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so i’ve now officially lived in grand rapids for 3 weeks, and i finally feel like i’m starting to get in the swing of things. it’s been a little wild because i’ve already been out of town twice (first for a business trip, on day #4 of the new job, and then the following weekend to atlanta to celebrate michael’s birthday).

so adjusting hasn’t been the smoothest process because there have been so many interruptions. i spent the first week trying to unpack all of my stuff. (and if you didn’t hear, there was a big predicament with my moving truck and so we ended up having to drive everything up to michigan and then go back to cincinnati and then the next day i officially moved up here… yes, that’s a lot of driving time, because it’s a 6-hour drive each way.)

i’ll be the first to admit that i really struggled that first week or so, and i still get moments where i wonder “what am i doing up here?” “how did i leave such a good life behind me?” but then i have to remind myself that God left no doubt in my mind that this was where i was supposed to do, with doors swinging widely open all around me. now it’s just a matter of figuring out why here.

fortunately, i already have started making a couple friends here and there. when i first came to visit in june, we ran into a girl at mars hill who i hit it off with smashingly. so when i moved up here, she was the first to call me and invite me to her bible study and help make GR feel like home. (just another element of God looking out for me.) then other friends have been good about helping me make connections, and there are some girls who i work with who have been really nice about inviting me along and reaching out. it’s pretty cool how inviting and approachable everyone’s been up here. it’s still lonely at times, but i know there’s a light at the end of the tunnel 🙂

the one thing i’m trying to be careful at, as i start over with a clean slate, is about how much i do commit to. sometimes in cincinnati i felt really overwhelmed at everything and everyone i committed to. if i was lucky, i’d get one evening to myself a week. that’s crazy, and i know it took a toll at times on my relationship with God. i want to make sure that i put that as my top priority while i’m here, because i really believe that’s a major reason that God brought me here.

so right now i’m looking at different options for volunteering and serving. i know that’s definitely something i want to build into my schedule but i want to make sure i’m intentional about it, because i believe that every time you say “yes” to one thing, you’re also saying “no” to another. so i want to make sure that no matter what i’m choosing, it’s a “yes” to growing closer to Christ. so that’s the next decision i have to make…

(by the way, if you were wondering: yes, it is already cold here. we’ve turned our heat on and i’ve been wearing jackets and light sweaters. i don’t know how i’m going to make it through the winter!)

Exodus 14:13-14 Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

so when i returned to cincinnati, i received word that i was invited back for a second interview. i ended up having to reschedule because the original date they wanted me to arrive for fell during the week i was going to be traveling to CIY with the youth group. fortunately they were flexible and were able to push the interview back another week.

i remained calm and at peace with the situation until the night before the interview. at that point i had what i’d probably compare to an anxiety attack although i have nothing to compare it to. my heart was racing, i was short of breath, i was hungry, i was thirsty…i was super anxious. and i tried to pray through it but nothing worked. i barely slept and the next morning, i was still anxious the whole drive up. even when i went into the interview, the anxiety was still right there, punching me in the face. looking back, i really feel like it was the devil’s one last-ditch effort to psych me out and pull me away from God’s plan. because at one point, i really just wanted to call them and tell them to cancel the interview. and what was i afraid of? of getting the job. how dumb is that?

it wasn’t until about halfway through the interview that i regained composure and the anxiety left me. by that point, the anxiety had already made me mess up a bit more than i normally would have so i figured that if i was able to get the job even after that–admittedly, not my greatest interview–then i knew God was in on it. i finally walked out of the interview at peace with whatever would happen. and i realized that if i did get the job, then i would have to accept it because God opened so many doors and if i didn’t, I’d be slamming the door in God’s face. plus, i would only stay in Cincinnati because it’s comfortable, but that’s not always what’s best. I would be letting the fear of the unknown stop me.

the next monday, i received an email offering me the position. just. like. that. i accepted it and then went to tell my coworkers, who were shocked and sad but very, very supportive. that was so important to me. i was more scared of leaving and uprooting them than anything else, really. so that was a blessing that that all went smoothly (or better than expected!)

so it’s cool looking back to see how God guided this whole process: how i’ve started learning to try to listen to God and how he’s met me in those places. i know it isn’t always easy but i also know there were places along the way where i could have doubted more, where i could have ignored God’s still small voice. but because of all the wide swinging doors and how everything’s fallen so perfectly into place, i don’t doubt that whatever comes from it, that it was where God is pointing me. i hope and pray that i can continue to heed those proddings.

in one of the chronicles of narnia (i think it’s the last book), they are making a trip and Aslan tells them to look for certain signs. well along the way they get distracted because they’re cold and hungry. the end up missing the first sign, so they have to back track. well, the journey back isn’t that easy. someone wonders whether Aslan intended for them to miss the sign the first time around. one of them pipes up and says, “No, I don’t think Aslan would do that. I think he’ll still help us get there, but if we would have listened and paid attention the first time, he would have made things easy for us. Things are hard now because we ignored his guiding the first time around.” (of course that’s my interpretation and paraphrase, but you get the idea.)

and it’s not that i want things to always be so easy, because i know that’s the opposite of what Jesus promised. but what i do hope is that this move is in fact one of those times where i heeded and obeyed, and so i hope that it makes it easier for me to continue to heed and obey in the future. the easy way or not, i don’t want to look back and say the only time i really knew i was listening to God and God was with me was when i was 25. that would be so disappointing and heartbreaking.

