At the end of this month we will be packing up, loading up a Uhaul and heading East! Well… East side of America… but the West side of Florida. We are moving to the Tampa Bay area!
We have lived here in DFW area of Texas for over 7 years now and when we look back at all the incredible work He’s done in us in that time it’s breathtaking, and it makes me exhausted just thinking about it. Texas has brought us through a journey where we lived in 4 different houses and welcomed children into our family in each one of them. Dan taught high school for 6 of those years and has cultivated the lives of countless teenagers (and he STILL is excited for our kids to get to the teen years!). He’s finished his Masters in Theology and finished with his corse work for his PhD in Organizational Leadership and Christian Ministry at Dallas Baptist University ( he just lacks his dissertation.) I’ve been so blessed to have been able to be close by to welcome sister/brother-in-laws and 13 nieces and nephews into my family… with more coming! #bringonthebabies
However, for a few years now we have sensed God’s pulling us back to the East coast for several reasons and yet each time we got serious God said No… wait! and so we did. We knew with what we were doing ministry wise, we could pretty much live anywhere seeing as how we serve the christian community all over America, along with a heart to combat injustices in cities where we lived. We considered several cities on the East coast but there were aspects of them all that kept us continuing to look for the right place to call home for this next season of our lives.
This led us to the Tampa Bay area in Florida. Neither of us have really ever thought we would become Florida residents but we kept coming back to this area.
1. It has a large fairly diverse population
2. The cost of living isn’t out of this world, thus it is a place we could consider just being in our second year of non-profit work.
3. It’s accessible to a vast amount of cities all along the east coast. This will be helpful for ministry opportunities as well as speaking and traveling engagements.
4. It’s a place where Dan’s parents will be able to thrive and would love to call home too. They are going with us and they are such a special and crucial part of our lives.
5. It’s near an ocean. I think when you spend a lot of time researching and speaking into difficult situations and dive into the messes that are worth making in order to love deeply then having a place to retreat to and recharge is important. For us, the ocean tends to be a place where that can happen. And having it pretty much available all the time… sounds perfect! and the kids made me add one more.
Dan and I took a long weekend trip down to St. Pete a few weeks ago and quickly fell in love with it’s charming neighborhoods, eclectic styles, bright colors, long bridges and blue oceans. We also felt drawn to the areas of poverty, the number of struggling public schools, and the work of God’s people there.
Our hopes is that God is drawing us there to rejuvenate us but to also to keep stretching us to love deeper, to risk more, to have less, to seek out the hurting and marginalized, to change lives and to change schools. We pray it will be a place of retreat for friends and family and perhaps even strangers, to be in a place often where we need Him in greater ways than we have yet to. I cringe a little writing that even because it’s so hard…. but we’ve tasted and seen that it’s so GOOD!!
Be praying for us…. we are asking God to place us in the area, neighborhood and school that HE wants us to be in!
We will keep you posted as the adventure unfolds. If you want to sign up to get our monthly updates on family and ministry news and also encouragement in how to engage our culture with our faith….. sign up HERE!