Life

Finding Grit and Grace in Alaska

We pulled up to our new little cottage and just stared. This was it — we were actually going to live out our dream in Seward, Alaska of all places — a tiny little town in Resurrection Bay. A few blocks in one direction took us to the waterfront and a few blocks in the other led directly to the mountain path. Our little rental home withstood the tsunami from the late 1960’s, but the original hardwood floors still creaked with every step. We had two weeks before I started my dream job. We soaked up every minute, acting as tourists in our new town.

We’d always wanted to go to Alaska. We tried to plan a honeymoon there, but finances wouldn’t allow it. On our fifth anniversary we looked at a cruise, but that, too, was over our budget. Then, out of nowhere, a company had recruited me. They were willing to relocate us, provide housing, and pay more money than we’d ever made in our lives. It almost seemed too good to be true. After a hard season, it was exactly the break my family needed. Though the idea of being four thousand miles from everything we’d ever known was overwhelming, we knew it was the right thing to do.

Thrill turned to horror three days after starting my new job. I’ve heard that the wheels of change grind slowly, but when Human Resources decides you are not the right candidate after seven weeks of negotiating, selling everything you own, and moving your wife and two small children across a continent, the wheels of change actually move terrifyingly fast. I was officially terminated two days later. When I received my check, I hadn’t even made enough money to fly us home.

We were left with a hefty rent, a year-long lease, and no job prospects. My wife sank into the couch as I delivered the gut-wrenching news that our fairy-tale was now a nightmare. We didn’t know what to do next.

I had even joined the worship team at our tiny new church… and we had a practice… that night. I decided to go. I remember how numb my fingers felt on the keyboard, how my knees threatened to go weak every time I pressed the pedals. While the worship team cried to God to remember His children through song, all I could do was move my mouth and hope words came out. My heart was broken, my spirit squeezed tight by disappointment and fear.

Four months later, we somehow made it back to Alabama.
We pulled up to our new little cottage and just stared. This was it — we were actually going to live out our dream in Seward, Alaska of all places — a tiny little town in Resurrection Bay. A few blocks in one direction took us to the waterfront and a few blocks in the other led directly to the mountain path. Our little rental home withstood the tsunami from the late 1960’s, but the original hardwood floors still creaked with every step. We had two weeks before I started my dream job. We soaked up every minute, acting as tourists in our new town.

We’d always wanted to go to Alaska. We tried to plan a honeymoon there, but finances wouldn’t allow it. On our fifth anniversary we looked at a cruise, but that, too, was over our budget. Then, out of nowhere, a company had recruited me. They were willing to relocate us, provide housing, and pay more money than we’d ever made in our lives. It almost seemed too good to be true. After a hard season, it was exactly the break my family needed. Though the idea of being four thousand miles from everything we’d ever known was overwhelming, we knew it was the right thing to do.

Thrill turned to horror three days after starting my new job. I’ve heard that the wheels of change grind slowly, but when Human Resources decides you are not the right candidate after seven weeks of negotiating, selling everything you own, and moving your wife and two small children across a continent, the wheels of change actually move terrifyingly fast. I was officially terminated two days later. When I received my check, I hadn’t even made enough money to fly us home.

We were left with a hefty rent, a year-long lease, and no job prospects. My wife sank into the couch as I delivered the gut-wrenching news that our fairy-tale was now a nightmare. We didn’t know what to do next.

I had even joined the worship team at our tiny new church… and we had a practice… that night. I decided to go. I remember how numb my fingers felt on the keyboard, how my knees threatened to go weak every time I pressed the pedals. While the worship team cried to God to remember His children through song, all I could do was move my mouth and hope words came out. My heart was broken, my spirit squeezed tight by disappointment and fear.

Four months later, we somehow made it back to Alabama.

My family lives in the spare room at my parents’ house right now, my children’s pallets permanently stretched across the floor. We are doing the stressful work of starting our lives from scratch, again.

I have no idea why God allowed all of this disappointment and frustration into our lives.

Even so, I still look to God for comfort. I refuse to stop believing. The pat answers of church ring hollow for me, yet I continue to go week after week.

For me, trusting God after our disappointment in Alaska is a stubbornness that cries in the middle of the night. It means refusing to give up hope, one day, one minute, at a time. Sometimes trusting God isn’t a praise song with the full band on a Sunday morning, but rather it’s a stick–to–it–ness that says, I know there is something deeper than my pain, so I’ll give this another shot tomorrow.

As the weather turns cool and the leaves fall, I still think of Alaska; It was our dream, and now our dream is gone. But I refuse to give up hope in God. Sometimes, it’s all we have left.

photo by JLS Photography – Alaska

Kona