Tuesday, January 31, 2012

"My world has been devastated"

The new Facebook timeline is not among my favorite things, however it does provide you with the opportunity to peruse the past fairly easily. As I was doing this, I happened upon a post, made December 3, 2008.

"is asking for prayer. My world has been devastated."

I looked for posts around it to recall what it was that happened on that day that was so horrible. Oddly what triggered my memory was the previous post made earlier that day said I was on my 7th load of laundry at 2p.m! Ah yes - the day our new front loader washer and dryer had been delivered. .....

Ah yes... the day Derin was let go from Dish Network due to a clerical error.

You see, Derin had been working at Dish Network since June that year as an installation technician. Unfortunately he was having back trouble (this was before I was enlightened to the world of chiropractic care) and so he changed positions to be a dispatcher at the same location.

Unfortunately, somebody didn't do something right in the HR office, and on December 3, 2008 he went into work and worked for several hours, then was pulled into the office for the bomb to be dropped. His position changed had not gone through the computer and now they were on a hiring freeze which meant he essentially had no job available to him. They were sorry, but well, that didn't help pay our bills. Of course this was also 3 weeks before Christmas. I was working part time for the Red Cross teaching CPR classes which I was able to increase a little during the weeks that followed which helped a little.

Words cannot accurately describe emotions in that conversation. Derin had been doing a great job. He had caught on quickly in the office. The world was going great. And then now he didn't have a job and he wasn't his fault at all. He was told he could reapply after January 1st when their hiring freeze was lifted.

Derin was able to get on at a temp agency for a few weeks and then as soon as the new year came he reapplied.

Finally the day came - he got his job back.


Praise and Thanksgiving.

Here's my super spiritual "Are YOU the Pastor's wife?" commentary here.

I don't recall any particular Scripture that got me through that time. I recall my broken emotions. I recall feeling so very wronged.

See? Pastor's wives aren't any more spiritual than the next person.

We struggle. We hurt. We complain. Our homes are messy (you should have seen mine tonight for our impromptu opportunity for hospitality! Thankfully our guests were gracious!). We lose our tempers. We yell at our kids. We have to repent and struggle with sin just like the person we're sitting next to.

As I sit here though and remember that time and that struggle. I can be thankful. We have learned to not take jobs for granted. We have learned that sometimes as much as we are broken to do it, we have to lean on others around us.

The next thought I have is how selfish I was to be focused on how wronged we felt. Contrast that to Jesus.

Jesus lived a perfect and sinless life. He never did anything wrong. But he was hung up on the cross, treated like a criminal, beaten beyond recognition, because WE, YOU, I, sin. And "I" feel wronged for my husband losing his job?

How much I still have to learn...

Sunday, January 29, 2012

A glimmer of hope

Every Christian can point to times in their lives where they see mountain tops and valleys with some smooth mundane roads in between. This particular post is about being in a valley and yet God providing a glimmer of hope that helped me press on....

We had just moved onto the southside of Indianapolis, our boys were now almost 2 and almost 4, and found a nice apartment that actually had what we thought was a good amount of space. It had a good layout and was going to work. I was working full time and hubby was focusing on his school full time and taking care of the munchkins. This is following his end to the youth ministry I spoke of in the last blog, so we were moving to the south side to be in the neighborhood of our new local church - the church Superman grew up attending. Things did not end well at that ministry and we were emotionally drained of ministry. Our pastor recommended we take a time of rest and healing before we began jumping into new ministries again and we whole heartedly agreed - we needed a time to be refreshed.

