This is Hilary.
Her drink is an iced caramel macchiato.
And it bears mentioning that it was 102 degrees when I snapped this picture. That’s true friendship— sitting in 102 degree heat to share your heart with your friend.
And there’s more.
The night of our Sips & Scripts chat was Hilary’s last day in California as she set out with her family of six to move to Knoxville, Tennessee.
THERE ARE NO COINCIDENCES
Hilary and I have a friendship truly forged by God. On my first day of work as a professor at Tallahassee Community College, I prayed for God to bring me a best friend. I was certain that my best friend was going to be the other full-time hire in the English Department, who I had heard was female. After my first day, I didn’t feel a special connection with that hire and drove home in tears wondering why God didn’t answer my prayer. My new life in Tallahassee felt daunting.
But, I didn’t pay attention to something significant that day: I wasn’t seated next to the new hire in my department. I was seated next to Hilary.
A few days later, I got the keys to my office. There was overflow from the English building, so I was put into a neighboring building in a hallway with two offices. One office was mine, and one was Hilary’s.
I cannot adequately express in words what it was like to have someone to mentor me right across the hall. Sparing no grace, Hilary guided me through every new hurdle in my role as a professor. But more than that, when I became pregnant with my first (earlier than when I thought I would become a mom) Hilary helped me traverse the difficulties of pregnancy, prepare me for labor and delivery, and equip myself with the best resources for being a good mom.
I REPEAT: THERE ARE NO COINCIDENCES
The spring of 2014 both Hilary and I gave birth— she to her third child and me to my second. And that summer both her husband and my husband would start new careers… in California.
Though we were two hours away from each other, and not directly across the hall, we were still able to use our friendship as a support beam for the new lives we were building in an unfamiliar place.
And now Hilary finds herself with a brave new change: a move to Tennessee. The move became the subject of our Sips & Scripts conversation.
THE MOVE IS AN ANSWERED PRAYER
“There is a verse in Philippians that has been helping me as we prepare to uproot our family and transplant in new soil:
do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and mind in Christ JesusPhilippians 4.6-7, ESV
We have been praying to move to Tennessee for years, and so the Lord is answering that prayer, but a move like this still can come with a lot of anxiety.
But I haven’t really had that much anxiety like in past moves. I just have this sense of peace about it— the peace that surpasses understanding.
He has us going there for a purpose and a reason, and trusting in that brings peace.”
MOVING FORWARD WITH UNCERTAINTY
“When my husband went to do the housing search, he was there for a week. Our goal was to have a home ready and waiting for us when we pulled into Knoxville.
You see, when we moved to California, we had not locked in a house and had to spend ten days in a hotel while we house-hunted. It was an unsettling way to start a new life chapter.
We vowed that we would never do that again. And when we made that vow, God laughed. Not a cruel laugh—but He is always in control, so when we try to assume that control, it must elicit a parental I-know-better-than-you chuckle.
I heard Him saying— you think you are going to control this housing situation, but I need you turn this over to Me. Wait on Me. Do not be anxious.
So while my husband was there, he searched but found nothing that felt like our new home; he went back to the hotel and was really struggling with frustration.”
OUR TRIALS FOR THEIR FAITH
“He called me, with my 11-year-old listening in, and described how long he had been on his knees praying for a house with nothing to show for it.
My 11-year-old interjected and said she wanted to pray for us.
It was the most beautiful prayer: she thanked God for my husband and me; she thanked Him for the move; she asked Him to help us find a house.
And I knew immediately— this is why He is having us wait.
It’s not to test my faith. It’s for the faith of my children.
A lot of times, we think our trials are just about us—but often, it is about our kids watching us.
She was able to hear her daddy say he fell to his knees and prayed for an hour when he was feeling discouraged.
She witnessed me and my husband fast for a day as we offered up our prayer to the Lord.
And when we do found a house—our home—she will be affirmed again that He is always faithful.”
LISTENING TO HIM; FOLLOWING HIS PACE
“We did get accepted into one rental house that asked for a deposit sight-unseen. But after praying a bit, both my husband and I heard: this is not the one for you. Keep waiting.
I heard Him loud and clear: I have a place for you. Release the control of the search. Stop going on Zillow 5x a day as a semblance of control.
Rest in me.
That’s what He is teaching me right now— wait and rest in Him, like in the passage in Isaiah:
Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faintIsaiah 40.31, ESV
Funnily enough, after passing on that house, I learned some not-so-great things about that particular property management company. I don’t think we would want to sign with a company like that. I know that His “no” was protecting us from a sub-par property company, and maybe much more. He always knows what is best for us.
A FINAL VERSE TO BRING PEACE ABOUT THE MOVE
“One last verse that really helps me understand God’s plan for us is this one:
And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him.Acts 17.26, ESV
He determines our dwelling place.
He has chosen this time, even through COVID, and he has chosen the place (first California, and now Tennessee) for my family to live. He has created our kids for this time and place.
Our kids have strong wills, and I thank God for those strong wills because of what they will be up against in this current world of ours. And He will give us the strength to live in these situations.
I take comfort that He has a good plan.”
PEACE THAT SURPASSES UNDERSTANDING
“My husband seems to be anxious for a house on my behalf— I will be the one in the hotel with the kids while we wait on a house.
I reassured him that God is faithful in everything, and that a house is coming for us.
My response elicited peace in my husband. Peace begets peace.
I want to use this new home to bless others. As my kids get older, and they want to bring friends home, I want to have the space for that. But we still were able to host dinners in our tiny California house, and so the size of the house truly doesn’t matter. I just want it to bless others.”
Adelaide’s note: It makes me laugh to listen back to the recording at this part of the conversation where I went off on a tangent about the falls in Tennessee, and how I insisted she send me any and all fall foliage pictures.
WHAT WAITING IN HIM TEACHES US
“In our self-gratifying culture, it is very easy to fall into a view of God as a genie in a bottle. And it’s not always instant like that.
My 11-year-old had to pray and wait and pray and wait for friends to come along when we moved to California. And they did. She made such incredible friends, but it didn’t happen instantly.
It happened to me, as well. I would meet a new friend, and that friend would move. I had some friendship deserts during our time in California.
But upon leaving this week, there were friends I hugged goodbye through tears. Friends I know I will get to see in eternity, which is a message of His faithfulness.
There is always grief in losing things, in closing chapters. There will be things I will need to grieve. We didn’t want to move into that small house in California, and today, as walked through the house, we are mourning the loss of the space that held so many beautiful memories. Even my youngest child was born in that small house.
But we know the Lord has great plans for us in our new town.
Through digging online, we already found a church in Knoxville that we are really excited for, they are reading through the Bible chronologically as a church!
So as I embark on this move I say ‘Send me, Lord. Use me, here. I am going to open up my hands, fully letting go, and be here in your peace.’”
IT’S NEVER GOODBYE
Our closing prayer saw tears streaming down both of our faces. We recognize that we will not be able to see each other regularly like we have been doing for eleven years.
But our friendship is strong enough to withstand distance.
And as Hilary reminded me, it’s never goodbye for believers because we have eternity to be together.
with His love,