What Now? (and why my husband is quitting his job)

The book return slot was out of order at the library so I had to walk in to return my books. Since I was already inside, I decided to browse around a little, just to see if anything caught my eye.

library books

I walked out with a stack of books I didn’t plan on, one of them by Ann Patchett called What now?

The small book is actually a commencement speech she gave at her alma mater, Sarah Lawrence College, and it seemed short enough to read in one sitting. (Two, as it turns out, but close enough).

The main reason why I ended up taking this book home was because of these words from the dust jacket:

“What now? is not just a panic-stricken question tossed out into a dark unknown. What now? can also be our joy. It is a declaration of possibility, of promise, of chance. It acknowledges that our future is open, that we may well do more than anyone expected of us, that at every point in our development we are still striving to grow.”


John and I are living in a What Now? kind of moment, so this book seemed fitting.

If you go to our church or receive my letter every month, you already know this. But I thought it was time to go ahead and share the news here on the blog.

After 12 years as a youth pastor, my husband is quitting his job.

And after his last day at work on June 30th, we’re not sure what we’re going to do next.

There are so many angles I could share this news from – I could tell you of our finances, our hope for the future, our life stage, our thoughts about church and community.

My rational good girl side wants to over-explain myself and assure you that we are not stepping blindly or making any spontaneous decisions.

But for now I don’t want to talk about those parts of this transition. I just want to let you in on what is happening in my life. And here it is, in four words: We are dreaming together.


In the mornings, after we take our three kids to school, we talk about what it means to have the Spirit of Jesus Christ himself living within us. And if you don’t know him, I realize that sentence sounds insane. But if you do know him, maybe you’ll agree that Christ himself is the most spectacular gift.

As we talk, we consider our individual personalities and our mutual desire to contribute to the spiritual conversation in our local community.

We toss around ridiculous ideas about what we might like to do, what shape our vocational dreams might take, what context there might be for me, a woman who comes alive through writing and conversation about the deeper life and John, a man with the training and heart of a pastor.

We consider how we long to listen and be spiritual friends with others and what that even means.

For the first time in our marriage, we are cultivating a respectful curiosity for our mutual desire as a couple.

We laugh.

We roll our eyes at ourselves.

We take notes.

We make plans.

We pray.

Sometimes we worry.

Other times we tear up.

We tear up because we are beginning to catch the tiniest glimpse of a vision and what we see both delights and terrifies us, depending on the day.

We also embrace the distinct possibility that we might be a little bit crazy.

john and em

But here is what makes this crazy ride worth taking: I’m watching my husband come alive in ways I never thought were possible for him. And I feel courage growing inside me in the place where fear used to live.

I’m telling you this because in a way I’m sure you’re not aware, you are part of this transformation.

Writing at Chatting at the Sky for the past seven years has served to wake up part of my soul. I sincerely hope that makes sense and I apologize for my inability to explain it further than that right now. But perhaps you know what I mean?

I know we aren’t the only ones in the midst of transition. This time of year represents transition for a lot of you – graduations, weddings, the end of school, the beginning of something new. Maybe you’re grieving a loss, a move, a heartbreak. Maybe you’re asking what in the world is going on in your own life.

One way to ask that question is with a frantic soul, a furrowed brow and two tightly clenched fists, What now?!? Admittedly, that is always a temptation for me.

But there is another way to ask – same words, different posture. In the midst of the waiting, of the wondering, of the time of transition, we can rehearse the things we know for sure.

Our lives are hidden with Christ in God.

Nothing can separate us from his love.

We will never be alone.

And so we ask with hopeful expectation, with open hands and a willingness to sit with our questions as we whisper these words before God. What now?

For us? We don’t know. But we’ll be sure to keep you posted.

“Sometimes the circumstances at hand force us to be braver than we actually are, and so we knock on doors and ask for assistance. Sometimes not having any idea where we’re going works out better than we could possibly have imagined.”

-Ann Patchett, What now?


  1. says

    Thrilled for you guys! Praying as wait on the Lord, as you dream together, and as you learn the “What Now?” We are living in this same space, a year in the making and Jesus is enough to fill in all the gaps between the known and unknown. It’s crazy scary and crazy exhilarating and crazy worth it! Can’t wait to watch your story continue to unfold.

  2. says

    I cherish your brave words that always seem to shoot encouraging roots down into my soul. You’re in an exciting place! I hope you’ll savor the anticipation about what God will do!

