Life stretches you. It challenges you. It can make you feel on top of the world. It can make you feel like you’re so deep down that no one will ever find you. But Life also leaves you feeling breathless. It can fill you with so much joy that you don’t know how to handle it. Moments that make your head spin come and go as easily as a breeze. That spinning and the mixture of joy and fear and excitement and anxiety is exactly where I have been. My life for the past several months (9 months to be exact!) has been a whirlwind of ups and downs, sometimes it even felt like I was going sideways. I left on a jet plane about 10 times to Belize and Minnesota. I took about 30 hours worth of roadtrips down and back to North Carolina and I went from the very top of Belize to the very West and every where in between. God has taken me places that I never thought possible and has given me opportunities to stretch and grow into shoes I never thought I would fit. One of my constant thoughts during this entire process and over all these months has come from Proverbs 3:5-6 where it reads:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
God is Constant. God is True. God is Good.
Within the world the revolves around my job and all things Praying Pelican Missions, I have been given the privilege of taking on more responsibility. I have been given the chance to take on more operationally for the country of Belize which revolves around placing teams, staffing, lodging, and overall logistics. It has definitely forced me to grow and learn how things are done internally within the country as well as helping me to hone and figure out how I personally want to grow as a leader. I know that I am nowhere near done growing as a leader and I will not be done learning how to be a better leader most likely until the day I die. But it has definitely shown me the value in such things as figuring out the specifics strengths and personality traits of people and how they can be placed together to form an unstoppable team. It’s honestly like one big puzzle where you try to fit each other together and you take the time to learn how someone ticks so that you can best serve them while you are leading them. I’ve learned that one of the best traits of being a leader is learning how to serve those who are under you. When you take the time to understand those who are working alongside you there is a better chance of success. God has humbled me in many ways as I have stumbled (and continue to stumble) within my new role but he has also grown confidence and a sense of leaning into him more than before. It has been a wild ride for sure.
Within the personal realm of my world there have been so many changes. Back in August, I made the move that I have been working towards for quite some time. Going backwards to go forwards: About a year or so ago, I began to pray in earnest that God would point me somewhere new. I could tell that I was getting too comfortable where I was living and although I wanted to move somewhere and allow myself to be stretched, I also was not proactive in searching places out. I began to pray for some specifics of what I would hope to have out of new living situation knowing that if I began to ask for these things that I may not get all of them but if God would open a door for me then I needed to step through. It’s funny how often we will pray in earnest for doors to be opened for us but when they finally open we are sometimes hesitant to walk through. Anyway, so I began praying for some specifics such as: a living situation that would fit within my budget, a living situation that included a roommate, and a living situation where I would know at least one person in the area. I began praying for these things and asking God to open up a living situation that would allow me to get stretched and push me to grow deeper in my relationship with him. That was in January. Now to make this easier and because I like bullet points and list, please enjoy the following:
- February – I let a couple people in on what I have been thinking and praying about (mostly friends some coworkers). One of them, Josh Edmonds (who was a missionary in Belize with is family), comes back to me and says that he would ask Amy, his wife, if she knew anybody in Winston Salem where they would be moving back to in June. He comes back to me and tells me everything he learned.
- Amy has a childhood friend who owns a house.
- She has room for a roommate.
- The rent is exactly what I pay my parents!
- The house they bought happens to be right up the street (like literally 4 houses!)
I’m sorry, WHAT! Within the span of literally a couple weeks all of the things I had been praying for were offered to me on a silver platter. I couldn’t believe and I honestly didn’t know what to do. To be completely transparent, I thought about ignoring it and not walking through the door that I begged God to open. I did, however, due to some perfectly placed accountability partners and others who kept bringing the opportunity to the forefront of my mind, decide to walk through the door. I decided to move to Winston Salem, North Carolina and leave 16371 for the first time in 24 years. DEEP BREATH!
- March – I started leading trips to Belize around the second week of March and not only did I have some absolutely amazing trips but I also met a lovely gentleman named Nate (He’s Important, so take note). I was able to serve in some wonderful locations and serve alongside some beautiful new faces. God is good.
- April – I continued to lead beautiful trips with some teams that I have had the pleasure of leading several times over the course of my time here at Praying Pelican Missions. The chats with Nate also continued.
- May – I returned home from staff meetings and headed down south to the land of the pines (North Carolina) for a quick introduction with my roommate and to take a load of my stuff down in hopes of making it easier when I would fully be able to move in August. It was the briefest of meetings but being able to finally say “Hello” to the person whose house I would be sharing was fantastic and I knew Kat and I would get along just fine. My road trip also consisted of getting to have a quick stop over in Raleigh which just so happens to be where Nate lives. Did I mention that he lived in North Carolina too? I didn’t? Well, yes, yes he does. I consider him to be a personal prize from God for being brave enough and willing to follow him to North Carolina to see where he takes me. I met Nate after I decided to move and him happening to live in the same state was the best bonus ever. Nate and I got to go on our first date (that’s definitely a story for another time, let me tell you!) and then he asked me to his…his girlfriend that is. And I happily agreed with a warning that it was going to be a long 3 months and a terrible way to start off a relationship being that I wouldn’t officially move until August and with my travel I wouldn’t be able to visit. But this didn’t phase him at all and was an unbelievable blessing to have his support in what I feel God has called me to do.
- June and July were filled with planes and trips, new faces and old faces, amazing ups and some definite lows. God worked wonders and people came to know Him. Letters were written and phone calls were made. It was a glorious time and went by in an unbelievable flash. I led some amazing groups of which I have written previously and God’s hand was all over it.
- August – The day finally came. August 15th, 2016, I pulled into my new humble abode in Winston Salem, North Carolina. I’m not going to lie to you, it was tough. Tears were shed, fear was definitely felt as I tried to trust that the unknown I was about to enter was something that God would get me through. God made this possible, He would get me through. Leaving the only home I’d ever known was definitely not a walk in the park but it was also an eye opening experience that “home” isn’t a building, it’s the people you choose to live your life with. Kind of like the Body of Christ.
- September – November was filled with work and phone calls, adjustments and adventures. Learning how to be a southerner and trying to get used to having another person’s schedule become a concern of mine (although having Nate being a part of my daily life is definitely an adjustment I’m willing to make), some of which you will hear about in subsequent posts because it is too much for here. But it was all beautiful and I wouldn’t trade any of it for the world.
I can’t tell you how much I have grown in the past couple months and how grateful I am that God has brought me this far. Big things have happened, Big things are happening and Big things are about to happen. God is Good. God is Gracious. God is all I will ever need.