I still can’t believe I’m here…in Montana. A place that I specifically told myself several years ago that I would NEVER live in, ever…under any circumstances. But, God changed my mind, He changed my heart & He changed all of my plans. The choice to move here was the biggest leap of faith I have ever taken in my whole 25 years of life. As I reflect on my last two weeks here, I am still piecing together the crazy way that God brought me here and I can’t help but be overjoyed as I share it with you all. So grab a comfy chair, a big cup of coffee and come on into my heart and into my life and prepare to have your mind BLOWN by the way that God knit this beautiful story together.
To truly understand this story, let’s rewind a few years…I’m 21-years-old and feeling a desire for change, BIG change. I’ve just moved to California to finish my last two years of college in a suburb just north of LA and something is stirring inside of me, a desire to leave behind the familiar, put school on hold and move to Kona, Hawaii to become a missionary with an organization known as YWAM. I’ve researched, I’ve studied, I’ve spent hours reading everything from student testimonies, to packing lists, to curriculum, to staff blogs. But, there were a million little excuses stopping me from going, so naturally my priorities shifted and I returned to school, forgetting about YWAM for years.
Fast forward to life post-college…I am restless, once again, desiring to GO. But, it’s not the right time, it never seems to be the “right” time. So, I stick around the suburbs for a few years, dabble a bit in grad school, work in a wide variety of different jobs, take up surfing, explore southern California & decide that I will most definitely be a California girl forever. Little did I know, God had some really different plans for me.
It’s now fall of 2013 and I’ve just wrapped up the most sun-filled, joyfully exhausting, Jesus filled summer I’ve ever had. But, something isn’t right…fall drags on with the buzz of the Holiday season on the horizon and out of nowhere, the company I work for is forced to lay off 1/3 of their staff. I am devastated….I finally had a job with potential, a job with a hope of growth and a future, a job with my own desk and an OCEAN VIEW. Ocean view people! So, I did what any 24-year-old trying to pay off student loans would do, I panicked. That day I was on my computer sending off resumes to jobs all over the country; Texas, Colorado, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Florida…you name the state and they probably have one of my resumes gathering dust somewhere.
But as I have seen in all seasons of my life; God is good. He is faithful. He provides. Only three weeks after being laid off, I was back in the saddle, starting my first day of work with a marketing company. I spent my first month really struggling at my new job…wondering God, really? Is this what you have for me? Working in such a fast paced, revenue driven industry was HARD. I knew this wasn’t what I was made for. So, I kept searching and searching…unaware of what God was doing in me and what He had just on the horizon.
Through this time, I kept seeing a picture in my head. A daydream of sorts, a vision of a lake; beautifully crystal clear, surrounded by tall pine trees and the most majestic snow capped mountains reaching for the sky all around. It was a place I knew I’d never been before, something that only my imagination could dream up. Little did I know how much this picture would speak confirmation to me in the future.
In January, I knew I had to give my restless heart a break. I knew that if this was where God would have, then I needed to find rest and joy in that. I threw every expectation I had out the window and took my eyes off the world around me and learned to truly look up. Funny how when we surrender our desires to the Lord, He can turn around and bless us in the most unexpected ways.
Enter Josh. My very own country music loving, two-step twirling, mountain climbing, Jesus following, Texas
boy man. We met at church and instantly bonded over our choice of footwear that day; cowboy boots. The first time we hung out, we ended up spending the entire day together…like literally 15 hours of non-stop chatter, butterflies, and adventures. I knew this guy was something special, so I admit, I pulled out all the stops and baked enough cookies to feed an army. Countless hangouts, dates, prayers, laughs, late nights and dreams later we knew that this weak in the knees feeling was the real deal so we decided to take the plunge into a relationship. These last few months have been such a JOY getting to know this amazing guy God brought into my life and I am SO thankful for who God has made Josh to be and how He has brought us together.
