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Saturday, January 16, 2010

.Our Faith Story Continued.

I need to continue our story. God keeps prodding me. I think He wants me to see clearly how in the past He was there in uncertain times, and this time is no different. How easily I forget. This has been a rough week for me. I have been battling a lot of fear and doubt and even anger. I have confessed it to God and to my husband. It's still a battle and a constant need for surrender on my part.

For new readers, my husband and I have been led out of our current ministry at a Christian childrens' camp, and into pursuing a pastorate. Jim was the Program Director of the camp, and we have been with them for over five years. This is a huge step of faith for us, as Jim's last day at camp is January 31st, and we have absolutely nothing that is certain for us to jump into after his position at camp ends.

If you are interested in catching up on our story click on the following links:
Once Upon A Time
Our Total Money Makeover
I Don't know how the Story Ends
At This Point in Time
Letting it All Hang Out

.....Here we were two Bible college graduates. One lacking a heart for people, and one being too concerned about what others might think to take the time and effort to truly care about people, and we thought we were ready for ministry.

God had other plans and other chapters to write. Our story had just begun.

We got married the summer before Jim's senior year of college. Jim worked two jobs and went to school. He worked as a truck loader at UPS, and then in the call center for a running company. I also worked in the call center of the running company until January, when I was hired to take over teaching a second grade class in a small Christian school. The former teacher was leaving to have her baby. I hated most every minute of working at the running company. For one thing I hate talking on the phone. Partly because I have a very little voice that sounds young. (I get phone calls from telemarketers asking to speak to my mommy!) So I would feel dumb answering the phone for a company and having the customers think I was 12 or something. I am not confrontational, and I hated the really nasty, mean customers - they gave me belly aches. Plus (at the time) I did not know anything about running! I liked some of the people I worked with, though. Some of them were a bit "rough around the edges", but they all liked me for reasons beyond me. I can see clearly now how God used this short time to help me to learn how to develop relationships with people very different from myself. However, needless to say, I was much happier when I was finished with that job and got into a classroom.

Jim, although he didn't love the job either, excelled, and quickly moved up to a catalog manager. He was able to leave UPS and solely work at the running company. He even learned a little bit from the web design guy about website building and designing, and enjoyed playing with what he learned in his free time. We would shortly see this as the hand of God in Jim's life, even though we had no idea at the time. During the two years that we were there (we stuck around one more year after Jim graduated) we also attended the church associated with the school I worked at. We really loved it at first. We loved the young married couples Sunday School class and small group. We learned so much through it. After about a year of attending we were approached to take on some leadership positions within the Sunday School class and the small groups. We were excited. This would be our first ministry as husband and wife! However, after only a few months involved in leadership things went sour. I am not here to condemn the church or the ministry, and still value many of the things we gained, so I will not go into details. We were hurt, though, and quickly stepped out of leadership. We even struggled with attending church for a bit. We knew this was wrong, and we sought God's guidance as to what to do. Technically, we were required to attend that church since I taught at the school there, but we were able to work around that with the school board.

One day while speaking with Jim's Mom on the phone, we learned of a home church that was just starting up about 45 minutes from where we were living. They were looking for a interim type pastor. Jim and I were intrigued. We met with the founders and fell in love with the sweet older couple, and the feeling was mutual. They had turned a garage on their property into a little church building. We were invited to join them on Sundays, and after attending a few weeks, Jim was invited to preach. This church was like nothing we have ever been a part of before. It was small for one thing - only a handful of families, but it was so authentic and the people were so loving and kind and welcoming. Jim and another college guy were chosen to rotate Sundays preaching. Jim gained excellent experience preparing and preaching sermons, and being completely involved in "doing" church. He was starting to see the pastorate as more than just preaching, but rather as the relational "thing" that God intended it to be. While we loved this little church and the people of that church dearly, we also longed to move closer to family.

By now Jim really was not enjoying his job at the running store, the politics had gotten bad, and some very questionable things were going on in the management - which was run by Christians. Plus we just had such a burden to jump into ministry. We didn't think we were ready for the pastorate yet, though. Through praying about this desire, God brought to mind that Christian camp that we had both worked at and met at. We learned of an internship position opening, and we jumped on it. This meant we could move closer to our families! After applying for the position and accepting the position, Jim told the owner of the running store that he would be leaving in three months to pursue ministry. The owner congratulated Jim and assured him that he could work up until the day he needed to move. We were so relieved that God was allowing everything to work out!

Some time later, Jim got called in for a meeting and was told that the company was going through a financial crisis, and that he was being laid off. We were devastated; especially after having the owner's word. We could not pay our bills based on my salary as a Christian school teacher alone, and who would hire Jim for just three months?

What was ahead could only have been orchestrated by the hand of God. Looking back His fingerprints are all over this story, and I cannot believe I ever doubted Him. Yet here I sit today having to push many of the same doubts out of my mind. Oh, how quickly I forget.

More to come.


Elizabeth Mahlou said...

I just stumbled upon your blog. I think God does prompt us to write about our experiences as a way of helping us to analyze and understand them and to see His hand in our lives. I look forward to your continuing story.

Heather said...

I really enjoy reading your story! It is good that you can reflect and see God's work in the past and that can give you hope for what you are going through now.

Unknown said...

Thank you for sharing your families trials and tribulations with us. Your writing is very good. I can't wait to read the rest of the story. I applaud you for sharing your story and your struggle. Isn't it funny how we now can look back and see that the Lord was with us all along even when we didn't know it. I just posted something along the same line a couple of days ago.

Have a blessed Sunday. Hugs...Tracy :)

Unknown said...

Oh', I almost forgot. Congratulations on 100 followers. That's a wonderful milestone.

Smiles, Tracy :)

Unknown said...

Oh', I almost forgot. Congratulations on 100 followers. That's a wonderful milestone.

Smiles, Tracy :)

Theresa said...

Thanks for reminding me that when the hard times are over, it's not time to forget them and move on, but to reflect and remember how faithful God has been the whole time!
Thanks for being sensitive to God's leading and sharing your life. You are on my heart and in my prayers!
Blessed be the name of the Lord!

Aunt Kathy said...

Tiff, Pray about our church. Our Pastor is retiring in June. I am praying for GOD to be preparing the right man now. ~AK~

Q, La, and Gooner said...

So I just found your blog and wow! I truly can't wait to read more! I might have to do it in sections though; the white on black could make my cross eyed after awhile! ha. You seem so sweet.

Aunt Kathy said...

Tiffany, you are an inspiration to meet. Thank-you for your openness and transparency. I love you, ~AK~

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