Most of you know I recently graduated from APU with a degree in Psychology… and you probably also know that I don’t know what career I will be pursuing in the future quite yet. I decided against grad school mainly because I don’t know exactly what I would study, and also because of the money. I have lots of student debt to pay off and have no intention of adding to it anytime soon!
Anyways, I knew that I had to figure something out for my life, but wasn’t sure exactly how to go about this. A couple years ago I visited the DC/Maryland/Virginia district for the first time in MANY years and fell completely in love. The scenery, the culture, the architecture, the history… you might be surprised by that since I have lived and breathed California air since birth, but I’ve felt for a long time that I was meant to be in another state! Heck I almost went to Oregon for college!
I have thought that I should move to the east coast since the first day I saw D.C. and Virginia in June 2016. I knew it felt like home from that moment and wanted to make it so in the future. I still had a couple years left of college so it would have to wait a while. Once I graduated this past December, I decided to make it my goal to move there by the end of this year. Little did I know that God would have a plan for me that I never would have expected!
Last October, my friend from work at APU sent me a link to the website of the place she had been working at for the previous 5 months. She told me she thought I would be interested and said to look into it. I was surprised she didn’t explain much about it, but I am glad that she didn’t because it forced me to look into it and research it for myself. Once I saw what the job was, I was surprised that I wasn’t immediately reluctant about it since it wasn’t something I thought I would ever do. I was shocked that my initial feeling was actually curiosity and even peace.
I began reading on the page about a place called “Jill’s House”, a Christian non-profit organization in Vienna Virginia that provides respite care to families with children that have intellectual disabilities. This was so random that it actually peaked my interest even more. The next thing I did was continue messaging my friend and asking questions, probably too many if you ask her… lol. I told my family about it, and they all had mixed opinions; my dad mainly just wanted to know where it was and if it was a safe area, where I would be living… ya know all the logistics. Others of my friends and family were telling me I had to go and would be crazy to turn the opportunity down.
For the next 4 months I wrestled and went back and forth on the idea of applying for this job… the benefits of it seemed insurmountable and it also presented itself as the only way for me to get to the East Coast. I knew I needed to actually want the job though, and not just the location. Before applying I honestly had almost decided to not go through with it, and looking back I think Satan was really trying to keep me away from this because he knew it would be good for me. Thankfully, my boyfriend Daniel encouraged me to go for it because I would regret it if I didn’t at least try. I knew he was right, so I went for it!
A few days later I got a call back from Jill’s House saying they wanted to interview me via Skype. (talk about intimidating!!) I have never done this before and had no clue what to expect. To my surprise, it went so well, and I felt SO comfortable with the people who interviewed me. I could tell they came from a place where Christ was the center, and that put my heart at peace with the process! A few days later I was told that I was selected for the “Finalist Weekend” where Jill’s House flies me out to Virginia for a weekend of interviewing and shadowing. This turned out to be an amazing experience.
Throughout that weekend, I felt so at ease that it honestly started to freak me out. I didn’t know why I wasn’t nervous like all of the other girls, and seriously didn’t even treat it like a job interview. It felt as though I already had the job (and I really don’t mean that in a boastful way!) and that it was already my “home”. Working with the kids while shadowing current “fellows” (what I will soon be called!) was something I was most nervous about but ended up being the most enjoyable part of the weekend.
Going into my shadow shifts, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I have one cousin who has Autism, Ethan. He is quite a bit younger than me, and I actually remember him being born and seeing him as an infant! As he started to develop, doctors diagnosed him with Autism and said he would never talk or function typically. I don’t remember this happening super well, but I do remember him crying a lot as a baby. After tons of prayer and trust in God, Ethan made leaps and bounds in his development, and today his Autism is very mild. He functions very well and speaks, just like the doctors always said he wouldn’t do.
When I was younger and Ethan was growing up, I remember my Aunt Gina (his mom) telling me I had a “gift” when it came to interacting with Ethan. I didn’t quite understand what she meant at the time, and eventually forgot about this. During family gatherings though, I could tell that I was a little better at communicating with Ethan than most others. My aunt told me I would work with children with disabilities someday, and I didn’t even remember this until I started talking about this job and my mom reminded me.
