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Trading Palms for Pines, Part One: The Early Stirrings of a Sudden Move

Last month marked the beginning of the chaos. The car breaking down, the rent going up, the renter across the ocean breaking the lease, the hurricane that wasn’t, the stomach flu, the income slowing down from throwing caution to the wind and taking a year to do nothing but be a mom and write a book and step into a brand new Spirit-calling with reckless abandon. We were thirty days away from the release of Mercy Like Morning, and three months out from having our second miracle babe when our renter moved out and took my last straw with him. I drew three lines on a piece of paper and began making a list:

Move. Rent. Sell.

I wrote down every single pro and con I could think of for our suddenly empty Oregon home. For over an hour, I examined all sides and possibilities. And that night, I curled up on the couch next to Josh, notebook in hand, and showed him my chicken scratch. I was leaning heavily toward moving when he asked why that was.

“I feel like I can breathe again at the thought of it,” I said.

“That’s funny,” he replied, “those are the same words you said about moving here.”

The next morning, I sat down with my 6am coffee and scribbled a verse down bold in my prayer journal. I had seen the words in my early-morning, squinty-eyed scrolling, willing my mind to shake off the sleep:

“God, my shepherd! I don’t need a thing. You have bedded me down in lush meadows, You find me quiet pools to drink from. True to Your word, You let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction.”
(Psalm 23:1-3, MSG)

So much seemed to be going wrong all at once, the book release was coming up at warp speed (and this babe quickly on its heels) and that morning, I breathed in deeply – thankful that God is true to His word, letting me catch my breath when I couldn’t manage to catch up to everything else. It was the start to a six-week stretch of waiting and desperate prayer and sleepless nights and stress-fueled arguments. Each day that went by was another day closer to a deadline we didn’t choose. As it turns out, you can only travel up to a certain point in your pregnancy, and I didn’t know if where we would be living when our little babe was born.

The daily meltdowns followed shortly after. You know the kind – the crying-in-the-closet ones where you acknowledge the honest-to-God lies bubbling right there under the surface of your hurting heart. I’m failing as a mom. I’m failing as a designer with little to no sales. I’m failing as a photographer with hardly any bookings. I never want to write another book. Another Bible study. Anything. Because, as of right now? The spiritual warfare isn’t worth it.

The next day, God started speaking to me about storms through the words of Oswald Chambers:

“The wind really was boisterous and the waves really were high, but Peter didn’t see them at first. He didn’t consider them at all; he simply recognized His LORD, stepped out in recognition of Him, and walked on the water. Then he began to take those things around him into account, and instantly, down he went. … We step right out with recognition of God in some things, then self-consideration enters our lives and down we go. If you are truly recognizing your Lord, you have no business being concerned about how and where He engineers your circumstances. The things surrounding you are real, but when you look at them you are immediately overwhelmed, and even unable to recognize Jesus. Then comes His rebuke: “… why did you doubt?” Let your actual circumstances be what they may, but keep recognizing Jesus, maintaining complete reliance on Him.

If you debate for even one second when God has spoken, it is all over for you. Never start to say, “Well I wonder if He really did speak to me?” Be reckless immediately – totally unrestrained and willing to risk everything – by casting your all upon Him. … it is only through abandonment of yourself and your circumstances that you will recognize Him.”

That is precisely what had happened, and precisely the scenario I found myself in: I risked everything to write my book. And I suddenly felt like I was sinking in our circumstances.

Two days after that, He continued the conversation – this time through a Streams in the Desert devotional:

Let the circumstances be what they may – seek only for God and His will, with the assurance that God is making everything in the universe, good or bad, past or present, work together for its good.”

But still, despite the bolded quotes and meet-me-where-I-am quiet times, I fought with Josh. We were staring down some huge questions that neither of us knew the answer to, and time kept pushing forward, and the frustration of the not knowing ate me up inside. I didn’t know if we were moving in a matter of weeks, if we had to start selling everything we owned to prepare for it, if I had to start looking for an Oregon doctor to deliver our baby. And I also found myself incredibly frustrated with God at the timing of it all. Why couldn’t this happen four months ago? Why now?? I wrote the words angrily on my prayer journal page early one morning with eyes still swollen from tears that wouldn’t quit the night before.

The next day, the UPS man delivered three boxes to our doorstep, and I knew exactly what they contained as I watched him walk them off the truck. The moment I opened the door, something happened within me. Just like that, the last chapter of that story had finally closed. And I suddenly knew: it was time to go home.

(to be continued..)