    Deb Weaver

  3. Lisa says

    Love this so much. My husband and I just resigned our youth pastor jobs after 14 years in ministry. God is calling us to plant a church in the future but right now we will live our lives for God by serving others. We are dreaming and asking God for things we didn’t even know we could ask for. Yes, it can be a frightful but God is faithful. Praying blessings over your lives. Enjoy this season.

  4. says

    So thrilled for you both and so encouraged to be surrounded by other crazy good couples like you two. My husband and I are about to embark on a crazy new adventure and move to Greenville, SC. It means a completely different take on my career for a season.. and dreaming together is a VERY good thing. XOXOX

  5. says

    I’m smack dab in the middle of my “What now?” moments having quit my job a month ago. It is scary and exciting all rolled up together. Eric Peters’ “The Old Year” and “The New Year” have become part of the soundtrack of this time for me. I’m hoping the old year is over and it’s on to the new!

  6. says

    I can’t even begin to tell you how much I want to sit and chat with you all the livelong day. Because, this is my life right now. A big fat, “what now?” and so many uncertainties. All so exciting, yet so very terrifying at the same time. I’m so with you here . . . yet, so far away, too. He’s got this — for both of us.

  7. says

    Emily, what an exciting (and scary?) time for you guys! My husband quit his job last year with a huge “what now?” hanging over us. I won’t say it was entirely easy and at many times it was quite hard…BUT by letting go of what he didn’t want, he opened himself up to what could be – even though we had no idea what that would end up being. It took a lot of faith. Now that he’s found a new “job” (I feel funny calling it that because he loves it so much), he has come alive again and there is nothing that makes me happier than to see that. The in-between can feel so scary. We’d sit and have coffee together and giggle and enjoy the time but then feel scared and anxious and guilty. And I have had to spend the last year trying not to do the good girl thing of over-explaining, too. Anyway, I am so excited for you both! Xo

  8. says

    Your “what now” question reminded me of Andy Stanley’s book, “Deep and Wide”…years after he and his wife quit their first church position and begin their own church, they are sitting together watching a miracle baptism take place and they look at each other and say, “What if? What if we’d never been brave enough to leave our old job? We’d have missed THIS.” The “what now” is so worth it when you can look back and say with thanksgiving, “What if we’d never?!”

    Praying you’ll be able to say the same thing in the years to come! Blessings on your “what now”!


  9. Lisa says

    Emily, I love your honesty and vulnerability. ” And so we ask with hopeful expectation, with open hands and a willingness to sit with our questions as we whisper these words before God. What now?” It can be difficult to sit and wait for God to answer our questions; but we have hope because we KNOW He hears and will answer! My husband and I have been in a similar place of “what now” for the past few of years. After 10 years of being involved in a ministry – that door was closed. The past few years haven’t been easy and have taken us to a new level of trusting God! (especially since we are both in our 50’s!) It is a place of endless promise, possibility, chance and development. Thanks for your post of encouragement!

  10. says

    Love love love. We’ve been in that place too and it’s been so scary and beautifully freeing at the same time! Blessings overflow when you align your passion and gifts with God’s purposes. Can’t wait to see what God does with this new adventure!

  11. says

    We’re in transition and we honestly have no idea what to expect anymore. we’ve been stuck in a the revolving door…heartbreak, joy, seeing new opportunities flashing by feeling as though simply in a place to watch, listen, learn – and try to respond with love.

    God has wonderful things in store for us. (And, we are appreciative of what he’s showing us in our storm.) Meanwhile, we ponder, “What would it be like to…” Or, “What would happen if we…”
    ~ Dana

  12. says

    Wishing you many blessings in this “what now” transition in your lives together. And, yes, I understand perfectly what you mean when you said that writing your blog has made you feel more alive in your soul. Mine has done the same for me.
    Thank you for sharing where you are in your walk with the Lord.

  13. says

    Excited for you both. Prayed for you this morning. — I love that verse from Romans 8 about the Spirit of the resurrected Christ living in us. It’s one of my memory verses this year, and every time I come across it, I smile.

  14. says

    Emily, even though we don’t know each other, I’m excited for you guys. And the dreamer in me who is hiding behind the rational good girl in me takes a lot of hope from it, too.

  15. Kirstin says

    I had to smile when I read your post today. I JUST FINISHED “What Now?” I borrowed it from the library a few weeks ago, and hadn’t gotten around to reading it until just now! And when I sat down at my computer, yours was the first post I read . . . Crazy, huh? Thanks for sharing your journey.

