A New Year, Another Leap of Faith

Photo by savit keawtavee

(Photo by Savit Keawtavee)

There’s something poetic about starting a new adventure with the beginning of a new year. Four years ago tomorrow was my first day at IJM. God moved us away from our comfortable lives in Nashville for my “dream job” here. (His hand was very evident in the entire process.) One year ago this week, after a long journey through infertility and 4 agonizing rounds of IVF, we learned we were having twins (if that’s not a new adventure, I don’t know what is!). And yesterday, the email went out to the organization that I’m officially leaving IJM.
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Seriously, check out these dates. There’s something very poetic about it:
1/8/09 – I printed off a marketing job description at IJM that became my inspiration for wanting to work there (I wrote about this fun detail here)
1/9/12 – my first day at my “dream job” at IJM
1/2/15 – after our journey through infertility, we learn God has blessed us with twins (what?!)
1/7/16 – the email goes out to the organization that I’m leaving IJM
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It is with many bittersweet feelings that I am saying goodbye to an organization and team that I have been so honored to be a part of. It’s quite surreal. I could have stayed at IJM for many, many more years. I leave there forever changed in so many ways, and grateful to have been a small part of the life-changing work being done.
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One big lesson I will carry with me is how we, at IJM, pray so earnestly and specifically for details of the people’s lives that we are trying to serve. For a rescue mission at 10pm tomorrow to find the one girl. For the court hearing to proceed as scheduled. For the missing file to be found so the case doesn’t get delayed. For the $10,000 gift to come in on time. So often, in our own lives, we pray very generically. Why do we feel we can pray so boldly for other people’s lives but not our own? I need constant reminding of this, that I can (& should) pray boldly for the details in my own life. I was able to walk that lesson out in our very personal journey the last 2 years.
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Anyway, I do walk away from IJM with every intention of staying connected, and, God willing, of returning some day. Another thing I have learned over the last 5 years is that we really have no idea the plans God has for us. He sure does hold so many surprises. But, we can be assured that He has it all figured out and His ways are definitely best.
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A little snippet from our journey is that because God moved us to this area for my season with IJM, we are also back closer to a lot of family. I honestly don’t know how we could have survived the first few months with twins in Nashville, without the family support. God knew…
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So for this next leap of faith, I have embarked on what is truly the most challenging job of my life, being a stay-at-home mom to two precious baby girls. And for this season, my job is here with them.
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After marrying a teacher, I never thought I could ever be a stay-at-home mom. Of course I’d have to work. Well, when twins come along, and you factor in childcare for two (especially how expensive it is in this area), while working at a nonprofit job, it just doesn’t add up. I would barely bring home a couple hundred dollars a month, in order to have someone else take care of my children.
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I struggled through making the decision to work or not work, even full-time or part-time. Fear was evident on all sides of the equation.
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We are taking a leap of faith in many ways, including figuring out to afford this life as a family of four. The funny thing was, the finances were essentially the same either way, whether I worked (and had childcare) or didn’t. So the decision became clear, though still quite scary.
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During nap times and other sparse moments of free hands, I will pursue contract marketing work here and there and I will put more effort into my role as a Noonday Ambassador, which I love doing. Noonday allows me to pursue my passion of helping be a part of dignified poverty alleviation, making a difference in the lives of families around the world, while building relationships here in my community, and helping provide a little income for my family as well. It will also give me opportunities to get out of the house. Hello cabin fever!
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There’s a whole other blog post to be written about the leap of faith in trying to figure out how to be a parent, and especially to raising twins. But that’s for another day.
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Speaking of twins, one is waking up from their nap. Gotta go…
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The Difficulty with Dreaming

This is a post about dreams. My sweet friend & sister in “leap of faith” adventures, Lindsey, encouraged me to participate in this link-up. We both, around the same time, gave up our stable lives and made big moves to follow our dreams.

Three years ago I found my dream job. But, it wasn’t yet to be… It wasn’t time.

A year ago, it popped back up, and about 4 months ago I took it – working in marketing at International Justice Mission. I dreamed of making a difference, as part of this amazing organization that is helping combat violent oppression against the poor around the world. So we uprooted our comfortable lives and moved 700 miles away to start this new, great adventure.

