Philippians 4:19 {God will supply my needs}

“And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.” ~Philippians 4:19

Although I knew that God wanted me to move to Minneapolis, I had no idea when I would be moving, where I would work or live, nor where I would come up with the money to do so. Normally I would have worried, thinking that I had to figure all of this out, but I didn’t. God already had a plan, and I knew that all I had to do was trust him, and he would supply my needs. I originally thought that it could be at least a month, if not more. My brother Sam put out a Facebook post asking his Twin Cities friends if they knew any christian girls looking for a roommate. A few days later he got a reply with a link to a Craigslist advertisement. A group of 7 christian girls were looking for an eight roommate to join them in their town house near the U of M, Twin Cities. The rent seemed affordable, it was a good location, and they were christian girls who were mostly all in college. It seemed a little too good to be true, so I decided to trust in God rather than jump ahead of the game. I sent an email to the one who put out the ad, just to see if they would get back to me. They wanted someone by November 1st, and it was already October 24th, so I asked them if they would be willing to extend the deadline. I got a reply the next day.

The coordinator told me that she thought I would be a great fit for the house, and that the deadline was definitely flexible, and that she meant to change it on the website to December 1st. She connected me with Becca, the house manager, on Facebook, and I decided to come and check out the house on November 1st. It all seemed to be going so fast, so I asked God to give me peace in my heart if it was the right house. I went there that cold, Saturday afternoon with my friend Kelsey (We had gone to a ComicCon that day in Minneapolis. I know, I’m a nerd). We walked up to the cute house with twinkle lights on the outside, and a large chalkboard sign that read “Welcome to House 728!” We were greeted by Becca at the door and invited in. The house seemed so warm and cozy, a place I could definitely find myself at home in. She showed us the two living rooms, kitchen/dining room, the study room, the three bedrooms, two bathrooms, and the prayer room. There wasn’t a single thing about the house that I didn’t like. I had gone there expecting to be disappointed, afraid that I had been rushing things and that all of it seemed too good to be true, but the more I talked with Becca about the house, the more excited I got. I felt the peace in my heart that I had prayed for, and I knew that this was where God wanted me to live.

So now I had a place to live, but I didn’t want to move until I actually had a job (I was broke, remember?). I spent the next week submitting resume after resume for various receptionist jobs. I really wanted to become a receptionist. I love administration tasks and organization and office work. I could literally stand at a copying machine scanning documents for hours and find that fun (I know because I’ve done it). However, finding a company who is willing to hire a receptionist with absolutely no professional experience is almost impossible. After submitting 31 resumes to 31 different companies without a single response, I decided to look elsewhere. I applied at Target, which I know seems lame, but I could at least work there until I found another job. They called be back the next day, and three days later I went in for an interview as nervous as ever.

I think that it’s safe the say that this was my first real interview, the one where you show up an hour early just to make sure you aren’t late and bring ten extra copies of your resume in a nice, crisp folder because you’re afraid you will drop them in the snow or lose half of them. (It seems a little extreme, but that’s my paranoid INFJ personality coming through). This was it, no more small town grocery stores where you knew all of the customers by name, I was headed into the first target store ever built where the number of employees made up about a third of my hometown. I was offered a job on the spot with a starting rate more than what I was previously making. Although it was not the job I had in mind, it was the job God wanted me to have.

One week later, I would find myself moving into a house with seven christian girls and starting the job that God called me to work at. It seemed to be turning out so much better and quicker than I previously expected, which I think happens when we learn to trust God completely. He provides.

John 13:7 {God has it under control}

“Jesus replied, ‘You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.'” ~John 13:7

After I came home from China, life seemed dull. I was going to school, but I was working very little hours and most of my friends had already gone off to college. There were not many people my age at church besides my best friends Carley (who I graduated with) and Katie (who is a year younger than I). All of us were so busy with work/school/sports/life that I rarely had time to see them. I craved to build relationships with people my age who I could fellowship with and grow closer to God. Unfortunately, Shell Lake, Wisconsin, with a population of 1,342, was lacking in christian college students. Even at my church, there weren’t many people in my situation, going through what I was going through, and that was somewhat difficult. I knew that I was never going to find that kind of fellowship living in my small hometown, so I looked into moving to Minneapolis, MN. I soon realized, however, that living in the twin cities wasn’t going to be very cheap, and I was basically broke at the time so it seemed unrealistic. There were also some mental and spiritual things I was going through as well; I suffered a lot of homesickness during the two weeks that I was in China, so how could I possibly handle moving away for good? I thought that maybe I would wait until January or February to start thinking about it, because I didn’t want to rush anything or something that didn’t match up with God’s will.

