Oct 13, 2015

How we came to be #thesocalrussums...

Three years ago, my life suddenly got turned upside down. We had been living in Arizona for two years, enjoying life as newlyweds, committed to a great church, and building a community of friends in our new state, when suddenly everything changed. Our pastor felt called to the military as a chaplain, our small church closed its doors suddenly, and over the course of a few months, I watched the closest friends I had made in Arizona move away one by one.

We were having a farewell party one night, and we made a toast, "Here's to us all living in California in three years!" At the time, my dear friend Anne was already headed to Southern California to attend seminary, Lisa was about to begin military life with her first stop on the east cost, and I was committed to at least another three years in Arizona to finish grad school. Moving to California seemed like a fun dream, but I never knew it would be a reality.

orange county sunset

Over the next three years, we planted roots in Arizona. God was faithful. He strengthened friendships from our first church, even though our congregation dispersed. He gave us an amazing new church and a community group of close friends and literal neighbors. We bought a house. We brought two baby girls home to that house. Life was good in the desert... so good, in fact, that we thought we'd make it permanent. Micah was ready for a different position at work, so he started pursuing some new roles in the Phoenix area. I tried to get my foot in the door at some local colleges. We were both ready for substantial career changes, but the puzzle pieces weren't fitting together for us to stay in Arizona.

After a few months of "should I apply for this job?" and "would be willing to move there?," Micah sent me a job description over email one day. It was a position in Irvine, California and I simply replied, "That could be fun." Micah ended up interviewing and really clicking with the team in Orange County. We knew moving was a strong possibility, but then everything got put on hold for the whole summer. There wasn't a lot of forward motion with the job, and it started to feel like another dead end. As August came to a close, Micah and I made a decision. He would stop looking for a new position and just wait it out at his current job. I would apply widely to academic jobs this year and then we would move {or stay} if we both found a good job in the same city. Done and done.

Exactly two days after making our "let's hunker down in Phoenix for one more year" plan, Micah got a call from the Irvine office again about a new position that had opened up... and from that phone call everything went at lightning speed. He interviewed for the job on a Friday; they offered it to him the following Monday. He would start three weeks later. And thus began the "we're moving to California!" frenzy. God seemingly opened every door to make this move possible, if not to blatantly push us westward. The details of our finances, our living situations here and there, and my job at ASU have fallen into place better than we ever could have imagined. Every time I've felt fearful or stressed in the past few weeks, I've paused and recounted all the ways God has shown us that he is in control, that he will provide, that he loves us, and that he is always working for our good.

Am I sad about moving? Yes. We had such amazing community in Arizona and I have a handful of girls that have become my best friends. Also, my parents bought a house 15 minutes down the road from us there and my mom is my favorite babysitter. For the past five years, I've been profoundly shaped as a wife and as a mother under the hot Phoenix sun. When the option of moving first presented itself in the spring, I was hugely pregnant and overwhelmed. I cried at the thought of living somewhere new. Then Talitha was born and things settled down, and when the Irvine move seemed to disappear, I suddenly felt a little sad - like maybe we were missing out on an adventure.

And now the adventure is here. I'm sitting on an air mattress in our new home in Orange County, and I'm expectant and melancholy all at the same time. I am overwhelmed by the chaos of moving with two young children while trying to balance teaching and my dissertation and my job applications. I am deeply sad to leave my Arizona friends behind. I am hopeful to make friends here soon, and to experience once again God's grace in new relationships. I am eager to find a church and discover how we can serve our neighbors in this new city.

Oh, and my friends who made the toast three years ago? We are all here now. By God's providential hand, we somehow all live in Southern California. So be warned... don't go making sappy, silly farewell toasts with sparkling apple cider unless you are really ready for God to move you to the location of your dreams.


  1. Ashley C.10/13/15, 12:05 PM

    So cool. So excited for you guys. Bittersweet (selfishly) for us. :) Love the Russums, and excited to hear about this new adventure!

  2. Veronica Lee Burns10/13/15, 1:00 PM

    What a wonderful testimony of God's faithfulness. Kevin and I think we might want to move to Florida one day but it's so hard to think about leaving this community here. I loved reading your story, it gave me a little piece about our dream. God will bring things into fruition in the way it ought as long as we're actively seeking Him and trusting Him.

  3. Stacey10/13/15, 7:27 PM

    Pretty cool story. Glad you're here. :)

  4. Sara10/14/15, 12:28 AM

    Wow! What a cool story! Excited to have you in So Cal! I have an almost 2 year old and I live about 20 minutes north of you in Fullerton! Once the dust settles, if you feel up to making new friends, email me!

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