You could say that I’m living my God-given dream. I believe this is what He created me to do. And yet, it is one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done.
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Spring is Here

Spring is definitely here, and I’m not talking about the weather or the time of year. I’m talking about this season of life. About 9 months ago I wrote a post called Embracing This Season. (click the title to read it in a new window) God had been speaking to me in themes, about the different seasons of life. We had been feeling really restless, like we were in a state of limbo, not sure of where we were supposed to be, or what we were supposed to be doing. We knew that God was preparing us for something. We just didn’t know what or when.
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Another Piece of the Puzzle

This transition has been a wild ride. From the beginning, we knew it’s what we were supposed to do – that it was God’s plan for us, even if we didn’t know how it was all going to play out. We took a leap of faith. Slowly, but surely, the pieces began to fall into place. It’s all been a huge lesson on waiting and trusting. First, with my job opportunity, second, with finding a place to live here, then, with our house in Nashville being taken care of. (Check out my post He Said “Trust Me” for a longer version of that amazing story.)

But there’s been one large missing piece of the puzzle – Cason’s job. He’s been amazingly supportive. He was willing to pick up and move, not knowing when he’d be able to find a job, or what it would be. For that, I feel so blessed & grateful. He really is the best!

He decided to go ahead and sign up with a temp agency, to have something, while waiting for his next big thing to come around. And last Monday he started a temp job, doing database entry and research. It is Mon-Fri, regular business hours (so much better than another potential temp position he was facing that would have been sporadic days & sporadic hours). We were so grateful for this opportunity!

Then, randomly last Thursday evening, he got an email from the assistant principal that he had a phone interview with 5 or 6 weeks ago. He hadn’t gotten that job, but she remembered him, sending him an email asking if he was in town yet, if he could come in to meet with them, that they might have another PE teaching position. Cason went on Friday… yada, yada, yada… on Wednesday they called and offered him the job! He works this next week for the current temp job and will start the following Monday at the school.

It is a long-term substitute position through the end of the school year. If things go well (which of course we assume they will!), they’ll hire him on for next school year full-time! It is a K-8 school. He’ll be tasked with building a program for the middle schoolers. And, it’s only 2.5 miles from our place! Fabulous!

We don’t know where the story ends, but it is an exciting opportunity, and again, we’re just feeling incredibly grateful! God has been so good to us and it’s been a wild ride, watching these pieces fall into place, one at a time. It’s clearly been His hand at work and we’re privileged to be a part of the story.

I guess we’ll see what He has in store for us next!

Farewell Nashville

Photo by Chuck Felix

As this posts, I am leaving to catch my one-way flight out of Nashville. Is it really time for this? Am I ready? Where have the years gone?

Nashville has been my home for six and a half years and we have many friends here that we consider like family. I worked at Thomas Nelson for almost six years – longer than I have been in any one place (generally changing schools every 2-5 years).

While I know without a doubt that this is God’s plan for us and that He has been preparing us for this for a long time, it feels very surreal to leave. On a one-way ticket.

It was hard walking out of church on Sunday, out of a place where we have grown so much, were very involved, and made so many dear friends. We had the honor of being Bible study leaders for four years. It is out of those Bible study groups and our Sunday morning class where we really developed most of our closest friends here in Nashville. People came and went. Lives intertwined for a time. But that’s where relationships went deep. To a different level than you can get anywhere else.

It was sad leaving our house last night for the last time. It’s where we spent the first years of our marriage. We had it painted and decorated just the way we liked it. We had a very comfortable amount of space and a lovely little yard. It was home.

Then there’s the superficial stuff. I will miss the random warm winter days (like today when it’s sunny and in the 60’s). I will miss Puckett’s, GiGi’s, Sweet Cece’s, Basil, Pancake Pantry, and Sopapilla’s. I will miss the feel of being in a big town/small city, where southern hospitality reigns supreme. I will miss our neighborhood Publix, where we knew them and they knew us. I will definitely miss the low cost of living (in comparison to where we’re headed).

There are many exciting days and journeys ahead, but today I am celebrating Nashville, for all it has meant to us. There go my eyes filling up with tears again…

And so… we leap.

I guess we’re DC bound now.

Farewell to Nashville!

We're DC bound. Come visit us soon! (Taken at the fun going away bash our wonderful friends threw us last weekend.)

