On my way home. And how I got here.

I’m not sure exactly when I first knew Texas was going to be home. I just know it felt right at some point and I knew it would be a long wait to get there. And that is when I started praying. I was not in any rush because I also knew I would miss the joys along the journey if I tried to push it. So I sat back and waited. And waited. And waited.

This wait has not been without its rabbit trails and obstacles and things that did not fit. An opportunity came along to work with a mission organization I have long admired, but that opportunity was taken just two days after it was offered by a military coup in a new country where I would no longer be safe. I fell in love…and then walked away amid strong opposition because I knew deep inside that it was wrong. My grandmother died suddenly. I lost a church. And some friends along the way. I started to wonder if I was chasing a dead dream. My mum got sick. I decided to leave my job and begin a career that proved to not be the passionate thing I longed to do. I moved and started a new life and settled into a place I do not love and have never wanted to stay.

I started to question my purpose and why I longed to return to pouring into the hearts of twenty-somethings who need a whole lot of coffee and love. Life over the past eighteen months has absolutely baffled me. Nothing made sense, everything was off, and I felt like I was drifting aimlessly into an oblivion. I forgot to wait and so I hatefully made other plans out of spite and broken dreams.

In all of that chaos, the Lord proved patient and faithful. He did not decrease my passion for university students and teaching girls to quit being sorry. Rather, He took the time to increase my longing to serve and hone my focus. Every resume was turned down. Money was tight. Relationships were fading away. He was bringing me near and I did not even know it.

And then, just after the new year began, this verse was brought to my attention:

Behold, I will do something new,
Now it will spring forth;
Will you not be aware of it?
I will even make a roadway in the wilderness,
Rivers in the desert.  {Isaiah 43:19}

And that is when I knew: things were happening in ways and places I could not see. Each day had renewed purpose. I was in hot pursuit of the promises of the Lord. I started speaking aloud with confidence that Texas was very near and understood deep in my soul that three years of prayer and longing were about to give way to shouts of gratefulness and whispers of wonder.

Everything I had ever done at the university I worked at a few years ago instilled in me a deep desire to see university students free from their chains, self-imposed and otherwise. Most of my life and how it has been lived has created in me a longing to encourage others and tell them about the hope that resides in us all. So when the University of Texas called me up 10 days ago and made me an offer I absolutely could not refuse, I could only say yes. Yes, person on the phone offering me my dream job and laughing when I started crying. Yes, Lord, I understand everything now. Yes. Yes. Yes.

I am leaving this heartache-inducing town very soon for the piney woods of East Texas. The goodbyes have been said, the boxes packed, the hugs nearly all hugged. I have sung my last song at my church, I have held all the babies, and my precious and wonderful pup has a place, an awesome mom, and some cool brothers to call his home now. I am teary and thrilled, sad and delighted, ready and not-ready all at once.

The something new is being done right now. The wasteland is giving way to growing things. The desert has a river. Things I have not even imagined yet or dared to hope for are on their way. I’ll lay my head in a house on a ridge in the woods, surrounded by some hearts I love. And now I get to wear my Chacos year-round.

This girl is going home. Amen.

 

LOVE TEXAS

10 years. {the first decade}

My life is about to change drastically. Where I live, where I work, what I wear, what I do, all of it. I am thankful for these impending changes and all that they imply. A little anxious about the details, but thankful nonetheless. What I wanted to make sure of in my own heart is that the things that are about to change will not overshadow the GREAT changes that have been made already. You see,  just as I am about to celebrate a big life change, I am also about to celebrate, to remember, to weep over, to rejoice in, my first 10 years. The first 10 years since my sunrise. The first 10 years since my life was changed forever and for good.

I have been pondering for some weeks on how to write about the single greatest adventure of my life to date. My chronic insomnia means I have had lots of hours to think, thankfully, on the before and after. As the song goes, “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me! I once was lost, but now am found. Was blind, but now I see.” Lost, but now found. Blind, but now I see.

Hateful, but now hate-less.

Sorrowful, but now full of joy.

Unloved, but now loved.

Harsh, but now soft.

Loud, but now quiet.

Unsure, but now reassured.

Cowardly, but now brave.

Self-focused, but now turned to others.

Silent, but now active.

Worn, but now refreshed.

Thirsty, but now quenched.

Ordinary, but now wrecked for the ordinary.

Strained, but now at peace.

Complacent, but now restless and ready.

Lukewarm, but now fiery.

Fearful, but now fearless.

Skeptical, but now certain.

Hopeless, but now hopeful.

Weak, but now strong.

A let down, but now lifted up.

Proud, but now learning humility day by day.

Unclaimed, but now spoken for.

Chained, but now free.

Loveless, but now full of love.

It is these shifts in the heart that matter most to me. I still have my days where I am far more the former than the latter. I still have days where people get too hard and I get hard right back. And yet I am amazed. Amazed to see where I have come from and where I am. Amazed that I was even worth changing, that I was even malleable enough to be made to change. Amazed that the hateful and heartless girl can love at all.

In 10 years, in all the nonsense and low down and dirty things, in all the hard, I am more convinced of the presence and power and work of a good God who loves and saves, not less. It has been 28 years since I first believed. I have not swallowed faith whole and heartily in that time. I have wrestled and fought and kicked and screamed and cried. I have walked away twice.

It has been 10 years since I was made aware of just how deep and far and high and wide is this grace like an ocean. I have still wrestled. I am even more convinced. Amen.

{To Lisa, Lori, Natalya, Lindsay, Matt, Willie, Chris, Pam and Bill. You were the tribe who was gracious with me while I took those first shaky steps through my garbage. How you loved me through it and remained in my life or even wanted to, I will never know. But I am grateful. I love you.}