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Thursday, August 20, 2015

When God's Plans Trump Ours - Moving...Again

Over the course of the last few months, God has been moving in ways we were not expecting. When we first moved here, our little family looked like this:

Jennifer Tilghman Photography
My husband and I have felt led to adopt since before we even got married, and every time I looked at this picture I wondered when the next little face would appear in our family. We tried to pursue adoption a few months ago, finding an organization we were thrilled about, only to feel no peace about filling out any of the paperwork.  We prayed and felt like our current living situation in the church parsonage was too unstable to pursue a home-study that may cost up to $2,000, in a home we may have to soon move from in the event the church's next full-time pastor needed it.  So we said, "OK God, this is not your plan for us to adopt at this time, we will wait until we have a more permanent home."

Then, we realized that we could still work with orphan care via foster parenting again. Logically, we completed PATH training - 8 weeks of Monday night classes, getting a babysitter, driving 45 minutes both ways, doing the same homework we did 4 years ago for PATH training when we did foster care in Tennessee the first time.  A home study through the state would be free, and if we got a foster child and had to move, we could still allow the child to move with us within the same area.  Although, we weren't looking for foster kids, per se, but rather, a pregnant teen, or a teen mom with a baby.  I have felt very led to work with young pregnant moms lately, and we thought foster care would be a great way to do that.  John was on board, acknowledging that most of the extra work load would be on me, but fully supporting the idea of us welcoming a teen mom into our home.  We agreed that the church parsonage had been so generously given to us to live in for this time, it would be good stewardship to try to share it with another person.  We moved Jonah and Karis into sharing a bedroom, and began preparing the spare room for a teenager. 

The first week of PATH training, we found out that I was pregnant.  This was a rather big surprise.  Let's just say the "Natural Family Planning" methods aren't as 'safe' and 'predictable' as they like to tell you.  This rocked our world in another big way, because it was totally unplanned by us, but of course, God already knew.  I felt that just because I was pregnant did not mean God had stopped calling me to want to work with a pregnant teen, now I would just also be pregnant with her, so we continued with the process.  Also, during this time the "Planned Parenthood" videos on how they are profiting from aborted babies began to surface, and my heart was breaking even more for all these young moms who felt they had no other options, and for these little babies who were so unwanted.  

John has been preaching the "Contemporary Service" at our church (First Baptist Church of Somerville, TN), for the last 15 months, and leading young adult and youth ministries.  I don't think ministry anywhere is ever easy, but we did have more bumps in the road than we initially expected.  Broken humans ministering to broken humans, all fighting a battle so much bigger than ourselves for the Kingdom and cause of Christ - I'm not sure why we imagined less struggle.  However, we were not applying or looking for jobs elsewhere, because we felt sure that God had called us to work here, and our work did not feel complete. 

Then, in a huge unexpected turn of events, the great little church plant that we attended and loved for 7 months while we were in Alabama, while we were unemployed, searching for answers, and waiting on the Lord, that same church that we had attended, called John about taking over as Lead Pastor, because their pastor resigned for personal reasons.  We were rather shocked at first.  This is a small contemporary church, and John will be a bi-vocational pastor, as in, needing to find another job within a few months just to pay the bills. We love this church so much, and know at least half of the people there, and greatly enjoyed attending while we lived in Huntsville, and completely agree with all of their ministry goals and activities (sharing the gospel weekly, local and foreign missions regularly, tons of small group options, casual, great music worship time, reaching out to local homeless, helping in a local school, adoption and orphan-care focuses, wonderful nursery and kids programs, Elder run, etc).  It's like the dream model church, in our opinion. 

I found myself asking questions of God like, "Why would you have us leave Somerville already, when we specifically asked you to move us somewhere for years?"
"What will happen to the people here if we leave?"
"What will happen to the relationships we've built with people we love here?"
"What will happen to the Contemporary service?"
"Where will we live when we get there?"
"Are we ready for this type of position?"
"What will John do for a second job?"
"What if we can't make ends meet?"
"Why did we just complete PATH training if we can't use it?"

All of our questions though, don't have answers yet. We may not know all of those answers for some time.  I think it's kind of funny that God would throw this many huge curveballs at us the year I declare to be "Fearless." All of these things are my own fears, that I have to learn to surrender again to the Lord.  One of my mentor friends said something to this effect wisely, 
"It's not your job to worry about who and what you leave behind.  The more you worry about them, the more you are telling God that you and John are absolutely the only people on earth who can serve there in your capacity.  He's got a plan for all of them, too, you have to trust that His plan for their lives is good.  It's God's job to find the next people who will work there.  All you can do is pray and let Him do the rest."  That advice has helped me greatly the last few weeks as we have started to say 'good-bye.' We will miss a lot of sweet friends we made here, and keep in touch as much as we can through phones, emails, instagram and Facebook. We will continue to pray for this group of people and this church for a long time! 

No matter what questions and reservations we had, we both felt a huge pull toward this move and ministry change.  Every single time we talked and prayed about it, more positive ways God was calling us kept coming up through scripture and conversations.  Then we went to the "Send Conference" put on by the IMB and NAMB, and we were blown away by the amount of leading God did through every talk from Louie Giglio, Vance Pittman, J.D. Greear, David Platt, Thom Rainer, and more, every lecture, every break-out session we went to, that seemed to say at the end of each day, "You need to move to Huntsville and serve at that church." 

Apart from God's directional nudges, this is in the middle of the town where both of our parents live, and seeing our kids interact with their grandparents is a sweet blessing, and free babysitting.  We already have a foundation built with the people there of love, respect, and trust.  They were there for us when we needed them, and now we can serve them when they need us.  There is the option that we will get to live in a church-owned home for free for several months while John finds that second source of income (answering one question).  John is looking at ISS (In School Suspension) positions and bus driving positions and praying about what and where else to look.  In God's great mercy though, we are not stressed and worried about the other half of our income.  I know that sounds weird, but seriously, we totally trust that God will provide for us because He is calling us to go, just like he has always proven faithful before. 

Like a lightbulb one day while I was praying through these things this week, I remembered wanting to volunteer with the organization "Choose Life" the last time we were in Huntsville, but being unable to because I had missed the training dates. I hopped online and guess what? The training is now monthly and I can totally volunteer there (if I pass the interview process) counseling pregnant moms who may be considering abortion.  God hasn't stopped calling me to love and serve these ladies, He's just moving the target zone.  
I have this T-shirt and have been wearing it often to remind myself.

The new church has a family who just completed the adoption process and are loving on their new addition.  The church came alongside them and helped through prayer and fund raising and have always supported adoption.  I believe that God held us back from adopting here, because he knew about the biological baby he was going to plant, and he knew He was getting ready to move us.  After the next baby is born we will begin to pursue adoption if we feel like it is God's timing.  His plans are so much better than ours. 

We are sad to leave people we love.  We are excited to start a new adventure with other members of the Body of Christ.  When you put this in a "Kingdom" perspective - it's been God's plan all along.  He has taught us and prepared us through so many different opportunities here.  We are leaving a little older and wiser, but just as enamored with our Savior as ever before. 


1 comment:

  1. Wahoo, a blog update!! So many big changes. You guys are expert movers. I'm thinking of you, and excited for you!