A New Beginning | The Story of Our Family Move from Northern California to Houston, Texas
I really tried to do this story justice with the video we shared online announcing our big, sudden move to Houston (if you missed it, you can watch the video announcement at the bottom of this post). However, I’m a much better writer than I am an “actress,” so here’s the full story. If you stick around, you’ll see it’s a good one.
We left California happy, full. After longing for the last 5+ years to leave the golden state and go somewhere we could feel more free, I was starting to believe we were “home” there in Northern California and we had better start making the best of it.
I had (have) incredible friendships that I had built there, learning to become a mother alongside incredible women who became like family to us.
I invested heavily into my business, and was beginning to see the fruit of all of my hard work and countless hours spent learning, investing, and stewarding in my passions. It all felt like it had to be it, that we should start accepting Vacaville, California as home. We had zero direction that told us anything but “stay put” despite so many prayers asking for clear direction on where we were meant to be. We prayed the entire five years we lived in Northern California, after having lived in Southern California for most of our childhood and young adult lives. We prayed to know clearly where we were meant to go when it came time to leave California (if that was ever going to actually happen like we felt strongly it would).
Sometime in 2015, while we were living in our fifth wheel of almost 400 sq ft (oh ya, totally did that life for almost 2 years (yes, it was 100% worth it for so many reasons), we started getting a longing for the mountains and Idaho sounded so lovely to us. We already knew we loved it, knew people there, and knew it would suite our lifestyle choices well. Plus, both Craig (hubby, for those that don’t know me personally) and I LOVE cold weather and the mountains. He found a job, and applied. He had an opportunity to interview for that job, and something told both him and I that it wasn’t the right time. He had a verbal commitment with his current job that he wouldn’t be honoring if he went through with it, and neither of us felt right about that. He let the company know he was very grateful for the consideration, but that it wasn’t the right time. If I’m remembering the timing just right, then soon after that situation occurred, we fell pregnant with our second son following a miscarriage we had that September. We moved out of our fifth wheel almost two months before our “Baby Caison” was born and upgraded our space into a little two bedroom 900 sq ft home “in the country” of Vacaville. He’s a joy in our lives that I’m thankful for each and every day.
Fast-forwarding to about a year later, and another Idaho opportunity presents itself in the form of a brand newly listed job posting that Craig was completely qualified for, and I immediately insisted he apply for it. It sounded too good to be true, in an area that sounded too good to be true. He ended up being offered an in-person interview that he flew up for. He sent me gorgeous snow fallen images of the area, I was absolutely in love with the possibility. I was facilitating a bible study on the book of Ruth around this time with some momma friends, and I was in awe of the example for us that is Ruth’s life. It got me thinking very specifically on, “Maybe God wants our wildest dreams to come true, only better. He wants to show us the impossible is possible, and that His plan is better than anything we could have hoped for.”
I was hoping and praying alright, and he got back home and we began waiting. We waited a week, nothing. We waited another week, still nothing. We waited an entire six weeks before I insisted (are you noticing a trend here in my insistent nature? lol) on Craig contacting this place to see what on earth was going on and why he never got an answer. So, he called, and reached a voicemail to the person who interviewed him. He left a message, and within 24 hours received a generic “No, thank you,” email. He didn’t get the job, as we suspected after zero contact.
I actually still haven’t posted anything on my personal Instagram feed since the day he left for his interview. We updated friends and family who knew, of course, but I felt fairly disappointed and somewhat confused about what God was trying to teach us through this situation we found ourselves in. I was frustrated. I felt like there was no "big storyâ€ to share, no good news. That season passed, and that’s when I really dove deeper into my business and started accepting life where we were, in it’s fullest. I started offering birth photography again, and things really picked up for me.
I photographed five birth stories between that winter and spring. I had about three months straight on call, and got a real taste of what the on call life is really all about when itâ€™s back to back. I also finally signed up for an incredible doula training course that would begin a few months down the road.
