Read more by Leanne!

I never expected to be living in Tualatin, Oregon again.

I’ve visited many times over the past two years of living in Boise, but it’s so different to know that I’m here to stay, at least for the short time being. It’s going to be quite a while before I make that seven-hour drive to Boise again, and I don’t have a job, home, or possessions waiting for me when I return.

I have to admit, I was sort of afraid to come back here. I was afraid that being back in my hometown, the past two years of my life would feel like a dream. I was afraid of reverting back to who I was or not being able to remember the identity that I came to know while I lived in Boise.

It makes sense that you’d change a lot in two years, but I still can’t describe the extent to which I transformed. I imagine it would be something like the wonder of watching a caterpillar turn into a butterfly or experiencing the new life of spring for the first time.

I grew up in the church. I didn’t just go to a service Sunday morning, but, with a pastor as a father, “church” was a way of life. I knew everything there was to know about the bible and I could probably dominate you at bible trivia. I did what I thought I was supposed to do to be considered “good” by church standards.

The problem was that I was doing it all out of what had been ingrained in me and not out of a personal desire, and that ultimately became my downfall. As soon as I found things that did fulfill my personal desires, church took a backseat. I know this sounds like a pretty typical pastor’s kid story, but the difference is that I didn’t do anything that crazy or disastrous. No partying, no drugs, no rebelliousness. I simply chose my own way and let my career take the number one spot in my life.

After moving to Boise, everything changed. God used that new environment to teach me lessons that I never could have learned otherwise. I was so far from Him up until this point, but when I needed Him I discovered that He had been there all along. He let me wander down the path of my own self just so I could see how unfulfilling that really was. He revealed Himself to me in a way that I had never experienced up to that point.

I love what Jesus says to Peter after he proclaims Him as the Messiah: “Blessed are you… for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.”

Through the power of His Spirit, God did what a whole life in church wasn’t able to do: He introduced me to Himself.

Knowing God – and not just knowing about Him – has transformed every area of my life, and it’s a journey that I’m still walking through. The reason I’m back here in Portland is because He’s leading me into His plan for my life and not my own plan. The funny thing is, it’s so much better. I love photography, and I love that God can use it to share what else He has planned for me. But I never dreamed of being able to travel the world, work with developing nations, bring love and light and hope to people that need it most.

So, that’s why being back has been a little disorienting. Thankfully, I haven’t forgotten everything God has done over the past two years. I remember well, and I can see the evidence of it everywhere. I can see it in the things I think about as I walk around and look at nature. I can see it in the way I wake up and read my bible instead of a business or marketing blog. I can see it in my desire to love the people I’m blessed to be around instead of putting relationships low on my list of priorities.

Now, the struggle is making sure that I give myself grace for who I used to be, because I know God does. I have to shift my perspective from being critical of myself, to being thankful. Thankful that God rescued me from myself. Thankful that He can bring life over and over and over again.

Thankful that He makes flowers grow on bare branches.

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we are the rileys

We are a newlywed couple serving in Christian missions.

God has called us to Youth With a Mission in Perth, Australia. We have a heart for the city of Perth and for reaching Aboriginal people here in Western Australia. We would also love to see transformation and mobilisation through partnering with local initiatives in other nations in short-term outreach trips. Together, we have a passion for mentorship and discipleship of young people. Chris is gifted in meeting practical needs, and Leanne has a big desire for the sphere of Media & Communications.

This is our blog, a place to share what God is doing as well as things we learn as we journey through the adventure of following Jesus!