He Said “Trust Me”

Wow, we’ve been on a wild ride these past 4 weeks! We’re feeling incredibly blessed beyond what words can describe. I think God is now showing off and to Him be all glory! Read all the way to the end for the full story…

As I briefly mentioned in my last post, back in early October, as we sat with a realtor and our hopes to potentially sell our house were dashed (with bad market conditions), I felt a crushing weight come over me. I felt panicked, distraught, & confused. What were we going to do? Right in the midst of the panic, I felt a still, small whisper of “Trust Me”. It just washed over me. I’m not one to claim I’ve heard the voice of God often (or ever really), but I knew it was from Him.

Trust Me” He said. I’ve got this. Don’t worry.

However, I’m a planner, especially with something as logistically intense as a major move. I want/need to have a plan in place. But we have been trying our best to let things happen. To trust that God has it all under control. I’ve been leaning a lot on that still, small “Trust Me” whisper that I heard 3 months ago.

Over the Christmas holiday, we put in an application for a condo to rent. It was nice, had been on the market for 82 days, and we were so happy to have one major decision nailed. Two days later, we got an email from our realtor saying that there had been a competing application & they chose the other people. After 82 days on the market, someone else turns in an application at the same time that we do?! Again, I panicked. What were we going to do now and we’re so far away… [Read more about that story in the post “Some Perspective From Above the Clouds“]

Somehow, in the midst of going up to VA for an incredibly busy training week at IJM, I was able to go see one more condo. It was in the same building complex as the other. Long story short, it was beautiful, everything is newly upgraded, and it was the next floorplan up in size. It is 6 miles from work, and right on a metro line. I filled out an application on the spot with the landlord. A few days later we got word that it was ours! I’m convinced that we’re getting it for about $500 less per month than what it could be going for. An amazing deal!

We thought the first condo was good, and panicked when it fell through, but God said “Hold on. Trust me. I’ve got something far better for you.” Yes He did!

A week and a half ago we had gotten word from our property manager that we had renters for our house. They even turned in the security deposit in cash. I cried a little bit that day, in joy! But over a week later, we still couldn’t get a signed lease from them. Details got sketchy and even when they thought they had faxed in the lease, our property manager never got it. We were so frustrated and just wanted it to be finished.

But again, God said “Wait. Trust me. I’ve got something far better for you.”

On Saturday, another couple came to look at our house. Today, we signed papers and got two large checks! They signed a 2 year lease with an option to buy at a price that would let us walk away from the house. And in this market, that is the absolute best case scenario that we could hope for! In 2 years the man plans to buy the house in cash, which means we won’t have to pay realtor’s fees either! If he doesn’t choose to buy in 2 years, we keep their $5000 that they handed us today. He plans to handle all repairs and, since they eventually want to buy it, they will take excellent care of it. As if it could get any better, he just decided to go ahead & pay us the first 6 months rent!! What?!

This is ridiculous! I’m still in shock.

To God be all the glory for the great things He has done!

Lord, I am sorry when I doubt, when I panic, when I grow anxious. I am sorry when I try to take control. You always know what is best & we praise you for these answered prayers!

We are definitely not promised that things will be easy. It is not a given for those who follow Christ.

We are feeling beyond blessed and grateful today for these amazing gifts of grace!

We get to leave this week knowing that we have a place to move to and someone who will take good care of our house here. What a huge sigh of relief!

If you would, please continue to pray for Cason – that God would bring him to the perfect job for him.

“We give thanks to You, O God, we give thanks!
For Your wondrous works declare that Your name is near.”
~Psalm 75:1

 

A Life Less Comfortable

It is often fear that holds us back from taking a leap of faith. Fear of the unknown, fear of failure, fear of change…

When Cason & I started seriously considering this leap of faith, it was that fear of change that kept sneaking up on me, infusing me with doubts. We have a very comfortable life here in Nashville. In fact I wrote a post called “This Comfortable Life” early last spring (you can read it here), as I was wondering what God was really asking for from our lives.

