(Cross-posted from SimplySara.com)
Famous. Last. Words.
In 1995, when I graduated high school and went to college at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, AR, I was SO ready to get out of Louisiana. “I will NEVER move back here!” I exclaimed.
In 1998 I graduated college, moved back to Louisiana and began my first teaching job in Bossier Parish. (Man I loved those kids at Plain Dealing Elementary. I was a baby teacher and they molded and shaped me into who I am today.)
In 2001, I moved to Arkansas for a new teaching job and once again exclaimed, “I’ll NEVER move back to Louisiana.”
Between 2001 and now, I moved 2 additional times (out to Salt Lake City and later to south Texas), changed careers (from K-12 schools to K-12 publishing), my world turned COMPLETELY and UNEXPECTEDLY upside down (which later resulted in this “good, little Christian girl/preacher’s kid” getting divorced), and thus began the greatest journey of my life.
When my divorce was final in 2011, my parents BEGGED me to move home to Louisiana. But Corpus Christi was home and I LOVED it! I mean, Corpus is THE BEACH for cryin’ out loud! My church was like none I had ever been a part of! I found Jesus like never before in my life! The Lord blessed me with an amazing customer base. My life group was my closest friends. And I was heavily involved in USTA league tennis. It was obvious the Lord had placed me in Corpus for such a time as this. He KNEW exactly what and WHO I would need to heal from the greatest trial of my life.
Then something funny happened on February 23, 2014. There have been a handful of times in my life when I have CLEARLY and AUDIBLY heard the Lord speak to me. This was one of those times.
I was in Laredo for work that Sunday evening. For dinner, I met up with one of our authors and several customers at the Zaragoza Grill, a SUPER CUTE restaurant located inside the La Posada Hotel on the banks of the Rio Grande where Mexico lies just a stone’s throw away. We had THE best time! It was one of those moments where I was reflecting on how much I LOVED my job and how I could do it forever.
And in the VERY NEXT BREATH, the Lord spoke. He clearly said to me, “Sara, you CAN do this forever. But you aren’t going to have your family and parents forever. Yes, you love your customers and they love you, but think how much MORE your parents love you. How much MORE I love you.”
[su_quote]The Lord spoke, “…but think how much MORE your parents love you. How much MORE I love you.”[/su_quote]
And with that brief exchange, I knew the Lord was nudging me to move home. “I’ll NEVER move back to Louisiana!” I said.
I argued and told him ALL the reasons it wasn’t possible. I lived in my territory. My job was fulfilling and I LOVED it! For the first time in my entire life, I was head over heels in love with my church. My circle of friends was one of the truest I had ever known. I bought a perfect little house right after my divorce was final. I loved playing tennis 2-3 times a week. I finally found a new groove and life was once again normal (after thinking it would NEVER be normal again).
Yet, He wouldn’t leave it be!! It kept coming and coming AND COMING to the forefront of my mind. I couldn’t wrestle this out on my own, so that following August is when I decided I needed a life coach. This was going to be a MAJOR shift on all fronts and I needed an expert to help me walk it out.
As time passed on, ideas and dreams started to fall into place. I could see the Lord opening doors and placing opportunities in my path to make this happen. And every time I went home to visit my parents, I was falling more and more in love with Louisiana, with home.
This isn’t a change I could make overnight. It would take some serious strategic planning.
First and foremost, I knew I couldn’t keep my same territory and live in Louisiana. “But I LOVE my customers, LORD! SO MUCH!” And He would reply, “I know you do. And they love you. But family comes first.” And He would repeat this to me over and over during the course of the next two years.
So I was like, “Ok, God. I have to work. I LOVE my company and don’t want to leave. So you’re just going to have to work this out.”
And He did! After talking with my amazing manager and our VP of Sales, and sharing my heart, they graciously allowed me to change up my territory giving me additional flexibility of where I could live, as long as I was in close proximity to an airport. It would mean giving up 5 years of solid relationships in the I-35 corridor between Waco and Laredo and east to Corpus. This was the scariest part! But again the Lord assured me He would take care of me AND them. And He has!
The next bucket that needed to drop was housing. Since my parents are in north Louisiana, my sister in Little Rock and my brother in Forney, I began to slowly research where the BEST place would be for me to settle down and have maximum impact on those I love the most. So basically my search took me from Little Rock to Texarkana to Shreveport/Bossier, east to Tyler, and mayyyybe Dallas.
I fell in love with Jefferson, TX on a field trip in fourth grade. Oh to wake up amidst antebellum homes and quaint shoppes seemed SO ideal. But, so did the Roland area in west Little Rock, minutes from my sister’s house, and with expansive views of Pinnacle Mountain. I could envision afternoon bike rides and Saturday morning hikes up the mountain. But come to think of it, The Heights area of Little Rock greatly appealed to me too; a neighborhood FULL of vintage homes, restored to precision with walkable amenities at my fingertips. And you know, Tyler, TX seemed nice. There is an amazing church where I’m sure I could plug right in. And there’s even a historic district of homes where I could definitely see myself putting down roots. But how about Shreveport/Bossier? The Broadmoor and South Highlands neighborhoods are JUST what I’m looking for, are super close to the airport, and I already know the area.
So, what to choose, what to choose?
I spent HOURS driving around all of those areas (really all over south AR, east TX and northwest LA). I analyzed EVERY aspect of each community; everything from safety to amenities to churches to HIGH SPEED INTERNET, to proximity to the airport and proximity to my family, to my ability to truly build lasting relationships and serve.
And in December 2014, while driving around, I found it. I found THE HOUSE I knew the Lord wanted me to have. And thus began a nearly 22 month love affair and trying to “marry” a broken down cottage, built in 1926.
Love is a strange thing. There’s lots of ebbs and flows. You risk your heart being broken OR being swept into the greatest love story ever known. I knew this house would challenge and stretch my faith. Would I be willing to stick it out and take a risk? How do you convince a someone to sell their home when it’s not for sale?
Come back tomorrow to find out what happened! Would this house break my heart, usher in a new season, stretch my faith or all of the above?
Over the course of your life, have there been times where you’ve heard the Lord audibly speak to you? It’s an amazing experience. And when He does, you have no choice but to listen and ponder His words in your heart. If you have had such an experience, I’d love for you to share in the comments below. And be sure to come back tomorrow for part 2 to see how this story unfolds!
Thank you SO much Darlene! 🙂
Wow! What a great read! Makes me want more! You are awesome!
As are you my dear!!! Love you! <3
This is the house I lived in as a toddler…….your pics brought back so many memories. I can’t wait to see what you do to it
Oh Whitney! You have to come by once it’s finished! It won’t look anything you remember. 🙂