A few weeks ago I was sitting on my couch in front of a fireplace. It felt like 8 degrees outside, which is warm compared to the -10 it felt like when I first woke up that morning. Like much of the rest of the country, here in Pennsylvania we were experiencing unusually cold temperatures. Typing “Pennsylvania” still feels strange; reading it, stranger. The last time I posted anything here, I was sitting on my couch, but not in front of a fireplace, and not in Pennsylvania. North Carolina feels a bit far away right now, although I’m incredibly thankful for texting, FaceTime, and phone calls that shorten the distance.
It’s been exactly two months since we moved to Pennsylvania. I have felt compelled now for awhile to share our whole story here, because the amazing ways God answered prayers during this journey needs to be shared! He is so faithful and good (and has such a great sense of humor in how He orchestrates things). And while I know this, sometimes it takes me time to see it, if I’m being honest.
When Will first had to say goodbye to his full-time job over two years ago due to the sadness of that wonderful non-profit having to close its doors, I didn’t know what to expect. Somewhere in the back of my mind I knew it was possible we would move, but it was one of those situations where you just kind of keep a thought pushed away in the dark recesses and don’t allow it an inch of room for consideration. Eventually, though, that thought became more and more of a possibility. As we prayed and sought God’s will about what He would have Will do, ministry continued to be the answer. The “where” though…that was a bit more elusive.
When it became evident that there was nothing close to home that was an option, our search expanded farther out into the rest of NC. Especially the mountains. I love the mountains and had myself convinced that that was were God would put us. Mine were the prayers filled with, “God, please send us where You would have us. But please, let that be in NC.” I didn’t want to leave behind my family and friends. It was hard to imagine not eating dinner with my parents, brother, and his family every week. Or watching my oldest daughter with her best friends at an American Heritage Girls meeting, or my oldest son playing tag with his friends in Trail Life. Or running into one of my middle school teachers while out and about in a community I’ve lived in almost my whole life. I slowly had to lessen my grip on all of that and recognize that if I was going to ask God to put us where He wants us, I needed to be truly willing to go. I was lying to myself and to Him with all of my talk about wanting to go where God placed us but then trying to limit where that would be. I’m still amazed (and ashamed) at how quickly I try to tell the Creator of the universe what He should do. I remember walking into our living room and telling my husband that I was finally, truly ready to move away if that is what God had for us to do. That was the start of the ever-widening geographical circle in our search for a new job for Will.
For those that may not know, applying for ministry positions within a church setting typically means a very long interview process, often months of waiting as you progress from the application, to phone interviews, to in-person visits/interviews, and then (hopefully) to an offer. We looked at positions online in Ohio, Georgia, South Carolina, Louisiana, and even Texas! We read through some in Washington state and California. Those that seemed to be a good fit were the ones we prayed about and to which we applied. It was excruciating waiting for committees to convene, decisions to be made, questions to be asked and answered. We had lost our full-time income and were certainly aware that our family of 6 couldn’t go on forever on Will’s part-time child and family pastors income. So we waited. A lot. Prayed even more. Worried though we know that isn’t what God calls us to do. And we grew. By God’s grace, our marriage grew stronger and so did our faith in God’s faithfulness.
Due to his IT experience, Will also looked at jobs in that field. While we knew that God was continuing to call Will into ministry, we also knew that He may open up a secular position while we waited on the others to come to fruition. We didn’t want to presume that His timeline matched ours. Will applied and was hired by an IT company that contracts with the military- all he had to do was read an IT equivalent of War and Peace and pass an exam (to catch up on some newer certifications). As the deadline loomed closer for the completion of the reading and exam, we were informed that Will was one of the top candidates for a ministry position at an Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC) in the Midwest. A week or so after this information, we received a call from his contact with the IT company- she needed to know his status on the exam. It would have been easier to have told her that he would have it done in the next couple of days and all was good to go. However, easier is rarely what we are called to, and we certainly felt it would be dishonest to string the company along, knowing we may very well be moving, when they needed to hire and start their new employee as soon as possible. So Will informed her that we may be moving in the very near future. Here we are with a solid IT position waiting on him. The IT salary was good (higher than most in ministry positions, of course). We wouldn’t have to move. Yet we had consistently been praying that God would shut doors that need to be shut and open doors that need to be open. The knowledge that God was moving us along on the ministry path made it clear that Will needed to let the IT job go and we just had to trust. So he told the IT company that it was possible we would be moving in the next few months and that he would understand if they chose to move on to another candidate. We knew that if God wanted Will in that IT job that they would indicate their continued interest. He certainly could have done that. But He didn’t.
A few hours later, we received another call from the church in the midwest. The pastor let Will know that he was one of two top candidates for the position, and they wanted us to come for an in-person interview.
We knew he had been a top candidate but now it felt real. This was in January; three months had passed since Will had lost his job and we had been talking with this church since November.
I felt like we had jumped off a cliff as we cut the cord to the IT position. But even though it felt like we had just waved goodbye to our sure thing, we relied on our knowledge that Jesus is our sure thing and we clung to that even in the free-fall. I was doing a bit of screaming though, partially due to adrenaline and partially due to fear. Next stop…Ohio.