In making this leap, we’ll go from our lovely, suburban 3 bedroom house with a small yard to a much downsized apartment in “the city”. Money will be much tighter (do you know what cost of living is like up there?). I’ll go from wearing jeans to work to wearing suits everyday. My commute will be much more brutal. If I choose to ride the metro, I’ll have to give up my sense of personal space & convenience. We’ll have to find a new church, make new friends. Cason is giving up his job here and has to find something new. I’m giving up a job that I’ve been very comfortable in for a number of years now for one that will definitely challenge & stretch me in every way I can foresee.

A lot of the above things are superficial, but it’s true that our lives are about to completely change. Even when that change is good, change is still scary.

There have been several instances along the way the last couple of months where I’ve stopped and half-jokingly said “Let’s just stay here where we’re comfortable.” Finding a place to live is too hard, finding renters for our house here is too hard, finding Cason a job is too hard. Saying goodbye to friends, co-workers, & our church is too difficult. Let’s just stay where we’re comfortable…

A short story… On the day we met with a realtor to start looking into whether we could sell our house, we learned that we had lost so much value that we’d have to take a huge check to the table to even get rid of our house. I panicked. What if this meant we couldn’t go. That weekend I felt entombed in our house. This house we had so enjoyed for 5 years had now become a heavy burden. I decided that weekend that I don’t want to be held back because of my material possessions. If that’s what keeps me from a God-given dream, then yikes.

God does not call us to be comfortable. Personal comfort is definitely not mentioned anywhere in the Bible. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. God requires everything from His followers.

We can’t play it safe in this life. Without risk, there is no great adventure. No chance for God’s glory to be revealed.

So I still have twinges of wanting to stay where I feel safe & comfortable, but I know that a God-sized adventure is waiting for us just around the corner!

Bring on this life less comfortable!

Some Perspective from Above the Clouds

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Moving is not glamorous, and it is definitely not easy. There are so many logistics to figure out that I can easily get overwhelmed these days. 

We spent much of our Christmas vacation trying to find a place to live in N. Virginia. It’s been a huge shock to the system what the cost of living is there. What we pay right now for our mortgage, for a lovely 3 bedroom house with a small yard in Nashville, would not even get us a tiny studio apartment in one of the bad parts of town. So that has been a huge adjustment. 

We did turn in an application on the Thursday after Christmas for a nice, little condo to rent. It had been on the market for 82 days and we were excited to have found an answer to at least one of our unanswered questions. The excitement did not last long, however. Two days later we got an email from the realtor saying there was a competing application and the owner chose the other couple. I was sent into a spiral of disappointment and panic. We were already back in Nashville. How would we find a place now? 

After I finished my moping, I pulled myself together as we decided that that must not have been the place where God wanted us. There must be something better. With a month still go to before moving, we decided to try our best to be patient and wait. Easier said than done, for me at least... 

The last couple of days have been kind of tough. I’ve started to really feel the clocking ticking on this move. I’m feeling more emotional about leaving our friends, our house, and everything else I deem comfortable. We have yet to find a place to live. We have yet to find renters for our house in Nashville. We have yet to find Cason a job. Without a place to live, we can’t arrange our movers or decide on a definite timeline. Without securing two jobs, we don’t know exactly what we can afford in rent. And without renters for our house in Nashville, we don’t know how long we’ll have to carry a mortgage and rent. It’s all very “chicken & the egg”. And it’s all just a little bit stressful.

As I type this, I’m on a plane to DC. I will be spending the week at International Justice Mission, for new employee training. It will be a jam-packed week of deep dive information, everything from spiritual foundations of the company, to human resources info, to the Child Protection Act, to spiritual warfare. We’re scheduled in sessions all day, Monday through Friday. I’m very excited about starting the learning process and meeting other people there. I’ve also been told that I’ll be brain-dead by the time it’s over each day.

But, all of that to say, I’m on this plane… It has been kind of gloomy in Nashville this weekend, weather-wise – kind of epitomizing how I’ve been feeling (as it relates to all of the overwhelming logistics). All of a sudden we just lifted above the clouds and it caught me off guard to see the sunshine and blue sky. Like where did that come from. It was beautiful and I literally just felt like a weight lifted off of me. I felt this sense of “it’s going to be okay, just keep trusting Me. 

Yes, it will be okay. Everything in due time. In God’s time. We are sure that this is God’s plan for us and He will see it all through. Down to the last detail. We’re not promised that it will be easy, but we do know that it’s all going to work out.

