Dear Diary… How did this happen?
The following are journal excerpts from 2002 - 2003 that are the pieces of the unfolding story of how and why I ended up moving cross country. My steps had been ordered in this direction for over a year. I was clueless until May 31, 2003. September 10th I was on a plane for the other side of the world.
In the short summer of 2003, my life was liquefied, my house emptied, good-byes were said, arrangements were made, and I was on a plane headed for California. Leaving my home and family on the east coast is the hardest thing I've ever done. But it's slowly becoming a really amazing thing.
:: A Haunting Theme ::
Sunday September 8, 2002
A recurring phrase... a haunting phrase: “Step Up To The Plate”… first be faithful.
Step up to what plate Lord? With music? Practice more? With work? Initiate more? At church? With family? Which plate Lord?
A few days later… my boss calls me in for a little chat. He says he’s gonna need me to “step up to the plate”. I was taken off guard at his choice of words. But at the same time, I had a hard time believing that work would be the plate to step up to. So the phrase continues to haunt me.
Sunday, October 6, 2002
I just found out that my house has just appraised for 16% higher than it did just 2 years ago when I bought it! In refinancing it, my mortgage payment will drop substantially.
My brother is home from Denver now, and is talking all about what God is teaching him! He has grown in the Lord so much in the last year! My sister is about to give birth to a miracle baby. Hannah Lynn barely escaped almost certain death caused by the P.E.T. scan that Kelly had to have in her cancer treatment. They didn’t know she was pregnant then. Thank You Lord, You have truly been so good to my family and me.
Sunday October 13, 2002
It’s no wonder that I am so blessed and yet so insecure and unable to find contentment or be satisfied. My Loving Father has given me a voice, and a song to sing, but I’ve hidden them for fear of appearing prideful. To share my music with others involves performance and promotion of myself. Although my church has always been supportive of what little they have heard, I am at a loss for how to share more without appearing like I am promoting myself. I’ve become a self sentencing, martyr for false humility. Well, that and I’m just afraid of rejection. And a bit lazy.
Tuesday, February 11, 2003
I don’t know if it’s being “poor in spirit”, but I’m exhausted… emotionally, spiritually, physically. If I am mourning I fear that it is only to feel sorry for myself. As for meekness - help me be that! Be near me and point my thoughts to You. Perhaps I need to be a better follower… work on submission… not leadership at all! I just don’t see how to “Step up to the plate” when submission is what I hear all about, and is such a beautiful thing. Perhaps if I work on submission at work, things will go better. I’m so confused about when to follow and when I should be leading… or “stepping up to the plate”.
Back to Top
:: Life Is Good? ::
Wednesday, February 12, 2003
Tonight at our Bible study group, Paul will announce that I am his new assistant. He‘s asked me to lead the ladies in our group, and continue leading worship for the whole group as well. I was quite anxious when he first asked me. To serve in that kind of role has been a desire of my heart… well, always. Maybe not recently, but always. Lord, guard my heart. You know my weaknesses.
Tomorrow, my big brother and sis-in-law will adopt a 2 month old baby! And what an ordeal it’s been! He’ll be home at last… There is a bridal shower on Saturday for my soon-to-be sister in law, Amy, and a baby shower on Sunday, and a wedding next weekend. Busy month… There’s a possibilities of good projects to come in at work! Some direction maybe! Something to focus on. Well, a possibility anyway…
Monday, February 17, 2003
Thank you Lord for Mondays! Wow, what a long weekend! A good weekend, just long. We had Amy’s bridal shower on Saturday night, then my roommate kept me up talking till 2 am. I had to be up at 6am for worship team rehearsal at church. Then home right after church to let the AC installation guy in the house to keep working. Had a quiet afternoon, then the baby shower here at my house at 4pm. The AC guy stayed and had a hot dog with us.
I think I was in bed by about 8:30pm and slept till 6:30am. I was eager to get back to Mathew 5 this morning. I am thankful for the grace that God gave me for this weekend. I held up much better than expected! But now, there are more beatitudes to read about!
