Tuesday, October 10, 2017

From Utah to Montana

Wow! Has it really been two whole years since I have documented our lives on this blog? I seriously can't believe it! All I can say is life marches on to a steady beat that seems to pound at a consistently faster pace as it continues on, stealing away precious moments of time, until you realize that somehow you have missed recording two whole years! It would be impossible to catch up, especially since I feel it has all been a bit of a blur, so instead I am going to start from this moment and move forward. Except that I feel a need to rewind just a bit and explain why, after spending nearly our entire 19 years of married life in Utah, we now find ourselves in Billings, Montana. . .

Once upon a time there was family. In this family there was a mom and dad who loved their children fiercely and wanted more than anything to help them know who they really were as children of God, to be truly happy, to become who they were meant to become. This family lived in a beautiful house in a wonderful neighborhood in Utah.

The children had good friends and went to good schools. They were part of a strong church group. Everything seemed quite fabulous. But the parents secretly worried. Were their children just going along with the crowd? Did they really appreciate the truths they had in their lives? Did they know for themselves these truths? Were they taking it all for granted? These parents didn't just worry for their children. They worried for themselves, too. Were they giving enough? Were they too being lulled into "carnal security"? Were they too comfortable? Something deep inside them kept whispering to their souls it was time for change. It was time to take a plunge into a completely different set of circumstances. It was time to stand out and stand up. It was time to stretch. It was time to leave Utah and all of the normalcy they were used to, where most people around them believed the same things and lived the same way, and set out for a place where very few lived and believed as they did. A job transfer option came open, and one month later, they were living in a quirky little rental home on Labrea Street in Billings, Montana. 

Life was about to change forever.

When they moved to Montana they had no idea what lay ahead of them. They knew life would be different, and they knew challenges lay ahead, but they could never imagine just how difficult some of those challenges would be and how some of their trials would tear at the very fabric of their lives and threaten to destroy the family they had worked so hard to build. At first, some of them were still mourning what they left behind. After all, it was not easy to leave good people, hard-earned sports positions, proximity to family and much, much more. It was a sacrifice for all of them, some more than others, and they knew it. So why did they do it? Because when they prayed about it, it felt right. That's the simple answer. And sometimes that's all there is to it. But they dove right into life in Billings and started to adjust to new schools, new friends, and a new way of life in many aspects. They were determined to thrive and determined to learn as much as they could from their new experiences.

Now, it would be impossible to recount the events of this family's entire past year living in Montana. Suffice it to say, they bought a cute little home on Wyoming Ave, settled in to new schools and then faced the most difficult year of their family's life. They suffered through painful months that humbled and sanctified them--personal, gut-wrenching, rip-your-heart-out months that knocked the wind right out of them. For a time, they felt they were losing one of their own. Yes, there were days they wondered if they had done the right thing. They questioned if these things would have happened if had they stayed in Utah. But just as quickly, they dismissed those thoughts. It was senseless to wonder about. They couldn't go back. They had to keep moving forward. They had to keep having faith. There was no alternative. And so they did the only thing they knew how to do--they prayed and prayed and prayed some more. This family poured their souls out to the Lord, searched for answers and help, took one day at a time, and clung to their faith. 

Things are better now, but if there's one thing this family is learning, it's that they have a lot left to learn! Also, that life is a journey to be taken one step at a time. Challenges still lie ahead. There will still be bumps in the road and sharp, unexpected turns that knock them off kilter a bit. But all of those trials are worth it because they strengthen them in vital ways and force them to reach out to each other and especially to the One who can and does offer relief, answers and life-saving help. This family's "happily ever after" has not yet been reached, but because of Him, the Savior of the world, there will be a happily ever after. It is possible. And in the meantime, they are so grateful to have each other, even if some days they don't act like it:). And no matter where they find themselves, whether in Utah or Montana, or anywhere else for that matter, they are learning that as long as they are together, they can get through anything!