Monday, September 28, 2015

why my bags are packed...again.

Y'ALL. Life changes in seven days. Hokey Pete. Looking back at things a week ago...looking at them today...seriously blowing my ever-loving mind.

Remember my whole platform (for pretty much the last...YEAR) about surrender and saying yes to God EVEN WHEN we don't know what it means or how it will work or where we're going? When we are brave enough to say yes, GOD DOES STUFF. Like bigger than we can ask or imagine and crazier than we dare to dream stuff.

Well...He's at it again. OBVIOUSLY.

One of my biggest "just trust" moments in moving was that once summer was over, I had no idea where I would be living. I also needed to secure an additional part-time job to be able to afford said living space. Oh and find a church...and some know, life.

I've been pretty chill about things all summer, not freaking out too much or worrying about it all working out. GOOD, because worry would have been a ROYAL WASTE OF TIME (about always is). But the most important thing to me in these living/working/community situations was church. I wanted to find a church I loved and could be active in, and it was important to me to live in the same town. Finding a church 45 minutes away just wasn't gonna work.

Over the course of the summer I spent many Sundays at a church I ADORE. There were so many things I wanted to get involved in. But I was so hesitant, because it was in Holland, and even though that is my #lifegoals city, my home was looking like it would be Grandville, and most of my work even further east. Bumdog millionaire. Physically I was part of the church, but mentally and emotionally I just couldn't invest in the people or programs because 45 minutes each way a couple times a week IN THE SNOW isn't cool.

But then two weeks ago...VISION SUNDAY. And I was already on board with the vision, but hearing it cast by Brian, seeing it in all it's bullet-pointed glory....I was hooked. Excellence. The heart of this church is so, so, SO good. The problem with getting hooked're hooked. And I decided I wanted to commit to this church. Housing, job...God will work it out. Imma just do it.

AND HE DID. Whoa baby, He did. Enter the last seven days of my life:

First move in getting involved was emailing the youth pastor (because...duh. You can't be 4 weeks away from a Masters in Youth Ministry and not be a youth leader. At least I can't). And Johnny's all like "Sarahhhhhh! Get to our meeting TONIGHT." Well that's more exciting than homework, so I'm there. We ate pizza (obvi), made a video (Theodora Pufflepants made her grand Michigan appearance...#winning), and then got down to bidness. Loved it. Love the strategy, the intentionality, the heart. I'm all in. And this isn't even about that!

Rewind to pizza. I sit next to my new friend Sherry. The "I live in a camping trailer" has become classic get-to-know-you fodder. It's followed by "but it's about to freeze in the arctic winter of this frozen tundra and I really need to find somewhere else to live lest I turn into a coconut-flavored icicle." Sherry: "Oh, I work down the road at Camp Geneva! You should come live there! Be a retreat host! Live for free! Life is but a dream!" It went something like that.

Rewind to the week before, where I'm meeting with Young Life Bryan and he told me THE EXACT SAME THING. So this thing is worth investigating and Sherry's got my hook-up.

Fast forward 3 days. I'm killing time at Biggby, about the only place I can focus on homework these days. Who's working but Emily, Student Ministry Coordinator by day, barista by night? We just met Wednesday, but she's my friend. We chat, because that's what you do with baristas, and boom, guess who else used to be a host at Geneva?! Hello world, you're still getting smaller.

Holla. Next day. I'm at Geneva being interviewed, and the first question is if I'm related to Tyler. Do I want to claim that? Sure. I hear the deets, I see the house. Ballin. Stacey says, "We love you. We want you. We have to have you." (Again, maybe not her exact words, but that's how I remember it.)

Pause. Is this for REAL?! Like you're offering me JOB and I work in exchange for a FREE place to LIVE and it's in HOLLAND where my CHURCH is?!

5 days. I said yes to God's work in this church, trusting He'd provide a job and place to live. Over the course of the next 5 days, He did.

AND HE DID MORE. Not only will I be a hospitality and retreat host at Geneva and living in this house, but it comes with friends. Community. There's 9 other people who live there, and together we get to be family, all going to school and working at camp and elsewhere and loving Jesus and doing. life. together. Did I mention the house is called the Phat Pad, and these are the people who live/d there?

Let's be real...these are my kind of people. Also, yes Phat Pad Phamily, I did stalk you on Facebook and steal your photo. I get the impression you won't really care.

Also on this day, I met with Johnny and Emily. (Biggby again...because I can). They do Student Ministry. I get their life. I love their life. I'm so, so glad to be led by them and with them. They love Jesus and they love students. They had to interview me and make sure I wasn't a crazy person before I could join the Student Ministry team. I am crazy; they let me anyways.

Last night, day 7. I'm back at church, it's youth group kick-off night. My emotions ranged from This is awesome! to This is overwhelming! to I miss MY kids! to I Love 9-Square! At 9:30 pm, clean-up's done and I'm tapping out. I stop and say goodbye to Emily, meet the guy sitting next to her, and eventually the conversation leads to her saying, "you guys are gonna be roommates!!!" Ha, what? So we start talking because these random meetings are just crazy talk!! But what a fantastic way to end the another one of the Phat Pad Pham, and hearing that a couple more of the guys are involved in this youth group too. Love.

If you are still reading this, you are a star. I started writing it a week and a half ago, so you're doing better than I did. (I HAD to take a break and get to Florida). Now it's Monday and I'm moving tomorrow - what?!

But getting back to it, I guess I had two reasons I needed to share it all...A) this is the easiest way to communicate to all my friends and family what's going on my life and B) let's recap paragraph two. Say yes to God and his plan for your life. I've done it more in the last six months than ever in my life, and every yes opens up more doors than I even knew existed, doors I couldn't see without opening the one before. It's scary. There's still a lot of unknown and I by no means have all the answers...or any of them. But tonight I'm happy going to bed knowing that tomorrow grand adventure awaits.

PS...this doesn't affect things at the Conference Grounds at all! I will still be working there 15-20 hours a week all winter and then living the trailer life and seeing your beautiful faces all summer! No worries, you can't get rid of me that quick :)


  1. ahhhh....I LOVE this!!! thanks for sharing how God is working in your life!. JUST SAY YES, thanks for the encouragement to listen more and say yes.
    Congrats on the new job.

  2. Jeremiah 29 :11. We are so blessed by your relentless pursuit of the next step in God's plan for you, SJ! Your faith journey is inspiring! We are excited to to watch your "off-season " adventure!