I first met Abby online in a blogging group. We quickly discovered that we had a lot in common, and I was thrilled when she asked me to be a part of a new blogging tribe she was starting. Several months later, I am so thankful for her presence in my life, for the way she leads, and for the way she challenges me to be better in so many ways. I love her blog, Winstead Wandering, and all of the great recipes and words she shares on it, and I'm so excited for her to tell her story on the blog today! Thanks for sharing, Abby!
Even though I grew up in Oregon, I spent many summers in Mississippi visiting family. During those visits, I’d often spend time with Jon. On a trip the summer before my senior year of high school, I visited and fell in love with Mississippi College, a small Christian university just outside of Jackson. When I arrived on campus my freshman year, Jon was beginning his sophomore year and we started to date.
In October of 2012, a few months after the three-year anniversary of our move to Oregon, Jon and I went for a walk around our neighborhood. We were having one of our weekly date nights and my grandmother was watching our two kids.
Our pony-sized black lab was pulling me along the sidewalk when Jon broke the news that he wanted us to move back to Mississippi. He outlined a compelling argument: he wasn’t happy in Oregon and he didn’t think I was happy, either. I’d recently applied for a position with the city and had progressed pretty far into the process before ultimately not getting the job. Jon had prayed that the city job would be a sign, that I’d be hired if we were meant to stay in Oregon.
He also brought up our current employment situation: I was working more than full-time in a banking job I hated and Jon, having just finished his Master’s in Education, had been unable to find a full-time position so he was subbing in our local school district.
I was so angry at Jon for even suggesting we move. For so long, I’d envisioned my children attending the schools I attended. I had imagined them being in classes with the children of my former classmates. I’d pictured celebrating birthdays and random Tuesdays with my parents and siblings and nephews.
I don’t remember how strongly I voiced my opposition to the idea during that walk. I did make it known that I didn’t want to move, but Jon made a strong case and he had been praying about the situation for quite some time. I promised to pray about it, too.
I think, in the back of my mind from that very first conversation, I knew we would move. I don’t remember the precise moment I became consciously aware that I was in agreement with Jon. I remember praying fervently for guidance and for wisdom, and I remember vividly the ultimatum Jon issued at the end of our walk: “I can’t be happy here.” It wasn’t a statement meant to induce guilt. It was simply raw honesty that, looking back, had been a long time coming.
When I first agreed to move, I was not a co-conductor of the move-to-Mississippi train; I was just a reluctant passenger, acquiescing to the needs of my husband. My only condition was that we wait until the following summer. I didn’t want to rush out of Oregon as if we were running from something. I wanted to say thorough goodbyes to everyone in my life and treasure a few more holidays with my family.
That plan lasted until the moment Jon’s long-term sub position ended. He spent the first several weeks of the school year subbing for a teacher on maternity leave. When she came back to work and he called other districts to put his name on their sub lists, he discovered those lists were closed. The income we expected to be earning from him substituting in six different school districts vanished.
We also began to realize how impractical our plan to move in June was. If Jon was going to get a teaching job in Mississippi, it made sense for him to be there in the spring to apply for jobs, schedule interviews, and get his name out through being a substitute. We bumped up our move date by six months.
My attitude at that point could best be described as begrudgingly onboard. I no longer felt like an unwilling participant, but I still didn’t see the big picture. I didn’t understand how the move was the best decision for our family, but I trusted my husband to lead us and I trusted God to see us through. My thoughts and emotions during that time were often confusing and overwhelming, but I remember a sense of peace that seemed to mostly overwhelm the fear and doubt.
By Thanksgiving, we’d decided to begin the drive to Mississippi on December 28. When we flew to Mississippi the second week of December for Jon’s sister’s wedding, he had two interviews, including one at the very same high school he graduated from. Even though it’s nearly unheard of for schools to hire teachers mid-year, that’s exactly what happened: Jon was hired to start after Christmas break.
Having the burden of unemployment lifted was the second bright spot for me. The first was the house my in-laws found for us. We got to walk through during the trip and I fell in love with the big front porch and the real hardwood floors. I could see my family living there and that was a big deal.
The opportunities we’ve had in the three years we’ve been in Mississippi- teaching at the same school, building a home, making memories with Jon’s grandmother before she passed away last year- have been overwhelming in their abundance. There are so many things I miss about Oregon, but there isn’t a single doubt in my mind that the life we have here is what God intended for us.
If I did have any doubt about God’s plan for our move, it vanished as I stood on the front porch of our new house a few weeks after we moved in. I noticed how worn the house numbers looked and I recalled the recently unpacked numbers we’d purchased, but never put up, for our home in Oregon. They were 1-2-0-5. Our new address? 2-0-5.
Abby is a teacher, momma, and wife, and you can read more of her story on her blog, Winstead Wandering, where she shares about food, life, teaching, and blogging. You can also follow her on her Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. Like this Moments post? Check out the others in the series. If you're interested in contributing, please complete this form with what you'd like to write about. I can't wait to see your ideas!