For the past (almost) three years, Tuesdays have been known as "Changeover Day" having a "changeover" meeting in the morning either representing coming on shift at Crossnore or going off shift. These days were always a bit difficult, switching out of one lifestyle and into the other. Last Tuesday, though, was the most difficult changeover I could imagine.
Our meeting time was set for 11am. We were preparing to go off shift, but about two hours before that, we were asked to come into our supervisor's office.
"We regret to inform you that your position has been terminated."
The words were coming from her mouth, and I heard them, but in that moment and for several hours afterwards, they were not understood. In one way, as in the reason why those words were even said, I still don't understand. But I've had the last week to take what's happened and come to terms with it.
That being said, I'd like to share those terms here as a public announcement to what's about to take place in mine and David's life. Those closest to us already know the big life changes that are taking place, but here is the rundown for those of you who are interested to know.
Last Fall, one week on shift I was sitting in the Friday morning ladies' prayer group at Crossnore when I saw in the spirit David and I in some sort of school setting. I knew exactly where we were, even though I have never been there before: Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry in Redding, California. Some time before that, probably a year, David mentioned the school in passing saying that he could see himself going there one day. I nodded and smiled and we both moved on never giving it anymore thought at all.
But that night, after having seen ourselves there in prayer, I couldn't get it off my heart. As we climbed in bed, I told David about it. He was enthusiastic and interested, saying we should look into it, because it was surely something that wouldn't have come from my mind alone. I was more perplexed, because why would God drop that in my spirit? What would be the purpose in going out to California - a place I've never once felt "called" to.
The idea consumed my thoughts over the next day or two, so much so that I decided I would not think, plan, dream, or even pray about it for one month. David honored my commitment. All the while, as God was calling me to rest in Him, He was asking David to become more intentional in his thoughts and plans about it, a definite role-reversal for the two of us and how we have generally worked together in our marriage and life as one.
In that month of silence, Holy Spirit continued to confirm what I had wondered if the Lord was saying about going. It came in prayer, sermons, and even dreams. The biggest confirmation came in early October, when I surrendered to a major shift in my spirit, letting go of the things I loved most in this world and emptying that place they held in my heart, which opened up so much more room for the Holy Spirit to fill. I apologize for being a bit vague here, but this part deserves its very own post sometime. Promise I'll get to it when the time is right! Anyway, the Lord gave me the "why" for going during this time. Why would I need to go to a school where they teach supernatural ministry? Because God wants me to minister in a supernatural way! There are some specifics that go along with this distinct calling, but for now, I'd like to keep all these things and "ponder them in my heart" as Mary did (Luke 2:19).
After that, we began telling our immediate family, a few close friends and spiritual family, and our pastors. The news was recieved with gladness and encouragment, which helped to solidify our decision. By Thanksgiving, we started the "first year" (of two) application process for the 2013-2014 school year which runs from September to May. The details of leaving Crossnore and moving were the next major things to discover.
As our lease for our apartment is up in early May, we had to make a decision of where we'd live from then to the time school started. In December, David's father asked about living and working in England knowing that the pound is stronger than the dollar and that once its converted, a three month stay in England might have been worth it. At first, David wasn't keen on the idea at all knowing that I wouldn't be able to work in England without a pricey work visa. Then I asked David about the idea without even knowing that my father-in-law had, which prodded David to consider it more deeply, and we began to seriously put the idea to prayer. By the beginning of this month, we had our Skype interview with the school and about a week after that, our acceptance emails. And after crunching the numbers, David was sure we'd be able to pay our first year tuition by May! The doors were definitely open for an extended visit to David's hometown.
As he began to consider the implications of returning home for longer than three weeks for the first time since we were engaged in late 2004, the Lord gave David a weighty sense of calling and purpose back in his old stomping grounds. He had already found a group home that he would apply for and the excitement about doing what we've been doing for youth at Crossnore in his hometown settled in. The need for spiritual parenting is everywhere! Not to mention the purpose David has in being a "beloved" (what his name means) brother and son. May to late August in England was a lovely added gift from the Lord in this transition in life.
By the time of our, unbeknownst to us, last shift at Crossnore (January 8-15), we were beginning to understand that saying goodbye to our sweet girls would come before we knew it. May was just around the corner. It's odd to think that this was so much truer in that sense than I have just suggested the phrase "come before we knew it" to mean. Sunday night of that shift, the girls in the independent living cottage had a surprise leaving party for one of their staff. As I witnessed the campus saying goodbye to this lovely lady, I had thoughts about what our goodbye would be like. We were preparing for it to be gentle and loving, making plans for things like a spring break trip to Six Flags with the girls in April that would have been a fun last "hoorah" with them.
