Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Hosanna in the Highest

Here we are...it is the morning of the day we leave for GA.  It is 5:45am, and I should probably be in bed sleeping since we have a 10 hour drive ahead of us.  But I can't.  There are so many thoughts going through my head.  Are we really getting ready to do this?  How is this all going to play out?  When will find our own home?  How are the kids going to adjust?  What church are we going to go to? What job will Chris find to supplement our support?  Are there going to be any churches who will take a step of faith and trust what the Lord wants us to do?  I will stop there, but believe me there are at least 50 more questions that I have swirling around in my head!! Those who know me well, know I am not lying when I write that! :)

In the midst of all of those questions, wanting to come up with a "perfect" scenario to move, I am reminded of a conversation that I had recently.

Friend: Can't you just stay here?  You could always start your ministry here.

Me: We could stay here longer.  We could wait until we have a certain amount of money in the bank or a certain number of churches lined up.  But at some point we cross over to the line of disobedience and then we become like Jonah.  And I don't want to be like Jonah, so it is time for us to go.  (My thoughts: What did I just say?!?  Man, that is some good stuff there!  I need to remember this conversation and write that down!)

So, this morning, I am reminded of that conversation...as I have often times the last several days.  We need to pray...to pray for the God's protection of our thoughts.  We need to trust...to trust that He will lead the way...that He will provide for our every need and maybe some of our wants. As I talk with God, I am reminded of all that He has done so far on this journey...He is faithful.  As He replaces my questions about the future with thoughts of what He has already done in our life, I realize that we need to go...we need to have the faith to get in our cars and go.  We don't need to be like Jonah dragging our feet and eventually getting there.  We need to OBEY.

Yesterday as I was driving in the van Hootie-less, I realized that I could listen to ANYTHING I wanted to.  So, I turned on the radio and the MercyMe: The Worship Session CD was playing. (I highly recommend adding this CD to your collection)  It happened to be on the song, Hosanna.  Now remember, I am in the van all by myself so I am able to really listen to the words...I was able to worship Him while I was out running my errands...this is a rarity with four Hooties, so I cherished every moment of it!  This morning as I am typing, the words keep playing over and over in my head. 

Here are the lyrics:

I see the King of Glory
Coming on the clouds with fire
The whole earth shakes, the whole earth shakes
I see His love and mercy
Washing over all our sins
The people sing, the people sing

Hosanna hosanna
Hosanna in the highest
Hosanna hosanna
Hosanna in the highest

I see a generation
Rising up to take the place
With selfless faith, with selfless faith
I see a near revival
Stirring as we pray and seek
We're on our knees, we're on our knees

Hosanna hosanna
Hosanna in the highest
Hosanna hosanna
Hosanna in the highest
Heal my heart and make it clean

Open up my eyes to the things unseen
Show me how to love like you have loved me
Break my heart for what breaks Yours
Everything I live for Your kingdom's cause
As I walk from earth into eternity

Hosanna hosanna
Hosanna in the highest
Hosanna hosanna
Hosanna in the highest

Hosanna hosanna
Hosanna in the highest
In the highest

 As we get ready to get in the van in less than hour, I will praise Him for what He has done and what He is going to do.  The last refrain is my prayer as we get ready to drive:

Dear Jesus, 

I do pray that You will open up our eyes.  That wherever we turn in this journey, we will see You.  That when You provide something for us, we will be reminded that it is because of the working of Your hand. 

As we start this new journey, help us to love like Jesus.  That what we do each and everyday is because of the love You gave us first.  Help us to see the opportunities You place before us to love those around us like Jesus would.  Whether it is someone in our family, our friends or a complete stranger. 

 Lord, our heart breaks for Your Church.  This is why you have given us this vision.  When we get discouraged or weary, remind us of Your call...remind us of what breaks Your heart...because we want to live for Your kingdom's purposes.  

Hosanna in the highest

In Jesus' Name,

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Loving Us Like Jesus

Friday, September 4, 2015

8:50 am: (Text message Chris  wrote to some friends) "Well, the word came back via email Wednesday night at 9:50pm that Lebanon had extended a call to another man.  We were pretty sad yesterday.  But today we are beginning to press through.  I am making phone calls, sending emails, printing support letters, and making plans to move to south Georgia the beginning of October. Thank you for praying with and for us this last year.  Please feel free to continue.  This journey will be impossible without the hand of the Lord.  We will see how it goes!" 

8:51am:  My husband posts this from his blog. 

8:56am: "Disappointing-yet a path is now clearer (and it is what is best for you guys.)"

9:04am:  "A door never closes without God opening the next one. You both have been an inspiration to me with your patience and obedience. Has it been hard? Most definitely but I cannot wait to see the blessings He is holding for you. Love you guys."

