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Friday, May 9, 2014

Beginning a New Adventure!

The match has finally been found!  The ministry position we have praying for, hoping for, begging God to bring us into, has finally arrived!  This is an answer to so many prayers.  It has felt overdue to us, but of course, is right on God's perfect timing.   John preached in view of a call the last Sunday in April, and then the church voted on him the first Sunday in May, and we officially decided to accept the position a few days ago.  Meet the new "Associate Pastor of Young Adults and Youth" for First Baptist Church of Somerville, Tennessee:
I know, he's a STUD!

This lovely church is desiring to reach out to the community and serve a new generation of folks, and so they have added a Contemporary Service to their Sunday morning schedule.  John's role will be to primarily preach in that service about 3 times a month, and to reach out to young adults and families in the area, in hopes of growing the younger population of the church.  John is also over the youth department, but they have a really cool guy who is doing a wonderful job with the students of the church, and so they want John to first focus on growing the Contemporary service, and then take on more youth department responsibilities later on.  This is located in a community about 45 minutes east of Memphis, near Oakland, not far from where we lived and worked when John was in seminary.  The church population is a really sweet group of people who are already embracing us from afar via phone and facebook!

The past 7 months of unemployment have been a real faith building journey for us.  We have had many opportunities at jobs that seemed almost right, but just not quite.  We've had a few close calls where we were told "Congratulations! You've made it to the next stage of our hiring process, fill in this long questionnaire." Only to be told a month or two later that the position had been filled.   We've had dark days where we felt like we'd never find a church to serve, doubting the call to ministry, doubting our purpose, and listening to fear.  We've had bright hopeful days where we were able to trust in the Lord and wait on Him, and hopefully anticipate service to come.  

We have come through a season in our marriage and personal lives where we were able to really conquer some sin issues, and set up a more firm foundation for how we want to raise our kids.  We were able to travel some and visit good friends that we had not seen in years.  Our parents were able to spend countless hours with Jonah, and now have been able to get to know Karis.  We've made new friends, and learned new things along the way.  

One of the biggest things I feel that has changed in us is our attitude toward others.  Our pride took a big hit when we had to move in with John's dad.  It wasn't too bad at first, but as the months wore on, we began to feel like real lousy, failure degenerates.  College degrees don't matter when neither of you has a job.  Foster parenting twelve other children doesn't matter when you can't show love and patience to your own screaming little urchins who just keep crying. and crying. and crying.  Having no debt doesn't matter when you don't have your own place to call 'home.'  Having to share one vehicle has also been really tough.  I know that sounds shallow, and over half the world does not own even one car, but after being used to always having two cars, and not needing to coordinate our schedules, having freedom to go where and when we pleased, the one car family was a little rough at times.  Realizing new sin in our hearts, and uncovering old sin brought us low to the point of truly understanding once again that our righteousness is just filthy rags.  We are no better than anyone else.  If we didn't have amazing, loving families to come to and live with, then we would have been broke as a joke on our own.  God used our situation to humble us.  It's a beautiful thing too, that when we no longer held ourselves in such high regard, we realized that we are now able to love people so much more because their sin and brokenness is just a reflection of ours.   All sin is sin.  All people are people.  Jesus died for every. single. person. no. matter. what.    
God has brought us to a heart change that I am certain will enable us to love people and serve them with kind hearts instead of being judgmental or condescending.  He has prepared us to serve by teaching us to see people through the lens of grace, instead of the lens of the world.   I am so thrilled and excited to get to know the people of this church and this community and to learn with them, grow with them, and love them.  

