We’ve told this story to a few people personally, but enough have asked something along the lines of “why in the world are you moving to Iowa??” that we figured we’d break the year-long dry spell and tell the story on the family blog. Aside from the fact that we’re both Iowa natives and we want to be closer to family, there’s a much more personal reason behind the move.
It all started a year ago (practically to the day…). Amanda and I usually attend a homeschool conference where we learn a ton about homeschooling, parenting, relationships, and more. This time, a session about multi-generational learning really piqued my interest. I don’t seem to have any notes from it, but it made me think about how much time my kids spend with grandma and grandpa (or, more appropriately, how little). I started thinking back to how much I wish I knew my grandparents better, but we saw them so infrequently; two of them died when I was younger than my oldest daughter is now.
We talked about it on the way home from the conference, noodling various ideas over the summer of what we might do. Amanda had a cousin with a software company in Cedar Falls. Interesting. Seeking wisdom from a close friend I evaluated whether I was just being unsettled because I was too comfortable or if I was simply “looking for adventure.” Some severe stress with vehicular problems, a couple of big work trips, and a lost journal meant we didn’t take any more action on the thought until November when things really started getting painful.
Our extended family has always gotten together for holidays and birthdays, but it’s becoming harder and harder to do so. My parents have stopped hosting Thanksgiving at their house because there are just too many of us. And Christmas has gone from a multi-day home-centered affair to a couple nights in a hotel – which has been very uncomfortable for us – our younger children don’t have much to do (except drown in a pool if we don’t go in with them), and our wallets are stretched by the two rooms x two nights needed for our large family. Even when we do see family, the 4-5-hour drive is well past the comfort zone for the kids making travel painful and impromptu visits impossible.
In November, we were dismayed when my family had no plans whatsoever for Thanksgiving, and then hurt even more when we learned some had gotten together at the last minute (remember the impossible impromptu visits?). A couple weeks afterwards, my parents did visit to see us all perform in the Nutcracker. When they left, our littlest daughter was sobbing because “Bama and Bampa” had to leave. As my heart broke, I said enough is enough. We’re going to do this.
I started interviewing friends and a couple coworkers (in confidence) about my options. I had a strong feeling Epic wouldn’t support remote workers, but I held out a small bit of hope about the possibility. Over Christmas break and after a lot of prayer, we made a firm decision to move to Iowa sometime in the next year. Once that happened, things started moving a bit quickly!
At an industry conference in January, I dutifully represented Epic, but I also met with some close friends about career possibilities / ideas they might have. Reassured I actually was employable (I’d been getting over a severe case of imposter syndrome), I officially announced to my Epic team lead that I’d be moving to Iowa, and if Epic couldn’t work with me on telecommuting, I’d be looking for other employment. Several folks on my team were begging for my being allowed to work remotely, but apparently not the ones that mattered. I started interviewing!
I quickly learned what I already suspected – I had it really good at Epic. A couple offers were torpedoed when we got to salary, since they couldn’t come close to my Epic salary. I suppose I could have looked around longer, but I eventually settled on a risky but exciting job at a healthcare startup doing very similar work to what I’d already been doing at Epic. It was a massive pay cut, but a chance for big growth in the future.
With a 3-week break between jobs, we spontaneously decided to drive to Cedar Falls and check out some open houses. We quickly found a great realtor and made several trips to see many different houses – there was a lot to choose from, but we also had overly vague notions of what we were looking for – or even how much to spend! We eventually made our pick (a whole story in itself) the day before I started at my new job. After a short few weeks of hurried repairs, we listed our own house which then sold in less than 3 weeks while I was on the other side of the world on a work trip.
Meanwhile, May has been a whirlwind month of packing, inspection repairs, and final arrangements for the move. In just a couple of days, we sign a few hundred pages and move into our new home. Which, oh by the way, is just down the block from where my parents just moved into last week – an amazing surprise that came in the middle of this busy Spring. Whew!
So where does all this leave us? We’re stepping out in a big leap of faith. A big pay cut and an even bigger house for our large family don’t seem to make a lot of sense. But we really do feel God has called us to be closer to family, and as we obey Him, we keep seeing ways he has made our paths straight, even preparing them ahead of time for us. My parents mentioned the possibility of their moving to Cedar Falls before we ever brought it up. Our kids, who we thought would be the most resistant, were begging to move “next week!” the day after we told them about our plans in January. We’ve even been living at exactly my new salary for months before I had the offer, on the advice of a good friend who suggested saving more. Even the fact that 3 of the 4 realtors involved in the process are named Chris is a little coincidental. There are so many more examples; I could fill another 1000-word blog post.
Every little step along this way has been another opportunity to trust Him just a little farther. We are so excited to see what the future holds and what He has in store for us.