Monday, February 4, 2013

6 Months in Houston; Reflections and a Little Personal History

I have now been in Houston now for just over six months. I have lived in five different cities in four different states within the past five and a half years. While there has been stress and uncertainty in relocation, I have seen God’s grace in each place I have lived. Here's a background of my time spent in each city:

East Lansing, MI - As a resident mentor in Wonders Hall at Michigan State University, some fellow mentors challenge me in my faith, and through the fellowship and encouragement of men of Spartan Christian Fellowship and University Reformed Church, I find true faith in Christ. My four-year involvement with the Michigan State Women's Basketball team leads me to Marshall University.

Huntington, WV - Before ever visiting Huntington, I accept a graduate assistant coaching position with the Marshall University Women's Basketball team. I found fellowship among others in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and River Cities Community Church. My time, and the encouragement and camaraderie of this crew, in Huntington strengthened my faith unimaginably. No other town has a spot in my heart like Huntington. 

Williamsburg, VA - My basketball experience allowed me to be hired as the Director of Basketball Operations for the College of William and Mary Women's Basketball team. It's here I realize I no longer desired to pursue collegiate coaching as a profession, even though I love the sport, and have been blessed greatly through it.

Harrisonburg, VA - My location and public administration education leads to a land-use planning position with Rockingham County, Virginia. I spend 13 months in Harrisonburg, enjoying fellowship with the James Madison University Fellowship of Christian Athletes group, and those at Covenant Presbyterian Church

Looking back on these past five years, I can see how the Lord has continued to reveal himself to me, and how he has allowed my circumstances and relationships to increase my dependence on him, and increase my faith in his reign. It is a testament to how limited of a view we have in this present time of the orchestration of the events in our lives, and that the Lord is faithful to work things out for our good and our joy.

With that background, here’s a little rundown of the past few months:

April – A position in the Planning and Development Department for the City of Houston opens. I apply.

May – I am notified that I have been selected for an interview with the City of Houston. I am also told I have interviews with Howard County, Maryland and the City of Cincinnati, Ohio planning departments. I participate in an interview over Skype with the City of Houston. I'd say I nailed it.

June – Knowing I may not be in Harrisonburg much longer, I soak up the Shenandoah Valley, hiking as much as possible in Shenandoah National Park, finding bears on the trails, swimming in waterfalls, and picking as many wild blackberries and raspberries as possible. My parents spent a week at my apartment in Harrisonburg, and we also spent a few days in Washington DC. We met up with one of my best friends, Luke, where he helped reaffirm my decision to move to Houston.

July – To add to the confusion, I learn that the City of Norfolk, Virginia would like to interview me for a position in their Planning Department. I made sure to enjoy Harrisonburg, Rockingham County, the State of Virginia and my coworkers and friends as much as possible. I was not able to find a time to interview with Norfolk, so I declined to continue in their application process. Norfolk is a great city, and I wonder what would have become of that interview.

Finally, on Thursday, July 19, 2012, I began my journey to Houston with a U-Haul trailer in tow. I took my time enjoying Virginia, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisianafinally arriving in Texas on Saturday, July 21. Brian, a coworker and fellow Michigan State graduate, graciously provided me a place to rest my head for a few months until I was able to find a living situation. I attended Sojourn for the first time on Sunday July 22, 2012, where Kyle Bryant promptly gave me an extensive tour of the city, and then the next day, I went to work. Welcome to Houston, now breathe. And try not to sweat so much.

August – I found myself trying to navigate Houston, learning more about the city I work for and the residents that I serve. I worked in a long weekend trip back to Michigan for a family wedding and managed to take in a Tigers game. I was glad to enjoy an exceptional Michigan summer for a few days.

September – I was able to finally find a comfortable and modest living situation, and became a covenant member at Sojourn.

October / November – Fall in Houston proved to be beautiful, and I made a trip to San Antonio to see my girls from the William and Mary Women’s Basketball team playing in a Thanksgiving classic at the University of Texas San Antonio. I miss those girls. I also had the chance to take in an Oakland University Basketball game, as the Golden Grizzlies traveled down to Houston to take on Texas Southern. It was great to see my Michigan State roommate and fellow scout player James, as well as the Grizz get a win. Having family that teaches and attends Oakland, as well as having worked their basketball camps for many summers, I enjoy supporting Oakland any way I can.

December – Christmas in a warm climate just did not feel the same, so I made sure to be at home with the family for Christmas. Michigan had a white Christmas, and it was great to get feel some cold weather!

Now that spring is right around the corner, it won’t be long until I will be reflecting on having spent a year in Houston. The Lord has blessed me richly in finding a community of brothers and sisters in Christ at Sojourn Houston committed to sharing the gospel and building each other up in righteousness. My roots are continuing to be planted, and I am thankful for the friendships that have been cultivated through my time here, and I look forward to the continued partnership of the gospel that lies ahead. There have been times of personal disappointment and difficulty, but these pains pale in comparison to the joy that has been gained as the Lord continues to reveal his plan for my life, and for the ministry of Sojourn in Houston.

I was comfortable in Virginia, soaking in the agrarian lifestyle of Harrisonburg, hiking with the black bears and deer in the mountains or the meadow, swimming in waterfalls, eating wild berries and hanging out at the farmers market; but I was also ready for a new challenge. My move to Houston was made with some trepidation, but it has been most sanctifying, and I thank the Lord for that.