9:10am: "I just read Chris' post..I love you, dear one and if want to talk, just let me know. I'm here."

9:27am: (Text message I wrote to some friends) "First I want to say thank you for all the prayers you have lifted up on the behalf of my family.  The last year could have been a lot harder than it was.  Chris got an email Wednesday night stating that the search committee has gone with someone else.  It was hard hearing that news yesterday morning..I had already fallen asleep and he didn't want to wake me.  Yesterday was a hard day as the door to being a pastor and a pastor's wife has been closed for a season.  It was also overwhelming as we sit here with no home..no job...and four sets of eyes looking at us.  We will be moving to Georgia the first week of October to begin the discipleship ministry.  Months ago I thought I really needed your prayers, but as I sit here typing this note, I realize that we are going to need your prayers even more.  For God to provide a place to live and to provide the finances to make that happen.  Chris and I have felt some spiritual attack the last day as satan tells us lies about who we are and what we lack.  It is a constant battle to not believe those lies.  So please pray.  We will keep you posted in the days to come.  You may not realize it, but you are playing an important role in what God is getting ready to do."

I was broken.  I needed prayers because the battle was real. But then the texts started coming at just the right time.

9:22am: "Sorry to hear! I think you presented yourself well and I know you and your family would have been a blessing to their church.  I will continue to pray for you." 

9:27am: "We will continue to life you guys up!  Let's catch up soon bro.  God is setting something up for your family!!" 

9:35am:  "Sara, my heart aches for you.  But I still hope for good things. Our  is a God of peace and He will bless you.  Please let us know if there's anything we can do to with the transition.  We will be praying."

9:38am: "You know we will continue to pray! I'm happy that you are having a change of scene by moving to GA, and I KNOW your family is thrilled!!! I know you know that there is a plan in place for you and Chris and your sweet family.  You may be headed toward all the answers you have been waiting for as we speak! Thank you so much for always keeping me in the loop.  I love you guys and I am so inspired by your obedience to God's plan for your life.  The testimony you can share...WOW! Satan attacks so regularly, and I'm glad that in spite of all you see it for what it is. Love and prayers for you and your beautiful family, my sweet friend!!!"

9:39am: "I praise God for finally giving you direction and an answer! Even though it is hard, He's got an awesome plan--something that I keep having to remind myself.  Will definitely keep praying for you guys as you prepare to move to GA. He WILL provide.  Keep me updated."

9:51am: "I just got in from a run and I have always used that time to reflect and pray.  You guys were on my heart and being prayed for, for my mile and half run this morning. Funny how God does stuff like that and I knew why when I got back and read your text! I know it is hard to see now, but God  has it under control.  Even those tiny details that we forgot about.  I'm excited to see how God is going to grow you guys and stretch you to glorify Him and testify to Who He is!"

9:54am: "I have a hard time liking this; not because of what you wrote, but because of the reason it had to be written. My heart is hurting for you. Even though the road you will now be traveling is unfamiliar and even scary, I have all faith that you will be blessed beyond measure. I commend you for your trust and faith in the Lord. You have endured so much. I pray for continued endurance and faith as you go forward. I love you all very much. We are here for you when and however you need us."

9:56am: "Oh, that makes me sad Chris.  I know that was a disappointment and I feel for you.  I will certainly continue to pray. Please give Sara and the kids our love." 

10:01am: "I'm so sad about your news.  God definitely has a plan for you, a plan for good. We will keep praying."

10:34am: "Hi my friend.  I am so sorry to hear the news.  It is hard to understand why you have to go through this journey.   I know it hurts and I totally understand the spiritual attacks.  I wish I could give you a hug and just say that my heart and thoughts are with you."

10:39am:  "Praying He comforts as only He the comforter can do. What a blessing to follow Him.  Oh the rewards you will receive in Heaven."

10:47am:  "Praying for you, brother. If you need an actual ear to bend, mine is ready to listen. If you'd like to chat, let me know--I'll DM you my telephone number. Love you, man."

10:48am: "Praying for you and your family!"

10:50am: "Prayers said"

11:42am: "Praying!"

12:14pm: "Thank you for sharing what God has been doing in your family.  Your family will be in my prayers and the prayers of the rest of my family.  God is faithful and is doing a great work in and through you guys.  It may be hard or impossible to see, but then faith comes in, and God requires it because it is such a necessary part of the Christian walk and the battle.  I will pray for faith to trust, for noble thoughts to renew the degrading ones and for wisdom to see God's loving hand.  Love you all!"

12:15pm: "I will continue to be praying for you and the family.  God is with you and he won't leave you! I can't wait to see the new chapter that is around the corner.  Love you, Sara!"

