We moved to Memphis, Tennessee in the middle of Hurricane Harvey on a Thursday. I couldn't see more than 20 feet in front of me, my hazard lights were on, and two tornadoes had touched down in Decatur County. All I wanted was to be warm and drinking hot chocolate with my friends in Lynchburg, Virginia, and it was 708 miles behind me.
It was too late to turn back now.
Today marks two weeks at my new job at Stash Home in Memphis, Tennessee. The hurricane is gone, my stomach is settled, and I have the brain space to be blogging, so that's good news. But its all so scary and new. Quitting your job and moving across the country may sound exciting at first, but the glamour does wear off after all the goodbye parties and packing is done. You are left in an unfamiliar place with not a lot to go on. It can be discouraging, but I know you, if you're reading this, are cheering me on from a distance! Please keep doing that. Keep texting us, and calling us. We're exploring and learning, but we do still miss all the familiarity of home.
About three months ago we had decided to commit ourselves to pray more for what God had in mind for our skills. We knew that we liked Virginia, and our friends there, and that God was using us. But, we also knew that we were itching to be used in different ways, learn new things, move, and possibly improve our finances in the process. It was time for a big change.
We can't honestly say we're doing great. The world's measurements of success are not God's measurement of success, and we have to remind ourselves of that everyday. The process is harder than we thought. We're still searching for a place to live, a job for Josiah, a church, and friends. The basics. All the things that you take for granted when you have them.
We had seven years in Lynchburg, Virginia. 3.5 as students and 3.5 as alumni and employees of Liberty University. A blessing we didn't expect to have, filled with the most special memories and incredible friends. That's why I've included a lot of college memories in this post. People I roomed with in college dorms, new 'family' I made in my traveling ministry team and at work, and trails I hiked while living in the Shenandoah Valley. The three jobs I had after college at a law firm called Liberty Counsel, Sodexo Hospitality Dining, and as a Liberty University Marketing Photographer. I wanted to showcase old moments while also showing you what God is doing in our lives. Slowly but surely, we're learning how to live here.
There are festivals and backroads, and good food and crazy people. There's traffic and accidents, but there's great ministries and friendly neighbors. Its a city that we're living in, and God calls us to meet with people where they are, no matter how ill-equipped or young we feel. (1 Timothy 4:12)
So, what really has been going on for two weeks? After all, I haven't really posted on social media except for a post of a park we went to, and some other "stay tuned" announcements. And thats fine. It is really important to me to be present with my sister and brother-in-law, and work on communicating with my non-social-media husband. After being separated by so many states for so many years, being close to my sister Lindsay is an awesome blessing. We are so thankful to have family here, and our times getting food (and a little ice cream!) together have been great! The rest of our time has been filled with Josiah and I doing all the non-glamorous job searching, house hunting, emailing, driving to apartments to check them out. Not a lot of "vacation-style exploring."
My job is about a 45 minute commute, made longer by the kind of traffic that would give the most patient person a migraine. My little 2-feet-off-the-ground sedan feels like a little krill about to be eaten by the move-or-die traffic of large whale-like vehicles. Traffic is either moving at 80mph or 10mph. Sometimes I'm parked on the highway. Its confusing. It cuts a lot of time out of my day, and I find myself getting home around 5:45 or 6pm, trying to decompress and make dinner, and then finding its too late to go out and explore, so our evening consist of online house hunting and bedtime. Alarm clock rings at 6:02AM, and I leave around 7AM. Its not an exciting cycle, but its going to have to do for now before we truly get settled.
There is a mysterious force the compels people to try new things. Its the desire to see if you're capable of learning something new in a new place. The desire to see if the grand adventure of leaving comfortable and diving into the unknown is tangible or just a pipe dream. Taking risks, and praying everyday; that's what we're doing. But we need your prayers too. We truly do.
We didn't have this all planned out years or months ago. We didn't see Memphis, TN as a "destination", or even the place we would settle for the rest of our lives. Even today we don't have a such a place in mind. We're learning to be faithful with the skills god has given us as a couple to serve him, and we know God will provide. The bible tells us in the Sermon On The Mount that the beatitudes, a list of qualities that mark good character and faithfulness, is what we need to focus on. If I was focusing on a checklist of my personal accomplishments and dead set on getting there, I would be severely off course of what God has for my life. I am a sinner who needs God's guidance.
Matthew 5: 3-11 says
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
5 “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
So how can you help us, from miles away?
- Pray for us, please. It is the biggest tool for helping believers in need.
- Share this blog post with your friends in Tennessee, Arkansas, and Mississippi.
- Leave a review on Facebook, and leave a comment on this post!
- Follow @KaitlynBeckerPhoto on Instagram and look at it, or share it with a friend. I just like making friends with people, and yes, I'd love to meet potential customers but first and foremost we are here to meet people and start LOVING Memphis!
- Send seafood. I miss fresh seafood. Preferably oysters and lobster and scallops.
So here's to all the new things that we're learning. Here's to finding people that love us as much as we want to love others. Here's to good barbeque, Ole Miss, Alabama, and saying "Happy Fall Y'all." Here's to finding what the 25 year-old Kaitlyn and Josiah can do away from the comfort of their first real home.
Here's to Memphis.
Kaitlyn Becker Johnson
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