Have you ever come home from a day at the beach and then decided to change everything you had planned for your immediate future?
No? Well, let me tell you how that feels!
Two months ago, Charlie and I spent a beautiful Sunday afternoon at the beach soaking up the Florida sunshine. But when we got home, my relaxed mood just turned sad. I didn’t understand why I’d suddenly started crying, but I found myself saying, “I just don’t want to do this anymore.”
We’ve had hard days over the last year and a half when we’ve missed our families and friends and being part of a community. But those days are always made better when we remember all the incredible experiences we’re able to have because of travel nursing. Yes, some days are hard, but they have been more than worth it. Until that afternoon.
As scary as it was to admit to each other, we talked for awhile about how we were ready to give up all the places we might yet go to gain the community we’d sacrificed. We had planned to stop traveling next year, but that suddenly seemed like way too long to wait. The restlessness that prompted us to start traveling had been satisfied and now was longing for a place called home. Charlie talked a lot about how he felt ready to go into full time ministry. He’s missed teaching students and serving the Lord with his gifts. As he talked it out, he felt the Lord telling him not to wait another year. Now was the time.
So that is how we reached a tipping point one sunny afternoon and just threw the reigns to God once again. He’s faithfully and capably led us down so many unchartered paths, and it’s getting easier to follow Him wherever He suddenly may lead.
We spent that night calling some friends who are in ministry to get advice on writing a ministry resume and the best places to start looking for positions. Within a day, we had Charlie’s resume out to several churches and just started praying that the Lord would put it in the hands of the church He wanted for us and allow it to be tossed aside at all the others. Two weeks later, we were driving up for Charlie’s first interview with a church in Griffin, GA. It was the same day we thought we’d be starting our cross-country drive to our next assignment in California.
To prepare for his Griffin interview, we spent an afternoon at our favorite coffee shop thinking through Charlie’s ministry philosophy and what he wanted for a youth group he led. It was an incredible blessing to me to be the sounding board for my sweet husband. Youth ministry had been on the back burner since we started traveling, and I loved seeing him light up again as he worked through ideas for discipleship and teachings. The Lord really guided his heart that afternoon and gave him a clear vision of how He wants Charlie to approach full time ministry. We were heading to Griffin with a solid foundation.
We spent a great weekend in Georgia and walked out of the interview feeling like there’s nothing we would have changed. As great as the interview was, I think the main blessing came as we were driving through the town late Saturday afternoon. As we passed through neighborhoods of quaint, older homes, the idea that we’d soon be moving into a permanent home became more real. No matter where we ended up, we’d be settling down soon in a town where we didn’t know anyone. Just two weeks before, Charlie was about to start interviewing for nursing jobs in southern California. Now we were driving down a county road in Georgia to see the sunset and wondering which house we might rent.
I’ll never forget looking at Charlie and saying, “Even if we don’t end up here specifically, I’m happier driving around this small town tonight than I would be driving out to California.”
He didn’t end up getting the Griffin job. But I know the real reason we went up there that weekend was to confirm that this is what we wanted. The Lord let us glimpse what it will be like to settle down so that our hearts could swell at the thought and be reassured that we made the right decision.
We also realized that weekend how blessed we are to have each other and to have fostered a strong marriage. It was just the two of us driving around that unknown town. It was just the two of us who’d decided to change everything in an afternoon. It’s been just the two of us on this amazing journey since we left Alabama. I was almost in tears looking at my husband and thinking how blessed I am to be married to a man who will follow the Lord wherever He leads. I am blessed to have a marriage partner who will grab my hand as we dive heart first into the deep end of God’s will, trusting that He will help us swim together.
We’ve always been taught God is faithful and able. Our minds have known that and our hearts have experienced it in small ways. But getting out of our comfort zone through travel nursing has made it real to us in a way that only experience can. Without the last year and a half, I’m not sure we’d be so quick to say “yes” to Him all the time. But He has given us countless testimonies of His goodness and provision. Everything has been worth it to gain the type of faith in which we’ll continue to turn down unknown roads with Him.
As we drove around Griffin that night, we affirmed we never want to grow so comfortable in our lives that we’d be unwilling to let Him change its course in an afternoon if He wills.
So we came home from a great weekend hoping that the position would work out. A week later we learned the Lord had closed that door, and we started praying that He would lead us forward. We extended Charlie’s contract here in Florida for another month and went back to the job boards…