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“But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine. 2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you. 3 For I am the Lord your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior…” Isaiah 43:1-3
As Jim and I started our journey back to Phoenix, AZ via our 25 year old Motor home, we realized that Satan would bring out his forces to try to discourage us concerning our decision to move in a few weeks to Pennsylvania. What we did not realize was how fast Satan was going to work and how many things were going to happen all at once in our lives!
On our third day of travel back home, I believe day 45 in our trip, the RV started to act sluggish, slow down, hesitate when running. At times Jim could only go 35 miles an hour on the interstate! We finally arrived to our destination for that day, Amarillo, TX. Our RV had worked beautifully in the east; we believe it just did not like the dry desert heat! The next day we got on the road early in the morning as usual. We were hoping to get as far as Gallup, NM that evening; the RV had other plans! For about 150 miles until we reached Albuquerque, NM the RV kept acting up. Jim would stop and let it rest and start over again. The last 40 miles we were barely going 35 miles an hour! We finally made it to the mechanic in Albuquerque. As he checked out the RV, Jim, the dogs and I drove around town and sat in the hot car until we went back before closing to see what was wrong with the RV. They said to bring it back first thing in the morning and they would try to fix the RV. So we were there bright and early the next morning, and we once again loaded the dogs and this time the cat in the car and sat all day in the parking lot of Wall Mart! This was not a good day for me, it was hot (97 degrees in the shade), and I was beginning to get cranky (okay, I was worse than that, but I will not say the word!). Our daughter had called early that day and asked how things were going…boy did she get an ear full! LOL. A few minutes after we hung up the phone she called us back crying. Her husband had lost his job! I was speechless! I gave the phone to Jim and just cried, “Now what Lord? What’s going to happen next?” I should not have asked!
We returned to the shop and they said that they did “such and such” and we should be able to make it to Phoenix. So the next morning we got into the car but we only went about 5 miles and the RV was worse than before! I cried again! This time Jim said we will load up the car with what we can, leave the motor home there for them to look over thoroughly and we will go home and Jim would come back for the RV when they have it fixed or if it cannot be fixed then to get the rest of our stuff. So we loaded the trunk of the car with our necessary belongings, and loaded the two dogs and the cat in the back seat of the car and headed off for Phoenix. I was exhausted, so I slept most of the morning. The animals were troupers. The two dogs in the back seat and my cat climbing around looking outside and wondering where her home was and why was she riding in this car? I’m sure we received some weird looks from people wondering if they really saw a cat sitting on the dashboard looking out the window. LOL.
As we drove, we began to get excited about telling people about our move. Especially as we got closer to Phoenix, and the 110 plus temps! Our kids met us at our apartment to help us unload. It was so good to see them, but we were so tired, dirty and hungry. Well, we could only take care of one of those at this time. As we pulled into our apartments we saw a work crew. As we went to turn on our water we found out what the work crew was working on! Yep, NO WATER till about 7pm! So I looked in the mirror, my hair was disgusting, I was sweaty, and smelly; we had not showered in three days! Oh, well, I thought, let’s go out and get something to eat! Later that evening before bed we finally got our much needed showers! Oh did it feel good to finally get clean and lay in our nice bed once again!
The next day we had more of a heart to heart talk with Heather and family. It was very evident that they would be homeless by the first of the month. They had a total of $14.97 in their bank account. They had desired to move back east for quite some time, with us going now it seemed a perfect time for them to go as well. So now it will be the five of us and four dogs, and two cats in the RV! Hum. Are we crazy? Jim and I had told our family earlier about our decision, they were a bit hesitant to be ecstatic for us, after all, Jim is leaving two jobs and benefits, and a roof over our heads for a job that had no benefits and paid 1/3 of what he is getting now! But after 35 years of God moving us in similar situations, they also knew that if this was God’s will then He would supply our needs. Yet, we know they are a bit anxious for us to say the least; especially in today’s economy, job market, and our ages. Let’s face it; years ago we were much younger and capable of doing almost anything to support the family. Now we are in our 50’s. BUT nothing is impossible when you put your trust in God!!!
The next day, Jim contacted his lead elder to call a meeting for Saturday. He needed to give them his resignation right away because we were having to move up our departure time a couple of weeks since Karl lost his job and they needed to get back there as soon as possible to look for jobs etc. We really did not know how they or the church would react to the news. When we left we had all intentions of returning, now we were giving them the news that we were leaving by the end of the month!
Oh ye of little faith…. God has been working on the church as well.
Jim told me the men seemed somewhat surprised, yet calm and accepting of God’s will for us, and apparently them as well. The next day was Sunday; Jim was to tell the church immediately following the morning worship service. Again, we did not know exactly how this news would be received; but God had it planned all along.
Since our sabbatical and vacation, the Lord had been working on the leaders of the church as well as the church family as a whole. It seemed that for the first time in years the church finally came together as one, and has truly become what a church is suppose to be. With the different reports we would receive and by what we had observed, we were ecstatic! We knew that the church would do great without us, and God is already preparing them as well as the man that God will call to pastor in HIS time. The congregation could not have been more supportive, yet sadden that we were leaving. We could not have asked for a better response.
We have been at our church for 12 years, almost half the time the church has been in existence. It will be a bittersweet goodbye for us all. We have had our ups and downs as all churches, but we have truly been blessed as well. As Jim has said, he has been present at the birth of some of the children, he saw some grow up, graduate, get married, have children and even go out to the mission field. We have some young men serving our country in the military here and on foreign soil. We have seen marriages strengthen, lives changed, and souls saved. God has truly blessed us. At the same time God has been making it evident that it is time for a new leader at our church and time for a new ministry and life for our family. We cannot wait to see how God will lead in both the church and our lives.
So, what are our plans right now? Do we have a place to live when we go back to Pennsylvania? How are we going to get back there? How are we going to live on 1/3 of Jim’s salary and no benefits? What are Heather and family going to do? How will they survive? Where will we worship?
Tune in next week as I continue to share our journey of changes.