Getting there… oh, man! Haha. It was a trip, let me tell ya.
Though I haven’t talked extensively about the reasons for us moving here on the blog, some of you know that we did simply because God asked us to. Which is an awesome story in and of itself, but for now suffice it to say that we’d never been to Texas. Had no reason at all to move here. No jobs lined up until a little less than a month before, no place to stay, nobody that we knew. But we trusted God to provide.
And He did provide. Because of that, I think it ticked the enemy right off, and he did his best to keep us from getting here.
Starting with packing. Not only was it right up against the deadline of when we had to be out, but my new brother-in-law crashed his bike and ended up with a sprained foot the day before we needed to start packing. Since my dad has a weakened pituitary from a tumor he had, too much stress or exertion could cause his sodium levels to get critically low and put him in the hospital again, so as far as heavy lifting went, we needed the help.
My dad called in a favor with a friend of his who sent his son and some of his friends to help in return for payment. Unfortunately, these kids weren’t really interested in helping, whispering about how lazy we were under their breath, knocking our furniture around, and purposefully feeding the pizza we’d provided for them to the dogs.
So that was a bust.
But the Lord moved in even that, and a friend of my younger sister’s came to help us instead. This guy was absolutely incredible and one of the hardest workers I’ve ever met. More than that, he was honorable and worked with integrity.
Close to my age, he’d had a rough life. Coming from a broken family and bullied in school, he got to the point where he didn’t want to take it anymore and fought back. Unfortunately, fighting back is also what got him sent to juvie.
But it wasn’t how he wanted to be known and he tried to make a new name for himself. His girlfriend and him had a child, but they broke up, and by the time he got to us, the girlfriend was refusing to even let him talk to his son over the phone. He couldn’t find work because of his record, and though we didn’t know it at the time, he’d already bought the pills to take his own life.
In his own words, he was “about to give up on God.”
But here’s what I love about my Lord: our God will not give up on us.
We had no way of knowing what it would mean for both our paths to cross. We thought he was a tremendous blessing God had provided to us, but in the extravagant way only the Lord can work, He helped us be a tremendous blessing to him, too.
And there, in the back of a trailer crowded with furniture and on a simple lunch break, my dad shared his testimony and ended up praying for him as tears streamed down the young man’s face.
It was enough to convince him not to give up on God or himself just yet.
The whole thing just left me in awe. God’s perfect timing. The way He’d orchestrated everything from the beginning–worked everything towards good even down to the disrespectful kids who’d knocked our furniture around… so that he could knock on the door of a beloved son’s heart, instead.
So many variables that could have changed everything…
But how good is our God?!
That was an awesome way to start, but it was the first of many battles to be won.
Finally we were on the road, but getting on the road was just the beginning.
Our first stop that night was in Salida, Colorado, but with a huge trailer and car dolley, there is not a lot of places to park. On top of that, my mom had gotten sick on the way over with bronchitis and was absolutely miserable.
It took us until 8:00 that night to be able to find a place, and I tell ya, we felt every bit like Mary and Joseph finally finding an inn that would take us.
Our next stop was Dalhart, Texas. Sweet people. A cricket underneath my pillow at the hotel and cricket poop on the pillowcase, but you know. Sweet people.
Then Lubbock, Texas, which was my favorite place to stay because it was the most… well, civilized. No crickets or cricket poop. Just nice, starched white linens and plenty of amenities.
Finally, we made it to Junction, Texas, which was just a few hours from our final destination.
And have since come to call, “Cricket Junction.”
Nothing else says “welcome to Texas” like a cricket apocalypse, after all.
They were everywhere. The carnage was insane. I am not kidding when I tell you that there were literally black clouds of crickets all over the parking lots and outer walls of restaurants. Even in some of the restaurants!
In our hotel room alone we killed five, and my “creep-o-meter” went way off when I saw three of them skittering around in the light fixture of the bathroom, casting shadows around like King Kong’s kin.
