Why Seattle?

This post was inevitable.  Any time I talk about Seattle, the question comes up:  why Seattle?  I’ll share the highlights today.

Three years ago, during the Christmas break before the spring 2011 semester, I was given a book called The Fuel and the Flame by my college church leaders.  I believe the purpose of the book (and the purpose of my reading it) was to prayerfully consider college ministry after graduation, as it highlighted the importance of reaching college students for Christ.  What hit me about the book wasn’t necessarily college ministry, but how the author stressed the importance of having purpose and goals in our lives.

As a result of reading the book, I was forced to reckon with the question: what am I going to do after graduation?  I had already realized the next big thing was not a committed relationship or the road to marriage, and I decided I wanted to use whatever time and energy that normally would have gone into a relationship on ministry endeavors, rather than pining away.

I prayed about four potential avenues for ministry during that break:  college ministry, Africa, youth, and inner city ministry.  Inner city ministry and youth were the ones I was most burdened about, Africa was a not yet, and college ministry seemed to be a no.  (I say seemed to be, because I went back and prayed more about that later, and it was a definite no the second time).

I kind of just assumed I would work with underprivileged youth wherever God put me after that.  When I started my job hunt in January 2011 (yes, it’s been that long),  I didn’t really have any direction, I was looking for anything, anywhere that would pay a living wage.  Later in the semester, a mentor who was counseling me advised that I pray about where God wanted me (city-wise), to look for a church to minister with in that place, and to trust God to establish me there.  (I’m paraphrasing here, but that was the gist of it).  After living, working, and ministering in Denton for a few years and enjoying having all three be in one place, this was a readily-accepted idea.  (And I still thing it’s one of the best bits of advice I’ve ever been given).

Not long after, another mentor recommended I read Donald Miller’s Blue Like Jazz (oh my gosh, guys, this isn’t a book review post, but go read it if you haven’t).  The book takes place primarily at Reed in Portland, Oregon, but the Pacific Northwest began to intrigue me, but as I researched the cities in that region, I was drawn more to Seattle, Washington.  It seemed like a very artsy and entrepreneurial city (Portland was maybe a bit TOO artsy for me, haha), and it seemed like it would fit me, and I it. (Okay, I’m done now).

For those of you who don’t know, Seattle is a pretty big city, and it’s divided up into neighborhoods.  It was kind of confusing and intimidating, especially since I’ve never been.  I didn’t know where to begin looking for Seattle churches, so I did a google search, and nothing really stood out, even though there are dozens of churches there.  I did apply for jobs here, but…

A few weeks before graduation, in what I thought was a miracle move, I landed a job in Grand Prairie, Texas, found a church I thought fit what I wanted to do in McKinney (had to visit first, of course), and was going to move back in with my parents in Anna. It wasn’t what I desired or prayed for, but God didn’t seem to be moving in that whole Seattle situation, so what could I do?

I had a miserable year.  I mean, really miserable.  Finally, a year later, I began considering the whole Seattle thing again, and started looking for jobs there.  While doing that, I ran across a great-looking Creative Writing MFA program at Seattle Pacific University.  And I thought about how very little fiction writing I had done over the past several years. (Yeah, years).  I churned out version two of “The Field” with the intention of eventually applying to grad school there, but…

Life got crazy.  Suddenly, I was working two jobs across the DFW map, and once again, my writing took a backseat.  I was able to quit the Grand Prairie job almost a year ago, and I’ve been seeking full-time employment since that time.  I had been focusing on the DFW area again, and it’s been a discouraging search (as in I’m getting nowhere).  One area I feel God has blessed is that He has used me in this area to minister to underprivileged kids, since He laid it on my heart many years ago.  Anyhow, when August came, thoughts of writing, grad school, and of course, Seattle came too.

So I started looking at Seattle again.  For starters, I saw Mount Rainier for the first time.  That’s significant, but you wouldn’t believe me if I told you why.  Secondly, I started looking at neighborhoods again, and it became clear what would be the best fit for me.  Then I looked for churches in those neighborhoods, and I’ve narrowed it down.  (I won’t say how narrow).  Literally the only thing missing is a full-time job and a living wage.

I’ve had a lot of distractions in the past several months – a lot of things pulling my focus away from what I need to be doing in order to get where I’m going.  I’m a little more withdrawn from ministry and social activities at the moment, because I have such a sense of purpose:  I need to focus on my writing in order to get where God wants to take me.

That may be Seattle (and trust me, I tend to think it is), it may be DFW (I tend to think it’s not), it may be somewhere else entirely that I haven’t even thought of (could be).  The point is that in pursuing God in my writing (particularly my fiction writing), I will be wherever He wants me.  Right now, that’s working two part-time jobs, not being super-involved in church and ministry, not doing a lot of hanging out with people, and doing A TON of writing.   I actually enjoy where He has me right now, and if it never changed, it would still be a good life.

I continue to pursue a Seattle relocation for several reasons.  For one thing, I genuinely believe it is God’s will for me (but I’ve been dead wrong before).  I also strongly desire to live in Seattle and I think I will enjoy life there (but I enjoy it here too).  I believe I will have great ministry opportunities there (but I have them here as well).  Given a vision I believe God has given me and given my strong desire, I will continue to pray for and pursue opportunities in Seattle until God opens doors elsewhere.

There are obstacles, I am aware, but I was reading about Jonathan this morning, and he said: “Nothing restrains the Lord from saving by many or by few” (1 Samuel 14:6b).  If Seattle is where God wants me (for whatever reason), it doesn’t matter if there’s one obstacle or a thousand, He will move me there.

You’re invited to watch and see what He does in my life this year!  It’s going to be a fun and exciting ride!

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