We moved to Arkansas a little over a year ago. That was not on our post-graduation radar. Ben had a job, and he loved it. We had a plan. But then, he received a recruiting email from Walmart.
"I'm not working for Walmart," he said. He kept telling me that, as if he were trying to persuade himself. Eventually, the opportunity for that particular job passed. But the seed was planted.
"I keep having this nagging feeling that we are supposed to go to Arkansas," he said.
"Why? You have a job. You like your job. Why would we move to Arkansas? Sure, my family is there, but you don't have a job. Do you realize how hard that would be?"
We didn't want to move to Arkansas. He said it was the armpit of America. No one just moves to Arkansas with no job potential. No one just moves in with their parents right after graduation just for kicks (especially when they have a fine job in another state).
But we did.
We had all these reasons why we shouldn't. People told us we were crazy. They told us exactly what I just told you, and we really struggled with the idea. But during General Conference, President Eyring gave this talk. During that talk, we both had separate but similar personal revelations that we were supposed to move to Arkansas. We went for a walk in between sessions to talk about it. We prayed. And we knew in that moment that we were, indeed, being called to Arkansas. It didn't make sense, but it did. It felt right in our minds and hearts. Even though so many things didn't make sense, to us, it made perfect sense.
So we packed up and moved across the country.
"It will work out," I said. "God wants us there. He will make things work out."
I was recovering from a terrible back injury. I was also recovering from the last set of relapses and lies. But I had faith that God would take care of us, and He did in His own way.
In the year that we've been here, we have seen tremendous blessings. However, things have certainly been hard. While I love my family, living with my parents and sisters wasn't an easy nine months. Despite the times I struggled there, I loved it. I grew closer to my family. After five years of being away at college, it was nice to get to re-know my sisters and parents.
Living with my parents was also a blessing because they got to know Ben--the Ben whose potential I see. We kept the addiction a secret while we lived with them. They might have known or suspected we struggled, but they didn't know we struggled in the ways we do. They did get to know the good parts of him--the parts I fell in love with. They got to know him as a brother and son. I'll be forever grateful for that.
After I told my parents about his addiction, my mom said to me later, "Maybe part of the reason you moved here was so we could get to really know Ben. I can't judge him because of his addiction. I know too much about him." I think she was right.
Shortly after moving here, I decided I wanted to start substitute teaching a few days a week while my back continued to recover. People told me it would be easy for me to get a job in the big district because they were in desperate need for subs, and I have a teaching license from a great university. I applied for that district, but I never received a phone call for an interview. I tried calling and pursuing the job, but I could never get through. It seemed that it was not meant to be.
A woman my mom worked with in the Young Women's organization posted on facebook that the district in which her kids attended school (a very small district: the town has 5000 people) was hiring subs. I applied and got through the process very quickly. The day after finishing my paperwork, I received a phone call from the principal of the high school.
"Is this Kilee?"
"Kilee, my name is ________________, principal over here at ______. I see that you are certified in Family and Consumer Sciences."
"Yes, sir, I am."
"Well, how would you like a long-term sub job? Our counselor is out on medical leave for the rest of the school year. We moved the FACS teacher to that position, and now we need a FACS teacher."
I told him of my back problems and said I needed to think about it because I had really just wanted to sub a few days a week. He understood (he also has major back issues) and gave me a couple days to think about it.
I ended up taking that position. Of course, I had to interview, but it seemed like it was pretty much just a formality. Plus, I blew them out of the water anyway ;)
That was a tough few months. I started mid-February and finished off the school year. I was pretty much a full-time teacher but only got paid $70 a day (minus taxes, of course. Isn't that fantastic?).
Ben didn't get a job until June, and then, it was just as a bank teller. During that time I was subbing, we were living off of my measly sub income. We wanted so badly to have our own place, but we simply couldn't afford it. I was working my heart out, and it was very discouraging because I felt like we weren't really reaping what I was sewing.
My sub position turned into a full-time teaching position (Yes, I had to interview. No, it wasn't a formality. It was real. I even had real competition, and it was very stressful). I worked hard all summer long to prepare for the school year, and didn't get paid for it all summer.
Meanwhile, Ben was job hunting. We were very grateful when he got this teller position, but we eventually became discouraged with the situation because it's not what he wants to do. It's not what he went to college for.
People have told Ben it's crazy how hard it's been for him to get a job down here. He has so many resources. He has had so many people pulling for him, but nothing has worked out. He has had interviews. He has gotten to the final rounds of interviews. He has applied for over 100 jobs, and all he ended up with was a bank teller position.
