Bend & Sway
(originally posted on The Bullard Pack blog on 2/25/11)
As I sat drinking my cup of coffee this morning, peering out the living room window I saw the effects of the winds approaching from the east. A storm was coming. The mighty oaks and the spindly pines began to bend and say, bend and sway from the pressure of the winds.
Immediately, my mind began to wander to the storm of life that our family has been in the midst of the last 5 months. Although this weather disturbance hasn’t been extremely severe, it has been a storm nonetheless. We all experience storms in our life- Jesus warns us of this in John 16:33, “in this world, you will have trouble…..” but He also makes us a promise: “but take heart, because I have overcome the world!”
A few minutes later, I picked up my bible to begin my daily reading plan. When I turned to the assigned chapter, I chuckled. God is so into the details of all our lives- which is utterly amazing to me. My groggy thoughts about an impending storm were not coincidental as my eyes gazed upon the theme of Psalm 29, “God reveals his great power in nature. We can trust God to give us both the peace and the strength to weather the storms of life.”
In October, 2010, my husband called me in the middle of the day to break the news…..the conversation went something like this: “Hey baby…..” “Hey honey…..you’ve been laid off, haven’t you?” “Yep- just a few minutes ago.” “Well, ok….we felt that God was preparing us for this…..and He’ll see us through. Still- I know this is going to be difficult for you….. I’m sorry.” Two weeks later, my husband was officially unemployed. Thankfully, his company did give us a severance package and benefits for 6 months.
The transition from full-time working outside the house husband/father to an at-home husband/father/searching for a job/ principal of our home school was a difficult one, at first. As all 6 of us struggled to fall into our new daily routine, there were moments of friction! Fortunately, at this season of our marriage, Doug and I have learned how to honestly communicate with one another about our expectations and how we feel about any given situation. We quickly realized that our expectations of each other weren’t matching up! So, we had to come up w/ a new game plan. Now our team is running towards the goal line-together, instead of blocking each other on every yard!
During this same time, Doug came to me with the topic for this year’s Marriage Conference. Stunned, I sat listening to him pour out what he felt God had laid on his heart months before. In mid sentence, I interrupted him and said that I needed to confess that when he began talking, a wave of pride and jealousy began emerging in my spirit towards him. I was offended that he had not “chosen” the topic that I had been working on! A moment later, though, God whispered….”Jodie…THIS is what I want to share w/ my people….…..” How could I argue with that? I chose to submit to Doug’s vision for the teaching portion of the conference, and I now whole-heartedly believe that the topic IS what God wants to share with His people that weekend.
In November, we felt it was the right time to turn our calling into a non-profit ministry. We’ve been serving other married couples for nearly 10 years, but in the last year or so, we had really felt that God was showing us that eventually, He would take us into full time ministry in that area. And so, began the pain staking process of paperwork and approval from the state and an EXCESSIVE amount of paperwork to obtain tax-exempt status from the federal government. We are so very grateful that dear friends have and continue to help us chart this unknown course in order to obtain all the necessary documents, etc.
We made it through the holidays, enjoying Doug being home to share in all the festivities of the season. We did, however experience some Griswold family moments, but I won’t go into detail about that here!!!!
Doug had 1 call back about a job posting, which he interviewed for. However, he didn’t get the position.
In January we received 2 unexpected gifts…a family trip to Myrtle Beach, SC and a cash donation to Doug and me to continue to pursue our calling. We were overwhelmed by the generosity of others and felt completely undeserving. Yet, we also were aware that this was God’s way of showing us in a tangible way that He was our provider and that His calling was NOT a fluke- regardless of how the enemy was beginning to question us in that regard.
Later that month, Doug followed the advice of two of our mentors and signed both of us up to complete thorough sessions with Restoring the Foundations. http://rtfi.org/ To say I was reluctant is an understatement. I voiced my concerns regarding the HUGE cost to our wallets multiple times- but eventually relented and submitted to Doug’s leadership decision (do you see a recurring wrong attitude here??? PTL that He is continuing to work on me in this area!). His ministry session was first. I was completely unaware how greatly his unwillingness to share his experience would affect me. Upon his return, all hell broke loose in my spirit- literally, and my mouth attacked him with such harshness that I am embarrassed to give the details of it. At the end of my rant, through sobbing tears my mind snapped and I shouted “ I don’t even know why I am so upset and screaming at you like this…I feel like I’m having an out of body experience.” Exactly. The enemy was so threatened by the healing that took place in Doug’s life and he was scared at the prospect that the same would come to me, that the only way he could destroy us was to bring division between Doug and I. After a lot of tears and crying out to God for forgiveness, I apologized to Doug and told him that although it was difficult for me to understand, I knew that his not sharing what he had experienced was sacrificial for me to be able to go through my ministry experience with no pre-conceived ideas or barriers. His wisdom and self-control was, in the end a HUGE blessing to me. To say our lives have been forever changed just doesn’t seem adequate to describe the healing, forgiveness, comfort and encouragement that we received individually, and as a couple. We are so grateful that God led us, through others, to restore the foundations of our lives. We are in the process of completing more RTF modules and we hope to one day be able to minister, through RTF to other married couples.
It is now February, and Doug has “0” job leads. Daily, we continue to bend and sway between total faith in God’s plan for our future and fear that we may run out of that little green paper in our bank accounts, which could force us to lose our home or our possessions. Still, as we stand facing the wind, we are grateful that our roots are continuing to go deeper into the soil of Truth, trusting in the One who designed us to bend and sway amidst this storm.
We are STILL unemployed & STILL have much to be grateful for: A God that loves us, a fabulous marriage, 4 little blessings (our children!), a thriving home-school, a ministry that we are passionate about, our home, food on the table, and supportive (spiritually, financially & emotionally) family, friends & church family.