April 6, 2013

Going Ahead as Planned

It is Saturday here in Phoenix, and the weather is absolutely lovely. I think it is supposed to get up to 80, which is our normal daytime high during March/April. Overall, as I look out my window, I am thinking that it is a very good day to be in Phoenix, Arizona!

I have been thinking about Arizona and my feelings of late on wanting to leave this beautiful state. I have to admit that I am tired of the heat, and I know that as soon as August arrives, I will be back to my normal state of grumbling and complaining. However, as I think about my home, and I consider my options, I realize that Arizona is a pretty nice place to live. It is hot, very hot, during the summer; but the winters are lovely and mild. There is no place like Arizona -- even though the deserts of Southern California are similar. Arizona is a beautiful state, with lovely natural resources. It is a good state for freedom causes, and it is laid-back when it comes to pace. Yes, we have our high-end areas like North Scottsdale, and some of the fancy gated neighborhoods down in Tucson. Most of the rest of the state is normal, middle-class, middle of the road, homes and businesses.

I think about my home, and as I look out the window (for a month or so longer as I will be moving house), I am reminded why we moved here from Northern California. I have blogged about my past, decisions that were made in haste, and  choices which turned out to be for worse rather than better. However, coming to Arizona was a heart-based decision, and not a decision of the mind.

I came to Arizona to help care for my husband's parents. I came here thinking that it would be a good place to raise our son, and that there would be business opportunities that would benefit our struggling family. I wanted to own my own home, to have a place where I could feel safe and settled, to know that I could live comfortably and free from the pressure to succeed. I felt that living in Northern California was unattainable. Rents were skyrocketing, cost of living and taxes high, and generally the political and governing climate in California was unstable. It was also crowded, freeways jammed, people every where, and overall, I was feeling the crunch of being just a fringe above the poverty line.

In moving to Arizona in 1996, our standard of living increased once we drove across the state line. Our first rental was a condo in Scottsdale. Our rent in 1996 was $800 for a two bedroom, two bath plus den home. It was not optimal - we did have a three year old and five cats - but it was a major cost savings for us. Our rent in San Jose was $1300 per month, and was going up to $1500 for a three bedroom, two bath fixer upper in a very unsafe neighborhood. In short, we saved $700 a month on rent by simply relocating to this state.

Moreover, I wanted to stay at home. I wanted to be a SAHM while my son was little. In California, I was feeling the pressure to work full-time, place my son in daycare, and bring home a small paycheck (after expenses) to help us make ends meet. Coming here was going to make it possible for me to stay at home, which I believed God was calling me to do.

It wasn't an easy transition to come here, though. I left my family, and my heart-ached whenever I called my parents or brothers. I missed my friends. It was hard to be in this new place without any friends. I was never social, and the thought of having to make friends again was painful. Yet, I did make a few friends, and I did find a place to fit in. God provided Scottsdale Bible Church to me, and I found a place to call home. I was active in children's ministry and AWANA, and I even worked there part-time on two different occasions.

We did eventually purchase a home, and while that didn't work out long-term, it did provide a place for us to put down roots and raise our son the way we thought we should do so. We home schooled because in Arizona, home schoolers have great freedom. We indulged in music lessons and other pursuits, even if our budget was tight. It was a good life in many ways, a very good life.

A lot has changed since moving here, and my life is vastly different than I anticipated when I told my husband that we needed to come here to help his parents. I am no longer married, and I live alone with our almost 20 year old son. My parents live near by, and in two months, we will be living together so that I can take care of them. My son is content to remain in Phoenix for a while, choosing to go to our state school rather than incur great debt to attend out of state. He is active at church, in music, and theater. He has benefited from home education, and he has turned out exactly as we wanted -- an individual, a free-thinker, a godly young man.

Yes, Arizona has been good to me. It is my home now, and while I still think about the redwoods of Northern California or the sunny beaches of San Diego -- I call this desert place my home. I am happy and I am content to remain here as long as the Lord chooses for me to do so.

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