On October 22nd, the third night of my church’s annual Missions Conference, I really felt like God was pressing it on my heart to move to Minneapolis. Obviously I had doubts, I had spent most of my life chasing after things that ended in rejection and disappointment, and I didn’t want to give my hopes up. I went on Pinterest (usually my main source for good scriptures and quotes). I closed my eyes and I prayed, “God, if this really is you, please give me a sign. I’m not going to waste my time and energy dreaming of moving to a big city and starting my life if it isn’t your will, so please give me a sign.” I looked down at my phone and realized that I had accidentally clicked on a pin. It was a sign with the following scripture painted on it:

Whether you turn to the right or the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it.” ~Isaiah 30:21

If that isn’t a sign from God, then I don’t know what is. I became overwhelmed with emotion, thankful that God had given me a sign. So I now knew that God did want me to move, but I had no idea when this would happen, and I was also broke. These, however, were not my main concerns. I had an even bigger fear: telling my parents. What would they think of their little girl moving to the big city by herself? Could they even trust me enough with money? (I’ll be honest, I have a weakness for books and really cute boots) I think that most of my fear came from July when I told my parents that I was convinced that God wanted me to go to a bible college in Colorado. That of course, wasn’t the case, and I felt like I had made a fool of myself in front of them for thinking it was God’s voice and not the beautiful mountains calling my name. I couldn’t make the same mistake again, but through all of the fear, the only thing that came to my mind was Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Much to my surprise, my parents were completely on board and were willing to support me fully. I thought that my mother would be nervous over me moving to a large city by myself, especially coming from a small town with very little crime, but she said something that day that I will never forget. She said to me, “I would feel more peace in my heart if you were preaching the Gospel in Communist China and in God’s will then living right down the street.” She was telling me that even though I was moving to a strange town where there were bigger threats than hitting dear or being attacked by a bear, I was going where God wanted me to go, and that’s what’s important. Dangerous places are safe places.

So there I was, a young soon-to-be nineteen year old girl who set out on the dark road ahead with a fire in her heart and a song on her lips.

She pulled back her hair, set her sights on God, and vowed to finish her race in victory.

Proverbs 19:21 {Many are the Plans}

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“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.” ~Proverbs 19:21

My story begins on Friday, August 1st, 2014, at 1:36 in the morning. I stepped out of my car and breathed in the fresh Wisconsin air. After spending two weeks in China on a missions trip, I had forgotten what it felt like to not be breathing in thick Beijing pollution 24/7. I looked up at the stars and the stars looked back at me, like we were old friends saying, “Nice to see you, it’s been awhile.” I did a jump/dance thing and squealed a little. In that moment, I had completely forgotten that I had been up for about 36 hours. Through a two-hour, thirteen-hour, and half-hour plane rides, an hour and a half long car ride from the airport, and many hours of layovers in Shanghai and Chicago, I felt alive. It didn’t matter that I hadn’t eaten anything in the past three days due to stomach sickness and fevers; I had enough energy to keep me going for at least 24 more hours (probably not but I felt like it at the time), because I was finally home.

I didn’t even bother bringing my suitcase I had been living out of for two weeks into the house, I just ran for the door. Per my request, my mother had made me taco dip (with real Wisconsin cheese, something that was very lacking in China), ham pickle roll-ups, and homemade chocolate chip cookies. My mother had waited up for me and have already shoved a pickle in my mouth, I gave her the warmest hug I have ever given. “I’m so happy to see you!” I mumbled through the pickle. It was in that moment that I remembered my favorite Anne of Green Gables quote, “I’ve had a splendid time, and I feel that it marks an epoch in my life. But the best of it all was coming home.”

