I have spent the last week and a half working on how to convey what is going on in our lives and how in the world we ended up on this journey to Seattle. I sat down and began to write in as much detail, the grandiose story of the last three years and it began to turn into a very long story. What I plan on doing is breaking it down into a couple of blog posts because I do desire to share in more detail my journey over these last three years. Stay tuned for more on “How a trail of tears led to a road to Seattle.”
Sometimes plans change. That is probably the biggest understatement for our family right now. For the past year or so, Brooke and I, along with my Mom and Dad, have been in the process of trying to sell our homes and move back to the great Tarheel State of North Carolina. As many of you know, it was music that brought our family here almost 9 years ago when my band, The Swift, got signed to a real record deal. We toured all over the country and had a blast. Over time, I felt the pull to come off the road so that Brooke and I could concentrate on having a family. Shortly after, Britain came along and life has never been the same! About 3 years had passed and Brooke and I (still involved/employed by the music industry) began to pray about the possibility of me going back to school to pursue getting my Masters in Counseling. So, in “faith” I left my comfy job at a booking agency and began to prepare myself for the possibility of attending Grad School that fall. We had no clue that our life was about to drastically change, and our faith put to the test.
About the same time that I left my job, we began to feel called to adopt. Without knowing which way to go, or how to get there, we just started to call agencies and ask questions. If you know me well, you know that I have always had a love and passion for the Native American culture. For two years in college, I even majored in American Indian Studies. That passion really crossed paths with our desire to adopt. It definitely gave us direction. Little did we know, that it was extremely hard for a wacicu family (Lakota for White) to adopt a Native child. Feel free to read my much older posts below that describe that process. Needless to say, it was the hardest thing that my family and I have been through. Part of our story in adopting Wakinyan is that we had him for about 4 months and we lost him. The circumstances of our private adoption changed and we had to give him back to his birth parents. I hope that I never have to experience the death of one of my kids, but losing baby Thunder was like a death to our family.
Losing my son rocked me to the core. I began to not just question God, but I began to question God’s goodness, His character, and His existence. Soon, I began to hate God and had no desire to pursue what He wanted in my life. You can imagine what this process did to our family, and what it was doing to our marriage. Fortunately, through divine intervention, Wakinyan came home to us. Almost a year ago, our 2-year battle to adopt him was made official. Wakinyan was officially a Byers! Despite the great news, I was still on a path where I had no desire to listen to what God wanted for my life. In my own wisdom, I decided to have nothing to do with God anymore (personally or professionally) and bagged the dream of Graduate school and counseling. While sitting on the throne, I made a quick search through the Sunday paper classifieds to find my future career. In retrospect, I find it extremely entertaining that my own wisdom involved me making life-changing decisions while sitting on the throne! Have I set the bar low enough on the value of my own wisdom? COMCAST. There it was. I can do that. I can get that job, no problem.
Almost two and a half years later, I found myself extremely miserable. Imagine that. I was working at Comcast Cable as a bona fide cable guy. Thankfully, during this season of my life, God blessed me with some of the best friends that I have ever had. Around the middle of July 2011, I began to wrestle with where I was in life and ask questions like , “God, why hasn’t our house sold yet?” Like I said before, our family, along with Mom and Dad, had decided that we would sell our homes and move back to NC. Brooke and I were out of the music business, which is what brought us to Nashville, and we missed home. We had no clue what we would do in NC, but thought we could be equally “lost and without vision for our family” closer to family and living close to the beach! We had our sights set on Wilmington!
After a powerful message at church Saturday July 9th, I began to believe again that God wasn’t done with me. That night, I came home and shared with Brooke that I felt like God wanted me to leave Comcast. Brooke emphatically responded, “It’s about time! I’ve been waiting 2 ½ years for you to say that!” Thankfully, Brooke hadn’t given up on me either. On Tuesday, July 12th, 2011 with notice in hand, I sat down to share with my boss (Matt) that it was time for me to move on from Comcast. Matt was also a ray of light in my life that God had provided me. Matt encouraged me in my faith through my 2½ year stint at Comcast and was an amazing supervisor.
