It’s 5am and the tears will not stop flowing as I walk through the parking lot of LAX. I just dropped off my dad for his flight back home to Florida and now I truly have nothing familiar left.
Onwards to Los Angeles
Dad and I hit the open road. This would be the day that we would finally get to our destination. I wasn’t able to fully sleep the night before because I was feeling so many things that I hadn’t gotten a chance to process since we were on the move for so long. It made me wonder if I would ever feel normal again. It’s funny to say because for the last 3 years I was anxious to leave my little town and now I’m anxious about starting over somewhere new. Things are different now. Everything would be different and that was scary, change was scary but also very exciting. This whole adventure was filled with so much unknown but encouragement was at every corner.
“Be strong and courageous.”Joshua 1:9
The scenery of driving through Utah to Nevada was amazing! We were literally on the side of a mountain, going over gorges, and bopping to music along the way. Even though I didn’t get a chance to take any pictures, it was a view that I will carry in my heart until I go back.
We drove through Las Vegas and the landscape went from plains and mountains to skyscrapers and turnpikes. It took me by surprise. And I realized that it had been a few days since we had driven through a city. The reality that our trip was coming to an end started to hit me. The road trip was ending and we were nearing our final destination.
I mean I should be fine right? I had been preparing my heart for 3 years for this moment. For the first to the last step. I don’t know what I thought it would look like but I guess I thought it would feel more thrilling and exciting. But it just felt unknown. The road in front of me was blank, nothing that I could picture or know. It’s sort of like peering into the dark. Or jumping off a cliff and not knowing where the bottom was. But I knew who I was with. My heavenly father had told me over and over again that he would take care of me. That he is with me. That he had prepared everything and I only needed to show up.
‘Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.’Psalms 119:105
The Lord was my lamp and he was shining the way. The thing with God is that you can always be expecting good things. I was excited to see how he would surprise me.
I remember crossing the border into California and driving through the long desert towards the cities, just talking to my dad. Trying to soak up all the conversation I can before we had to part. It was easy not to cry with my dad at my side.
During the car ride, I talked to my dad about various things. I mean really talked to him, asking him about his heart’s desires and his future plans. We talked about family, relationships, and business plans. I love my dad. He was the only one who listened to me about my plans to purchase a tiny house and he not only took me seriously but encouraged me as well. Throughout the whole trip he was always so patient with me. Even when I got cranky from being in a car too long, (I don’t really like road trips.)
Also the desert between the CA border and the cities is so long. It felt like two hours before we hit any city. We had taken the I-15, so the first city we encountered was Barstow, then Victorville, and then we got to LA county. We were staying in Whitter and arrived there around 3pm. We put our bags down for the last time during this trip.
We laid down and booked my dad a flight back home. He was so tired but of course he would never say it. Since we were finally in the city I wanted to run around and do things. I’m not sure why but it felt like I should immediately get to work and fulfill my purpose. As if I needed to validate my reason for coming to Los Angeles. I could feel myself going stir crazy from being first in the car for hours than inside an airbnb. I turned on the TV and played with my phone to distract myself from these feelings that were eating a hole in my gut. Then I remember that it was Sunday. I looked up the service times for the church that I wanted to attend during my time in LA. Huzzah! They had a 6pm service. It was only 5pm so we’d get there with plenty of time to spare. Or so I thought. When I mapped out the route it showed that it was 45 minutes away. I double check the address and then triple check it. I was shocked the churches I attended back home were only 15 minutes away and that was the max amount of drive time. I asked my dad if we should go, hoping he’d say no. I was tired of being in a car for long periods of time. But his response was a gentle, “Let’s go.”
We hit the road once again and realized that I needed to pump gas which took a while since the pumps were different than what I was used to. I had to ask the cashier what the issue was. Apparently you have to push the nozzle all the way in. For some reason it took me wayyy too long to master this but I digress. When we finally got to where the church was, I was confused. In Florida there was always a parking lot and the building always had a huge sign that said, “I’m here!” But in LA everything looked the same. I figured that it was easier to park and then find the building on foot. But of course parking was horrible in the city (I’m looking at you, Glendale.) It felt as if it took another 15 minutes to look for and find parking. I had given up on hearing any part of the sermon. We reached the church, went in, and found seats during announcements. And then they introduced the Pastor and my heart sang. We had made it on time.
Pastor Jen talked about transformation.
‘I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.’Romans 12:1-2
Do not conform. Be transformed. Message translations don’t conform to the culture. God brings out the best of you.
So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.Romans 12:1 MSG
We are invited to a lifelong process of your mind being renewed. Be teachable, humble, life long learner. Complete transformation.
‘“Ho! Everyone who thirsts, Come to the waters; And you who have no money, Come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk Without money and without price. Why do you spend money for what is not bread, And your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, And let your soul delight itself in abundance. Incline your ear, and come to Me. Hear, and your soul shall live; And I will make an everlasting covenant with you— The sure mercies of David. Indeed I have given him as a witness to the people, A leader and commander for the people. Surely you shall call a nation you do not know, And nations who do not know you shall run to you, Because of the Lord your God, And the Holy One of Israel; For He has glorified you.” Seek the Lord while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the Lord , And He will have mercy on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon. “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.’Isaiah 55:8-11
The Word of God is living and impactful.
