My Story: Part IV

by Lavender Elizabeth, April 04, 2016
If you missed the beginning installments of my testimony, you can read them here:

Today's post is the final installment of My Story. Without further ado...

Part IV: Now

In order to get my car to Illinois, my mom and I embarked on a road trip from California to Illinois, stopping at different states along the way. We had so much fun! There were so many moments during that trip where I was in awe of God's creativity with the world. I was blown away on multiple occasions! When I arrived at my new home, I was welcomed with signs, balloons, and a very excited younger sister.

Although I arrived at my new home on October 2, I don’t count that as my moving-date. On October 16, I flew back to California for a friend’s wedding and stayed for the week. I was able to see my friends from both high school and university, and really enjoyed my visit. I hadn’t really cried since moving, but at the wedding, one of my good friends, David, prayed for me before I left. Everything he said made me tear up and as I drove back to Sacramento, I cried for the first time. It was the moment I asked myself, “How can I possibly find friends as good as the ones I have here?” It was a fear I didn’t even know I had, but one that God would overcome.

When I returned to Urbana, I began actively trying to integrate into my new surroundings, starting with a job. Due to my illness, I had never had a job before (it was tough to even make it to class, so I knew my body wouldn’t be able to hold a consistent job). Applying to have one was so nerve-racking. I applied to so many jobs, and within a month, had an interview. It in no way was the job I wanted, but knew that beggars couldn’t be choosers. The interview was at Toys-R-Us and the HR manager there said she could maybe figure something out for an HR assistant, but it would be down the line. The interview itself was for a seasonal cashier. I was hired on the spot for the job, and was later offered the next step up, which would have made me the head of the cashiers. A couple days after my interview, I received an email from an engineering firm looking for an administrative assistant. I had my phone interview the next day, where I was given the full job description. It would be a part-time position that would require me to work Monday-Friday, 10-3, in a small office. For someone who is often ill, these hours were perfect. The following week I had an in-person interview. Afterwards, I knew I couldn’t commit to the Toys-R-Us job, even if I didn’t get the administrative assistant position. Interviewing with the engineering firm just showed me the type of job I wanted and how much more stimulating it would be for my personality type. Waiting to hear back from the firm felt like centuries, but the following week, they called me and told me the job was mine! I was thrilled! My first day of work was November 17, so within a month, I was hired for two jobs, accepting the one that felt like home - the Administrative Assistant position at Clark Dietz. 

During this time, I also started looking for a church. Although I had moved every 3-4 years, I had never done it without the security of school. The only way I could think of to find like-minded friends was through church. My sister and I began searching, trying a new one each week. Overall we tried three before finding our home at First Christian Church. As it turned out, Bethany was busy the Sunday we were supposed to try FCC, so I decided to go by myself. After the service, I went to the “guest center” kiosk and met the pastor’s wife. She offered to show me around the venue, introducing me to people along the way. Near the end of our tour, I met a girl my age named Cassie. She told me that her and a group of girls had just started a small group for women our age and asked if I was interested. I don’t think I’ve ever been that excited!

That Thursday, I went. Cassie wasn’t able to make it that week, so I literally walked into a room full of strangers – something very outside my comfort zone! But wow, what a wonderful group of women! Joining their group was the best decision I could have made. We continue to meet every Thursday, growing together in Christ. They’ve increased my faith and devotion to the Lord tremendously, and I am so thankful for their friendships. 

Soon after, I also joined a Wednesday night women’s group at the church with my sister. I was hesitant to join the same small group as my sister, as I was trying to find my own path here. After the first night, I knew I had made the wrong decision. God placed me in a group He knew I wouldn’t be comfortable with in order to show me that I was meant to go through this experience with Bethany. The next week, I joined her group and was so happy. There are three women in particular who Bethany and I bonded immediately with. The five of us have since gone to church and brunch together afterwards, really growing together during difficult times and new life changes. This week, we started a new book: a mini-series about prayer that I am so excited to begin.

The girls in my Thursday night small group also opened my eyes to a ministry I didn’t know God had planned for me. Through them, I began joining in on some high school activities, and hopefully in the summer, will become a leader within FCC’s high school ministry. It’s a place that I really feel God has shown me. It’s somewhere that I can mentor girls going through a very stressful life stage. There’s just something about high school that I feel I can be a real asset for. I’m still praying over it, but really feel that God is leading me to that ministry-age. 

This past month I also connected with some alumnae from my sorority. There isn’t a big presence of alumnae in the area, so I’ve officially joined their advisory board in an unofficial capacity. Within the next few months, we’re going to look into adding me as a recognized advisor, as the local chapter needs more bodies and recent graduates. I am so excited to be involved with an organization that meant so much to me while in university.

The biggest blessing through this move, however, is my family. I am now only a 2.5 hour drive away from my parents (and puppies), which has been amazing. I love that I’m back to being able to drive home for a weekend rather than needing to book a flight weeks in advance. Sharing an apartment with Bethany has been amazing. I love that we’re close enough to share a home. We really adjusted to living with each other seamlessly, with only a couple bumps along the way. We really are just best friends living together. 

In a little less than two weeks, I’m going back to Sacramento for the first time since visiting in October. I am so excited to see my friends and be in a surrounding that is 100% comfortable, but at the same time, and so excited to return to a place I can confidently call home.

Moving to Urbana was all God. He knew that in order for me to come back to Him with my whole heart and soul, I needed to be in this place. I needed to find a church that would allow me to grow. I needed to find small groups that would give me Christian friendships. I needed to be close to my family to feel complete. And I needed to be in a new surrounding to grow as a person. God has been showing Himself to me in so many ways, one of which is this blog. Through The Light that Carries Me, I’ll be sharing these moments with you. They’re moments that, in such a short period of time, have impacted my faith immensely. As of April, I’ve lived here for six months. It’s amazing to me all that I’ve accomplished and found in such a small amount of time, and I cannot thank God enough for all of it.
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