  16. Stacy says

    I saw the title of this post and absolutely couldn’t believe the parallel to my own life. My husband just resigned from his job effective June 30th as well. My own personal “what now’s” are somewhat overwhelming. As usual your words speak right down into my heart. I am going to get Ann Patchett’s book TODAY! Keep writing your beautiful words.

  17. says

    I know this can be a stressful but exciting time–this time of unknowing and transitions and toes hanging over cliffs. Slowing down, breathing in and out, praying, listening, watching,…this is all you can do in this season. Trust Him to guide you in the direction he wants to take you. Open your hands to the blessings knowing that they are just what you need while maybe not what you want. Faith grows and stretches and begins to seep out of your pores at these times. Others will be encouraged, challenged even, by your journey. God bless you both.

  18. says

    Praying for you and your family as you step into the unknown but knowing all the while the One who leads you. I love the courage God has filled you with and am excited to follow your next adventure!

  19. Lisa says

    I just found your blog last week. This is the first post I’ve read. My divorce will be final in a few weeks. My daughter graduates high school in 10 days and leaves for college in 3 months. I’ve been a stay at home mom who is now having to figure out what to do to support herself and her sophomore son with very little work experience in the last 17 years. For the past two years, I’ve also been processing some deep wounds and childhood traumas.

    My relationship with God is one that most fundamentally defines me (from about 7 years old), yet has also been the relationship I’ve struggled with, wanted more than any other, kept my distance from, clung to, been frustrated with, looked to, gotten angry with, and trusted more than any other. It’s not your clean and neat Heavenly Father/daughter relationship, but it is real. Right now, I have many emotions, questions and tears. And what I have the most is a cavernous emptiness, a longing for words from a silent desert, the gentle comfort and reassurance from a loving God, who says “no” far more than my soul can take in. So, … in transition, just a little.

    Thank you immensely for your post and for sharing another perspective and sentiment of “What now?” I’m off to find the book.


  20. says

    thanks so much for sharing this! I saw what I thought was a type-o in it (“mist of transition” instead of “midst”) and then started to think on it – “mist” is actually so much more appropriate. Sometimes, especially when we’re in a “what now” time, it is so much of a mist …. anyway, my heart is still pondering.
    thank you!

    by the way, I’m soooo looking forward to your new book!

  21. says

    I want to thank you from my heart. My soul needed this message. My life is definitely in the what now? Today is my 22nd birthday and this past year I have been diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. My life has drastically changed and I am so grateful for this outlook on the what now? I pray that as I enter into this new year and as your family enters new, that what now will be our joy, as Ann says.
    Thank you again for sharing and inviting us into a part of your life.
    Blessings. Rebecca

  22. says

    I am reading this with tears streaming down my face. . . My husband resigned his role as youth pastor in a church after 13 years just this spring. God simply told us we were done there. There is no back up plan, only the Promise that God had something else for us. His last day was April 7 and we are still waiting on that “something else”. Our money will run out soon. But there has not been a single minute either one of us has questioned if this was the right decision. I KNOW that God will come through with the “What Next” in His time and He will continue to hold us through this time in limbo. I feel like I could have written so much of this post. Here’s to the crazies!! Here’s to jumping off a cliff when He says “Jump” finding courage and faith you never knew you had. I’ll be praying for you. . . This is harder and better than we ever could have imagined.

  23. says

    Oh how I can relate to where God has you, Emily. I’ve been living in the “What now?” for the past six months or so and I’m just now entering the “What’s Next?” I’ve grown more comfortable living with mystery though I’ve wrestled it a bit and I’ve grown ever more in love and sure of a God who always provides and cares for us, even as he nudges us off cliffs and guides us into the unknown. It’s a beautiful, other-worldly place to be and the affect it has on the heart is indelible. I’m excited for you and will look forward to hearing what’s next.

  24. says

    It’s nice to know I’m not alone in the “What now?”. I look forward to hearing more about your new adventure. Keep dreaming, friend:)

  25. kelli says

    a friend sent this post to me and as I read it….realized your words are something I could have typed…exactly!!! we have felt the Lord’s guidance and presence this last year of our lives (my husband and our son) and feel the Lord calling us to move for HIM. to trust HIM. to love HIM. to submit to HIM. to just BE with HIM. it is so nice and encouraging to know that other people are following the same lead—even though the “world” may say you’re crazy and you really can’t explain what you’re doing. Thank you Jesus for the faith to believe and the hope to follow through!!!!!!!!!! blessings to you sister in Christ.