It’s nice to find some perspective in unexpected places. For now, I’ll sit back and enjoy the sun and beautiful view from up here.

And so, the adventure continues…

Embracing 2012

2011 was okay. It certainly had its ups and downs. Nothing catastrophic, but it definitely had its disappointments and hard parts. For various reasons, we both really felt like we’ve been in a season of winter, for a while now. Winter being defined as a time to be still, quiet, a time to focus on being nourished and preparing for whatever lies ahead. We’ve been restless.

I actually started off 2011 with some thoughts that now seem so relevant. In my post Jan 3rd, 2011 post, “Thoughts for the New Year“, I wrote:

…Before God reveals to us our grand life purpose, he has some testing and refining to do in us. I feel like I am in a season of testing and refining, and this is definitely part of that. I want to be ready when called upon… to be trusted with my grand life purpose. Much of that means that I need to be a better disciple.

You could say that in many ways, 2011 was a year for preparation, even though we didn’t know what exactly we were preparing for. Well, we have a little better idea now, but there are still so many unanswered, big questions.

So in the spirit of picking one word to focus on for the new year, I’m claiming the word Embrace for 2012.

Embrace:
1) to take or receive gladly or eagerly; accept willingly: to embrace an idea or challenge.
2) to avail oneself of: to embrace an opportunity.

In 2012 we will move cross country, I will start an amazing new job, Cason will find/start a new job where hopefully he can thrive in his area of passion, we’ll make some drastic lifestyle changes, I’ll finish my MBA that I’ve been working on for almost 4 years, we’ll find our new place of ministry/service… and that’s all mainly now through May. I have no idea what May through December will hold.

I want to focus on embracing this new season of life, with all of the challenges, obstacles, and opportunities that come with it.

I want to:

  • Embrace the obstacles we’re experiencing right now as a way to grow in our faith and put our full trust in God’s plan for us.
  • Embrace the opportunity to live a new adventure, to meet new people, experience new places.
  • Embrace the challenge of a new job (in a new industry) with an organization that does amazing, life-altering work.
  • Embrace the difficult times ahead that will inevitably come with all of these new challenges, again, as a means to grow us personally, professionally, emotionally, & spiritually.
  • Embrace a new season of life and see how God will use us in it.

I am full of emotions about everything that lies before us. Emotions that can generally shift from one day to the next. But overall, I’m excited to see what 2012 has in store.

So here’s to embracing all that is to come!

What’s your One Word for 2012?

A Not So Silent Night (These Days)

It’s no secret that our lives are in a current state of upheaval. It’s been a crazy month & it’s not slowing down for a while as we prepare to take this leap. On my afternoon off from work last Friday I met with 2 moving companies, a property management company, & had a termite inspection at our house. We’ve been constantly clearing out clutter from our house, sanding, painting, & doing whatever else needs done to get it ready to rent.

Next week our house will officially be listed for rent, Cason will meet with a couple people about a potential job, and we will attempt to find a place to live, all in the span of 3 days. (Please be in prayer about those things for us.)

We haven’t gotten caught up so much in the busyness of the commercial Christmas season, but in all of the logistics and busyness of what uprooting ourselves & moving requires. We definitely haven’t had much time to stop, be still, and wait in anticipation of the celebration of the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ.

In the midst of this, my favorite new rendition of a favorite Christmas hymn is “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” by David Crowder & I wanted to share it with you. It really does capture the essence of waiting in anticipation. For a King who will liberate us… from all oppression, war, sadness, petty divisions, and death. I’ve never really looked at the lyrics as closely as I have here recently. They’re beautiful. And as David Crowder’s rendition ends it, this Liberating King is not just for the past. He’s coming toward us now. He always will. Amen.

Take a listen (& check out the lyrics below):

O come, O come, Emmanuel
and ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
until the Son of God appear

Rejoice rejoice
Emmanuel shall come to thee O Israel

O come Thou Dayspring come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death’s dark shadows put to flight

O come Desire of nations bind
In one the hearts of all mankind
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease
And be Thyself our King of Peace

Rejoice rejoice
Emmanuel has come
He has come
He has come

He’s coming toward us now
He’s coming toward us
He’s coming toward us now
He always will