Some days I don’t even put out the paint. The kids in my classroom range from the stick-everything-in-their-mouth stage, to full conversations about dinosaur underwear (in other words, 1.5-3ish years old). But whatever stage they’re in, paint always makes a mess. Especially when there are 15 toddlers in one room—and that’s on a quiet day. 

Yeah, I really don’t like giving them the paint.

But I don’t think that’s how God guides our lives. 

Two years ago, just before we started hearing hints of “Covid-19”, I was serving full-time with YWAM here in Tauranga, New Zealand. I started praying into “what’s next”, knowing something was on the horizon. When lockdown hit, Kona kept running on repeat. So I prepared accordingly. 

I had little clarity on what it looked like, and I didn’t pretend to know. What I did know is that I needed to get rid of my student loan. I could work here in New Zealand or in the States, and in a blur of events, I chose the latter. In another blur—I decided to stay. I got offered a full-time position at a preschool and found myself with a whole lot of paint under my fingernails, daily.

I was reeling from so many sudden changes-of-direction. On more than one occasion, friends asked, “Wait, so what about Kona? Didn’t God tell you to go?”. 

More often than not, I had a feeling he was saying choose. 

As a Christian, I think you go through seasons in life where you need to follow very specific direction from God. You learn trust through obedience, and it’s vital. But other seasons, God throws you that unearthly question—What do you want? Or even scarier, he adds: You choose. 

It’s pretty much like handing a toddler a cup of paint. 

Over ten years ago, God asked me what I wanted, and I dared choose this. I moved to this dreamy coastal city in New Zealand. Yet despite mess after mess, I’ve continued to choose Tauranga over and over again for a decade. It’s home. Even in grief and disappointment, it’s still home.

But as I inched closer and closer to being debt-free, there was this annoying whisper. A whisper I couldn’t shake, no matter how happy I was here.

Kona, Kona, Kona.

Not because it was my life dream to live on a tropical island. Let’s dismiss that one real quick. My life dream was (and still is) to live in New Zealand. I spent 18 years of my life waiting to escape Hawaii, and New Zealand really has been a dream come true.

But there are other dreams waiting.

Dreams like holding my baby nephew whose very life is a miracle. Having a coffee with my mom in person. Writing books and creating art with the world at my fingertips—and using my passports again.

I don’t know if I’m going to stay in Hawaii. But for now, I know I’m called to go. 

So, on the 7th of February (pandemic flight schedule dependent) I will be hopping on a plane to LAX. And in this border-control climate, I am going with uncertainty of when I will make it back to New Zealand. I have a few things lined up for 2022, which are unfolding as you read. But for now, you know my plans are to hug my family and cry my eyes out.

So, sometimes God gives us plateful of paint. It’s scary, and it’s messy. Sometimes you have to scrub off some easels because you missed the paper. Sometimes jeans need that extra bit of soaking time in the washing machine. Sometimes things get so hard, you wonder why he gave you the choice in the first place.

But if God is willing to take that risk, so am I.

So, I keep giving toddlers the paint.