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Strange Confessions: Four Years Away from “Home”

Strange Confessions: When we left Utah, we told people we’d never come back. I regret ever saying that. Totally.

Our family has had the wonderful privilege of hosting our niece over her Thanksgiving break from college. She is going back to Mississippi tomorrow. I just put my youngest daughter to bed and she started to act like she usually does when we’ve had guests and they are about to leave. She gets very emotional, tells me she is sad about them leaving, but usually doesn’t cry until just after they leave. Then the next few days I expect one or another of my daughters to just start crying and say how they miss Utah, our family there, the friends we had. It makes me sad. Makes me regret ever coming here. I don’t want to put my family through this kind of regular heart-ache.

We have some truly wonderful friends living in Kansas City. We have been friends with them for about 19 years. They moved from Salt Lake City about 13 years ago. Lived in the San Francisco area for a while, then moved to KC. Being friends with them after such a long time of geographical challenges is a real testimony of their loyalty and patience with our family. We see them at least three times a year now, and I love every minute they are here or we are up there. We are travelling to KC soon, and the one thing I don’t look forward to is leaving. Having to deal with the kids’ state of mind, and even my own is very sad. I counsel the children that this is not the end of seeing them, it’ll happen again, we had fun here now, why ruin it with sad feelings? I’m really talking to myself. This happens when anyone who stays for more than a night comes for a visit. They especially miss my mom, as I do.

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This Thanksgiving marks four years since we moved from Salt Lake City to West Plains. In a lot of ways it has gotten easier. We knew this wasn’t going to be easy. We knew that God wanted us to get out of our comfort zones and look to new challenges of trust and empathy. I accept His sovereign will in my/our lives in this matter. Our cousin posted this picture you see on that one site, and it has been very helpful in the last few days. All the things on this list are true. I usually dwell on the things I don’t have, which is, I believe not the way God would want me to look at things. There is one thing I would add: “I really miss my family who is miles away, because that means that I have family who still live in this country.” I have a friend, I’ve told you about him before, who has no family. Well, that is not entirely true, but his parents and only other sibling are gone. He does have an ex-wife and stepdaughter. I don’t know him intimately, we were friends only for a summer back in high school, but when I wrote him on that one site, we talked quite a bit and still maintain some contact, at least I haven’t driven him away for good… yet. In my lame little way I contacted him over Thanksgiving to see how he was doing. I know it can’t be easy for him, but how do I know? Maybe he can take it. I know I couldn’t. Anyway, I hope he’s good. I don’t want to feel like I’m sorry for him, just let him know I’m there, if it matters…

I am thankful for what my wife and I have found here: a deeper, more intimate and trusting relationship with the Lord, my beautiful, loving and smart wife, my wonderful children, a great fellowship group that meets at our home that is fiercely diverse, a good church family where His word is brought to my ears to challenge me, and all the other things that make it possible for me to have a job, home, and means to get from here to there.

There is some things that sometimes seem to be missing. I say sometimes, because I do have occasions that I am completely fulfilled by Him in His glory. I also want to point out that I am not complaining, or at least I am trying not to. I just know that there are things, of this world, that make difficulties a bit more… easy. Again, that is not to say that I shouldn’t look beyond God to fulfill me, but, you know… that it would… help. “He never said it would be easy,” is the occasional mantra of the Christian, and I know that. I just miss my family, my wife’s family, the best Awana club with the best group of kids ever, and to a lesser extent, the mountains, the roads and valleys, the buildings, and yes, the familiarity of it all. I do want to go back to Utah, or at the least 2-3 hours away from the Salt Lake valley, or even a maximum of 5 hours.

My mom will call me and say something like, “when are you going to come over and fix my faucet?” I tell my wife, after I am done talking, about what she said. I say that of course it is all in jest, but then my wife says in many ways it isn’t and I see the truth in her words. My mom would very much like me to be home, in Utah. I would very much like to be there for her. Perhaps, someday, God will see fit that we would go back there. Perhaps not. I really pray in these times of realization, that I want to be a teacher, that I want to be a full-on missionary, that I want to be closer to my mom, that God would do a miraculous work here to get me to face those situations head-on. If God wants me to stay here, until He comes back, so be it, and praise Him for it.

When I moved here I was astounded that so many people came here, and of their own free-will! “Why?!” I would ask them. Many of the answers that came back were, “family.” Sometimes that answer rips my heart out. I want to cry out, “I know, I know! Why do we move so far from those we love.” But then, I consider the full-time missionary. They sacrifice what they know, to be with those who they… love. See that? Because I just did. We need to love the people we are with. Does that mean we forget those we left behind that we love? May it never be! You must love them all the more. Hope that they know God has laid on your heart a people who need to see clearly the love of God and His sacrifice.

Brethren, let each one remain with God in that state in which he was called. ~1 Corinthians 7:24

One of the reasons I called this blog “Stranger in Rebellion” is, I like the connotation of the word “Stranger”. I am a stranger to you, but I am also a stranger here on this planet: this world is not my home. I call Salt Lake my home; I was born and I lived 40 years there, but it is not my True Home. That is heaven, where I will be with my true Father forever. The feelings I feel for the people and the place that is Salt Lake City, are just a dim shadow of what I will or should feel for my home in heaven. I long for SLC as I should long for heaven. People I’ve known and loved there for years are there, maybe they are not waiting for my return, but I am. I am also longing to be in heaven, so we shall never know the pain of ever having to say goodbye… ever… again.