Our first night in this new apartment was middle of October. We had an awesome moving crew and got everything set up for our first night. We were just barely falling asleep when we heard the sound of water running. It was too loud to brush off and our investigation was short lived. You see, just outside of our bedroom door in the hallway there was a shower - not the appropriate kind, but a shower of water spraying down from the ceiling onto the floor in the hallway. We actually had the humor about us to laugh at the madness of having something like that happen the first night in a new apartment! Maintenance came and I forget all the details but the furnace was a water based furnace and the pipe above the hallway had broken - hence the shower. They left fans and said they'd be back. Now realize this means our source of heat is not working, but it's October so not too big of an issue.
This was fixed within a few days and we worked to get settled in. Unfortunately, a couple weeks later, the heat broke again. I don't recall the problem but the result was a sticky mess. A part had to be ordered we were told. We reasoned that it was November and cold outside, and therefore inside. We had two little guys and needed heat. They reluctantly provided one space heater.
This of course was not acceptable to us for many safety reasons and yet they refused to do anything else for us. We took up camp on my husband's aunt's couches and living room floor for the next 3 weeks - over Thanksgiving. Meanwhile growing frustrated we contacted the health department and a lawyer. The apartment complex had been adamant that we would not be released from our contract.

It's amazing what results a professionally stern letter on attorney letter head bring about. We received notice that we were being let out of our lease but we had to be out by December 1st.

We received this notice on November 28th.

November 29th, I began the process of my 2nd miscarriage.

Did I mention hubby and I were both in college that semester too?

I was overwhelmed. Exhausted. Depleted. And frustrated through all of it. Why in the world was all of this happening?

At work on my desk I had a desk calendar with a Scripture reference for each day. I don't recall which day this occurred, but one morning I sat down at my desk and began all of my log ins, and tore off the previous date to reveal the correct one and on that date the verse given was this, "

"We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed." 2 Corinthians 4:8

I remember a wash of relief passing over me and feeling tension just melt away. 1 and 2 Corinthians are of course written by the Apostle Paul and if you aren't familiar, Paul's story will always bring our own stress or persecutions into perspective. Paul had just about everything possible done to him because of his cause for Christ's name to be shared. Paul was in the middle of encouraging the church in Corinth to press on and remember their cause and he wrote starting in verse 7:
"But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you."

We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed?! Christ will not allow us to be crushed!

I personally despise the saying, "Christ won't give you more than you can handle."

I don't believe it. It's not true. You can't find any evidence for that message in the Bible.

But! Do you know what message IS there?? That Christ WILL MOST CERTAINLY give you more than you can handle because it is then when we learn to lean on Him. The footsteps poem? That person had more than they could bear - they couldn't go on - so Christ carried them. It was too much for them.

Check this out - this later in the book of 2 Corinthians. Chapter 12 starting at verse 7. Paul is sharing with the Corinthians that God had given him the ability to do awesome things for the purpose of His glory...
"So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this,that it should leave me. But He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore, I will boat all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

Paul had given his life to God in every way - he was solely dependent upon God for everything including his next meals and lodging as he traveled. He was beaten, stoned, put in prison, house arrest, shipwrecked, while serving God. In our culture today, we're thinking - wow - pretty awesome testimony - God must be so pleased with him! Yeah I bet so! So God rewards him with... a thorn? A messenger of Satan to harass me? To keep him humble? Gee thanks Lord. This is encouraging as someone pursuing ministry. This is how I'm repaid? Ok so get over yourself now and read that 2nd part. Paul PLEADED that God remove the trial, the thorn, but instead God replied that His grace was sufficient for Paul because His power is made perfect in our weakness. Therefore, Paul says to bring on the awful things because when he is weak in his flesh, he is strong in Christ.

YES! We can deduce from these passages that God WILL GIVE US more than we can handle because it is then that HE receives the most glory.

My other blogs shared some rough times for me in my journey with God and this was another one where I just truly wondered WHY.
Because when we have nothing left of ourselves, it is when we lean on God. It is when the fire gets the hottest is when the most refining is done.

Ever heard of the Christian walk as being refined like gold? Malachi chapter 3 uses that term. Ever looked into what that means? Gold has to be put in the hottest point of the fire for all of the impurities to burn off - only the pure gold will survive and remain. Do you know how the refiner can tell when it's done? When he can see his reflection in the pure gold that has remained.


God will put us in the hottest part of the fire, to endure trials we could have never imagined we could survive if put to the test, because it is there that He is refining us - He is teaching us to trust Him and His will. He is our Creator - He knows what is best for us and He knows what will bring Him the most glory. His power is made perfect in our weakness.

