Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Layers and leaving

It's only been two weeks, so I still feel like I'm in recovery.  A week since I stepped down from the busiest season of ministry we've ever known.  In His gentle and loving way, the Lord layered these ministries on us as a way of easing us into them without breaking us.  Backstory: in late 2008, my husband was commissioned into the United States Army as a chaplain (for more on that click here).  We began serving God by serving our country through the military. Ministry for my chaplain included counseling, ethics guidance, conducting Bible studies, deploying, leading and serving at chapel, as well as conducting monthly weekend retreats for married couples and single soldiers.  That last part was my first open door to serving alongside him and serving the families in our unit.  Also, we both plugged in hard and heavy at our chapel and began serving wherever the need was that fit our talents and giftings.

From summer 2010 to summer 2011, we continued serving the Lord though our posts were on different sides of the globe - his from Afghanistan and mine from North Carolina.  Enter PWOC - protestant women of the chapel.  Not only did I find fellowship and community with this amazing global-wide group of Jesus-loving, Bible-hungry women but I also found my niché serving on the board in several ways.  This kept me connected and accountable, and also in constant communication with my Savior.

In 2012 we moved to a new duty station and also felt led to homeschool our then 1st grader (also had a 2 year old in tow).  I remember a lot about that year, but mostly that it was an uphill climb filled with a lot of dark moments, tears, and guilt!  God was faithful to sustain us, though, and has led us to continue homeschooling ever since.  Also that year the Lord opened the door for my husband and I to serve our new chapel through worship ministry.  He began preaching and working with the media ministry and I joined the praise team as a keyboardist and vocalist.  Unit ministry for my husband continued on much as it had previously, but with nuances and a different flavor in a different unit.

In 2013 my husband was called and selected to be a part of an elite special operations unit, which also entailed many job and ministry changes for him.  The Lord granted me the privilege of serving as praise and worship leader within PWOC that year as well, which began to stretch and grow me as a musician in ways I couldn't imagine.  The Holy Spirit was SO faithful to lead and guide me during this time and beyond as I sought to lead other women to worship at His throne.  Chapel ministry was as vibrant as ever and chaplain and I enjoyed being a part of teaching several Bible studies together.  And on the homefront our oldest made a profession of faith to follow Jesus Christ!

In 2014 our front door turned into a revolving door.  Entry into the special ops unit meant frequent deployments, traveling, and training.  I continued to press in (hard!) to the Lord and He was faithful to protect and provide for me in my husband's absence.  Serving the Lord was a constant for me, something I felt compelled to be a part of.  Something I desired deeply in my soul.   I was led by the Lord to continue serving on the worship front for both our chapel and PWOC.  And I LOVED being a part of VBS on post, loving and serving military kids!

In 2015 the Lord turned up the dedication and commitment knob to full tilt for us!  Hubby continued to travel and deploy as before, but was also tasked with completing a 6 month schooling (which normally requires a move to a "schoolhouse" and total dedication to the school and classes) while still maintaining all his unit and chapel duties and ministries (preaching, pastoring, and media ministry), not to mention leading and loving his sweet family!  For me, the Lord opened up doors to allow me to take a co-lead role for our chapel worship team (a volunteer position, as are ALL my places of service).  That spring I took on the role of volunteer coordinator for our on post VBS (200+ kids!).  And in a joyous surprise, He overwhelmingly but undeniably called me to serve a one year term as president of our local PWOC.  I had been sensing His call to serve in a greater way than before - but not THAT great!  But, as usual, this calling was about Him, not me.  And He was faithful to lead, guide, and sustain me each step of the way.  He led us from strength to strength and we experienced a beautiful year of discipleship, community, spiritual growth, and increased Biblical literacy.  The term of service wrapped up in spring 2016.  And on our li'l homefront, our youngest also recently prayed to receive Christ as her Savior!

Do you see all the layers?  All of them stacked on slowly and in a timely manner.  None of them removed, but instead each one making a path of preparation for the next layer.  Frequently during the past year I would "step back" from my life and look at all that we were a part of.  It looked downright crazy!  And I felt that others were thinking the same.  Like our crazy was showing!  And those middle-of-the-night or early-morning awakenings fraught with anxiety were enough to give me great pause.  But in those moments the Holy Spirit would firmly yet calmly affirm that we were RIGHT where God wanted us to be.  We had not taken these things on for our own sakes, for the approval of man, to earn righteousness or even rank.  But instead they were paths of service that the Lord Himself had hand-held us to walk down.  And I believe had He not held our hands and led the way we would've burnt out or burnt up.  In the words of William Borden, "No reserve. No retreat. No regrets."

Now we stand at a new juncture on our journey -- at the corner of leaving one duty station and moving to another.  So some of the layers have needfully had to come off as we prepare for transition.  We will still be a family totally committed to loving and serving the Lord with all of our hearts, souls, minds, and strengths.  We will continue to serve God by serving our country.  And we believe the Lord is still leading us to homeschool (our classroom has grown to 2!) at this time.  In obedience to my husband's leadership (and with the Holy Spirit's confirmation) I am taking a season to rest, relax, and reframe my thinking.  We are about to start on a month long journey of being "homeless" (not really, we bought a camper!) and journey out west.  We are excited but also unsure of what is on the other side.  Except for one thing.  We know He goes before! ~Jenn

P.S.  In an effort to "rest, relax, and reframe my thinking" I'm taking a "Social Media Sabbatical" (or SMS for short).  Although my hubby says that my blog is a form of social media!  Soon I'll be periodically posting some thoughts and updates from my experiment experience :-)

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