I am still trying to figure out exactly how to navigate this new site and blog. Not the technical side of it but the “what to post where” side of it. For the most part I post updates directly to my Facebook page and then I come here and think “I should post all of those things on this blog” and then I post something here and then, two seconds later, I forget that I was going to keep doing that and I fall back into my old patterns. Haha. I’ll get good at this eventually, maybe.
The Summary: Anyway, here’s what’s up today (most of you probably already know what’s been going on but I’m going to sum it all up for those that don’t). My family and I moved from Petersburg, Alaska to St. Peters Missouri. Why? Well, we came here for a few reasons…I have clinical depression and anxiety. It was greatly exacerbated by the amount of rain and dark in Petersburg. I did everything I could to combat it. Medication. Therapy. Yoga. Vitamins. Oils. Support Groups. And so on. Even with all of that I felt myself slipping into a dark place that I wasn’t sure how to get out of. Donnie’s job was good, our house was so amazing, our kids loved their friends and their school. Donnie and the kids gave all of that up to make sure that I could be healthy. I love them for that. And I feel terrible for being the one that required such sacrifice.
The other reason: church. I won’t say much about this because I don’t believe that airing dirty laundry is kind to me or anyone else. I will simply say that our church environment had become a place that we no longer felt welcome. And we love God and we need for church to be a place where we feel loved enough that we can learn and grow there.
Why Missouri? We get asked this question a lot. When we started looking for places to live and work outside of Alaska we looked most everywhere. Donnie applied for jobs, lots and lots of them, and nothing was working out. We felt like it was time to leave Alaska but were ridiculously confused as to why we couldn’t find a job to aid in that move. Then Donnie started talking about starting a business with his best friend Brian. And although it seemed like the unsafe, unsure road, it felt like the right one. So, we started focusing all of our attention on Missouri.
Donnie and Brian decided to start a brewery tour business together. Before we left Alaska Donnie bought a shuttle bus in Seattle to be the first transport vehicle for the business. A dear friend of ours picked up the bus for us and held it until April when Donnie and I and the 3 youngest kids took the ferry down, picked it up and drove it to Boise. I, and the three littles, stayed with my sister and her family for the next two months while the older kids finished up school in Alaska and Donnie wrapped up things with his job. That time was really hard but fun at the same time and necessary because Melyssa and Maggie both got their tonsils out while we were there.
At the beginning of June we were finally reunited when Donnie and the older kids flew to Boise and we began our journey cross country in the shuttle bus. For months before this we had been trying to secure a place to live in Missouri without any luck. Even when we offered six months rent up front, owners were unwilling to rent to someone starting their own business. So, when we got here we ended up living in a hotel and spent hours each day looking for places to live, applying for rentals, and trying to make connections so people could get to know us and feel safe renting to us. After a week and a half in the hotel we felt so blessed when we found a place to rent and the owner was so understanding and kind about our situation.
Another miracle that should be mentioned happened when the shuttle bus broke down while we were staying in the hotel. That doesn’t sound too miraculous but when it broke down Donnie and a mechanic were in it and they were rolling into the parking lot of a parts store that had the part they needed to fix it. That bus could have broken down any time during our 4-day cross country drive. But it didn’t. Huge blessing!!
When we left Alaska we sold a ton of our belongings and all of our vehicles so we could save money on shipping costs to Missouri. Our plan was to simply drive the shuttle bus until the business was up and going and making money and then we would find a different family vehicle. Well, that didn’t work out…
A few days after moving in, our container showed up with all of our things. Yay! It was left in the driveway at 3pm and members from church came and we had it unloaded in a matter of hours. The next morning we woke to a policeman at our door. One of the neighbors had complained about the container in our driveway. No problem. We had already called and arranged for its pickup since it was empty and we were paying every day we kept it.
Well, there had also been a complaint about our shuttle bus. We thought that that was probably because we had had to park it on the street while the container was in our driveway. Nope. The police officer informed us that city ordinance did not allow us to park a bus in our driveway. We explained to him that it was our family vehicle and our only mode of transportation (we didn’t even have bikes at that point). He said something along the lines of “I don’t have any solutions for you, you just can’t park it here. I can give you a week and then you will start getting a ticket ever day. That will add up.”
