Monday, February 1, 2016

A Moment with Abby: Trusting God's Plan

I first met Abby online in a blogging group. We quickly discovered that we had a lot in common, and I was thrilled when she asked me to be a part of a new blogging tribe she was starting.  Several months later, I am so thankful for her presence in my life, for the way she leads, and for the way she challenges me to be better in so many ways. I love her blog, Winstead Wandering, and all of the great recipes and words she shares on it, and I'm so excited for her to tell her story on the blog today! Thanks for sharing, Abby!

Every time I think I know how my life is going to go, God taps me on the shoulder and says, “Wait just a minute. Let’s try my plan.” Stubborn person that I am, I never see it coming and I usually fight it, which is exactly what I did in 2012 when my husband told me he wanted to sell our house and move 3000 miles across the country.

Even though I grew up in Oregon, I spent many summers in Mississippi visiting family. During those visits, I’d often spend time with Jon. On a trip the summer before my senior year of high school, I visited and fell in love with Mississippi College, a small Christian university just outside of Jackson. When I arrived on campus my freshman year, Jon was beginning his sophomore year and we started to date.

We married three years later and, six months after that, decided to move to Oregon, where all of my immediate family lived and where I dreamed of raising our family. Jon was understandably hesitant about the idea, so we made a deal: I’d spent four years in Mississippi with him, so he’d spend four years in Oregon with me, and then we’d decide together what our future looked like.

In October of 2012, a few months after the three-year anniversary of our move to Oregon, Jon and I went for a walk around our neighborhood. We were having one of our weekly date nights and my grandmother was watching our two kids.

Our pony-sized black lab was pulling me along the sidewalk when Jon broke the news that he wanted us to move back to Mississippi. He outlined a compelling argument: he wasn’t happy in Oregon and he didn’t think I was happy, either. I’d recently applied for a position with the city and had progressed pretty far into the process before ultimately not getting the job. Jon had prayed that the city job would be a sign, that I’d be hired if we were meant to stay in Oregon.

He also brought up our current employment situation: I was working more than full-time in a banking job I hated and Jon, having just finished his Master’s in Education, had been unable to find a full-time position so he was subbing in our local school district.

I was so angry at Jon for even suggesting we move. For so long, I’d envisioned my children attending the schools I attended. I had imagined them being in classes with the children of my former classmates. I’d pictured celebrating birthdays and random Tuesdays with my parents and siblings and nephews.

I don’t remember how strongly I voiced my opposition to the idea during that walk. I did make it known that I didn’t want to move, but Jon made a strong case and he had been praying about the situation for quite some time. I promised to pray about it, too.

I think, in the back of my mind from that very first conversation, I knew we would move. I don’t remember the precise moment I became consciously aware that I was in agreement with Jon. I remember praying fervently for guidance and for wisdom, and I remember vividly the ultimatum Jon issued at the end of our walk: “I can’t be happy here.” It wasn’t a statement meant to induce guilt. It was simply raw honesty that, looking back, had been a long time coming.

When I first agreed to move, I was not a co-conductor of the move-to-Mississippi train; I was just a reluctant passenger,  acquiescing to the needs of my husband. My only condition was that we wait until the following summer. I didn’t want to rush out of Oregon as if we were running from something. I wanted to say thorough goodbyes to everyone in my life and treasure a few more holidays with my family.

That plan lasted until the moment Jon’s long-term sub position ended. He spent the first several weeks of the school year subbing for a teacher on maternity leave. When she came back to work and he called other districts to put his name on their sub lists, he discovered those lists were closed. The income we expected to be earning from him substituting in six different school districts vanished.

We also began to realize how impractical our plan to move in June was. If Jon was going to get a teaching job in Mississippi, it made sense for him to be there in the spring to apply for jobs, schedule interviews, and get his name out through being a substitute. We bumped up our move date by six months.

My attitude at that point could best be described as begrudgingly onboard. I no longer felt like an unwilling participant, but I still didn’t see the big picture. I didn’t understand how the move was the best decision for our family, but I trusted my husband to lead us and I trusted God to see us through. My thoughts and emotions during that time were often confusing and overwhelming, but I remember a sense of peace that seemed to mostly overwhelm the fear and doubt.

