Many of you know and love my daughter, Elizabeth. It has been her artistry that has crafted the design of this blog from the very beginning. And it is Elizabeth who has encouraged me more than any other to keep writing, to risk, to be raw and honest and completely me.
I could not and would not have begun this blog without Elizabeth.
So you can imagine my dismay when she told me that she would be moving to L.A. I vacillated between aching with the loss and thrill for what I knew was the faith adventure of a lifetime for their family.
I know she is just where she belongs. And yet I miss her every day.
I’ve asked her to share with us some of the lessons she has been learning in the midst of living on mission to the city of Los Angeles.
Do I really believe that God is faithful? Faithful to me?
If there is one thing I have learned and experienced this past year and a half, it is that God is faithful. Everyday.
I had heard stories growing up of God asking people to take huge leaps of faith, I'd witnessed lives changes by those acts of faith... but I had never really lived one of those stories.
I'd had a pretty safe and comfortable life and walked with Jesus from a young age. And yet both my husband and I felt there was a stirring for something more and a calling we had yet to hear. We prayed for several years that God would show us what He was leading us to and what He was preparing us for. Wondering why God kept bringing California to our hearts.
Then we waited. And waited. And waited.
I will never forget the day I knew God was moving us to Los Angeles. It was the day before Thanksgiving in 2013. Brook, got off the phone with the lead pastor at Reality LA in Hollywood and he called me to tell me about their conversation. As soon as I heard his voice, I knew something had been ignited in him. I heard hope, vision, joy... I heard things I hadn't heard in him for several years. I knew deep down that God had answered our prayers and had shown us the next step. I had no idea how or why but I knew we were going.
I was both excited and terrified. LA is a city that is very big, very dirty, very fast, and very broken. I grew up in the suburbs of Portland. A city that is very clean, a comfortable pace and most of the people I knew followed Jesus. My husband had been a pastor at an amazing church for 8 years and I got to stay home with our two little kids like I'd always hoped I could.
But there is nothing worse then being comfortable, yet not being where God has called you.
Brook interviewed with Reality LA for several months and we grew more and more passionate about the church and called to what they were doing and to how they were impacting Los Angeles for the Gospel. At the end of those few months we got the call from the Church letting us know that they loved us, wanted to hire Brook, yet simply didn't have a pastoral position available at the time. There was hope of a job in the future but no promise.
Yet the calling we felt to the people of LA and to the church was something we couldn't just ignore. It was time to have faith. Our new phrase we quoted to each other daily was "Where God leads, God provides". A phrase that proved to be true, over and over and over again.
In April of last year, my husband and I hugged our families goodbye, loaded up a U-haul and headed south with our two little kids, Duke and Scarlet.
We started out in a one bedroom apartment while Brook worked 4 random jobs to provide for us. We lived off food stamps and learned to live with a whole lot less. We felt more settled than we had in years. We were doing exactly what we knew God had asked us to.
We had to trust Him more than a paycheck. Him more than a good job. Him more than our community of family and friends. Him more than a secure future.
It was hard. It was exhausting. And it was worth it.
A few months after we moved Brook was hired to do pre-martial counseling at the church for 10 hours a week, 6 months later he was hired as the Community Group Director and was able to quit his other jobs and almost a year after we moved he was hired as a pastor and elder at Reality LA.
That year was stretching to say the least but we are so thankful for the way God wrote our story.
We are changed. We now know what it means to rely on God for everyday needs, for friends, for food, for clothing, for joy, for future. We were shown the true meaning of generosity as we experienced people help us and support us in anyway they could.
We don't just know that God is faithful... we have experienced that faithfulness firsthand.
Doing what God has asked you to do doesn't mean that the road will be beautifully paved with ease and comforts. It most likely will be the opposite. But it does mean that you will gain a whole new understanding of who God is and that the purpose of our lives is not ourselves, but His glory.
Los Angeles is anything but comfortable and nothing like what you see in the movies. It is rough, broken and a hard place to live. Yet God has allowed us to see beauty, to love these people like they are family and given us strength in Him to live out His call for us.
God has been faithful and God is faithful.
More next week on everyday life in LA and a few lessons I've learned along the way...
PS: is there something God is asking you to do that seems so far out of reach? Are you at the edge and not sure if the next step is "jump"? I'd love to hear and would love to be praying for you!