As we left Colorado, both CJ and I felt a sense of sadness. Not that we won’t miss our friends and family in Texas, but we both feel such a sense of belonging and peace when we’re in Colorado. We believe this feeling is a reassurance that we’re walking the path God has for us…a path that’s leading us into the wilderness. However, before we can make this transition, there’s still a lot to be done here in Austin. This is a challenge that we eagerly face.
So a lot has happened since we’ve been back. CJ and I have been working diligently on getting our life and belongings prepared for the move and I’ve been working on the legalities of incorporating in Colorado and becoming a 501(c)3 nonprofit.
Prep for Move
There are quite a few logistics that need to be taken care of before we can physically relocate to Colorado, including selling the house, cars, etc. Before we left on our trip, we bought an all-wheel drive Subaru Outback, which we believe must be the state car of Colorado based on the number of Outbacks we saw on the road while there. But now we’re a little car heavy. We plan on selling both of our other vehicles, since neither will drive well in the snow, and head to Colorado as a one car family. So if you know of anyone that’s in the market for a little Suzuki Reno or rear-wheel-drive Xterra, let us know.
As for the house, we plan to put it in on the market near the end of April. Working towards that goal, the weekend after our return we invited our community to help us in numerous construction projects around the house. About 15 of our friends showed up to help us in our efforts. Although we originally planned for both inside and outside projects, the weather kept us inside for most of the day. But even so, due to the hard work of our friends, we made tremendous progress. We are truly blessed to be a part of such a servant hearted community! We even had the pleasure of having our sweet friend Katsy with us, as she travelled all the way from New Orleans to be a part of our work weekend.
Several years ago we had wood floors installed throughout the house. In order to save money, we decided to do the baseboards ourselves. However, it was now 3 years later and we still didn’t have all the baseboards installed. But with our energetic work crew, we got most of our baseboards installed and painted on saturday. And that’s not all….our blessings come not only in the shape of enthisiastic and loving friends, but also in very skilled friends. With Eric’s help, we were also able to install tile in both bathrooms! What an accomplishment!! We will definitely miss this community, but we recognize that separation is not the end of friendship. Our friends not only have an open invitation to our place in Colorado, I really think CJ is planning to start a relocation program. She would be on cloud 9 if everyone just picked up and came with us.
After the big workday, CJ and I spent the next week finishing the baseboard and tiling projects. And then the weather cleared, with Saturday dawning bright and beautiful, allowing us to tackle a few of the outside projects. A couple of our friends came out to help and we were able to complete a few of the smaller tasks as well as making a big dent in two of the larger ones. One step closer to being ready for market, woohoo! Our last big project is improving the front curb appeal. This will include replacing most of the front shrubs, creating a large planting bed around our big oak tree, and installing new sod in the front yard. Inside we only have a few small projects left to complete.
As for the cars, I spent quite a bit of time detailing our little blue car in order to get it posted for sale. If nothing else, this process has reminded me how much I dislike selling things on Craigslist. I’m having to deal with so many scams and people trying to negotiate online before even seeing the car, which is only the start. What happened to the old fashion way of negotiating….come take it for a test drive and then talk to the seller? ‘Lil blue car has been a good car, but it has some blemishes (hail damage from before we owned it). This has been a huge deterrent for many people. I know this sounds odd, but I find myself feeling bad for the car. It reminds me of how the world often judges people based only on their external appearance with no regard for what’s on the inside. Maybe this is just one more lesson God is teaching me through this whole process. I may not understand it all, but I feel sure that God is molding me more each day.
As for the majority of our time, CJ has been spending her days building pricing models for Dell while I continue to work on a number of important documents necessary for the establishment of Sonshine Wilderness Retreat. Although I continue to network, the majority of my time has been spent deep in legal documents and tax language. This has definitely been a learning experience, but I won’t bore you with all the very dry details.
On a positive note, I was able to submit all the legal documents needed to incorporate in Colorado. So we are are now a legal nonprofit corporation in Colorado, can I hear an AMEN?! So now that’s done, I’m working on the 501(c)3 application to become an official religious nonprofit organization in the eyes of the IRS. This type of organization doesn’t have to pay taxes and the donations are tax deductible. The application is extensive and very complicated, requiring a number of large items before the final submission. The requirements include an Employer Identification Number (EIN), a faith statement, a board of directors, bylaws, and a phasing and financial plan, just to name a few. So far I’ve mailed out the form for the EIN and CJ and I have started drafting the faith statement and bylaws. We’ve also prayed about and invited several people to be on the Board. And if that’s not enough, I’ve also started our phasing and financial plans, although these will take a while. Not to mention, most of these documents will require Board approval before the application is submitted. Fascinating, isn’t it? All this is definitely guarenteed to put you to sleep!!
Another item on our agenda is an idea that we brought home from our trip, something that our new friend Bruce suggested….the possibly of SWR partnering with an existing organization. He thought it would be worth investigating becoming a part of an organization that currently exists but doesn’t do what SWR proposes. An example of such an organization would be a Christian dude ranch, which focuses primarily on ranch activities centered around horses and not on wilderness treks and other outdoor adventures. We are lifting this up to God and allowing Him to work on our hearts in this as both CJ and I seem to be struggling with letting go of some of the control. It’s not that we feel the need to be calling all the shots, but we seem to have an idea in our heads of what this all will look like and it’s been difficult giving this up. But in the end, this is God’s plan, not ours, and we want nothing more than to be walking in His will. Our initial response to the idea was that the organization would need to have a similar belief structure / approach to its ministry. We would also like the two operations to be autonomous. However, if this is not God’s plan, we pray that He open our eyes and humble us on this front. We continue to pray and I’ve also been active in doing research on the existing Dude Ranches in the area. The only one that exists in the area we’re looking at does not include their faith statement on their website. Concerning but definitely not a closed door. This is were we can use prayer, to understand if this is the direction God is leading us in the development of the retreat.
Day of Rest
With all the busyness, CJ and I really needed a day of rest. After an awesome sermon on fasting Sunday morning, we decided to take the dogs for a walk at a leash-free trail in Central Austin. Both of us were desperately in need of some time in nature, away from all the activity. We can very easily get caught up in the “Doing” that we forget to “Be” with God and each other. Our hike on Sunday allowed us some time to go deep, discussing where our hearts are and where can encourage/support and pray for each other. We also spent time talking about our highs and lows of the week and found ourselves refocusing on one of the main reasons we’re taking this step in the first place. And of course, the dogs were in hog heaven….or is that dog heaven?!!
In any case, wishing you all a similar experience some time soon.