This Christmas we went to Texas to spend the holiday with Caleb’s family. Just a few days before we left, Caleb received a notice that there was a job opening there. We chewed on the prospect of applying to it for a little while, weighing the pros and cons. I felt nervous but while praying about it, I felt a huge wave of peace come over me. I felt that God was blessing our desire to move out of Southern California.
This is huge, people.
Caleb and I have been debating over whether we should leave SoCal for YEARS now. Seriously, YEARS. For whatever reason, I have never felt a peace about leaving until now. Let me just admit that it’s been hard on our marriage to have been divided on this issue. Then… finally… unity and peace.
Now, let me just give you a spoiler alert now and say that we have no idea as to whether or not this position is the one for us yet but that’s not really the point. The point is that we are finally unified. Hallelujah.
But it gets better.
Before we got to Texas, something felt different in my heart. Maybe it was God’s peace that gave me an openness and eyes that sought beauty. It must have been that because beauty was all that I could see.
We got off the plane and I praised the feeling of the humidity on my dry skin. We drove away from the airport and I gaped at gorgeous views of hills lined with live oak. We stopped to eat and I marveled over the “green initiatives” that the restaurant boasted. I saw my in-laws’ love for us and our sweet boy. I was overwhelmed by good.
Then the best part came. I’m a little bit of a huge fan of author Jen Hatmaker. Well, she and her husband have a church called Austin New Church. When I saw on my Facebook feed that she would be speaking on the Eve of Christmas Eve, I was SO pumped. I was so close to Austin!! Well, closer than I am in California anyway. I was determined to go. My mother-in-law and sister-in-law were sweet enough to join me (Caleb was sick). It was going to be a family festival with bounce houses and BBQ so my niece joined us too and we made a girls night of it. We drove an hour to hear her speak, I was giddy the entire way.
We got there late because of the long drive and the inevitable misleading of the GPS. The service was being held at a fire house. We squeezed into the seats we could find and began worshipping. I discreetly looked around the room, taking it all in.
The sight was breath-taking.
People of all ages and races were present. It was beautiful. What moved me the most, however, was the amount of blended families. It was shocking. So many families had children of different colors… and that’s just noting the ones that are obvious. Who knows how many of the families were blended but uniform in appearance. My heart felt so full and tears came to my eyes. I’ve never seen anything like this before.
Then Jen Hatmaker stood-up to begin her talk about Jesus. My sister-in-law looked over at me and whispered, “Is that her?” She asked. I nodded and wondered if the people around us thought we were part of some kind of weird Christian-Author-Stalker-Society.
At some point, I can’t tell you exactly when, I couldn’t care less that I was listening to Jen Hatmaker. She spoke about the radically humiliating way that Jesus, King of All, came to this earth… He came in a Manger- proving that he truly came for ALL. No matter how low your status are or how high, he came as a messenger of love for every single one of us.
All I could hear was the radical way in which God displayed his love for us. All I could see was the way that God’s love was at work through his people in this church. I felt like I had been transported back into the time of the Acts church. You know, when Christians did crazy radical things in the name of Jesus. You know, when the church was a family. I wanted to be a part of this.
I’m not going to lie, I cried like three times. It was kind of embarrassing but I just couldn’t help it. It was like I was so moved by Jesus’ amazing love that my heart was bursting with gratitude and joy.
Afterwards, we ate delicious BBQ and made gigantic s’mores. My niece played in the bounce houses. I continued to soak in the palpable presence of the Holy Spirit. My mother-in-law and sister-in-law succeeded in convincing me to introduce myself to Jen. It was awkward because I was totally nervous but she was incredibly grounded and welcoming. I admitted to her that I really had just come to hear her speak but in the end, after her talk, all I could care about was how much I loved Jesus. She told me that was the best thing I could have possibly said to her. It was true.
I left that night overwhelmed by God’s love. Austin New Church was just an example of how God is doing great things everywhere and while I may be scared to leave our awesome church in SoCal, I don’t need to be. God will provide us with just what we need. I cannot even fathom the things he has in store for us.
This experience has led me to this verse as a stronghold for 2014:
“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD, “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.
For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”
I am so thankful for the work that God is doing in my heart. I can’t wait to see what he has in store for us this year!