Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Rocky Mountain High Colorado

Scott and I were driving home from this little farmers market in Fort Collins discussing how grateful we are.... I wept. Such happy tears! 

I have to post pictures soon (they're all still sitting on my memory card), but for now I'll just tell you about our journey from Oregon to Colorado. Our heads are still spinning! We can't believe how fast this all happened. Once we learned of Scott's job elimination (lay off... firing... whatever you want to call it), God moved in a HUGE way. It was like He just plucked us out of Salem with His bare hands and plopped us right, smack in the middle of where we had longed to be for the last several years. We didn't really have time to think about it. We just put our blinders on and focused on God. We had to run to keep up with Him, but here we are, still a little unsure of how it all happened.

Do we miss Salem? Not in the slightest. We miss a few people for sure. We had some tough goodbyes. But they were bittersweet. Those close to us knew our hearts and knew how unhappy we have been, and, because they love us, prayed with us that God would provide a way, rejoiced with us in all He was doing, and then sent us happily on our way. You never want to say goodbye to close friends, but on the other hand, you do want them to be in a place that is nurturing for them.  

I don't say this to offend... I know some of you love Salem and it's your home. I'm really glad for you! Hey, someone has to call it home, right? But... it just wasn't for us - on so many fronts. I'm just not even going to go down that path, though, because it seems others are so easily hurt by the fact that we didn't like it there. I don't really know why that is. It's like being offending that someone doesn't like peas. It's just preference, that's all. God had us there for a time, for a purpose, and then, in His great mercy, put us on a new path. 

I won't speak for Scott (although I know he feels much the same way), but this has been the easiest transition for me. I think the last few years in Oregon were so hurtful and lonely to me that I've almost blocked them out. The other day, I was talking about where I lived and what came out was Billings, MT... It was like I just bypassed 8 years of my life. Oregon will always have a special place in my heart, though. I grew up there. My childhood home (the house that my father designed and built) still stands on top of a hill overlooking Corvallis. Most of my childhood friends' families are still there. All the good stuff that I remember as a kid growing up is just that. Special memories, special places.... I've moved back twice, I think always with the idea that somehow it would be the same Oregon I remembered growing up. But it never was. Perhaps that is why I was so disappointed. Climate was the same - indeed the rain never changed. But people were different. I really wanted it to be the place I could call home. And I think it finally dawned on me about 2 years ago that it just never would be. I struggled with that quite a bit. You never want to say that your "home" sucks.

Even as an adult, there are a ton of special memories. It's where Scott and I got engaged. Where we bought our first home. Where we had our children. 

When the house was all packed up, everything cleaned out of cabinets and drawers, and the entire house was cleaned, Scott and I did one last walk-through. We walked through the front door, and through every room in the house - remembering, recalling, laughing, crying. That home represents so much of who we were, who we became, and who we longed to be. It was our retreat after a desperate and exhausting day of trying to fit in. 

I think the hardest part about the last two years wasn't so much the realization that it wasn't home. It was the rejection that we received once we voiced it. People we thought were our friends totally turned their backs on us simply because we said we were unhappy and didn't feel the sense of community we were accustomed to in other places. That wasn't a judgment about their friendship because, seriously, if we didn't trust them, we wouldn't have opened ourselves up to them in that way. So it was even more of a stabbing rejection because it came from people we loved. That's hard. Or, maybe we were rejected for other reasons. I don't know. But it doesn't matter. The message was the same. 

Now looking back, I'm kind of glad about that. It made leaving easier. We weren't wanted there. (I don't say that in a "woe is me" way. It's just how we felt we were treated.) 

So, we said our goodbyes, loaded up our entire lives into a 26-foot Penske truck and hit the road, never looking back. In fact, we had this plan of stopping on the side of the road by the leaving Oregon sign (which actually says, "Oregon thanks you. Please come again soon.") and taking the canister of dirt from our vacuum cleaner and dumping it on the ground - leaving Oregon dirt where it belongs - symbolic of the dirt and gunk and marks we've collected over the years, leaving it behind to start afresh. Unfortunately, the border came up super fast, and it's hard to stop a 26-foot truck, attached to which is a trailer on which is a car - all loaded with over 27,000 pounds of belongings. So... we just said, "See ya" and continued on our way.

That in and of itself is funny to me because I remember as we were getting closer, the air was different. It smelled different... It felt different. I was thinking to myself, we must be getting close to leaving Oregon. And then WHAM, we were in Idaho (or "Hidy-HO!" as my friend Jonathan would say).

1281 miles, 3 days, 2 adults, 2 children, and several tons of "stuff"... we finally made it to Colorado.

As I was crossing the border out of Wyoming into Colorado, Phil Wickham was singing "Home" and I cried. We made it. We MADE IT! All the tears... all the pain... all the changes... all the rejection... worth it. Totally worth it. 