now i had done this sort of informational interview seeking once before, right after i graduated college and thought i wanted to move to new york city. i couldn’t find a job and decided to visit the city and see what i could do. before going, i lined up as many interviews as i could, at places like teen people, ym, cosmogirl, and the knot magazine. (you see, i’ve always had a thing for teen girls!)

so my inclination with this grand rapids visit was originally to line up as many interviews as possible, but at this point i only had one. but Something told me to pursue this one avenue–to see it through and to trust. so i fought my urge to blanket the city with resumes and pitches and cover letters, i sat still. and waited.

when mal and i visited, it was great how people reached out to us. even before the visit, we seemed to be getting signs that there was a community already waiting for us up there–with people eager to open their homes to us and encouraging us to come. kevin had invited friends over and mallory made all sorts of new contacts up there for us. it was amazing to see that all weave together and get some sort of bricks laid for that. even moreso, when i told kevin where i was interviewing and remembered he had a friend who worked at Baker and i should call him to get a sense of the company. i did, and it ended up that the woman i was interviewing with was his boss! he would be a coworker in the same department! so i asked him my questions about the company and he assured me that it was a stand-up, practice-what-they-preach company. that’s what i wanted to hear. if i was going somewhere to grow closer to God, i wanted to be sure that’s what i could expect.

the last day we were in town (a monday) was the day of the interview. somehow through the whole process, God gave me an insane peace about everything. and you should know i’m, by nature, a worry wort. when i was in grade school i could never enjoy a snow day because i always thought that perhaps i’d misread the information and we actually weren’t off school. i’d freak myself out and not trust that it was truly a day off. but with grand rapids, i wasn’t worried or rushed or stressed or anxious. i just trusted: that God would provide a job if he was going to point me in that direction. that i’d figure everything out with my living situation in cincinnati. all the things that people asked me if i’d considered and what i was going to do. all i could do is shrug and say i don’t know, and be done with it. how glorious and releasing is that?!

so upon going in for my interview, i could not have been more at ease. mallory drove me to the interview and before i went in, prayed for me. my peace grew. i walked in and met with the interview lady, and it was like meeting with a friend. we got along great and talked shop but also talked about life and the way God works. she recommended books to read to me and gave me one to take with me and i made recommendations for her. i walked away feeling like this is a woman i could really look up to and respect, not just as far as a job goes but also as far as having as a sort of mentor in my life. to have that as a boss? that’s pretty phenomenal!

so i walked away from the interview with a good feeling brewing in my stomach–as if i already belonged to this place. we went to a cute french cafe and met more new friends before hitting the road for the 6-hour return trip to cincinnati. oh and i forgot to mention that the night before we were able to check out mars hill. and even though rob bell had taken a hiatus from speaking only weeks before we came to visit, i learned so much more in that one “gathering” than i had in a long time at a church service back home. things were looking good…

so after months and months of vagueness, it’s finally come together and it’s finally come true:

i’m moving to grand rapids.
i’m going to be working in christian publishing.
i’ll be going to mars hill.

it’s a pretty exciting time and i really, truly feel like God’s hand was so deeply into this that it’s just breathtaking. let me recap:

in march, i was at work one day and doing my usual task of flipping through blogs i read and listening to podcasts and reading articles online–not about design but about faith and the like. a light bulb went off in my head that if my job had to do with God, i’d be so great about it because that’s where my passion for learning lies. i enjoy design and appreciate design but i don’t seek it out in the way i do information about God.

now nothing with this light bulb moment would have really gone anywhere had it not been for me becoming friends with my dear mallory, who at the time was trying to figure out where she was headed in life. at a party, she was telling me about the two places she was considering: philadelphia and grand rapids. after that conversation, i got inspired and went home and started looking up where some christian publishing companies were. lo and behold, there were a handful in that little western town of grand rapids. in fact, it’s deemed the christian publishing capital of the u.s.

so the more we talked about it, the more right it felt to pursue grand rapids and this dream of christian publishing. we set up a weekend to go visit, but one thing led to another and it kept getting derailed. we weren’t able to visit until the middle of june. trying to maximize this dream of mine, i put feelers out at a couple of the christian publishers i’d discovered to see if i could meet with any when i was in town. the original house that i thought i wanted to pursue (zondervan) never called me back. however, there was this smaller one (Baker) that i contacted and even when the operator patched me through to someone completely unrelated–everyone was so kind and so helpful to me. to me, that was God opening a door, and i took it by faith.

it was a couple weeks before we headed up to grand rapids and i still hadn’t secured any job interviews. but i still believed this is what God wanted. i got together with my youth pastor to get his take/guidance on the situation. he had me create a pro/con list of why i wanted to move to grand rapids (first of which was a job where i could serve and learn about God an additional 40 hours a week, second of which was renewed community). he asked me what i would do if i didn’t get a job up there, would i just move ahead? i told him that i wouldn’t move until i had a job because i felt like that was the whole purpose God pointed me up there in the first place, so he would provide that. somehow God gave me such peace and clarity through the whole process–i’m still baffled.

after our meeting he told me that he wished he could tell me that i was doing it for the wrong reasons but he couldn’t. as it turns out, i emailed another of my contacts at Baker to see about setting up an interview and she suggested some new job postings for me to consider. none of them were in what i originally wanted to pursue (to be an acquisitions editor–the people who are finding the books to publish) but there were some in the publicity and marketing department.

i pulled together my application and sent it off. days later, i got an email that i had an interview with the publicity department while i was in town.

…. to be continued

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