I began approaching them in search of correction and looking for the next thing to “work on”. I was prepared to keep taking just one verse at a time if necessary.
“Blessed are the merciful for they will receive mercy.”
I was at a loss… thinking, if I show any more mercy, I’ll be making myself more of a doormat than I already am, and that can’t be what God is asking. Then I heard that “still small voice”… “you are merciful. You have been showing mercy. This is not a correction for you this is an encouragement. Receive this encouragement.” So I read on! Lord, I’m amazed that You would encourage me. Help me be more aware of Your love and goodness than I am aware of my shortcomings. Thank You for a great weekend, and for Your encouraging words to me- a tired soul. Thank you!
Monday, March 17, 2003
Vacation week!! God’s answer to my prayers today was Psalm 63. In prayer and fasting, I am seeking the Lord, to cleanse me from the substantial insecurity that has crept into my heart in the last 6-9 months or so. God has not given me a spirit of fear, but of love, power and of a sound mind!
Friday, March 21, 2003
Well, I fasted a little… but mostly, I communed with God through my work at home this week, as I’ve been so well taught about at church. There were several repairs finished, and best of all, I have a BEAUTIFUL new garden area now, with 11 raised beds, walkways in between them, all enclosed with a really cute wood picket fence! Latched gate and all! I did it completely on my own, but God was so near to me the whole time, helping me along the way. I could not have survived the project with out Him being so near. And it turned out great! I had been told to become primarily vegetarian for my health issues. It’s taken me until now to be able to put in an enclosed garden that would keep the doggies out. I have always dreamed of “living off the land” and this week, I made a huge step towards that. There’s just something about living off of what God has created Himself, in His creation, for our nourishment. A concept from Eden! Veggies are the best thing for me right now.
Saturday, March 22, 2003
I’ve just finished paying off my school loans 4 years early!! And I’ve also paid off the Central Air Conditioning guy in cash. In the last year, I’ve felt this huge urge to order my finances in such a way, that if the Lord were to call me to the mission field of Zimbabwe, my finances would not hold me back. Now, I’ve never had a heart for foreign missions… but I’ve just felt that I should get the finances in order. I had two roommates, and worked hard to not spend the rent they paid me, so I could apply it to various financial goals. And I guess they are met now! Kinda nice! Other than the house, I am dept free now. And my house is more marketable as a rental or a sale property now! But I love my house. I’m not going anywhere. The yard is finally starting to look so wonderful. I’d like to pay off the house early too… somehow.
I spent most of the afternoon with my sister Kelly. What a great time! She said to me “if only you could see yourself as everyone else does…”. That really struck me. It occurred to me that my insecurities were likely based on my own perception that is apparently pretty warped. Her comment had a “freeing” affect to it. She helped me to see that what I am is unique. Created by God, and not to be diminished for any reason. (not even a guy) By God’s grace, I’ll come back. Lord forgive me for pretending. Help me wake up.
Back to Top
:: Anxious for Nothing ::
Sunday, March 30, 2003
My mind is spinning… so I think I should write. Too many pieces… to many details moving together begging the question -is God moving here? Is this a God thing? It is so early, it makes me nervous to find myself asking. Let me recount:
Quite a while back, big brother Garrett’s best friend & pastor, Ken Brown becomes a fan of my music, and asks me to lead worship for their youth group. Ken has been going through a very long evaluation process with the PCA to become a “church planting pastor”. No easy task there… bless his heart!
Ken asked a while back, if I would be willing to serve musically for various things at his church, and I would always say that I love my church and couldn’t leave it. I was sad for my brother to loose his best friend because the Presbytery was sending Ken Brown and family to Fremont California to plant a church.
I’m forever missing the days that my whole family worshiped under one roof.
Plans change! Ken might be planting here in GREAT BRIDGE! Chesapeake, VA!