Josh has taught me SO much since I met him. He’s challenged me, he’s pushed me, he’s encouraged me, he’s showed me how to test the limits of faith, life & love. He’s showed me how to live a life where the answer to adventure is Y-E-S, the solution is always JESUS, and the secret to joy is laughter. He’s held my hands through the hard days and has remained a true and faithful friend even on days when I don’t deserve it. He’s made me laugh until I cry, taught me how to climb the side of a mountain, talked my ear off with random facts, and listened to my hearts deepest desires day in and day out.
When Josh and I first met, he had shared with me his dream to one day work for a non-profit Christian architecture firm in Montana called 100 Fold Studio. They operated on one of the largest YWAM bases in the US, in Lakeside, Montana…on the most beautifully blue lake, surrounded by tall pine trees with snow-capped mountains everywhere….Fast forward to March, Josh has applied for a summer program with 100 Fold and is waiting to hear back if he’s been accepted. We talk through the idea of him living in Montana for the summer and half jokingly dream big about how amazing it would be for God to one day put us in the same place at the same time, doing something similar to the work of 100 Fold. But, we knew it would be some sort of miracle for someone who knows nothing about architecture to get a job at an architecture firm.
Fast forward…it’s a random Thursday in the end of March and I decide to take a closer look at 100 Fold…12 pages deep into a Google search (now that is dedication) I stumble on the most obscure website…only to find a job posting at 100 Fold, they’re looking for someone with my type of skill-set. Within a few hours, my resume, cover letter and portfolio are off to 100 Fold and Josh has been accepted to the program. What ensued over the next few weeks was a whirlwind of phone calls, emails and big prayers. Before I knew it, I was on a plane, headed to Montana for the first time ever…I spent four days soaking it in before I was on my way home to southern California, with a packing list and a job offer in hand.
Three weeks later I was hopping in an over-packed car bound for Montana with Josh in the drivers seat. All the way from California to Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota, Minnesota and North Dakota, we made it to Montana in one piece. From scorching hot temperatures and tepees in the desert to dust storms and small towns in the plains, from humidity and hospitality in Dallas to a tornado watch in Missouri, from the open spaces in Kansas and the rolling hills in South Dakota to two nearly blown-out tires in Fargo…we had quite the adventure. An adventure that had only been just a far off dream weeks prior. An adventure that meant an opportunity to begin the journey of lifetime.
Life in Montana is a far cry from life in SoCal…I share a room with two other girls, a bathroom with 20 other girls, and I eat cafeteria food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I don’t have a car and I had to get rid of half of everything I owned just to get here. I’ve taken a cold shower more days than not and I’ve forgotten what “personal space” even means. I’ve been bitten by more mosquitoes and spiders than I’d really like to even admit and my shoes feel perpetually soggy from all the rain. But, for everything that seems hard, there are so many more things that make it all worth it. So, I’m here, doing it all joyfully. This is God’s good and perfect plan for me, sure I’ve had my moments of doubt, my moments of wavering faith, my times of frustration and fear, but God always comes through. I am amazed as I sit here and am reminded of how personally God chose ME for this. How faithfully He directed my footsteps to get me here, now, for this time, to do His work. My heart is full and I am thankful to see God fulfilling His promises, redeeming the broken pieces and walking beside me through it all. He planted the seed for this opportunity long before I even knew of 100 Fold, long before I knew Josh Cristy, and long before I would have ever agreed to live in Montana.
God is bringing together the pieces of this story before my very eyes; YWAM, a lake, an opportunity to GO, to serve, to live life on mission. He is making whole all of these desires I have had and building something bigger than I could have ever dreamed of. I am in awe that we have a God that is capable of the most intricate designs such as this one I am living out. So, I have learned that God is our architect. He is our designer. He knows how all of the pieces fit together. He knows our strengths and our weaknesses and He knows exactly how they will work together to fulfill His good and perfect plan. He desires to shape our lives into something even better than we could ever hope for. He knows us through and through, just like an architect knows their designs through and through. So thank you God, for bringing me here…for being an architect, for designing this journey for me before I even knew who you were.