Well here I (Lindsey) go again. I attempted to write this about a month ago, but between accidentally deleting it, illness, and then the Holidays, it just didn't get done. I think God may have allowed that so I could add even more to the picture that He's beginning to reveal. He is most definitely working.
Almost 4 years ago, my family moved down to the rural area we continue to call home. Four years of my husband serving in the Army, about a year and a half of transition from military to the State Highway Patrol and 11 places we called home in just the first 6 years of marriage, it's strange to think that we have resided in our home for 3 years now.
During our transition time from military to patrol, I was so blessed to become involved with a MOPS group and some amazing women who allowed me to see the possibility of serving in ministry even as I was taking care of my 3 children, under the age of 3, primarily by myself. I grew so much during that time and was so changed by this amazing group of women that one of our requirements for moving to wherever my husband would be posted was to find a MOPS group within reasonable driving distance of our home (wherever that would be, we weren't sure we'd have a house to live in until after we had stayed in a hotel down here for 2 whole days).
The week after we moved was the very first MOPS meeting of a church that was just minutes from our new house. I went, immediately made some connections, and that evening my whole family attended a Wednesday night service. We began attending and called this church home for next 3 1/2 years.
During those years I found it difficult to truly get involved. I helped with MOPS for a while until my job no longer allowed, but then I seemed to hit a ministry desert. God was placing so many things on my heart, but each of those things kept hitting a closed door. Whatever reason this was happening, I really wasn't sure, but I knew something was going to change. God began putting it on my heart that it was time to move. I wasn't sure where yet, we were just suppose to move. Across the country, across town? The answer to that wasn't yet clear, but the understanding that we weren't where we were suppose to be was growing.
Next, came one of the most difficult tasks: "convincing" my husband. You see, God had been placing this on his heart as well. Maybe not spoken in those very words, but a nagging and persistent thought that the church we'd called home for several years was no longer where we should be.
To some, a move to another church may seem like nothing, but to my husband and I it was difficult. We'd moved 5 1/2 hours from family after having previously been an ocean and country away, only to find that this move was much more lonely. In the military, you are dropped into a sea of other orphans. These orphans become your family and the camaraderie that is built in this situation is the kind that will stand the test of time. This time around, we were dropped into an established community with families and life-long friends. Building brand new relationships in this environment made me feel like I was back in high school after being homeschooled through 8th grade. I was once again trying to build relationships with people who were often more comfortable sticking to the kids they knew since kindergarten.
Due to my husband's work schedule, his timeline for relationship building was hindered even more. So, the first time (and many more after that) I brought up the possibility of a new church, his reply was "I've finally started to make some friends and begin to build some relationships." Each time the reply that God put on my heart was "If we are where He wants us to be I don't think it will be this hard." I, of course, said this only because it's what I felt God urging, not because I actually knew for sure. To be perfectly honest, I was worried it might not "work" either.
After many months of us both feeling out-of-place, for lack of a better phrase, we decided to visit a church that friends of ours were attending. Just to give a little back-story there, this friend is one of my closest here, and the relationship I started with her began at MOPS. She had chosen just a couple of months before to step out in faith and follow her husband from a church and church family that had seen her through many hard times to a new church that her husband felt led to take their family. This was after many years of my dear friend being the initiator of church-going in her family. I've seen God do so many incredible things in her life and in her marriage because of this leap of faith and I'm so thankful that her obedience led us to a new church we now call home.
Week 1 was met with an awesome message and a softening of my husband's heart toward this change. Week 2 brought a desire in my husband to get involved with their Sunday morning feeding program for the hungry children who attend Sunday school class. Week 3 gave an opportunity to start up a nursery program, that while not my heart ministry anymore, had been placed on my heart to share several months earlier and was definitely a need. Week 4 I was able to introduce the nursery program, and by week 5 it was established.
Fast forward to current day (January 2016). We've been attending since the second Sunday in November 2015. Just yesterday I sat down with a couple of the women from my church and we discussed the introduction of a women's study that would lead to a discipleship/mentoring program between women of the church. This program is so near and dear to my heart and after years of feeling like I couldn't find a place to minister, this opportunity feels as though it has fallen into my lap. We also discussed a couple's group that is going to be worked around my husband's work schedule so that he too will have a place to get involved. As we headed out the door of the coffee shop we ran into some of the leadership of another local church that we pair up with frequently to bring light to a darkened city. One of the men began discussing how women from his church approached the leadership and said "We need to be discipled." This led to me giving him the card for Deliberate Women and telling him of our devotional resources.
Over the past several years there have been times--many of them--that I have questioned why nothing would "just work out." I dearly love the people who attend our old church and think the world of them. They helped us through many difficulties and were sweet friends for many years and will be for many more to come. Now, looking back, the struggle is beginning to all make sense. Sometimes, God plants us in a place for a time and leaves us feeling discontented because He needs us to not only grow, but to be willing to move when He calls.
I thought about changing the verses since we have now passed Christmas, but I am still just so struck by the normality I see in Mary here and the gentle and purposeful directive from God.
I love verse 30 which talks about Mary being confused and disturbed by what the Angel was saying. Even the mother of the Most High was unsure of what was being asked and of how the fulfillment of God's calling would be accomplished. Yet, verse 38 is my absolute favorite, for it is Mary's willingness to step out in faith that gives birth to Peace for the whole earth. For it is in the midst of His Will, that we will find Peace.