I am assistant leader, and worship leader in my care group which I love, but still feel disconnected. It’s rewarding, serving my group, but I fear that I’ll never be connected with people like I use to be. Perhaps I just have too many other responsibilities between work, house, and family.
I enjoy my work at CBN, but hate being there. I’ve become really burned out, and am at a loss for what to do about it. I have found myself praying “how long will I be here? I wish I could do music for my job…”
A few years ago, I would not have left my church for anything, but what about now?
If there was one church that my various family members would possibly leave their churches for, it would be Ken Brown’s church. We have all come to respect and enjoy him and his family.
He did ask me a while back if I would be a worship leader for him… and oh, how things have changed since then.
Lord, help me be anxious for nothing. Help me just watch You move.
Lord, I think that I want to be the worship leader at Ken Brown’s church. Let Your will be done.
I have heard that Ken Brown has been extended a call to plant a church in San Francisco California. I guess the thought of him planting a church here was nothing more than a nice thought. Strange thing is, I’m really sad about that. It’s weird… I was actually considering leaving my church. I should be happy to not have to. And I guess I am. And sad at the same time.
Saturday, May 24, 2003
About a week ago, a coworker was in my office and heard my MP3 collection playing quietly. At one point, one of my songs came on. He said “Hey, I recognize that…That’s YOU!” And I said “yes… I recorded that song in my living room. I played all the instruments myself on that one!” And he paused and said in a reflective, empathetic tone “Why are you here?” Little did he know that I had wondered that same thing almost every day for a long time. Later that day, we were both coming into the department area, he going towards his office, me turning towards mine, and he says under his breath… “and there she goes… back to her cave…”. It’s true. But what can I do about it?
Sunday, May 25, 2003
I’ll be turning 30 soon… and needless to say, I’ve been doing some thinking. I thought that I had a premature collision with old age by being diagnosed with MS at 27. I hoped that turning 30 would be a non-event in comparison. Well… I don’t think I’ll be getting off so easily. I’ve been discovering a list of things that have characterized my 20’s - things that I would very much like to LEAVE in my 20’s! Things like working so hard, I make myself physically sick, and fear of what would happen or not happen if I didn’t. I’m not old enough to feel as physically and emotionally old as I do.
Spiritually, I am alive. I’ve grown in every trial, as scripture promises. I don’t feel old spiritually, I feel strong… but only as one who knows who’s shoulders they stand on. There are also things that have been absent in my 20’s that I am hoping to find in my 30’s. Things like… getting my hair cut by a professional instead of cutting it myself! Buying my clothing from quality stores instead of exclusively at thrift stores. I want to take better care of myself. It’s no wonder that I’m so self-conscience and insecure when I leave the house! When I am with others, I want to be WITH them… not busy fighting fear and insecurity in my head because of the zipper that only I know came broken.
I want to play and sing more in front of people, and resist the fear of appearing self promoting.
I want to be done setting up house, and begin having people over, seeking joy, pleasure, inspiration, and God himself in those I am able to spend time with. If I can have all these things, than let the 30’s begin!
Back to Top
:: Did You Get A Call? ::
Sunday, June 1, 2003
I’m distracted again this Sunday morning. I went grocery shopping with Kelly yesterday. It was the first Saturday that I didn’t have a long list of yard work to do! It’s done! Out of the blue, she asked me if Ken Brown had called me in the last couple of days. I actually couldn’t remember the last time I had talked to him. I’d thought of the process they were in… needless to say, but had not actually talked to him.
But immediately, a whole little conversation took place in my head.
“Does this mean he’ll be calling me soon? It means that he’s been making noise about it anyway. This means that he still has me in mind as his first choice for worship leader… after all this time. Even though he’s asked before, and I’ve been uninterested. Even though this would be asking me to leave my church AND my whole family! And my home! He is still thinking about asking me when he knows that the answer would most likely be “no“?! What would I say? (yes) Am I even willing to consider it? (yes) Moving to California? Leaving my family? …Where is this damn “yes” coming from?”
