Thank you all for taking time to respond from your heart. Some of you wrote things from which we can all read and learn. Some of you called to share with me encouragement or ideas. Others of you hiked with me at Pine Mountain or cooked dinner for me and shared with us face to face what you thought.
So we’re all on the same page, I thought I’d summarize all of the information that I’ve been getting. Everyone can read the written comments — so take a look at those if you’ve got time. It’s wonderful to hear from people who have gone through something similiar. It’s a logical reality that you’re not the only one, but the emotional reality is that you feel like you’re the only one.
The phone messages consisted of Elida letting me know that she’s praying for me and a message from my grandpa. He’s been reading my blog. He said he liked it and he thinks it will be published into a book someday. For someone who admires my grandfather as much as I do, this is praise not to be received lightly. He’s a specific, precise man — not one to give me “fluff” –even when he loves me very much. But let me share the message he left in his words:
Dottie and I had a “wild vision” to be missionaries to go to parts unknown where the gospel had never been preached. Many, many people jumped in to help us with monthly contributions that kept us going for the ten years we were abroad and it was an important formation of our lives. Maybe we can do something like that to help you get started with this formative step of your lives. You recognize your responsibilities to your kids and your family and so that some of your traveling in a camper and camping on a beach are a little bit wild, but who knows? It might work out.
Those who shared with us face to face are my closest friends: Robin, Heather, and Anne (Paul’s sister). None of them think we should move. We sat around the counter, eating venison, drinking wine, and hashing out the particulars of each possibility. Here they are:
1) La Grande: Benefits — Full time teaching position with full benefits. $36,000. Job stability. A beautiful, mountain town with many outdoor activities. A college town. Prospective supervisor is someone I would enjoy working under. Dealing with homeschoolers. Flexible hours. Negatives: Hours are at least as long or longer than regular teaching hours — grading language arts for 160 students while visiting 35 of my students in their homes twice a month. Students’ homes range from Hermiston all the way to La Grande. Crossing over Cabbage Hill 2-3 times a week during the winter seems somewhat scary to me. Reimbursement is 25 cents per mile — not much, really. My car has close to 200,000 miles on it. Plus there is the pain and difficulty of relocating. It is five hours from both Paul’s and my immediate families. We’ll probably lose the house and it will still be very tight to live on my full-time salary.
2) Tualatin: Benefits — Half-time ESL position. I teach every other day for a full day so I wouldn’t have to commute daily. Keeps my license up. 45 min. and 35 mi. from Elida’s. Elida has all kinds of work for Paul at the new gallery she just opened up. Being close to her is a definite plus as long as we don’t try to keep her hours (and look at me now — 1 a.m.). I can half the homeschooling with Paul. I teach math, English, and history on my days off and he’ll teach math, science, and art on the days that I’m working. Negatives: We’d leave our house again and not know what to do with it. We’d still have to pay rent over in Camas. It’s almost a wash. $20,000 for 80 days of teaching — but I need to subtract the gas it takes to get there and the rent we’d pay to live there. I’d also have to commute from Prineville to Camas until we saved enough money for a first and last. That’s two months being apart or dragging my family into Elida’s house to live for the week. Relocation isn’t going to be easy. Not when we don’t have any money to do it with.
3) Stay home: Benefits — No relocating. We won’t have this extra house with which we don’t know what to do. Get to stay home with the kids and homeschool unless I sub or tutor. All of Paul’s family and our good friends are here. Negatives: It’s just a holding pattern. Few opportunities for Paul in art. Few opportunities for either of us in teaching. It’s just a waiting place. There’s not much for us here in regards to work. Paul could, once again, travel to the valley to work with Elida or John, but we’d either have to take the whole family or spend another winter without him.
These are the “opportunities” we’ve been wrestling with, though none of them really feel like opportunities at all! Though there is something to gain, there is equally something to lose.
Once again, I feel like doing something “wild” like my grandma and grandpa and take off into parts unknown. The risks are higher, but so are the possibilities. If our family were to travel on a quest to save our home — on a quest to find ourselves, trust our hearts, and keep our children close — I wonder if it would inspire others to read about it? We’d be seeking the answer to a problem that many are experiencing. So many people are losing their homes, their jobs, their marriages, their kids, and sometimes their lives to what?
A culture and an economy that is slowly squeezing them out. This is a problem of Paul’s and my generation. Ours is a problem that represents so many others.
So what if we travel? We talk with people to share our story. We listen to theirs. And we share it all on the blog. Do you think people would read? Do you think people would care?
I don’t know. I’ll put it down on the options list to see how it looks.
4) Traveling and blogging about it. Benefits: It’s exciting. It’s something we’ve always wanted to do. We’d all be together. We’d get to homeschool. Paul could paint and I could write and we both could teach, read stories aloud, and read on our own. We might inspire people to find creative solutions to their problems. We might inspire people to not give up on their situation, their marriages, their families. Negatives: We’ll still have this house with which we don’t know what to do. We could run out of money and nobody would read the blog and I would be really embarrassed — because it was a big, fat failure. Paul would shake his head and call me his “hard-headed woman” and give me a big kiss and say, “Don’t worry about it. I’m proud of you that you tried.” But I’d still be really embarrassed and wonder if I have any talent at all. Maybe I’d give up writing…
Back to summarizing. Looking at the options, our situation is pretty dire. It might take something more than a job to fix it.
It’s gonna take a miracle.