We took a visit down to Southern California to visit family there that May, after my on call season was over. Soon after we got back from that trip, Craig came home one day saying people at work were making jokes about him “putting in for Houston.” Apparently, there were interviews being held in SoCal while we were there visiting, but we had no clue (and ZERO interest, let’s keep that in mind for the rest of this story). He had mentioned something briefly about a location closing down there and offering employees an enticing opportunity to move to Houston. When he brought it up that initial time months prior, I thought to myself, “Good for them, glad it’s not you they’re asking.” Something peaked my interest about what he said this time, though. For some reason (ehum, GOD) my heart was softened to the idea of moving somewhere I had literally said I would NEVER, ever, be willing to move to. I said to him, “Hang on, why are we NOT thinking about this?” We talked a lot about it, prayed, and he started inquiring more about it. There was already an interview process that went on and someone was offered the job that Craig wanted, and after that person was offered it, that person ended up declining the job. Craig suddenly had the opportunity to apply for a promotion, that would potentially move us to Texas.
We were in California, happy and full. An incredible opportunity presented itself that would change not only our lives, but also our finances. It would mean we could afford to move out of state (if you know anything about income, California provides a substantially higher one than most others). I felt immediate peace about the entire thing, and felt from day one, all along, he would get the job. He was offered an interview, and flew down to Southern California for that. He flew back up, and we started the next waiting process that we were anticipating. Craig went to take the trash outside the next morning, and he spent probably an extra minute outside than he normally would have for that. I called from the bedroom, “What are you doing?” after he walked back in; he didn’t respond. I walked out and I hear him whispering to our four year old, “Tell Momma to pack her bags,” and our four year old says, “Pack your bags” laughing. It took me a second, and then I realized he just got offered the job.
This all happened in a matter of about two weeks, that’s it. One week we were settled where we were, a couple of short weeks later we were up and moving halfway across the country.
We quickly found ourselves with the opportunity for Craig and I to head to Houston with a trip paid for by his company. We were going to be able to check the area out and find a place for us to live. We decided to take that opportunity, and left our boys with our awesome nanny for five whole days. We had never left either of them overnight before this trip, let alone for days at a time. I’m really grateful I had hired a nanny earlier in the year because this moment made it all make a ton of sense. We wouldn’t have been able to take that trip without the boys without her, and we wouldn’t have had her without my business having a need for one. Everything ties together.
We spent what felt like a MILLION hours online looking for a place to rent. We had decided early on that the moving expense bonus he was being provided with should hit our debt so that we can get a better start on getting that paid off, and hopefully buy a house two or three years down the road (we had been looking at 5-10 years before we would be in a position to buy anything if we stayed in California). Craig kept saying he felt like we should start off in an apartment and save more money, and I really did not like the sound of that. After a few days of fighting him on that idea, I agreed with him that it would probably be smart to do that, as much as I really didn't ever want to go back to apartment living ever again in my life. We had been there and done that, and I wasn’t exactly a happy camper living the apartment life in the past. I’d choose a fifth wheel over apartment living again in a heart beat.
That very next morning, the morning after I had agreed to finding an apartment, I was doing my morning mediation. I have just recently been introduced to Christian meditation, and it’s been life-changing for me. I felt like God very, very clearly spoke to me that next morning, for the first time in my life. He said, “I have a house for you.” Now, immediately I thought to myself, “Oh, thank you JESUS. No apartments, hallelujah!” I shared this with Craig, and he shared with me how he can’t find any rental houses that we would like and can afford. He also admitted to me how he had been looking at the homes for sale. Here’s where things continued to change very quickly for us. I find this little bit of information very intriguing and start a little search myself, never having searched for a home for sale in my life. I want to see what the houses are like, and I’m curious now too. I open up a website that I had been looking for rentals on that was highly recommend by a local to Houston Facebook group. I did a search for my ideal house size, what I’d really want if we were going to buy, and chose the random maximum number of 200K. Didn’t see anything I loved. Craig said he didn’t think we could afford anything over 200K, if we could even afford that. If you know me personally, you know that it’s very rare that I take “no” for an answer. I decided to see what I could get in the 250K max range. Wouldn’t you know, the very first listing I found, I was head over heels in love with. It had just been listed.