I had come to the conclusion that my story was very similar to that of Jonah. I knew that a long time ago, in a Galaxy far far away, (Cue Star Wars music) God had called me to something specific. Knowing that, I still ran in the opposite direction. Fearful, angry, and bitter I chose not to follow God. Thankful for grace, and a whole lot of real world growing up, I was finally at a place where I could make the decision to step out in faith, and trust God despite my questions and fears. I had no clue where God was leading; I just knew that I wasn’t where I belonged.
A week after giving my notice, I went on a backpacking trip. One of the nights, I was able to spend a night on the trail with a great friend of mine, Ethan Beyer. It was exciting to share with Ethan what God had been doing in my life that week and that we were on a new road to something, we just didn’t know what. The next day, I said goodbye to Ethan, as he had to return home to Knoxville. I then decided to hit a different trail, this time solo, or so I thought. Stay tuned for more about my time on the trail…
On August 5th, 2011, Brooke and I celebrated our 11th wedding Anniversary. To celebrate, we went to dinner at Outback and were scheduled to see a movie (a chick flick I’m sure). In 11 years of marriage, we had never been to a dinner that was as life changing as this. Brooke Byers should have been a focus of Homeland Security for the Bomb that she was about to set off at our table. Shortly after we ordered our food, and exchanged gifts, I sat back and could tell that something was on her mind. After inquiring, I was surely not prepared for what was about to come out of her mouth.
Brooke shared that she had made a few phone calls that day. One of which was to the Graduate School in Seattle where I had always dreamed of going. Brooke shared with the admissions counselor some of my (our) story and intrigued to some degree, they suggested that I apply to the program. Not only did they want me to apply, they shared that I still had time to enroll for the fall 2011 semester (which would be starting on Aug 29th!). Completely shocked at what she shared, I instantly fired back with the impossibilities. One by one, Brooke shot them down. One of the hurdles, outside of the 2500 mile move for our family of 4 (plus our dog), was that I would have to take the MAT, which is a Graduate level entrance exam. No worries, she made that call to, and there was a MAT exam that I could take 4 days later. With nothing left to argue, at the end of the night, I at least committed to taking the MAT and see where that would lead us. With NO preparation, I took the exam and passed!!! My score was enough to meet the requirements for the school. My next hurdle was to apply to the school which involved writing two lengthy essays and filling out an extensive application. One by one, the hurdles fell. I received a phone call 1 week after our bomb date at Outback. The young lady said, “Mr. Byers, I would like to congratulate you on your acceptance to The Seattle School of Theology and Psychology.” My heart dropped as I heard the news. I was shocked!
With a lot of details to work out, with the sell of our home, the kids’ school, jobs, etc.…we were not able to get to Seattle by the beginning of the fall semester. We were really disappointed that we couldn’t make the move so quickly. Still, I sat back and felt relieved. I would now have a year to prepare myself for Graduate School and ease back into the scholastic realm. Lets be honest, it had been 12 years since I graduated from college, and rarely do Cable guys go from climbing 30 foot telephone poles, to Graduate level classrooms.
Here we are, just a little more than a month after Brooke illegally brought her dirty bomb into the Cool Springs Outback, in the process of boxing up our home to make this move. Through a series of events over the last week, we have decided to make our pilgrimage to the Great Pacific Northwest in 2 weeks. There are still lots of details to figure out. At this moment, we have to be out of our home by October 9th, as we have renters moving in on the 10th. We have yet to find a place to live in Seattle. This also means that we have yet to figure out what school the kids will attend. Despite all the details that are up in the air, we have this insane peace about the adventure that lies ahead. It’s the first time in 3 years, that we’ve all been on the same page, excited together for our future. I’m sure this move will not make sense to many, but that’s ok. We appreciate your prayers for our family as we make this transition. This trip is going to cost us a lot of money and we just trust the One who “called us” to Seattle to provide. If you’re interested in being a financial supporter to the Byers Tribe Moves to Seattle Campaign, you can donate $1.99 or more to our travel fund through PayPal via the email firstname.lastname@example.org or you can email the same address for a mailing address.
Thank you so much for your interest in our story. Please stay tuned for more snapshots of the journey prior and the journey to come!