“I am weary with the pain of Jacob’s wrestling,
In the darkness with the fear, in the darkness with the fear,
But he met the morning wounded, with a blessing
So in the night, my hope lives on...”
-from In the Night by Andrew Peterson
I’ve always loved this song, and AP is one of my all-time favorite songwriters. Never before has this particular song had such meaning and given such painful depth to my feelings than in the last six months. Growing up as a pastor’s daughter, I remember well the agony on my parents’ faces when they told us we were moving to a new church. The agony, coupled with a faithful resolve to follow God’s call, was due to the impending pain they knew my brothers and I would feel as we pulled away with a moving van to a new adventure, a new ministry at a new church, and new friends at a new school. I now understand their agony completely, and I now know what it means to truly wrestle with a decision. Most importantly, my parents modeled faithfulness and blind obedience in the midst of what can sometimes be the toughest job on the planet, and Ben and I want our marriage and ministry to reflect the same.
One of the last things Ben’s Mom said to him was, “God’s timing is perfect.” Even at death’s door, her discernment across the miles made a huge impact. She knew we were sensing the beginning of the next chapter in our lives, and she also knew how talented her son is; that his gifts extend far beyond his leadership behind a guitar, and that his wisdom exceeds his years. Her assurance prompted us to step out boldly. We began to pray specifically that if God was indeed closing the door on our time at our beloved Grace Presbyterian Church, that He would begin to make it clear. Such a scary prayer to pray.
Within days of that prayer, we received calls from multiple churches, all asking Ben to consider an Associate Pastor role. We were terrified and thrilled at the same time. We waited and prayed, and wrestled and prayed and waited some more. We knew it was time to step into the next chapter, but now we had to decide where to go. Enter the sleepless nights and seemingly impossible decision. We found ourselves already grieving the impending goodbyes, while deciding with as much wisdom as possible which direction to move our family. I told my Mom that at one point it felt like someone was asking me, “would you like me to cut off your right arm or your left arm? Either way, it’s gonna hurt! But you have to choose.” Ugh. Ouch.
Right smack dab in the middle of this, I received an email with the specs for the next First Look monthly curriculum song for me to write. The verse for that month was “God’s way is perfect”, Psalm 18:30. The theme of the song was about doing what God says even when it’s hard. The title of the song was to be “This or That.” I laughed hysterically after reading all this in the email. God was giving me the opportunity to write a song about choosing “This or That” while trusting that His way is perfect. Couldn’t have planned that one, ever. This also confirmed that we sensed our next chapter would allow me the margin and time to pursue my passion for training children’s worship leaders and children’s ministry staffs nationwide, as I’ve started to do on the weekends and in the summer.
We ultimately and prayerfully decided that we would go where we can pursue our next steps, both individually and as a family. In August, Ben will be joining the staff of Mountaintop Community Church in Birmingham, AL as the Associate Pastor for Creative Arts. I’m excited to be closer to my friends and ministry network in Atlanta, and will continue to travel to other churches as needed. I’ll have some much-needed margin and space to focus on being a wife, a mom, a worship leader, and a songwriter. And I might learn how to play the violin. We are sad to leave our amazing community and ministry partners in Houston, but are so excited for what lies ahead in the next chapter. Roll Tide. War Eagle. Most importantly, Go Texans!