12:41pm:  "May God strengthen you in your journey!"

12:43pm:  "I know so many prayers have been lifted up over the last year - for wisdom, direction, patience, peace and I know that the Lord has heard every single one. I also know that this is not the news that we were hoping for, because those that love you all want you close. But He who loves you infinitely more, knows all too well where you all are supposed to be. I know this journey has been long and it is has been far from easy, but out of His goodness and His knowledge of who He created you all to be, He has determined you are needed elsewhere. While being a pastor, and Sara, a pastor's wife, can be seen as an identity, your true identity is found as a child of God, and when the Father calls, His children listen. We love you all so much and have been so blessed to watch as you have remained faithful and obedient servants. We will be praying!"

1:48pm:  "Praying for peace and some open doors!"

2:00pm: "Was just telling your parents how pure and sweet and awesome your kids are...so sorry for this news.  The Lord certainly goes before y'all in this new chapter and you will be missed here."

3:29pm: "Oh Sara, you are loved! I know the wilderness of waiting has lasted longer than you expected, and that this must have been an especially difficult closed door.  May the Lord be near you, may you cast your cares on him, may he keep you believing in his goodness and his purposes.  We will pray for his leading and provision as you enter this new season, and we will pray for him to provide all you need in ways that right now exceed what you can imagine."

3:38pm: "C told me about Lebanon's decision.  I'm really sorry bro.  I know you trust in what God has prepared for you all, but this has been another grueling journey with a hard end.  I read your blog post just now, a very open pouring out of your heart.  You have a gentle and loving spirit, something most men don't realize is so critical to an authentic Christlike masculinity. We're here for you all if you need us for anything. Praying for you all.  You are on my mind a lot."

3:51pm: "Sorry man.  I'm bummed too.  We will be praying for you. At least you have a little more direction as to where God is leading you.  I'm here if you need to talk."

3:56pm: "Oh Chris I'm so sorry to read this but know I value your amazing discipleship and am praying for you and your beautiful family. God's plan is real and will be revealed!"

4:45pm: "I got your message and I know God is faithful and that he loves your family so much...Anyways, please rebuke the lies that are being told to you right now, and I will be in prayer with you.  Your family has such a heart for discipleship, and I truly believe your alliance will be used of God for that purpose.  We love you and know God will sustain you but us friends and family are here, too."

5:37pm: "Chris, my heart sunk when I read this.  I have waited because I do not know what to say.  The brothers in VA are missing out on the most Godly man I have ever known.  I have to believe that God is in control and I wholeheartedly believe that he has some very big plans and blessings for you and your family in South Ga.  God bless you man.  I love you and will be praying for you!

6:56pm: "I wish I could be hugging you right now! You're going through a difficult season of change, but I know God will use it for His glory! You and Chris have trusted God so beautifully throughout all of this.  He definitely has you both in his hands."

8:09pm: "Hi Sara and family.  My heart and prayers go out to you as you all prepare plans to move to GA.  Stay strong, for He is with us wherever we are.  I miss you!"

9:21pm: "Praying!"

10:15pm: "I'm reminded (for some reason) of the time in college that you blew off juries and didn't show for a concert, all because you knew His plans for you were bigger than those moments that no longer had bearing on your future. I hope down the road we have a chance to sit at an awesome location and look back on this and smile."

8:34am (9.5.15): "Praying for you all!! Draw up into His wings and find comfort and rest in His presence."

10:37am: (9.5.15): "Chris, this must be very disappointing.  Frankly, I have no idea why you have not received a call to Pastoral Ministry.  Let me give you a word of encouragement, just in case you are struggling with any questions.  You were "well-liked" by our committee and we ALL affirmed your gifts for ministry.  There was NOTHING that "black-balled" you, no "evident issue," NO glaring "defect."  I am really surprised at this point.  One earthly reality (I guess) is that there aren't as many open positions in the EPC as there are for example in PCUSA.  Yes, send me your stuff.  I'm interested in the discipleship launch.  Hang in there brother." 

3:42pm (9.5.15):  "Well said, Chris! I'm sorry things aren't going as you had hoped and anticipated. You have so many gifts to serve the Lord. It's just tough when it's not clear how He's calling you. We continue to pray and trust the Lord to provide. The faith you and Sara demonstrate is inspiring!"

These texts came throughout the day...just when we needed them.  I was flooded with the love of friends, but more importantly by His love. These texts are a testimony of how we have impacted people's lives because of our passion for discipleship...for taking the time to invest in people through studying God's Word; for praying with and for them; for walking with them through different seasons of their lives.  And now, here they were praying for us...reminding us of Who we belong to...they we walking with us when we needed it. This is how the Body of Christ is suppose to work...encouraging each other...praying for each other...walking with each other...carrying each others burdens...loving each other as Christ loves His Church.  For those of you who wrote a text or gave us a call, all I have to say is thank you for loving us like Jesus. 

