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A Time to Be Free

Updated: Jun 10

On February 3, 2023, only two days after we had completed moving everything into the new house, my friend called me at work with some surprising news. He was informing me that the company I worked for was undergoing some changes and was recommending that I step away from it. He offered to help me get another job, but he also knew that Courtney and I had been talking about pursuing our own business ventures.

I did not expect that. When I hung up, I felt at total peace. God was helping me close a door that I was hesitant to close. I had no desire to stay in construction. I wanted to focus on the stuff that we had invested in.

Instead of waiting to see how things would play out, I decided that it was the perfect time to part ways. Four days after that phone call, I put my two weeks notice in. There was a sense of relief knowing that I could leave without any hard feelings. I thought, worse case scenario, I drain the entire savings and have to go back to work in a year, but I wouldn’t regret being home with my family.

Two days after we had officially moved into our new house, Ralph received that phone call.

I had only one word for what was happening: God. Only he could’ve timed everything the way that he had. We couldn’t have made this scenario up if we tried.

I wrote this in my journal shortly after Ralph got the call:

“So two days ago Ralph put his two weeks notice in. I have been thinking about how I need to get on the computer and write about it because its so huge. This is what I have been waiting for. I am always curious as to how I am going to actually feel if and when the time comes for something that I have been longing for to happen. When he wrote it (his two weeks notice) out at home, showed it to me, and pressed “send” he said to me, “can’t be undone!” in a light hearted tone. He was ready. And of course so was I.

Shortly after, I jumped up and down in the kitchen and clapped. I am so ready. Ralph is already making comments about being poor. I told him to not even start. God is all over this, has always provided, and always will. He was supposedly joking, but I know him. He’s definitely worried about how this is going to play out financially. He is the provider of our home. I am not surprised that he feels that way. But, he knows what I said is true. That’s why he was able to put his two weeks notice in. He wouldn’t have done it otherwise. This was just another BIG step of faith for him. I am so proud of him.”

My dream was coming true. My man was coming home!!!! For over fifteen years I have hated saying goodbye to him whenever he left for work. Now I wasn't going to have to.

I had no fear. I KNEW this was what our family was supposed to be doing. I was so full of gratitude for the Lord’s gracious willingness to answer this prayer. For six years we have been praying for direction on something to have him home and working together and it was becoming a reality.

I can't help but think that God didn’t want us to wait until we were generating a steady income from either new business ventures. He wanted us home together now. Not later. He wants our story and his mission out asap. We had some world changing to do.

It has been about four months since I came home. I have been enjoying not having to wake up early in the morning. I also like not having to deal with reporting to a boss. Coming from construction, I am happy to not have to make a bunch of phone calls in order for people to show up to work.

It’s been a relief to be able to work on the stuff that we actually want to work on instead of fighting to find time in between work and kids. I am not exhausted mentally or physically trying to fit everything into my life. I am starting to be able to get back into personal fitness again.

I can’t believe it’s been four months. It has flown. Waking up and still seeing Ralph beside me doesn’t get old. And then to see the boys snuggle up next to him is so precious. I love hearing, “good morning, Daddy” and seeing him getting hugged and kissed.

Every morning as I would prepare breakfast for myself and the boys, I would wish daddy was with us to enjoy it and now he is. Instead of being the only one reading the Bible with the boys, Ralph is with us. He is the one leading it now and I am helping to provoke thought and reflection.

I didn’t realize the stuff I missed out on when I was at work until I was home. Instead of just Courtney and the boys going to places like museums. hiking trails, or the beach, I am able to join. It’s been nice to see the kids in the morning.

The boys have a lot of energy. I didn’t have to deal with it as much as Courtney did. I have a greater appreciation for the moments that Courtney used to say, “I am going to start losing it…”

Oh yes. Yes, yes, yes. I am selfishly very happy that Ralph can see what it’s like to be home all day, every day with them. However, he has always been very good about helping once he was home.

I notice a difference in the boys behavior with having a fathers presence for more than in the evenings and weekends. He will step in and handle a situation that I was forced to deal with on my own. My stress levels have been greatly reduced. I am definitely more light hearted. I used to have to pray that my children would see joy in me. It felt like a struggle for many years.

We are whole. It is as it should be. I often said to Ralph before he came home, “the two shall become one. How can we be one if we are apart?” I didn’t understand it. I hated the way our culture had changed to the point where families are so separated. Mom and Dad both at work, kids in school, kids in extracurricular activities after school.

No wonder there is so much divorce and division in families. Some struggle just to have a meal once a week together. I just didn’t believe that was how God intended it. I wanted our family home together.

The first couple of months was harder. I was trying to figure out how to manage my days. Our house was being organized and that was a slow process. Day to day activities between school and responsibilities take up a lot of time. For the first month, I was able to sell a lot of stuff and Courtney was able to do some photography work.

Liam is learning trades with me. He likes to come in and listen to what I am learning. He likes looking at the patterns. He sits on the bed next to me and I help him with his schoolwork. Devin has been saying things like, “I like working on things with you Daddy like the fan and changing the oil. It’s one of my favorite things to do.” I like having this extra time to work on stuff and teaching the boys while I do it.

I analyze a lot. I have asked the question of, “why wasn’t trading revealed to me in NY when we had our “ideal” housing scenario?" We had acreage, privacy, an adequate size house. The conclusion I drew is that Florida is a better fit for our family in the way that we like to live.

As we said in our letter to Priscilla Shirer, we wanted to be time wealthy. God has given us this tremendous gift in more time. Time with our boys. Time to work on these new ventures. Time in the Word. Time to travel. Time to care more for ourselves through fitness. Time to serve. It has been very challenging figuring out how to manage our time with all of us being home.

Since Ralph has been home, he has been offered three jobs without even trying. We know that he could go back to a 9-5 job tomorrow, but that’s not what we believe we should be doing right now. We are investing as much time as we can in these new ventures.

As I reflect on what has transpired since January of 2022, when we first moved down to Florida, I am in awe of the activity of God. There has been a lot of change in a very short amount of time. We are grateful to be settling down after so much moving around between states, houses, and jobs. We are finally home.

We believe that God made us uniquely, wonderfully, and for a purpose. That He has something special in mind for us as individuals, as a couple, and as a family. Living under his authority has ultimately brought us more peace and joy. Even if the process has been and still can be hard at times.

As long as we have breath in our lungs, we will always allow God to direct, refine, and use us for His glory. He has been nothing but what He says he is: good, faithful and trustworthy.

The word, “faith” is an action word. You don’t live by faith by sitting idle. It is not always easy to move forward in faith. It comes with obstacles. It comes with discomfort. It can be scary. But it develops perseverance. It deepens your walk with the creator of the universe. It increases your confidence in His activity in your life and in the world. Living by faith, allowing God to lead your steps no matter how long it takes to see where they are leading, and trusting that He truly works for your good, does not leave you feeling unsatisfied.

Below are images from our travels to the following in order along with visits with friends:

-Cape Coral, FL to visit with some of our Buffalo friends

-The Mammoth March where we hiked 21.5 miles

-Our trip to Tennessee to see our friends and my dad and stepmom

-The homeschool conference at the Ark Encounter and Creation Museum in Kentucky

-Buffalo for my niece, Brianna's high school graduation and to visit with friends and family

-Stopped at New River Gorge National Park and Preserve in WV on way home

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John Eckhardt
John Eckhardt
17 jul. 2023

Congrats on being home together! I'm able to work from home, and it's a blessing to be near my wife and kids every day. Blessings on your continued journey.

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