We did not make this decision lightly.  We prayed and prayed and prayed and fasted together and called on some of our prayer warrior friends to pray for us, and then we prayed and prayed and prayed and fasted some more.  We fought our fleshy desire to stay as close to home as possible.  We thought of reasons to say no, but kept coming back to the biggest reason to say yes: God calls us to Go and Make Disciples, and He wants us to go.  We have total peace that this is where God wants us to serve.  I saved this K-Love Scripture picture to my phone and prayed it back to God often:
God, we want your will, so show us your path!
We accepted the position and had peace, but then the weight of the world crept in so suddenly that we got stressed out about finding a place to live, how would John get ordained, and how were we supposed to load and unload a U-Haul by ourselves with 2 babies around all day!? The very next day ALL of those problems were handled.  One of the really awesome guys from the church found a condo open right across the road for the church and asked the manager to hold it for us.  He then informed us that we don't even have to pay rent until June 1st.  This is how I explained the next few moments to some dear friends in an e-mail I sent a few days ago:

 "I suddenly started bawling my eyes out.  I felt such joy and peace wash over me as if God was saying, "You may be leaving your family again, but you are stepping into the Body of Christ, where people are so excited to embrace your family!"
I thought about the fact that my grandmother died 2 years ago, and how we are about to gain over 100 new grandparents.  I thought about the fact that every time we've moved before, we've had to find a church.  This time, we're going into a church that is excited to welcome us!  I thought about how hard it has been to move to new places where we don't know anybody, and how now we are moving somewhere where the whole church knows us already, and we get the pleasure of meeting them, and we are close to LOTS of friends we met in Memphis!  I thought about how long we've waited and prayed and begged God for a place to serve, and how perfectly our family is going to fit in here.  Joy washed over me and I kissed the baby over and over and she began to laugh.  Her first laugh!  Jonah's first laugh was the day we had to say goodbye to our foster babies we thought we could adopt, as we got ready to move away from Memphis.  Karis' first laugh was today.
John was out running errands and so we had talked on the phone about the condo.  When he came home, I told him my feelings and he said, "You know what else?  The pastor called and asked me when we are moving because they want to pay for a real moving company to help us move, to help load the boxes and everything, and they want to have a welcoming party for us when we arrive, and people to help us settle in."  WOW!  We have always moved ourselves before, with one or two friends helping lift the heavy things and load the trucks. John unloaded the whole U-Haul alone when we moved into seminary.  I laughed.  We smiled.  The joy is really setting in as this body of believers is already stepping up to help us out as much as they can.
A few minutes later he said, "Oh, and I talked to Brother Michael," our pastor from Bartlett Baptist Church in Memphis where John was the Associate Youth Pastor while he was in seminary, "He said they are already planning to have an ordination service at the end of this month to ordain 2 other guys, and it would be no problem for me to be ordained then too. So as soon as we get there, we can do that too."  Holy Moly!  How many stressful things can be completely taken care of in a matter of hours!? Also, it will be so nice to see some of the people from that church again!"

We serve such an awesome God, who takes care of all of our needs!

We had already planned to celebrate Mother's Day here this weekend, and then Jonah's birthday next weekend.  Then, we are moving on the 20th.  That's TEN DAYS away!  It's Friday, and John and I are going out on a date tonight, to celebrate the job, and to try to get Karis to take a bottle from my mom.  It's been a long time coming, but God's timing is always perfect.  We have had a long sweet time of rest to spend with family and friends to get us through this pregnancy, birth, and first few rough months of a screaming newborn.  As Karis' temperament seems to be evening out a little, we are preparing to move again.  I am so excited!!! Eeeeek!  

 THANK YOU so much to every single person who lifted up a prayer for us during this time.  Prayer is such a powerful tool!!! 

Please continue to pray for our little family as we make this transition and fit ourselves into this new place. Pray that we would have servant hearts full of love for the people we serve.  Pray that we would be open to continue to hear God's voice leading us in every interaction, so we can help to grow their body by reaching out into the community. 

Let me know how we can be praying for you!  


  1. I'm so happy for you guys! You both deserve the best!

    1. Thank you azizam! We don't deserve anything, but God just keeps using us and blessing us anyway! :) Love you!