  26. says

    If I could only count how many times I’ve recently asked God the question, “What now?” After just graduating college there seems to be more large, lighted, neon-flashing question marks in my life than I can process at any given point. Thank you Emily for sharing your own situation and encouraging all of us who are in a season of uncertainty at the moment.

  27. says

    thanks for your daily words and for your bravery in sharing this despite the unfinished plan. I am sure God has big amazing plans for you two. What a blessing to go through this life with a partner! My husband and I have been wrestling with the ‘what now’ question quite a bit lately. He is out of work (and considering starting his own law firm) and I am at work and wishing I was home with our baby.

  28. Rebecca says

    You are brave! So exciting! May you and John and kids be so very blessed. May God light each step of your path and walk right along with you. Oh and, thank you for not saying that you are giving up writing, haha! 😉

    So, I am subscribed to your newsletter but don’t seem to get them anymore. I looked through my spam mail to see if it was going there. I still get the blog posts though. I don’t know what to do. Can you tell me what date it was sent out so I can look through my spam a little further? Can you check my email subscription for me? Thanks.

    • says

      Sure, Rebecca – I checked on it and for some reason it had unsubscribed you – that happened to a small group of subs for some reason. I fixed it (I think) – next one will go out next week so if you don’t see it by about Wednesday, let me know. Thanks so much!

  29. Laura says

    Hi Emily, I just found your blog through a friend last week. I can very much relate to your place in life right now. My husband and I have been praying for the last 5 years for his work situation to change. It’s been a tough 5 years, but also 5 of the most amazing years in our relationship with Jesus and each other. Last year we unexpectedly spent 6 months in Rwanda with our two daughters. During that time, we really felt that many changes were coming, but we didn’t know exactly what they were. We persistently prayed and trusted that in God’s right timing we would know what the changes would be. Within the last month, our church life/community has drastically changed, and my husband finally got a new job! I will say that this season has been coming for a long time with great anticipation, but we also look back fondly on the years of struggle to see this season appear. We too know that this season isn’t the “pinnacle” or that we have “reached” our goal. God bringing this job and new church season is a blessing for sure!! As always, we looked forward to how Jesus wants to use us in this season. Enjoy this season of unknown, Emily! Jesus typically shows up in amazing ways we never could foresee!! Blessings!

  30. says

    I totally get this, Emily. Almost 15 years ago my husband left his job of 18 years to pursue his own business…it led us on a wild adventure that brought us to where we are today. Exciting? Yes. Scary? At times. But fulfilling? Most certainly!! Following the Lord’s will can be that way. I’ll be praying for you and your family as you start this new phase of your life.

  31. says

    You are so brave! Thank you for the incredible book recommendation 😀 I plan to share your quote with my high school friends who have recently graduated!

  32. Angel says

    I am new to this blog. I really enjoy it, very real life.
    I don’t know if this is the right place, but, I will press on and ask for you to pray for me. I am experiencing panic attacks, randomly, but mostly at night. I have nothing to be anxious about, but very much to be grateful for.
    Thank you Angel

  33. says

    This blows my mind. Never heard of this book but last year (after being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at a young age) I prayed “what now God?” And to my surprise, God started revealing this whole plan to me. I meant it as a prayer of desperation at the time, but its amazing what happens when you truly lose your own agenda and ask God “What now?” I guess I need to read the book now! Thanks for inspiring me in so many ways with your writing:)

  34. says

    I’ve just finished almost a year of wondering what was next. I’m into the next transition now, which is full time work. I’ve come to realize that one is always in transition. Blessings to you and your hubby on yours!

  35. says

    My brother told me of a book he read about a guy that faced all of life’s situations, sometimes downright frustrating and disappointing situations, cheerfully asking, “I wonder what will happen next?!” Now, whenever we start to worry about our unknowns, we say those words with enthusiasm, knowing that of course we trust in Someone that has a “next” that we can’t even fathom. Look forward to reading about your family’s “next”!

  36. says

    My natural inclination is to feel all “motherly” and concerned ( just ask my grown children and grandchildren), but having read your words for a very long time I am sure that all will will be well. I am excited to see where this journey with the Father will take you.

