I still remember the moment I knew. I was on a trip to visit my friend who lived in Guthrie, Oklahoma. A senior in high-school with big aspirations to go full-time with photography, I saw myself living on the East Coast (where my family lived) for the rest of my life. But on this one day, it was a cool November evening, outside my friend's house in Oklahoma, I heard a still and quiet voice within my heart say, "You're going to move here one day." My response? "Cool."
It wasn't a lightning-struck-me kind of moment. I didn't see a big sign in the sky. I had never even been to the Midwest before. I don't think I said anything to anyone about it. I just felt this tug to move to Oklahoma one day and knew that it was God pulling on my heart.
The next summer, I graduated high-school and my loose plan was that after I got back from my missions trip in Guatemala, I would move to Oklahoma. That didn't happen. Fast forward one year later, I'm still on the East Coast with my family. People started asking, "Weren't you going to move to Oklahoma?" I nodded my head, and recited my rehearsed answer. "I was going to move, but it just wasn't the time financially. It's still going to happen though!" And I hung onto that. I had heard God correctly, right? I mean, it had been God speaking, RIGHT? The three years after I heard that still voice say to me "you're moving to Oklahoma one day" were filled with lots of prayers and waiting and answering questions with, "I don't know."
One year later, my family was packing up their bags to move to Florida and I knew that I wasn't supposed to move with them. I knew that this was the time to move to Oklahoma. Even if I didn't know exactly how or when. (Just flying by the seat of my pants and living in my parents house while they were trying to sell it. I took it one day at a time.)
A month later, my friends Caleb and Kristen offered me a room in their house that they were building just outside of Guthrie, Oklahoma. I accepted and that meant I was officially moving to Oklahoma after three and a half years of waiting. It felt like I could finally have an answer for people. "Yes, I'm moving in a few months!" But the question "Okay, I'm confused. Why Oklahoma?" still came around just as often.
I moved in with them in January of 2015 and lived with them for nine months which was wonderful and sweet and growing and right. When September rolled around, I had already visited Tulsa and fallen in love. Something about that city just wrapped itself around my heart and I needed to be there. But after a few weeks of seriously looking at my finances and thinking about this — obviously — huge decision, I realized that it would probably be better to move home for a few months and save up some money. So I did.
I think it’s important to note here that this wasn’t an easy decision. While I love my family more than any other group of people in the world, I had gotten a taste of being independent and I loved it. If you’re in the same boat, thinking of moving home, or needing to, just know that it doesn’t make you any less of a capable human. I think it’s important, especially as young adults, to realize that we need help sometimes. I needed six months to step away from all of the adult responsibilities of living alone and save some serious money to move to my dream city to do what I loved. Hey, that’s okay! On top of that, creating and working towards an admirable and achievable goal can be motivating! I gave myself six months to save up enough money to move to Tulsa and I worked my butt off those six months. Plus, I got to be with my family. A win-win situation.
After six months of being at home, saving money like a crazy person, I moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma. That was almost a year ago.
I still don’t know the complete answer to, “Why Oklahoma?” I can tell you that in Tulsa, I feel the most “at home” I ever have. I can tell you that I’ve met people that get me and have welcomed me in unconditionally. I can tell you that photography is *working* here and I love the creative industry in Tulsa more than I ever could have imagined. The coffee shops, the vibes, the energy in the air. It’s my city. And I feel like I belong here, which is a beautiful thing.
I recently read a quote that said, “Oh, sweet friends, our God is so faithful. And so vocal. If only we would be brave enough to believe that we do, in fact, recognize His voice.” I believe that six years ago, I heard the still voice of my Father in heaven saying, “This place is going to mean a lot more to you than you know. Just press in and trust me. You’ll be here someday.” I didn’t know why. I didn’t know how. I didn’t know when. But I knew that I recognized God’s quiet whispers and that I could trust Him to come through on His promise.
It was a long period of waiting. And wondering. And fielding questions I didn’t know the answers to. But it’s oh so sweet to be on the other end of that waiting period and see, even in part, the fulfillment of a promise. And I believe that if you are in the middle of that sort of waiting, there is an end and it is so beautiful. God’s in the business of bringing things together and making situations and people whole again.
So, why Oklahoma? While I did know some people, and the beauty of owning my own business is that I can pick up and move anywhere, I felt pulled to move here. An invisible force, slowly moving me closer and closer to this place until I finally landed here. I honestly can’t explain it any other way besides, “Jesus.” And that’s good enough for me.