Hurry Up and Wait

Now that Chad and I have made the decision to travel, it seems as though we are at a stand still. There are things that we have been researching and discussing, but mostly we just have to wait until the middle of January to make some real progress.

We (meaning Chad) has been researching “travel-hacking” which, as far as I can tell, is using credit card miles or points to pay for your travel. We got an airline miles credit card almost two years ago and have been using it to pay all of our bills, including groceries, dining out…everything. Through Chads fastidious and careful watch we have accumulated almost 200,000 miles on one card and are on our way to getting another 50,000 on another card. This is just by using the credit cards instead of our debit cards. Chad has been awesome about watching for special ways to earn more miles and such and because of this we have enough points on our cards to fly free our whole trip.

There is more to travel-hacking than just flights such as transferring points and balances to get special deals on hotels and such, but honestly it is totally confusing to me. Hence the fact that Chad is reading about it and I am not. I get information overload while exploring options on the internet and feel as though my brain is melting. I am continually grateful that I have Chad because he can sift through the massive amounts of information and find the gems and then pass along the info to me in a clear way. I really don’t know what I would do without him.

So we are waiting for a few of things to start getting rid of our stuff and packing our bags: (1) Chad has to give notice at his work, (2) we have to make a final decision on where we are going (Argentina most likely first, then???), and (3) we have to book our flights. After these have been done then the whirlwind of real preparations can begin. So until then, we just sit and wait and we research and pray.

Do you have any favorite places that you think we should travel to? Leave a comment and let us know why!

 

Support and Encouragement

While Chad and I were praying, seeking counsel, and waiting for God to answer our pleas for direction about taking our trip, I realized that support and encouragement are two very different things. To support, according to the dictionary, is to bear all or part of the weight of; to hold up. The definition of encourage is to give support, confidence, or hope to someone. In definition alone you can see that these two are very similar and in my mind they have always gone hand in hand, but when it comes to this trip we are planning, they feel very different.

We have many people in our lives that we love dearly who are completely against us leaving. People who influence us and whom we want to please. My family has taken it really well, it is not easy to think of how they will have to continue their relationship with my daughter, Zoë, by video chats and email, it breaks my heart, but I know that their love of her and her love of Grammy and Grandpa will just grow regardless. No matter where we are, they will always be a constant, even if its just electronically. My parents are understanding and even are supportive, because Chad and I feel God is leading us, that they feel we must follow Gods direction. They are never encouraging though. I have never heard, and probably never will hear, “you guys should totally travel, its such a great opportunity, I wish we could do that,” etc. And I honestly would be a bit hurt if they were so quick to say we should go, but it sure would make it a lot easier to leave.

Some of our friends and family are supportive, but very few are encouraging. For the longest time this really upset me. It was discouraging and made me question my motives and desires. But then I realized, I should feel blessed. I do feel blessed that I have so many wonderful people in my life that want me here so badly, that they cannot bring themselves to be excited about something that will take me away from them. Thank you friends and family, your love is not ignored and I will always love you no matter where I may be on this planet of ours.

Chad and I have fervently prayed that our desire to travel was not just selfishness on our parts, but that God was causing it to get our butts moving. In the end, we felt that God was asking us to step out in faith, to walk into the unknown. We must follow through with plan to leave America and travel the world finding ways to serve Him as we go. We feel that we have Gods support and encouragement, and that is all we need. So we continue on and look to Him to sustain our hearts and minds because we know it is too hard for most of those we leave here.

“It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed” Deuteronomy 31:8

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” Isaiah 41:10

And So It Begins

There are many things that people could say about me, but I do not believe anyone could say that I am a natural writer. For this reason, I am so glad that I will not be writing this blog on my own. I have a partner in crime, my husband, Chad, who is a writer among many other amazing things. We will be taking turns telling this story, the story that will be our lives for the foreseeable future. For you see, we have decided to go on an around the world trip with our daughter, Zoë.

Our story began over six years ago, I had just moved back to my hometown of Santa Rosa, California from Las Vegas, Nevada. The neon lights, casinos and clubs held me for five years, but I finally escaped the desert and made my way back to my family to recuperate from that crazy and unlivable life. It was not easy being a 26 year old woman and moving back in with my parents, but it was what had to be and my parents were incredibly giving and kind to let me.

