Sunday, July 26, 2015

Our new home....

This post has been a long time in coming....over 2 months to be exact.

Since our move to Arizona June 1st, I have wanted to post how things are going.  But to be honest, I just haven't been able to find the words to describe how faithful God has been to us.  It has been overwhelming to say the least. 

Plus, so much has happened over those 2 months that it would take me several posts to tell you about it and THAT was overwhelming.....I guess I am easy overwhelmed these days :)

So, today as I sit in my new home on the top of a mountain, relaxing after an amazing worship service this morning, I felt it was the right time to attempt a post.

So many of you prayed us through this last year and I want you to see (or read) what your prayers helped accomplish  :)  Your prayers encouraged us when we were down, they gave us strength to stand firm in our trust in God to take care of us, and many more things that I'm sure I will only know in Heaven.....thank you!!!

First let me share with you a few God moments...

* We moved here the 1st of June and a week later my dad had to have triple bypass surgery.  How wonderful that God moved us here at that time so that I could be there for my mom and dad!!

* When we got here, the main road to our house was under construction.  It was all torn up and just a dirt road full of pot holes.  The bridge was down to one side and was very narrow.  I really didn't think our moving van would be able to make it to our house.  BUT the fantastic driver made it over the bridge with only 3" on each side!!!  The God moment was that had he come even a day later, he would not have made it as they completely closed the road and the van would not have made the turns of the detour!!  

* We have found so many connections with people in our congregation.  It really is a small world!!  


To say that we "fit" in this community and church would in my mind be an understatement.  It has been such a blessing to see how Steve's and my gifts and abilities just completely mesh with the ministry here and how God prepared us for it.

Munds Park is a small, mostly summer community about 17 miles from Flagstaff.  What that means is that many of the people are only here from May to October/November.  Only about 1/3rd of the population are "full timers".  So in the summer we have a full congregation with lots of programs going on and then in the winter we will have a smaller, more intimate group.

We have a wonderful congregation... that seems to be growing each week.  :)  What I love about the people here is that though many of them are "on vacation", so to speak, or retired, they are committed to growing in Christ and committed to walk along side us as we serve Munds Park. They are workers and doers, but mostly they love God and desire to serve Him.  What a blessing!

They have welcomed us and loved on us so well.

I truly wake up each morning, grab my coffee, open the doors to let the cool, crisp air in, grab my bible to spend time with God and first pinch myself to make sure it is real. 
 My heart is so full.  

Over the last year as we waited on God, I never dreamed our obedience would lead to such an amazing ministry where we fit like a dove tailed drawer.  But God is faithful....ALL the time.  And when we wait on Him and walk His way, not our own, it is always best.

Now, after having been in the ministry for over 25 years, I know that no ministry is perfect.....there will be difficult times in the future...that's life.  But I just can not explain to you how it feels to have waited on God for so long, to have taken Him at His word, to have not wavered in trusting that He had a place for us and then to finally be here and have it be more than I could ever have imagined.

God IS faithful.
ALL the time.
Wait on Him!!!

More are the church next post!


Thursday, May 14, 2015

Getting close.....

A week from today the movers will be here to pack and move us to Arizona.  It is so hard to believe that it is here already!  I have so many little details swimming around in my head...I'm just praying none of them fly out!  :/

The details have been complicated and added to by the fact that our house is not sold yet.

I have been struggling with that a bit and in the last couple of days I have been on a war path of sorts to fix anything I can that would "help" my house sell...and it has been causing a lot of stress.

I had coffee with my bible study leader yesterday and she reminded me of our study of Malachi this spring and the main point God brought out to us......I am King, let me lead.   It hit me like a 2x4...I had quit letting Him lead.  I had taken the lead when I started down the mad path of trying to fix everything.  Don't get me wrong, we need to do what we can to make our house presentable, but ultimately it is GOD who will sell our house, there is really not much I can do to make it sell.  And HE had not led me to make those fixes...I was doing them on my own through stress and making everyone miserable around me.

I can't tell you the peace that came over me when I realized that and handed Him back the lead in my heart.  My house is beautiful, some one will love it.  I know He has the right family for this house, they are just not ready for it yet and in the mean time, He has provided all we need..even a way to move without it being sold.  

He is a much better leader than I am, I wish I could remember that!

Then this morning, as I sat down for my quiet time, I start to feel panic come into my heart and even guilt.  These were my thoughts......should I have chosen the house I did in Arizona?  There was one that was cheaper...it was very small but it was cheaper.  All these payments are piling on....it's my fault I chose that house.  We are going to be in trouble.  Maybe I can get out of purchasing this house.  I should have done something sooner.

And then I opened up Jesus Calling to today's devotion and this is what I read...

