Saturday, October 3, 2015

Finding the Perfect Place to Live

Have you ever had a pretty good idea of what your goal was, yet had no idea how to get to it? And then realized that what you want might not actually be realistic or even necessarily the best thing for you?

My goal that falls into this category was to move to the perfect place after we returned from Africa. This may sound silly, especially considering that I was happily willing to live in Burkina Faso despite the almost desert-like conditions and the limited access to first-world comforts, but now coming back to the U.S. after completing our sixteen-month missionary internship, I really had in mind that Ben and I would find the perfect place to live and work. My wish list was a bit extensive: somewhere near the beach, near the mountains, with four seasons but little-to-no snow, close to a city with lots of entertainment, by fantastic malls and outlets, within a day's drive of both of our parents (Ohio and Delaware), not too much traffic, meaningful jobs that we love, low cost of living, close to a major airport, and so on. You know, I figured if we now have the chance to move anywhere and do anything, why not find the perfect place? As it turns out, finding the perfect place to live with perfect jobs in the one-month time frame in which I'd hoped to find all of that hasn't quite come together as I'd hoped. 
Visiting a lovely beach in Cape Cod in September

In fact, not only has it not come together as I'd hoped, but it actually hasn't come together at all. Our time since we've been back in the U.S.—over a month and a half now—has been filled with trying to find new jobs while also reconnecting with many people. We've gotten to see family and friends in Delaware, North Carolina, Washington, D.C., Boston, Ohio, and Chicago, and we do feel very blessed in that regard. Although for now we're staying primarily in Dover, Delaware, with Ben's parents, we're actively seeking where God wants to take us next and intending to move as soon as we figure that out. 
Spending a day in Chicago recently with my sister (as well as my brother and Ben)

This job search has consisted of many miles of travel already, as we checked into areas of North and South Carolina, the area of the country that we originally thought might meet most of the criteria on that lengthy wish list. We did have a great time while there, getting to reconnect with one of Molly's best friends from high school and also getting to see members of a couple of the church teams we worked with in Burkina Faso. Although we saw many nice areas, we didn't have a clear leading to any city in particular on that trip (like I'd really hoped we would), and the job opportunities so far didn't seem to be what we are needing (also what I'd been hoping would just fall perfectly into place). So the search has continued on. 
Enjoying dinner and reconnecting with team members and their families from the Summit Church in North Carolina 

However, what I'm really glad I gained from that trip was the realization that wherever God leads us—whether it fits my picture of an ideal location or not—nowhere is going to be perfect, and realistically the perfect place to be is wherever He wants us. What I want should be to follow what He wants, and where could I possibly find more contentment than to be in the center of His will anyways? So maybe He will still lead us toward beaches and away from snowy weather; maybe He won't. Either way, I've decided to be happy to be trying to follow God's leading and follow the advice of Proverbs 3:5-6: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will direct your paths." God was faithful to guide and sustain us as we followed His leading to Africa, and no doubt He will continue to be faithful as we follow His leading to ____________ (insert unknown place where we'll eventually end up). :)  
Ben with his grandparents during our visit to their home near Boston last month

I have to remind myself every day to make the decision to be content and thankful for what God has brought us to, though. It's true; just ask Ben. I really desire to get settled somewhere, and to be honest, this has been quite a challenging time. We still don't know where we will live or what jobs we will do, and it is a very humbling position to be in to be without an income and staying with family (again, though, I can be very thankful that we have such wonderful families that will help us out during this transition). The reality is that coming back from Burkina has been filled with just as many challenges as preparing to go to Burkina, and that's something I never would have expected. 

We'd love to have your continued prayers during this time. We're working as hard as we can to find jobs and have a plan for the future, but we know that ultimately it is in God's hands. Besides, that's where I'd much rather have my future resting than in my hands; He always has better plans than I do . . . such as taking us to Burkina! I'm excited, and perhaps a little anxious, to see what not-quite-perfect place we'll end up in next, and I'm also eager to see how God's molding us through our missions internship will play into this new chapter.