Devotional,  Life abroad,  Our Adventures,  Selling our UK home,  Travelling

Finding peace when everything is out of our control

It’s been awhile since we gave you an update about the sale of our house and our move to the States.  We accepted an offer on our house at the end of January this year, just shy of 1 month from the point of putting it on the market for sale.  And, we’re confident that the sale is progressing, but it’s happening very slowly. 

See/listen to this blog article on YouTube

The buyer’s solicitors were apparently not fully instructed until a few weeks after we’d accepted the offer in the middle of February, and it seems to now be taking a few weeks for them to get all the necessary searches conducted.  Then it will take time for the contract to be drawn up and all signed before the sale will finally be complete.  Unfortunately, we still don’t have that date for sale completion and frankly that loss of control is really stressing.  Because of course, 9 months ago, when we decided we were going to make this move, we were saying we wanted to be in the States by March 2022 and here it is March 2022, and we don’t have a date.  It’s not for a lack of chasing, it’s just the reality of the solicitor’s processes.

Building a plan

After quite a bit of personal reflection, I know that this is God’s repeated test and trial for me.  I NEED to have date goals in mind.  I need to know what my deadlines are so that I am ready, just in time.  Even though I want to be flexible, for me, that flexibility always wants to be within a framework, within an overall plan.  I have been struggling with this so much that Phil and I have gone ahead and made plans without having that end date.

I fully expect that as a result, not everything is going to go smoothly, but I’m praying that the consequences do not end up being too dramatic.

Shipping our stuff

We’ve scheduled our shipment to the States.  We’re packing up our house so that it is as ready as it can be for its new owners.  Everything that we’re moving back to the States, except for what we’d take in a suitcase, will leave here week commencing 21st March and will arrive sometime at the end of April. Here is a picture of our 4.81 cubic metres of stuff. It was about 50 large plastic storage totes and 11 large vacuum bags of clothes and bedding, and that’s AFTER taking about 10 bin bags of stuff to the charity shop… Incidentally, the phone box in the picture is just to help people understand the relative size of their shipment, I can only wish it was mine.

Photo courtesy of 1st Move International, from Facebook

We’re not taking any of our big furniture, nor our appliances (since they wouldn’t work in the States anyway), nor many kitchen or pantry items.  We have found a charity that should be able to take these items for us and we’ll schedule a pick-up with them at the end of March.  Because they’ll take our beds, we want to schedule them as late as we can so we can minimise how much we have to rely on family to house us until we can move to the States.

Making travel plans

Our dogs are being looked after by PetAir UK. They are British Airway's recommended pet carrier and we've been impressed with their service so far.

That then brings us to scheduling flights for us and our girls, Anna and Elsa.  Looking at dates in April, we realised that with Easter being in the middle of the month, flight costs are much higher the week before and after the holiday.  So that leaves the first or last week of the month to get across for a reasonable cost.

Since we wanted to be there by the end of April for when our shipment arrived, we made the tough decision to divide and conquer.  This means that I will go ahead at the beginning of April and be there to meet the dogs and the shipment.  Meanwhile, Phil will stay in the UK and live with his parents while we finish up the house sale and work on getting our UK address established at their  house.

We always try to fly British Airways if we're able to. It helps us maximise air miles and they give a good customer experience.

It’s disappointing that we can’t manage this all together, but it does allow us to meet commitments to our family in the States, and it gives Phil a chance to spend some quality time with his parents who are going to have to cope with not having us so close.

Waiting for word about the US visa petition

The other fly in the ointment is that we continue to wait to hear about the approval of our petition for Phil’s US visa and we still have the process of obtaining his visa.  It’s quite possible that this could extend even further the time we’ll have to be apart.  In our research, we understand that there could be problems if Phil attempts to travel to the States, even for just a short trip, on the Visa Waiver program if he’s in the middle of applying for a visa.  He may get some tough questions about his intentions for the trip, mainly about proving that he is going to leave again, rather than trying to stay in the country illegally.

So, I continue to check email and the US Immigration Services website nearly every day.  It has become part of my daily habit and it’s one of the screens that opens every time I open my web browser.  I chased for an update the very first day I was allowed to do so; just shy of 7 months from the application date.  And, as a direct result of my chase, the automated system message moved from “We’ve received your application” to “We’re actively reviewing your case.”  That was a month ago and let me tell you, the Devil is not having a hard time working all sort of negative thoughts as we endure this process.  It is all we can do to keep our patience and keep positive about the situation.

Even Phil is starting to worry a bit that they will find some reason not to approve our petition and we’ll be stuck with Phil living in the UK and Sandy being in the States or, that Sandy will have to come back here and we’ll have to try to find a new place to live here in the UK with all of our stuff and our dogs having already been shipped to the States.

So, we ask that you please support us by praying and asking God to relieve us of this burden and reveal progress on the visa before its too late for us to delay or stop the shipment and the travel plans.

Recognise that the problems could be far worse

All these issues we are facing are nothing compared to the trials of those who are experiencing the effects of war right now; the refugees who didn’t have the time and luxury of selling their homes and belongings before having to travel.  We know and are very thankful that God has not given us such a burden as they are experiencing.  And we trust in God’s promise that the temptations and burdens we have been given will strengthen our faith and will not harm our assurance of eternal salvation.

And we pray with all the world, that God would see fit to find a peaceful resolution to the current conflict and that those refugees can go back to their homes and lives with the situation ultimately working for good to come to the region.

Cast your cares on the Lord

A number of the people who we avidly watch on YouTube have mentioned how they have been impacted and are concerned by the world’s events.  How what is happening has got them concerned about doing what is good and right for they and their families and questioning whether they have their priorities right.

I can empathise.  I can remember a couple of times in my life when I asked the same questions of my choices.  I went through a period of grieving, where everything I was involved with felt futile and meaningless.  I struggled to see how what I was doing at the time was leaving any meaningful legacy on the world.

And both times, through prayer and meditation on the Bible, I was able to press on and ultimately, God made a path clear for me.  It was hard, and it took some time to work through, but God was faithful just like He always promises to be.

You are tempted in the same way all other human beings are.

God is faithful. He will not let you be tempted any more than you can take.

But when you are tempted, God will give you a way out so that you can stand up under it.

I Corinthians 10:13 (NIrV)

Right now, in this phase of my life, I am taking strength from what the Apostle Paul wrote in 1st Corinthians.  In Chapter 10, he refers back to the early Israelites and reminds Christians about the problems the Israelites faced first as refugees in Egypt, and then as they wandered 40 years as God led them through various trials and temptations on their way to the promised land.

Paul points out, in verse 13: “You are tempted in the same way all other human beings are.  God is faithful.  He will not let you be tempted any more than you can take.  But when you are tempted, God will give you a way out so that you can stand up under it.”

And so, we do continue with our plans, ready and willing to change them if and when God makes it clear that He’s got different ideas for us.

Thank you for your continued prayers and support.