When I started working for myself full-time, it opened new possibilities. My wife (Colette), and I began imagining what this job change could mean. What was now possible that wasn’t possible before? One of things we pondered was where to live.
I was no longer tied to an employer and a locale.
Sure, this was my hometown, and my parents and my brothers’ families were here. Also, many dear friends whose hearts were part of ours. And a church that we loved. But we felt hungry for a change, ready for a new adventure.
I grew up in State College, PA (home to Penn State), then moved away to attend Calvin University in Grand Rapids, MI. After graduating, I moved to San Jose, CA for an internship. It was there I met Colette. We made up our minds quickly about each other, and three months later, we got engaged. By the time we got married, we hadn’t even known each other for a full year.
A year into our marriage we found ourselves pregnant, which got us wondering where we wanted to start our family. After visiting my hometown for my brother’s wedding, we felt prompted to return to State College, PA.
Weird that was! My entire family had moved away by then and there was no present work for me. In California, Colette had a booming business, and I was settled into a job that had potential. It didn’t make sense to move from California, and it didn’t make sense to move to Pennsylvania.
But Colette and I believed in something greater than just common sense, and that was following the voice of God. We felt called by God to uproot ourselves and move to Pennsylvania. Some people said we were crazy, but we decided to do it anyway.
As a husband and father-to-be, I did the responsible thing, which was to look for a job. But I sensed God telling me not to look for work because He would provide.
What, not look for a job?! That sounded like a real slacker thing to do: “God, don’t you know my wife is pregnant?”
So, I kept my search open, but then the LORD corrected me:
“I told you not to look for a job because I will provide.”
You can only go against God so many times and then you realize it’s a losing proposition. So that settled it, I went into deep slacker mode, untraceable by radars and satellites: I would not be looking for a job.
We moved to Pennsylvania, Colette pregnant, me jobless, and we soon found ourselves eating soup out of the can in the corner of our cold family room. January was a real long month; I can tell you that.
But then my dad phoned—he was starting a new company and asked if I was available to help in Sales.
“Umm, let me check my Daytimer…yup looks like I’m free.”
We converted an extra room into my office and that’s how I started working for the family business (EnergyCAP).
Six months later after our daughter was born (Asia), my parents moved back, and eventually my brothers moved back, and over time the company grew to 70 employees. I went from Sales to Marketing to Human Resources, the latter role providing opportunities in coaching, personality assessments, and leading workshops.
Then in Year 20 of EnergyCAP (last year), my dad sold the company to a private equity firm, and it seemed like good timing for me to try my own business, full-time. So, I left EnergyCAP to focus on building Chris Heinz Co., which is what I’m doing now.
In hindsight, the path often seems perfectly clear to lead where it did. But at the time, you can’t see clearly ahead. You kind of take the next step as best you can, and sometimes you get corrected, and then you get back on it.
Remembering how we got to Pennsylvania helps us to trust God more. Now we're ready for a new adventure. After walking thru a process of discernment, we've decided to live in Charlottesville, Virginia.
(How we landed on Charlottesville is a story in itself, maybe I'll share it another time.)
Asia, who came to Pennsylvania as a baby in the womb, will graduate from high school and we'll move to Virginia in Early Summer.
But in the Fall, Asia will be starting college elsewhere, so the next chapter will be different from the previous. New town, new way of family, new friendships, new school, new church, new work. Lots of new adventures ahead.
We will deeply miss what our time in Pennsylvania held, so there is sorrow. I've realized that in conversation, I have avoided talking about moving because of the loss it will be. I just don’t want to feel it until I must.
But I think that feeling the loss and naming it and even talking about it honors how good it was to have lived in the same town as family, where we built a company together and birthed our daughter and brought home two boys from the Philippines and shared life with such wonderful friends and been part of a church we loved.
It has been a remarkable adventure.
And while there is sorrow, there’s also joy for what our Virginia time will hold. It’s okay to hold sorrow and joy at the same time, it doesn’t diminish either place or season.
As I write this, I’m in Charlottesville taking care of some things. And starting a new story in a way. Yesterday I met a new friend for tea, then visited the home we bought.
This morning I worked out at the local Orangetheory, then toured a coworking space in the downtown. (This time, we’re downsizing so there’s not an extra room.)
Later today I’ll pray-walk our neighborhood, holding both sorrow and joy in my heart. I'll thank God for being worthy of trust when I couldn’t see what was ahead.
I'll thank Him for the adventure that Pennsylvania was and the one that Virginia will be.
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