Flipped and Turned Upside-Down: The Michael and Carli Story

Michael and Carli

It all began innocuously. Two years ago, Michael was happily developing websites from his home in Georgia. His wife, Carli, was an interior designer/ architectural space planner and together they were raising their two girls. They and the Foxes were good friends and attended the same church, and Michael designed the Foxes’ website as they (the Foxes) prepared to join our team in Spain. We liked his work so much on Camino de Fox that when it came time to re-design this blog, The Sweet Road, we hired him to do it.

Then, funny stuff started happening. A friend said we really needed to have a website for Pilgrim House (PH), even though we weren’t open yet. This friend recommended Gabe, the web developer his church had hired. We liked their website, and we almost did reach out to Gabe, but a nudge kept saying, “Michael. Go back to Michael.” So we contacted Michael and hired him to build the PH site. He created our first logo, which we all really liked:

Pilgrim House

As we shared with him about the Pilgrim House project, he asked questions, we in turn shared more, and he asked more questions. By the end, he had captured the PH vision perfectly and the resulting website looked amazing (to us!):

Pilgrim House Santiago

At one point we asked, “Are you sure you don’t want to join our team? Your giftedness in communication and web stuff would be a great asset.” We were half-joking, but unbeknownst to us the Lord had been slowly preparing Michael’s heart to go that direction. Yet he thought, “Carli will never go for this. Lord, if you really want us to pursue this, you’ll have to convince Carli, too.”

A month after we launched the PH website, Carli emailed us. She was an architectural space planner and would love to offer her services, from afar, if we ever needed help with plans for the welcome center and the future hostel. I wrote back, “As we told Michael, ‘Are you sure you don’t want to come to Spain and join the Pilgrim House team?’ Think about it! You guys have some gifts that could be well-utilized here.”

Carli responded, “Oh my. As odd as this is going to sound, your email made me cry. Just in the past few days the thought occurred to me, seemingly out of nowhere, that God might be taking us somewhere new; perhaps even far away. I’d be lying if I said that Pilgrim House hadn’t crossed my mind, but it seemed a ridiculous, fleeting thought. I think I even said something to the Lord like, “Okay so if Faith and Nate extended an invitation for us to come, then I might consider it”…I mean, what are the odds of that?? So, you can imagine how shocking (and scary, and exciting) it was to get your email!”

NO WAY!! was our reaction.

A few days later, Michael and Carli had the Foxes over for dinner and shared that they were thinking about applying to join the team (the Foxes would leave Georgia to move to Spain a month later). Carli later said she was watching closely for Danielle’s first reaction – if it were genuine excitement, she’d know Danielle really wanted them to do this. But if it were a reserved, “Oh really? Yay,” she’d feel like she was stepping on the Foxes’ toes. Danielle loved the idea and showed it, and Carli felt another confirmation.

A couple weeks later, we Skyped with Michael and Carli to talk not about the PH website as we had done all those previous times, but about joining the team. It was hilarious! Michael was shell-shocked and quiet the entire meeting – he still couldn’t believe that the Lord was confirming, little by little, that they should keep pursuing this road to Spain. It had been so out of the blue and totally foreign to his everyday world.

In the last year, Michael and Carli were accepted to ITeams and they attended orientation and training. Michael kept developing websites as his day job, but they started meeting with friends to build their prayer and support team. We also had to revise our logo (because the mayor rejected the first one), and Michael designed the new one, which we all liked even more than the first:

Terra Nova Pilgrim House logo

One big moment we’d all been waiting for happened April 30, exactly one year after Carli had written us the email above that was the culmination – and the beginning – of what the Lord had been doing in their lives. They came to Spain on a confirmation trip to meet the team and ensure they liked us, to see Santiago and Spain, and to walk the Camino.

Carli and Michael in Sarria, about to start walking the Camino (photo by Jeremiah and Danielle):


Michael’s feet and ankles were really red and swollen when he got back to Santiago. It turns out he had developed sun poisoning on the Camino – and the poor guy, his feet looked like hobbit feet:


We had two team meetings while they were here, and we worked well all together (something that’s very important to ascertain during a confirmation trip!):


Michael and Carli are now back in Georgia, getting ready for the day when they can move here permanently. They’ll attest that it really is a funny thing when your life gets flipped and turned upside-down. However, looking back, we all see how well their personalities, gifts, and perspectives complement the team and Pilgrim House. We look forward to seeing how the rest of their story will unfold, up-close and in Spain (of all things)!


You can read more about their journey at their blog, A Pilgrim’s Way.


This entry was posted in Amigos, International Teams, Keeping Faith, Milestones, On the Camino, Pilgrim House. Bookmark the permalink.
  • Jennabeth

    Wow, so this post was a while ago, but it brought tears to MY eyes, reading about the extended invitation! :) It is amazing to see how God works. Being in a similar place of stepping out in faith, I am so excited to hear how it will all happen!