Hello, dear!

So much can happen in one year. In September 2013, I fell in love. It was epic. Honestly, the story would make a killing at a box office. I wasn’t looking for him and he wasn’t looking for me, but we met one week by chance in Colorado at the end of the summer, we stayed in touch, he asked me to do life with him long distance and the rest was history. We became the very closest of friends, our hearts grew together so naturally and our dreams aligned. We were in this thing for the long haul, just waiting for the right time for things to come together,  to do life together in the same city and move toward a forever together. After three months of us + distance, I moved across the country to be a little closer to him while he finished his last year of college. We planned to chart a course from there together into a shared future. Then, one month before graduation, he decided the unfolding story between us just wasn’t for him and he wanted to be done. My heart broke. I lost my best friend. I lost my dreams. I lost my future. I moved back home to my family to mourn and get back on my feet.

I had never been in a relationship before, never lost someone before. Everything was fresh, everything was potent. It took time to process, to heal, to just feel it all — and time was all I had. Gradually, I found there were a few dreams that I hadn’t lost and I began to pursue them. One was photography, another was child care. Pouring myself into those and figuring out who this new me, on the other end of lost love, was, together with the continual choosing to believe the promises of my Father for me, were key pieces in the unfolding of redeeming the time. Sure the relationship was only nine months long, start to finish, but it was a lifetime in soul’s time. I had followed my Father — the same One who has championed my desire to save myself for the one man He has for me all my life and Who had jealously guarded me from relationships even when I had lapses in judgement — to lead me into this relationship. Because He was leading so clearly, so specifically, and I trusted His heart toward me, in spite of the risks involved, I always felt secure. I didn’t mishear Him, I didn’t make it up, and He didn’t change His mind and take away. There were simply two people involved in the relationship, both with free will, and my Father wouldn’t hinder that freedom of choice. So a kind of miscarriage, a kind of death, was worked in my story because one of the two of us stopped choosing “us”. Dreams went up in smoke. When things settled to dust and ash and it was clear there was no going back, how was life supposed to come out of that? How can you not allow that to consume you and be your whole world? On the flip side, how do you not stuff it down deep and pretend it never happened just to keep moving forward? How can you be totally open and own such a life-altering season as part of your story while still moving forward as a whole-person with joy and clear hope of a future? I fell back on the promises of my Father. I don’t know any other way. He’s the death-conquerer. He’s a Master at bringing something out of nothing, beauty from ashes, joy after mourning. He redeems it all and weaves it all together for my benefit, for my good. This is my story, this is my song.

Mid-summer 2014, at a critical juncture in my healing process, where it really came time to decide whether I was going to choose to cling to death or to embrace life, I was at a school of Power and Love. While I was there my Father mobilized His Body to speak life over me, to affirm and confirm the promises and truths He had been speaking in the secret places to me about what He had ahead and about how He saw me. Chains fell off of my soul in a literal sense and I got new life breathed into me. Dreams gasped deep reviving breaths of air, my purpose was revitalized, my personality resurfaced. The oldest dream of my life is to be a wife and mother, and I thought I was so close to beginning to live those dreams and then everything abruptly ended. But, my Father said that the dream was still as alive as ever, I just needed to heal in order to move forward into it. The other half to that lifetime dream is the life “we” will live as a couple and a family, the work we will do together, and this too was so close to taking such beautiful, tangible shape when everything changed. Travel and ministry and art are too big a part of my DNA to come to a forever end with a broken heart. It had made so much sense, it was like finally seeing what you’ve always wanted and then having it vanish from before your eyes. I was right back where I had always been, and as hard as it is to be plunked back at the starting line, it wasn’t a bad place. Full of faith, confidant in hope, strong and moving forward toward my callings as a single woman — I knew how to do that. I was set to run full force, I just needed a direction. In the meantime I continued to stay present right where I was, investing deep into the relationships I had there, pouring my passion into trail blazing an organic outreach in my hometown, as well as sharpening my artistic skills by taking every opportunity to second shoot weddings for my incredibly talented photographer friends throughout the summer.

As summer was wrapping up, friends all over the US began to communicate with me about open doors for me to come to where they were and join in the ministry efforts occurring there. After seeing me risk so much and be so lonely in a new place and then ending up back home in painful sadness, my parents put some conditions on my next move. They included: 1) only move somewhere you actually know people the next time you move across country, 2) get a new car before trekking across any more road miles, 3) pay off my credit card debt from the last move, 4) have a job secured in the new location before leaving this one, and 5) have enough saved for the initial costs of securing an apartment. All the invitations I was receiving were meeting the first condition and I knew my Father would provide the missing pieces as I moved forward in the way He had for me. Praying over the possibilities, a list began to form in my mind ranking the locations, from highest to lowest, where I was feeling most led. San Francisco, CA was falling in second place even though logically I felt it should be ranking first. To my own bewilderment, Milwaukee, WI was holding steady in first place on this list. I had never been there but knew one couple who were in leadership at a church plant in the city. I had had an open door invitation to visit them for about four years and had never carved out the time to go. But, it was clearly the time. I figured I would have a clearer idea of what my Father had in mind or if it’d just been craziness that MKE was my first priority after I visited. Are you surprised at all that my visit fell right around the anniversary of my falling in love one year prior?

Nope, me neither, because the God of Redemption is writing a new ending to what should only be able to be a tragedy in my life and He knows how well I remember moments that make up a story and He loves to redeem those memories for me. Anyway, before I even got there it was apparent that there were some start-up efforts that would be ideal for me to jump into. I visited and fit so well into the church body that I was stunned. I made actual friends of complete strangers in one afternoon. It fit like a glove and unless my Father redirected me, I knew this was the way I was to begin walking toward. It was time to work on those other conditions for my next move. I’ll tell you about where I am at with that in my next letter.


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