goodbye, again, new orleans.

My sister and Annie on Bourbon Street listening to John perform last summer

It's easy to surrender something you never fully had. And that's what giving up our hopes of returning to New Orleans felt like this Spring. John had used numbers like 90% to describe how certain we were we'd live there again after his seminary. We looked at apartments to rent online, had a friend drive by them to check them out, secured some steady music gigs. I knew it was never a done deal though - it was why he left out 10% of his certainty. There was pressure coming from Kansas City and pressure coming from inside of us as well. We still owned a condo in Kansas City and could lose our renters any day, putting us in an unwise financial situation. And on a deeper level, we had family in Kansas City. Family we wanted Annie to know. And know well. And often. And a brother who needed more community than mom and dad - something that John and I could offer. We were going to risk the condo and sacrifice the family to live in a city that we adored. And we were trying to be okay with that. Because our love for New Orleans runs deep. But we just couldn't reconcile it. There wasn't enough down there to make it seem justified.

But! Here comes the but. If John could find a job with health insurance down in New Orleans, we were golden. It would give us and our families peace - that we were no longer going to be bumming it in Louisiana, going from gig to gig with a baby at home. It would offer security, stability and a reason for returning. But the job never came. Having been a firefighter for 5 or 6 years in Kansas City, John took the exams and applied in New Orleans over two years ago. And every once in a while, he'd call and they'd say, "soooooon, we'll be hiring again." And the soon wasn't soon enough.

So we said the same prayer in Branson that we said when we left New Orleans. Lord, make it ABUNDANTLY OBVIOUS where you want us. LEAVE NO ROOM FOR DOUBT. OPEN DOORS THAT CAN'T BE SHUT. And what do you know? This God of ours is faithful. Our renters called and asked to end their three year contract nine months early. It was a small arrow pointing back to Kansas City. Not a deal maker or breaker. Just something we now needed to deal with. The plan was to come back after seminary and get the condo in shape to sell. Tie up loose ends. Then head down to the bayou. But God started pouring reason after reason to stay. Everything from the gorgeous spring weather and the new patio that a neighbor built at our condo to...drum roll...a job offer. A lovely and blessed job offer. One where John could play music. One where he could grow in his faith. One that would keep us in Kansas City.

So we mourned the loss of New Orleans. We'd go back to visit. We'd retire there someday. Being a worship pastor at an incredible church was so beautifully fit for John that it was impossible to attribute the opportunity to anything but God's provision and direction for our life. New Orleans drifted from out of the picture. But not without some tears on my part. And not without some sadness from John, too. And the baby'd cry if she knew what a fun hometown she was missing out on growing up in. Though, she'll always be our little New Orleanian. 

But like I said, it's easy to surrender something you never fully had. We never had that stable job offer that would have lent itself to a real debate between the two cities. So our decision was so easy. Kansas City it was.

And then yesterday happened. Exactly 51 days after John started his job as a worship pastor in Kansas City, the call came in. The one from New Orleans. The one from the Fire Department. The one offering him the job. With the benefits. And the retirement package. And the Louisiana address. 

Well, it's not going to happen. It's too late. If it had come in May, I'd be posting from New Orleans right now. But it didn't come in May. And this job in Kansas City is more than a job. It's a life. So we're staying. But that doesn't mean I'm not sad. Or that I'm not mourning the loss of New Orleans all over again. It doesn't mean that I didn't hold back tears when John told me last night. Or that I didn't quickly try to rearrange our whole life to make it happen.

So I'm learning how to surrender to God both when it's obvious and when it's not so evident. Both when it's inevitable and when there's a choice involved. I know this is where we should be as a family. Right here in Kansas City. But, man, I love the Garden District. They say that alcoholics can fully recover but that doesn't mean they should go hang out in a bar. I feel like I can be content without New Orleans but that doesn't mean I ought to let myself spend hours remembering the music in the French Quarter or the flowers in the Garden District or the food or the river or the Saints games or Magazine Street or our friends and our church. Because that's what makes it hard. 

We're putting our trust in God - that his timing is perfect. 

<<For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you a hope and a future.>> Jeremiah 29:11

Goodbye, again, New Orleans.

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