God speaks. He plans. He leads. He makes it clear when we ask.
Last year, David and I felt like God was calling us to homeschool. This was a huge deal for us because I had always said that I would NEVER homeschool. I don’t feel that I have anywhere near the teaching abilities and skills that the boys were getting at their incredible school. We were in love with that school and I had prayed every year that God would allow the boys to graduate from there, so it was very odd when suddenly I had the desire to teach the boys myself. But we took the leap of faith and decided to withdraw the boys at the end of the year.
Not long after that, we felt a strong leading to leave our fairly new church. We could not figure out why we were having such a hard time. The church was great, the truth was preached, the people were fab, but we could not get comfortable. We had many discussions, we tried to get involved, we knew we were needed, but we just kept hearing God say “this is not the place to settle down.”
Time passed and we were feeling quite isolated and not sure what direction to head in. We had just ostracized ourselves from any weekly community and we had no leads on God’s plan for all of this. The boys had been very attached to their school, but gradually had time to come around to the idea of trying something new. Thank goodness that their best friends are neighbors and God had planted us in an AMAZING neighborhood of people, because it would have been much harder to make these transitions without that… and Facebook ;).
After we came home with Kate, our frustration levels had gone to an all time high. David was not happy with his job. I was praying desperately for community. We were all unsure of where the next school year would take us. It was rough waters with the one bright spot of Kate (which seemed to outweigh all the rest on most days. What a gift!). One day, in a moment of pure irritation, I sent an email to David that said “Let’s just move!” I got back a response of “You literally cannot imagine how many times that thought has crossed my mind. I have a very different perspective on that concept now than I used to… I am sincerely praying that God will be clear on what is next in that part of our live (or our entire life for that matter…).”
Wow. Wasn’t expecting that. We actually started considering moving. This is a huge change of heart because just weeks prior to this we had been discussing the options of an above ground pool for the summers. We had often discussed how we would be in this house at least until the kids were grown and how God had provided enough room for all our future adopted kids :). I had often prayed that my boys would be rooted and grounded in the same community their whole lives because I had to move so much as a child and was never in the same school for more than 2 years until high school when everyone has already established strong bonds and friendships. This was a huge consideration for us. We threw out possibilities at random, one of which was Florida…or Hawaii…who wouldn’t want God to call them there?
We could never have expected what would happen next. It still has our minds blown sometimes. We had scheduled a trip to Albany, GA on a whim. We were going to meet Kate’s caseworker who helped us tremendously through our adoption process and who was much of the encouragement that I needed to make the China trip. Even a week before this trip I was not particularly excited about going. I am too embarrassed to even admit the thoughts that went through my head about South Georgia. Needless to say, it was not one of my top vacation spots. Sadly, I think the only thing that caused me not to back out was a free family picture session to get our first family pics done (no offense, Emily! I love you!).
Long story short, our first trip to Albany was amazing. We fell in love with Jay and Emily and found out he was a pastor at a church up the street from them. The moment we walked into Sherwood we were hooked. Not at all because it is famous (This is the church that produced “Facing the Giants” and “Fireproof” and “Courageous”) or because we got to take pictures with actors who are also faithful servants of Jesus or even because it is beautiful and big. It was because we walked in and felt like we were home. The Presence of God was there and we could tell immediately that this church cares about following Jesus with its every move. It was just icing on the cake that it was the perfect blend of what David and I had been searching for in a community of worshippers. We almost had to drag David out of the sanctuary to leave.
While we were there, we joked about God asking us to move there. We saw a beautiful rainbow that seemed to be directly over the church and we laughed about signs and promises. We bantered back and forth about knats and 100 degree temperatures. We never could have expected that this was the planting of something huge in our lives.
Three weeks later we were back. It seems that David had suddenly received multiple large projects to quote in South Georgia, all of them an hour or less away from, wait for it…. Albany. We decided to go with him for the weekend. We enjoyed more wonderful time with our new friends, and an incredible church service once again. This time we really felt like God was doing something, but we had no idea how He would work out any details. We still had David’s company and our under market value house to think about. God had some miracles to do if He was calling us to Albany. However, right in front of our eyes we started to see God pulling all the pieces of the puzzle together that we had been trying to figure out for months. We could no longer ignore the whisperings in our spirits…and we didn’t want to. We decided to start praying in this direction and see what God would do.
As we were praying, we mapped out the recent jobs that David had quoted and realized that they did almost a complete circle around Albany. We talked to David’s mom and she said she would be willing to rent our house if God kept leading this direction. So we decided to take another trip to Albany for the express purpose of looking at houses.
Man, this is a long story, even though I am so shortening it. If you have made it this far, you must really care about our family and what God is doing…so thank you!!! I would love to hear that you have read the whole thing ’cause it is starting to feel a little bit like a writing marathon at this point.
We went back down to Albany three weeks after our second trip to meet with a real estate agent and look at houses. We were just looking for God to open or close the door. We fell in love with the first house we looked at. The boys loved it too…so much so that they were excited about the thought of moving. It was wide open and gorgeous and had just enough room. We looked at 9 other houses that day, but none compared with the first one. Was this what God had for us?
The next day at church, we were describing this house to Jay and telling him how much he loved it. He said “That is the house.” You see, on our first trip to Albany, Jay and Emily had mentioned how they had tried to sell their 3 bedroom 1700 square foot house for a year with no success (Did I mention that they have 5 kids? Yes, 7 people in this space for years). They had recently taken it off the market to refinance because God just did not seem to be moving them. In the midst of all of this, a house went on the market that they had loved for years. This house used to belong to the senior pastor of Sherwood. When it went on the market, his daughter had texted Emily and told her it was up for sale and she would love for them to buy it. They couldn’t, though, because they had not sold their house. This house is the very same one we had looked at and fell in love with. The price had just been reduced on it too. I looked at Jay and said, “We are not buying Emily’s house!” Jay tried to reassure us that the house was not theirs and they had no claim on it at all and obviously God had not moved, so they would love for us to consider it, but we could read the disappointment. We did not know it yet, but Jay had literally filled out a prayer request and laid it on the altar that morning about their house situation.
All through service I struggled inwardly. We all loved that house. It was gonna make the move easier on the boys. If we were going to have to live in Albany, I wanted it to be in that house. Yet I knew in my heart what God was saying. I argued with Him all through service. I even told Him that I was not the one He needed to convince, it was David. I was so sure that David would never go for what I felt God was telling me.
After service, on the way out to our car, I turned to David and I said, “Do you think God might want us to buy Jay and Emily’s house?” I was completely expecting him to say, “What in the world are you talking about?” Instead what came out of his mouth was “God was saying the exact same thing to me all through service.” Well, that settled it. If I have learned one thing in my lifetime, it is NEVER to directly disobey God’s voice (and no, David, I am not referring to you as God ;). No matter how much you love or are attached to something on this earth, it NEVER works out for the best. Anything that makes you disobey is an idol and needs to be dealt with before it wreaks havoc in God’s plans for your life.
We told Jay and Emily our plans (or better yet, God’s plans) that afternoon. Emily had actually already scheduled to meet a real estate agent out at that house the next week just completely on faith. We were blown away at the timing of all of this, especially considering that we had come to Albany on a whim that weekend. As we were making the 3 hour drive home, Jay called David and further blew our minds. Evidently, a local pastor had called up the Sherwood pastor that day and told him that one of his congregation members was putting in an offer on this house that weekend. Jay and Emily put in a full offer that Monday and it was accepted over 2 other offers. If it hadn’t have been that exact weekend, they would have lost the house. How GREAT is our God?!? No man could have ever worked out timing so intricately.
This was all in August. Since then we have been trying to get a second loan on Jay and Emily’s house as we could obviously not sell our house in this market. We were pretty much denied on the first loan we applied for and it left us questioning everything that had happened to that point. Was this really God’s plan or did we just make all this stuff up? We stood strong in faith believing that our finite minds could have never come up with such a plan. Finally, yesterday a second loan came through and was approved. This is a complete miracle in the current economic climate where people are walking away from their homes. We were obviously downsizing and moving 3 hours away, so any bank could have looked at that as a plan to abandon our current house payment. Even in the waiting God provided. When Jay and Emily put a contract on their new home, they only had a month to close without penalty, but obviously had to wait for us to close first. Their time should have been up in September, but the seller kept delaying to make repairs. Now we should close at very near the same time and without penalty or loss of contract.
So short story very long, we are moving to Albany. David’s mom will rent out our house. I am so excited for her to finally have a big enough place to entertain our growing extended family. Plus she will be closer to most of her children and only 15 minutes from a drive to work that used to take her over an hour. David will be starting a new branch of Ascend in Albany. We are not sure what this looks like yet, but know that God will provide. He will be up to his main branch weekly for meetings and such. We will be able to stay in our own basement when we come for visits and such. There are just so many things that God has worked out in all of this.
I want to use all of this to encourage someone. God DOES have a plan. Even when it doesn’t look like it or seem like it, if you can just grab on to faith and believe that no matter what you “see” He will come through…He will. Keep asking, keep knocking, keep waiting patiently. Don’t try to work it out yourself…don’t start worrying or fretting… don’t panic or give in to doubt. He IS working. We are living proof. There is NOTHING special about us except the fact that we desire to follow Jesus with our whole heart. When your desire becomes for His Name and Renown more than anything else, crazy things start happening.
We don’t have an exact move date, but it will be in the next couple of weeks. Please be in prayer for us as we make this huge transition. David has never lived outside of metro Atlanta and we are leaving all of our family and close friends behind. This will be truly starting over for us. We need your prayer support. Thank you for loving us enough to read all the way to the end. We love you too!