I grew up in Washington state. And contrary to popular belief it doesn’t rain a lot everywhere in the state. Actually when you get on the western side of the Cascades it rains a whole lot less. That being said, I grew up in the desert of Washington, right outside of a town called Yakima. When I told my friends in California that they laughed every time… every SINGLE time. Because Yakima sounds funny. Anyways. There are a lot of misconceptions about growing up in Washington.
1. It rains all the time.
2. Everyone skis/snow boards
3. You live near the President (wrong Washington, genius)
4. Bigfoot lives next door.
Okay so maybe saying there are a lot was a bit of overkill but whenever I tell someone that I’m from Washington state they seem to think that 1) I’m used to the rain and 2) I must love the rain. And let me tell you neither of these statements are true. I grew up where the word drought was a common part of any sentence, where tumbleweeds roamed free and where rain was a sign of spring.
Well in the summer of 2010, after living in California for a year and a half, I was blessed with the opportunity of interning for the Northwest Foursquare District Office in Tacoma, WA. That summer was a lot of firsts.
I lived in Puyallup, WA with the Fulcher Family. Let me just tell you how amazing that family was. It can be slightly nerve wracking to know that you are going to live with a family that you have never met before, in a city you have only visited a few times, with two daughters around your age. But the Fulcher family was so sweet and caring that it never mattered. From day one they welcomed me into their home and never once made me feel like an outsider.
The family is made up of Doily and Ellen Fulcher – a couple who to this day are still madly in love with each other. I remember one day that Doily came into the kitchen and told Ellen that they had to start each day hugging because it would release a chemical that made them happier during the day. This is a true fact but in true Ellen and Doily fashion they would love each other, be sweet and be silly all at once. They were hoot!
Then there is the eldest daughter Brittany. She is gorgeous, spirited, driven, loves the Lord, is an amazing worshiper and is unique. It’s kind of funny because we were about the same age but she only had a year more of school left. She knew what she wanted in life and she went after it. That summer while I was with them Brittany met a sweet young man named Brighton. They met through a mutual friend and it was awesome to see them fall in love. Today they are happily married and have the cutest baby son. It’s amazing to look back and see where they started and to see how God has been in the midst of it all. They are truly an amazing couple and I’m honored to know them.
And then there is Mckenzie. The only little sister that I’ve ever had. Mckenzie has and always will be one of a kind. She is her own person, has her own walk with the Lord and I’m so honored to have known her. She allowed me to speak into her life when a lot of other people wouldn’t have. She never treated me as an outsider but instead loved me. I had so much fun causing havoc, watching movies, doing devos and living life with this girl.
This family walked me through a time of immense growth. A time span of 2 1/2 months that was packed with 2 1/2 years worth of knowledge, growth, people and love. It was during these 2 1/2 months that I met ‘Miah
‘Miah was probably my favorite boyfriend that I have ever had. Why you ask? Because we broke up while we both still liked each other. Sound crazy? It was! ‘Miah was one of the sweetest guys I have ever met. He let me be myself and I felt at ease with him. We would laugh and joke and be silly together. He let me sing, “‘Miah was a bulldog” to him.
We met at Creation festival, he was dorky and silly but sweet on me from day one. The week that we were at Creation we would go for walks around the grounds, he would stay up late during my night shift and he would fall asleep under the tables. I never felt like I had to hide with him and I’ve never laughed so freely before. Just 9 days after meeting ‘Miah we started dating and 3 days later he left to go into Training. Let me tell you that if it was up to ‘Miah we would have never started dating. He told me that he could never imagine asking me to date him knowing that in just three days he would be leaving. I told him that I never wanted to live a life filled with “what ifs,” I cared about him and that was what mattered.
For 2 1/2 months we wrote letter back and forth. If you want to get to know someone start writing letters. That was the only way that we could communicate during his 3 months at Training. It was crazy and hard but worth it. Waiting for his every letter, hanging onto what he said. The silly statements that sometimes didn’t make sense. The cute lines saying that he missed my beautiful blue eyes and that he wanted to make chocolate chip cookies with me. And then he wrote a letter that I will never forget. A letter where he told me that before meeting me he never thought about getting married, he never thought he would but he couldn’t imagine not now that I was in his life. And as I read those words I stopped. I cared about ‘Miah, I might even have loved him but I didn’t see a future with him. And my heart broke. How do you break up with someone that you care so much for? I did the only thing that I could do; I wrote him a “Dear John” letter. I cared about him too much to let him think there was hope when I knew we weren’t to be.
I cried when I wrote the letter and then for a month and a half I waited as no reply came back. What did I expect though? I wrote the guy a letter breaking up with him! But thankfully a month and a half later, after getting out training ‘Miah wrote to me online and let me know he had gotten the letter, he had been sad but was okay, we wished each other luck and went on our way. Today ‘Miah is happily married with two kids.
That summer was a crazy time. A time of love and growth and happy tears. That was the beginning of God asking me to take chances. That was the summer that fear stopped defining who I was. That summer was full of firsts and big dreams. That summer I stopped running from myself and began to be who i was created to be. That summer became the spring board for so much that God has brought me into.
I fell in love with the staff of the Northwest District Office. They will always be some of my favorite people. Dave and Windy Veach – two amazing individuals. Heidi Moran who introduced me into the world of office admin, it is to her that I can say thank you for my true love! And for sharing her boys with me. Noah and Ethan. Crazy how grown up those boys are and I can’t wait to see what they do in this world! Gabe Barreiro for challenging me to think outside the box, he was never one to do confined very well – which is what makes him great for church planting. Even Jacy, who had to brace himself when I gave him a hug and who fought with me about how it “wasn’t cold.” I loved hearing his stories of youth ministry and as I am a youth pastor now think fondly on these memories. And Kaj Martin for giving me a love of tea. Although coffee is still my morning go to, hot tea in the evening is a must.
That summer was about no longer living my life with “what ifs” in relationships, jobs, callings and dreams.
Thank you to the Fulcher family for loving me, for encouraging me and supporting me. Thank you to the Metzger family for being quirky and silly and fun (I still wear the friendship necklace that you guys gave me). Thank you to the staff of the Northwest Foursquare District Office for never thinking of me as “the intern,” for sharing your lives with me, for challenging me to learn who I was and for introducing me to a lot of my firsts and favorite. And finally, thank you to ‘Miah. Thank you for an amazing memory that doesn’t have a dark cloud on it. I’m so thankful that he was a part of my story and I pray that God blesses him for the blessing that he was to me.
As always, looking back gives me a lot of thankfulness for where I am now. Those 2 1/2 months laid the groundwork for what I am doing today and who I am today. How many people are blessed to have worked in two district offices? Well I am and I would NEVER give up either for anything!