Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Another Chapter

I haven't updated this blog in so long it's almost silly to do so. But, as I was browsing through old posts my heart was so full (and my eyes got leaky). What a journey! What an amazing journey! My kids are so precious. Man, this parenting gig is hard. But, oh my gosh, look at those babies through years past. The adventures we have been on are outstanding! We are crazy!

This blog hasn't chronicled the craziness that has continued in the last year. Basically, Joel finished seminary classes in December 2014 and began applying for pastoral positions. We decided we wanted to live within about 6 hours of my family in NC, not going east (south) past Atlanta and not going further north than middle Virginia. Or, we wanted to stay in the DFW area. We liked the growth and excitement of Dallas and how it's projected to grow. More people means more need for the Gospel and discipleship and solid churches. Joel sent out over 75 resumes or something crazy like that. He got some responses but they were slow coming in. Churches work slowly...committees have to meet, people do "legwork" then they meet again a month later...nothing happens quickly! Some of the positions were bi-vocational, but we weren't really sure what Joel's other half of work would be. But, he was willing! Plus, I could teach if I had to.

We started talking to a church near Atlanta and thought that was the direction we were going. We were so sure it was happening that we spent the month of June prepping our house for sale. We met with our realtor to get the ball rolling too. But, we heard nothing...just positive murmurs every now and then. Then a church in Virginia contacted us. The process was moving along with a phone interview then a skype interview then a skype interview with the wife and kids. We were pretty sure this was it; they were pretty sure we were it. So, in one fell swoop we went to Virginia for a long weekend with plans to move when we got back if all went well. We listed our house in Texas for sale while we were gone (yikes!), Joel preached and was unanimously voted to be the church's next pastor, we found a rental house (that wasn't really for rent...another story altogether), enrolled the kids in school, and then agreed on a contract to sell our Texas house before we even went back to Texas! We were in Virginia for six days. We flew back to Texas on Tuesday, packed the moving van Wednesday, had a farewell party, and left Texas on Thursday (my birthday). We arrived in Virginia on Saturday and the kids started school Monday. Whew!

It's now been almost 9 months. School will be out in two days. The kids had awards assemblies today and racked up the achievements. I am so proud of how hard they have worked this year, especially with such a major transition! Rylee had a 4.0 GPA all year and was recognized for Music. Asa was recognized for the Geography Bee, his A/B grades all year, and meeting the AR reading goals. Jenna was awarded for having the highest AR points in 4th grade, getting A/Bs all year, and submitting an art project that won at regionals. I've subbed in everything from elementary classes to the local high school near us while I enjoyed volunteering and being with Jett as he finished out preschool. I liked the middle and high schools so much that I decided to apply to teach next year since Jett will be in kindergarten (what?!). Within two weeks of applying, I was offered the position to teach history. I'm very excited about next year. It's been crazy. It's been exciting.

Our church here in Virginia is wonderful. It's a smaller church and many of the people are older. We have so many wonderful church grandparents for our kids! They are being loved on so well! Joel is growing in his leadership. He's being challenged and encouraged regularly. We are excited about what God has planned for this family we're now a part of.

My mom moved to Virginia with us. She no longer lives with us, but has an apartment nearby. She has jumped right in with our church family and fit like a puzzle piece that was missing! We are only three hours from where I grew up and most of my family. Plus, we are just 8 hours from Joel's family. We've already seen family way more in the past 9 months than the last few years combined! It's been awesome.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Waiting Patiently

Waiting can be very difficult.

Even for the most secure Christian who knows that God has a plan for their life and He is their hope and salvation, waiting is waiting.

To wait is "to stay where one is or delay action until a particular time or until something else happens." Another definition includes the phrase "to remain inactive or in a state of repose, as until something expected happens." Synonyms include hold back, bide one's time, mark time, stand by, sit tight, hold one's horses, holding pattern, detention.

Honestly, reading through those synonyms and the actual definition of "waiting" helps me understand why it's so hard to wait.

I am a doer by nature. I don't let grass grow under my feet. My accolade at the end of last school year was "The Energizer Bunny" because I kept going and going and going.

I would say our season of waiting began last spring as Joel started sending out resumes and applying for pastoral positions.

