Friday, July 14, 2017

Looking Back... just needing to stop and tell you how good God has been to us

I am a fan of looking back. One of my favorite parts of social media is being able to look back on each day in previous years and remembering the places and people that filled up my past. It's fun to see growth and change in that way. It is also sobering when I see comments from people who have passed away. Sweet messages from my dad and my aunt, who went to heaven without much warning, and long before I was ready for them to go. But mostly, I feel joy and gratitude when I see the way God's hand has moved in my life.

Three years ago I posted a note on Facebook about why we were leaving Delaware. We had only been there three short months. I felt confused and sad, and I had no idea why God was moving us. We had already done so much moving. But in that note, I listed the things we needed to be able to make our move back to Texas. I was very specific in laying out the areas in which our family needed prayer. I remember that the future felt so nebulous, so unknowable. But I knew that we had a list of needs, and God knew how we would answer. As I read those requests this morning, I was overcome with thankfulness. Because God had gone before us, preparing the way, preparing provision before we had need.

If I could sit down with you over a cup of coffee and tell you the story in person, I would. But the kids are napping, and leaving the house might mean makeup and changing out of yoga pants. So I'll just tell you here how He did it. Because houses and jobs may seem everyday and ordinary, but they are downright miraculous to the homeless and unemployed. And that's what we were. So here's what we prayed for, and here's how God came through for us.

We prayed for housing. Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary approved us for housing almost immediately. Despite our last minute move, they placed us a beautiful, two bedroom apartment with washer/dryer hookups, and y'all, it was on the first floor. Of course, we had crazy loud upstairs neighbors, but we recently moved to the second floor and we get to be the crazy loud upstairs neighbors. Hallelujah. This last apartment was our home for the last (almost) three years. This was a record setting residence for the Turner family. It was the longest we lived anywhere since our wedding in 2011.

We prayed for a job for Jake. He found a job almost immediately. He bought computers and tablets for an online technology company. He worked this job for his first semester, until God provided a ministry job for him.

We prayed for a job for me. Once we got back home to Texas, my dad welcomed us back to his church. He offered to let me step back into my previous position as Children's Minister, giving up part of his salary to make sure I would get paid. I served at Trinity Baptist Church for Jake's first semester. I got to spend valuable time with my dad during those months. I would walk into the church office with Jude, and we would look back into my dad's office. My dad's face would light up when he saw Jude us. Jude got lots of extra one-on-one time with Papa during that time. We had no idea how precious those memories would be. My second job was a teaching job at Science, Etc., a homeschool enrichment program in Fort Worth. They needed someone to teach History and Geography. The job was only two days a week, Tuesday and Thursday, so I would need someone to keep my son during that time. We quickly discovered that the seminary offered a Mom's Day Out program, and that classes were offered only on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I have no doubt that this was orchestrated by God himself.

We prayed for a church home. Going back to my dad's church for our first few months was like moving back home as a fully grown adult. It's good and beneficial and healing, even, to be around the familiarity of family. But it's not where you're meant to stay. Those months at Trinity Baptist Church were a breath of fresh air. We needed those months to regroup, to rethink what we wanted in a church home. And I'll admit, I was more than hesitant about walking into another new church situation, whether it was just for attending or for employment. It all made me nervous. But again, God knew what we needed. Five months after we arrived back in Texas, Jake took a position at Lane Prairie Baptist Church in Joshua, Texas. Everyone was so incredibly friendly and kind, but I had no idea how much I was about to need my church family. Through my dad's accident and passing and those hard days that followed, the people in our church showed us the love of Jesus in more ways than I can count. God knew that we would require extra care during that time. Two and a half years later, Lane Prairie is home for us. Jude walks into the church building like he owns the place, stopping to give high fives and to hug every senior citizen he sees. And there are lots to be hugged, y'all. I have made sweet friends that have celebrated and grieved with us. We are loving our time at Lane Prairie, and we look forward to however many more years of ministry God gives us there. We hope it's a long time.

In the past three years, there have been a thousand gifts that we didn't know to pray for back then. Like I mentioned already, we got the gift of time with my dad. I was home in Texas for six months before his accident. Through his coma, I was never more than a half hour away from him. I was able to visit him several days a week. I was able to spend time with my mom during those difficult, uncertain months. As a result of my dad's accident, I saw my Aunt Judy regularly. She lived in Houston, but she came up often to check on my dad. We didn't know then that she had cancer and would be taken from us just a few months after my dad's passing. We have been given the gift of people. So many people. God brought us back to previous friendships that we left behind in the DFW area. He gave us our church family and seminary family. God orchestrated a friendship for me with the campus nurse. Do you know what it's like for a worried mama to have the wisdom of a nurse just a text message away? I do. She has become one of my dearest friends, always ready to encourage and help problem solve. My teaching job is such a life-giving thing for me. It's the kind of thing I would want to do even if I didn't get paid to do it. That is how much fun I have teaching. (Don't get me wrong, the money helps us live, so I like getting paid.) I have so much freedom and I work in such a positive environment. Anyone who has ever tried to teach in a toxic environment knows the blessing in this. He gave us a baby girl to round out our family. We get to celebrate her birthday tomorrow, and we are so grateful for her.

I know I am kind of rambling.

But I needed to tell you.

I needed to stop and say "God did this, and I am acknowledging that it came from him."

I know that even if God hadn't done any of these things for us, He would still be good. He would still be faithful.

But these are all good gifts. And they did come from Him. And I want to spell it out because there will surely come a time when the future is hard and uncertain. And I might need to look back once again and remember how big and faithful our God is.


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