"Remember that Satan is the accuser of believers.  He delights in heaping guilt feelings upon you, especially when you are enjoying My Presence.  when you feel Stan's arrows of accusation, you are probably on the right track. Use your shield of Faith to protect yourself from him.  Talk with Me about what you are experiencing, and ask Me to show you the way forward"

Wow.  
The guilt I was feeling was unreasonable.
How amazing that God had those words for me today, at just the right time.

If He goes to that much detail to protect me from the enemy, how can I doubt He will not take care of this house and all aspects of this move.  He has an amazing ministry waiting for us and work for us to do.  the enemy knows that and he will try everything to distract me or emotionally wear me out so that I am not prepared for it.

So, today....once again...I left the house and the move in God's hands.

I feel so much better......

Friday, May 8, 2015

adventure that could be a sitcom....

You may remember that the transmission in my car started going out last June.  It is one of the miracles that God provided during our year with out a job.

After praying about it, we took it to a repair shop and they could NOT find any thing wrong with it. :) So we drove it away (having not paid a dime) and 2 blocks from the repair shop all the transmission lights started coming on and it started making the noise it was making when shifting.  Since they couldn't find anything wrong with it, we decided to keep driving it until something happened where it had to go in.......we've been driving it for a year now.  yay God!  The lights still come on when driving it.

But I have only driven it in town....occasionally to Conway (30 minutes away), praying all the way!  We knew it would not make it to Az and we need 2 cars, so while we are in Indiana this week we are getting a car from our friend who owns a dealership there.  BUT we need to trade this one in....he is graciously taking it as a trade in.  So, we started out the 11 hour trip praying over the car and asking anyone we knew to pray.  The first hour or so was tense as we waited for it to quit shifting or something, but when it didn't we settle into the drive and got more comfortable.  

For 10 hours it did great and had no issues and then 1 hour away as we drove into Chicago, the car started having problems.  It quit shifting into over drive. We could not believe it.  I sent a desperate txt out asking for prayer and started praying while Steve watched the RPMs. We had to do the last hour going 55 or lower....semi's and cars racing by us.  I turned to Steve and said "well at least we have no worry of getting a speeding ticket!!"

  Then when we got off the freeway and turned into town, it quit shifting out of 3rd...ugh!  so we drove 25mph to our friends house....but we made it!!!  We still had to get it to the dealership the next day, but put it all aside to enjoy our friends for the evening.  There wasn't much we could do any way!

The next morning, we started out to the dealer and the car would not shift.  Steve and i just looked at each other...both thinking what we didn't want to say...we may need a tow truck.  but then slowing the car worked into it and began shifting....whew!! 

About 2 miles from the dealer the service engine soon light came on.  We both started praying out loud.....please just 2 miles.  Then, please only ONE mile.  We drove into the dealership with ALL the engine lights flashing BUT we drove in!!!!   YAY GOD!!!!  The building sits at the bottom of a hill and there was a parking space directly in front of us at the bottom that we coasted in to!!!  We stopped and both looked at each other, laughed and praised God for getting us there!

so, I now have my new, RELIABLE car!!!  


Thank you for all your prayers!!!

Now on to getting the house sold!  :)

I'm certain God's got that too!!!

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Thankful Thursday...

Linking up today with Rebecca Jo


Today I am thankful for.....

NO RAIN!!  
it is a gorgeous day here and the sunshine and warm just boosts your spirits! We have had way above average rainfall and it was getting old!

My house.
So thankful for this house that God provided while we lived in LR.  some of the best neighbors I have ever had, so much ministry has happened in this house, so many great memories.  Thankful I have a house to sell and trying to remember that as we go through the stress of selling it.

My health
I think I take that for granted so often.  As it turns out my frozen shoulder was caused by stress.  as God has put pieces in this puzzle of our life this year, it has gotten progressively better.  An now that I am mostly pain free, I am SO grateful for my health and for feeling good!

My hairstylist.
Bless her.  She makes my hair look amazing.  She is the best colorist I have ever had.  Most people are shocked when they find out I color my hair and am really very grey.  Plus she is such a good friend and I enjoy my time with her each month.  I will miss her and to be honest am not looking forward to having to find someone new in Arizona.  But today I am very thankful for her!!

Great friends.
I have the best.  Both near and far.  

Today
I am very thankful for today...whatever it holds!


Monday, April 27, 2015

Feelings......

...they are running the gamut in my life these days.

Excitement

Over our new ministry and home.  Seeing God answer so many prayers and take care of each detail.  Excitement that our new grand baby is a GIRL!!  Excitement in finding lost treasures deep in closets....a long lost bible, my daughter's Ragedy Ann doll I thought I had lost, fun pictures, lost videos!!  So fun!