After 64 resumes had been sent and little was heard back, it was hard to expect anything and easy for doubts to creep in. But, our hope was in the Lord. There were days we would ask God "are You sure You said this is what I was supposed to do? supposed to pursue?" There were days it felt silly to be hoping for something different. We were content with what we had and where we were. But, in all honesty, Joel was working part-time and I was working full-time. We wanted that to be reversed. So, we kept hoping and praying and seeking.

Those are the actions of waiting. While one definition says "remaining inactive", it doesn't mean you are completely still, doing nothing as you wait. Even in line at a store, your weight gets shifted back and forth, your mind is working, sometimes you're talking to those around you who are also waiting.

Talking to God and listening for His voice, trusting in His provision and plan, reading the Word and seeking wisdom, sending resumes, replying to job postings, talking to friends and making phone calls--even when you're waiting, you're often doing.

God opened the door. He made a way. He connected us with Rivermont Baptist Church in Danville, Virginia and here we are.

A few weeks after we arrived, I applied to substitute teach and sent off my packet to get certified to teach in Virginia. Then I waited. I got a call and they said they would schedule a training. No date. And I waited. My certification was held up by a transcript. I fixed that and then waited. No date. Just waiting.

I was called Friday and given a date for training--next week. Yay! This morning I woke up to a letter on our front porch. It's my Virginia teaching license. Woohoo!

There's more waiting in the future. Of this I am sure. But, it feels so good to finally get that thing you've been waiting for.

Friends, if you are waiting for something today, don't give up hope. Waiting is hard, even when you hope in the Lord and are trusting Him for guidance and provision. It doesn't mean you're doing something wrong when you admit it's hard to wait. It means you're human and you're growing. Over the last six months as I've waited my relationship with the Lord has grown as I've talked to Him about it, searched the Word for wisdom and answers, renewed my trust in Him to guide us, and reaffirmed my belief that He is good and His timing is perfect. Whatever you're waiting for today--restored relationship, a job, a healing-- don't give up. "But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint." Isaiah 40:31

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Fruit Inspection

I've been pondering leadership a lot lately.

Joel is the pastor of our church. He is a leader. That's a weighty role.

We left a ministry where leadership was controlling--much more than I even realized! We left the ministry because they were making changes and we did not feel we could commit to the changes. Specifically, GFA was planning to build a new headquarters with staff housing on a campus an hour east of where we lived. We weren't sure about: selling our house and "renting" from the ministry, having all the staff further isolated, and our commitment to the ministry for more than another few years.

During the five years we served on staff at GFA, Joel's desire to pastor a church never waned. So, we decided it was time to move on. We walked away quietly so Joel could attend seminary in hopes that he would then be called to pastor a church. In the three years since we left GFA, we have discovered that there was much more going on behind closed doors at GFA than we could have imagined. My trust in the leadership at the ministry is gone. Completely.

How do we decide if someone in leadership is worth following?

You often hear the word "fruit" in a discussion on the value of someone's ministry. What exactly is this "fruit"? In telling people about the corruption of GFA leadership, I've heard people say "There has been such good fruit from the ministry that I'm sure there's just a misunderstanding" or "You will know a ministry is good when you see good fruit coming from it." In response to this, a good friend had the following to say that I found very helpful:

In these situations a good question to ask is: what would it take to not trust leadership anymore? What would in your mind be the last straw and break your trust with leadership?

If you can answer that question honestly and then look at what has happened objectively you may be surprised at what you have allowed for the sake of "the fruit on the field".

And perhaps that is the answer: what if the fruit on the field is actually bad?

But what would make it bad? What if there's only ONE Believer? Is that still good fruit? Of course it is, but is it enough to excuse lying? Would all these lies be ok still for ONE? What about two? If there's 10 is it okay to lie? 100? 1000? 10,000? When is it ok to lie for the sake of those who are coming to know Christ?

Are believers permitted to lie without repentance as long as what they are doing leads to the lost being saved?

What does Jesus say?

You will know them [false prophets] by THEIR fruits. Does He mean their "fruits on the field"—their works? Or does He mean their own "fruits of righteousness"?

Look what John said to the religious leaders:

"Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”

Is it possible that Jesus cares about the fruit of people's character and not as much about the fruit of their work? Can He not do His work of reaching the lost BETTER with those who also have fruits of repentance and righteousness in their own lives?

If we make room for lying, are we doing good or harm ultimately to God's kingdom? And ought not we (out of all men), who are part of the household of God, stand up against the sin of lying?

"And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God."