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Monday, November 17, 2014

Moving Into the "Parsonage"

We have lived here in this little apartment for 6 months.  It has been OK! John and a few other men installed baby gates at the bottom and top of the steep, slick, hard-wood staircase within a week.  No one in our house has ever fallen, although we've had some close calls. I try to never travel them sock-footed, and we are pretty vigilant about closing the gates.  However, the one time we weren't, Karis got about 5 steps up rather quickly, and I caught my breath and thanked God she didn't fall.  Jonah takes the steps carefully and knows the importance of holding the rail or just sitting down.  We have prayed and talked about moving somewhere else, but being so close to the church has been more helpful than we realized, and we haven't even had time to look.  This apartment was an answer to prayer back before we even moved here.  Then last month our pastor left, and the parsonage was empty.  Let me be clear: the fact that our family is moving into the parsonage does not mean that John is the new pastor here.  The church is still very broken, and just beginning to talk about what the next steps will be.  They voted at the last business meeting to let us move in, on the condition that "if the next pastor needs it, we will be given a reasonable amount of time to move out."  At first, our flesh says, "Why move in if we will just be evicted in a matter of months?"  But then God says, "You have no idea what the future holds."

We don't know what the future holds, and honestly, it's none of our business.  God asks us to trust Him in the here and now. We've asked for an answer to the staircase problem, and here it is.  No matter how long we are blessed to live there, it will be that amount of time we did not spend worrying about the kids falling down the stairs.  God has never let us down, and He won't start now.  He answers our prayers in ways we don't always expect, but I am relying on the promise that He does all things well.  The crazy beautiful story of this girl's birth reminds me of that often:
I love my baby girl!
If or when we have to move, something else will open up.  We've moved before, it won't kill us.  

That happened Wednesday night.  

Thursday morning at Community Bible Study, I felt like I had to just fight my kids to get them out of the house, but once I got there, this passage from Mark 10:28-31 hit me square in face:

28 Then Peter began to speak up. “We’ve given up everything to follow you,” he said.
29 “Yes,” Jesus replied, “and I assure you that everyone who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or property, for my sake and for the Good News, 30 will receive now in return a hundred times as many houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and property—along with persecution. And in the world to come that person will have eternal life. 31 But many who are the greatest now will be least important then, and those who seem least important now will be the greatest then.[g]

I have been through days where I miss my momma something fierce.  I have had days where I am so sick of moving and uprooting ourselves.  I have had days where I cry because my kids are driving me crazy and if we lived closer to family I could just drop them off and take a little break.  I have had days where one of our moms leaves and Jonah just bawls his little eyes out when he finally lets in sink in that they have had to go back to Alabama, and my heart breaks for his little nana-loving heart.
Our moms are Awesome!

I have had days where I am so sick of all the underhanded drama that goes on behind the scenes, that only we see, that make me want to give up ministry life and run away to Africa.  Then we got the news about the parsonage, and I was just coming around to being really happy and thankful for it, no matter how long we get to live there, although it means packing and moving, and God points at these verses and encourages me. 

We haven't given up nearly as much as those first disciples, or even as much as lots of missionaries and people in ministry. However, we are in ministry, and we have moved away from family because of this, and we have moved away from houses because of this, and then God shows me His beautiful promise that this will all be worth it, and we should expect some persecution.  

Please hear the fact that I understand that our whole lives in ministry are POTATOES compared to what is happening in the countries experiencing true persecution with the ISIS right now.  I know this is small, but we haven't been home since July, and we are really looking forward to visiting family the week of Thanksgiving.   We are thankful for the parsonage, even if we only get to be there a short while.  We have no idea what God will do next for this church or our family, and how long we are going to be in that house.  It is minuscule in the grand scheme of things to say we are even in need. 

SO, what a kind, sweet Daddy God we have to encourage us, even when it's really not that bad!  It's like the sweet mommies and teachers who give their children/students band aids, even when it's just a tiny scratch that has just barely broken the skin.  The band aid and the loving, gentle care makes the kid feel better.  God is so kind and patient to encourage me, and send me little band aids when I need them. 

Friday was rough, with the babies just not being on board with doing ANYTHING I wanted.  So, I took up one of our sweet ladies here on her offer, "Come over anytime you need to just get away, and sit on my deck or walk around our yard, and make yourself at home.  We have a lot of trees."  

I took deep breaths in this beautiful paradise of her yard and posted this a while later:
This is one of the places where I take deep breaths and look around at the trees. Being still and really listening, choosing to hear His truth instead of lies I've believed for too long, allowing my heart and head to line up, then catching a whiff of woodsmoke feels like a hug from heaven.
It helped me to calm down and focus.  I was reminded of the verses in Mark 10:28-31 again, and I let in sink in that all the family we left behind, we have in different ways here.  I feel like I have been invited into so many homes and lives.  We are the adopted children and grandchildren and sisters and brothers to many people.  This is the Body of Christ.  This woman who admitted she'd like more grandchildren, is welcome to love on my babies!  She helps me in so many ways.  She's like an adopted mom when mine is four hours away.  They have a wood-burning stove and woodsmoke reminds me of my grandmother, who passed away two years ago.  My eyes teared up as I thought about how much I still miss her.  Then I thought about all the sweet ladies at church who are my grandmother's age and older, and how much they love us and our kids.  I breathed a sigh of thanks and relief and blinked away some tears. I thought again about the house and moving. 

That was the moment when I realized:

For now, this is what the house really means to us:


I just typed that and started crying.  I'm so excited about this.  I know it will be a long journey, and it could take up to a year to get a placement.  This has been the desire of my heart since I was 14.  This little baby has been growing in my heart for the last 15 years.  I've always told John that if anything happened to him, I'm packing up the kids and moving to Africa to work in an orphanage.  Since he's just as healthy as a horse, handsome as ever, and doing a fantastic job of preaching the Word, and he was also called to adoption as a young man, we are going to adopt!  YAY!

It's our goal to fully move in there by the end of the month, because if we stay in our apartment for any of December then we have to pay for all of December, so we need to be in the house before then in order to be wise with the gift the church is giving us, and not waste our own money.  Now, our rent money will be put aside into our adoption fund! 

Praise God, from whom ALL BLESSINGS FLOW!

We are having our official "Moving Party" THIS WEDNESDAY: as in TWO Days away.
Holy moly.  I need to get packing'!
Please continue to pray for our church and our family. Thank you!