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Sunday, January 2, 2011

The story

Two years ago, God called Don, Jon David, Luke, and me to go away from our home in Castle Rock, CO to Wilmore, KY so that Don could attend Asbury Seminary. We packed up all of our belongings and headed to Kentucky in one of the worst snow and ice storms that Kansas, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, and Kentucky had known for quite some time. God allowed my morning sickness to subside and guided our two cars safely across... He parted the Red Sea for us, You might say. We arrived in Wilmore to an apartment with working electricity--though the buildings on either side of us, and many houses on our new street did not have working electricity because of the storm.
Also, because of all of the snow days taken in Wilmore, Jon David hardly missed any school at all! God gave him a wonderful teacher in a wonderful school, walking distance from our house--the playground visible from our front door!
But despite the triumph of the trip, a desert feeling slowly settled in upon us like a sticky blanket. Don was not able to get a job. The weather was cold, wet, and rainy. Like any new place, we didn't know a lot of people. It took time to settle in. The weight of our financial situation also settled in upon us. We had two children, and one on the way.
Some smaller details included finding out that I would be a 3 boys Mom (after having prayed for a girl, though I LOVE my 3 boys now!!!!), and finding out that I had gestational diabetes.
But just as God provided water from a rock for the Israelites, He provided for us in amazing ways. Our landlord had a 3 bedroom/2 bath house come available to us just wks before Caleb's due date. Gestational diabetes turned out to be a blessing b/c of how healthy I was forced to eat, and I felt more energetic. The move to the next house in Wilmore was the smoothest one we've ever had. And the YMCA gave us an incredible deal on a summer pool membership and swim lessons for both boys.
The events surrounding Caleb's birth are amazing too. God provided Don and me with one last date before baby boot camp. Our friends Zoe and John were watching Jon David and Luke for us, and we let them spend the night sort of a last minute decision! Caleb started his dramatic entry into the world that very night--the first time we had let JD and Luke spend the night with a friend--and in our new town of Wilmore! And with the very people we wanted to have on call for this sort of situation.
Labor was only a few hours long, but was difficult. Don prayed. Caleb came. Don and I sat in the hospital at 7:00 A.M. together, holding our baby, 9 days before his due date, w/o anyone else knowing yet... Nancy Shirey, my midwife, was another huge blessing, helping me to position myself different ways to allow Caleb to come. And there he was, perfect and normal in every way--thank You, Lord!!
Because of another twist of events, Mom was able to come and stay with us for 3 whole wks after Caleb's birth!! It was a precious time. She took the older two to school, cleaned, cooked, held Caleb, spent time w/Don and me... amazing. After her departure, we slowly began to find a routine, only to be thrown off kilter by Caleb contracting RSV in October. Besides emotional, physical, and mental stress, this cost us several trips to the ER and Doctor's office and pharmacy--draining a large chunk out of our finances. Each of the rest of our family members took turns getting a variety of viruses throughout the fall. Christmas time offered us a respite from the onslaught of sickness.
The year 2010 started off with a bang: Caleb scared us in the night waking us with strange shrieks and a listless body. Panicked, we dialed 911. A trip to the hospital in an ambulance only revealed constipation... Though it was a reassuring diagnosis, the event slashed into our savings even more. We continued in our mediocre health, with a trip to the ER for Luke once--afraid he might have meningitis. Relieved and thankful for good news once again, the trailing bills back lashed us with more monetary demands. Caleb totaled 4 ear infections by the end of the Spring of 2010.
As an important aside, the year 2010 began with bad news about my precious mother-in-law, Wendy, as far as physical health--the details of which, frankly, are still causing fresh surges of pain at the thought.
Our house in Colorado went back on the market in March, after a yr of good renters -- thank You, Lord! As the summer drew near once again, we began to see the bottom of our monetary barrel -- which we could now see had started off with a wonderful amount--enough for me to have stayed home with the children, and Don to go to school full time -- with some loans to compensate the gaps. Nevertheless, we continued to pay our rent and mortgage every month...
I received an image of God guiding me by the hand. I was blindfolded. He was not allowing me to see yet where we were going. He only wanted me to know that He is my leader.
At times, Don and I both lost hope simultaneously. There was one time in particular that I hit rock bottom: Caleb continued to have rough nights, leaving Don and me in an exhausted stupor. I lashed out at God. I became angry and bitter. I wanted to give up. No longer did I want to be brave, patient, perseverant, or Proverbs 31 like. I remember feeling so calloused at breakfast that morning, saying that "I hate our stupid life." Don said that it was bad when both of us were upset at the same time. I said well, I guess God's just going to have to do something, then isn't He?
It was an awful time for me--probably the time in my life that I have felt the furthest from Him. I felt hurt, abandoned by Him. And then a new morning came, and I thought about what I had done. I repented, begging Him for forgiveness, and asking for His mercy.
Gently, tenderly, in the way that only He can, He has restored me to Himself.

