After a trip to Portland we have a definite "no" on the job we thought was in the bag. The Luis Palau Association has wanted to hire S. and worked hard to find a way to make it work but the timing and money issues are not working out.
With that door shut we are back to square one (or square none as it feels like on this gray, rainy morning). God has been faithful to provide some speaking engagements and other things while we are in this weird space in life. He is creative in his provisions and manages to simultaneously teach us tangibly about things like humility and listening only for the Lord. So since we have everything up in the air; a house for sale, a car for sale, and no job...I will now jump up and down for what we are attaining. Woo-hoo for humility! Three cheers for sore knees as we've spent much time in the kneeling position! Yippee for being obedient today (and praying Jesus comes tomorrow)!
Hear my cry, O God; attend to my prayer.
From the end of the earth I will cry to you,
when my heart is overwhelmed;
lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
For you have been a shelter for me,
a strong tower from the enemy.
I will abide in your tabernacle forever;
I will trust in the shelter of your wings.
For you, O God, have heard my vows;
You have given me the heritage of those who fear your name.
So I will sing praise to your name forever,
that I may daily perform my vows.
Psalm 61:1-5, 8
I can admit it. I was a 16 year old girl who lived for a cup of coffee and Barnes & Noble where I could flip through bridal magazines and daydream about my happily ever after. (Of course, I hid my magazines in much smarter, less obvious magazines. I wasn't brazen about my idealism.)
I was remembering my bridal magazine days this week when I heard heartbreaking news about marriages that I thought looked pretty good (speaking as an outsider). When you've spent over 8 years in full time ministry, you aren't naive about happily ever afters. I've often thought nothing will surprise me anymore. Without fail, something does.
The second reason I was brought back to my days at Barnes & Noble is upcoming plans for my grandparent's 60th wedding anniversary this August. Also in August my parents will celebrate their 35th anniversary. Not to be outdone, S. and I celebrate our 10th anniversary the same month.
The year S. and I got married, we hurried back from our honeymoon for the big party that was my grandparent's 50th anniversary. I called my parents during our honeymoon to wish them a happy 25th anniversary. I was enamored with the legacy of long marriages and sweet love. I still recognize the rarity and blessing that we have in our family. I now recognize something else: it wasn't easy for any of them. They don't have long marriages because they happened to 'get lucky' and find great, lasting love.
I see my Pake fondly look at my Beppe when he calls her "Her majesty". Only a few years ago did I learn how scared my Beppe was as a newlywed when her charismatic, immigrant husband would have WWII flashbacks and deal with rage and fear. They laugh at each other's quirks and faithfully serve each other but now I realize what a toll a lifetime of ministry, raising 8 children, and bouts of things like malaria and financial hardship must have taken.
I recall my parents kissing (so embarrassing!) in front of all my friends...at a dance...when I was in 8th grade...when they were supposed to be chaperoning. Only in recent years have I learned the pain and process involved in getting to that 35 year mark. It had less to do with soul mates and more to do with grit.
Having a new job makes for a monumental weekend but our kids had their own big moments:
Best $2 purchase ever: foam swords for everyone. This has made for some great play time., (And when I fight S.- all rules are off. He's a little surly about me taking face shots but I really don't see anything unfair about it.)
"But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." Matthew 6:33, 34
In the second part of January S. told me the Lord was telling him to not get ahead of himself in planning what's next in our lives. We decided our aim each day would be to seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness. As we sought, the Lord has brought people, opportunity, and potential plans in and out of our lives. We've been along for the ride.
In the past 3 months the Lord has never allowed us get past the day we are in. It is then quite fitting that while we had hoped to have a definite long-term plan by this weekend, we instead have a one month plan. (Woo-hoo! At least the Lord is entrusting us with a month's worth of work. We must be growing...right?)
The Luis Palau Association called us on Friday and told us they have a good start for a Bellingham festival. They weren't planning on hiring someone so soon to start piecing it together but decided they are willing to pay S. for a month. In that month if they can pull together enough support and interest, we will be staying in Bellingham for at least 14 months.
We are looking forward to this possibility not only because we have an advantage of familiarity in this area (a huge leg up considering much of this job is networking) but we also get to start from the ground up with much support from the Association as we go.
We are praying constantly and stepping cautiously, trusting the Lord with the day we are in. (However, it does looks like I might have some closets to finally organize and some boxes to break down.)
On Easter something clicked for Darla. She has always been quick to say that Jesus is her best friend, that she wants to obey Jesus, and that she can't wait for heaven. But she has never understood so clearly what sin does and the need for Jesus to make us "white". Her fantastic Sunday School teacher explained that it's like we have black hearts; with sin and bad choices. When we ask Jesus into our hearts it's like he makes our hearts white and sparkly; taking the sin out, making us new.
Darla responded with exuberance and presented a cross to us after class that says Darla asked Jesus into her heart. She explained to me, "I talk to Jesus all the time and I know all about Him but I never did that before!"
When we moved back to our house the last week of February, we had some great help. I had about 15 boxes worth of stuff that had to be crammed into a small hall closet. It was quite a feat but a couple friends managed to jam it all in there and quickly close the door. I thought, "I'll get to that once we get settled."Two weeks later I decided that I would not get to that closet unless I knew we were staying. It's not worth it if I have to pack it all up again. In fact, our garage has neatly stacked empty boxes. We didn't break them down just in case we have to fill them back up again.
Yesterday the Luis Palau organization called. They are formalizing a job offer and will be sending it next Thursday for us to approve or negotiate. S. would be a Festival Director for them. Basically he would spend about 14 months raising money, getting churches on board, and planning a Palau festival. Leading up to the festival, Palau does "season of service" which is a couple month period where all the local churches come together to do some sensational community service projects. At the end of their work is a Festival celebration; with bouncy houses, kid areas, professional skateboarders & BMX, big name Christian bands, and the gospel message presented numerous times. The festival lasts 2 days. Then the churches step in to follow up with people who gave their lives to Christ, and hopefully continue with some service projects.
Ironically, when we started the interview process they planned to send us to San Diego or Phoenix for training. Things kept falling through but they still wanted S. to work for them. A couple weeks ago some people from Bellingham called Palau asking to do a Palau festival here.
Yesterday when they called they said they would like to hire S. to do a Bellingham festival. We are still discussing details and have yet to have a formalized offer...but it's looking very possible. If that's the case, Palau will help support us with what we need, staff, etc.
When I called my mom to tell her it's looking probable she asked, "should I come up tomorrow to help you organize your closet?"
I almost did it that very moment. Then I decided to wait until next week. The way that the Lord has been allowing interesting twists and turns makes me hesitant to make any assumptions. (But I have been daydreaming about which vegetables to plant out back in the garden.)
Thank you for all you who have been praying for us in this turbulent season. It has definitely felt like all the job options we considered have been knocked down one at a time, with this one left standing. We are praying if this is the best for our family, that God would show us by providing the salary we need to make it work for us.
Now we are going to go enjoy our first Easter in 9 years where we don't have to be busy with extra services and church preparations. In a year where we can loudly attest to the forgiveness and grace we have (in abundance) from Christ, we are going to soak in the celebration with our family.
Just throwing myself out there a bit...