I don’t mind crickets normally, but this… they were taking it too far.
It even creeped my dad out, so he called the motel owner to make sure and not damage the fixture as we got them out.
The owner was a very nice Indian guy with an accent who just also happened to have a stereotypically high voice and one fear: crickets.
But he came prepared. His weapon against the foul beasts? A broomstick.
As my dad outlined his plan for the demolition of the insects, the owner followed along, nodding nervously until my dad finished. Clearing his throat, he voiced his one concern: “But they jump.”
Cue the crickets.
My dad gave him the look only my dad can give which is basically a stare that says “you’re an idiot,” but demonstrated his Christian maturity by saying with only a little sarcasm, “Yes, they do.”
Seeing that he was on his own, my dad carefully unscrewed the light fixture.
One dropped out, and the owner squealed and jumped back like any good little Indian girl would, holding the broomstick at arms’ length like a shield.
I only barely managed to hide my laugh behind my hand.
(And by the way, it’s a trick I’ve learned from my mom that when things are stressful or going wrong, your best recourse is to laugh. Following that advice, this trip was a comedy club on wheels.)
I thought the troubles were over then, but oh, no.
No sooner had we gotten on the road just hours away from our destination than we got a flat tire on the trailer. I loitered around outside for a while as my dad tried to fix it, but the moment I saw a spider the size of Godzilla eating a cricket (and doing so with nauseating vigor), I decided the car might make a better waiting area.
After an hour of trying to fix it, my dad finally conceded defeat… and we found the 24-hour repair shop across the street.
They fixed it in fifteen minutes.
It was back on the road, and finally–we made it! One problem solved.
New problem: how not to be homeless?
We made it to our destination on a Sunday. Dad had to be at his new job by Thursday, so ideally it would be a good idea to find a place to live before then. Ideally, it would also be nice not to burn up cash residing at a hotel for the rest of our lives. Or finding ourselves beneath a bridge.
So we got in touch with some realtors with a pretty demanding checklist: a rental that allowed two cats and two dogs. (Oh, did I mention we completed this trip with two cats in a cage in the backseat? Which, P.S., our cats are not Celtic music fans. They’re generally kind little things, but blast some bagpipes and they’re Hitler in fur. Just sayin’.)
Big enough for the trailer.
Big enough for Mom, Dad, Alicia, Jesse, Mackenzie, two cats, two dogs, and me. (What can I say? We’re the Beverly Hillbillies.)
In our price point.
The realtor had the perfect place in mind for our checklist. Probably the only place that would fit our needs.
But a block away from trying to show it to us, our realtor got the call that the house had just been rented out.
Are you kidding?!
We were all fighting discouragement and frustration by this point. Four non-stop, stressful days of packing. Leaving behind decades-old friendships, an 18-year-old home, and my little sister Rachel and one-year-old nephew Boe. Five days of travel. Now two days staying in a hotel. All solely on God’s promise. But when would we find a place to stay?
But as my dad likes to say, “God is never late, but seldom early.” Just as we were beginning to lose hope, we got another call:
“Actually, the people who were gonna get the house fell through. Do you guys still want to take a look at it?”
Yes, and thank you, Jesus!
It was perfect. Small, but it met every one of our needs. And would take the dogs, which was almost an impossibility for any rental. That’s God, all right!
It was another excruciating day as we struggled with jumping through hoops and finishing paperwork online that kept giving us technical problems.
I’m tellin’ ya, I think one of the reasons all of that happened was so that we could give all the glory to God, because there is no way we could have gotten into that house on our own. Having never been to Texas. Just calling up a realtor. Not knowing the area. Having it fit our checklist. Needing it by a certain time. Having the paperwork of the other renters fall through. Almost having ours do the same.
But God can do the impossible and is faithful to His promises, and one day before my dad had to start his new job… we got into the house!
Cue the hallelujah chorus.
And it was even better than we thought.
But I’ll save the rest of that for the next post, “First Impressions.” 🙂