Tell us a little bit about your family.
Jon and I got married when we were 20. We ran off to Vegas… not typically the type of marriage that sticks. We’ve been married 10 years now, though! We have two kids, ages 3 and 4.
What do you and your hubby do for work?
Jon is a youth pastor that isn’t working right now due to health issues. He is also a hobby film photographer. I’m a reluctant worship pastor (kind of a story there) and graphic designer and sometimes photographer.
Where did you call home before being uprooted?
When did the possibility of relocating first come up and why?
October 2012. God really uprooted us before that, but it was a small move, from Lincoln to Omaha. We were in a place where it was hard to hear from Him, but we were so broken. That was in July. By October, we had found a new church, and we were so open to the Holy Spirit to move in us, I think God just grew us and stretched us beyond what we normally experience. When I came across a youth pastor listing online, I started saying, “oh crap, oh crap.” I just knew. I knew. I showed it to Jon, and his eyes got wide. Because we didn’t want to find a job that didn’t pay. Yes, the coast is gorgeous, but it’s also extremely isolated. It was a listing that was well over a year old, that was supposed to have expired, that was not within my search parameters. So we contacted them.
Were you the instigator of the idea or the follower?
I supposed I was the instigator. I usually am.
If you were the instigator, what brought you to bring it up? How did you know it was right? What obstacles did you face from your spouse?
I just knew. Jon and I had come to the realization before this that he needed to step back into his calling as a youth pastor. That’s something he went to school for, but stepped away from for many reasons, but they weren’t because God told him to. So we had been casually searching the country for youth pastor jobs that would fit.
Describe a little bit about the atmosphere of your home during the deciding process. What did that unknown feel like? How did it affect your marriage? Your children? The environment of the home?
My parents were not supportive at all. Our kids were very excited, but they didn’t really get it. Once we started to make preparations, it got really surreal. When we left, it still didn’t feel real. But it did feel adventurous.
What about your former city made you feel like it wasn’t the place for you?
It wasn’t that Omaha didn’t feel like it wasn’t the place for us, we just felt like God was calling us elsewhere. Our feelings about Omaha didn’t really change, but we had never felt like it was home. I had grown up in Nebraska, all of my family is here, so leaving the state was difficult, but I didn’t feel homesick once.
What made you consider the next city as a better fit? Did those expectations of the new city come true?
We didn’t evaluate it like that. We focused more on the job stuff, and what God was doing, and knew that He would take care of our needs. We didn’t move to a city though, there wasn’t much information about the town because the whole area is pretty low in population.
How did you decipher between feelings of,”I need to be more content” versus “God is leading us somewhere else no matter how content or discontent we are?”
We really searched for confirmation from multiple sources. We were taught that God confirms through people we respect and that are mature in their faith, through circumstances, through the movement of the Holy Spirit, through the word…so we just impatiently tried to be patient. I think God was really teaching us about how to hear Him, how to know when He is speaking. A lot of it has to do with how clearly you hear Him all the time anyway. We got a lot of confirmation through our church, through the word, and through the pastors who wanted us to come, besides the things that God was doing externally to make it happen. We just took small steps of action, and God cleared the next part of the path. I wouldn’t say it was an open door until we started walking through it.
Did you have work lined up in the new city before you moved? If not, how did you survive when you got there? If so, what did you have set up?
We really started to feel called to the Oregon Coast in October of 2012. We decided to step out in faith in December, feeling very sure of our decision in January 2013. Jon was to be employed as a youth pastor, but missionally. Full-time work, no pay. When we decided that we would follow God’s call there, Jon found a tech job at the nearby hospital. A hospital with 1 tech position…the kind of job that rarely opens up. When he applied, they called to ask if he was serious, since we were in Omaha. When he said yes, they set up an interview, and he had the job within a week. It was all very obvious that God was moving and setting things up for us.
We had enough support from people who had felt God moving them to give to us before leaving (which we did not ask for, so it was surprising but also wonderful to see God working) that we survived for a few months and had a deposit for a rental that we got into within a couple of months of being there. That gave us a little time for Jon to start working and saving up for the months ahead. We literally only brought what we could fit in our car. With our two kids and their carseats, and our dog.
What were some of the hardest parts about relocation?
Just finding a place, understanding the laws and the things that are different. It’s also hard to settle in a new culture. It’s hard to get to know people. I got involved with a softball league, and that really helped me because I was working from home and with the kids all day and I needed an outlet. It’s important to get involved in the community, be Christ to them, and see your new surroundings as your mission field. To not compare. To explore.
What were some of the best parts about your relocation?
Stepping out in faith is never a bad thing. God really rewards you. It’s like the act of doing something radical for Him really opens you up, and He just pours into you. As much as Jon and I grew before we left, we matured years in our 10 months in Oregon. It was so good for us in so many ways. We learned to rely only on ourselves for everything out of necessity. We learned that it’s okay to ask for help, too, especially when you have kids. Seeing God move in the lives of our little congregation was amazing. And exploring a new place was probably my favorite thing about it all.
What were some of the unexpected, tough things that you’ve experienced that you didn’t take into account when you were deciding [to move]?
We were so much more isolated than we had any idea that we would be. We were three hours and a terrifying mountain pass road from a Target! (I kid, but seriously.)
The culture was so different. There were hitchhikers and backpackers everywhere. There were beggars and people searching. There were so many homeless. And in such a small community. The country was wild and unforgiving. And so beautiful.
