—The following is an update from the Borden family–
“Where you go, I will go. Where you stay, I will stay.” Ruth 1:16
Retirement is not easy. Yet, for all the people we know who have retired before Brett, friends and family alike, not a single one has warned us just how “not easy” retirement actually is. Yes. The Air Force has done it’s best to prepare us, but no amount of sitting in a classroom, checking living wages, working out budgets, and learning what is acceptable as a resume these days prepares you for the unexpected.
We (and so many of you along with us) have been praying for over a year for God’s will to be done in our lives as we faced Brett’s looming retirement. Remaining in the Air Force was no longer an option for family and personal reasons. We both fully acknowledged and accepted that by stepping away from the only life we had known for 20 years, frankly, a huge security blanket, we were not necessarily trading up for greener pastures. We knew for certain we were going to have to sacrifice. We were certain we would have to let go. We were convinced we would have to humble ourselves.
When we first started praying for His direction, we prayed for doors to open to the south (Florida or Texas to be closer to family), or in Colorado where we knew Brett could “roll” into a really great paying job within the same career field and where we have the known comfort and support of our family at SCC, or up north and west to an area of the country where jobs are plenty but low paying, but where we felt our heart’s being pulled.
First, Florida was taken out of the equation. A hurricane does that when jobs and housing in the desired area are all but eradicated. Texas was taken out of the equation when places we thought would make sense for us, suddenly proved to be just the opposite. Colorado took itself out of the equation when its politics and policies very abruptly dropped a heavy bomb on our personal freedoms. Even then, we added other areas of the country and even overseas to our prayers, because surely, He would not happen to lead us to move where we were truly hoping to move. Things just don’t happen that way!
And God laughed and said, “Watch this.”
We prayed, and prayed, and prayed. We prayed a lot for wisdom and discernment. People kept telling us that a move to Montana would prove challenging once we finally experienced a winter. So, Brett and one of his friends drove up to Montana to witness Montana at the onset of winter. They drove all over several different valleys, seriously doing their best to get stuck in the snow on some back road in the middle of nowhere. Yet for all that, when Brett got back to Colorado, the light in his eyes and the lilt to his voice were exciting! His comment, “Driving into Libby was like arriving home.” Yeah. That was one door.
We returned to Montana in March. The intention was to find a house with land. Lots of land. Small house. Again, lots of land – less house. Something we might need to fix up a little. Something that would require we sacrifice, purge, and let go. You know – simplify. What we found instead was a house that I still wonder might be too big for us on a piece of land much smaller than what we thought we wanted. Yet, we left it thinking how perfect, how much like “home”! We put in an offer, never expecting the sellers to accept. After all, we couldn’t close for several months; the purchase was contingent on the sale of our house in Colorado; we didn’t even have a pre-approval from the bank! But accept they did! I couldn’t even get through the response without crying from excitement and disbelief. Door two!
April flew by. We were biting our nails as we prayed over mountains that He turned into molehills. May flew by. We paced the floor worrying and praying over obstacles that we just could not see overcome, but He overcame them. Brett was filling out applications and sending out resumes. He was taking interviews by phone. Then he got a call from one of the places he applied for, a place that I insisted we involve his sister and brother-in-law to have them pray over with us. That one called back, and that same day, Brett was on a plane. He interviewed in person. Two weeks later, we found out he got the job! Door three!
Then the retirement itself, which seems to have completely taken the month of June. Family. Friends. Church family. Local friends. A ton of planning. A ton of money. A ton of food. A ton of laughs. Late nights. Early mornings. Unexpected surprises. Celebration. Lots of celebration. Reunions fifteen years after military orders sent us all in different directions. Friendships that have lasted 20 years and picked up as though no time had passed at all. It was exhausting, and exhilarating, memorable, and beautiful! Then suddenly everyone was gone, and we found ourselves desperately needing to relax, but only had two weeks until we were going to be packing up and walking through those open doors. Then new challenges rose up in front of us, rocking our faith, testing our patience, pushing us to trust even more. Each time, unexpected and often unasked for help came, and things worked out just fine.
Now, it’s July. Here we are in Montana, and not without some uniquely funny and ironic drama to keep us on our toes, but that is for another conversation. (I have a sibling who told me I need to make a book just about this specific move… I dunno. I don’t think anyone else will find it all as funny as I have). People keep asking us, do we know anyone here? Do we have family here? What motivated us to move so far away from everything we know?
Truthfully, I don’t know. Yes. I have always had a very fantastical, romantic view of this area. It IS breathtakingly beautiful. We love the mountains. We love the trees. We love the weather. We love the slower pace. We love that the air is fresh and clean. We love the wildlife. And every visit here just made it that much harder to leave. But none of those things are reason enough for a family to move. We all know it.
I want to say that the Lord reached down from Heaven and blazed a path of clear and obvious peace and ease to show us that this move was His will. Trust me. Even with those three glorious doors opened, He has not made the way “easy” at all. If you could see what our life is like as we are in transition, you would likely shake your heads in disbelief. I know our entire family throughout Colorado, Texas, and Florida is. And yet, we know He has come ahead of us, and He has a plan, and for now, His plan is for us to be in this place.
In Ruth, Ruth told Naomi she would follow and stay with Naomi no matter where she went. Ruth had stepped out on faith. She left behind her people. She left behind her own culture and her belief system. She left behind her gods. She chose to go to a place unknown, to be among people she didn’t know, to serve a God she barely knew.
I can’t say our motives were ever as pure as Ruth’s. Heaven knows, we prayed hard against our own motives and desires. We prayed repeatedly for Him to quash our desires if they went in opposition to His direction for us. Still, here we are leaving behind our people to come to a place unknown with only our God to guide us and care for us.
Day by day, despite unexpected hardships, we still see His hand. We still feel His quiet assurance and cling to His peace. We are blessed to be in a place we “only ever dreamt of,” and now we pray that we are open to His leading to use us in this community that we now call home. We hear Him saying to us what Ruth said to Naomi: that He is with us no matter where we go, and He is staying with us no matter where we are staying. There is glorious truth, hope, and promise in that.
That said, dear SCC Family, we wholeheartedly thank you for your prayers, texts, messages, encouragement, and support. And we humbly ask that you continue to hold us in your prayers over the next few weeks and months as we continue to be a family in transition. Thank you, and God bless!
–Christina, Brett, and Stephen Borden