What REALLY happens when we say yes?

It’s been five months and two days since I moved.
Five months and two days since I left behind everyone and everything I’ve ever known to move 3,000 miles away – about as far from California as I could get and still be in the US.

Five months and two days since that plane took off in Santa Rosa, since the moment when I realized that life as I knew it was about to be turned upside down.

But… it’s also taken five months and two days for me to really start to see just how crazy this whole thing really is. I’ve done all I can to have grace with myself and be gentle with myself in this period of adjustment (thanks, momma!), but as crazy as it sounds… I feel like I’m JUST NOW realizing that what I did was kind of a big deal.

Over the last few days God has given me multiple opportunities to share again the story of coming to Richmond, a story that is ultimately His. I shared the timeline of everything with my parents and I and how God so beautifully wove it all together, and then when I talked about how I had to do something with my free rent leaving California… I explain it as that in the process of figuring out what was next, God made it abundantly clear that Richmond was it. And because of what had happened five months earlier, because God had done the impossible in my life… I wasn’t about to say no. I knew that He could do the impossible in whatever adversity we face in life – I mean, He had just done so for me.

So as I’ve put it so many times, especially again in the last few days… I said okay God FINE I WILL GO. I will forever call this season in my life “The one where God gets reeeeeally ironic” – I can’t tell you how many times I tried to move out of the area after graduating high school in 2012, and how every single time God closed the door. Some door closes were far more dramatic and emphatic than others, but He always brought me back to Santa Rosa.

During the 68 days last year when He worked the miracle, I finally realized why He had kept me there for so long. I still had things to learn about Him and about myself, and I honestly don’t know how that could have happened anywhere else. By the end of the 68 days, though… I was so content to still be living in Santa Rosa. And when my dad accepted the call up in Idaho, I looked into staying local – nothing would have made me happier.

Obviously God had other plans. I mean, I’m here in Virginia.

But that’s what I want to talk about… what happens when we say yes to Him. “Saying yes” can happen in small ways or in big ways, and it can be incredibly easy or incredibly challenging. I think for many of us we find that saying yes more often than not sets us on a path that will be much harder… but harder does not always mean bad. Harder just means that we have no choice but to rely on Him.

As I was taking notes during the sermon this past Sunday, a thought came to me that is radically changing how I look at the last few months. Going back to this Christmas/Advent season, the theme of Immanuel kept coming up… Immanuel, God with us. At the time I was honestly pretty over it… Since it’s now March I feel like I can talk about it some, but Christmas sucked for me this year. Big time. I’ve never truly CRIED cried during a sermon, but I did on Christmas Eve – and they weren’t tears of joy.

The thought from this past Sunday, though… It was a few weeks after Christmas when I began to see how bad the depression had gotten, when I began to see that I need help processing the fact that I don’t know how to be depressed anymore – I’ve only ever known depression with a desperate desire to die, and now… now that’s gone. Praise Jesus, absolutely. But it meant that the depression went fairly unnoticed by me for a good amount of time.

Around the same time that I began to see and realize all this, God started sending me small lifelines here and there, or as I heard someone say recently – He started sending me “God winks”. And what’s so crazy? So many of those God winks have come through work, through multiple co workers. One who has a clerical job for the state department of behavioral health… one who used to work as a counselor/therapist before joining the business sector… one whose husband was a pastor for many years… it honestly got to the point where I was like “OKAY JESUS I SEE YOU I GET IT YOU CAN STOP NOW”… but you and I both know that He doesn’t stop.

There have been plenty of other God winks over the last couple of months, but it caught my attention for sure that so many significant ones have come through work. So on Sunday as I was reflecting on it all, I wrote down that this season has been one of “the little things”. God has sent me so many reminders over the last two months that He is with me, no matter what.

… Immanuel.
God with us.

He hasn’t answered the prayers and cries of my broken heart in any one big way. But gradually, He has sent me more and more evidence of Himself, of Immanuel.

I think of the story that we all know – the man on his roof in a flood, crying out for God to save his life and rescue him. A rowboat comes by, a helicopter comes by, whatever else comes by, but he denies their help every time because he was waiting for God to save him. Eventually the man is lost in the flood, and upon entering heaven he asks God – why didn’t you save me??

God’s reply? I tried – I sent you a rowboat, I sent you a helicopter, but you said no to them.

As I mentioned above… the God winks have truly been lifelines. Not any one big one, but many little ones. And in thinking of His promise of Immanuel and seeing it played out in all the little things… nothing could be a more beautiful display of Him and His love for us.

I think I’m finally realizing what a big deal this move is… I mean, in telling the story over and over throughout the weekend, I had plenty of chances to hear just how crazy it sounds. Not just a move coming together in 30 days. Not even a move this far coming together in 30 days.