It was only a few seconds… and I felt this unmistakable feeling that something had already been set in motion. That my life was about to change. Maybe I could ignore it.
In the next few hours, I brought every objection that I could think of before the Lord… and He immediately answered everyone of them. I’m still working at thinking of objections. So far, my conversations with God have gone something like this:
-But God, my family!
Remember that strange realization about 5 weeks ago? Several of your siblings who you consider to be your immediate family, can no longer consider you their immediate family. (I felt a strange sort of rejection in that) They are married now, and have their own families that need to come first. You have your own life and calling. They can not be the reason you would not go.
You love the work, and it’s stable, but you hate being there and you have been praying to be laid of for 18 months now. You’ve prayed that music could somehow be your job.
You are the assistant care group leader, and worship leader in your care group, and still you feel strangely not connected. If you get more involved, your health will rebel against you. One friend had no idea you even played instruments just a year ago. Remember when I was calling you to leave Nashville? Same thing. You tried to get involved, but I was calling you away. There was no logical reason to feel as disconnected as you did. Except that I was closing doors.
9 months ago, you refinanced the house. Over this past winter, you had central air installed. Now, you will clear a very nice profit if you rent it out. 9 months ago, it would have been very difficult to rent it out. But I was moving you to look at your finances… make adjustments… your finances don’t hold you back now. It would be both easy and profitable to rent it out.
- I love my house because the Lord has established it. It has been a journey with the Lord, living there. And if He were not there, it would only be a small, plain house. I love my house because God has been there with me, protecting me and providing for me. If He is calling me away, I can believe that He will go with me, and be with me there too.
-But my beautiful yard, and my new garden!
View these things with an eternal perspective. They will pass away. Are they really a good reason not to go? A garden can be recreated.
-Well, if it’s a communing with God experience… that would be good…
-But who cares about California? I have no desire to go there!
If you’ve known me here, you will find me there too.
-But I don’t want wings, I want roots!
I wish that the evidence was not so compelling. But because it is, I have reason to believe that this is truly not my idea. I have reason to believe that I have already been very well taken care of, and will continue to be so.
Tuesday, June 3, 2003
Well, Ken hadn’t called yet. But I couldn’t stop thinking about it. How the everything was so attended to. I think that the Lord is showing me a door that I’m suppose to walk through. So I called Ken. I was SO unsure of what to say to him, seeing as I don’t think I’ve ever had any reason to call him before! So all I said is, “… so… about this church plant… yeah… well, … I’ve been thinking about it… and… um… well, I was just wondering if I could talk to you about that…
So we made an appointment to do lunch on Thursday.
My brother came to my office to see me today. I told him that I was meeting with Ken on Thursday, and about my little conversation with God, and my realization about my family relationships… how they couldn’t be my reason to stay… and he replied, “… yeah, that, and your whole family would tell you ‘GO!’”. Garrett has been my biggest supporter, and biggest critic for over a decade of pursuing music now. He has always spoken the truth to me whether it was something I would want to hear or not. I don’t know that anyone has earned my trust - and taken my abuse - like he has. Well, my parents have had their fare share of abuse…
Thursday, June 5, 2003
I had lunch today with Ken. I told him that I felt that the Lord was leading me to go. The first thing he said to me was “so why are you leaving your church?”. No flipping cartwheels, no hoopla… just a real, sobering question. He responded as a pastor; concerned for my soul. I thought to myself… wow, I am well pastored on both sides of this fence!
Today in the car, I was with my brother David and told him that I thought I was moving to California.
His response was “Sweeeeeeeeeeeeet!”. (wasn’t sure what was sweet about it…) The very next thing out of his mouth was “is there any reason you Wouldn’t go?” And I told him that I had been wrestling with the Lord over it for several days now, and I had run out of reasons.
