|Gulf Shores Family Vacation August 2011|
(Keith, me, Hannah, Max, Joseph, Josh and Haley)
Jer. 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
I’ve realized that I process things very slowly, usually after the fact. I’ve also realized that I am not a multi-tasker. So when life gets crazy busy, I just cope as best as I can in the moment and process it all later. Well, since my last post, lots has happened. Lots and lots. And now that I’m on the other side of it and have somewhat processed it, I can hopefully give a decent account of the past few months of blogosphere silence.
This will be a long blog post. I apologize in advance.
In a nutshell, we are now officially Missouri residents. Finally. If it’d been up to us we would have been about three or four years ago. But God has His own timetable. And for good reason.
Before I go any further, let me tell you something. If you feel God is being unfair in making you wait, for not giving you what you long for… trust me… He really does know what He’s doing. And we really don't. You know what? When people have said to me: “Hang on. God’s timing is perfect”. I admit sometimes I really just wanted to slap them. Its one of those phrases that is overused and depending on your experience can seem very ‘pat’.… But can I tell you something? It. Is. True.
Okay, moving right along.....
About five years ago we started venturing north. The first time I went to the International House Of Prayer's Onething conference with my best friend Stacey Neely and my (then) teenagers Haley and Max, I felt I was among kindred spirits. Their 24/7 prayer model of non-stop worship and intercession totally resonated with my spirit. It completely changed my life and my worship. Like me, Max too was impacted. We then began an annual trek to the conference, with us eventually dragging the entire family along with us. Then my friend Stacey and her family felt called to move there. When Max also was eventually called there, I naturally assumed we’d not be far behind him and the Neelys.
Soon after our first visit to Kansas City, I visited St Louis with my worship team to make a CD with Kent Henry. Then that spring we came as a family for my soon to be son-in-law Josh’s graduation from ministry school. I remember REALLY feeling at home there and the thought briefly crossed our minds that perhaps we might ought to consider moving there instead of Kansas City. But life got busy, we had a wedding to plan and kids to raise and time just ticked by… but that pull north just didn’t go away. After their wedding Haley and Josh moved to O'Fallon, Missouri, where Josh became worship pastor at Faith Chapel. (O'Fallon is just northwest of St. Louis).
As time went on the stirring grew stronger and Keith and I knew that our time in Baton Rouge was drawing to a close. However, practically speaking, we couldn’t begin to figure out how God was going to do it. We prayed and thought and talked and prayed some more. Finally we got a definite green-light from the Lord and after some time-consuming updates, we triumphantly put our house on the market July of 2010.
When we would tell people we were leaving our lovely home and Keith’s steady income and just moving to Missouri, they’d usually ask us, “Does Keith have a job?” which would lead to our passionate explanation about how we didn’t know how it was all going to work out but we KNEW the Lord was leading us there. The responses we got ranged from encouraging nods to undisguised skepticism. But still we waited and believed, and waited some more.
A whole year we waited. But during that time the Lord tweaked our ‘plan’ and tweaked on us as well. We realized that although we had initially thought Kansas City was where He was sending us, it soon became crystal clear that it was the St. Louis area. I guess at least we’d had the state right. The Lord also graciously moved Max from Kansas City to St Louis (O'Fallon actually) as a worship intern at Faith Chapel, several months ahead of us. Plus after we'd started this whole process of putting our house on the market and attempting to move north, we found out in March that Haley and Josh were going to make us grandparents in November. Although both of our adult children were now in the St Louis area, I honestly think that we’d have wanted to move there even if they weren’t there. Faith Chapel of O’Fallon was where the Lord wanted us. This Presence-seeking church felt like home the first time we went there. Things were happening there and we wanted to be a part of it. And having all of the family together, plus a new grandbaby was definitely icing on the cake!
Now I tend to be a worrier and planner by nature. So the fact that all along I’d had a peace about moving without Keith having a job there or us having a house was proof enough to me that it was God. But as time went on, I’d find myself lying in bed at night trying to figure out how it was going to work out. “Would Keith wait and put in his two weeks notice at work when we got an offer on the house or would we wait until we were 100% sure and the buyers had signed on the dotted line? If so, where would we stay those two weeks? What about the dogs? Speaking of the dogs, how would we rent with the dogs? Heck, for that matter, how would we even rent at all without a job!” Whenever or however, we’d hoped to make enough on the house to live on and then during that time Keith would job hunt. We’d stay in Haley’s basement with the dogs until the said job and rent house was secured. Not the greatest plan but it was the best one we could come up with.
But still, the house didn’t sell. Almost an entire year went by…. We had plenty of traffic through it but nobody was interested in buying. We lowered the price three times, we advertised in different places, we planted more flowers, we added ‘or best offer’ to the ad. We got to the point where money wasn’t even important any more. We knew the Lord wanted us to go so we had to believe that if He was guiding us there that He would take care of our finances. We wanted to just drop everything and go but we needed Keith’s job to pay our bills until we sold the house which would get us out of debt so we could survive until he got another job… Yet we remained convinced God was leading us… So we continued to wait. But we just couldn’t understand why if the Lord wanted us there, He wouldn’t allow our house to sell so we could just go.
