Thursday, February 25, 2010

Part 1: A funny thing happened on the way to Saint Louis...

A man's heart deviseth his way:
but the LORD directeth his steps.

Proverbs 16:9

The story you are about to read is true.

As we have alluded to on this blog a few times, we moved to St Louis in December. I think we also previously alluded to the very wonderous way in which the Lord brought us here. In fact, we have done little else but allude. But we have been keeping a running list of all the ways in which the Lord has directed our steps to get us here, and we felt it was time to share them.

This is a long story, so we will relay it here in parts. This will keep your eyes from glazing over and my fingers from cramping up.

It all started on a small acreage in south central Wisconsin...

The small acreage was about an hour's commute from Dave's workplace in Madison, and this was partly by design. We decided it was time to give country living a try. The acreage (some might call this a slight exaggeration, but it was nearly 2 acres), was a fixer-upper in a wonderful woodsy area, etc. The distance from Madison kept it affordable for us.

After three years in the country, the two hour daily commute did begin to get tiring for Dave. However, coupled with some backwards steps in technology on the job and an effective decrease in his pay, the job situation began to become a strain. We began praying and seeking and knocking, but no better local options opened up. So we just waited...

Well, in God's timing, an opportunity opened up. It was what could be called a "dream job" if a person was a dreamer of jobs. It was several weeks until things were finalized with this new job, but we were so thankful and waited. The most wonderful part was that, the client agreed that until we could sell our acreage and move to St Louis, Dave could work from home most of the time.

We made the strategic household adjustments, purchased very fluffy slippers for Dave's commute upstairs each morning, and put the house on the market. However, as we headed into winter, we had very few showings on the house. By summer, we planned a trip to a St Louis homeschool conference coupled with some house hunting. Our patient realtor showed us a few places, but the heat, the enormous distance between houses, and the complication of our family size greatly hampered our efforts. You see, St Louis county, and some others in near proximity, have rules about how many people may occupy a residence. Fifteen people, in some towns, would require an 8 bedroom home! So, we really needed to do more research, and we headed home with no prospects, but more direction.

Dave made another trip to St Louis, with the boys, a little later in August. This time, with Debbie at home scoping out possibilities on the internet and relaying them to the realtor, we could cover a lot more territory. Dave and the boys were ready, willing and able to do some intensive house shopping. They brought tools, flashlights, and of course, our copy of "House Buying for Dummies."

The main search criteria was that the house be affordable, not too far from downtown St Louis, and NOT in St Louis county. Outside St Louis county, we could pack ourselves in like sardines and nobody cared. Inside St Louis county, we were looking at having to renovate a small motel.

The best housing prospect we found was about 40 minutes from downtown, but all things considered, we felt good about it. It was being rented, so the tenants had to have 24 hour notice before house showings. This made it so that the guys had to wait until the following Monday to go by for a second peek. The investigations and the very reasonable price made us feel pretty okay about putting an offer on the house that Monday. Though the Wisconsin house was still for sale, we were told by our bank that we were pre-qualified to purchase a second house before the first one sold. So Dave had a pre-qualification letter to present with our offer.

(Foreshadowing alert: The reader should suspect that there is a reason we are putting pre-qualifed in bold. The reason is, I don't know how to put in ominous music.)

Since Dave would be in St Louis on Monday anyway, he decided to go into the office and sit in on a meeting scheduled that day. (Normally, he would "attend" by phone.) So, Monday was the big day. They drove by the ATM to withdraw money for the deposit on the house, Dave went in to the office for his meeting, and then he found out his contract was terminated.

As Dave and the boys headed back to the car, of course, the whole plan changed. Though we had never experienced unemployment before, that was really only part of the adjustment. We knew that it was not something the Lord would want us to worry about, so that saved us some time. However, we had made many plans during the previous 8 months, and with the termination news, it took some concentration to figure out what had changed and what hadn't.

For example, we were wondering if we should keep the house on the market. Hmmmm. We decided to keep it on the market. Since we were already willing to move, we'd just open the job search up nationwide and see where the Lord led us.

One thing we knew for sure, it would NOT be St Louis, Missouri.

Now, by this time, Dave's Grails computer book was finished and scheduled for printing. While Dave was willing to take any position that met our needs, we were all really hoping for a programming job in a shop using Grails. But these jobs are rare! So, he cast his net pretty wide, hoping for a Grails job, but knowing it wasn't too likely. He looked for openings and sent his resume. He posted his resume on nationwide job boards. He waited. Nothing.

We tried to take advantage of the time, going on nice walks and pondering the next step. The Lord really gave us peace, but the waiting got old.

Eight days after the job search, he got a call from a recruiter. This was for a job which Dave had never seen or applied for. Initially, she didn't seem to understand Dave was hoping for a Grails gig (as they call them). When he mentioned Grails, she matter-of-factly said, "Oh, yes, yes, I know, I know," but as Dave awaited the phone interview, he wondered if she had her details straight.

However, she did. It was for a Grails job. The interviewers tried to minimize their surprised reaction when they learned he was the author of a book on Grails. The interview went well, and Dave received a satisfactory contract offer the same day. We were amazed and just thanking the Lord!

We knew already to brace ourselves for the fact that this was not a job where he could work from home. He would have to be on site daily, starting immediately. As we began packing his bags and making preparations, our main consolation was that the job was located in:

St Louis, Missouri.

(da da dum dum da da da!!!)

Is that weird or what?

Okay, we are almost done with this installment...

So as soon as he hung up the phone, he's on the phone to our realtor. The realtor who led us all over the St Louis metro area twice. The realtor who heard we had lost our job and were not moving to St Louis. That one.

Was that house we almost bought still available? we asked. We already felt good about it, had checked it out, and it was a great price. That would be the quickest route to getting us all down to St Louis, since Dave could not work from our home with this new job.

But no, it was already sold.

So Dave prepared to head down to the new job in St Louis, and we began scrambling to find a suitable second choice. We were so thrilled about the new Grails gig, we just trusted that the Lord would show us the next step. And he did.

But that step was followed by a lot more steps than we had bargained for!

This story continues here, but you might want to take a stretch break first!


:::Jessica Mayo::: said...

Hey there!! Thanx for the fun up date!
Love n' miss you guys!

Bobby Dappen said...

I'm half-way done reading the story! I'm excited to read the rest, but just had to pause and praise the Lord for what He's doing!! I knew some of the details, but not the whole thing from start to finish! BTW, I love your writing style!

Ok...now for the rest of the story!

Jay and Heidi Schaefer said...

Truly great to read your story-particularly now since we are PATIENTLY waiting for a different job postion for Jay.
Great to see you choose the attitude of joy when there is a twist in the road. (We sing: "Are you humbly grateful or grumbly hateful?")
From our fam to your tribe,
Give the glory to God,
Heidi and Jay and the fam