2 Cor 4:8, "For we are hard pressed on every side..........

but not crushed."

Trust that in the trials of your life that Christ will not allow you to be crushed.

For His Glory

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not.... wait, what??

Psalm 23:1, "The LORD is my Shepherd, I shall not want."

In the spring of 2006 after a rough fall and winter in our family, we were living an hour from where my Superman was serving on staff as the youth pastor of a small inner city church, just a few miles from the heart of Indianapolis. Superman was feeling disconnected from the kids in the youth group and spending only one day (albeit ALL day) with them was just not making the impact that he wanted. My darling husband voiced his desire to move our family into the community of the church.

Ready for it?

"Nope - I'm not gonna do it."

Yeah, you saw that coming, didn't you?

I dug my heels in, in the most unsubmissive and stubborn way. No way was I going to be ok with moving my family (we had a 5 month old and 2 year old) and live on the east side of Indianapolis in the ghetto. You have got to be kidding me.

This conversation went on for a few weeks if I recall correctly. One day I broke our rule about not leaving the room while in the middle of a fight, er, uh, discussion, and went into our room and closed the door. (That'll keep him out for sure!)..... (shaking head at myself)

Anyway, I knew I was wrong, but I just didn't understand!

I wanted my family to be safe! Is that so much for a mother to ask?

I wanted security! Read the books! All women want security!

I wanted to be comfortable! Again, is that so much to ask?

I wanted my comfort zone bubble!

I can't logically explain to you except to say the Holy Spirit made me do it, but in that moment in my room with the door closed I opened the Bible laying on the nightstand and literally opened it up to a random place to read. Psalm 23. Cool - one of my favorites - I memorized all 6 verses when I was 6 in Awana after all!

"The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want."


I immediately began crying. Tears dripping on the pages of God's love letter to His children.

Remember that list I made a minute ago? Go ahead and scroll back up to read it - I'll wait.

No really, go back and read what I wrote.

Where in all those WANTS am I depending on God to be my Shepherd?

The Bible refers to people as sheep. Have you ever spent any time with sheep? Sheep are STUPID. They will literally follow one another off a cliff if the first one takes that final step. They have to be SHOWN and LED to their needs. This is why sheep need a SHEPHERD. God is so smart to draw that simple parallel for us stupid idiots isn't He? (Ok - maybe I'm the only stupid idiot around here).

"The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want." IS He your Shepherd? Are you trusting Him to lead you to all of your NEEDS? We shall not WANT because He supplies our NEEDS as our Shepherd.

"He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters."

This verse had special meaning to me as I was just coming off a pregnancy that included 4 months of complete bedrest. Yet realizing as I reflected on that verse that He provided that bedrest while briefly locating my family (hubby and kiddo and myself) in the same town as my parents and siblings who fully stepped up to the plate to help take care of me and our toddler while Superman worked. (Special shoutout here to my sister Karyn who 'babysat' me and our toddler every day - 40 hours a week for months - I love you dear!)
Then - He leads me beside still waters. Moving into the inner city was chaos and turmoil to me - but I felt in that moment that God was showing me that He would be the calm I needed.

"He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name's sake."
Restoring my soul - sign me up! I needed that so desperately. For His name's sake? Oh you mean it's NOT about me... I need to write that one down....

"Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me."
I cannot begin to explain to you how much I feared moving into that neighborhood and as far as I was concerned, it was the shadow of death. Again, fresh tears as I read this verse. Not fear evil? But... but... those are my babies and me vulnerable with no protection! Oh... right... My Shepherd's Rod and Staff comfort me. Remember the sheep illustration? Shepherds use their rod and staff to fight off the lions and tigers and bears (OH MY!) and wolves that wanted the sheep to be their dinner! My Shepherd is the CREATOR - He will protect me. (Allow me to clarify - I was 99% the most afraid concerning all day while I was at home with the kids while Superman was at work and he was working 60 hour weeks at the time at his full time job - I wasn't afraid ... for the most part... for when he would be there).

