Five years ago, God laid on our hearts that He wanted us to move. We didn’t know where or when, but we felt the pull south.
It feels like such a lifetime ago. We were so different, so young, so naive, and so full of dreams of possibilities. Yet, we somehow knew our future would hold something neither of us were currently expecting.
God first put the idea into Andrew’s mind during a trip to Tennessee, with the question “what if we moved?” I responded “maybe so.”
The idea would roller coaster over the next few years, get hidden under a mountain of work or try to be forgotten when having fun with friends and family. But God kept bringing it to the forefront of our minds when we’d least expect it. Usually during a snow storm, to be honest. Other times it happened when my work flourished, activities abounded, and we couldn’t be happier in our current lifestyle. But still God knocked on our hearts.
We first looked at Cleveland, Tennessee. Toured a few houses even, but knew it wasn’t right. The idea laid low for a few years, until almost forgotten. In 2016, we wanted to go to a new state on vacation. We almost went to Colorado, then Michigan, but ultimately we found Greenville, South Carolina in a Pinterest search. Yeah, I’m a Pinterest junkie. The more we researched this area, the more we got excited for our vacation. Then, about one month before we went, Andrew said “what if we moved there?” I laughed and said “maybe so.”
We spent a glorious week in that city/area, fell in love with it, made a few friends, and dreamed of possibilities. Then we returned to PA to enjoy the friends and family at home, but didn’t forget our experiences in Greenville.
The next winter was hard, and we talked about leaving the snow. But South Carolina sounded too far away. Maybe we should look a bit closer? We considered Maryland for a long time, and thought of Delaware for a hot minute. But all the while, we compared everywhere we went, to Greenville, South Carolina.
During these months and years, we only saw these moves as dreams. There was even a job opportunity that arose fall of 2018, and I told Andrew to turn it down. There’s too much for us in Pennsylvania, I said. How could we even begin to think of leaving our amazing friends and family? Sure, we hated this northern weather, but it’s all we’ve ever known. Dreaming is one thing, acting on it is quite another.
This year is when it all changed. It started with the Nativity performance in December 2018. I played Mary, and greatly enjoyed this annual role. During the final performance on Sunday night I felt God’s presence flow through me. It became a worship song, and I talked to Him as I sang. I heard Him say to me, this would be the last time I’d play Mary and perform in this Nativity. I sat down to a hushed crowd. The man playing Joseph leaned over to me and said “That was your best performance yet, I could feel the Holy Spirit. No one clapped because they were just too stunned.” We laughed, but I felt the same way. And I wondered if this would be the year everything changed.
In February, it was Andrew’s turn to proclaim he no longer wanted to move. Life was too good up north. I agreed we had a lot to live for in Northeast Pennsylvania, but I mourned the loss of our fun dream. Because I had never truly stopped hoping for it “one day.” And I wondered why God told me that bit in December, if we weren’t going to move after all?
In April, Andrew had again had enough of our long winter and said maybe we could move one day. I laughed in agreement. And we searched online for grace-filled churches in South Carolina. It was done in curiosity, but we stumbled on one called “Real Life” that intrigued us. I listened to their Easter message as I painted the props for the school play I wrote/directed/designed. And immediately felt like I has hearing a missing piece to our puzzle. That’s the best I can describe the warm feeling settling into my heart.
In June, school was out for the summer, and two jobs in Charleston, South Carolina came to the surface. Both looked promising, but both fell through.
In July, I quit my job at Rock Solid Academy just weeks before it closed its doors. I suddenly had nothing but my writing to fill my work days.
August is when it all truly came together. We could no longer ignore the pushes from God. It was like we were being propelled into our future path. Our destiny. We had no control, we just knew the steps mere hours/days before they happened. To quote Pride and Prejudice “I was in the middle before I even knew that I had begun.”
We spent a week down in Greenville. We called it our “test week.” We were testing God to see if this was really where He wanted us. EVERYDAY held a miracle or a step forward, that entire week. Zero closed doors, only open ones with flashing lights and lit arrows lined our path. Andrew had only one job interview, but he only needed one. We made friends, connections, found our future neighborhood, found multiple places where we fit in like a missing puzzle piece, and were told my multiple people – strangers – they’ve “been praying for us,” etc. etc. etc.
We drove back to Pennsylvania with heads swimming and hearts torn. How could we feel so connected to a place so quickly? How could we even begin to tell our family and friends? How could we explain to them that it had nothing to do with Pennsylvania, but EVERYTHING to do with Greenville? God had shown us a glimpse of our future, and we couldn’t say no. We didn’t WANT to say no.
We waited 2 long months for things to finalize with Andrew’s new job. Meanwhile, our prayer life grew stronger. We listed our home, and prayed that regardless of the slow real estate time of year, we’d have a bidding war and sell quickly. It sat for a week and a half. Our prayer life grew. We suddenly got a bidding war of 3 offers. Our house sold to a beautiful family from Texas who is moving to be a part of the Tim Tebow foundation. It must have been waiting for them.
We drove once again to Greenville to pick out our home. We say a dozen homes, but in the end only one was perfect. It was listed just above our price range. We put in our offer and prayed. God came through once again, and we got it at the perfect price.
Things seemed to finally be moving smoothly. We hurdled over a few inspections on both our current home & our future home. Family took it hard, but God still continued to move. The weeks blurred and we were suddenly only 3 weeks from our closing date. It was starting to feel surreal, this dream was finally going to happen….
That’s when my cancer scare happened. It was a difficult time. My surgery robbed me of energy and the ability to lift anything heavy during the weeks surrounding our cross-country moving process. But we didn’t let that bump in the road stop our God-given dreams from coming to fruition.
You see, dreams are never easy to accomplish. If they were, I believe more people would be living in overwhelming joy. But we had gotten tastes of this joy throughout the years. And it only made us hungry for more. When the obstacles came in the form of sickness, finances, disagreements, and questions. It only made us ask God what it all meant. And we heard His voice in our hearts saying “GO!”
So we left. 4 days before Christmas. In 16 degree weather. We drove 11 hours, shedding our coats, gloves, and scarves along the way. We exited in the mid 50s to our new home.
We’ve been here for a month now. We’re making new friends, growing in our new church, Riker is settling in to his amazing school, Andrew loves his new job, I’m relishing in all this inspiring writing time in my new favorite coffee shop, we feel like royalty in our beautiful house that we’re customizing to our desires, enjoying the endless warmth and sunshine, and I learned last week that I’m cancer free!!!!! Praise God!!
I honestly don’t know what the future holds. I do know that we are where we are meant to be, and that our dreams are happening before our eyes. I believe that I’m only days away from FINALLY getting published, getting back into drama/acting, picking up my flute once again, and whatever else God wants me to do with my talents. It feels so surreal. It’s like a lifetime has passed, yet I’m a newborn child. This is our new chapter, but in the same book. New beginning, with the same characters. We’ve awoken to a world of our dreams. And there’s nothing but joy when we follow our great Leader. He knows exactly where He’s taking us.