I had been back in Santa Rosa for two weeks when I reconnected with an old friend that I had known since I was 11. I met Chad at a Valentines day party at my house in 1989 or 1990 I think, he was shy and stayed glued to his moms side (he hates when I say that, but its true). We were both home-schooled and our mothers were friends and were both leaders in the homeschool community. Chad was (and still is) sweet, handsome and smart. He and I both loved studying the American civil war, considered ourselves smart (trying to prove that we were smarter than the other always), and had a natural way of talking to each other. We became fast friends. Soon after we met, Chad and his family moved to a town 1 ½ hours away. We kept in contact through phone calls and occasionally our parents would travel to see each other. We would fall out of touch and then meet again.

Now we were both in our mid twenties, had both just gotten out of relationships and for the first time we had the opportunity to let our friendship turn into more. Long story short, (well I guess you could say short story short) we were married three months later, on June 29, 2006.

There were a couple of reasons that we “rushed” things (as some might say), one was that we were in love of course, another was that Chad was leaving for southeast Asia to teach english in September. It was the best rash decision I have ever made in my life.

Chad and I spent the fourth month of our marriage traveling through Thailand. I fell in love with the country, the people, the weather, the food, pretty much everything about it. It was a great and exciting opportunity to get to know my new husband, because traveling with a person is the best way to get to know every little detail about them. This was my first time out of the States and I also learned a lot about myself. For example, I love to try new foods, even if they are a bit different (think pig intestines in blood soup). Another example is that I realized that I did not need the level of cleanliness or amenities that I always thought I needed to live a normal life, I was roughing it and I loved it (most of the time).

After our month long “honeymoon,” Chad and I settled in Taipei, Taiwan for the next two years to teach English. It was very difficult to get used to, culture shock can be debilitating, but eventually I fell in love with our temporary home. In September 2008, we took a final month long trip through Thailand, Vietnam. Laos and Cambodia and headed back to the good old USA to see what life would be like for us back home.

In all honesty, I was the one pushing to move back stateside, to have a ”normal” life. I missed my family, I wanted a desk job like I always had, I wanted clothes and shoes that fit, I wanted Panda Express (“Chinese” food here in America is much tastier than the real Chinese food in Taipei for the most part), and most of all, I wanted nachos that weren’t just Doritos with melted cheese. My wonderful husband was not happy about leaving “the island”, as we called Taiwan (think of the TV series “Lost”), but because he is so kind and loving, he decided that my happiness was more important than his own. What a guy!

For all the decisions that I have made in my life, coming back to California turned out to be one of the dumbest. From the moment we got back to Santa Rosa, I knew I had made a horrible mistake. We came back right when the economic crash was fresh and new in 2008. Lehman Brothers was folding, bailouts were happening, and jobs were disappearing. My mom and dad generously opened their home to us and our two mutts that we had adopted in Taipei. We thought we were going to be staying there for a couple weeks, maybe a month at the most. In all it ended up taking 5 months for us to be able to afford our own place.

It took me two weeks to find a job, working at a surgery center, doing medical billing (which I have always loved). It took Chad 5 months to find a job. He is a systems administrator and there was just no jobs, so he tried finding other kinds of work and still nothing was available. Finally his old employer, Amy’s Kitchen, hired him back and we were able to afford to get our own place. Finally…

We rented a cute little place, hung out with friends, got into a kind of routine, working full-time, partying nights and weekends. We always had something going on. We had settled, but we were still not happy with being back and started to think that we may need to go back to Asia. It was just something we kind of pondered over but no real plans were made.

Fast forward to 2010, Chad and I are making real plans to move back to Taiwan and I find out that I am pregnant! Surprise!! We decided to hold off on moving until our little one was old enough to fly.

On June 23rd, 2011 I gave birth to the most amazing, beautiful, perfect gift from God. We named her Zoë Christine and tried to get used to being parents. We were so blessed that she was an incredibly easy baby. She rarely cried, slept well and never had any health or behavioral issues. As she got old enough to fly, we realized that we were not going to be able to move so soon. Too many family things came up (we both have very big families that have no problem speaking their minds) and we really wanted to make sure that God was directing us to move and we weren’t just being selfish and toting our daughter to Asia without thinking of her.

It is now December 2012, Zoë is 18 months old and is walking, talking and is truly a joy in every way. We are still living in Santa Rosa, California. I quit working to stay home with Zoë and Chad still works for Amy’s Kitchen. But after months of praying and reading Gods word and really contemplating all the pros and cons, God has given us direction and we have finally decided and have set in motion “The Plan”. The plan to get us out of here finally and on our way to see where God leads us to settle next, it may be Argentina, it may be Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey…the only one that truly knows is Him. We leave in three months for our great adventure. This blog will be a journal of our preparations, our journey and how God shows us His direction for our lives. So come along with us (virtually) and see what happens, it should be exciting!

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge him and He shall direct your path.” Proverbs 3:5-6