June 8, 2003
It took several days to tell all of my family. I expected hesitation, reservations on their part. Sadly, they were all very much in favor of the idea. If I didn’t know that they loved me, I would feel rejected! Instead, I think that they are putting the strong, supportive face forward, and giving me their objective response. Which seems to be a resounding “GO! This is for you.” I don’t look forward to all of good-buys that will take place. But there’s no rush… that can wait for awhile.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for Thou art with me. Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me.
July 23, 2003
Today was my last day of work!!!! Exhale…
Back to Top
:: Leaving ::
Monday, September 8 2003
I have been kind of making a point to NOT think too much about the fact that I am leaving my family. But I leave in two days. Last night, my family had a little get together, and today I had to get my jeep packed up. That has definitely forced the issue a bit. This morning, it finally caught up to me. Fortunately, it was in the context of my quiet time… I sobbed before the Lord for about 2 hours. The thought of leaving my family is extremely painful. I wondered if I was doing the right thing… I wondered if I was being weak, breaking down like that. Then I felt the Lord tell me that it’s exactly what I need to do. So I sobbed some more with a little more peace of mind. My doubts didn’t get the best of me, I just felt the Father heart of God console me as I grieved the loss that could no longer be put off.
Today is my niece Cayti’s 4th birthday. Kelly, Robby and I took the kids out for the afternoon. She doesn’t understand that I’m leaving. And that’s ok. She is definitely my “Mini Me”. Named after me. Stubborn and strong willed like me. Sensitive like me. She’s inherited several of her favorite belongings of mine recently.
Monday, September 30, 2003
I’ve been here in California for almost 2 weeks now. It was helpful to write out my story, and remember how I came to learn that I was about to move cross country. Looking back over the summer, I can testify to the amazing PEACE that passed all understanding. There were a few tense moments of stress, but overall, the transition went unusually well.
Saying good-bye to my family just 20 days ago was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. I sobbed for the first 30 minutes of my flight. Being here unemployed in a tough job market is pretty scary. But I have definitely caught a vision for our purpose for being here. So much so, that I am very curious to see what happens.
After writing out this story just now, I’m feeling freshly convicted about “striving”… and how unnecessary it is. I did not need to strive to get here. It’s pretty amazing… all the things that just fell into place… Why did I start striving after I got here? I’ve been pretty stressed about my job situation, like holding my breath would cause a job or money to come. “Who of you by worrying can add a single day to his life?”
I live here now. Maybe I should stop worrying and start living.
Perhaps I should be more concerned about the church here, about Ken Brown, his family, people I‘ve met… and let the Lord be concerned about my provision.
Thank you for reading my story. I believe that any time one believes that they have heard from God, if truth be known, there is always room to doubt. What if I heard wrong? What if this is all a coincidence? What if…? But there are plenty of Biblical characters that experienced these same questions! Lots of people asked the Lord for signs… in the event that they heard wrong. Especially Old Testament people.
I am believing that even if I’ve made the worst mistake of my life, that my God who is very big, still has a purpose in it and will use it for my good. I believe that no matter where I am, I will always need to see God moving, and know His Word better.
I believe that no matter where I am, that God wants me to know Him more, and He wants to be glorified through me. He is pursuing me to that end. So if all the “what ifs” come to fruition, it’s OK, because He knows the plans He has for me, plans for hope and a bright future. Plans to prosper and not harm me.
When I walk through the water He will be with me, and the flames, they will not overtake me. I need not fear, for He has redeemed me. He has called me by name, I am His… Never again will I fear any harm. I will not let my hands hang limp. The Lord my God is with me, and He is mighty to save! He will take great delight in me. He will rejoice over me with singing. He will quiet me with His love… He has assigned me my portion and my cup. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places. Surly I have a delightful inheritance… Because He’s at my right hand, I’ll not be shaken. (Jeremiah, Isaiah, Zephaniah and Psalms)
“Come with Me to the ocean. You’ve never seen all that I am. Put away your striving and come with Me”.
I have to laugh when the Lord uses my own songs to convict me.
“Just because You love me the way that You do, I’m gonna go through the valley if You want me to.” - Ginny Owens
Back to Top