God brought me to Bible College 15 years ago this summer. That’s almost half of my life ago. I was eighteen and I was ready to take on the world. God laughed at my pride and my puffed-up ideas about myself, and the first time I climbed up in my bunk bed as a college freshman the whole top bunk came crashing down on my roommate– a stranger. That was pretty much how my whole freshman year went. I was loud and opinionated and had just enough knowledge to make me dangerous.
My sophomore year I met Art, and, in the way these things happen, with shy looks and blushes, God brought us together. Art proposed during my third year and we got married the following summer– May 20, 2000. We were so full of plans. We were going to graduate, then Art would go to grad school in a different state while I taught for a few years, then we would head into the ministry and start our family.
Or– I graduated from college in 2002, two months pregnant and extremely nauseated for my big day. Bubs was born in December, and Art read his Greek texts to him and fed him bottles during that last busy semester of college. Art graduated with his BA in 2003. We couldn’t afford grad school, so he started looking for a new job. Nothing opened up. Stinky was born in the fall of 2004 and we still were living in a college apartment while Art worked the night shift on security. And so– he started seminary. He could get credits for free because of his job, so why not?
I was still waiting for my life to start, for my husband to have a “real” job, when I realized that my sons were growing taller and I was wishing away their baby years hoping for something better. So I let myself put down roots. Soon after, Art was made director of campus security.
In 2007 Art graduated with his MA and we moved several miles north to Small Town, Iowa. We lived there for only 15 months, but during that time we started attending Small Town Baptist Church. The roots grew deeper. In early 2008 we lost a baby to miscarriage. In late 2008, having moved back to suburbia, we discovered that the new baby I was carrying was a daughter.
Squeezy was born; Bubs graduated from kindergarten; our finances fell apart; God was faithful. God called us to home school our kids; the boys lost teeth and grew taller; Squeezy got glasses and grew too; Stinky wore a homemade cap and tassel and graduated from kindergarten too. And slowly, slowly, Art worked toward his next degree– the highest one he could achieve at this school.
Last summer he pulled out his resume, updated it, and sent it out to some people who might be able to get it into the hands of pulpit committees in churches in need of a pastor. He started preaching in churches that needed someone to fill their pulpit, and we traveled all over Iowa in between everything else. In November we visited a tiny town church that had just lost its pastor, and it felt like it could be home. But they didn’t call again.
My grandfather died and Art kept preaching and working and studying and I taught the kids and potty-trained my daughter and we waited and wondered what God had for us. The church in Tiny Town called Art back to preach and told us that they had someone else coming in for consideration the following week. Cross that off the list. The day before Squeezy’s eye surgery was scheduled, Tiny Town called again. The previous candidate had not worked out. Would we be interested in being considered next?
Squeezy had surgery; Art’s grandfather fell very ill; we took a spur-of-the-moment trip to visit him in St. Louis. Squeezy turned 3; Art’s grandfather passed away; Art graduated summa cum laude on May 4th and I cried. May 13th we went to Tiny Town and they asked Art to return the following week, May 20th, our twelfth wedding anniversary, as an official candidate. After so many years of waiting– everything was happening so quickly.
Last Sunday, May 27th, 2012, Calvary Baptist Church in Tiny Town, Iowa voted to call my husband to be their pastor, and he joyfully accepted. Three weeks from today we will load up all our belongings and move out of suburbia. My living room is full of boxes and I am tired and worn out and overwhelmed but I am so blessed. All these years here, waiting . . . God has had a perfect plan for us. His ways are best and His timing is best and His plan is always best.
So now we’re packing up boxes and pulling up the heart-roots we’ve put down deep in this soil here. Always life is this bitter sweetness. That is what will make heaven so much sweeter.
I have this testimony as we close one chapter and step into another– my God is Faithful, and His way is Best.
(photos by the very talented Sarah Engle of Captured by Sarah Photography)