As Dick and I ramp up to a great adventure, I feel like I need to document the journey thus far for the record. Get comfortable, this is going to be a long post!
It began with whimsical “wouldn’t it be great” thoughts. When we were in the Netherlands (NL) last year, Dick and I dreamed out loud about the possibility of living in NL for a short time. I knew there were possibilities for short term archives jobs in NL. I fell in love with Holland at first sight and could easily imagine living there. I savored every moment we spent in every place we visited and when it came time to return to the US, I didn’t want to leave.
I’ve been looking for a new job for quite some time; I review job postings for archives or library jobs every day. Last summer several jobs in NL were posted on Archives Gig. I immediately got excited! I asked D if I could apply and he said “of course it can’t hurt to apply!” I filled out the application for two of the positions, all the while thinking it was a long shot. It seemed like a one in a million chance. I applied to several other jobs around the same time, including a couple at Harvard. Even those seemed more likely to generate a response.
On Sep. 7th, I received an email invitation to interview for two positions. Shock! Disbelief! Not only was I chosen, but they wanted me to be there in a matter of weeks to take an exam and sit for an interview! It was a lot to absorb. It suddenly became very real and we needed to decide quickly if I should move forward with this. It became apparent that we couldn’t really make an informed decision about the future of this opportunity without getting more information. And the way to get that information was to go!
We were at a family wedding just before I left for my interview, which gave us an opportunity to share the news with Kathryn and Dick’s family. The reactions were a mixture of excitement, curiosity and perhaps a little doubt and disbelief. All in all, we felt supported and we knew they would cover us in prayer. Same with my family.
The trip to Brunssum went very well and at the end of the two-day process, I felt like this was a viable opportunity. I was informed that the selection process would not be complete for another month. I thought this would allow enough time to get responses to my other job applications. We would also have time to pray, gather information and get some counsel. We had some large issues to tackle.
We spent much time in prayer considering the issue of custody arrangements for Kathryn. We contemplated the possibility of being away from Kathryn for months at a time. We weighed this against the amazing opportunity to share a once in a lifetime experience with her. We considered the unequaled experience of living in the Dutch culture, the heritage of her father and grandparents. We felt that spending concentrated amounts of time with her exploring NL and Europe would create significant memories that she would carry with her the rest of her life. We spoke to family and friends who have lived abroad during their teen age years; they agreed that those experiences were positive and life changing. This is not to deny that there were difficulties and challenges to overcome. We also talked to mental health professionals who encouraged us that this opportunity and custody arrangement would not have long term harmful effects on Kathryn and would be highly likely to have a very positive impact long term.
We attempted to have an open discussion with Kathryn’s mother and stepfather, but this attempt failed. Information about the job opportunity and possible relocation had to be relayed by Dick over the phone, which was less than ideal. We also transferred some printed information, but there was no response to any of it.
The logistics of selling our home and making it market ready — in the winter — was also carefully considered and prayed over. We took stock of what projects needed to be completed and what our timeline would be. Daunting, but not impossible.
On October 20th, I was invited for a phone interview with Phillips Exeter Academy (PEA). I had applied for an archives job there in early Sep. and had almost given up on the possibility. The phone interview was scheduled for Oct. 23rd. On October 21st, I received a call from NATO JFC and was notified that I’d been selected for a processing archivist position (1 of 3). Gulp! Now what?
I decided to go ahead with the phone interview and the selection process. The selection process involves a security clearance background check and a medical examination. I started receiving information for the clearance application and instructions from the medical office. It began to feel very serious! It’s an honor to be selected to work on this important project and I consider it a once in a lifetime opportunity on many levels. I had a short bout of agony over the timing of all of this, but I was able to lay it aside knowing that God was guiding me. I spent a lot of time meditating on Proverbs 16 during the month of October. I was confident that there was no wrong decision, just that a decision would have to be made — by FAITH. The PEA situation ended up not being viable for me. Even before it was completely ruled out, Dick and I set our sights on Holland.
The most stressful aspect of this journey so far has been the uncertainty surrounding Kathryn and the ability to have her spend adequate amounts of time with us. Our hope was for her to be with us for a full school year and attend the international school in Brunssum. It was a pipe dream, really. As much as WE could imagine the amazing opportunity this would be for her, WE couldn’t make it happen without the consent of the other biological parent. We knew there would be much resistance in that regard. Resistance is putting it lightly — absolutely no consideration, flat out refusal, condemnation, no room for compromise or negotiation. Speak to the hand. I can’t adequately express how discouraging this is. Discouraging for me because I expect children of God to respond with grace and humility. I expect rational discourse.
Here then is one of the many consequences of divorce — we lose the sole responsibility to determine what is in the best interest of our children. The child of divorce, who doesn’t have the capacity to comprehend the potential of the unknown, is unmoored between parents of differing opinions and convictions. If the biological family was intact, consensus would be reached and the child would be subject to the decisions of the parents — period. We have prayed that this situation would not have to be settled in a court of law, but there doesn’t appear to be any other resort at this point. We will continue to pray and appeal to reason, however.
As we wait, we prepare as much as we can. This prospect is both terrifying and amazing. As Dick and I have talked over this for many an hour, we keep coming back to this: if we don’t follow this through, we’ll regret it. To have this kind of opportunity opened wide before us, is truly a once in a lifetime deal. I sometimes think, and even say, that I want to live out loud. That, for me, means living life by faith — out there on the edge of my comfort zone. Faith is believing without seeing! It also means being true to who I am and not letting opportunities — small and large — pass me by. I see fake people every day. I see self-righteous people who live in fear of being outside of some norm that they perceive. They want to be safe inside the lines. Sometimes I fight against it; sometimes I succumb to the same mentality. It’s so much easier to see it in others than to see it in myself. I’ve been reading and posting some inspirational thoughts to keep us all focused on the positive. God’s word jumps off the page also and reassures me that he is in control.