I always love when God takes simple, every day things that I deal with all the time, and refreshingly reveals something completely new to me. A couple months ago, I was driving home from my friend Sarah’s house in Fort Wayne headed back to Noblesville nearly two hours away. Being a very sentimental person (that’s an understatement), I found myself on a mental journey back through my past as I passed exit after exit that reminded me of a significant time period in my life. Never before had I really noticed this during all the times I have driven down I-69, but this time was different, and it was hard not to get caught up in the emotion of all that I was able to remember about the special places each exit led to.
Let me give you a quick recap of my life down I-69:
Exit 96: Zanesville. The little town that housed nearly all of my best friends in High School. The group of people that I spent nearly every summer evening with there hold a special place in my heart.
Exit 86: Norwell High School. Home schooler or not, Norwell was my school. I might be the only 25-year-old who still misses High School sometimes, but that’s the honest truth. I’m so thankful for the great group of people I met at Norwell and got to do life with during that crazy and confusing time.
Exit 78: Home. Need I say more? Home is everything. It’s where I grew up until I moved to college. It’s my family. It’s the house my baby sister was born in 21 years ago. There’s no place like it.
Exit 64: Indiana Wesleyan. This is where I spent my first year as a college student. I was young, nervous, broken, and vulnerable, and this school welcomed me with open arms. It was a refreshing year for me and I’m thankful for that time I was given to figure out who I was as a student, as a woman, and as a Christian.
Exit 59: Kokomo. Not too far from Indiana Wesleyan. Who knew this town that I had only visited once to get my nose pierced on a whim in college would be the town where I would marry my husband and start a new phase of my life as a wife. What a blessing my husband has been in my life. Not only does the entire Sprinkle family and some of our best friends still live there, but Kokomo will always hold sweet memories for us.
Exit 41: Ball State. Wow. Such a huge part of why I am who I am today. I experienced so much heartache there. So much change. So much breakthrough. I met several of the best friends I’ll ever have there. I met my husband there. I got a degree. I learned what I’m passionate about. God took me to new levels in my relationship with Him. What a valuable and precious time those years were.
Exit 34: Oneighty. The exit I now take weekly to get to Union Chapel and the 180 building in Muncie. Not only did this church play a huge part in my life during my time in college there, but over the last seven months I have been able to pursue my calling and my ministry on a deeper level as an Associate Youth Pastor there. At age 25 I had my “dream job.” What a blessing that has been.
Exit 10: Noblesville. Whew. What a ride. This is my stop. After some bumpy years, God led us here. To Genesis Church where my husband is the Creative Arts Director. I now own a business called CarisDesign where we specialize in photography and cinematography. I love our apartment. I love our community. I love our church. I know this exit may not be our stop forever, but for however long he has us here I will be so thankful.
Looking back through each stop off of I-69, I can’t help but get emotional. That’s just how I’m wired. However, rather than get caught up in the sentimentality of things that are permanently over, I look at the way God has been so faithful in leading me to the next “exit” where He needed to allow that place and those circumstances to grow and shape me. It was hard, and not all of my memories at each stop are pleasant. Some still hurt. But rather than focus on each “exit” and each memory, I somehow was able to drive two hours down I-69 and get a glimpse of the bigger picture. Glancing at each exit as I passed it, I saw God’s fingerprints all over that time in my life. Thank you, Jesus, for your redemptive work in my life. And thank you for highway I-69.