A move this far for someone who really has NEVER EVER moved… in 30 days.

So… what REALLY happens when we say yes to Him? We’re saying yes to a life and a path that is far more difficult, no doubt. This move and transition has absolutely played out as the hardest thing I’ve ever done, just as I predicted. And considering all I’ve had to endure in the last now eight years… that’s saying quite a bit.

But because that life and path is far more difficult… we have no choice but to rely fully and completely on Him. We have no choice but to press into Him and His promises, even if we feel like He is so far away and even if we feel like we’re doing a horrible job with it all.

As I think about everything from the last five months, one phrase comes to mind…

“I can’t. But He can.”

Five months and two days have taught me just how true that is.
Five months and two days have given me opportunity to put this faith into practice in some very real and difficult ways.

Five months and two days of a life FAR outside of my comfort zone… and a lifetime more to come. Bring it on.

the RVA post…

So, you remember that one time when I decided to pick up everything I’ve ever known and move clear across the country? And when I decided to do so in only about 30 days?

Yeah, well, I figure it’s time that I put the whole story down in writing as best that I can. Seeing as how I miss home terribly right now and am having a hard time not being there to walk through this trial with everyone, I figure it wouldn’t hurt to a) distract myself by writing, and b) finally write out the story of coming to Richmond. After all, I know that as I write and reflect on the journey God has had me on in the last couple of months, I will be able to remember again just how much my coming here was ordained by Him.

Well – here goes.
I’ve learned a lot over the recent weeks. The first one I will share is perhaps the funniest and yet the most poignant and telling for where I’m at these days… I first flew out to Richmond on a Monday, 10/7. It was a long and lonely week, so when church came the following Sunday I was thrilled to finally start meeting some new people. Sitting at lunch after church, I said to myself and to my housemates/hosts/long lost neighbors (more on that later!), “Remind me next time I leave everything I’ve ever known and move across the country to NOT do so on a Monday!” We laugh, but it’s true… that first Sunday could not come soon enough. And now that I’ve had three Sundays here, I could not be more thrilled to have found such a wonderful family of faith.

Now let’s back up a little bit, back to why I ended up moving in the first place. Sometime in August it became official that my parents would be moving to Idaho. My dad had accepted the call to serve as pastor at Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church in Boise, ID. And, well, what that meant for me is that my free rent was leaving my Northern California hometown of Santa Rosa. My health had greatly improved earlier in the year thanks to God’s miracles in my life, and so lots of options were realistic possibilities. I looked into everything… work transfer, finding new work somewhere else, finding something in Boise (but still living on my own), and even staying put in Santa Rosa. For the first time I would have been thrilled to stay local for a little while longer. But God had other plans, and I had no idea just how much they would blow my mind. (Side note – I’m still laughing at God’s irony, and I don’t think that will ever go away.)

One possibility on the list that I mentioned? A work transfer. I was constantly checking out my company’s website for new listings of available positions. I had decided that I wasn’t going to apply to another city unless I had a specific reason – a friend local, some kind of connection with the area… that kind of thing. Richmond was on my radar due to the fact that I was here last October for my dear friend’s wedding, so when I saw the post, knowing she and her husband are still local here… I applied. I was hoping to transfer somewhere and continue working customer service, but I guess I was open to anything.

Fast forward a bit, and my manager in Santa Rosa got word that they needed lead agents in Richmond. I emailed the manager here almost immediately, but when I heard back I learned that they didn’t need anyone for customer service… they really just needed some lead agents to work ramp. She told me right away that if I was willing to work ramp that we could talk, but that they didn’t have anything available upstairs. I was hesitant at first, but then thought to myself that this could be the perfect opportunity if I want to start moving towards a career in this industry.

Shortly after that I applied with a “sure, let’s talk…” well… that was maybe September 5. I had a video interview with management the following Wednesday (9/11), and then Sunday the 15th I flew to RIC to see the airport and meet everyone. By Tuesday the 17th I had an official transfer date of Monday, October 7th.

Woah… that all happened fast. Like – really, REALLY fast. Especially since a) I’ve never really moved, b) I was moving over 2500 miles away, and c) my parents were simultaneously trying to sell their home and move to Idaho. I mean, the term logistical nightmare? It’s the understatement of the century.

But… we did it. Actually, God did it. We’ve just all been along for the ride. But before I go any further, I need to share how God provided for what is perhaps one of the biggest needs with a move – initial/immediate housing. And not only that, but through the circumstances surrounding my accommodations He revealed to me just how much this move is NOT just about me and NOT just about my job at the airport.