And then I got Jack Johnson going.... Sort of the anthem of our journey. And I celebrated!

Throughout our trip, we had friends calling to check on us, see how we're doing, where we were, whether or not we found a Starbucks.... Our friends in Colorado were checking to see what they could do for us, if we needed them to meet us at our new place and bring us anything... The kids traveled really well. Hardly a peep of complaint from them. I think even they sensed a new beginning.

We just spent that first night alone in an empty condo, but the next morning Jey, Todd and Shawn showed up to help Scott unload the truck. Lisa came with Trinity and totally took control of the kids so that I could just focus on organizing boxes, etc. Sara showed up later with her brood just to hang out, and brought cold water and sandwich stuff.... We missed Gretchen and the kids, but her family was in town, so we knew we'd catch up with her later. Ahhhhh, home. 

I wish I could describe it to you. I mean... I could describe our new place, the beautiful view, the 8 miles of walking trails, the river and the lakes right by our house, all the shopping and restaurants within walking distance, and the layers of Rockies that loom in the near distance (15 minutes away), but... I'll do that later. What I wish I could describe is the feeling of "home" and acceptance. It's more than the climate and the landscape. Yes, it's sunny over 300 days a year. There's everything you ever wanted in outdoor activities right outside your front door. (Last night, Scott bought a pair of waders for fly fishing....)  That's all great. (And I mean, really great!) But what's best is our friends that are here. The friends we've been missing for... well... 8 years. It's really more like family, only functional. All the husbands were cut from the same intellectual fabric. All us wives are just odd enough to be perfect for them. And our kids... well... they love each other too. Trinity likes to hold Jeffrey's hand. Ransom likes to tackle him to the ground. Haavah likes to steal Eden's binky. Ransom and Jeffrey smoosh the baby's cheeks together saying, "Chubba-chubba!" 

The first night here, I slept harder than I've slept in years. I just feel this massive weight off my shoulders.  It's incredible the way that God has blessed us. I can't explain it. I don't know why He chose to bless us in this way, why he chose to answer our prayers and give us the desires of our hearts. I just don't know. But I am so, so grateful. 

There have already been some hilarious stories I'll have to write about. One involves why they made swim diapers. The other involves Rocky Mountain National Park and carsickness. But for now, I just want to say we're home. Right where we belong. 

For those of you who stood by us these last few months, we're grateful for your prayers. We drew strength from your encouragement, and we felt you with us as we made our way home. The good news is that Colorado is a great place to visit! ** Hint hint ** 

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Husband of the year award

True - I haven't blogged in a while. And I totally wasn't planning on today... but this is totally worth a posting. Not because it's so sweet. Really it's just to show once and for all that my husband is a total ass... which I usually don't tell people in public, but... you know how it is.

Here is the scenario. Ever since we moved to Colorado, we've noted how thin and healthy everyone is. Like, seriously, fat people are scarce. So when you see one, it kind of stands out. Not judging. Just taking note, that's all.

Here's today's conversation:

Me: I saw 4 fat people today.... And they were all at Wal-Mart.

Scott: And that's when you walked in front of 4 mirrors?

I rest my case. He's an ass. He deserves an award.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Last days

I have to apologize. These last couple weeks have been crazy busy - not necessarily in a good way - and I didn't have the time I thought I would have to write about our great adventures of the last few months.  Several people have been pushing me for a blog update (I kinda didn't think anyone thought it was that important), so here I am, in my almost-empty house, sitting on the floor in what is left in the living room (some baby stuff, the air conditioner, the vacuum cleaner, a lamp, and the cooler the laptop is sitting on... not to mention a whole lot of dust, some residual cat hair, the box that needs to go back to Comcast, and a box of wrapping paper I'm donating to my sister).

That says a lot about what just happened. Yesterday was a frantic "organized chaos."  I was stressed out from the moment I got up. I'm not a fan of getting the moving started mid-morning. I'd rather pick the truck up the night before, start loading at 7:00 am, and have the whole day to figure the rest out. What happened, however, went nothing like that. 

Scott had planned on picking his brother up at Mamasan's house, they'd go pick up the truck and trailer, drop the trailer back off at Mamasan's, load up all the stuff in our storage unit, then head to our house by 10:00/10:30 where our other burly man-friends would be waiting for them. 

That plan was immediately thwarted when his brother knocked on our door at 8:40 when Scott was in the shower - bringing a gift offering of donuts. You'd think this would be good - and it was.... (Yea, for brother arriving first, and yea, for donuts!) But it was probably just the first sign of things to go as "unplanned" for the day.

Second, I was just about to send an email to our other burly man-friends to tell them when to show up... But a second knock at the door, followed by a doorbell ring at around 9:15 changed that plan.  It was Dale - another pleasant surprise. (And we totally called it. There's just a certain knock and ring that says, "Buddy the Elf." We were right.)

