From my standpoint, this is where the true journey of the past few years lies. In January 2009, God was beginning to do a true work of healing in my heart. I had been very, very emotionally broken the previous fall, and was so thankful for Highlands to rally around us and help us begin healing. I was falling in love with God in a way that I hadn't in years, and I know God was using our new community and worship there to restore us to Him. Through the 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting that year, I was once again brought to a place of honestly being able to say, "YOUR will. YOUR renown. YOUR glory. And whatever it takes." I don't know all the reasons why the Lord waited 2 years after that to begin to answer that prayer, but I DO know that He continued to move, heal and speak in our lives throughout that time.
In January 2010, I was again brought to that same place as the previous January; Jason and I were both seeing that God has created us ALL for something so much more than what this world has to offer!** We were beginning to see more and more that we wanted to be a part of something bigger than us, and for God to use us to bring glory to Him. I even blogged about it here. But I will be honest; as 2010 began to slowly pass by, I began to get seriously comfortable. During the fast in January, we knew God was placing it on our hearts to clear out "stuff." Literally. So we had a massive yard sale in late spring, and earned just enough money for Jason to go on a mission trip to Zambia with eMi that fall. He was SO excited! Ever since we were in college, he has floundered when trying to figure out why exactly he had chosen civil engineering as a major/profession. While I was attending Focus on the Family Institute in 2004, my roommate had interned with eMi, but Jason has NO recollection of me telling him about it then; he "discovered" it in 2010 while googling "Engineering Ministries." Go figure. Anyway, while in Zambia, he was able to use his expertise to help build a bible school...he himself couldn't travel to remote villages in the brush of Zambia to share the gospel, BUT he was able to use his degree to design a school (and specifically, the water design for it) to train up those who could!
I honestly felt that that "settled" it. Jason was just supposed to be going on more mission trips! Totally do-able. Eventually, I would probably want to go on one or two with him, but since we had 2 little ones (and just found out I was pregnant with #3!), I knew it would be awhile. Either way, I got comfortable. The Lord gave me a new purpose and vision for myself by being asked to lead Highlands Kids at our church campus...I loved it! Literally! Every single day of it! I had said that I would never work at a church again, but I am SO thankful I did! Weekly, I was seeing people connect with their purpose through using their spiritual gifts and passions, and kids' lives were weekly being CHANGED for eternity because of it!
So, Jason could go on mission trips, I would lead the kids at church, and we could stay settled right where we are. We had been praying for awhile for a few more godly friendships, and MAN, did we find the best in the world! Thanks to our small groups through church, we suddenly found ourselves surrounded with other young families who were also running after the Lord and His will. YAY! We were definitely in a sweet spot, and I was SO thankful for it!
In January 2011, I used the 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting to pray specifically for Jason. We had participated in a small group the previous Spring called "Love and Respect," and I was excited about seeing Jason grow into his leadership role within our family even more after learning so much about God's design for marriage (and our unique roles within it). I wasn't exactly praying the "bigger" prayers that we had been praying the previous years, but I honestly felt that God had answered them (in a non-answering kind of way...but I get that.). However, after praying just a few days for Jason to grow in his leadership, vision and decisiveness for our family, he (with a confidence that could only come from the Lord), came in one evening and knew that the Lord had been making it clear that he needed to increase his involvement with eMi.
I wish that I could tell you that my initial thoughts were ones of willingness, excitement, or at least humble submission to the Lord and my husband, but quite honestly, they were not any of those. As an exhausted, comfortable, pregnant mom and wife who had lived in Auburn for the better part of 28 years (with all of our family within a 3 hour radius of our home), all of the sudden the willingness to the possibility of going ANYwhere in the world didn't look so enticing. I love(d) our home, our church, our neighborhood, our town, my grocers, doctor/chiropractor, dentists, football season, bank, EVERYTHING. Why the heck would I willingly pack up and go anywhere?! So, through some anger and a bit of bitterness, I began to pray that God would either change Jason's heart or change mine.
It was a long, long year for me spiritually. I wanted to be obedient to what God was calling us to, but I also wanted to do what I wanted to do, and there just wasn't a way to reconcile the two.
After much stalling and working through a busy, busy few months, Jason and I finally flew out to interview with eMi in November 2011. A few weeks later, they officially extended a letter of invitation to come on staff. They have field offices all over the world, so a small blessing was that their greatest need right now is in their Colorado Springs office. :)
Every time those feelings of anger or bitterness would start to creep in, I would again pray for God to either change Jason's heart or to change mine. I did/do NOT want to be outside of God's will for our lives. I knew that not only would it affect us, but also our family for generations to come. However, it also felt a bit like God was standing over me, ready to punish me if I decided to not do what He was so clearly calling us to. I knew this was not an accurate, New Testament view of God, so I decided to pray about that, too. Finally, around January 2012, I could hear Him saying, "This is an open door! You can choose whether or not to walk through it. But adventure awaits if you're willing to go!" And everything I've told every youth group and children's group that I've ever spoken to began to ring in my ears and heart. God's plan truly is the best! And worth it! And He is so, so faithful. So, we signed our contract with eMi and our journey officially began.
When I think about what we are leaving, I get so sad. However, Alabama will always be home, and family will always be here! Jason will be going on 3 2-week long mission trips a year to collect data for their projects, and I hope that the boys and I will be coming home during those trips! :)
When I think about what we are going TO, I get very, very excited! Not only do I want to be in the center of God's will, but I also LOVE Colorado Springs! It is the only place I've ever lived besides Alabama (spent Spring 2004 there at Focus Institute). And other than Jason's grandparents in NC, it is the only state where we have extended family members outside of AL. I am also extremely excited about Jason being a part of a vision that is bigger than himself, making a difference and improving the quality of life for people all over the world, as well as spreading the gospel!On top of that, I know that God will continue to open doors for me and the boys to be a part of His plan of redemption for those around us as well.
Please be praying for us. There are several hurdles that need to be crossed before we can move forward, and we are so thankful for our prayer team. In fact, if you are willing to be a part of this team, we would love to have you join us! It is something that we definitely don't take lightly and are certainly thankful for. Please let either Jason or I know if you are interested in partnering with us in this!
**A few Sundays ago, our pastor gave a phenomenal message about this! Check it out here!
I am the wifey to Jason (who happens to be an incredible man seeking after the heart of God and fills his time playing with our kids, playing guitar and dabbling with engineering), and mommy to our 5 year old Jack ("The Rocket"), 3 year old Will (Or as Jack calls him, "Bebe Wiiiiill," or as his Daddy calls him, "The Breeze"), and to Josh (who is also known as "Zoshie" and "Toodles"). I love laughing, serving the Lord through our incredible church, Highlands, running (after my kids and, when possible, on the road alone), reading, cooking and rabbit-chasing on the internet.