I am the girl who, maybe like you, spent the first two decades of my life not believing in anything other than myself. My life was exactly that; it was mine. I was selfish, self-centered, and did whatever it took to get what I wanted. The idea of God or going to church was silly to me; it was just a “crutch” for those who couldn’t handle their own circumstances.
Boy, was I wrong, and way off base! It all started with a “leap of faith” and that seems to be what is woven throughout my story thus far.
My first leap was going to church. I never had any intention of ever doing that, but I befriended a co-worker and she invited me to her church, so I went. I was so afraid of what would happen. I had no idea if they would know I was a “sinner” and call me out in front of everyone for it. Now let me note here, I’ve never been to a church that has done that before and hope that there aren’t churches that do that. But I was deathly afraid that was going to happen. I knew I wasn’t living a life God liked, in fact at this point I was sure He hated me. But nonetheless I went. And it turns out that it wasn’t that bad. It took several months after that first outing for church going to become a regular habit for me, but I know that it was because of that first step that my new story started to unfold.
My next leap was getting baptized. I was the first, and am still the only, one in my family to dedicate my life to God. It is crazy how different this lifestyle is from the one I was living previously. My thoughts, my actions, my words, they all mattered now. It was no longer about me, although there is still an inner battle against that daily. It was about Him now, about something so much bigger than me, His story, His plan.
Then came my next leap; going on a mission trip. It wasn’t more than 8 months after my baptism that I was on a plane to Haiti with a group of women that I didn’t know. We went down there to work at an orphanage for five days. It was crazy, hard, overwhelming at times, and most of all, incredible. To see the love and joy flowing out of all the kids I interacted with was unbelievable. Working with kids from other countries is exactly what I thought God was calling me to. But that’s a story for another time!
Three months after that I took what felt like my biggest leap yet; I moved from Detroit to Phoenix. Through the amazing ways that God works I heard about a private Christian school in Phoenix called Grand Canyon University. They were sponsoring the Lecrae concert that made its way to Detroit, and during one of the breaks they played a video advertising for GCU. My first thought was that it was pretty awesome, palm trees and cacti, those are things I hadn’t ever seen together before. But then quickly I thought that’s definitely not for me, I am staying in Detroit! Well I was wrong, sure enough I packed my things and made the 36-hour drive to Phoenix, with the help of my mom.
Phoenix and GCU were new, exciting, adventurous, and so far out of my comfort zone. I ended up spending three and a half years in that huge city. I was the first, on my dad’s side, to graduate from college! I got my degree in Youth Ministry. I was stretched, grown, and ultimately made new inside and out. I met new friends, some who were just for a season, others who I know will be around forever. God showed me, and if I am honest, is continuing to show me what true friendship is. My best friend Chloë, who I met at GCU, has gone through some rough, and I mean rough, patches with me and never once left my side or approached any situation without compassion. She has had many moments in my life where she was truly being the hands and feet of Jesus.
My most recent leaps have pretty much happened together. First I moved to Boise, Idaho. Now some of you may be asking where the heck is Boise, Idaho? Is that near Nebraska and Minnesota? Boise is nestled in the heart of the Pacific Northwest. It has mountains and pine trees and it’s actually the capitol of Idaho! In other words, it’s almost the complete opposite when it comes to Phoenix with weather. My first week and a half here we had over a foot of snowfall and the whole city practically shut down, it was awful. Moving here was pretty huge, thankfully Chloë and her entire family welcomed me with open arms. But the biggest part had to be moving here unemployed.
In Phoenix I had a job I loved; I worked at a missions agency, full time, helping people learn about our organization and point them to what their next steps should be. I had it all worked out that when I moved I would be able to continue working for them, part time, and I had another part time job that was project managing for a marketing company. I thought it was going to be great, two work-from-home jobs, not worrying about finding a new job or being unemployed, it was going to be extra great! Then a month before I planned on leaving Phoenix I knew God was asking me to quit both jobs. I was shocked, confused, and there may have been some pleading with Him to not let that be a thing. But it was. So, I went to both my bosses and explained to them my circumstances and both offered me more hours. Of course they would, right? I had to say no and stick to that no. So I did, and ended up in Boise, unemployed. Being unemployed means more free time than I’d ever had. The blessing in that was my relationship with Jesus was stronger than it’s ever been, the downside was I might get caught up in binging Netflix every now and again and getting totally distracted from looking for a job or reading or anything else for that matter. I spent a good chunk of each day looking for jobs, hoping, praying, wishing I could land another job in ministry. After a few weeks I heard God pretty clearly say stop looking for jobs, stop. After some questions I did just that, I stopped looking for a job. And that lead to a job falling into my lap, which led to a second big move in less than two months.
I was offered a position serving with Americorps, which is like the Peace Corps but for America. I was partnered with an organization called SBP that is focused on disaster recovery, helping low income families that were affected by natural disasters get back into safe and sustainable homes. It sounded really awesome and they asked me to serve a ten month term as a site supervisor, even though I had no experience with construction at all! When I got the call that they were offering me a position I was so excited, but then quickly remembered that it was in Columbia, SC and I only had about a week to get there.
So I packed up my things, again, and Chloë and I set out on another road trip across the country. We spent four days in the car and almost the entire time we were driving we were looking for places for me to stay, but to no avail. We arrived in Columbia on a Sunday night, I was starting work Monday morning, and we had no place to stay. Thankfully a friend of a friend lives in the Columbia area so we got connected and had a place to stay that night. I went to work Monday while Chloë searched for housing, finally finding a room to rent, but I couldn’t move in until Tuesday. We stayed at a hotel that night and Tuesday morning came and Chloë flew back to Boise and I found myself alone, in a new place, living in someone’s house I don’t know, just really trusting God with where He had me and why He had me there.
I currently have one month left in my term and can’t believe all that I have learned and how much I have grown in so many areas. I can now build walls and lay tile and laminate flooring and install baseboards and so many other things that go into rebuilding a house! I also grew in my relationship with Jesus, with lots of ups and downs of course! And honestly if it wasn’t for my time being alone and seeking God so diligently, this blog probably wouldn’t have started.
Now with one month left I’d like to say things are different, that I have this awesome job lined or or plan in action to ensure I’m not unemployed next month, but I don’t! God has me right back in that same place. I know my time is ending soon, and when I moved I was certain I’d go back to Idaho. But I can officially say I will be staying in Columbia for the foreseeable future! And that’s about all I know right now. I am taking another leap and staying in Columbia, but beyond that I’m just trusting in His faithfulness that He will guide me to what’s next.
I am not sure what is going to happen, but I do know that more than anything I want to be obedient to what God is asking me to do. This is another leap for me. Writing is one of my least favorite things to do, I don’t think I am that good at it. And I tend to like to know what and why I am doing something before I do it. But it seems that God has something that He wants me to say through writing. A couple years ago He had me start writing a book about my story, and although it still has lots and lots of edits to be made, I did it! Then He asked me to start writing for our blog. Maybe you’re in that same place, He has asked you to do something that you don’t think you are great at or something way outside of your comfort zone. Well this is for you! I encourage you to take that leap and see what He has for you because one thing I do know is that He is on our side and when we step out in faith, pursuing Him and His will, He will be right there every step of the way.
There are lots of stories throughout the Bible about everyday people stepping out in faith for God. Hebrews 11 highlights a few of them, starting with this verse:
“Now let us step out with confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see”
Hebrews 11:1 NIV