It was twelve years ago that Jaci and I sold most everything we owned and moved to San Francisco’s East Bay. Before we left, the most commonly asked question was: “Why San Francisco?!”
We knew that we were embarking upon a remarkable adventure, but could only answer the question with, “We’re not really sure….but we’ll see.”
Looking back, we had no idea who we would become as the journey of the past twelve years unfolded. We had no idea that in our time in the Bay Area, a dynamic & dangerous church would be planted, a Masters degree would be obtained, unlikely friendships would be forged, two kiddos would burst into our lives, and a strategy for a national peacemaking movement would be born. We had no idea that we would be so found and formed by God as we followed Jesus through the pain and celebration of courageous relationships and unthinkable experiences.
Three months ago, that twelve-year season came to a conclusion: we released Open Door into its next generation of leadership, sold our home to friends, shifted my vocational focus to The Global Immersion Project, and moved our family to Bend, OR.
People who know me know my love for the Bay Area. I’m at my best in its innovative culture, its global diversity, its open-mindedness, its commitment to cross-sector solutions, its pace and connectivity, and its post-church yet Jesus-intrigued spirituality. It’s no surprise, therefore, that when people find out I’ve moved my family to Bend, they ask (surprised, confused, & a bit perplexed) a familiar question: “Why Bend?!”
I guess we’re not really sure…but we’ll see!
But there is more. As I’ve listened to Jaci and I discern this move together, here are a few of the most significant reasons (in no particular order) why Bend for the next season of our family’s life.
- Flexible vocational realities provided us with the first opportunity in twelve years to consider a fresh start in a new place. We love pioneering, tilling the soil of new neighborhoods, discovering what Jesus is up to in new places, and allowing our roots to grow deep.
- Our kids spent much more time in car seats, fenced-in backyards, and urban jungles than we wanted for them. We wanted them to experience life a bit more “off-leash” on the high-desert trails and alpine lakes of Central Oregon.
- We are mountains, lakes, and rivers people. Bend is a city with a distinct identity, innovative culture, and named neighborhoods that exists at the intersection of where we most come alive as a family. Bend is an exciting place that God loves dearly and is actively engaged within. We’re looking forward to the ways we’ll get to join God in making all things new in our new neighborhood and city.
- We wanted to see Open Door launch into its next season and discerned that our cheering them on from afar would be better for them and for us than from within.
- We were fatigued of tag-team parenting and dissatisfied that the time we spent together, the four of us, had become the exception rather than the rule.
- Our family needs to learn the practices of rest, recreation, and celebration from the pace of the river and the rhythms of the seasons.
- Rather than sensing a clear directional “call” to Bend, we and our community of counsel experienced God’s favor as we considered it as the place that would host our next season. We sensed that a move for the sake of family flourishing lies within the realm of God’s deepest desire & joy and is, therefore, an excellent idea.
Bottom line: I made a covenant commitment…
…not to a place, nor a passion;
…not to a cause, nor an issue;
…not to a vocation, nor a people group;
…not to an ideal, nor an opportunity;
…but to God, to my wife, and to my family.
I and we are simply better when we follow Jesus into that commitment. One day, I imagine we’ll look in the rear-view mirror with wonder at how we were found and formed by God in the Pacific Northwest.