That NEW Adage

A pressure-relief valve about God, and just about everything else.

God’s Mysterious Ways Often Become Clear to Those who Wait


I was born in Florida and grew up in Memphis. I always took pride in the fact that I was born where my father was born, and while I am proud of the music heritage Memphis has, the town always left me disappointed in almost every other area. Racism is in the DNA, the politics and general mindset are archaic and mired in a ditch, and crime is stratospheric. Education is teetering over the abyss, and job opportunities are scarce.

There are thousands of world-class musicians and artists, but in order to be heard by the world one must leave.

As a child, my parents stressed education and diversity of interests. We had books on a wide array of subjects — geography, animals, trees, national parks — and we were given an appreciation of things like nature and solar systems and music and vocabulary and sports and writing and drawing. I wanted that for my progeny as well. The kids with whom I grew up had the most mundane desires and often ridiculed me for liking “white boy stuff” like books and chess and the like. And it was only because I had parents who were teachers and who values education and home-training that I could represent myself fairly well when speaking formally.

Once I got married and had kids, my wife and I always hoped to move to Nashville so that she could have better employment choices and so that the children would not have to go through what I went through. But I wasn’t going to move with no musical contacts and have to wind up getting a job in a factory or a call center somewhere. I wanted to be established first.

Before we moved here to Las Vegas, work was drying up like water in the Serengeti in June. I want to be this famous saxophone player and songwriter, and Memphis was showing itself to not be the place for ME. People just don’t call sax players first for jobs. We are non-essential extras. Kathy was on maternity leave and didn’t want to go back to that dead-end job, and finding a new one — even though she is a college graduate — was proving impossible. Bills were piling up with no prospects of being paid… Life was miserable. We were constantly knocking on God’s door begging for assistance with waning faith.

The best thing about Memphis for us was our church and our families.

My daughter and youngest son have eczema (it had taken a lot of Diana’s hair, and her skin was always breaking out), and my eldest son has problems with all the pollen and such in Memphis. We were also wondering about how they would develop when they started school. I’m a proud product of the public school system, but things are so different now… Homeschooling was not an option for many reasons. I wanted my kids to be broad-minded but proud of their heritage and culture, and Memphis is such a racially polarized town.

Fast forward to now:

Everyone is FLOURISHING!

I have worked in Vegas numerous times over the years, and I never was overly impressed — not being a gambler. The Strip is beautiful, but I thought once you got past that, there was nothing else to see. How wrong I was!

This is a wonderful place! Mountainous (which I always wanted) and picturesque. There is actually an attractive quality to the desert. And there are a thousand things within a few hours’ drive… The Grand Canyon, San Diego,  Hollywood, Hoover Dam, San Francisco, Yellowstone, Yosemite…

The area is incredibly diverse, so my kids won’t have to suffer life in a racist fishbowl to the degree that I did (although…). And they will have interests that extend beyond the usual — TV, video games, and a 9 to 5. They will see so many things that we wouldn’t have been able to afford to show them.

The area is spread out enough that a good neighborhood is not one block away from a bad one like back home. The architecture is interesting, and the weather is more to my liking because I HATE being cold!! And there are more work opportunities for me here if my current gig plays out. I make three times what I made back home, where saxophone players are considered “options” like heated seats in a car, or 50 inch plasma televisions, or shiny, spinning rims.

I feel exactly like a biblical figure saved by God from a famine, a flood, or a fire. He got us out of a place that — for us — was becoming desolate and depressing. He uprooted us and lined events up in so obvious a way that we had no doubt that God was orchestrating them. And then, He showed us what would have been. It is almost spooky, knowing that there is actually Someone else — who we cannot see — in the room doing stuff! God changed so much for us! We paid off our car early, got my son in a great school, got a second vehicle big enough for all of us, and we got a bigger, more comfortable home with nice amenities. Diana’s hair is thick and full, her skin is soft, and Max doesn’t have nearly the issues with allergies as back home. My kids are blossoming before our eyes like dogwoods. Kathy is exercising — even running — and is much, much happier with life than she was a year ago.  And we both have drastically changed our eating habits in order that we may be here for the kids. Little to no salt and sugar, smaller portions, no sherbet :-(, no candy, and no fatty foods.  We have both lost a lot of  lbs. in the past three months. I’m actually writing this between weightlifting sets…

All this came from my saxophone, which was another answered prayer.

But there is a problem… In order to achieve all this we had to move 1,600 miles away from every single person we love! It is incredibly difficult to juxtapose missing mothers, fathers, siblings, church members, and best friends with the advantages existent here. It is like our arms are running while our legs are walking leisurely.

