Boxes, chaos and fatigue…these words accurately characterize my life right now. And yet God has been so good to keep my eyes fixed upon Him, daily witnessing His strength at work in me and His kindness in working out so many good things for our family! I’m excited to share soon the ministry opportunity He is opening to us…our hearts are full.
Last night was the last night for our kiddos in our home and tonight is mine and Kevin’s. And as we’ve disassembled most everything and all the pictures are off the walls and the kids have nothing but mattresses on the floor, I’ve been thinking about what makes a house a home. We have certainly enjoyed this big, spacious and beautiful house God gave us for this season. And we’ve especially enjoyed our big backyard, the grassy slope for riding toys and the large climbing trees! As we look to the future, we are quite aware that we will most likely live in a much smaller space and if God places us where we are hoping to be, we will have next to nothing of a yard. And while those things have certainly been a sweet gifts to us, they are just that…gifts from the Father, not necessities for a happy home life. In the end, the space, the fixtures, the yard…they are just elements of a house, not a home.
When I look at our once “home” that today only has pieces of us left, it has quickly become just a house again. For our “home” contains us…it contains our pictures, our beloved stuffed animals, our books, our favorite toys and our furniture, most of which has been handed down from generations of family. But even more, the Cuthbertson home contains purpose…we wake daily recognizing our life is not our own but the Lord’s, to be spent in whatever way He sees fit. For me, at this moment, that means filling our days with Scripture memory, studying God’s Word, learning through homeschool, reading lot of books with my children, inviting others into to our home for discipleship and hospitality, planning art projects and sitting on the floor to play Barbies or Legos, taking time to acknowledge and learn of God’s greatness through the natural world around us and putting good nutrition into our bodies through well-planned meals. These daily activities make our house our home and keep us ever focused on the God who loves us and has made a way for our salvation. As we’ve spent weeks now packing and letting go of our normal routine and eating out or eating up food in random ways, I’ve watched all that embodies “home” for us slip away and I greatly look forward to its return! And I’m thankful for the great sanctifying work my God has done in my heart…that my flesh no longer holds so tightly to materialistic conveniences but through the Spirit is able to rejoice in all the treasures I have in Christ.
I love when the Lord brings just the right book along at just the right time. The Church Planting Wife by Christine Hoover was such a book for me. While we are not currently church planters (though this may somewhat be a part of our future!), I believe her words of encouragement and experience are helpful for all pastors’ wives or anyone in full-time vocational ministry for that matter. There were many times throughout the book where as she was describing one of her own past experiences, I felt as if she was inside my head, describing some of the same fears or struggles or hardships. The book is saturated with God’s Word and how to apply His Word to all of the regular aspects of ministry…from being helpmates to our husbands to not fearing man, but God alone. I especially loved her perspective on family. So many pastors today assume that their wives are considered to be staff members of the church as well and place almost impossible expectations on their wives, expectations that take them away from their primary responsibility of serving and caring for the needs of their husbands and children. Hoover mentions many times the priority she places on her role as a wife and a mother and is careful to make sure that she balances her time in service to the church wisely in order that she does not neglect her family. Also woven throughout her book is the theme of trusting God with all aspects of our ministry…growth comes from God, financial stability comes from God, the salvation of those we minister to comes from God, leaders come from God. We must remain dependent on Him for all the things we long to see, which means prayer is of utmost importance and I have been encouraged to more consistently turn to the Lord for the things I desire in our own ministry. In some ways I felt like this book re-fueled my soul and gave me a fresh wind to press on in ministry, faithfully sharing the gospel, building relationships and making disciples and for that, I’m thankful! Christine Hoover also blogs here if you want to check it out!
That’s the number we have left in this beautiful home God graced us with for a short period of time in a small little town called Villa Rica, Georgia. I’ve been fairly quiet in recent months as God has been slowly making His plans known to us. But I miss writing, I miss thinking through what God is teaching me and keeping a record of all of His mighty works in our life. So, here’s a brief rundown. In March, Kevin met with the other two pastors at our church and decided that it was time to part ways. We have felt this might be coming for some time now, but as future plans were being discussed and worked out, Kevin realized he could no longer go against his conscience as his philosophy of ministry was so greatly different than the other pastors. That is not to say that one is right and one is wrong, but simply that we don’t necessarily agree with the future vision and direction of the church and felt like we would be ultimately going against the specific ways God has called and gifted us to minister if we remained a part of our current church. At the same time, God has been deeply burdening Kevin with a passion to regularly preach and through the encouragement of other pastors, prayer and time in God’s Word, the Lord has made plain that now is the time for Kevin to pursue a senior pastorate. This was Kevin’s original desire and his reason for attending seminary and it is so exciting to see God leading us to that which we knew God gifted Kevin for. But in case we needed extra affirmation, when we put our house on the market, it sold in seven days to a cash buyer! The Lord has been gracious and kind to lead and affirm us as we step out in faith and wait on Him to take us to the church He has for us.
I say “step out in faith” because as we finish up our 20 days left here, we have no job or home to go to and sweet baby Maggie will be here in roughly 11 weeks! Thankfully, family has provided temporary housing and Kevin’s resume has been sent to what seems like a gazillion churches. But the Lord has yet to show us the next step…I feel much like Abram, when God called him to leave his home but did not make clear exactly where He would eventually place him.
Now the Lord said to Abram, ‘Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father’s house, to the land which I will show you.’ Genesis 12:1
We are fully trusting and hopeful that God will show us the “land” which we are supposed to enter and for now He calls us to wait, for “the Lord is good to those who wait for Him (Lamentations 3:25).” And in the meantime, we are filling our calendar with last visits with the precious people and families God has placed in our lives during our short stint here. Oh, and of course, we’re filling up lots of boxes! Though nothing about the timing of this transition seems ideal, I have been so genuinely encouraged by my response to God’s hand. Oh how many times have I thrown my hands up in anger or despair when God changes “our” plans or fails to work in my timeframe. But I can also see now how He has so faithfully used each of those previous circumstances to bring me to this one and to a place where I can say honestly in my soul…
The Lord is my portion of my inheritance and my cup; You support my lot. The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me. I will bless the Lord who has counseled me; indeed my mind instructs me in the night. I have set the Lord continually before me; because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my glory rejoices; my flesh also will dwell securely. Psalm 16:7-9