So, we started looking for another vehicle and a place to park the bus. Our friend Amanda arranged for a place to park the bus (thank you!) and we set about finding a vehicle. We didn’t have a lot to spend but thought we had gotten lucky when we found a Honda Accord for sale that seemed in good condition and perfect for what we needed, something small and cheap to shuttle us back and forth between the bus (now parked 5 miles away).
We talked the guy down and he gave us the title and a bill of sale. The next day we took the Honda in for safety and emissions. $300 later it passed. Our problems were solved. Hahaha.
The next day we went in to register the vehicle. We had all the forms we needed and were ready to be done with the whole vehicle saga. They wouldn’t let us register it. What?! On the back of the title is the name of a dealership. Then the name of the guy they sold it to, a certain Elvis. Elvis then sold it to a guy named Sheverrick who sold it to us. Sheverrick only had the vehicle a few days so he didn’t ever sign the title. We just put our names in the last slot on the back of the title. We’d never seen a title with so many spots for names but didn’t think anything of it. Well, turns out that unless you are a dealership, it’s is illegal to reassign the title. So, Elvis was supposed to register the vehicle and title it in his name before he sold it to Sheverrick. And Sheverrick was supposed to do the same. Because neither of them did that, we payed for a vehicle (with our last pennies mind you) that we now couldn’t register.
So, we called Sheverrick and told him that he needed to take the car back, refund us, get the title squared away and then we would buy it from him. He hung up on us. So, we called Elvis. He answered the first time and we tried to arrange a time to meet and get this figured out. The meeting didn’t work out and he since won’t answer our calls. So, we called the original dealership Janko’s automotive and while they have been super nice and tried to help us, because they already filed the papers with the state saying they sold the vehicle, there is not a whole lot they can do.
It gets better…on Saturday we got a notice in the mail from the police about our now “derelict vehicle.” Donnie talked to them about what was going on and they were, let’s say, less than kind about our situation and not helpful.
There have been lots of other bumps and hiccups along the way.
BUT, there have also been a lot of blessings. After the cops showed up at our door far too many times, admitting that it was because of neighbor complaints, I wrote a letter and hand delivered it to most of the houses on our street. The letter detailed our struggles and simply asked that if there was a problem with us, our yard, our kids, our dog, our vehicles, anything, that they call us before they called the cops. It was super scary to do but there has been a huge outpouring of love since. There is still someone, probably just one person, in the neighborhood who is very particular about making sure ordinances and such are enforced but everyone we have met in our subdivision (which is quite small) has been incredibly kind and understanding. People have showed up at our door with food and fun things for the kids. And most importantly we’ve been able to really start to get to know our neighbors and they’ve started to get to know us. There is a true feeling of community starting to happen and its pretty amazing.
We’ve also had gifts show up in the mail with thoughtful handwritten cards. Someone sent a blow up swimming pool for the kids (they are playing in it right now!). The church community we are in now has been supportive and worried about our welfare. The bishop has been letting us borrow his truck. The church has provided food. We’ve made friends that have banned together to carpool us around to parks and splash pads so the kids can get out of the house. Donnie and I have been invited on dates where our way has been paid to experience some really fun nights out. I could go on.
Through all of this I have tried to be very open about the hard and the good. I don’t talk specifics about those who are helping us but they are out there and they know who they are and hopefully they know how grateful we are for all of the kindness that has been extended.
The Request: That being said I’ve been encouraged over the past month to start a GoFundMe for our family. While I will not deny that financially we are in a bad spot, I have such a hard time thinking that I could get something for “nothing” when I have these artistic skills that I could offer in exchange for the monies we so desperately need. So, here’s the request. If you want to help us you can do that however you want, I will not put parameters on kindness and generosity because I know how soul nurturing it is to serve others, if part of helping us includes sharing about my art with people, that’s awesome too! I would love to have more work, sell more portraits, design more logos, and be able to give something to those who are willing to help us. Share my work on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, talk about it with your friends, mention it to a youth leader who could use my drawings at an event, show it to a therapist who will buy some to use with clients, write a review if you’ve used my services in the past, buy and make a portrait for a friend, let me know of an art festival or event where my art could be showcased, help me get in touch with people who can further my work.
Thanks for listening!!