Then one day after he’d gotten home from work Keith called me into the bedroom to talk to me. He told me that he’d just been told that day that his company was closing down their Baton Rouge office and that he along with most everyone else was going to be laid off. The office would officially close its doors at the end of June and he was being asked to work from home until the end of July 2011 and then after that would receive a severance pay for several months. Hmmm….
It wasn't long after this that Keith confidently proclaimed… “We are going to sell our house in June”. It was the first declaration my prophetic husband had made all year concerning the selling of our house. But I wasn’t so sure…
Then one day about a month later, we got a call that a young couple wanted to look at our house. By this time, we didn’t get too terribly excited with these calls because we'd been disappointed so many times, but as usual we went through the cleaning routine then once again I loaded up the dogs and took them for a drive while Keith showed the house. We didn’t hear back anything and since we were heading to St Louis that weekend for a quick trip, we didn’t think much about it. After driving for ten hours, the very second that we crossed the city limits of O’Fallon, Missouri, Keith’s phone rang. It was the young couple’s realtor. They wanted to put an offer on our house. After some negotiating, some drama with the inspection and several major concessions on our part, we settled it all on the last day of June. There's another traumatic side-story involving the actual selling of the house and some things the Lord taught us but I'll save that for another day...But after frantic packing, throwing out, giving away and loading up (on what I think was the hottest day of the year), we finally closed on the house July 8th at around 1:30 pm. We didn't waste a moment. After leaving the lawyers office, we then immediately loaded up our children and dogs, cranked up the UHaul truck that was also pulling another trailer stuffed with our possessions, and caravanned non-stop to St Louis. We got here at 4 am.
Now lest you think I am finished. Just hang on. It was obvious to us that the Lord had blessed us by delaying us because had we sold the house when we wanted to, Keith would had given his two weeks notice, we’d have left with no money coming in and that would be that. Its what we expected to happen and we were okay with it. But the Lord had us wait, so that Keith would get laid off and still get paid for several more months while he looked for a job. Since he was still working from home when we moved, we were able to get into a nice rent house that let us have our dogs (which had seemed like a huge obstacle in my mind but wasn’t at all!).
Also, several months back, not knowing when (or even if) we’d be moving we’d planned to go to Gulf Shores with the entire family. We’d not been on a family vacation since Josh had joined our family and it’d been three years since we’d been on one with Haley. Plus with her being pregnant she really wanted to go to the beach one more time before the baby arrived… so our beach vacation was planned for August 15th. Well, as God and His perfect timing would have it, his job asked him to stay on two more weeks past the original end of July. His last day? August 15th. We had a blast at the beach, then returned to our new home all together and then settled in and Keith began searching for a job. There wasn’t a huge rush but he definitely wanted to start work as soon as possible and not wait until his severance ran out. Then one days soon after we returned he gets a phone call from the company he had worked for in Baton Rouge. They wanted to know- would he be willing to continue to work for them? From home? With a raise?
I am sure that you can imagine what our answer was….
Now I admit I’ve felt somewhat hesitant to tell this testimony. Mainly because I know that there are so many people hurting, waiting, wondering, struggling, needing and these thoughts might be passing through their heads “Wow, look at how the Lord is blessing them so much. I’m so happy for them but…..what’s wrong with me? Why isn’t God blessing me like that? Did I do something wrong? They must be highly favored and I am not.” How do I know that is what some may be thinking? Because for several years, that was me. I would be genuinely happy when the Lord blessed others, but I admit, I also felt a bit jealous and felt a bit rejected by God. We lived through a very long season of having very little. Of not knowing how we were going to buy groceries or pay the bills. We had made some stupid financial mistakes and I think there was a big part of me that since we were reaping what we’d sown, even though we had confessed and repented, that I thought I really didn’t have a right to even ask God to help us. One day as I wrestled with this the Lord spoke to my heart, “Kayla when you were saved, did I cancel your debt because of anything YOU had done?” And of course the answer to that was, “No, Lord. Jesus paid it all. I could never pay off my debt of sin.” And the Lord asked me, “then why don’t you ask me to help you? Yes ya’ll made mistakes and you don’t deserve my help…but NOBODY does. That’s why it’s grace. Its all me. Ask away.” And so I began to ask. As a mom, I pictured one of my kids asking for help, even though they may have made a mistake and what my heart towards them and their need would have been. And of course God’s heart is so much bigger than mine.
The very most I expected was that we’d sell our house and get out of debt and Keith would eventually get some kind of little job and we’d do okay. But I knew even so, we’d be where God wanted us and we’d be in a great church and with our kids so we’d be happy.
But God did so much more.
Eph 3:20-21 “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen”.
But this isn’t just about provision. Its about God and His faithfulness and love and yes His TIMING. It’s about trusting Him and His goodness and His love and good will towards us, even when it doesn’t seem like anything is happening or we feel we’ve blown it too many times. God loves us and has good plans for us. He can be trusted. If there is something you are to do, then do it, obey… but also trust Him to do what you cannot. Reject the lies and trust His word. The word of God is our standard. Not our feelings. And He really does want to bless each of His dear children.
So when I tell you,“Hang on. God’s timing is perfect.” Please don't slap me. Because I'm telling you the truth :).
Ps 18:30 “As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in him.”