We used to have Sunday dinners at my parents’ house weekly. They got to see the kids on a regular basis, something I never had with MY grandparents and always wanted for my children. Moving so far away meant that they would no longer be able to see the children grow up and develop. They would not be able to see them at the drop of a hat. That alone made this the hardest decision I have ever made in my life. While my folks are happy for us, I KNOW they’re heartbroken but won’t admit it. In order to function, I have to try to not dwell on it too much…

Before I got married, I saw my parents five or six times a week. I would come home from road gigs and go to their house in the middle of the night and sit at the foot of their bed in the dark and tell them stories about what happened and we would just laugh… Once I got married, though, I stopped all that in order to be true to the biblical mandate to “leave and cleave.” But we still had Sundays when we, my sisters, and my nephews would all get together after church. I had a weakness for Bluebell Homemade Vanilla ice cream, and Mom knew that and kept a ready supply for me in her freezer. I treasured those days and never thought about them ending.

But I think about biblical times when, if a family moved away — as so many did — it could mean they would NEVER see their loved ones again! At least we have planes now. My parents moved away from their childhood homes — my father moved almost as far away as I did. That, in part, was why I wanted my kids to have relationships with their grandparents, since I never really did.

Weighing the pros and cons, though, tipped the scales in favor of the move. There were just TOO many signs, answered prayers, and obliterated obstacles! And I couldn’t show myself to be the true head of this family if I couldn’t bear the excruciating pain of leaving “Mama” to give them a better life. I’m not naive! I KNOW this is Vegas with all its attendant pitfalls and dangers. But you should know — as I now do — that Las Vegas is waaay more than The Strip!

I feel stressed sometimes, as the Disciples and the wandering children of Israel did even in the very presence of God, but He has shown Himself  gracious and faithful. My job is precarious in the sense that I have only EVER been fired by THIS particular organization, but God is bigger than all that, and if He brought us out here which He obviously did, He did not do so as some cruel trick knowing what all is at stake… Following Him is like riding out on the wing of an airplane; frightful but exhilarating, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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May 25, 2011 - Posted by | Christian Life, Christianity, Family, Fatherhood, Fear, God, God's Hand, Life, Life Lessons, Marriage, Parenthood

7 Comments »

  1. Hey Brother,

    Excellent post Dude! People used to ridicule me because I spent sooooo much time with my tennis but God has given me everything I have because of that racquet…..I’ve seen more and done more because of that racquet then I ever could have without it.

    I’ll tell ya something. I sometimes get really homesick but your FB posts, and this one, make me feel like I’m home. I thank you for that my Brother!

    One day I’m coming home to hear you blow dude!!

    Phil

    I’ll be looking forward to it!! Thanks a lot, man!

    Comment by Phil Naessens | May 26, 2011 | Reply

  2. So glad to see that you’re back and everything is going great!!

    Thanks, Erin! Yeah, we’re muddling on through…

    Comment by E. Rich | May 27, 2011 | Reply

  3. A good discussion can be started on this post,as I do not fully agree with you, but nevertheless,good post.

    Comment by Neomi Stakemann | June 2, 2011 | Reply

  4. Lest those who don’t know the Bluff City get the wrong impression, there are tons of great things about Memphis, too, and I love living here! I do concede that it’s got its share or problems, many of which you pointed out. And it is worse off now having lost (at least for a while) you and your family. We miss ya’ll, but rejoice that God has led you to flourish out there in the desert!

    Comment by Dan | June 8, 2011 | Reply

    • Hey, Dan!! Yeah, I knew those friends of mine at home might think I was dogging Memphis, but I’m not! My feelings come from decades of having lived there and from living in and visiting other places. Also, my financial situation didn’t afford us the opportunities to provide a lot of the kids’ needs — we’re going to the grand Canyon next month, and all it’s going to cost us is gas! No way we could have done that from Memphis. Growing up in the hood as I did, I experienced a mindset that I didn’t want to infect them, plus, the pollen count and such is just too high and the air too ‘moist’ for them!

      I’m honored to know you and to have you feel that way about us, and we miss you all, too! Thanks, man!!

      Comment by maxdaddy | June 13, 2011 | Reply

  5. I got here by way of…wow, I’m not really sure anymore. I think I saw your profile on facebook or something and followed the link to your blog. Anyhow. I am a recent-ish transplant to Vegas and know how difficult it can be to not live near those you saw regularly. At the same time, I know your family must be very proud of you for finding your path and having the courage to follow it, to lead your family in a determined direction, to show your children that dreams are worth chasing when they are obtainable with some effort.

    It may sound a bit silly, especially since you don’t know me yet, but I’d like to offer you and your family a continuing photo session — something fun, playful, loving, that we’d do every month or so — so that you have something different to send back to your family and to put in the Vegas portion of your family scrapbook. Please feel free to email me and let me know if you’re interested.

    Comment by Joanie | July 8, 2011 | Reply

  6. Great post. We moved 800 mi away from family 6 years ago and while it was the hardest decision my wife and I have ever made, it has been the best decision as well. Our marriage is thriving, our children are thriving, and God led us the distance. Being away is hard, especially during holidays. We see family multiple times a year and our community of friends here is nothing short of family. May God continue to bless your journey. Thanks for the great blog revealing yourself for the benefit of others.

    Comment by Bob | December 30, 2011 | Reply


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