  37. says

    I loved this post. I belief with every ounce of my being that God is using you both for something remarkable. I’m also confident you’ll figure it all out. :) It sounds like you are leading your life by faith.

  38. Sarah says

    Just wanted to thank you for the well-timed encouragement. My family is a week from moving back home after two years in Japan. May God bless you as you take your plunge!

  39. says

    A friend told me about your posts, “12 things your daughter needs to hear you say” and “one thing your daughter doesn’t need to hear you say”. She shared the links with me so I have been browsing your blog today. I am adding you to my bloglovin account! TFS your inspiring thoughts. Saying a prayer for you as your family walks through a new adventure!

  40. says

    It seems you have hit at the heart of many women! Me as well. After FINALLY finding that God had called us to Middle School ministry (at the ages of 50 & 53!), we are now feeling led to step down and wait on “what now!?” from God. Thank you for putting into words what we feel–though we aren’t losing a paycheck!

  41. says

    This is exactly what I needed today. Thank you. My husband just graduated and we too are in a “what now?” phase of life. I’m excited to hear more about your journey as we begin to process ours. And I think I will certainly be reading Ann Patchett’s book.

    Thank you!

  42. says

    We are in our own kind of “what now?” place, but with more open space at the end because we aren’t sure when exactly my husband’s job will end. We are dreaming aloud and reading all kinds of books and opening our hearts wide to wherever God should lead; and it is glorious!

    Your words here helped capture my experience too ::”But here is what makes this crazy ride worth taking: I’m watching my husband come alive in ways I never thought were possible for him. And I feel courage growing inside me in the place where fear used to live.”

    thank you!

  43. says

    I love the way he is coming alive, the way you are both dreaming together, the way the Lord is moving in your spirits. I am so excited for the both of you Emily!

  44. says

    Thank you for sharing this. I’m a church planter’s wife, so I can imagine a little of what it’s like to have your pastor husband say it’s time for him to move on. The reminder that “what now?” can be a joy is such a blessing…thank you.

  45. pam says

    Thank you for this. I am finding myself in a place of asking “what now?” exactly the way you described it. But your fresh perspective is helping me to look at my situation more like an an adventure with HIM rather than a place of dread.

  46. says

    Friend. So pumped to watch this from the bleachers. Pretty cool to think that God already knows the full skinny! He won’t let you miss it. I’m proud and excited and dreaming right along with you!

  47. says

    I’m visiting your blog today for the first time, and I love it! I sure can relate to the “What Now?” place you’re in. The Lord has had our family in that place so many times, and each time our faith grows deeper and stronger. It will be exciting to see where Christ takes you. :)

  48. says

    I am also visiting your blog for the first time today. It is beautifully written and honest! I read Ann Patchett’s Book What Now? and found it to be a great book of hope while my husband and I were in transitions work-wise. He was laid off from a company he was loyal to for 30 years (career counselor said that companies don’t VALUE loyalty anymore!) and I was moving from Music and Arts Education into writing. Let me just say that we are both happier with where we have been led! Sometimes it has felt as if we are walking in the dark and then He shines his light and we know which way to go. I applaud you and your husband! You are looking to where the Lord plans to lead you next. He is NOT a God of confusion! Best, Cate Pane

  49. says

    Hi, Emily! I’ve come back to this post about six different times today. Something about it is speaking right into my heart. Maybe it’s that you’re a mom and I’m a mom… maybe it’s that your husband is a youth pastor (for now) and my husband is a youth pastor… maybe it’s that you’re a writer and I’m a “writer” … but likely it’s that we are finding ourselves very much in a transitional phase of life and it can be a bit scary. My husband just finished seminary and there are a few new possibilities on the horizon. The reality is that we don’t know where we’ll be in the next 6 months and I have two very small children, one with autism. It’s easy to get wrapped up in all the details during a season like this. So very many times I feel forced to be braver than I am. It’s hard but worth it. I love the truth and encouragement you shared here — “Our lives are hidden in Christ in God.” Yes. Thank you so much for sharing a piece of your journey and encouraging me along the way.


  50. says

    so true! I’m expecting a new little one in the next few weeks. With him, our world will change once again. We also, quite recently, made a cross-country move. What now? Is a question I’ve found myself asking time again. What’s next? What might God have in store for our family down the road?

