Happy 4th Anniversary California!

May 16th commemorates my fourth year living in California. Man, it has gone by so fast. The entire move started with a phone call out of the blue from my mother. We were living in Houston, TX at the time. I was doing just fine. I had my own place, car, getting promotions at work, involved at church. Life was good. But when my mom called asking if I would be willing to move to San Diego, CA, I was caught off guard. If you knew my mother, you would know not to get too excited by such hypothetical questions as they usually didn’t manifest into anything. But she was serious. My mom and stepdad were experiencing difficult financial situations and spiritual warfare and while on a fast, my stepdad was given a job opportunity in San Diego and my mom received a word from God saying, “Your reward is in San Diego.” When she told me this, I had a decision to make. Did God also want me to go to San Diego? I had never been to California and none of us knew anyone there. The same was true about Houston before moving there. I went into prayer and thought seriously about it. After multiple conversations with my mother, I decided that moving to California was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. I had no strong ties to Houston other than I loved being a Texan and still miss it greatly. I never received an audible or definitive word from God to move. But I also didn’t hear anything about staying put. I’ve never been a person to base life decisions around a job, so other than that, I really didn’t have a reason to stay. My brother was graduating from college so it worked out that we would pick him up from Indiana University, where I went to school too, come back to Houston to pack and then hit the road for golden coast. I never imagined actually living in California. I dreamt about it. Growing up I wanted to be a filmmaker. I actually got accepted into NYU Tisch School of Arts for filmmaking but it was too expensive, and I was offered a full ride at IU where I studied Marketing with a concentration in video production. Like most people, especially coming from the Midwest, California has this persona of being America’s paradise and the land of dreams. That dream was becoming a reality. What really confirmed that God was with us in the move was how He provided for us to get here. We had moved to Houston as an act of faith but the move tested us beyond what we were expecting (more on that in a future post.). The biggest hindrance of moving to California was the difficulty and struggle we had moving to Houston. We didn’t want to repeat that, especially not my mother. But by faith, we put in our two week notices. When I told my co-workers where I has going, they were shocked. Repeatedly, as if scripted, everyone told me how beautiful San Diego was and how expensive it was. That would lead to the question of "do you have a job lined up?" I answer was no. None of us had jobs lined up. My stepdad’s opportunity wasn’t even guaranteed. We were literally living off the promise of God’s word. I was too afraid to tell people that, to be honest, because telling non-believers your moving across the country to live in one of the most expensive states with no job, just God’s word, get you crazy stares and whispers. Heck, there are Christians we have told that look at us in disbelief when sharing the testimony. To avoid the awkwardness I would say "oh, I’m going with my parents and I’m looking into getting my MBA", which was true. I was seriously considering going to USC and still considering. Everyone would always respond in some form of "I wish I could move to San Diego." Which struck me as sad. I am sure many of them had legitimate reasons why they couldn't make the move they wanted. Many of these people surely had more opportunities and resources to move if they really wanted to, but something was holding them back. Many would consider our move reckless. But nothing is more secure and guaranteed than living on a prayer and God’s promises. There are so many people limiting themselves from experiencing the most in life because fear and putting their trust in something other than God. I need a job lined up first. I have to get my things in order first. I need to have money saved first. These are all wise things you should do when considering a big move. But sometimes when walking by faith, God wants you to make the first move in faith and obedience, and He will take care of the rest. It's exactly what happened with Abraham in the Bible. That is exactly what happened in our case. After putting in our notices at work and not renewing our leases at apartments, there was no looking back. My mom, in intense prayer for a specific type of apartment, by faith started calling apartments while still in Houston until she found one she liked. It was a three level townhome apartment. The blessing was that they were willing to let us move in with out any of us having a job or able to provide proof of income once moving there. Unprecedented. My mom later told me that when she was praying in the car, frustrated in not finding a place, God spoke to her to just call without considering the lack of requirements usually required for moving in. She obeyed, and we had a place to stay just like that. We got my brother, packed our stuff and hit the road for a cross country move. We took three cars and nothing else. No moving truck. We donated all of our furniture and anything that couldn’t fit in the car. Only a small amount of personal items were placed in a storage unit to be shipped later. It was a two day drive, 8 hours crossing just Texas on I-10 going through El Paso. I would have been faster but my stepdad’s car got two tire flats on separate occasions. After getting through the flat, desert plains of rolling tumbleweeds and sand tornadoes and the high wind, high altitude mountains of Arizona, where we stayed the night in Yuma, we began our entry into California. I was shocked to see sand dunes crossing the state border. I was even more surprised by the rolling hills and mountains of San Diego. We were stunned. We could not believe how beautiful it was. A far cry from the flat plains of Indiana and the Ohio River Valley. I am almost embarrassed that I did not know there were places that looked like this in America. I knew California had beaches and palm trees, but imagines of the French Riviera I always wanted to visit came to mind when I saw the homes and buildings along the hillsides. As our initial shock began to wear off, we finally came into our destination of Oceanside, CA. It was a Sunday. We were scheduled to get our keys to the apartment the next day. So we pulled into a nearby Motel 6 and decompressed. This was our new home. In our research of California before coming we had heard of a little burger place called In N Out. There was one by the Motel 6 so we went there to have our first meal in California. The double-double with grilled onions and chilis is now my go to order after visiting countless times and experimenting with variations. But the fries are lacking. I’ve had them in just about every variation and something is off. But I digress. Looking back over these 4 years I have to say I do not regret moving here. I am so glad we took a step of faith to get here. The first few months after moving here, we had enough savings to explore and enjoy without the pressure of looking for jobs. I was able to go to San Francisco, Orange county and numerous beaches before getting a digital marketing job where I am currently employed. All of us found jobs quickly, as soon as we started looking. God came through on His promise. Though there has been a significant culture shock that was felt later and the cost of living can present some problems, we are doing very well and are blessed. I personally have grown the most spiritually in my life since moving here, been more involved in the church than I have ever been, grown more professionally and created some of the most significant relationships I have ever had. My family often discusses what exactly the reward God was talking about when He called us here. There are many blessings that I can recall since moving here. But I would have to say that I believe that my reward from God has been a lifelong journey of bringing me to a place at the right time in my life with the people I was meant to meet and know so I could not only discover the truth, identity, purpose and legacy He destined me but live it out confidently. Truth. Identity. Purpose. Legacy. That is my pursuit. The last four years have been so impactful. And this is only the beginning. I believe there is so much more to come. So thank you God and thank you California. Here is to many more years of living by faith in the Golden State!

Happy 4th Anniversary California!