By Thanksgiving, we’d decided to begin the drive to Mississippi on December 28. When we flew to Mississippi the second week of December for Jon’s sister’s wedding, he had two interviews, including one at the very same high school he graduated from. Even though it’s nearly unheard of for schools to hire teachers mid-year, that’s exactly what happened: Jon was hired to start after Christmas break.

Having the burden of unemployment lifted was the second bright spot for me. The first was the house my in-laws found for us. We got to walk through during the trip and I fell in love with the big front porch and the real hardwood floors. I could see my family living there and that was a big deal.

The Lord clearly had His hand on the entire process. Our kids, ages two and five months at the time, did astonishingly well on the four day, 2800 mile drive from Oregon to Mississippi (700 miles a day; can we take a minute to appreciate that?).

Looking back, the move that felt so rushed was actually a good thing. It would have been torture for me to attend months of family gatherings and think “this is the last Mother’s Day I’ll celebrate here with my mom… this is the last time I’ll celebrate my birthday here…” We had a perfect amount of time to say good-bye and gather with family without feeling like we were all saying a sixth month long goodbye.

The opportunities we’ve had in the three years we’ve been in Mississippi- teaching at the same school, building a home, making memories with Jon’s grandmother before she passed away last year- have been overwhelming in their abundance. There are so many things I miss about Oregon, but there isn’t a single doubt in my mind that the life we have here is what God intended for us.

If I did have any doubt about God’s plan for our move, it vanished as I stood on the front porch of our new house a few weeks after we moved in. I noticed how worn the house numbers looked and I recalled the recently unpacked numbers we’d purchased, but never put up, for our home in Oregon. They were 1-2-0-5. Our new address? 2-0-5.

Abby is a teacher, momma, and wife, and you can read more of her story on her blog, Winstead Wandering, where she shares about food, life, teaching, and blogging. You can also follow her on her Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. Like this Moments post? Check out the others in the series. If you're interested in contributing, please complete this form with what you'd like to write about. I can't wait to see your ideas!



  1. Trusting God can be so hard. I'm in a season of that too. OR to MS is a HUGE move, one that must have been so scary! It's so sweet to be in the place God wants us to be in!

  2. What an amazing testament to God's faithfulness!

  3. I literally got chills when I read the last line about house numbers! (I wish I could do heart-eyes from my laptop, lol!) I'm glad you eventually were brought to peace with your move... I can relate to the struggle of choosing to move away from your family. We moved to SC from OH a few years ago, and it was a quick, rip-off-the-bandaid kind of move (applied mid-Nov, interview on Black Friday, moved New Year's weekend). We definitely felt God calling us there, but were honestly relieved when, a year and a half later, we saw Him opening doors for us to go back home. :-) It's cool how we were where we needed to be, and now we're where we need to be...

  4. I can't even imagine the fear of uncertainty you must have felt. it's crazy how much God really has in store for you & I'd be lying if I said I was unsure of His plan sometimes. This story really made me feel better about my own upcoming transition in my life. God truly has a plan for all of us. So, thank you so much for sharing!

  5. Such a neat story. Abby, I love how you and your husband were able to work through that issue and make a decision that worked for your family! It's so hard to make those decisions but I love that you were able to do it as a team. I hope you're loving Mississippi!

  6. Thank you for sharing my story, Kelsie!

    1. Thanks for writing it and sharing it with us, Abby!

  7. I can so relate with this story in many ways. We moved from Columbus, Ohio in 2014 to Nashville, Tennessee because God told us to. No jobs, no home nothing and he made it all happen, then 9 months later he has moved us from Nashville to Clarksville which an hour outside Nashville and a week later my husband became unemployed. That was back in July. We have lived on ZERO income since then. It has been hard to trust...But we are learning that HIS WAYS are SO much better than any plans we could have made. It's been an incredible journey from comfort to the uncomfortable and then the uncomfortable becoming content. God is so good to lead us and so patiently wait for us to give him the reigns teaching us so much in the meantime. :)

    Thanks for sharing your story. It will make a difference in nudging someone else to trust in ways they never thought they could. :)

  8. Transitions and moves can be hard; having been through a similar situation myself I can totally relate to how uncertain we feel about god and his plans, but in the end, he sure has something great in store for all of us. Hope you like your new home, town and make lots of memories! :)
    xx, Kusum |

  9. What an amazing story! God has a way of teaching us to trust Him in ways we need most!


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