In March our kids had a two-week spring break so we decided to take full advantage of that by embarking on an epic road trip. We drove from Colorado to Portland and then headed toward the Oregon coast, driving south on Highway 1. Stopping at various Oregon beach towns, we ooed and awed at the marvel of the forest meeting the ocean. Eventually we made our way into California and ventured inland to visit some of our dearest friends, Tim and Cory, and their three amazing kiddos who had made a temporary one-year move to the city of Redding. Little did we know that our layover in Redding was setting the stage for big life changes for our family too!
Tim and Cory had listened to a whisper, a calling, in their hearts a few years ago to experience more of God – more of His goodness, more of His unfathomable love, and more of the freedom He has to offer. After a couple years of preparing their hearts, their families, and their community, Tim quit his job working in education and they packed most of their home furnishings into storage and drove West with their three children and the necessities they could fit in their two vehicles and the flatbed trailer they towed. In his mid-thirties, Tim enrolled in a ministry school and together Tim and Cory knew that for a year, they’d just say 'yes' to the Father’s invitation to go deeper and experience Him with abandon in school, in church, in community, in their home, and in their marriage.
Why Redding? In all honesty, Redding is not that special of a city, it’s size and demographics probably don’t vary that much from our hometown of Grand Junction, CO. But there is one thing that’s drawing people from all the over the world to Redding, and that is God. For lack of a better word, there is an anointing on Redding, it’s a thin place, a place where the space separating earth and Heaven feels thin. There are some incredible churches and ministries being run out of Redding, one of which is Bethel. Redding is the home of Bethel church, Bethel Media, Bethel Music, and the Bethel School of Ministry.
Dave, Asher, Jadyn and I hung out with the Lyons family for a week. In typical Lyons hospitality fashion, Tim and Cory gave Dave and I their bed and slept on the couch. They took us around and showed us their new town and Dave and I even took Tim up on an invitation to attend ministry school with him for a couple days. We visited Bethel church, attending their Easter service and finished Easter day with a glow-stick Hansow-Lyons dance party. But the most memorable thing that happened was an encounter our family had a frozen yogurt shop, yep, I know that sounds weird, but it’s true and I’ll share more about that another day. We enjoyed our stay and our cherished time with the Lyons, saying our goodbyes, we headed back east so we could make it to the Justin Beiber concert in Salt Lake City on our way home (C’mon, no judgment now)! And then it happened…
Somewhere in the middle of Utah between Green River and Grand Junction, we were listening to a Rob Bell podcast about a guy who quit his lucrative position in banking to follow his dream of becoming a competitive Squash player. Dave went to push the pause button like he had something to say and I stopped him, “No, don’t say it! I don’t want to!” That was it, that was all I said. He looked at me and he started laughing and I started crying. We turned the podcast back on and didn’t talk about ‘it’ until we got home that night and were unpacking in our bedroom. “What’d you think I was going to say today?” Dave asked. “You were going to say that we need to move to Redding for a year,” I replied. He started laughing. I have no other way to explain it, but that at the exact same moment in time on that drive in the barren Utah desert, the Holy Spirit prompted both our spirits with the same stirring - undeniably Divine in nature. Uncomfortable in every way, yet not to be rationalized or ignored. We were comfortable in a home we loved, rooted in a supportive community, surrounded by loving friends and family and there was an invitation on the table, an invitation direct from Heaven, an invitation to more even in the midst of all the unknowns.
The next day, without telling our kids what we felt, we asked Asher and Jadyn to ask God what He had for our family in the coming year. That night Jadyn told us she saw pictures in her mind of palm trees and fire. When we asked what the palm trees meant, she said, “California.” Asher told us that all day at school he thought of Redding, Bethel, and kept seeing the picture of a deer with antlers in his mind. He followed up with this statement, “You don’t think that means we have to move to Redding do you?” Dave and I burst into laughter, really, it was that or cry! The next morning, Asher pointed out the deer head as the Bethel Music logo that came across our TV!
From past experience, we know that some Heavenly invitations require a quick response because with time we can rationalize and squelch the Spirit. As a family, we unitedly decided to obey the promptings we collectively felt – to lean into the tension of the unknown and rally together in falling back on the unity we had in our spirits. It wasn’t easy to tell friends and family (who didn’t hear (or understand) the same promptings) that we were moving for a year. We packed up the home we loved and prepared it to be a short-term rental home on VRBO and Airbnb. We sold our second car, Dave’s beloved 1991 Jeep Wrangler, a 30th Birthday gift. We said tearful goodbyes and headed westbound with neither a rental home nor a schooling option for our children. We trusted it would all come together and it did. We found a home to rent once we arrived and spots opened up for Asher and Jadyn in school. It hasn’t all been easy, but slowly and with lots of grace for each other, and ourselves, we’ve been finding our new normal here in Redding. We’re getting to encounter the glory of God in new ways and watch as God continues to chase after us, restoring our identities, and reminding us that we were created to operate out of a firm foundation of being secure and fully loved.
In hindsight, I see the ‘Yes’ of Tim and Cory Lyons – their ‘Yes’ to take a risk of faith for their family and how their ‘Yes’ ultimately led to an encounter where we were given an invitation and we answered ‘Yes.’ I know this ‘Yes’ will lead to good things for our family, because that’s in God’s good nature, and our ‘Yes’ will hopefully lead others to invitations of their owns. You see, there’s always more! Our ‘Yeses’ are always giving way to more life, more freedom, and more love, for ourselves and for others. You just don’t know where the ‘Yes’ will lead, Yes&….
Morgan is a storyteller at heart. After running an NGO in Uganda for 7 years, she and her husband, Dave, currently record a weekly podcast called Chasing Unicorns, produce and host The FIND series, run the CB Ideas design agency, and mange Yes& Collective. Morgan also co-authored the newly released children’s book, The Girl Chronicles: A Story of Good. She’s a mom to two middle schoolers, Asher & Jadyn, and so when she’s not driving them around, she fills herself up with yoga, reading, air-popped popcorn, and all things coconut flavored. IG: @MorganHansow & @HansowFamily www.HansowFamily.com