About three years into our marriage we both started studies at Dallas Theological Seminary. I joke to myself that if I had known even a quarter of the things that would happen during seminary, I would have run from God’s calling like the prophet Jonah. I had been shaky enough about the “big move” as it was.
Right before we turned in our paperwork stating we would not renew our lease (October 2009), I was filled with sadness. “Are we doing the right thing?” I asked my husband. “We could still back out.”
I knew in my heart of hearts that God was calling us to DTS, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to leave an apartment I liked, a church I loved, a city I adored, and beloved friends.
Some suggested we postpone going to seminary for a few more months, but the words of one of our elders still stand out, “If God is calling you to DTS, you’d better not stay in Illinois.”
As we looked into the price of moving trucks, we couldn’t justify the hefty cost of transporting Ikea furniture. Instead, we sold or threw away over half of our belongings. Some things were easy to part with. We didn’t really care about that old box tv, and I was okay with selling my mini dorm fridge.
Other things not so much. These were the items that had made our apartment into a home during our first few years together. The kitchen table we ate at for three years. A large painting of Dresden. Cute bookshelves. And, then there are some things I still kick myself over leaving behind like our favorite waffle maker or the Harry Potter series (both of which we have since replaced).
There were other tricky things too. The lease on our Illinois apartment ended on October 31st but classes didn’t start at DTS till January. What should we do? On the one hand, we had two full time jobs and no job prospects in Dallas. We wanted to stay longer and make as much money as we could before seminary started. On the other hand, we no longer had our apartment.
We packed up a few things we knew for sure we wanted, as well as a few “maybe” items, and stored them in our church basement. All of our furniture was gone, except for our mattress. I ridiculously wondered if we could strap it onto the roof of our car. In the end, we donated it to a girl with cancer who had no bed.
Over that next month we watched God provide for us in numerous ways as we stayed in 11 different homes, saying our goodbyes over shared meals and borrowed bedding. God knew our hearts needed to spend our last month reminiscing with our closest friends rather than packing and mourning silently in our apartment.
On November 3rd, my husband called me at work. “I’m okay, but our car is not.”
That morning a Pace bus driver had passed out and slammed erratically into 10 different parked cars. My heart sunk. I loved that car. After 3 junkers, it was the first car we’d had that ran well. The first one I could rely on not to stall at traffic lights or have its engine give out as we were cruising 70 mph down Interstate 290. And how were we to get to Dallas now?
I needn’t have doubted. Once again God provided. This time through a friend who sold us his Ford Explorer, and we used insurance money from the accident to pay for it.
A few days later I bought a car top carrier off Craigslist for $30. Between the bigger vehicle and the carrier, we were were able to pack almost all of our “maybe items” that had been wishfully stored in our church basement. God had known all along we needed a bigger vehicle to haul our items.
As November neared its close, the seminary housing offered us the opportunity to move into Swiss Towers a month early. Someone had broken a lease, and they had an apartment available for a December 7th move in date.
Up until that point, we didn’t even know if there would be any seminary housing available and here God was providing us a chance to move almost a whole month earlier than we had anticipated! And by that time, we were ready to be in our own place again. We were finally ready to say good bye.
It was a busy last weekend. It started with a wedding we had contracted to photograph several months earlier. (Talk about stressful.) We also hoped to attend Moody Church’s Candlelight Carols, a favorite annual tradition for the previous five years.
Friday we drove out into the suburbs for the wedding. Leaving the reception after midnight, we passed 72nd Street—and I unexpectedly begin to cry. My grandparents lived there, and it seemed God was speaking to my heart.
Amidst our busy schedule, we hadn’t thought we could fit in another trip to see my grandparents. But in that moment, I knew we had to visit them again. The next day we skipped the carols and had a late breakfast with my grandparents. God knew that a visit with my grandparents was far more important than annual traditions, and he orchestrated the final events of that weekend so that I would realize this too. Though I didn’t know it, that would be the last time I ever saw my grandfather.
On Sunday we went to church one final time, ate Chipotle burritos with friends and started our Southern trek. My legs were squished, my lap was full, and we couldn’t see out of our rearview mirror.
But my friends, God had provided in so many ways just to get us to that point, and because God remains faithful we can continue to rely on him to direct our futures.