What were some of the unexpected blessings you experienced that you didn’t expect?
I feel like I got to experience thin places… where the spiritual and the physical worlds almost collide. It was scary, but it was also pretty awesome. We developed relationships with the most unlikely people, and we made lifelong friends. We did better financially with less than we ever had before. We were living life so on the edge, that we had to cling to God the whole time. There was no other option for us. It made us feel very alive and very aware of Him.
Did you regret your decision to take this leap?
You know, if you knew the whole story, you might think I do. Because about 7-8 months in, our pastor really lost sight of the vision he had for the church. He was so burned out. 9 months in, they left. We knew a little of the circumstances and where things might be going with them, but one Sunday they told us they would probably be moving on Tuesday, and even though they tried to continue with the church, from 3 1/2 hours away it’s pretty difficult. Especially when there’s a mountain range between you and winter well on the way. Jon had been getting random symptoms for his undiagnosed autoimmune disease (that we had naively thought he had recovered from the year before) and with the stress of taking of many pastor duties, running the youth group, and working a full-time job in another town, his health deteriorated fast.
So things collapsed, kind of. Only they didn’t. We clung to God through it. What else could we do? We traveled to Portland for health care. We packed up our belongings and said goodbye to our friends and the people that had become like family to us in a place where our closest family was 2000 miles away. God just showed up. He showed us the way back home, He provided in astounding ways. Jon couldn’t drive because of seizures, and three guys from our old church decided to meet us in Idaho and drive us the rest of the way home. God did things like this the whole way, took care of us.He does that.
He spoke to me. He said, “it doesn’t matter where you go, as long as you are seeking Me wholeheartedly.” It’s so true. All that matters is Him, that you are passionately in love with Him, and that you are seeking him with every fiber of your heart and soul, strength and mind.
Was there a point in this process where you and your husband were not in unity?
Kate: I felt sure while Jon wasn’t sure yet, but it didn’t affect us in a bad way. It brought us together because we knew one of us was right and the other was possibly not so we needed to pray and seek together.
Jon: I was cautious. It was a major, major decision. Moving my family across the country wasn’t something to take lightly. I think I resisted a little at first. By now, I’ve learned that my wife’s intuition seems to be a Godly gift, but then I didn’t know what to think. She was pretty sure, but then she was scared because of it. It took me a few months to really get ahold of what God was doing and begin to step out in faith. Even then, I wasn’t totally sure, but God kept confirming it, and I chose to believe that’s what He was doing. He gives us just enough faith to step out, and then when we do, He rewards us with more.
Tell us about that moment you decided to stop talking about it and make it happen? What did that process look like?
I can’t remember the exact moment, except I remember that we did. And it was like we decided with our hearts, not our minds. So when we did that, our hearts just started moving. We started looking for houses and jobs and researching. And I think that is when God really started moving around us as well.
What were some of the practical steps you made to make the move happen?
Finding work, lining up housing, packing and getting a storage unit for our things at home. Deciding not to take everything – something my mother-in-law told us God told her, which none of us were expecting – and that God would provide for us (which He did!).
What was the scariest thing for you and your spouse about the thought of moving? Looking back, do you feel like these fears were warranted?
Kate: Firstly, being far from the known and from my family, and secondly, not having our stuff…sadly. But it was also invigorating and exciting.
Jon: Taking the kids somewhere that we might fail, and what would we do if we did?
Kate: No, I wouldn’t [say they were warranted], because the growing process was so important and I wouldn’t be where I am without all the tough stuff.
What would you tell people just starting this type of journey?
Well, one thing that helped me a lot was realizing that in 50 years, this one thing will just be a small thing. We might look back and say, remember that one time we lived in Oregon? Haha! We thought that was such a big deal.
But also, just press in to God. Do more, pray more. Fast and pray about it. Worship and pray about it. Keep your thoughts centered on Him and knowing Him more and explore what it means to really seek Him with your whole heart. He will lead you, and He won’t be vague about it. He gives us what we need to follow Him. It’s not a test, it’s an adventure. And God is always with you!
Did you experience a feeling of peace and “settled” in your new location [Oregon Coast]? What did it feel like?
Peace that passes understanding! [It feels] like joy, like safety, like I’m in His hands, no matter how much everything around me feels unsafe or dark or unsettled.
Do you feel that when you’re where you’re supposed to be that there is a peace and a rest that comes with that? Or do you think we as humans will always feel unsettled this side of heaven?
Absolutely yes. I think there is a certain unsettlement this side of heaven, but I think that we are here for a reason and there’s a certain contentment that goes with fulfilling it.
Have you ever considered moving back [to Omaha]?
Well….I did. And I’d go back to Oregon in a heartbeat. So I guess it was a good experience! Actually, I know it was. I would go back to Oregon, I would go to Djibouti. I would go anywhere. I feel like the experiences I had with my faith in both moves really gave me the faith to go anywhere and do anything now.
What would you say people considering this should have in place before they make the move?
Well, the only thing I’d say that is important is to know what you’ll need financially for the first 6 months at least and have that saved before you go. Other circumstances can vary so much, and that isn’t a requirement, but it would help a lot. Lining up some sort of position is also good. And don’t take everything. We have too much stuff, and there’s always more stuff, so just let go of your stuff.
Who are some women/families that were an inspiration or pillar for you during this time?
Were there any specific verses you clung to during this time?