Monday, September 7, 2015

I Will Wait for YOU

Sunday morning I woke up and had this melody in my head.  I couldn't remember the name of the song or the words, but I just couldn't get it out of my head.  I asked Chris if he knew the song and started humming.  To my surprise I didn't mess it up too much and he knew that the song was on the Mercy Me CD-The Worship Sessions.  All day the song was in my head, but finally that afternoon I was able to play the CD and hear the words, find the title and just stand in awe of who God is.

"Hungry" by Kathryn Scott

Hungry I come to You for I know You satisfy
I am empty but I know Your love does not run dry
So I wait for You
So I wait for You
I'm falling on my knees
Offering all of me
Jesus You're all this heart is living for
Broken I run to You for Your arms are open wide
I am weary but I know Your touch restores my life
So I wait for You
So I wait for You

Lord, we are emptied out of ourselves.  I feel like there is nothing left.  Day by day You are filling us up...filling us up with You.  When this journey is all said and done, there will be no denying Who was in charge...Who deserves the credit...Who was doing all the work...Who made this happen.  Until the pieces of the puzzle are put in place I will fall on my knees.  I will offer all of me.  I will live for You.  I will wait. 

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Let's Go Fly a Plane Way Up in the Sky

Well, it has taken me a few days to find time to sit down and write this blog entry.  There has been a lot going on with the Greenwoods.  I have been helping a friend get ready for her wedding at the end of the month by helping her get decorations bought/made.  This has been a GREAT experience for me because it has allowed me to use my creative side.  I have also been planning and getting ready to start the 2015-2016 school year on Monday.  Not to mention the everyday activities of cooking meals, hanging out with the Hooties, running errands, etc.   And then there is the waiting...waiting to hear from the church in VA that Chris has been interviewing with to see if he will be the next pastor.  So, as you can see we have been staying pretty busy.  But on August 23rd, we did find some time for me to check something off my "if I ever have time and the opportunity to do..." list of things I would like to do.  That morning started off like any other morning...OK, not really since the search committee from the church in VA was in town to interview Chris and listen to him preach, but the line made a good beginning to this story! :)  So, we were at church enjoying a biscuit  breakfast and fellowshipping with our friend, Bob.  You see, Bob owns his own two-seater airplane. And you know what makes this story even better?  The fact that Bob built this airplane!  While Chris and Bob were talking, Bob asked Chris if I would like to go up in the airplane this afternoon.  Now, a few months back we were at Bob's house for a youth event and I mentioned how I have always wanted to go flying and he offered to take me up some time.  Well, August 23rd was the day, and I was willing to do what I needed to get to that airport!  So, after church we brought the Hooties home to give them a nap.  I tried to take a nap, but my excitement was too much to sleep!  After the Hooties got up, we loaded them in the car and we headed to the airport.

This is me...unable to contain my excitement!
On my way to the airport, I called my parents to tell them what I was about to do.  I could tell that they were excited for me, but at the same time I could hear a hint of worry in their voices.  You see, on August 8, 1992 my brother was killed in a small plane while living in Hawaii.  No matter how old your children are, a parent never stops worrying about the safety of their child(ren).  There was a part of me that was worried, too.  But I knew I had to get on that plane because it was something I wanted to do for the longest time and I didn't want to have any regrets because worry won out.

As we got closer to the airport, I was talking non-stop.  All Chris was do was laugh at me which was very gracious since I kept telling him how to get to the airport.  He told me that he was seeing the same signs that I was seeing and just giggled.

Me arriving at the airport!
 We got to the airport a little before Bob did, so we just looked around and got to see a couple of planes take off.  Once he got there we headed to the hanger and got to see his plane.  He explained what he was doing and why he was doing it...a great school lesson for the Hooties.  Then it was time to take the plane out of the hanger

Chris and the Hooties headed back to the lounge, so we could begin our flight.

Me and Bob

I don't think my smile could get any bigger!
Getting ready to take off

Enjoying God's beautiful creation

Up in the sky

I got to fly the plane all by myself!

Coming in for a landing

There's the runway

Thanks, Bob, for making one of my dreams come true!

So, as you can see, I had an AMAZING experience!  Not only did I get to ride in a two-seater plane, I had the opportunity to fly it!!!!  We do some acrobats...the best roller coaster ride ever!  But the best part of this opportunity was to experience something that my brother LOVED doing...flying in a plane.  While I was looking around at God's creation, I knew exactly why he loved flying so much.  Thanks, Bob, for giving me that experience and understand who my brother was a little bit better!