After being here and getting to know the companies, Ben realized he really doesn't want to work for any company here. That left us...stuck.
We've prayed. We've talked about our attitudes. We've fasted. We've worked really hard to stay positive and faithful while still hoping for something better.
We've struggled financially. We've struggled emotionally. He has struggled with addiction stuff and depression. I've struggled with my side of the addiction stuff and my own depression. Things have been really HARD.
But we've also been so blessed.
We've seen God's hand in our lives.
I've seen it in my job: how impossible it was to get a job in the first district, but then how easily it fell into place with this small district. I've seen it in my students: the love I have for them and them for me. I've seen it in Ben helping me with grading or taking care of things at home when I'm super stressed out. Teaching at this high school has been such a good experience. Sometimes I want to rip my hair out, but I wouldn't take back any second I've spent with my students or the relationships I've developed there. I've learned so much in so many aspects of life while teaching there.
I've seen God's hand in the beautiful nature that surrounds us. Can I just say how much I love that about Northwest Arkansas?
I've seen His hand in the tender mercies that have gotten me through serious bouts of depression.
I've seen His hand in the beautiful people I've been surrounded with: both at school and at church.
I've seen His hand our bishop and ward members.
I've seen His hand in my family and close friends here.
I've seen His hand in the spiritual growth Ben and I have both experienced here. We've struggled, but I have no doubt that we needed to struggle. I'm a lot firmer in my faith than I was a year ago. I have a lot deeper understanding of things than I did a year ago. I understand the Atonement better than I did a year ago. There is so much beauty in the things we have struggled with. I'll be brave and say I actually love the trials we have faced. They suck, they do, but I've discovered strength I didn't know I had. And I've discovered/developed a strong faith in God and His will.
Being in Arkansas has been an amazingly beautiful experience. I'm so grateful for the friendships I've formed and the lessons I've learned. I'm grateful for the experiences I've had that have brought me closer to God.
And now our time here is coming to a close. Ben was offered a position with Capitol One in Plano, Texas.
It's crazy how this has happened. I kept encouraging him to apply for jobs other places since nothing was working here. He did so, but it was a little reluctantly. When he received the phone call to interview for this job, he told me, "I remember applying for other jobs at Capitol One, but not that one." His interviews were last Friday (he had two interviews for this job), and he was offered the job on Monday.
As soon as he told me he was offered the job, I knew it was right.
And it doesn't make sense to some people. Even to me, it's hard to comprehend that we would move here for a year and then get a job elsewhere. It doesn't make sense to invest all that we have here and then just leave it all behind. I've worked so hard with my job. I've made friends and created a good circle of support for the pain of the addiction. We've grown closer to my family.
It's going to be painful to leave everything we've found here behind.
We know this is the right, choice, though. He fasted and prayed about it. I didn't feel like I needed to fast about it because I felt like I just knew. But I did pray about it, and I know it's right. When we make decisions like this, we take it separately and come to our own conclusion, then we talk about it together later and see if we have reached the same answer. We always work that way, and we did for this situation too. We know it's right.
And now Satan is fighting us hard. Or at least he is fighting me.
I'm getting scared. Rightly so. Cost of living in that area is higher than here. Rent will be higher. And even though he has a job, it's not one that pays super well (but way better than being a teller), so I know we will struggle financially. I'm going to have to go through the process of getting a teaching license in Texas, which will likely be painful. There are a lot of things about this that are going to be hard.
Plus I'm really going to miss a lot of things about Arkansas.
I grew up in Frisco, Texas. It's the town directly north of Plano. I'm nervous about moving back to the area because it's a place that I swore to never return to live (for personal, teenager reasons). I'm having to face some anxiety about going back, but I'm also really excited to return to some old friends and experience things there as an adult. And I feel potential of having a good recovery circle there as well, which excites me.
Just like when we moved to AR, I'm trying to have faith in God providing for us. This move seems a
I admit it seems a little crazy. I feel crazy. I mean, we just moved a year ago. And we just moved into this house a little less than four months ago. So many things seem so crazy.
I think Satan is trying to make me feel crazy, doubtful, and fearful. So I'm going to keep pulling the faith and living with the knowledge that this is part of God's plan. And every time I act on personal revelation, no matter how hard or scary it is, it always pays off in the best way possible.
Ben is moving in a week and a half. I'm following after I finish the school year. I see potential with that situation. It will give him the opportunity to work some things out that he needs personal space and time for. It will give me some good opportunities here too. I'm nervous though... I'm nervous for relapses and pain and all that lovelies that fall in that category. I'll miss him a lot, but I think it will be good for us. I hope it will be, anyway.