In the midst of these spiritual and emotional journeys, Don and I began thinking about moving back to CO. Don had a particularly spiritual experience one night, leaving him wondering if we were suppose to move back. Relief flooded us as we drank in the idea. We wouldn't have to worry about selling our house anymore! We could be back with our friends and neighbors that we missed. The idea seemed too good to be true: all we needed was for Don to find a job. We shared the news with friends and family. Many offered to help. Time passed--and no possibilities arose job-wise. It seemed too strange that there wouldn't be a single opportunity -- could this be God again? In the mean time. Our Campus minister @ church recommended Don to a search committee that he knew of looking for a minister in KY. I struggled to shift my mind back away from the possibility of returning to CO.
And then Don took a trip to Israel with his Dad. It was a wonderful time for them, and for me, too, staying with my Mom and Dad. The boys and I were well taken care of, and enjoyed good health.
But upon their return, we all learned of Wendy's increasing difficulties, making us desirous to move close to them. There were now three states that we were heavily considering living in : CO, KY, and GA.
Don's hometown seemed like a good place to live, and an easy place for him to find a job -- especially considering all of his family connections. But once again, God seemed to be closing that door. Even more oddly than the door closing to CO, the door to GA seemed to be closing, too -- no job possibilities. Our morale was low. It was difficult to trust God. I remember praying with Don one night, and seeing in my closed eyes: the image of a man riding a horse. He seemed to be shining and firey (sp?) at the same time. But I was not afraid. There was darkness all around, and I don't remember understanding how far away the man was from me. But I received a feeling of deliverance. To this day, I'm not sure how to interpret it. My first reaction was to take it to be for Don's sweet mother. But I'm unsure if that's accurate, or what that would even look like.
So we receive a phone call from the KY church, interested in Don. Presently, this was our only option. It was looking more and more attractive. We gave up the idea of moving before Don's fall term was completed.
Our house in Colorado rented in late August on a month to month basis, steering us further away from the road back out west.
The semester progressed with joy and healing in the midst of waiting. Don and I realized what wonderful friends God had surrounded with in wonderful Wilmore, KY. Throughout our desert experience, God had provided us with manna from heaven -- just as He had provided his people, the Israelites, with manna from heaven, all those years ago.
God gave me an amazing fusion group -- a group of seminary wives with whom I met monthly, to live life with, pray together, and encourage each other. We received meals, phone calls, dinner invites. We learned more about living in a community. The Asbury seminary Spouse and Family Ministry was a real blessing--offering events and date nights with free childcare provided! I was able to go to chapel with Don some, exercise some, go to communion with other ladies, etc...
Southside Church of Christ was a real vessel for God's manna too. Immediately after we placed membership, Caleb came, and we were provided with 3 wks worth of meals! Some brought gifts as well. We were overwhelmed with their generosity. But this was just the beginning of their loving hearts. Sunday after Sunday, they cared for our children and taught them valuable lessons in Sunday school.
During the summer, Jessamine county offered free lunches to all children in the area who lived there. All we had to do was show up at a selected location, right there in Wilmore, to receive the food. Both boys qualified for free lunches or breakfast while they attended school there.
One day I received 3 boxes in the mail: each containing new-like clothes for Caleb. But not just cute clothes: I'm talking Gymboree and Baby Gap brand stuff! One of Don's generous friends from his hometown had decided to freely give us all of her little boys' clothes that he had outgrown. They were in such good shape, and such good quality!
I chuckled to myself as I realized the irony of Caleb being our best dressed baby -- while we were in our most humble of living conditions! Isn't that so like God? Not only does he want to take care of us, but He wants to take care of us Lavishly!!!
And WIC--a blessing.
Medicaid: HUGE blessing.
2 more excellent teachers for JD and Luke!
Super random: I had always wanted my refrigerator to have organized looking magnetic frames for my photos. And one day, a dear friend just handed me a bag full! Ha! God is amazing. He will take care of every detail!
I finally began to learn that God does provide. He will provide. I believe it.
Early in the summer, I longed to grow my faith in God, to restore our relationship. I posted a question on FB randomly asking how to get a hold of a video study. And old college acquaintance suggested that I contact my church. I had been hoping to do the Believing God study by Beth Moore.

So I called the Southside Church office and asked if they had any Beth Moore studies.
"There's one here he said... Believing God," it's called. Are you smiling yet? :) God is truly amazing.
One day I received an e-mail from Spouse and Family telling about a seminary student wanting to cook a meal for a couple for free as a date. I was the second to respond, but she insisted, so Don and I received a succulent dinner by candlelight one evening. Lavishly, I tell you, lavishly, does He give.
I feel the tears behind my eyes as I think of the names of our friends and family supporting us through these times, offering prayers, words of encouragement, watching our children... manna from heaven.
One day, Don came home from class, and told me about a really great talk he had with one of his professors... encouraging him to do Phd work. Other friends had encouraged him in this arena. It took me about 12 hrs, but I finally lost it. How could Don be doing this to? I was so done being flexible and brave. I wanted to step off of this train. I realized for the the first time a sad truth about myself: I had come to desire what I viewed as stability in my life enough to make me want to deviate from God's will. This grieved me tremendously.
Don explained, that of course, his desire was in no way to rock my world. But because of the uncertainty of our situation, he felt the need to explore all options. He was right, of course, and I began to come around.
Throughout our adventure, I can see that God has strengthened tremendously my marriage with Don. One time, Don talked about us charging through life together. I love that image.
So he took the GRE, and we began looking at web sites: Baylor... Notre Dame... and others...
It's like that day when a bully threw me in the deep end of the swimming pool when I was very small. I thought that I might die right then and just go on to heaven. I didn't even try to swim. I completely gave up and waited--which was the best hing that I could have done, because I floated to the top.
Time passed, and we began not to feel right about Phd school. Partly because of the progression of a job possibility not too far from Wilmore.

