House deals (again) and the quiet voice speaks

How many people do you know that can sell the same house three times but still own the house?

Prior to going to Mexico, we decided we should sell our house.  And anyone who knows us also knows how that turned out.  Not well for the sale.  We actually had two offers and both ended up falling through.  Which was for the best in the end because we were able to come back and live in the same house for the last two years.  God took care of us then.

This time, we’re selling our house because we don’t know when we’ll come back.  Or if.  And we prayed heavily over it.  And just over a week ago we got the text message from our agent we were waiting for:

“Offer coming.”

Yes!  Such great news.  But of course, we didn’t get too excited.  Then we worked with the potential buyer.  Like any initial offer, it was much too low.  So we kindly suggest that they get closer to our asking price.  They come back a little higher, but still substantially lower than what we offered.

And so on.

And later that evening we come to an agreement.  It’s not a great price for us, but all the other details are great.  So we accept it.  The offer is conditional on the usual two things: financing and a house inspection and both of these are to be completed in a week’s time.

We let a few people know about this development so they can pray, but we don’t tell everyone.  “Let’s wait until it is unconditional.” is what we say.  No sense in getting people too excited.  (that is why most people didn’t know that all of this was going on the past week, sorry if you’re upset…)

The weekend passes and a couple days of the week go by with no word on when the house inspection will occur.  We find this odd since they were pretty excited about the house.  When I ask my agent what’s up, he says that they were waiting for one specific person to do the inspection and it looks like it will be on Friday.  This scares me a little.  Why do they want that one specific inspector?  And on Friday?  That’s the last day of the conditions!  Talk about leaving this to the last minute.

(This has been a theme of our lives the past while as we get prepared to move out.  Things are happening, but at the last minute.  So the inspection timing didn’t seem too odd.)

The other development was that we were going out to my brother and his wife’s farm in Saskatchewan on Friday.  No big deal, my agent confirms, there won’t be anything for you to sign when the conditions come off.  So we pack up and head out early Friday morning.

As we get near to the farm I get a text from my agent,

“two issues with the inspection…”

And my heart drops.  What kind of problems?  How will this affect the deal?

And over the next few hours my agent and I email/text and phone back and forth to figure out what’s happening.  Essentially, the inspector found two “major” items and assigned “appropriate” repair costs to both items.  (I used quotes on major and appropriate because we differed significantly with the inspectors view of the “problems” and how much they cost to fix.  And I can’t state enough how much we differed on the costs!)  The buyers wanted us to reduce the purchase price (which was already a little lower than we wanted) by the repair costs.  We offered to fix them out of our own pocket and leave the price as is.  “No” they said.

We offered to drop a tiny bit, since our price was already pretty low.  “No.”

And it became very clear to us, this deal was dead.

So we gave our final offer on the price, and never heard back.  Yup, we just sold our house and lost the deal in conditions for the THIRD TIME.

The next couple of days were full of mixed feelings on what just happened.  Thankfully we were able to work our butts off digging holes and planting stuff with Trev and Jess which removed the energy to think.  But on the drive home I really got a mindful of thoughts.  And all of them were condemning and angry.

“You idiot, you wanted this house sold but you got greedy.  Now it will never sell.”

“You moron, you prayed for God to send you a buyer.  And when He did, you turned them away.  You messed up big time.”

These voices were pretty loud.  And difficult to ignore.

Then the quiet voice spoke up.

“It’s going to be fine.”

“You did the right thing.”

“I’m going to bring the right deal to you soon.  There is still time.”

Here’s something I’ve learned about the voice of God.  It is not a condemning voice.  It doesn’t attack and make you feel small and worthless.  It is a voice that is calm, loving and above all it gives confidence.

Oh, how I love the quiet voice.

So, once again our house is on the market.  (Good price too!  Tell your friends!)  And I have to fight off the loud voices that want me to panic and make bad decisions.  Because through all of this the quiet voice is reminding me that the buyer is coming.  The calm voice reminds me that we will have the financial support we need to live in Texas.  The peaceful voice reminds me that in the end, these things are tiny to accomplish and they will happen in time and on time.

The quiet voice has never lied to me.


I got laid off (and I liked it!)

I quit.

I’m outta here!

You can take this job and do whatever it is you do with stuff you don’t like.

All of these were phrases I was tempted to use to inform the company where I work that I was leaving to become a Missionary with CTEN, in Houston, TX.  But of course, there is no way I would actually say something like that.  Seriously, how do you end a working relationship that has been nothing but profitable and beneficial to me and my family for almost 11 years?

Well, let me tell you how I ended up doing it.

Once Michelle and I knew that we were 100% moving to Houston to work with Global Frontier Missions, it was inevitable that I would have to quit my job.  This wasn’t a sabbatical or short term trip like when we went to Mexico in 2008.  This was our life and calling.

We decided that there was no reason to provide a super early notice, but we also didn’t want to go with two weeks.  Late April or May sounded just right.  So planned on it.  I kept working hard like nothing was different and I was going to be with the company forever.  (note: I assume it looked like this, and I hope it did.  Hopefully others at the company won’t say that I’ve been a lazy slacker for the last few months!)

Then something strange happened.  Actually a few strange things happened.  And strange isn’t the correct word, because they were driven by God.  So…. let’s go with unexpected.  A few unexpected things happened.