  51. says

    we’re going into week three here of following new dreams which included my husband quitting his job and starting a business of his own so, oh boy, i FELT every word you wrote!! scary territory, yes.. but i think if we aren’t willing to walk into it we would always wonder what we might have missed. and more of HIM? i don’t want to miss that.

    your last sentences about the posture of trust reminded me of the words to this song, “So I’ll stand with arms high and heart abandoned…”

    excited to see what God has up next for you guys.~ blessings as you hold on tight for the ride!

  52. Quinne says

    This… “our mutual desire to contribute to the spiritual conversation in our local community”
    And this… “And I feel courage growing inside me in the place where fear used to live.”
    And this… “there is another way to ask – same words, different posture”
    And this… “we can rehearse the things we know for sure”

    There is such love and grace and power and joy and wonder tucked all-in these words that caught my heart (:
    Praying with you and for you with such joy!

  53. Beth in the City says

    I know what you mean….there is just nothing quite like sitting and dreaming with your husband, watching him come alive. We are in a what now? stage ourselves and really don’t know what is next. Just this weekend I was praying that God would lay a calling on us. We shall see what he has to say!

  54. says

    You are sure doing the brave stuff. Certainly there is growth in the unknown. Wishing you the best during this exciting and scary time.

  55. says

    I just finished reading L’Abri for the first time. You’ve heard of the Schaeffer’s, right? Edith recently passed away. This is her story of how and Francis Schaeffer’s ministry began — her husband quit his pastorate in St. Louis and moved their entire family to Switzerland with no real plan except a deep, Scriptural prayer life and a belief that God would show them the way. And He did. The book is full of amazing stories of how God provided for them at just the right time, in the midst of hard work and disappointments and illnesses, and all the while was leading them to a Chalet on a mountainside. It’s changing the way I pray. Real prayer. Hours-long prayer. And also how I approach my work — as a wife, mother, tutor. I thought you might appreciate it as well. I’ve found it quite encouraging when you don’t know what the “next step” is — you just keep doing what is required and asking for direction and really listening and observing what happens. We are at a similar crossroads in the next year with my husband’s academic and career path and so I have found much comfort in her story.

  56. says

    Whenever I read/hear you talk about this it makes my heart beat faster. So serious. I am so excited for y’all. I know I keep saying that, but I just can’t stop myself. :) xo

  57. says

    Exciting stuff.

    As a fellow good girl, I laughed knowingly at your description of wanting to explain and justify. But I’m glad you are breaking free from that. (I am too.) You and your husband are answering to God and each other, and there is beautiful freedom in that.

  58. says

    Ah, a Holy Spirit wind is blowin’!! This will be fun. Hard sometimes, scary sometimes. But oh, so much fun! Many blessings as you discover what comes next. Thank you for trusting us with this sweet story.

  59. says

    I’ve told you before, but it bears repeating: I’m so excited for you! I’m eager to hear what the “what” is turning out to be, and I’m so proud of you for making it to the “now.” So many of us go through our lives fettered to the past or shackled to the future. I bless you as you discover, more and more, that “it is for freedom you have been set free”–and as you model what that can look like for people desperate to learn about it. On a practical level, I ask that God give you many more folks with room in their souls to to be cheerleaders than folks with souls so shriveled that they can only be naysayers. And may God continue to fill you with all the things that only He can give, just as He’s been doing.

    Thank you so much for sharing your journey! I love you!

  60. says

    A friend once spoke of “holding things loosely” meaning as we pursue dreams or goals that we not hold them so tightly so as to not set ourselves up for disappointment if a job/project/relationship does not turn out exactly the way we pictured it. I suppose it’s another way of saying “be flexible” or “keep your options open” (the latter is one of my least favorite cliches.” I don’t know about you (or any other readers who stumble on this comment) but I squeeze my options almost to the point of suffocation! Anyone else relate? Holding things loosely reminds me — all of us, really — to unleash our grip a little bit. A clenched fist doesn’t do us any good.

    I love how you write, “And so we ask with hopeful expectation, with open hands and a willingness to sit with our questions as we whisper these words before God. What now?” Thanks for sharing your journey of your open hands & open hearts — as you truly are chatting to the sky. I’ll be praying the Lord will direct your steps. (Don’t worry, I’m not a stalker, just a fellow INFJ writer who happens to read and enjoy your writing.)

    “The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.” -Proverbs 16:9

  61. says

    I could have written the same thing 12 years ago (except I’m not as good a writer as you). After 15 years in missions, half of which were lived in Thailand, we came back to the biggest transition of our lives. Ken Gire’s book “Windows of the Soul” was a Godsend. You might enjoy it.

