2015 was very kind to my family and I! The place where we were living for the year was almost like being on vacation. We had a pool that we could visit, it was a safe little community to go on several walks. We spent lots of time in the big open field in front of the lake or on the basketball court. It was a very enjoyable summer, and one that I will never forget! My kids were able to attend a local Christian school for the beginning of the school year, which they really loved. It was a great social outlet for all of them, and some great bonding time for me and my little guy :) But 2016 is bringing some exciting and new things to our family!
My husband has been preaching for about two years now, and has enjoyed every single opportunity he has had over the time to share the gospel. We have been praying for some time now about the direction that God had desired for our ministry. In the beginning of the 2015 fall school year for the kiddos, Stephen and I were looking into some seminary options to further his education. Although I don't believe God has any requirements for those who he calls to preach, I believe he has ways to prepare each of his called to spread his word in the way he needs them to share it. I've heard so many pastors who have never been to seminary of any kind, and they are amazing in their knowledge and study skills, and they are doing exactly what God wants them to do. I've also heard preachers who have been to school- and know that they made the right decisions for their lives. My family and I have spent so much time praying, and although we have been afraid to take a step of faith, we have believed for some time now that God has been leading us in the direction of Stephen taking some time to set aside to study, to learn and to be taught to be the best minister that he can be for our amazing Father.
When we started looking at schools obviously we began looking at something online. We had a family, he had a good job- we couldn't change all of that. We prayed about it, and God landed us in a small little church just a few moments from our home. Stephen and the pastor had an immediate connection, and he began to talk to him about furthering his education and his conviction to do so. It just so happened that he had attended school years ago, and he had done so at the same school Stephen's uncle Buster had graduated from years ago. We began to pray specifically about this school, and slowly but surely God began to mend our hearts in that direction.
We visited campus, and immediately felt like family. On our second campus visit, the housing director showed us two potential apartments, if we chose to do so, that our family could call home for the two years that Stephen was in school. We prayed about him driving and still being a full-time student... but when it came down to it, I know I could not sacrifice that time that I would be missing away from him. We knew that the best option for our family would be to move, and to call the school home for the two years that he was there.
It was a hard move. Stephen's time in Iraq and my six months at WCU back in college were the only times we had spent away from family, and since our children were born we had not lived more than a few minutes from any of them. It was a big change, this was almost two hours away from where we once called home. We also didn't know anyone in this area. We were moving from quite a big house (five bedrooms!) to an apartment (two bedrooms... yes, you read that right lol) It didn't make any logical sense, but we knew in our hearts it was Gods perfect purpose for our lives... so we made the move anyway.
Settling into our new home was absolutely the greatest blessing that we have ever had the pleasure of having. Immediately, it felt like home. With a warmth that surpassed anything we had ever felt before. Stephen immediately started making connections, and our kids immediately settled in. Its still not easy to be in such a small space, but it has been such a blessing to have the intimacy that we didn't get while we were in the bigger house and the kids were in school. Surprisingly, everything and everyone is pretty comfortable in this house, and its not nearly as small as we imagined it to be! We are all cozy, and excited about what the two years we are here will bring!
My husband is already absolutely loving school. I knew that he would. It is a wonderful school, and he has learned so much in just the two weeks that we have been here. More than anything, I can't tell you how blessed we fell just to have this opportunity. I know a lot of preachers would love to have it, and I'm so incredibly blessed that he does!
It sounded like a sacrifice, to pack up everything and move away.. to move away from family, jobs, school, familiarity.. and to move our whole lives. Here- it doesn't feel like a sacrifice. It feels like we got exactly what God wanted for our lives. It reminds me of Psalm 37:4, "Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart" (NIV). I've read that so many times and pondered on it. Before I believed it meant that if you would delight in the Lord he would give you the things that you want. I believe it took me getting down here to read it in a different light. Sometimes, what we think we want, isn't honestly our hearts desires. Our hearts can be deceitful and confusing, because our heart is enslaved in our fleshly bodies. I believe that what was meant by that verse was that if you delight in the Lord, you will come to know your true hearts desires. God knows not only what is best for us, but what our heart desires even when we don't. He instilled it inside of us in our creation. I believe with all of my heart that God instilled the desire in me to be in this ministry with my husband, and I just could not realize how strong that desire was until we took that step of faith. Before I would honestly pray for my husbands ministry, within the parameters of what I believed to be my hearts desires. "God, you can move our ministry, as long as its within a few minutes of our home. You can put us here, here, or here... not too far from here... and we don't want to move anymore, we just need to own a house. Mm kay?" Haha.. Unfortunately God doesn't work like that. Most unfortunately, he's had to move us around quite a bit to shake that foundation from me, but now I know like I know my own name... if you delight and follow the Lord, you will have your hearts desires.. even if you don't know what that is yet :)