Probably about a month ago, Richard shared something that had been weighing on his heart. Ever since a night during our church jubilee he felt The Lord leading him to the ministry in some way. He wasn't sure doing what or when, but he knew the direction he was to take. Richard has talked before about going back to school, he just wasn't sure what for, now he had direction. I smiled. After Ellie's funeral and listening to Richard speak, I asked him "are you sure you don't want to preach for a living?" I was just so impressed with him, so touched by him, so proud of him. He said no and that was the end of the conversation. I couldn't help but think though, that God had something bigger planned for this man.
Within a week Richard applied to Liberty and was accepted. I was excited, but very nervous. I will support him in everything he wants to do, but the thought of full time schooling, two full time jobs and soon to be three children was a tad bit overwhelming. As we were rolling out for church that next Sunday, he threw in that he was going to announce it to our church family that day...I guess there's no turning back now! The sermon was about the potter and the clay.
Yet you, LORD, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. Isaiah 64:8
About how the Lord shapes and molds our lives. He puts us on the wheel and creates every detail. And there are times that he smashes that lump of clay and decides to "reshape it" I giggled at the thought of our clay being smashed, only because I felt it described our lives pretty well. Once we lost Ellie our life that we had previously known had been smashed, we've been that pile of clay waiting to be reshaped and rebuilt. The thing about God is though, he works at His own pace, so as much as I'd like him to hurry up, its not up to me!
So Richard announced his new plan and what the Lord had called him to do. I don't think many were very surprised, there really was something we all saw in Richard that day at Ellie's funeral. They were excited for us, I smiled, but inside I was still panicking. Here we were about to truly live out allowing God to shape your lives and following His calling, and I was having a hard time really getting excited about it. Don't get me wrong, I'm so happy Richard has submitted to God's plan for his life, but there was some resentment as well. Anyone who has around our family with in the past 6 months, knows Richard and I have been discussing me wanting to stay home this next school year. Being able to stay home while Ellie was home, and then after she passed and getting to be the "glue" that held my family together, was a job I really loved. I loved being able to go to Noah's school and volunteer, I loved being able to get everyone ready for work and school, without the stress of me having to get ready to. I felt assured that God was giving us this new gift of life as a sign that it was a good time for me to stay home. Richard didn't quite get the same vibe from God. For 6 months we have talked, discussed and believe it or not argued some about this decision. I thought I knew for sure what God was trying to remold me into and I wanted to help along the process...not that God ever asked me to. As we entered the month of June, we still didn't have contracts for the next school year, nor had Richard and I come to a decision. I thought I had put this all in God's hand numerous times, and even felt a couple times that maybe this wasn't the right decision, but it just kept coming back into my head, and I continued to try to discuss it and to be honest, change Richard's mind. I was forcing the issue, trying to make God reshape my lump of clay faster than He had planned. One evening, after a particularly, we'll say louder conversation, I opened our mail to find a graduation announcement from a student I worked with my very first year as a counselor. The two of us spent a lot of time together that year. As a counselor I have the pleasure of working with many different kids...the whole school in fact, but I don't get that same closeness bond that a teacher may get with their class. However this student and I formed a bond. We haven't spoken in years, but there was the graduation announcement and a letter, thanking me for everything I had done, and supporting them and always believing in them. The night I read it, I pushed it aside, that letter was a reassurance that I was in the right place with my job, but I didn't want to see it that way, since I was positive I knew the plan and that I was going to stay home.
The night of our last conversation, I was prepared for battle, with all the reasons as to why I just knew I should stay home. I had prayed all week God would change Richard's mind, and I just new it was going to happen. We started to talk, and I literally felt Holy Spirit come into my heart, soften it, and completely change my mind....hold up! That wasn't supposed to happen, apparently God didn't get my memo that I was just trying to help him shape my clay. I still don't quite understand what the past 6 months was about. I'm not sure what was going on, or why I thought for sure I'd heard the Lord tell me what to do...guess that's just one more question to ask when I get to heaven. Now on the other side of this decision I'm happy with my choice, I happy I finally listened to what Richard was saying, and I'm glad God sent Holy Spirit to help me. I showed Richard the letter from the student, which I had put aside, he just looked at smiled, asked me how long I cried when I read that and said "if anything Carly this confirms our choice for you to stay at work!" The very next day our contracts showed up at work...go figure! I took that as God's way of saying, "thank you for finally listening to me Carly!" So in August, Noah and I will head back up the road to Culpeper every day, with a new outlook on my job.
So all this brings me to today, well yesterday at this point. Richard was asked by Preacher if he would like to speak on Sunday, Father's day since Preacher would be out of town. I wasn't sure if he would do it, I knew he could, but if you know Richard he's not typically the "speaker" of the family. If you had known the Richard I met 12 years ago, you never would have imagined he would be doing that. In fact if you had told me even 6 years ago that Richard would be in front of a church of more than 100 people delivering a sermon, I would have laughed. When I first met Richard he was very quiet and shy, I'm amazed he ever asked me out on a date...this is where Richard would jump in and tell you that he asked me out 3 times before we ever went out, yes that's true, but its a long story! It took Richard years to have a full conversation with my family. My best friend jokes that he only said two words to her the whole first year she knew him. Even just a few years ago when he wanted to share a prayer request at church, I watched his nerves get the best of him as he tried to speak. I don't share this to embarrass him, I share this to just show what God can do when you allow Him to shape your life. I sat through his sermon with my "lifetime movie grin" on (that's what we call that cheesy grin). Of course I cried a few times, but I was filled with so much pride. I haven't been allowed to tell him how he did, he's not one for praise, but I will tell you all! He amazed me. I couldn't have been more proud of that shy little boy who has overcome all his fears and is now allowing God to mold him into this man who is now moving forward with school and following through with what the Lord has put upon his heart.
2005 - Old Navy, where we met
2013 - Memphis, TN - Stronger than ever
This song has been a new favorite, not sure if I've shared it before, I think I have. I haven't fully grasped the lyrics till just recently and I'm not sure I can really explain what they mean to me now.
I say that I don't quite grasp why we struggled so much with my decision be go back to work, and I'm not to sure what part the devil may have had in that. But I know this time two weeks ago, I was completely broken. I couldn't understand why in the world the Lord was putting us through yet another struggle, haven't we been through enough in the past year? But now that He completely broke me down, drained me of all my selfish thoughts, I feel so close to Him. I feel so special that out of the billions of people in the world, He's still right there beside me, helping me through it all, sending the Holy Spirit to guide me through it all. And placing all the angels in my life he does. Thank you Lord for continuing to Make Me!
Prayers, Praise and Pink