This was just another thing that piled onto the stack of things telling me I needed to move to Virginia and take this job. So many “signs” it was almost impossible for me to deny it. I’m not always open to that sort of thing, but I just couldn’t get past this without seeing the obvious signs in front of me, which I believe were put there by God.
So, two days after this finalist weekend, I got a call from Jill’s House saying they would like to offer me this job, and that I would need to respond within those next three days… I was surprised by this since they had previously said it would take a couple weeks. But I already knew what my answer was. Actually, I had known deep down what my answer was for quite some time.
A couple days later, I emailed them that I would like to accept the job offer. I knew that would start a difficult journey for me but knew it would be the biggest and most rewarding life change for me yet. I was excited, and I hoped that everyone around me would join me in that feeling.
This was a while ago, and I neglected to announce publicly for a few reasons. One of those being out of fear. I honestly did think that once I told everyone I’m moving to Virginia, they would automatically assume it was for Daniel. You wouldn’t believe the number of people I’ve told personally who have made comments about that exact assumption. While it really feels insulting, I understand why people think that at first.
Many of you might even still believe that after I tell you he isn’t the reason. But I am still going to defend myself in this regard if I can. I am making this move for myself. I am taking this job for myself. Heck, I’ve been dying to move out since I was like 14 years old. It’s not because I hate my parents (I really don’t), but rather because my parents have raised me to be SO independent. I envied my sister because she got to move to Hawaii and live on her own. I was still a sophomore in High School! This has been on my mind for years, and it’s finally happening.
I have two years to basically do whatever I want, grow, learn and build my life up. In June 2020, Daniel will commission as an Officer in the United States Navy. No one knows yet where he will end up, but the way it’s looking now, I will be joining him. I will never say that I’ll be “stuck” to follow him around (at least in a serious manner), but the reality is that I will have to go with him wherever this country sends him. For the next two years, I get to decide where to go, where to live, and what to do with my life. This is what I am choosing.
For those of you who think this move will make it easier for me and Daniel, I get it. I actually thought that too at first. But thinking it over, it might even make it more difficult. This summer when Daniel comes home for leave, I will be in Virginia working full time. It will be the first time that he’s home when I’m not. It will be weird, and honestly really hard for me. It’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make though.
With this job, I’ll be working 44 hours per week minimum, and my days off will be Monday and Tuesday; weird right? Well, Daniel’s days off are Saturday and Sunday… so when will we see each other you ask? That’s a great question… one that will only be answered in time. I will be the busiest I’ve ever been while working at Jill’s House. This won’t make anything easier, but it’ll definitely make everything more rewarding. I’ve said that word a lot, but for good reason.
My Fellowship at Jill’s House will only be one year. After that, I don’t know what my next step will be. I don’t have a clue where I will be mentally, spiritually, emotionally. Most of the current fellows have said this has been the hardest yet most fulfilling year of their lives so far. I am looking forward to taking part in this as well. I have been looking for something to fulfill my life, and I truly believe this will be what does that.
I don’t know that this job will lead me to a similar career path, but I do know it will be something challenging yet rewarding that I will continually learn and grow from. I honestly can’t wait to move and get started, to just see where the Lord takes me.
So you’re probably wondering… when and where exactly are you moving? After wondering the same thing myself I have finally found out the exact day I need to be there, which is June 3rd. Training starts on June 4th, and it’ll be a long ride I’m sure. My new home will be Fairfax, VA and my new workplace will be in Vienna, VA!
Thank you for your support and kind words for those of you who I have already spoken to about this. It means the world!
If you would like to read more about my job at Jill’s House, you can read about it here.
If you want to see me before I move, PLEASE contact me. I seriously want to spend these last less than 2 months cherishing everything and everyone there is in California. While I say that “I hate California” pretty often, I know there are so many things about it that I will miss, especially my friends and family!