  62. Ruth Clayton says

    I’ll add to your numbers of those in transition. I’m an ordained pastor, but serve as a hospital chaplain and have for 8 years. 7 months ago I quit my job for a personal sabbatical…so to speak. It was the best thing I could have done. Not only was I starting to experience some burn out and moral distress, but my body was physically telling me it needed a break. My husband and I have also been trying to conceive for almost 2 years and so I thought taking a break from work might help in that process. Well, turns out there are some other fertility issues at play and so we’re still on that journey. My husband is also unhappy at his job and is beginning to search for something new. So…all that to say…we’ve just been starting to ask the “What now?” question. Thank you for your words of encouragement. They resonated with my current life experience more than you know. I love how our Papa uses his children to speak to each other. I’m new to your blog and have been blessed just in the last couple of days. Many blessings on your journey of faith and life.—Ruth

  63. says

    I totally get it. All the way. Or as much as one person can get another who she’s never met. Because we did the crazy thing. Left everything in the city {family, work, income, comfort, history} and moved to a farm. {Talk about CRAZY!} We felt led by the Lord. There’s no other way you can do that kind of crazy. It’s been almost a year. We have fleeting moments of “This is crazy!” But mostly, we feel freedom. Blessings to you in the journey.

  64. Catherine says

    Thanks for sharing. I can so relate. About 19 years ago, my husband and I did the same thing. He was pastoring a small church in SC and all we knew was that it was time to move on to the next thing. God confirmed it for us by giving us in separate prayer times the verse in Genesis 12:2: Leave your home and go where I will show you. (I’m paraphrasing a bit.) At that time in our lives, something like that (each of us getting the same verse in personal prayer) had never happened. We knew then it was a God thing and we obeyed, no matter how uncertain the future seemed. It was the beginning of an incredible journey that taught us sooo much about the big-ness of God and His willingess to provide. I cried as I read your blog. I sense in the Spirit that God has you where he wants you and He will continue to lead and provide.
    I’d also like to thank you for that post. Long story short, it made me remember things about God’s faithfulness that I needed reminding of at this junxure in my life. Ijust recently found your blog and your writing is like a breath of fresh air to my arid soul.

  65. Brigette says

    We have had a couple of plunges into the “what next” zone and God brought us all the way from Texas to a city in Northern Ontario for my husband to start as youth pastor! It was unexpected but so good! Of course the “what next moments don’t ever really stop, do they? Now the church that we moved up here for is looking for a new senior pastor and we are wondering the same thing again. We plan to stay, but are eagerly anticipating the new things God is going to do here in this church. (On a side note- I don’t know if a Senior Pastorship is something you guys are looking for, but ours is looking. hint hint 😉 http://www.emcc.ca/upload/files/1/docs/Lake%20Shore%20Senior%20Pastor%20Posting.pdf God bless!!

  66. says

    LOVE this post. I’m so glad I found your blog. I find your post encouraging, honest and transparent. Thanks for sharing your gift of writing. I’m excited to see what the Lord has next for you and your family.

  67. Tiffany says

    The “what now?” pondering leads me to a translation of a passage I found years ago and is one that always rings with my heart.

    “This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are.” – Romans 15-16 MSG

  68. says

    Sweet Emily, I stumbled across your blog and read this post today. I can’t tell you how much it encouraged me. I’m engaged to an active duty Air Force officer and we are awaiting his relocation orders. It can seem like a scary situation (not knowing where we will be living once we are married) and I just wanted to let you know how much the words spoken from your heart have touched mine. Have a blessed day!

  69. says

    I got to this post through your post at (In)courage today. What an amazing stage in your life. I LOVE that you and your husband are taking out this time to do all that you are doing. What a gift. I don’t see it as unprofessional or irresponsible at all. It is the best. God would call it exactly the opposite. One could get jealous (I know I am.) God bless you as this journey and season continues! That he does what He desires to you and that He directs and speaks to you in very sweet and powerful ways. Much love!

  70. toni kingsbury says

    Emily, thanks so much for your encouraging words. My husband just quit his job as one of the pastors (creative pastor) in our church 2 weeks ago. God has called him out of this position at our church and we are left with “what’s next” now. So, hearing your heart was a blessing for me today. I am learning to just “be still” before my Heavenly Father!
    Thanks again,

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