440 Miles

I’m so sorry for neglecting the blog over the past few weeks!  It’s been a whirlwind — and I’m finally able to say why.  I’ll start with the back-story.  And let me warn you:  it’s not a short story.  I have a tendency to write “novels” even inside Birthday cards, so you can imagine what a huge announcement like this will be.  If you’d rather have the short version, just scroll down to the bottom of the page — you won’t hurt my feelings!  This is as much for me (to get all of my thoughts out) as it is for you all.  : )

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Since before we were married, Michael and I have always prayed that God would lead us and that we would follow Him.  Earlier this summer, the “trail” that we’ve been on took a drastic turn.  We both felt strongly that God was leading us to move, but we had absolutely no clue where or when or anything.  After a lot of prayer and godly council, we started applying for new jobs.

We started looking in familiar places like Dallas and Tyler, but eventually Michael’s resume (and sometimes mine) was literally all over the US:  from California to Florida, Illinois to Texas, and tons of places in-between.  We applied for so many different types of jobs from teaching at Christian schools to Christian Camping to church positions.  Michael really wanted to be able to do youth or music ministry (those are his jobs right now at our current church) and he applied all over for different positions.

It was definitely a crazy ride — and we had no clue where it would end up.  We’d get excited about a possibility, and then the door would close (sometimes even before we could turn the handle).   Both of us continued to feel strongly that we were doing the right thing, but sometimes it seemed like we were running in place without actually getting anywhere.

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Honestly, there were times when we questioned if we were even doing the right thing.  We absolutely love our students in the youth group here, and it hurt to even think about leaving them.  And then we’d go to church and get huge hugs and smiles from some of the older members, and we were reminded again of how hard it would be to leave.  My grandparents live in our town, and my parents and siblings are only a little over an hour away — and we knew it would be SO tough to leave them as well.  We also have amazing friends here, and we’re in a cute little house, and we’re involved in so many different ministries and things…

But we always came back to the feeling that God had something planned for us — and even though it would be so, so hard to leave, we knew we had to follow Him.  The whole process was taking much longer than we would have liked, but we had faith that He wasn’t taking us on this windy road for no reason.  If nothing else, He was teaching us to trust Him and grow closer to Him and each other.

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I’d gone through a Beth Moore Bible Study called “Believing God” with some of the college girls in our town last spring.  It was a great study, and even though I didn’t know it at the time, God was preparing me for what was to come a few months later.  We were encouraged to memorize specific verses of Scripture each week, and one of the weeks was Hebrews 11:8.

By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.

I can’t even tell you how many times this verse came to my mind over the summer.  It wasn’t just a verse that I’d memorized a few months earlier.  It became a truth deep inside of me:  I might not know where God was leading us, but just as He led Abraham and blessed him, He would lead us and bless us.

If you’re not familiar with the story of Abraham, God asked him to follow Him and leave everything that was familiar.  But as a result of his obedience, God made Abraham the father of many nations.  His physical descendants are the the Israelites, God’s chosen people.  But even more importantly, ALL who put their faith in Jesus Christ are his spiritual descendants.  Even though it must have been so, so difficult to leave everything for an unknown future, God blessed Abraham beyond his wildest dreams.

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So even though it was tough to not know what our future held, we knew that we were following God.  And we knew that He would show us His plan at the perfect time.

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A couple of weeks into August, Michael was contacted by a pastor in Beaumont, TX to set up a phone interview with the search committee.  We were completely surprised because we hadn’t heard anything from this church since we sent our resumes in and the pastor told us they’d start narrowing down applications at the first of August.  As soon as he told me what church it was, I knew exactly which job he was talking about.  It was actually one that I’d found online and told him about.  The thing that stuck out about this church was the fact that it would be jobs for BOTH of us.  The church wanted to hire a couple, if at all possible, so that one could be the youth minister and the other could be the assistant/associate.  We’d gone ahead and sent in our resumes, but we didn’t get our hopes up at all.  It just seemed like it was way above us — it was almost too good to be true.