During that last shift, there was some anxiety on campus about staff moving around and things changing, but in no way did I consider my position one that would change. In our weekly staff meeting, we had even been told not to fret, not to be afraid of getting fired, to know that if we had not been talked to previously, then nothing was changing for us. That's why Tuesday's news came at such a surpise to us. We just didn't see that we were some of the people to take a hit from the fear, worry, and doubt that generally prevades the campus coming from the top down. We knew we had always done our job in order, and we always tried to do everything led by the Spirit, so we knew that there was no reason for us to be let go except for the fear-based decisions that we can't control from leadership. Most of these things could have been solved with proper and honest communication, but unfortunately, that is the major weakness we discovered at Crossnore.
Looking back, it would seem that God was certainly preparing us in subtle ways for the change to come, but we just didn't realize how soon. One night during that shift, David listened to a download from our iBethel.tv subscription from a Sunday Evening service at Bethel Church where Heidi Baker spoke. She gave a prophetic word over the church saying that dreams, goals, and expectations from people there would be "birthed" quickly and happen soon, comparing that to the story she told of the quick birth she prayed for and saw of one of her grandchildren. We hadn't listen to this talk until after our acceptance into the school (and, essentially, the Bethel family). We have realized this word was for us, too!
Unfortanetly, the absolute worst part of it all was not being allowed to say goodbye to our girls that day. It was left in the hands of our supervisor and their case managers to tell them we were suddenly gone. I don't know what was said to them, how they responded, or what has happened since, but I am so confident in the Holy Spirit that the bonds we created and the seed we planted in the spirit is eternal, and Holy Spirit will comfort where there needs to be comforting. Our spiritual relationships can not be severed. And so even though the natural goodbye I would have wanted to give was taken from me, it is a reminder that there really was never a need for a goodbye anyway. My spirit has been heavy in prayer for each of them.
What's so beautiful about our God is that he takes such gentle care of us. I couldn't have asked for a better last shift. After we had packed all our things up and left campus, we put on worship music in the car and just let our hearts soak in God's love. What a gift it was when I realized that I had absolutely no regrets from that last shift! Sometimes, upon getting off shift, I would think about how I should have done something better or said something differently, and I would make an intentional effort to change it when I returned the next week. There was nothing like that to nag at me! I thought to each of the girls, and I could honestly say that I had loved each of them as purely as I could that week. I had special time with every one, and I will cherish those times as my last memories with those beautiful girls.
So, in the last week, the door has opened for our new season to come earlier than we thought it was coming. After discussion with our families and time in prayer, here is our new timeline for the moves taking place this year.
We are moving from our apartment in Asheville to my parent's foster home in Nebo on February 1st. As my mother is recovering from major surgery, we will work as the primary caregivers to the five foster children who live there until they return to full-time work there around the 19th. God has an interesting way of restoring things that are lost. One of the five that live there is a girl who we once had for a short time in our cottage at Crossnore. Since she was placed in my parent's home in November, I have known that the Lord was returning her to a place of spiritual provision, and I am thrilled and honored to be apart of it. He certainly has His hand on this girl. I'm excited for our time there with those kids, because three of them are under three years old, and David and I are in need of a little practice before we have children of our own! It will also be a nice time with my parents (and some with my brother, I'm sure) before we leave for a long while from being near to them as we have this whole time being married. It's just a mark on my family that we do ministry together.
After that, we will have about a week in Asheville again before our big move to England, which we leave for on February 27th. We will live with David's parents in Ramsgate. During our time there, we'll get to live life with family that we haven't been able to as we've lived here in the States, minister to youth in David's hometown, and see the birth of our fifth niece or nephew in May. We will miss one major event here - the wedding of our dear friends - in June, but they have been so gracious in knowing that we are following the Lord's direction.
The season in England will last exactly 6 months as we fly back to North Carolina on August 27th. Two weeks later, our classes begin at Bethel. So, in those two weeks we will spend as much time with family and friends as possible and then begin the trip across the country by car to Redding. We anticipate being in Redding from September 2013 to at least May 2015 after two school years. The rest is unforseeable to us, but God will guide us along the best pathway (Psalm 32:8).
I write all of this to say that our hearts are settled and at peace in what some would call an "upset" in life. David and I determined long ago, though, that we wouldn't live our lives in a state of emergency. Our steps truly are ordered as it says in Psalms, so what fear or anxiety should we have? I am beyond excited to step into this new encounter with the Almighty, and I'll likely be unpacking the depths of it as I journey along the way. Stay tuned.