Mom and Dad came for a visit and for part of Mom's b-day celebration. Soon afterwards, Don was asked to come for an interview with the church in Ky interested in him. We loaded up and went as a family.
Shortly before the interview, Don informed me about a job posting on the ATS website for a ministry position at a church in Perry, GA. Random, I thought, and not likely -- the location is too good to be true, for one thing (close to family, and all).
Shortly after the interview though, he was asked to come interview with the church in Perry.
The feeling that we experienced after the interview was, well, good. Really good. Dare we hope?...

Rich and Laura arrived for the Thanksgiving celebration.

We had decided to go ahead and move in w/Mom and Dad at the end of the year if we did not have a job by then. So as soon as Caulley Thanksgiving came to end, it would be full fledged packing time @ our house.

Don got a call the day our family arrived. Good news. He had been selected to come preach on the 19th. After enjoying Thanksgiving with family, we began packing.
We were reminded once gain of our deluge of blessings as friends helped us pack, watched our children, cooked us meals, gave us gifts, and prayed for us. Our cup overflowed, and so did our tears. I am so tempted to list names here. Thank you all soooo much!! From the bottom of our hearts. My prayer is that 1: You will receive at least a hundred fold what you gave to us, and 2: that we will pass along the blessings that we have received to spread God's love wherever He so choses. I've never been crazy about chain letters or chain recipes or whatever. But this kind of chain, I can do!!!
The morning of our departure from Wilmore, there was a sheet of ice covering the ground, and both vehicles. Don and I had to walk gingerly on our driveway in the dark to get the children and ourselves to the car. It was very cold--obviously, and it snowed on us for the first portion of the trip. By the time we got to TN, ice chunks were flying off of us onto the road behind. I prayed that God would protect us and the other drivers. Do these driving conditions sound familiar? The thaw was full on by the time we reached the Southern TN border. Kinda like when Aslan came to Narnia. Georgia, here we come!
We left the kids with Mom and Dad and headed to Perry for our try-out. We felt welcomed very warmly and sincerely with a friendly, relaxed dinner on Saturday evening. The next morning went really well, too with a meet and greet, and with Don preaching. We were so impressed with the people there. We felt very comfortable, and once again warmly welcomed.
I suppose there is a small chance that I am biased, but Don did a fantastic job . ;)

More waiting. Christmas in Alabama. So fun! return to GA. Don flies to Wilmore, loads up the truck with our stuff from our house and dries it back to Mom and Dad's all in less than 48 hrs. Thanks again to our Wilmore friends!!
The U-Haul truck is sitting in Mom and Dad's driveway as I am writing this.
It is to be "turned in" today. Will we hear news today? God's timing is impeccable.

I ended the above writing several days ago. Don received the job offer yesterday. We both wept and hugged each other. Mom and Dad let us have a date later that night. We were so excited that at times, we could hardly speak.

Oh God, my soul praises you. May Your name be praised. You are good. Your love endures forever.

Let the new adventure begin.


  1. WOw!! What a journey! I will keep you in my prayers. I am so sorry I did not get an opportunity to know you better while you were here but I'm looking forward to a "virtual" friendship!

    I am very encouraged reading your story. Keep on keeping on :)

  2. Anna,what a great summary of two years of faith and flexibility in following the direction of God. I believe that the days ahead will be the fruit of what what you and Don have sown throughout your lives, especially the past few years. Love Mike

  3. I'm in tears here, Anna! Praise God for His faithfulness! We'll never forget you guys!

  4. Anna, this story makes me cry. I love how honest you are, and I love how many times you can point to God coming through for you and your family. It inspires me. I hope you love your new church family in Perry; they are sure to love you. I loved this post! Love, Jodi Brown

  5. So excited for your family and can't wait to hear what God does next! I feel like so much of this could be our story, too (minus the kids, of course :) ), because God has provided in such amazing, unexpected, big and small, ways during our 3+ years in seminary. I'm so thankful he brings glory to himself through my tiny life! Will be praying for you guys!

  6. God is good. He is faithful. He always provides. His mercies are new EVERY morning.

  7. Your faith, gratitude, and sense of adventure are contagious! Thank you for sharing all these struggles & joys; and I thank God for such an inspiring friend.

  8. Anna,
    Tim and I couldn't be happier for you guys! We're also excited that you're only an hour away.
    I appreciate your words of struggling with security and God's plan for you. I feel that many many women struggle with the same feelings. Therefore, thank you for sharing and inspiring others to press onward.


  9. God bless you, Anna and Don! Thank you for your testimony of God's love, faithfulness, provision... He is so good!



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