With our small Uhaul trailer behind our Honda Pilot, the sun had set as we pulled into the local Marriott hotel where we’d be staying our first night. I opened the door, inhaled the aroma of the ocean, my skin immediately felt sticky, and the palm trees swayed all around me as a storm approached. I wasn’t in Washington anymore. I set my feet on the concrete and turned to my little girls and said, “ We are here, this is Florida, we are home.” I imagined and prayed over our arrival in Florida for months… this wasn’t how I anticipated our new life to begin. As those words left my mouth, they came with heaviness as I had a broken heart, swollen face, and puffy eyes from crying all day. Just 20 hours prior I was in a strange veterinary clinic in the middle of Tennessee at 1 am in the morning saying good-bye to my Annie, the Goldendoodle who was my life for the past 12 years. Her stomach had flipped and she couldn’t be saved.
The Dichotomy. Starting our new life in Florida with joy for what we anticipated God was calling us to, yet intense grief. We bid farewell to our friends and family, our hometown we’ve known since birth, and now the unexpected loss of our beloved family pet Annie.
This dichotomy wasn’t just this first night, it foreshadowed the days and year ahead.
In Genesis 12, Abraham is called to GO, “go to the land I will show you.” And in a sense that was our story. We were called to this small little town called Santa Rosa Beach in the panhandle of Florida.
God had called, given a vision… but the blueprints were blurry.
In my naivety and heart full of faith, I expected the first year of our journey to unfold differently. The “what’s next part” became a year filled with a whole lot of trials, hardships, and suffering. When Abraham is given a promise, there is a moment when God asks him to place his promised Son, Issac, on the altar. Though that was a moment in Abraham’s story, I have called this entire year our “altar moment.”
At this moment, Abraham has to have incredible faith to trust God will do what he says. Just as Abraham’s faith was pushed to new levels, I too have been constantly standing before the Lord in petition and stretching of faith. “I trust you God to do what you said even if it looks nothing like I anticipated.”
We’ve been stripped bare, experienced delay, felt alone, lost a lot, and silently battled as a little family as we navigated challenge after challenge. I can’t even take the time to list them because it would take pages. Our family moved 10 times in the last year. They say moving is one of the most stressful life events, we got the joy to do the most stressful life event 10 times in one year. YET through it all there was deep peace and joy that settled our souls. God was and has been near.
The Dichotomy. Great suffering, greater joy.
With all my soul I know we are in a season of new wine, God is putting fresh oil in our lamps. I underestimated with my zeal of faith that new wine and fresh oil costs. It comes with a pressing. This has been the year of intense pressing.
I found great comfort in Paul’s words, “we are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed.” (2 Cor 4:8)
I love that twice in one chapter (2 Cor 4) Paul says, “we don’t lose heart.” I can honestly share, we haven’t lost heart. In fact, I am MORE hopeful and expectant than I was a year ago.
One of the KEY visions God gave me moving here included lighthouses. Lighthouses fill the Emerald Coast.
This story reminds me, God doesn’t work how we think… power over. Rather, he is subversive. The Light shines from breaking.
In 2 Corinthians 4, Paul speaks of God’s people as being ordinary jars of clay. The vessel is a simple, weak jar of clay that holds the great POWER of God’s light.
How does this light shine? It is through shattered pieces of a vessel.
The Dichotomy. Great breaking, greater light.
The last year I’ve spent most of my mornings, weeks, and months prayer-walking the most beautiful beaches I’ve laid eyes on. Each barefoot stroll intensifies my hunger and prayer, “I am not leaving until you come Lord.”
With hopeful optimism, I know the winds are blowing and stirring up fresh faith.
2500 miles across America, we drove into Santa Rosa Beach Florida with no blueprints and all faith to step out of the boat and follow the voice of the Lord. It’s been a wild ride. It’s been one of the sweetest years for our little family, while also being a dark fog…. but we’ve followed the cloud by day and fire by night. We are in a day-to-day faith where we often can’t always see where the next step on the journey is.
But isn’t that what faith is all about? And as you take the steps of Faith, it’s God’s faithfulness carrying you all along the way.
I want to celebrate this year, and not just the good, but the bad and ugly. I want to thank God for every hard thing and beautiful moment.
A few rejoicing Highlights:
What’s ahead for the Campbell Family?
We are still in what we call, a “divine delay,” waiting upon God for some clarity and covering. But these are a few ways we are moving ahead by Faith:
In a year, I hope to write another post and share all God has done. God never works how we want, think, or imagine… so I won’t even sit here and pretend to guess all the ways the next year will unfold. What I know for sure, I won’t stop saying Yes to whatever God asks or calls us to. Because I know his character, HE is a good and faithful father.
If you have made it this far, thank you for taking the time to read, encourage us along the way and celebrate with us!!
I want to invite you to pray, listen to the Holy Spirit and see if he might lead you to partner with what God is leading us into. If there’s anything I’ve learned this last year, this is a TEAM effort, God’s hand and feet collectively working… this is not a solo, “Katie and Branden.” thing.
4 ways to pray/consider: