Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Heading North...

This post is basically a letter I wrote to my friends and family about my upcoming move to Portland, OR!

I am writing to you to share some exciting news and to update you on my life. On April 16th I will be moving up to Tigard, OR, a little suburb outside of Portland. This may or may not come as a surprise to you, so I'd like to give you a little bit of the journey the Lord has had me on over the past few months, share with you my excitement and ask you for your much needed prayers during this time of transition.

Late November through about mid January was just a really tough time for me as I wrestled through some challenging things in my life and questioned a lot of things from the direction of my life to God's character and the purpose of these trials I was facing. What I learned in this time and am still learning is that the Lord is completely trustworthy and every blessing and even every suffering has a purpose and intent in our lives which is to bring about Christ-likeness within us. As hard as those couple months were, I am now thankful for them because the Lord really has healed my heart and I feel refocused and realigned to His purposes. It never really feels good to be under the chisel of the Master Artist, but the results are beautiful.

In the midst of all of this, in about mid-December, I got reconnected with Greg, a good friend of mine from college, who had moved up to Tigard to be a part of a church plant called Colossae. ( www.colossaechurch.org ) Talking to him about what the Lord was doing through this little church really sparked my interest and I began to look into the church, initially just out of curiosity. I started to recognize not too long after I started checking out the church and listening to some of their sermons, that my heart just felt drawn to this church and to the opportunity for ministry up in Tigard. I was also recognizing that I was not really thriving in Orange County, where I'd been living since August. I was not involved in a church or a ministry, I hadn't met many people and I was feeling pretty disconnected. Something else I realized is that no matter where I headed next, there was going to be a period of building and risk taking necessary for me to make a place feel like home for me.

In late February I took a couple days off and flew up to Portland to check out the area and the church with my friend Kelly and I had an amazing time. I loved the city and the culture and I felt like I could really see myself fitting in there. Visiting the church was really great too. Just being there for one Sunday morning it was so evident that this was a body of believers who love the Lord deeply and care deeply for others. There is just such a welcoming and caring community there. The visit to Portland really served to confirm my desires to head up there to be a part of this church community, so I began praying that the Lord would show me His direction within the month of March...and He certainly did. During the last month the Lord removed a couple of things from my life, my housing situation and my job, that had sort of become "comfort crutches" for me. These were the things that I was holding on to that were keeping me from stepping out in faith and following the Lord. A frequent thought was, "I want to go up to Portland, but I have this great job with good pay, benefits and a team of people I really love." So the Lord removed that obstacle by reducing my hours by 60%, leaving me only working two days a week. My job was no longer holding me back, and I had received the final nudge I needed to take the plunge and head North! So that brings you up to the present. I am currently living with my aunt and uncle, saving as much as I can and preparing to take this big step. The Lord has provided a sweet housing situation for me with some other folks from Colossae which I'm excited about. I don't have a job lined up, but I am trusting the Lord to provide for me every step of the way.

So that is the snapshot version of what the Lord has been doing in my life. Although I am really very excited about my move, it's obviously a tough and scary thing too. I know I am going to miss my family so much. I know that my faith is going to be stretched a ton. I know that the Lord is going to refine my character a lot, which is always trying. This is certainly one of the biggest steps of faith I've ever taken but I am trusting that with great risk comes great reward.
I hope this email helps you to know what is going on, and hopefully get excited with me about what the Lord is leading me towards. I would ask you to please keep me in your prayers, I need them! If you have any more questions, let me know because I'd love to talk to you more about this whole process. Oh and I am trying to be good about keeping my blog updated so that you all know what I'm up to and what I'm learning. You can check it out at http://thegieshgander.blogspot.com/ .

Much Love,Kristen (Giesh)

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