At the end of 2007, Jaron began to selectively apply for jobs as a full time worship director.  He had been filling part time positions, as a volunteer and on staff, for a couple of years and felt ready for more responsibility and investment.  In January he found what sounded like an awesome fit and applied for his current position at First Presbyterian in Champaign, IL.  I won’t lie.  We were pretty scared of the midwest.  The midwest was always my “Africa”.  The place that sounded like the scariest option and often where you end up feeling called to go.  Upsides were that we would be able to afford a home, that it was only a three hour drive from my sister, whom I hadn’t shared a state with in twelve years, and of course, that we believed so strongly in the work the church described.

So, after a few months of application process, we found ourselves with two weeks to move across the country.  It felt fast, like having a band-aid ripped off.  We said good-bye to an incredibly supportive church community and family in San Diego and took off with our dog to drive the 30 hours to Illinois.  “Lincoln Land.”  (He’s everywhere.)

Fast forward almost two years and here we are, in an entirely different situation than we expected, which I’m learning is the way things go with big decisions.  Some things are exactly as we hoped.  We have a beautiful home, dear friends, more time with my niece and nephew, and Jaron gets to do what he loves full time.  But the most unexpected things about living in Champaign may be the most permanently life-changing  for us.  This is where we learned what we love.  Personally I had one big career failure since arriving.  It was heart-breaking and 100% necessary for me to go through it.  I know much more about myself now and what I can and want to do than I ever did before.  Success after success would never have taught me that.  It was failure that made it painfully clear.  And brought me eventually to something that was never on my radar before: coaching.  It has meant more than I can say to be able to build relationships with young people in a team context.  I hope to continue coaching volleyball for a long time.

As is clear in this blog (I swear I never planned for it to have so many recipes) we have rediscovered food.  How miraculous, vital, basic, and dignifying good, nutritious food is.  What a wonder is God’s provision through the Earth.  What a scandal it is to deprive fellow humanity of this gift when we have the power to share.  And how much our generation and the one younger than us is being cheated of good health and gratitude for food in America, one of the wealthiest nations in the world.

We’ve also been amazed at the progress our little band has made.  Jaron and I wrote a handful of songs in California and since moving less than two years ago we’ve been able to form a band with extremely gifted musicians and have played almost 15 shows in 2009 in three states.  And met some really great people along the way.

So as the thankfulness holiday is upon us and I’m compelled to think thankful thoughts, I think of my best friend and husband, the provision we have of health and housing, of a supportive family.  But most of all I’m struck by the provision of successes and heartbreak and the surprises they bring.  The past two years have felt a bit of a refiner’s fire.  I’m confident it was the only way we would find the things we value most.  The things we want to take into our adulthood and establish as we someday raise a family.  I could not have guessed the life that was waiting for us in Champaign.  But I am so grateful for it.