Third, our truck was "guaranteed" by 9:00 am. So, when the boys arrived at 9:40 or so, we figured it would be a go. But it was a no-go. The truck was not there. They were told 20 minutes, so they went over to the Original Pancake House for coffee (and most likely breakfast) to wait. See? Not all bad. The OPH has the best coffee in town.

Meanwhile, Jeff had let me know that Adriane (wife of brother Jeff) was planning on hitching a ride over with Jeremy (the other burly man-friend) around 11:00.  When I got the call that the truck was late, I figured that they would also let Adriane know. That was not the case. The doorbell rang at 10:00, and in walked Adriane, Jeremy, Bella and Brayden.


Normally this would be a joyous occasion. I love Bella and Brayden to pieces. They're my Picklebean's best-est friends. However, the Picklebean was at Gramma's for one last sleepover (from the night before) and she was planning on keeping him all day to keep him out of the way while we were moving. Totally not a problem to have the kids here. Bella is old enough to stay out of the way and be optimistically encouraging, but Brayden just turned 2 and I was concerned for his safety in a house stacked with boxes and busy people.

As we were figuring this all out, I looked at the clock. It was 10:14. Scott had gone the day before to pick up my contacts, but was told that I needed to come in for a quick fitting since they were a new kind, and made an appointment for 10:00. Obviously, I was late. I forgot all about it. Jeremy took the kids back to his place with the hopes that his mom would come watch them for a few hours while he helped move, and Adriane, Eden and I took off to the eye doctor.

Then, we hit unexpected road construction. Another delay.

Then, I got a text from Scott an hour later that the truck still wasn't there.

Well, I picked up my contacts and got to visit with my trusty eye doctor and friend (and Bible Studier), followed by a nice hug. We piled back in the car and headed home (following a different route to avoid the road construction). We got back home; still no sign of the boys.

What to do? We decided to start scrubbing bathrooms. Adriane tackled one, and I tackled the other. We finally got word that the truck had arrived, and they were on their way to Mamasan's to drop off the trailer....

I called Jeremy to let him know they'd be at our house by noon.

By NOON!!!!!!  

So the rest of the day was pretty much the same. What would normally take 2 - 3 hours of packing the truck, took more like 4 or 5. See, we have a lot of large and heavy furniture. I gotta hand it to the four men. They worked their tails off and packed that truck like sardines in a Tetris competition. Our stuff ain't movin'. I was very skeptical seeing all our stuff in the driveway, boxes stacked the ceiling of the truck that everything would actually fit. But, the geniuses of the men proved me wrong. I asked Jeremy (former professional mover) if our stuff would fit, and he kept assuring me that it would.... Although at one point mid-afternoon he was less enthusiastic about that answer, but was still pretty sure. 

With all the delays, we decided that instead of rushing to clean the house, pack the cars, take care of a few last minute details and errands, that it would just be better to stay an extra day. Once we made that decision (and I changed all the hotel reservations, contacted our realtor and our friends in CO who planned on helping us move on Sunday of our later arrival in CO), we were very relieved. It feels good to know that we have an entire day to take care of the rest and prepare for a 1300 mile journey.

I emptied the freezer and fridge and took all the food over to Michelle & Jeremy's house, and Mamasan. All that's left is the stuff we'll take with us on our trip - stuff for sandwiches, snacks, cereal and a bunch of frozen breast milk. (Hey, baby has to eat, too, ya know!)

It was an odd feeling walking into the empty house last night. Minus all the random bits and pieces spewed here and there, I was reminded of our first viewing of this house.... What we talked about. The rooms we walked through. Where we sat when we talked about buying it. Where we laid on the floor to see where our bed would go. Where I stood when we contacted our mortgage broker. 

There are so many wonderful memories in this home. Even now as I type, my Picklebean is running around the empty house, happy as can be (as always) and excited for our move to Colorado. (He's bringing me the cereal. I think this is a hint of some sort....)

Before Dale left, he prayed for Scott and I, our family, our trip, the sale of our home, and the future. Dale and Susan have been such good friends to us. I can't tell you how much I love and appreciate them. Say what you want about my friend Dale - Ned Flanders look alike, Buddy the Elf incarnate - he is the most optimistic, joyfully happy, loyal, honest and caring person I know. One of the things that I loved about working with him is that on days I was feeling low, unappreciated, under-valued and just generally unhappy, I would go visit Dale in his office. Within seconds of my arrival, I would have a smile on my face. He just exudes joy out of every pore of his body. It's contagious. I've only seen him truly sad once - when his father passed away. Even in the midst of pain and sorrow, he would smile the most genuine smile. There is nothing fake or contrived or forced about his joyful attitude. It's just who he is. It's wonderful. (He would attribute that to Jesus and I think he's right. It certainly is a reflection of Jesus!)  And I'm grateful for him and his lovely bride for playing an important role in our lives. Friends, prayer partners, Bible Study co-leaders, and our brother and sister in Christ. We love you two.

