Germany rang in 2017 with the usual conviviality and merriment, fireworks on nearly every street and in the cobbled town squares. The carousing begins at midnight and carries into the wee hours of the morning.
Across Europe, the first day of the year begins with a day of rest. Businesses are closed, including grocery markets, making the next twenty-four hours conducive to contemplation and scheduling of the 364 days ahead.
For us, plans included a short visit back to the States sometime in the late summer or autumn. But that was eight or nine months away.
In the short-term, the coming months meant finishing the book I was writing, seeing many friends pack household goods and attending their "until later" parties as they moved to the next assignment, and preparing a two-week holiday with friends arriving in the springtime.
We did what we've always done. Settled into the new year, we carried on with work, education, church activities and time with friends. Nothing happened too out of the ordinary except for the occasional cause for celebration like a friend's promotion at work. Or Ezekiel's 18th birthday on January 13th, celebrated on a men's ski trip in the Swiss Alps.
Yet, the environment at LeRoy's job grew increasingly difficult. Bureaucratic minutiae and poor management wore on him. And while his love for the actual work never waned, the thought of being surrounded by less than ideal attitudes and perspectives took their toll. Toward the end of January, he suggested we cancel our two-year extension and return to Spokane, Washington in six months.
So, maybe I'd title the year, Pivot. Over the next several weeks, the subject of moving filled the bulk of our dialogues. To be honest, I tried everything I could think of to try to change the situation. (Ha! In my book, Living Your Legacy, I talk about change. About the ability to accept what is while moving the story forward through skillful improvisation.) I didn't want to leave Germany and (selfishly) I thought there might be a solution that would allow us to stay for two more years. (I also wrote about how life is too short to stay stuck in a rut with no vision and little impact.)
Then one evening in February, LeRoy made a phone call to his friend, mentor, and previous boss at Fairchild Air Force Base in Spokane. And when he hung up, he turned to me and said, "We're canceling our extension and returning to Spokane this summer." And all the frustration and angst of the previous weeks and months dissolved into perfect peace.
The extension was canceled the next day. We'd fly out on August 20th.
Over the next four months, I finished my book, Living Your Legacy, we enjoyed exploring Europe with our friends, Larry and Sherry Templeton, and we said, "Until later," to many families. The movers arrived on a Monday morning in mid-July and we transitioned into temporary housing. (Over the course of the next three months, we'd live in six different places.)
A highlight in the middle of our move was our holiday to the Belgium countryside with our friends, the Johnson Family. Over a weekend that went way too fast, we stayed in a rustic French Gite just south of Dinant.
Exploration highlights comprised of a tour of the Citadel, beer tasting at the Maison Leffe, and kayaking on the River Meuse. Of course, there was the elegant and delicious Charcuterie Platter prepared by our friends, Warren and Jasmine, who paired our cuisine with a perfect French wine.
Then, a few weeks later, on Saturday afternoon, August 19th, we visited with friends-who-had-become-family one last time at Trattoria da Salvatore in Landstuhl. And at 3 o'clock the next morning, we left for the Frankfurt International Airport, arriving in Spokane, Washington that same afternoon.
That evening we had dinner with the Stone Family, and enjoyed a surprise visit from the Eva's. We spent the week "in-processing" which is military-speak for a small mountain of paperwork and checklists. LeRoy started work the following week. We searched for a place to live. Ezekiel searched for a job. Israel and I attended Women's Bible Study at Life Center.
Over the next few months, things fell into place. LeRoy thoroughly enjoys not only his work but the camaraderie and teamwork at Fairchild. We rented a townhouse on the outskirts of Spokane toward the airport and Airway Heights. Ezekiel got hired at the Starbucks only a seven-minute walk from our home.
Outwardly, it looks as though, for the most part, we've picked up where we left off. But things are different.
The last three years brimmed with the richness of relationships. (That's not the part that's different. We've experienced that everywhere we've lived.) :) But the friends we met while living in Ramstein, Germany, are dreamers. They're action-takers who chase after audacious goals with purpose and unwavering faith and hope. Their lifestyles demonstrate anything is possible.
They dream outside the lines, intimately connected to the One Who plants the seeds of what's possible in their hearts. For three years, we lived alongside people who live large... in faith, love, hope... adventure. People who poured encouragement and optimism over everyone they encountered because they were always up to something. (So much so, that I'll have to save that for another post.)
This isn't to say everything always went well. We held one another up and prayed each other through difficult marriage, health, and parenting seasons. But it was a steadfast and intense community. One couldn't be in their presence without having Christ's love and joy splashed onto them.
Which brings me to my flash of insight.
There's so much talk in our world these days about how we can 3X, 10X, or 100X our focus and efforts. Sure, I track with what they're saying. I mean, we spent the last three years with folks who live 10X and 100X lives. But somewhere along the way, I grew weary and being all in has started to feel... intangible. Until now.
My business coach and mentor, Steve Roller, wrote something recently that stirred inspiration and restored my vision for what's possible. He wrote about how he doesn't set an alarm to wake up. He allows himself to awaken to ideas.
It's the second time within the last five days that I've heard one of my mentors talk about this. Earlier in the week, I heard John Maxwell relate a similar story from his own life.
How often I've woken in the middle of the night or in the early morning hours with ideas that could have produced fruit. However, I didn't so much as write them down and then when I finally woke up "for real"... they were gone.
So, I'm excited to test this theory that we can multiply our efforts -- that we can 100X our lives? (That wasn't the way Steve Roller or John Maxwell put it. That's just my own mashing of two ideas together.) :) That taking action on ideas -- or at least writing them down -- as they present themselves, might be an organic, rhythmic way to multiply the fruit in our lives.
I'll keep you posted.
*I'm curious, did you think of what you would title 2017? Hit reply to this email and let me know. I'd love to hear your title.