Sunday, June 17, 2012

An Eventful Weekend

Last weekend marked an important milestone for the church plant... the first meeting of the core team.  (It was also the first time that all three staff members... and their wives... were in Providence together!) The picture to the left was taken at the end of our evening and I think it accurately portrays the joy all of us were feeling... okay, except for Jamie.  But  Jared's picture actually shows a smile on Jamie's face.... I promise!

We were so excited to meet everyone    that we headed down to Manchester that morning.  After attending the last service at Manchester Christian Church, Dan let us hang out at Restoration House.  We packed a picnic lunch, a football and a Frisbee... which was eaten by the resident pooch.  Things have been so hectic the past few months.  All our free time has been filled with packing and painting that we haven't really stopped and enjoyed our family... at least not for an entire day.  So, this was a HUGE blessing.  Even better, Caroline got to hang out with us... which is ALWAYS a treat.  She even got Mr. Jamie to dance... at least I think that's what he calls it!

Once everyone arrived at Restoration House, we sat down to an AMAZING dinner... but, to be honest, EVERY meal I've had there has been pretty impressive.  Afterwards, we all gathered in the living room for a time of sharing, praying and worshipping.  It was really great to sit around and hear every one's story... how God had led them to this point.  Those of you that know our story can testify to how God's hand has been revealed in so many ways... well, the same can be said for everyone else... and that's pretty amazing.  As we went around the room, sharing the testimony that God is writing in all of us, so many were overcome with emotion.  It was a constant reminder of His goodness; of His faithfulness.

After everyone shared, Jared asked each couple to take a turn sitting in the middle of the circle while the other couples placed hands on them and prayed.  Now, anyone that knows me knows that I LOVE to pray... especially like this.  You feel His presence... His power.  But, just as important, it creates an intimacy within the team.  I've prayed for my "new friends" several times since that evening.  Jamie and I, together, have prayed for them.  Even though our meeting was brief and distance divides us for the time being... interceding on their behalf has created a fondness that I am so thankful for.

As our night concluded, Jared realized our evening together was actually the first church service for the Providence plant.  That's pretty cool!  Especially for us.  Our family has been a part of Eastpoint (also a Restoration House church plant) since the very first Sunday... over eight years ago.  The journey, while rough at times, has been such an amazing blessing.  We have been stretched and encouraged; tested.  He has pruned and molded us... sometimes with gentle hands... sometimes with a pick-ax... (but that's more of a reflection of my disobedience than anything else!)  As we drove home that night, we felt so blessed to be a part of that special moment in the life of this church.  We continue to pray that He will lead us to Providence... completely resigned to the fact that He's the only one that can get us there... because if it was up to me, we would be there now!

Continue to pray for Jared and Rachel as they transition out of Manchester.  The staff and their wives head out to Boot Camp soon.  Please, pray for them during this time.  I'm so excited to see what God is going to do through these three couples.  Their enthusiasm and love for the Lord is inspiring and infectious.

 (FYI:  Angie and Carson (Worship Leader) are standing next to Jamie and Katie and Josh (Small Groups and Outreach) are next to them.)

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Setback, Set Aside and Set Up

It's been awhile since I've set myself in front of the keyboard... that was intentional.  Not because I didn't have anything to share... on the contrary.  There's a lot to share... but I was waiting... waiting for the story to unfold.  However, this morning, He really pressed upon me the undeniable fact that the story IS unfolding... how, despite what seems to be a period of frustrating stagnation in our journey to Providence, He is giving us a chance to grow in our faith, to mature in our wisdom.  How our "set backs" are really "set ups"... opportunities to marvel at how He puts everything together... in His timing.

The picture I've posted was taken May 4th, at the Revive Women's Conference in Rhode Island.  Rachel was asked to lead worship and she asked if I would help... of course, anyone who knows Rachel and her amazing gifts will readily recognize the fact that my "help" was not needed... but, I'd be lying if I didn't admit how great it felt to be singing with my friend again... or how much I truly miss leading others into worship.

After the conference, we headed back to Manchester to hang out with Jared and Rachel, as well as our friends, Kim and John Stiver.  That night lent itself to some really good conversations... interestingly, I had very little to say.  But, this is just an amazing testimony to how God is transforming me.  He is making me a better listener.  He's keeping my "passion" (aka emotions, frustration, excitement) in check.  But, at one point, Kim brought the conversation back to me and Jamie, asking the very pointed question: So, where are you guys with moving to Providence?  (This is why I love Kim and consider her one of my dearest friends.  She's just like me: direct, blunt, to the point... and incredibly annoying!) We answered the question the best way we knew how: We want to go.  We feel confident that God wants us to go.  But we have absolutely no idea how it's going to happen... or maybe, if I'm honest, I should say that I'm not sure how it CAN happen.

We ended up leaving Manchester that following morning resolute in one thing:  We can't have a Plan B.  We've asked God to make it clear and He did (I'll have to share that experience at a later date!) So, we need to move forward, totally trusting Him... and not planning for what happens if He doesn't "come through," if you will.  So, on the ride home we decided to put the house up of sale on June 15th.  Up until that point, our plan was for Jamie to find a job first, and then we'd figure out the housing situation.  However, after looking for a job... ANY job, for six months, with not one single (viable) option, we decided that maybe we're not trusting Him... So we decided to trust.  And never in our wildest dreams could we have ever considered what He did next.

That night, while looking for jobs, Jamie found a posting: Providence area law firm looking to hire attorney certified to practice in Maine, that would be willing to relocate.  Did you get it?  Those chills that run up and down your arm?  This was almost tailored made for Jamie... except for the fact that it's foreclosure law, which he knows very little about... but the ad said that they would train the "right" person.  Never, in our wildest dreams, would we have expected anything remotely close to this.  And I wish I could say that the job is his... but it isn't.  The door isn't closed. The posting went down last week and he hasn't received a call... but he also hasn't received the courtesy "Thanks, but no thanks" letter... so we just keep praying.

But in the meantime, we suffered a few other setbacks last week in the journey: my mom was diagnosed with cervical cancer, we learned that our septic system needs to be replaced, and Jamie's income will decrease yet again next month due to rising insurance costs and no cost of living increase. I had a moment the other day, just sitting in my chair, crying my eyes out.  And while it would be easy to say that there's a lot to cry over... the truth was that I was crying about the condition of my heart.  As I sat there, sharing everything with Jamie, I had to confess the resentment that was consuming me... so much so that I physically couldn't pray.  Never in my life have I been unable to pray.  But, last week, I couldn't. Instead, I was pleading with the Holy Spirit to intercede on my behalf.  I threw myself into the Bible, I listened to at least one sermon every morning while I worked out at the gym.  I prayed with Jamie.  I prayed with the kids.  I wish I could say that all my troubles "magically" went away. They didn't.  However, something did change... me.  Somewhere, somehow... a sense of peace has taken over my heart.  I am completely and totally 100% at peace... while in the storm.  I realized that all these setbacks (my mom, the septic, the income) and the "set asides" (those things that we have to "wait on"... like this job in Providence)... they're all just SET UPS for God to reveal His hand...sometimes in the immediate outcome, sometimes in the journey itself.... sometimes in our hearts.

In the meantime, we're still painting and packing....preparing ourselves for the journey.  Please, keep praying for our family: my mom, Jamie's job (both the one he has now and the one he'll have next...whenever and wherever that is!) and my heart... that a consuming peace will continue to grow, even in the height of the storm.