Backing up to Tuesday, September 10th. I had just gotten home from a Disneyland trip, and within minutes of being home my mom kicked me out due to an afternoon showing. I went to St. Mark and spent some time upstairs just relaxing and killing time. Little did I know, though, that my random idea to check out the LCMS national directory for the churches in Richmond would lead me to a housing arrangement, my parents to a beautiful reconnection of some former friendships, and ultimately to me seeing that God is up to SO much in this whole moving across the country thing.

See… as I went through the list of churches in the greater RVA (Richmond) area, all of the sudden a name looked familiar. Like, really REALLY familiar. I was vaguely remembering my mother asking me sometime recently “hey, is North Chesterfield near Richmond?” knowing my other connection already here. But I didn’t fully remember, so I started calling my parents. I called my mom’s cell… no answer. I called my dad’s cell… no answer. (I still laugh at that one because I was at church upstairs and he was there downstairs.) Then I called the home phone, and my mom picked up. I told her what I had been doing and then asked, is this who I think it is…? She confirmed, and I pretty much immediately began the process of getting in touch.

Who are these people, exactly?
My dad went to seminary from 1996-1998 in St. Louis.
The pastor of a church here in Richmond, who’s been at the church since he left the seminary in 2000, two years after my dad… he and his family were our next door neighbors both years in seminary. OVER TWENTY YEARS AGO.

A mere month and a half later, here we are. And God is STILL proving Himself faithful – over and over again. I still remember when I went out to lunch with him (long lost neighbor) on my visit here to RVA mid September. I was admittedly anxious that morning, having to find a church in a new place and a new city, interacting with new people. I knew this family years ago, yes, but it had been over 20 years. And then on top of all of that to be facing the fact that this may be home for me in the near future…? It was a lot.

Back to that Tuesday lunch meeting. We didn’t have a whole lot of time that day, but I didn’t need much time at all to start sensing that God was up to so much more than I could have imagined. I had a chance to hear about his heart for ministry along with some of the heartbeat that this church has for its surrounding communities. I was able to tell almost immediately that these people get it, and that they get it in a very big and very real way. I knew then and there that I was going to be surrounded by like minded people, not only in this family but in this whole church.

I left lunch that day and was nearly in tears as I drove back to my friend’s house. I was actually rather exhausted the rest of the day – you know, God had basically knocked the wind out of me! Though I couldn’t tell you why in that moment, I just knew that I was meant to move. I knew that God would have amazing opportunities waiting for me here in RVA, opportunities both to learn but also to give back to the people here in a variety of ways.

Only three weeks removed from California, that could not be more true. God is already teaching me so much, and I am honored to be in such a position. I am excited to see what is to come. And though I know it will not be easy, I know that the Lord will be with me through all of it and that He will provide in the ways He feels best.

The last three weeks have been some of the hardest three weeks I’ve ever had to face. And yet, it is already such a beautiful season and I cannot wait to watch as things continue to unfold. As I write this, my hometown and home county is in crisis mode due to devastating wildfires. I lived through it there in Santa Rosa two years ago, and now that they’re all walking through it again… and I’m not there. I’m here, in Virginia, about as far away from California as you could get. I’m not going to lie, that’s been really hard the last couple of days. But as I finally am writing out the story of God bringing me here, I am reminded that His direction and timing pointing me to RVA was so abundantly clear.

Ending up in Richmond, with the people and community that I have begun to find, is such an answer to prayer. It’s an exciting opportunity, and it’s a chance to start fresh now that I’m learning how to live free and how to live fully known and fully loved. My heart is constantly so full of gratitude for the people that I have already met here, but most importantly for my God and my Father for His love and grace and guidance as I take this next step on my journey.

Happy Reformation Sunday, dear brothers and sisters. May we always remember that Jesus came for you and He came for me, and that He came to rescue us from the darkest of nights and to set us free from the most impossible chains.

So… what brought me to Richmond?
God.
I mean, work was the catalyst.
But God brought me to Richmond, and I could not be more grateful.

fully known & fully loved

If I could thank Dr. Jillian for just one of the many things she left me with? One lesson, one gift? It would be the gift of a life living fully known AND fully loved. She was only able to give me that in human form, emphasis on the temporary part of human form. But… as a result, she has impacted and touched my life in a way that no one else has.

“To have been loved so deeply, even though the person who loved us is gone, will give us some protection forever….”

I found that quote credited to JK Rowling tonight as I was looking up quotes on grief on Pinterest. Some reading this may find it odd that I start a post with this title by sharing a quote about grief. However, anyone who knows my story well knows that an experience with grief ties in very closely with the idea of being fully known AND fully loved.

Continue reading “fully known & fully loved”