"You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows."
I was beginning to realize and understand by this point in my brokenness how much I needed to trust God. Realizing that we would lack nothing - but I had to trust Him.

"Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever."
Wow. All that. Why am I doubting again?

I finished my tears and returned to my hubby in the living room, red eyed and blubbery. I apologized to him and told him that if he wanted to lead our family to move into that neighborhood that he had my permission. Oh no wait. Er uh... that I would follow his leadership.

Move we did. I'll never forget telling the excited church members that we had signed a lease and then seeing their faces fall when we told them the address. You see, no one told us that the church sat on sort of a barrier line - one street west was still ok - but the street just west of that was far worse on a danger level than the street previously. (Don't ask me... I don't make the rules...) Yep - we rented a house on the 'bad' street. The summer of 2006 there were a record number of murders in the city of Indianapolis and the closest one geographically to us was on our street, just one block down.

My prayer life grew by leaps and bounds in that house :) But we did connect much more strongly to our youth group and the relationship between hubby and I made a turn as well - it was the first point in our marriage where I truly surrendered to his leadership at a time that was tested.

You see, it's not submission when you agree with your hubby, but rather when you disagree but are willing to surrender to his God given role as the head of your family. But well... that's for a different post...

Nope - I'm not gonna do it

There are so many stories in the Bible where a journey begins with resistance against God's will or direct command. My story of this ministry journey we are on begins much the same.

Late September 2010, my husband received an email from a friend of his, his childhood pastor, who was making contacts for a church in need of a pulpit supply - they needed someone to preach for them while they continued their search for a new pastor. My husband, recently ordained and licensed by our local church, always will jump at the opportunity to share God's Word through preaching. Phone calls were made and it was determined my husband (whom I like to refer to as "Superman") would preach for the month of October at this small church in need, 2 1/2 hours north of us. We decided it would be best for our 4 children who at the time were ages 5 months, 2, 4, and 6, to keep with our normal routine at our home church.

Up hours before sunlight to head north, Superman was on his way to preach and a couple hours later the children and I readied for our normal Sunday morning. Afternoon. Evening. Where was he? I expected him home mid-afternoon, but a family from the church had invited several over, including my superman, to their home for lunch and they had spent many hours talking after the meal. The children and I went on to evening service and near the end of the sermon, the door in the back of the church opens. I turn around and see a look on his face.

Nope - I'm not gonna do it.

You see, I recognized the look on his face when he came in the door of the sanctuary in that moment. It was identical to the look on his face when he got the opportunity to serve at an inner city church a few years earlier as the youth pastor, and again the look came around after several months told me that he wanted us to live in the community so we could better minister. Move to the ghetto - yep. See, I knew what was coming.

As soon as he was next to me I set my jaw and said, "We are not moving to Ft. Wayne." The smile he gave me in response confirmed my fears and in his cheeky-ness he said, "We don't have to move to Ft Wayne. The church is in Columbia City." Man of the hour right there.

Now at this moment if I were reading this, I would say, "My goodness! That woman needs a lesson about submitting to her husband and following his leadership!" And reading these snippets in time, I would tend to agree with you. But understand that since I was halfway through high school I had felt God impressing upon my heart that I would one day be a pastor's wife and was thrilled! This is why (after some more "NOT GONNA DO IT" moments with God), I ended up at Bible College so I could get my M R S degree, whoops, I mean get a Bible education so I could support my future hubby in ministry! (And if I just so happened to meet my future darling husband there then well that would be splendid!).
So really, I had been preparing to be a pastor's wife for years! I had dreamed of the day when superman would be called by a church to serve! But... but... a church in the ghetto? That wasn't in my plan. Then this church up north that had a tiny congregation when he was not yet finished with his degree and would have to work full time additionally and we'd have to move hours away from our friends and family? Nope - not gonna do it.


Tomorrow is the one year anniversary of our move up north - 2 streets over from that church where God has led my husband to pastor. The journey has been hard, each step a struggle, and we've learned to celebrate even the smallest of victories. God has taught me so much on this journey - and the journey I believe has only just begun.