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“Those who wait for perfect weather will never plant seeds; those who look at every cloud will never harvest crops.” — Ecclesiastes 11:4

i love the wisdom in this verse–and it’s call to step out in faith. just because things aren’t perfect, doesn’t mean we should act. God may not open that door for us now, but by the time we get right up to it, if it’s His will, we must have faith that he will.

this verse speaks volumes to me, time and time again, season after season. the first time i read it and journaled about it was september 16, and i hadn’t lived here in Grand Rapids for a week even. i’d just started my new job the day before–and my world was feeling ever topsy-turvy. so this revelation, not to let worries or “not-so-great circumstances” hold me back from sowing and trust God for the reaping, was so of-the-moment. it was also early into my relationship with michael, and we’d been doing the long-distance thing for over a month. in so many ways i looked at my life and the incumbrances that seemed to loom all around me and this verse caused me to whisper over and over again: “keep sowing. keep trusting. persevere.”

and here i am, more than 6 months later. both of those situations still get to me: i have my hard, feeling-all-alone and desperate times here up in Michigan and i still miss Michael and wish we lived closer. but i’m glad i’ve stuck it out. God has done such great things in both of them. i’ve learned so much about Him and grown in such a relationship with Him through my starting-over process up here. it’s been a great catalyst for drawing me near. and i’ve learned so much about humility and selflessness in my relationship with Michael, which has had to mostly take place over the phone as we sort through issues and hardships and dreams and everything else.

so for now, i don’t know what the future holds. i’m trying to let go of that. i went for a walk today (it’s finally getting warm enough to make that bearable up here) and that was the thought pervading me: “i don’t care what happens next. i don’t want to rush God with this. i’m OK with whatever he’s got up his sleeve.” because I know Him, and i know that whatever he’s having me wait for is totally going to be worth it. there is going to be a harvest!

things here seem to quickly be coming to a close–almost too fast for me to grasp or realize. it doesn’t feel like i’ll be moving 6 hours away in a matter of days. i haven’t really packed. i still haven’t foundd a place to live (although i think i am very close!). i haven’t really started saying my goodbyes.

last night my dear friends threw me one last, themed going away party, and that’s when it all started to sink in. “this is goodbye.” there are certain things that are hard for me to wrap my head around, and “goodbye” or “changes” often fall into that category. i can’t imagine things any different than they are right now, and so it’s hard for me to get sad about these sorts of life changes, even though i know that this is a great fork in the road and i anticipate that it will be quite a new beginning for me. but it doesn’t feel like i’m losing; only that things can only get better because this is where God is pulling me and intends me.

i think that’s another reason it’s hard for me to get scared or nervous or sad about things: i’m excited to see what comes from this move. the doors could not have swung open wider and God could not have shown his face any clearer, step after step after step. so any doubt has been wiped clean. and i love it that way.

so it was great to spend one of my last nights in cincinnati, surrounded by friends, where the whole place was full of love and celebration. even though it’s hard for me to fathom that this is a last time that i’ll be able to partake of these sorts of gatherings, it was really awesome to have that as a memory to stoop myself on. because i know that upon moving to grand rapids, things are probably going to be hard and i’m probably going to yearn for those sorts of moments. so now i have them, freshly tucked away, still smelling crisp and new: friends and lovelies and everything i love about Ohio crammed into one room.

thanks, friends 🙂 i love you!

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

Last night I was at a friend’s house and she was asking me about Grand Rapids. I told her my story about why I feel compelled to move there, and she told me that she was impressed that I’d be willing to do something like that, that she didn’t think she could. But that’s the thing, I’m not doing anything. Really, it has nothing to do with me and everything to do with God and what He’s doing.

And I told her that; that she oughtn’t be impressed because really I have no other choice but to follow God and go where he leads. Not because I’m doing anything brave but because he’s making it so easy for me to follow. How can I not? He’s given me so much peace about this decision and opened door after door. There’s no reason for me to turn the other way or to be scared or nervous.

That’s the thing I think I’ve learned so much from this adventure-at-large: The great, incomparable gift of Peace. I used to make my decisions by pros and cons lists and try to reason them out and sort them. But I’d often reach a stalemate where this path could be the right one but this one could be, too. I felt that way a lot when Paul and I were dating and I was trying to figure out if we were right for each other. It all depended on how I looked at it, and I could make a good case for each. Which left me right where I started.

But that’s the thing; I was the one making the case and was basing it solely on that. Now that I’ve seen how reigning the case for peace can be, I truly believe that’s part of God’s “still, small voice” that He uses to speak to us and to point us in the right direction. I’m just now learning to put stock in that feeling and trust in it and listen for it and try to follow it. And it’s so much easier this way, to just let the path of peace guide me through some of these big decisions and trust that it is from God. Of course, I know my own judgment and opinions can cloud, so I just make sure to tell God that that’s what I’m trusting is His will, and if it isn’t, to work to move me back to the right one.

See? Easy.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Matthew 11:28-30

“Submit to God and be at peace with him;
in this way prosperity will come to you.
Job 22:21

our little mariemont home is barely even a shell of the cute, brick townhouse it once was. where there used to be pretty pictures on the wall, there are just empty nail holes. where there once was a colorful rug, there are just crumbs on the floor.

tomorrow begins the move that takes me from my and Holly’s little storybook home back to the ‘burbs. part of me loves it and part of me hates it.

i love it because i know that this baby-step move is setting me up for something bigger. i’m in essence trying to “clear the decks”–basically clear every hurdle i possibly can so that God can work and I can follow with ease. i don’t have things like leases getting in the way. and even though I know that God can work around those things and make them work too, I also know I’m responsible for stepping out in faith and that’s what this is. i expect that he’s going to take me where he’s pointed. i just don’t know when. so i’m readying myself for that.

but i hate it because it’s so discouraging to pack everything up and go back to where i started from. part of me wonders why it was even worth it to move in the first place. but i know it was. i know i learned a lot and that it broadened me and positioned me for more. (besides, if i’d never moved to mariemont, then Sally and Robbie would have never met and fallen in love! mariemont dance party, represent.)

i guess now it’s time to collect those lessons and insights and replant them; take them with me as i go “home again” and see where they lead me now.

so until then, everything’s started to get stacked in cardboard boxes, labeled with papers that say things like “fragile! drinking glasses” and “tchotchkes and ceramics.” it’s funny to gather up all you own and fit it into boxes and see it all balanced one atop another. it really makes it all real…

p.s. tonight shane claiborne is in town speaking. come!

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