~Stranger

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Strange Confessions: In Which I May Have Finally Admitted What I Want to be When I Grow Up

Strange Confessions: I am a little bit jealous of my wife, my best friend, for getting a teaching job at the local Christian school.

For years I have not known what I wanted to be when I grow up, and being forty-four years old, I still don’t really know. Perhaps, until now.

When I was in elementary school I wanted to be a veterinarian. I was told I had a way with animals and I did like them; I could make friends with any animal that I came in contact with. Slowly, slowly that desire started to fade away. I envy people who see what they want to be at a young age, and then with every intent and purpose they go after it with zeal. There are those who get into college, take a few courses, change majors a few times, and graduate in their chosen field. Sure maybe they didn’t have such a pursuant desire as the former, but their goals are achieved nonetheless.

Ferguson Canyon: My favorite hiking grounds, just a 15 minute walk from home.

Ferguson Canyon: My favorite hiking grounds, just a 15 minute walk from childhood home.

When I got went to college, my chosen field was the Utah State University, Forestry program. I hiked a lot in my latter years of High School and just loved and appreciated all the outdoors had for me. Living in walking distance of the Wasatch Range in the Salt Lake valley sure improved my outlook when I was down. We would occasionally go camping and the rangers would make their rounds in the morning, talking and meeting new people everyday was such a thrilling outlook for me, that, that is what I wanted. Alas, as I have written before, I struggle with some depression, and this time in my life, Fall of 1987 to the Spring of 1988, occurred some of the absolute worst bouts I had against the dreaded lurking blackness. I grew disillusioned with the staff and the students there. More likely what affected me there was my depression. It was the first time away from home, I was poor, I was hungry, I needed a good friend, and most people were only interested in studying or partying at one time or another. I see that now what I really needed then, my strong sense of needing to belong, needing to know people cared had to be fulfilled or I would whither away and perish, which I did metaphorically. I stopped going to classes, started partying too much, isolated myself in my room for longer periods of time. I had a grant that I lost that year because of failing or incomplete grades. That year was I time I would most like to forget, but like most things I see now, it was a part of who I am now, and I should never forget it.

I tried again the next year to go to USU, without classes, without money. My plan was to get the job back I had, a copy dude at one of the many campus copy centers, work hard, stay away from bad influences, and make enough to start classes again. But, the first week there, all the pain and emptiness poured over me and I froze in panic, called my Mom and begged her to come and get me. My Nana had to come and get me. On the ride home, I was defeated. Low and empty I said nothing. It was a bitter disappointment. For me, people or places in which I was with during strong depressive states, I cannot revisit. There was this guy named Carlos I went to High School with. Even now thinking about him causes me anxiety and an inner sadness I find hard to deal with. Well, that is what I learned with the USU campus. We would travel through Logan valley years later and stop at the dairy college to get some ice cream and it would make me feel hollow just looking around. Although I loved driving up Logan Canyon. I remember two specific instances up there that I had a very good time up there, so that is a good place.

I ended up getting a job at Fred Meyer and worked there for several years with a small break in between. My second stint with Fred’s introduced me to my future wife and a friend who started working at Kinko’s. After a few years of marriage, I too began working at Kinko’s and I’ve been in the printing industry since. Hrrmm, looking at that now, I’m none too proud of my work “choices”. For it seems that almost all my jobs were taken out of desperation. Even now, the one I have, which took me several hundred miles from my  home of forty years, was taken to get away from things. I am extremely jealous of people who have a job that they enjoy, or that they chose, or that brings them fulfillment, or a good profit. Don’t get me wrong, I am very thankful to God for getting me in a position where I can provide for my family. It’s just that… I would like to like it. I would like to have chosen it.

Which brings me to this Strange Confession: I have always loved working with younger people. It brings me such a sense of fulfillment and belonging and purpose that I cherish the time I have with them. When I left Salt Lake, the hardest for me was leaving the kids I worked with on Tuesday night at AWANA with my local church. Sure, I was going to miss my family and friends that I had, but those kids were really very special to me. I actually had adults think I was a teacher because of the way I could relate to them. This sparked things in my mind, but I never followed it up. So some people knew about my wife’s commitment to Christian education, and thought she may be available for a few hours during the week, and they put her name forward, and through a series of interviews she got the job. I have been a little upset with her lately, easily offended and the like, and never knew what it was until just a few days ago. I am jealous of the position she received. I pictured myself standing in front of kids, bringing thoughts of history, writing, math, doctrine and expanding their minds, revealing more of the world to them, caring for them, talking to them, answering questions. I realized that I was jealous. I want to be a teacher. But how? We aren’t in an area where I can get a degree, I don’t have the time or money or resources for this. All I see are walls.

But God doesn’t see any of that. I see no way , but God does. I believe God has given me this gift to relate to kids and this may be it! In some ways I am so discouraged because it is so late in coming and I just don’t see it happening, but God can do whatever He wants with me. And I give Him this. May I bear fruit in this area through Him, and give Him the glory when all is accomplished.

~Stranger

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