Friday, December 18, 2015

You Are Not Forgotten

It's Christmas again. How did that happen? It is true what they say...The days pass slowly but the years fly by. I turned 50 this year and I honestly don't feel like that much time should have already passed. But as I look back at the memories it makes more sense. My life is filled with so many memories, good, bad, and awesome. I choose to focus on the good and awesome ones. When the bad ones try to worm their way into my thoughts I try to push them back as quickly as possible. 

Last night as I was baking bread I started to think about one of my most treasured people, my grandmama, my "mom". When I was newborn I went to live with my grandparents. The details behind that aren't really important, those are some of the bad memories I choose not to think about too hard. The fact that God placed me in their home was one of the greatest gifts that He gave me. He placed me in a Godly home, not perfect, but loving and safe. I was adopted by them when I was in the first grade. They gave me everything I needed and so much more when it came to love and opportunity.

Thanks for being an active example for me. You never stopped doing, not until the end. In your 60's you started wall papering houses. In your 70's you started snow skiing. In your 80's you WON a gold medal in the Senior Olympics in golf EVERY YEAR! You are my hero. 

I miss you now and always! Merry Christmas to you and Grandpapa. See you again someday.

Love, Terri

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

When God Closes A Door

What do you do when God closes a door? What feelings run through your mind? While I have had many times where God has closed a door, there was one time that stands out more than all the others. I believe that we should learn from our life experiences and grow from them. So, as I celebrate my 50th birthday I want to look back over a period of time where I struggled and grew the most in my faith. I want to share that with you so that you can know you are not alone. The struggles are real. We all have them. 

In 2009, we changed churches. We had been members of a different church for over 22 years so it was not an easy thing to do. But we felt God was closing that door and opening a new one. We joined First Baptist Church of Arlington. We had been working with a ministry that is connected to that church for the past decade and a half, Mission Arlington. It seemed right. They are very missions oriented and had great programs for the kids. It has been a huge blessing to our family. The younger two kids have grown up in this church and are now in high school and the leadership in the preschool, children and youth has been the same since we joined. The pastor has been here for over a decade, too. And he just leads the flock with such love and compassion. 

In 2010, we had some HUGE ups and downs. We struggled with our teen through some difficult years, this one bringing it all to a head. We struggled financially and lost some land in Colorado and a vehicle. In January we began mission training. At the end of the 5 months of Perspectives training we both felt called to missions in a different country full time. In the fall we started a more in-depth mission training, Panorama, to prepare us for the full time commitment to missions abroad. The two kids had their own training as we did ours. We felt they needed to be prepared, too, so they came up with teachers to work with them. It was great. We also got involved with ministry that does low cost water well drilling. John felt that this what the type of work God wanted him to do. 

In 2011, we started part two of the Panorama missions training. We touched on some deep subjects. We also went through some testing through the counseling center that everyone who goes into the field through our church must go through. We did a week long training with Water for All, the water drilling ministry. That was really great. We were asked to go to Kenya with another group that summer for 3 weeks. John was to do water well drilling there, teaching them how to do it. Our two younger children went with us. They were a part of all our missions training. They even sat in the back of the room of our Perspectives classes. The trip to Kenya was a once in a lifetime experience for all of us. But my son really didn't want to do that full time and he was quick to tell us. He didn't want to move away from our home and our church. Our daughter didn't voice it, but she probably felt the same way. 

After ALL of that training and experience, the doors SLAMMED shut. We were told they would NOT send us. Here is one of the hard parts for me. It was because of me. In the testing it revealed that I need people too much. I made friends while I was in Kenya. I feel like I would have done OK because my needing people would have just drawn me to these people in whatever place we lived. But it didn't matter about our trip to Kenya. It didn't matter that the kids did well. It didn't matter that John really enjoyed his time there teaching them how to drill. 

I was hurt, mad, and upset. I even became very bitter. Other people were being sent. We planned on making this a lifetime commitment. A couple who had done the water drilling training at the same time were sent to another country in Africa. They have been there all this time. They now have foster adopted 2 children and are expecting one of their own. I was so confused as to why God closed the doors. Every time they would announce in church that they needed people willing to go, my mind would scream inside "WE WERE WILLING AND YOU SAID NO!!!" It hurt for so long. I did my best to pretend it didn't matter that the doors just shut. But it did matter. 

I honestly can't remember when those feelings stopped. But they did. I no longer feel angry or bitter. And I look back at the training and the mission trip that the 4 of us did together and I am so thankful. We have life lessons and experiences that we would not have had otherwise. We have friendships from those trainings and from the trip. I would NOT trade that for anything. 

The following year God took our apartment ministry church through Mission Arlington and moved it into an actual church building. Our congregation tripled in number. We began meeting not only on Sunday mornings at 11 but also on Wednesday nights. John now is a part of a worship team on both of those days. He also teaches the older kids in Bible study both days. He has done ESL classes, too. Our church there is all Hispanic. Most are from Mexico. So in a way, God is using us to reach people from a different country, just not in that actual country. John hasn't been able to do any more water drilling but you never know what God has planned for the lessons He teaches you. 

In the years that have followed the relationship with my oldest daughter has grown by leaps and bounds. It was in a very precarious place at the time. That is something I would not have had IF we had moved overseas like we thought we were supposed to. We would not have been here for our granddaughter's birth and first year of life. Our other son would not have gotten to know his sweet girlfriend and fallen in love with her. Our youngest would not have found her love for dance and been a part of this wonderful dance school for the past 3 years. I would not have reopened my preschool and had the wonderful children and families that have been a part of it in our lives. I would not have found a love for fitness and become a Beachbody coach. 

I know that God has MORE for me. The years to come are exciting to think about. God KNOWS His plans for me, even when I don't. HE KNOWS when to close the doors even when I am confused and hurt because of it. HE has great plans for my life. I just need to allow HIM to direct my path and change it when needed. As one of my friends says "Jesus is big y'all!" He really is. He has walked me through this journey for the past 50 years and He isn't going to leave me now. 

I tell you all this not to have you feel sorry for me or to judge me for my anger. But to be real with you. Feeling anger and disappointment is a very human thing. God understands. You just have to take it to Him and He will help you deal with it. I cried out to him many, many times. But I hung on to the hurt for longer than I should have. I was angry at people for deciding my future. When really, God decided it. He KNEW what He had for me that was so rich and worthwhile. So many blessings He bestowed upon me since that time. I am so thankful!!! 

When God closes a door, stop and think. Remember He has great plans for you. Then ask Him to show you what they are. He may not show you everything right away. But He will give you glimpses. You can chose to see good in things or the bad in them. Life is much better if you can find the good in each situation. Hang on to those good things. And let God handle the bad ones. Take it all to Him.

Until next time...blessings to you.