As much as I wanted to tell my mom every detail that had happened over the past two weeks, she convinced me that I should probably try to get some sleep. Due to jet lag, I was only able to sleep until 7 am. Before going to China, I was a lost soul looking for a calling in life. I entered my senior year of high school in the fall of 2013 with an acceptance letter to Le Cordon Bleu, a culinary school in Minneapolis, MN, with the dream of one day having my own show on the Food Network Channel. I had developed that dream when I started watching stars like Giada De Laurentiis, Paula Dean, Bobby Flay, and Duff Goldman at age 12 rockin’ it up on their own cooking shows. I started my senior year with a new confidence, because for the first time ever, I actually felt like I had my life together.

This new plan I had created for my life (go to culinary school, become a famous chef, meet a guy who would be so blown away by my cooking that he would marry me on site because I didn’t have the good looks to get his attention) died suddenly about two months after I had received the acceptance letter. Our youth pastor Dan had recently announced that the youth would be going on a missions trip to China in July 2014. It had been a long journey for my friend Carley and I when it came to going on mission trips. Two of my brothers had gone on their first missions trips when they were twelve years old, and my sister as well as Carley’s siblings had also gone on missions trips when they were young. The year Carley and I were finally able to go was the year going into our sophomore year (Summer 2011). This also happened to be the year that they decided to move the age limit up. Alas, we were once again too young to go, and our dreams of bringing the gospel to the ends of the earth would have to wait. Two years later, another youth missions trip was planned for Ecuador. However, it was not in God’s plan for any of us to go. The plan ended up falling through, and once again, Carley and I were left waiting for the day we could finally do what we had been dreaming of doing since we were little. Later that year was when they announced the China trip. The only problem was, the trip was scheduled for the end of July, several weeks after classes started for Le Cordon Bleu. It didn’t take me long to get over that fact that my life long dream of going on a missions trip wasn’t going to happen. After all, I had other things to worry about, like applying for financial aid and scholarships (because that’s obviously more important than serving God in Communist China). After telling my youth pastor that I was not able to go because of college, he looked me straight in the eye and said “Don’t go.” (As in, don’t go to culinary school). Those may be two simple, little words, but for some reason they had a huge impact. I tried to say something back, but I honestly couldn’t think of anything, so I just shut my mouth. It was like God was giving me a slap in the face, which was apparently what I needed to realize that I was going in the wrong direction. The next morning I called my best friend Katie and asked her to meet me at school early. She sat next to me in my car why I explained to her, through much pathetic sobbing and tears, that I didn’t think God wanted me to go to Le Cordon Bleu and that He wanted me to go to China instead. I wanted to go to Culinary school just as much as I wanted to know what I was going to do after graduation. However, there was something that I desired even more, to follow God’s will.

So there I was, sitting on my bed the morning after coming home from China with an idea. I felt the urge to apply at Southern New Hampshire University for their online creative writing program. My passion for writing started with The Magic Tree House series I read in first grade, and I always knew it would play a large role in my life. But is that what God wants? For me to be a writer? I thought. I didn’t want to make the same mistake I did before, but I could not ignore my idea. This is what I told God: I am just going to go for it, and if it is your will, you will make it happen. It seemed very unrealistic anyways; I had only two weeks to apply, get accepted, register for classes, apply for financial aid, and come up with $2,000.00 to pay for the first term. God provided in amazing ways, and two weeks later I found myself reading and studying The Practice of Creative Writing, Writing Down the Bones, and On Writing Well.

I had spent most of my high school years trying to plan out my life, but it wasn’t until I saw how God worked my schooling out that I realized that it’s impossible to plan. I decided to forget about Culinary school because there was a still small voice telling me that it wasn’t the right path. I decided to apply for Southern New Hampshire University on a whim because there was a still small voice that told me it was the right way to go. I surrendered it all and put it in His hands, knowing that it would either work out or it wouldn’t. I felt peace in my heart that I hadn’t felt with any of the other wild plans I had dreamed up (I left out the part about Human Recourse Management, that random Bible college in Colorado, and even that ranch in Montana) It was when I put my complete trust in God that he told me which way to go.

How should I know?

How should I know what I’m doing with my life?

I don’t have to know,

It’s okay not to.

But they never tell you that,

They tell you that you have to plan it out.

But I don’t want to,

Because that’s not living.

~Madeleine R Hodgett, A Celebration of Poets, 2014 Edition