land deal, and have been working with a builder to get a home built.  The builder has also been very passionate about helping us get into a home.  Even with building a new home, however, we are looking at the same financing issues.  The builder is trying to get the cost down to a “financeable amount,” but the numbers are not looking good.  

We do have much to be thankful for…  Adrian’s job is going well.  He is quickly making contacts and his sales are way up!  We have joined a great church, a homeschool group, and we’ve made many wonderful friends.  The Littles have found their places in Williston – Ike has a job that he loves, Abbie and Phoebie have regular baby-sitting jobs, all of the kids are involved in church activities, and they each have their own circle of friends.  

Our lease ends on September 18th, and we need to be in a house before then.  I just have to remember… God’s got this…

I left out many details of the past year, because I could write an entire book about our journey, so please do not feel slighted if I didn’t mention you…
So many people have blessed us!
I love you all!

 

 

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Journey to the West ~ Day 78

It’s been a week of disappointments, on the home front.  The house, that we thought was ordered, wasn’t.  In a series of unfortunate events, we found out that the company we’d been working with has been leading us along…and we won’t be able to get our house through them.  So we are back to square one, again!  We have secured 10 acres to build on, but nobody to build our house.  I believe that God sent us here… I just don’t know what He wants us to do.  Winter will be upon us shortly.  Troy and Bobbi have, again, given us a lifeline.  They offered to clear out their basement, and let us stay there, if the weather gets cold and we are still waiting for housing.  Their generosity is such a blessing!  I don’t even know what we would have done, had we not met them.  So many times, I have felt like throwing up my hands and screaming, “I quit!”…then Troy and Bobbi put out their hands and say, “We are with you.”  

Vacation Bible School was TONS of fun!  
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The kids enjoyed themselves.  Ike, Gabe, and Abbie volunteered; Phoebie, Kai, Lollie, Ayden, and Benjamyn participated.  I loved being involved…helping Bobbi decorate and working with the kids.  I was able to get to know some other women in the church, and the kids made some new friends.  If not for the lack of house, we’d be settling right in.  (Soft sigh…)

We went to the Sidney Fair, in Montana, yesterday evening, with Troy and Bobbi’s family.  The adults hadn’t thought to look at a weather forecast…and, while eating dinner, heard that there was a ‘super cell’ heading in.  We had to cut our evening very short.  The kids were all disappointed because they had wanted to eat cotton candy and ride the rides.  We promised them that we’d go next year, and assured them that we’d look at the weather before we left.  Oops!
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Adrian and I are going to spend this coming week looking at our options for housing.  It is already the second week of August…sadly, we are running out of time before the snow and cold comes in.  
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