Exhaustion

As we just finished going through the LAST closet/storage area.  who knew you could collect so much junk?  We were so excited about the storage areas in this house....now I dislike them...because we filled every.single.one.  But we have worked hard to go through them all!!  and we are tired.

Sadness

We have been trying to cut down on our moving expenses, so we have made tough decisions to get rid of things we've had for a long time, some since we first got married.  Most of those things are going to our kids, which makes me happy, but some of them have been sold in a garage sale or gone to goodwill....and that has made me sad.  It's hard to let go of things. However, I was reminded in a quiet time this weekend that these are just "things" and only bring joy for a short time.  What brings joy for a lifetime doesn't take up much room....except in my heart!  :)

It's also been sad as we start the "goodbye" process.  This is never easy and comes with lots of tears. 

Stress

This is a feeling that really has no place in my life....I trust God completely to put all the pieces of the puzzle together.  However, I live in a human, fallible body and stress sneaks in when ever it can.  The item causing the most stress is the sale of our house.  Still waiting on that one.  So each day, and sometimes many times in the day, I have to let go and lay that stress at the feet of Jesus.  We are boldly asking God to sell our house by May 1st....with the knowledge that His plans are best and we want His plan.

Another stress inducer is our schedule. as we get close to the end of our time here, we have so many people that want to meet with us one last time, going away parties to attend, packing to do, a 60th wedding anniversary to attend for my parents, a trip to Indian to make, friends to see and plans to be made.  When I look at my calendar it is overwhelming.  However, God reminds me that He will give me the strength for EACH day and so I take it one at a time!

Encouragement

God always brings encouragement just when we need it most!  through friends, special mail, answered prayer, scripture that speaks to my heart and in so many other ways!  

Blessed

This is by far the feeling I feel the most.  To look back at the year and see how God has taken care of us, how many amazing friends I have praying for us and looking out for us, how I have such a loving family that supports and encourages me and brings me so much joy and a God who promises not only to take care of me but has wonderful plans for me.

I am truly blessed.

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. Jeremiah 29:11


Sunday, April 19, 2015

refocusing...

This week has been hard.

After the excitement of finally seeing where God wants us to serve next, we came home and put our house on the market.

4 days later, God brought us a buyer and by the next day we had a contract...amazing!  How cool to see God work so quickly.

So, I made plans to fly to Arizona to find a house and to start interviewing moving companies (which we could only do with a contract on our LR house).  I flew to Arizona the next week and found the perfect house for us.  God moved some obstacles and on sunday, last week, we signed a contract.  Every thing was in place and for the first time in a year felt out of "limbo".

I flew home Monday and 15 minutes after we walked in the house from the airport, we got a call from our realtor that the contract on our house here had fallen through.

We were shocked.
the inspection had been Friday and when the inspector left, he told Steve there were no major problems with the house. Steve had met the couple at the inspection and said they were very nice and he was excited he had been able to tell them all about how to take care of the pool, etc.

So, what happened?
Well, we don't know.  We are assuming buyers remorse and maybe they got nervous about the work involved in caring for a pool, they had never had one before.  But we really don't know.  They just backed out and Arkansas law lets them.

honestly, that started a week of fighting doubt and anger.

While these people got to just back out and go look for a new home, we had to deal with having missed 2 weeks on the market and now having the title "back on the market"....which to most realtors means...there is something wrong with that house.  We had already put a contract on another house that now was in jeopardy and also signed with a moving company.  It was hard not to be angry.

For the whole week, not one person has asked to see the house.  We have tried to remind ourselves of EVERYthing God has done this year and how He has worked all these things in our favor, but our eyes were focused on our house.  We sat each day, with nothing to do, just waiting for the phone to ring for a showing and the stress level just creeped up until it filled the house.

This morning, in my quiet time, I was reading Oswald Chambers and this is what he wrote:

...You may have just victoriously gone through a great crisis, but now be alert about the things that may appear to be the least likely to tempt you. Beware of thinking that the areas of your life where you have experienced victory in the past are now the least likely to cause you to stumble and fall.
We are apt to say, “It is not at all likely that having been through the greatest crisis of my life I would now turn back to the things of the world.” Do not try to predict where the temptation will come; it is the least likely thing that is the real danger. It is in the aftermath of a great spiritual event that the least likely things begin to have an effect. They may not be forceful and dominant, but they are there. And if you are not careful to be forewarned, they will trip you. You have remained true to God under great and intense trials— now beware of the undercurrent.
Wow.
It hit me square between the eyes.
We have been letting the sale of our house not only become our focus but we have also allowed it to take our eyes off our future ministry.  We have spent the week praying for a buyer (not a bad thing) but had stopped praying for our future ministry and the people there without even realizing it.