I had a couple of conversations in late January, or early February with a few people who didn’t know that I was leaving my job.  But in each of these conversations, a question like “so, when are you going to do something like you did in Mexico again?” was asked.  I of course played a little dumb (note: not difficult for me) and would respond “well, someday we’ll do something like that again”.  My dentist, who was aware of our move asked me a couple of times “have you told your job you’re leaving yet?”

But through it all I realized something, God was speaking to me.

GOD was speaking to ME.

And I was pretty sure He was pushing me to give my notice that I was leaving.  He wanted me to give 4.5 months notice.  That’s not normal, is it?

So I prayed.  And I talked with Michelle.  And we decided that this was a decision that we shouldn’t take lightly.  It required some fasting and some extra wisdom from Godly persons.  So I declared that I would fast that coming Sunday and I sent an email to some friends who have wisdom.

And then I realized that the coming Sunday, was Super Bowl Sunday.  The day we invite friends over and we eat Michelle’s tortilla soup.  Oops.  But a promise is a promise.  And if Horton the elephant can keep his promise to the mayor of Whoville, I could keep my promise to God.  So I fasted.

And Monday morning I knew that I was to hand in my resignation.  So I went to my manager, explained what was going on and handed in the letter declaring my last day as June 15.  There was a little fear that I would be walked out the door that day due to my disloyalty.  But I figured the worst that could happen is that I lose my job.  Which was what I was giving up anyways.  It was all in God’s hands now.

My manager’s reaction?  He said “great!”.  And he said “that’s fantastic!  We’re really excited for you!” as well as “thanks for giving us the notice, it is greatly appreciated.”

He didn’t say “you’re fired” or “you jerk”.  He only added, “just don’t tell anyone else on the team for now.”  Which was a really good idea.

[a month-ish passes]

In mid-March, Michelle and I flew to Texas to attend the CTEN orientation for new missionaries like us.  It was a great time of learning about CTEN, meeting the support staff and pastoral care families as well as being commissioned.  I’ll write about that time in a future update.  Suffice to say, it was GREAT!

During that week, I received an email from one of my team mates.  The summary of which was “Are you leaving?”  I asked him how he figured it out, and then of course told him that I was leaving the company in June.   He answered that he put the pieces together due to various signs.  The funny thing is that almost every sign he “saw” had nothing to do with me leaving!

He then told me that one of our other team mates had been wondering what was up with me and checked our blog.  There was one more person who found out I was leaving.  Then he told someone, and he told someone…

And I realized that the secret was no longer.  It was time to ‘fess up and let the team know what is happening so they had the truth and not rumours.

I asked my manager this past Monday if I could tell the team in our team meeting.  He agreed, based on the circumstances.  So I told the team.

It was pretty anti-climatic.  I think everyone hopes that when they announce they are leaving from work or something like that, that there will be loud wailing, crying and impassioned pleas to not go.  But there was none of that.  Just some well wishes and life went on.  And why not really, there was still two months until I actually left.  Plenty of time to go for slurpees and Wendy’s.

Monday night, I planned to blog about the whole story to tell everyone how easy God had made this process of quitting my job.  If there was any sign of God’s hand upon our leaving for Houston, well this was one!

But I couldn’t write it on Monday.  Something was wrong.  I had the words in my head and the time to put them down, but I couldn’t start.

I knew, somehow I knew that the story wasn’t finished yet.

For the last month or two, Michelle and I had commented how amazing it would be if I somehow got laid off before we moved.  You know, so then the company would give me a severance package while I was leaving anyways.  But what would the chances of that be?

Today, I went through the normal process of waking up, showering, getting to the bus, reading my bible and praying on the way to work.  My greatest prayers lately have been that my leaving work would glorify God.  And that more people in my office would be drawn to Him because of me.  Nothing to grand.

I arrived at work, sat down at my desk and logged in.  Nothing major going on in email world, which lately is normal.  That’s always a great way to start the day!  Then I decided to go refill my water bottle.

While, in the kitchen I saw my director walk past me.  He was holding some white envelopes, legal size.  I’ve seen those before.  They’re the kind that good news comes in.  Or bad news.  But I let that go since in reality, that type of stuff doesn’t happen.

I sat back down at my desk.  Before I even logged in my manager comes walking up, “Ryan, can I talk to you for a minute?”

I knew EXACTLY what was happening.  My stomach sank.  Then my heart jumped!  If this truly was what I thought, IT WAS A GOOD THING!  But I didn’t really believe it, yet.

Then I walked into his office and his boss was sitting there.  Yup,  I knew my time was up.  It was a good run, but they all end eventually.

“Ryan, we regret to inform you that as of the end of April, we have to let you go.  We know this may be difficult for you, so please feel free to take the rest of the day off.  This (white) envelope has the details of the package the company is offering you.”

Big smile on my face.

“We’re pretty sure that this is actually a good thing since you were leaving in June anyways.”

You think so?  I commented that this was going to be the easiest one they had to do today.

Then I walked out of that office with a smile on my face and praising God.

So I got laid off today, and it was the most amazing answer to prayer in this whole process so far.  How many people can say that?  (unfortunately there will be people today that can’t say that.  My heart is sad for them.  I pray that God will allow me to help them during this time).

And that’s the completed story of how I left my job.   And I couldn’t be happier.  Serving God is awesome.