We had our phone interview on a Saturday afternoon, and we both felt really good about it.  It’s a different denomination than our current church (current = Baptist, this church = Methodist), but denominations aren’t what we look for in a church.  There are plenty of churches in lots of denominations (including Baptist) that we would never feel comfortable being a part of.  What matters to us is that the specific church is following God and teaching truth.  There are some beliefs/doctrines that we feel strongly about, but then there are others that we feel are just a different way of looking at things.

Anyway…all that to say we had quite a few questions for them during the interview (after they asked us their questions), and we felt very good about all of the answers.  Everyone was really nice, and we just really liked the “feel” of the committee.  They had told us that we were one of five applicants and/or couples to be interviewed.  Less than four hours after our interview, the pastor called Michael and said that they really enjoyed our interview and they’d like for us to come down to Beaumont and interview in person with the committee!  We were shocked — but in a good way!

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We were REALLY excited to think about the possibility of working together.  And the more we read about the church and corresponded with the pastor, the more excited we got to go down and visit.  But we didn’t want to get our hopes up too much in case it didn’t work out.  There were some other churches that we’d had positive feedback from, and our prayer was that we would know where we stood with them by the time we went down to Beaumont.

Well, God started closing doors quickly.  By the time we went down to Beaumont, we’d received answers from all of the churches that were still on our radar.  Even though they seemed like great ministries and we’d been excited about the possibilities, we were so thankful to be able to just focus on the church in Beaumont instead of having all of the “what if’s” in the back of our minds.

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We went to Beaumont on Saturday, Sept. 4th, and we were able to go to both services on Sunday.  We really enjoyed the services, and one of the committee members treated us to lunch afterwards.  That night, another committee member’s family had us over to their house.  They were both great times to be able to get to know some of the members/youth parents better.  We kept thinking/saying over and over that this church had some of the nicest, friendliest people we’ve ever met.

Monday, we took the day to drive around and check out Beaumont.  We really, really liked the town.  Everything we would need would be within 10 miles of the church, and it was just a great area.

We met with the pastor on Tuesday morning (we’d visited a few apartment complexes before we met with him), and we enjoyed our time with him a lot.  We both felt like we’d really like to work/serve here if it worked out.  That night we met with the committee, and again things went really well.  By the time we left, we knew that this was where God was calling us.  It’s hard to explain, but we just knew.

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By the time we left town the next morning, we’d received an offer from the committee offering us the positions, and we knew what apartment we wanted to rent.  Things were falling into place perfectly!  Oh — and one of the HUGE blessings about this job is that I’ll be able to work from home whenever we have kids!  Honestly, it’s more than we could have asked for.  It’s like God designed these jobs specifically for us.  We were just overwhelmed with thankfulness!

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Even though it’s been a windy road, and we had no clue where, when or how it would end up, we’re so thankful for the journey.  And even though it is going to be SOOOO hard to leave all of the people we love here, we know that this is where God wants us.  And even though we’re going somewhere completely new and we don’t really know what to expect, we’re excited about the adventure.

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ALL THAT to announce that we’ll be moving to Beaumont, TX October 1st! We’re packing like crazy (my mom and sister helped a TON on Saturday) and trying to get everything ready.

In just 16 days, we’ll be traveling 440 miles from here:

to here:

Here’s our route:

And a little closer up:

I think that it’s not going to fully hit us until we’re moving in.  It’s kind-of like it was when we were engaged:  we knew we were getting married, but it didn’t really sink in until afterward (and even then it’s still hard to believe sometimes).

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Even though it’s been crazy, we thank God for this time of learning to follow Him — even when we didn’t know where He was leading us.  And we’re so, so thankful for His provision and for blessing us more than we could ask for.  It’s still going to be terribly hard to leave, but we’re excited about what He has for us after this bend in the road.

Thank you so much for all of your love, support, and friendships over this time.  Even if you didn’t know that anything was going on, it has been so good to know that we have friends and family all over.

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It’s going to be SUCH a big move for us (in more ways than just the miles) and we’d really appreciate your thoughts and prayers as we take this next step.  I’ll keep the blog updated so that you know how things are going.  Thanks again for everything!  We’re so thankful for you all!

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–Staci

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About mselizondo

We've been married since December of 2008, and our son, Josiah, was born in July of 2012. We love spending time with family, running, music, traveling, and reaching out to others as a family. View all posts by mselizondo

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