We have come through this year depending on God in one of the hardest times of our lives and then, just like that, allowed doubt to take over.

I can just visualize God shaking His head.

ugh.

So, today I refocus!
I am focusing on this amazing ministry God has for us in Arizona and letting God work out the details of getting us there.....He's better at it anyway!  :)

And just like that, the stress balloon in this house was burst!






Sunday, March 29, 2015

Our Story

As I sat in church today praising God, I realized I needed to tell our story.  

As the Psalmist said 57:9-10....

I will praise you, Lord, among the nations;
I will sing of you among the peoples.  
For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; 
your faithfulness reaches to the skies

I realized I need to tell of His faithfulness to us...

A year ago, my husband lost his job.
It is hard to believe it has been a year.  
But the Sunday we were extended a call to pastor a church in Arizona was a year, to the day, that the elders of our last church announced they were letting us go.

It's been a year of ups and downs, of trusting God, of finding out what that really looks like, of having everything I thought I could control ripped out of my hands and finding in that place of utter dependence on Him.....there is peace.

But I started out that year hurt, angry and worried.  

God immediately started working on the hurt and anger.
First showing me my pride....in thinking that if I was serving him faithfully in ministry it shouldn't be this hard.  And revealing to me that I had my fists tightly clenched on things I considered "off limits" to him... as he slowly peeled them away.

He showed me his sovereignty in that though the elders had made the choice of letting Steve go, He ultimately was in control.....so who should I be mad at?

And slowly and gently He brought me to the point of complete trust.  To the place where I could honestly say.....I trust you Lord, my times are in your hands. (psalm 21:15)

Over the year, we had many situations that tested that trust....

*our transmission started going out in my car in June.
dash lights going off, bad noise when shifting gears.  So we prayed about it, asked God to take care of it and took it in to the shop.  We got a call the next day that they could not find one thing wrong with the car and to come get it.  God has miraculously sustained our car this whole year, even with the lights still going off!!

*our severance ran out.....he has provided everything we needed.  
Right before Christmas, a friend told us that God laid on their hearts to give us $250...an unbelievable gift!  When we got home from Houston the 1st of January, we found that our upstairs heater had quit...ugh. So we had the repair man out and when he handed the bill to Steve it was.....$250.70....no kidding.

*We came in 2nd at SIX churches.
As we started this process, Steve and I prayed that at each church we talked to we would be able to first and foremost leave them a little closer to God from spending time with us...no matter the outcome.  We received emails from people on many of those search committees later telling us how we had changed them and our vision had caused them to look at their lives differently.
One woman had been living in her neighborhood for 5 years and had never had contact with her neighbor across the street...in fact she had been warned to stay away from him because he was a bit crazy and had guns.  After talking to us (our passion is reaching out to neighbors....those God places in your immediate life) she began praying for her neighbor and within a few days the neighbors wife knocked on her door with some fresh strawberries from their garden!  And a door was opened to a new relationship!!

But through it all, I knew that God had a place for us and that He just wanted us to wait on Him for it....no matter how long it took.

I prayed that where ever that place was, that they would want us....we wouldn't be a 2nd choice.  That they would really see that the gifts Steve and I had to offer were a perfect fit for their church.

And deep inside, I prayed my hearts desire...that I would be closer to my parents.  I have always lived so far from them and as they grow older, it is my desire to be near them.

We began talking to the church in Arizona in the fall.  Since all of my family is in Arizona, I tried not to get my hopes up!

In Feb, they told us we were 1 of 2 final candidates and that they would like to have us come out and visit and have Steve preach.

As Steve prepared his sermon before we left, he told me that God had actually given him the sermon back in the fall.  He felt it was what he was called to preach wherever he was sent to candidate.  And as he put the final touches on it, he said "Sara, if I don't get the job it won't be because of my sermon."

We went out to Arizona for the weekend and fell in love with the people.  The other candidate had been there the week before and we knew they had liked him. We expected to find out who they felt called to in the next week or so.  However, on the Sunday that Steve preached they extended us the call!!  We were having a potluck after church and the committee had been meeting while we were visiting with the congregation.  When they announced it to the people at the potluck (after talking to us and our accepting...and my crying)....the people stood up and CHEERED!  The excitement was amazing and a true answer to my prayer.

Later, as we talked to someone on the committee, they told us that it was Steve's sermon that pushed them over the edge toward us......another answer.

So, after waiting and trusting for a full year, God has brought us to a place that is a perfect fit for us.  A place where the people see our gifts and are excited to come along side us to do ministry.  

And to top it off, I will be moving to the place that is the desire of my heart!!  Arizona!!  I grew up in Arizona and I will be only 4 hours from my parents.

Let me tell you today....

God's love never fails!

Psalm 37:3-4 
Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart.