Life’s a beach in Oregon.

We’ve been Oregonians for five weeks now… aaaand… what does it even mean to be an ‘Oregonian’, you might ask? While I’m certain the answer varies from peeps to peeps, for us ‘Life in Oregon’ has been a b**ch. It’s been HARD. but hey, we’ve been to the beach. and that’s really why we’re here. Well, not really. but it helps. It helps to know when things are hard, we can go to the beach :).

When our cars break down… we can hitchhike to the beach.
When we can’t find a rental house… we can live with our parents… who live close to the beach.
When our kids are fighting… we can yell at them… and then take them to the beach… where no one ever fights.
When homeschooling at home sucks… we can go exploring… and learn something new… at the beach.
When we’re stressed out from moving cross-country, living out of boxes in disorganized chaos, living with our parents, starting over, Pastoring at a new church, selling our house we left in Ohio, and homeschooling in the middle of it all… we can say ‘screw it’ and head to the beach!

We’ve been to the beach twice since we’ve moved to the Pacific Northwest, and it’s been wonderful. I wish I could say things have been smooth sailing, and coasting on over to the beach has swept away all our problems, but no. Since we’ve moved, we have walked on water thru some very hard days. Wave after wave, the difficult circumstances have washed over us. At times, treading water, at times being pulled under. Sooo many days, I’ve wanted to run away to the beach, but there’s been too much to do. And reality is – life is hard – and we have to walk thru trials and circumstances without going to the beach to escape.

Have you ever worn a wetsuit? They are a pain in the ass to put on. Imagine squeezing a watermelon into some pantyhose. That’s me – squeezing myself into a wet suit. The last time we went to the beach, I was so frustrated with squeezing myself into the wetsuit, and I was very close to giving up. Selah was in the bathroom with me, encouraging me to finish putting on my freakin’ wetsuit. “C’mon mom, you’re almost done.” I was so glad she did. The time spent in the ocean was amazing. Although I was frustrated with the work it took to put on the suit, I knew I would regret not going into the water.

If you want to enjoy the Oregon coast, you need a wetsuit. You can dance on the waters edge without one, but if you dare to go deeper, you need a wetsuit. We can dance on the edge of Christianity without a care, but if we dare to go deeper, we need the armor of God to protect us from the enemy. 

As we prepared to move from Ohio to Oregon, I knew we would be swimming into darker, deeper waters of ministry. I knew it was going to be a lot of work. I knew our faith would be tested. I knew attacks of the enemy would come. I knew it was going to be frustrating to step into unknown territory. And I knew if we did not make this move, we would regret it.

We are not battling the raging waters. We are in a spiritual battle, unseen to the human eye. In the midst of this move, it has been easy to become distracted with the external problems, shifting our focus from the reason we are here. God prepared my spirit for this battle in prayer. As the trials have come, He has been showing me how to battle in prayer. We are here to know HIM and to make HIM known. There are times, a wetsuit and a trip to the beach seem like the ideal way to deal with the difficulties we face… but Oregon is so much more than a trip to the beach. This is a place full of people living in darkness, yearning for One they do not yet know. And I will spend my life making Him known here.

My armor is on. It is His presence. I fight from my rightful place in His presence. In His strength. His love. His hope. His joy. His peace. 

Our Story rages on… In Him, Leslie

*All water and cursing puns intended for the authenticity of this story.

east to west

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It has been a year… God whispered GO… the time is now. He stirred in our souls a desire to leave comfort and a place we were known and loved by beautiful people, to a place of unknowns. We responded to God – yes, we will go. Unsure of exactly ‘where’, we knew He was calling us to the Northwest to plant new roots. Our hearts were drawn to Oregon, where Adam’s family lives… and to the Nations, our desire to serve in overseas missions has burned in our spirits since we began dating over 18 years ago.

We said ‘Yes’ to the GO. We began the process of discerning the ‘next step’ early summer. We resigned from our church in Ohio in June, and began the process of saying goodbye to the church family we’ve loved for 10 years. We knew we would miss the hell ‘outta them. It was not an easy process. Some people excited for us, some joy-filled for our journey, some sad, some confused, some without understanding, and some angry we were leaving… It’s hard for a church to lose a Pastor. We’ve walked this church thru that loss before. We don’t recommend it just for kicks or anything.

We became very comfortable with the answer ‘We don’t know…’ We don’t know where we’ll end up. We don’t know which country we’ll be going to. We don’t know which church we’ll be joining. Slowly, the next steps began to unfold, along with many more unknowns and many times the answer to questions about our future was ‘I don’t know.’ He never promises us a map of the journey, but He promises us His presence on the path. 

We began to pursue YWAM. Their mission, their ministry and their movement inspired us. We connected with the YWAM leaders at their base in Canby, Oregon and began the next steps of applying and raising funds for the Discipleship Training School. Meanwhile, we connected with many Pastors and leaders in the Vineyard Northwest region, knowing we would need a new ‘home church’ to plug into. “Our plan” was to attend YWAM, and plug into the Portland Vineyard church.

God had a different plan.

Mid-August, a few weeks before we were planning to move, the Northwest Vineyard leadership contacted us, and we learned another Vineyard church outside of Portland was in need of a Pastor. The same week, we learned there were no other families beside ours attending the YWAM. Regardless, we were moving to Oregon. Now, we were faced with a decision before we began the journey from east to west. Which next step were we to choose? Where was God leading us? What was He calling us to do?

We became more comfortable with the uncomfortable.  

We choose to say ‘Yes’ to God, and Pastor the Hillsboro Vineyard Church. We chose an ‘arranged marriage’ of a Pastor and his family to a church Bride we barely knew. We met her once, we took her hands in ours and said ‘We Do.’ This church was not on our radar. This was never part of ‘our plan’, Yet God knew.

The process has been a journey with confusion and clarity, anger and joy, sadness and excitement as our companions along the path. Yet God spoke. You were made for this. Don’t look back. When the road is expansive and the pathway clear, you just drive… and 4 weeks ago, we began driving.

Wednesday, September 10th 2014 – Day 1. We left our unsold, still-on-the-market, only home our kids have ever known, in Ohio and started driving… Adam, in a 16ft box Budget truck with no cruise control, cd player or companion, towing our CRV chained to the auto transport. Me, in our ’97 Odyssey with our 3 wee Babs, all of our crap, and the beautiful mess of our temperaments and personalities. At least I had a cd player… We made it thru Ohio, Indiana and the torrential rain storms and flood warnings to arrive safely in Danville, Illinois. We were blessed to stay with a family friend the first evening. We even washed our wet towels we left home with. I wasn’t particularly excited about traveling for 5 days with wet towels, but we had to take showers and clean the house until it sparkled, before we left Ohio. We were a sweaty mess from loading the truck, loading Adam’s car and cleaning our house to keep it “show ready”. Barf – house showings make me want to throw up… I digress.

Thursday, September 11th – Day 2. Well rested, we drove on I-80 West, I-80 West, …and drove some more I-80 West thru the rest of Illinois, thru Iowa and made it to Lincoln, Nebraska. Nebraska is a “I was surprised by its beauty” beautiful state. It’s vast and somewhere along the way, I lost all cell phone coverage, so that became torture for me. We just kept – on – driving. I could handle the kids on my own, but without the ability to make phone calls… I began to doubt my sanity.

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Fun at rest stops in Nebraska

Friday, September 12th – Day 3. Somewhere in Wyoming… which is also a beautiful expansive state with barely any people living in it, and with sketchy cell phone service. While driving, we got a call for 2 house showings. Have I mentioned how much I love hate house showings?!? Oh. but this time, I didn’t have to clean for it & we moved all of our crap out of the house – SO bring on the showings! We continued driving on I-80 West, landing in our super cool hotel room for the evening in Laramie, Wyoming.

Saturday, September 13th – Day 4. We found a super cool coffee shop near our super cool hotel. We can deal with sketchy cell phone service, crazy kids and tiring days driving 2,500 miles cross country, but we can. not. deal. with bad coffee. We’ll be coffee snobs, and drive miles away for good coffee if need be. Driving along thru Wyoming, we made it to Rock Springs and we got a call from our realtor and received an offer on our house. BOOM>>>! Oh yeeeee, of little faith. Why did you doubt ME, thus sayeth the Lord? Oh Lord, forgive us! We knew You would come thru! Some 8+ hours later, after driving thru the rest of Wyoming and the blow-me-away beautiful state of UTAH, we dragged our tired selves into our hotel room in stinky, smells-like-manure- Burley, Idaho and came up with a wicked counter-offer. Would they accept it…??? drum roll please…

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Sunday, September 14th – Day 5. I can’t take it any longer!!! We’re almost there!!! How much longer? When will we be to Grandmas? Blah blah blah blah blah! And this is ME (Mom) asking the questions 🙂 In the meantime, was our counter-offer accepted??? YES! They accepted our counter offer and the real fun I mean, real driving began. Selah became ridiculous and no amount of threatening her while flailing my arms from the drivers seat was improving her behavior, so I screamed at her while I was talking to our realtor (thankfully also an understanding friend, also with three small children) trying to work thru all the details of selling our house… WHILE DRIVING CROSS COUNTY!!! We had to pull over to deal with Selahs craziness, and the only place in cow-town Idaho was near a farm with cows and flies. We rolled down the windows for fresh manure air, Adam stood outside the van, staring at Selah to keep her behavior in check, she settled down and I called Amy back to finish talking thru the house-selling details. Did I mention we SOLD our HOUSE >>> WHILE driving CROSS COUNTRY!!!???  Yep. Yep we did. Oh, Leslie – what did you do on Sunday, BESIDES DRIVE ALL DAY LONG? Oh. We sold our house. 🙂

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Late that evening, tired and weary, our bodies in a permanent driving position, we wedged ourselves out of the vehicles we had come to love hate for the past 5 days, 2,500 miles. We made it to Oregon. Thankful for no injuries. No road troubles. No flat tires. No dead car batteries. No sickness. Full of so much to be thankful for. Five thankful hearts arrived at Grandma and Grandpa’s home in Oregon.

Stay tuned for the next installment of our half written records. Our story rages on… In Him, The Babs Fam

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