I have multiple witnesses to confirm just how much I loved this house. The layout was perfection, and it was in a good and safe area. I showed it to Craig, and told him how I felt about it, and he grumbled something like, “We can’t afford that, and it doesn’t look very big inside.” (UMMMM, it is a nearly 2700 sq ft house, are you kidding me?! Also, God told me He had a house for us, insert faith here.) He happened to have a night shift at work that night, so he was getting into bed for a nap. I was all amped up about this house, and I wanted to know how the heck we go about figuring out if we’re qualified to buy a house or not. Craig shuts the door to our room to go take a nap, and I plop myself on our couch with my laptop, turn a movie on for our kiddos, and pick my cell phone up to call my good friend, Celina, who has experience in this department. I say to her, “I know it’s very unlikely that we will end up with THIS house, the very first house I’ve ever considered buying or fell in love with, ever. BUT, how do we buy a house?!”
She helps me out a ton with this, and I end up calling some banks and I share the same sentiment again that I doubt we’ll end up with this one, but we’d like to know what we can do. We end up pre-qualified within an hour, for this house I’m in love with.
We end up in touch with a realtor, head out to Houston together with plans to view this house and about ten others while we’re there. We had zero plans to look at rentals, in hopes it all works out with buying something (AKA the house I’m in love with). We went to the dream house first, and it was pure love and the one I knew I wanted, for sure. Craig even had a look on his face that said, “Okay, it’s big, I was wrong.” I knew he loved it too. We spent the rest of that day driving around to the other houses we (sort of) wanted to look at, and none of them gave me that “this is it” feeling like the first one did. We ended up letting our realtor know we’ll think and pray about it, and get in touch again the next morning. I ended up insisting that we go and knock on doors to try to meet the neighbors, if I’m gonna live in track homes that I never thought I wanted (I pictured falling in love with property and a little house) then I want to know if the neighbors are good people. We’ve had bad neighbors in rentals in the past more than once, and that is NOT fun. I decided to go buy as many boxes of cookies that there were houses in the cul-de-sac, while Craig shook his head at me because he so did not want to do this (LOL). I definitely wasn’t taking no for an answer on this one, and we went knocking. We ended up talking with one home for a few minutes, and then spent probably 20 minutes outside with another two of the neighbors and quickly learned it was a really great little area. We told them we were planning on praying about it that night, and might be putting in an offer the next day. The owner even pulled up to the house while we were standing out there and I watched him take his shoes off before he walked into the house from the garage (YAY, they kept their shoes off in the house, yessss)!
The next day was Wednesday, and we came back to the house one more time that morning with our realtor and Craig fumbled out, “We’re buying a house.” We submitted our offer that night, and woke up that Thursday to an accepted offer. We flew back home that Friday, and I was feeling like I couldn’t wait to get back, and in disbelief for the way God was providing for us.
God spoke clearly to me that morning when He said to me, “I have a house for you.” Never in my wildest dreams would I ever have thought I would be as happy as I am in a house this BIG, in a neighborhood in the suburbs, in HOUSTON. I would have laughed in your face if you told me a year ago this would be where we are now. Our neighbors are wonderful, and the boys have buddies to play with left and right. We’re so full of joy as we enter this new season of our lives with steady and normal hours for Craig for the first time in our entire relationship. God knew exactly what we needed. We couldn’t see His plan last year when disappointment faced us with not getting the job in Idaho. I’m sure if that panned out, He would still have used us, but I really believe that would have been against His will and that is exactly why He closed doors there alongside our prayers. We can certainly see it now as so many answered prayers have come to pass with this huge change in our lives. I can’t wait to see how He grows us and uses here.