Mamasan just called and asked if we needed anything. She's going to swing by with some eggs and bacon (protein - what???) and help us clean the house.  My dear friend (and ex-nextdoor neighbor) Katie is coming over this morning to see us one more time. Our friend Allison called a couple of days ago to see us off. I spent my Tuesday this week with Michelle getting manicures and pedicures, then we all went to her house for dinner and fun (and maybe a few drinks, **clearing of throat**). I ran into Cindy and Dave at TJ Maxx (of all places) where I was able to give Cindy another big hug.  Wes prayed for Scott when he went to pick up my contacts.  We were able to have one last dinner with our Bible Study group 2 weeks ago.  My sister came over last night to hold the baby, and she'll be back tonight to give the Picklebean another hug (and most likely cry her eyes out). And we've spent just about every day with Jeff, Adriane and Mamasan....

I couldn't think of people I'd rather be spending time with or talking to during our last days here in Oregon. These were the people who stuck by us during these last lonely 18 months. I can't thank you all enough. I just so appreciate your willingness to give us room to mourn and express our frustration without judgment or condemnation, your encouragement and prayers as we were making difficult decisions, and your shared joy and celebration as God unfolded His plan before our eyes. Good stuff. I'm going to miss you all tremendously. But I'm hopeful that you'll come visit us in Colorado. :-) You're always welcome.

So... this will most likely be my last entry for a little while. We hit the road at the crack of dawn tomorrow, have three days of driving with two little ones ahead of us, and arriving at our new home on Monday afternoon, followed by a ton of unpacking and settling in. I start my new job on July 1st, and the Picklebean turns three on July 4th (which of course will be a massive celebration for a number of reasons).... If I can squeeze in some time to update, I will. It may be a one or two liner... 

PS - if you know of anyone looking for a cute house in Salem, my house is still available! We'll leave it on the market through the summer. If we don't get a buyer, we'll get renters. We are praying for the former.

On the road again....
I just can't wait to get on the road again....

Friday, June 4, 2010

Spoiler Alert

For those of you who have been following, you know that we've been in an interesting season of transition for the last several months.  The ways that God has answered our prayers have been so overwhelming. There just isn't any way that we, on our own, could have orchestrated this better.

We've remained pretty silent about what has been happening behind the scenes - primarily because we wanted to give God the room to work. We didn't want the opinions of others to drown out God's voice. So, we basically isolated ourselves and entered into a quiet season of silence as Jesus was asking us to seek Him.

I could say many things about this - and will in the days and weeks to come - but for now I want to tell you about the immediate plans for the Matkovich family.

As I mentioned before, God has answered our prayers. As you know, Oregon has not felt like home to us, and we've been praying for years that God would lead us out of here. Well... now is the time. Through many bizarre twists and turns, God is uprooting us. I suppose it isn't really "uprooting" since we never put down roots here to begin with. But, we've prayed that God would lead us to a place where we could put down roots... 

That place is Colorado - just as we've been praying for.

And it has all happened so quickly... 

In less than two weeks, we'll be packing all of our belongings, loading up a Penske truck and our little family is heading east to northern Colorado. We're loading the truck on the 17th, and hittin' the road on the 18th....

The details and timing of how this all happened is just crazy. I still just shake my head and have to laugh because, really, we did very little to make this happen. We simply responded when God asked us to. Not a lot of effort on our part. So, I thank God for this season of silence, solitude and, frankly, loneliness, because without it, I'm not sure we would have seen God moving, or leaned in as hard as we did, or heard Him calling us in those moments that required obedience.

More about this at a later time.

Today was my last day at the church. I'll be taking a couple of days next week to just breathe through the end of this chapter as we begin a new one. This has been a bittersweet ending. 

So, for those of you at the church, I just want to say that I am honored to have worked alongside you in ministry. I had the privilege of reminiscing with a few of you - the laughs, the tears, the trials, the celebrations. Salem Alliance will always hold a tender place in my heart. I learned a lot about Jesus (and myself... and humanity) in my three years, and I'm grateful for the time spent with each of you. I just want to encourage you all to keep leaning in and listening intently for where God is leading you, and what He's calling out of you. Whether that continues to be at Salem Alliance, or perhaps He's leading you away, as well, God can be trusted. He really is who He says He is. Matthew 6:33, "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."  Luke 12:32, "Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom."

What a beautiful thing. It is your Father's good pleasure to give you the Kingdom. And what a gift it is!

Welp, that's all for now. I'll be writing more about the details of these past several months. As I said, there are still a few details left to be sorted out, but by the grace of God alone, He is already at work in those things. 

I feel as though I'm standing on my Father's feet as He teaches me to dance.