Saturday, April 23, 2011

Sweet Home Alabama...Journey of the Last 8 Months and What's Next

So, it's been a while since I blogged on here. That in part is because the last 8 months have been busy. It's is also in part because there have been things we have explored over the last 8 months that I couldn't really share publicly. And its also because there were times that I didn't really know how else to express "We don't really know anything yet" or "We're just waiting to see what comes next." So to catch up both old and new friends on the last few years and months, here goes...

Aug 2006- I moved to Birmingham from Nashville to be closer to Brad and I took a job as an Event Coordinator with Student Life. We became engaged that year and got married in Aug of 2007.

2007/2008- Brad graduated from Beeson Divinity School while working part time as an Event Director with Student Life. I worked full-time with SL still as and EC. We traveled that summer.

2008/2009- We both worked full time with SL and traveled during the summer. I felt called to pursue teaching and began the process of applications to schools and fulfilling prerequisite requirements.

2009/2010- We knew coming in to this year at SL it would be our last. After 8 summers on the road for both of us, we knew our camp journey was coming to a close. I worked part-time while beginning the 5th Year Master's Program at the University of Montevallo in Elementary Education.

So, in August of 2010, we returned home. We knew our time with Student Life and camp was over after that summer. It was a fantastic team and summer of ministry, and the perfect note to leave on. We were not bitter, we were not frustrated, we were just finished. We felt our journey was complete. We were at peace that God was leading us in another direction, we just weren't sure what that was yet. We knew we would need to be in Birmingham at least until May, as that is when I would graduate. And that was about all we knew. Brad had an opportunity to go to Vietnam with our church in September and when he returned, he began looking for jobs here in Bham.

To be honest, the fall was frustrating in many ways. I really didn't want to think about moving, but Brad was having no luck on the local job front. He felt stuck and I was busy finishing up my last semester of classes before student teaching. In December, we started to really talk about what it looked like to "widen our net" and be open to pursue jobs anywhere. God really turned my heart over those few weeks and I was ready to accept not staying in Birmingham and moving on to somewhere new. January 1st, Brad started to pursue various options and make connections with people to see what opportunities were out there. I started student teaching that month. My experience student teaching has been without a doubt a God appointed thing. I have learned so much from those little 5 & 6 year olds (I plan to blog about this at another time).

A few opportunities came on the table, primarily in various locations in the southeast. We were determined to pursue things until God closed the door. We were open to what He intended to be next. One of the most difficult things during this time was the inability to plan things. We felt like we were having to put off some things we wanted to do and like we had to wait until the last minute to do others. Brad was glad things were moving with some of the jobs, but was frustrated with the day to day boringness of not having a lot to do while I was busy student teaching. Fortunately, a part time/contract work opportunity with Student Life came along that was good to provide us with some income and also gave Brad something to focus on, which was much needed.

During these months, there were times of frustration and just general wondering of when God would let us in on His plan. We had faith, we did not think he had forgotten us, but we also did not feel that we always shared in his time table. It was a testing of patience for sure. But we trusted that in His good and perfect timing we would know. I admit that there was a Sunday back in March before my spring break that I just sat and thought "Okay God, seriously, I'm ready. We're ready. Whatever it is, could you please just let us in on your plan?" Funny enough, it was in that week that Brad talked for the first time about the opportunity that would eventually develop in the the final "open door."

So...what's next? Well, Brad has accepted and is excited about a job as Servant Life director. Servant Life is a non-profit housed in Student Life that sends teenagers on domestic and primarily international missions opportunities. To learn more you can visit Brad is excited about investing in an organization that he has been interested in and passionate about for a while through our involvement with Student Life. So...Sweet Home Alabama it is. After all the ups and downs of the 8 months, God's plan all along was for us to stay here. I am thankful. First for knowing and having some answers, and also that because God had turned my heart to be open to other places, I don't worry that it was my own desire that kept us here. For the first time in many, many years, I feel home. I feel like I can continue to build real community. I feel like for the first time in our married lives, we are really beginning to put down some roots. A few anyway. I find myself being excited about funny finally hanging some things on my wall and adding some of our personality to our home to really make it that...home.

There are still things you can pray about for us. Pray that God would reveal what school he would have me minister in as a teacher next year. Pray that wherever that is, he is already preparing me for the children who will be in my care. Pray that Brad would grow and learn in this new opportunity. Pray that we would seek his wisdom and guidance as we think about what it may look like in the future to begin a family. Pray that we would continue to find people to invest in and that we would build community here in Birmingham.

The last 8 months have been difficult at times, but I am grateful for them. Above all, I know that God is faithful. He is sovereign. And even when it doesn't match my own, His plan and His timing is perfect.