‘Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.’Colossian 3:2
‘casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,’II Corinthians 10:5
‘and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.’Philippians 4:7-8
Think good things and don’t let your thoughts run your life.
Your thoughts are driving what you feel.
Your thoughts are driving your feelings.
Your feelings change into actions.
Your actions become your reality.
If you want to change your reality you need to start first with your thoughts.
You were made for relationship. To live in Community.
You need people who will push you higher and who will tell you the hard truth.
‘And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.’Acts 2:42
Why live at 40% when 100% is available?Pastor Jeniffer Toledo
(Find the full sermon here: The Recipe For Personal Transformation)
I could not keep my voice from cracking when I spoke to the Pastor after service. She was very encouraging and approachable. She reminded me that life groups started this week and that I would find a community to do life with. I thanked her and then went out into the foyer to cry some more from this loneliness that was starting to seep in, and God sent me a comforter in the flesh. She held me as I cried and spoke life over me. She told me that there’s going to be healing of the feeling of uncertainty in my life. “The quality of your life is determined by the amount of uncertainty you can comfortably live with.“ She prayed for me and reassured me that things would be alright. Of course I cried some more before I parted ways with her.
Dad and I went to dinner at Darcy’s Place in downtown Los Angeles. We found a parking lot 3 blocks away that was free of charge after 9pm and walked to the restaurant. Downtown LA at night is definitely unique. It was so different from the touristy downtown we had back home. There was a place called The Last Bookstore that looked like it would be a fun place to stop by and hang out sometime. When we got to the restaurant we realized how popular Darcy’s Place was. There was a clipboard at the entrance with a sheet to write down your name and the number of people in your party. After filling that out we had to wait to be seated. When we got in the building to our table the lights were dim and there was a certain ambience to it. We ended up taking our meals to go because we didn’t want to stay out too late since we had an early morning.
The Next Day
I woke up my dad up at 4am and we got ready. I double checked to make sure that he had all that he needed and we drove toward LAX airport. Even in the early morning there was still quite a bit of traffic. We made it ahead of time and I found somewhere to park the car after navigating. It was the first time I had to drop someone off at the airport and park.
The Los Angeles airport is huge. We had to ask for directions several times before finally making it to the right terminal. I remember reminding my father to stay alert to not miss his second flight since he had a layover in a different city. I gave him 3 or 4 hugs before finally saying goodbye. As he got into the line to go through security I turned around and started to take deep breaths as I walked away.
I recall crying under the stars while walking all the way back to my car. I couldn’t believe I was here. I couldn’t believe I made it all the way to Los Angeles. With only a road trip plan and nothing more.
I had all these thoughts running through my mind. All these “What ifs.” What if God doesn’t come through for me? What if I heard wrong? What if this doesn’t work out? What if I shouldn’t have done this? Needless to say that I cried all the way back to my airbnb. When I got in, laid down and let the tears continue to flow freely. Not even 30 minutes later I got a video call from my cousin. He had been very encouraging throughout the whole process and I was relieved to see a familiar face. He reminded me why I went to Los Angeles in the first place and I remembered who God was. He wasn’t someone who played games with me nor one who would send me out without a purpose. Nor did I move forward without confirming multiple times that he was the one sending me and this was the right direction. We talked, laughed, and prayed. After I got off the phone with him feeling full of faith, 3 job offers came in and the person that prayed for me last night offered me her place to stay while she was out of town for the next two weeks. I laughed and thanked God. I don’t even know why I was worried in the first place. He always takes care of me.
Today marks a month since I’ve been in Los Angeles. I just had coffee for the first time in months.
I’m surprised…no that’s the wrong. I’m delighted to say the least. My God promised that He would take care of me if I took this step of faith and in the midst of grumbling and low key panicking He has carried me through all of it. If I were to say one thing about this whole experience it would be that I didn’t know the whole picture and I got caught up in the bad side of moments. Literally, whenever there was a problem it was either solved by the end of the day or within a week. The key was to not panic and even if I did panic all I’d have to do is bring myself back to the simple truth of “God has always provided for me. If there is a problem, He has already created the solution. So why panic or worry, right?” My spiritual mom said, “When you see a death, look for the resurrection.”
When I quit my first job here, I found and started another one within a week.
When I didn’t know where I was going to stay. I encountered a woman of God who said, “Stay with me at no cost until you figure it out.” She even gave me a bed!
Whenever I started to get lonely someone would call me to just chat. I’ve never felt so loved!
So I can say this with great confidence, God IS good and He has ALREADY provided.
“How do you like it here in LA?”
This is a question that I always get when I tell people I’m new to the area. After 8 months of being here this is what I have to say,
Being out here on my own has made me focus more on me and what I want and feel and like doing. I’ve started to hone in on the path and lay the foundation that will set me up for the life I want to live.
At the same time God is telling me not to rush or feel overwhelmed. That there’s time to have fun, enjoy, work, and rest.