Tuesday, September 24, 2013


Since our move, the blog has taken the backseat & my focus was to get settled in. When I did have time to blog, I knew the Lord wanted me to share our story so that's what I did in the wee hours of the night. (Really, I don't sleep anymore...it's crazy.)

Here are a few (a LOT) of pics to try & catch you all up on what we've been doing. 

This is the PRECIOUS sign (made by the youth) we came home to when we arrived.

The VERY FIRST weekend we were introduced to how Petal does a home football game. (Think college game caliber tailgating.) SO FUN! 
We are so blessed that one of our Search Committee friends own a custom shirt design store. They took care of us & made sure we fit right in with some great paraphanailia!

Our 1st moving priority was to get D's office set up & organized so that he could feel at home, have access to all his books, & so he could do what he does! The boys were a lot of help. :)

Our first Sunday after church, they gave us a "pounding." Tons of groceries, gift cards, & goodies. It was so wonderfully overwhelming. We are STILL living on the groceries & gift cards. Hallelujah! 
The Lord has blessed us so much by giving us wonderful churches who spoil us & go above & beyond loving on us. We know not all churches are like this. We are so very thankful!!

Speaking of loving on us...this man right here put in many many hours of work (before he even met us) building many bookcases (think: tree-to-bookcase) for D's office. Mr. David is a Search Committee friend's spouse, a contractor/carpenter, & sword fighter/buddy. (He played with Jax while his wife Jean was busy painting our pink room the day we moved in.)

On Jax's very first Sunday night his choir group sang. He decided he would sit & dance while the rest of the class sang. :)

John has a very fun Sunday School room! 

The boys love the worship room for the children. I'm really excited about all the great ministry opportunities they will encounter as they grow.

All of these exciting pics are from the Petal Center for Families. They have a preschool workshop every Tuesday morning. The last one was a all about Dinosaurs. It was right up their alley. I'm very excited to have all these preschool resources at my fingertips.

I was finally able to take the boys to the zoo last week. We went with some new church friends & had a great time! The boys favorite part was the splash pad. They had a blast!

We're finally feeling more settled in here & love the area. It's so exciting to start new relationships & be united in fellowship with the people God has given us to do life with.

God has been doing a mighty work in the lives of those at Petal-Harvey. We are seeing the beginning of revival & are praying for God to reign & have His will done in & through His church. D & I are so thankful for the revival that He has been working in our lives.

A few songs have ministered to me over the past year and a half as I knew the Lord would probably be moving us. One of them is, "Lay Me Down," by Chris Tomlin. It reminded me throughout the process that as a Christ-follower, my life is not my own. I was bought with a price & not only need to, but WANT to live out the plan God has for me. One line of the song says, "It will be my joy to say, 'Your will. Your way.'"  Leaving "home" & an incredible church was one of the hardest things we've done. But our Precious Father has absolutely made our following His will a joy. It's a joy to live in Petal, MS, to minister to PHBC, & it is absolutely a joy to live in the will & favor of Sovreign God. Thank You sweet Jesus for Your joy!!!


Here are the lyrics to Lay Me Down by Chris Tomlin:

With this heart open wide
From the depths from the heights
I will bring a sacrifice
With these hands lifted high
Hear my song hear my cry
I will bring a sacrifice
I will bring a sacrifice

I lay me down
I'm not my own
I belong to Uou alone
Lay me down
Lay me down
Hand on my heart
This much is true
Theres no life apart from You
Lay me down
Lay me down
Oh oh oh
Lay me down
Lay me down

Letting go of my pride
Giving up all my rights
Take this life and let it shine
Take this life and let it shine


It will be my joy to say
Your will
Your way
It will be my joy to say
Your will
Your way
It will be my joy to say
Your will
Your way


Saturday, September 7, 2013

Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus

"God is in the details."
"God doesn't care about time as much as He does TIMING."
These are just a couple of things that have become so evident over the past few months.

Throughout this journey (see at least the last 2 blog posts if you don't know what journey I'm referring to) more than ever, the Lord has given/blessed us with more than we could ever hope or imagine. That has been a constant theme for us. His intimate sweetness has been more evident than ever. I have countless examples of how He has sewn up every small detail according to His plan. I want to try to share & record them in this blog post. Not one of these things were a need, but the Lord chose to give us these gifts just because of His goodness. I feel like it's important that we testify & brag on Him. There really are so many...I hope I can remember them!

I already shared a little bit about a lot of details in the last post but I want to highlight some of them here.

-The fact that the Lord told us that we would be moving months ahead of when He would actually move us was such a blessing to me. I had time to prepare. I'm doing Priscilla Shirer's Bible Study on Jonah right now & God taught me something about myself in week one. Most of the time I'm going to obey the Lord. 1-Because He told us to. 2-Because my personality is that I'm pretty much a "do the right thing" kind of girl. 3-Because I never want to be out of the will of God. I know I would be miserable. BUT through my Bible Study, I learned that there's a big difference between having an obedient head (physically doing what God wants & actually obeying) & having an obedient heart (choosing to embrace doing what God told me to do & giving it my all). I quickly submitted my physical self to being obedient to go wherever God wanted, but my heart needed those months to get to the same obedient place. This wasn't a need. God didn't have to give us any warning. As His children, He could have up & moved us in a month, but He chose to give me time.

-We had someone to go through this process with. As I have said, whenever we would go through any part of this process with another church, we never tell anyone-especially family. In our case, more times than not, the Lord has put us through a search process just to close the door at some point. We have learned many great things through each process & God has used each time to reveal Himself to us in some new way, but it is such an emotional roller coaster to put our family or church family through for no reason. Early on in this process, after God told D He was moving us, D set up an appointment with the DOM (& wonderful mentor & friend) Bro. Wayne DuBose. He was about to head out to meet him for lunch one day, when our Assoc. Pastor, Blake, tried to go too (this was not unusual, in fact, D often made, I mean invited, him ;)). When D told Blake that it was just a meeting for them, Blake guessed right away what it was about. Because of that, we had someone we could talk to about this emotional process & they could come alongside us & pray for us. Not a need-we could have survived just keeping this huge secret & going through this on our own, but God had other plans & gave us prayer partners in the process.

-Our Search Committee. I can't say enough good things about this amazing group of people God put together. D & I joke how the search process is kind of like dating. Well, we really liked "dating" these folks! Their spiritual growth & hunger was obvious & contagious. We went through such an intimate process with them & witnessed God do such amazing things that we still are in awe. This super committee was not a need. They could have been anyone, but God gave us His best.

-The confirmation through His Word. There were PHBC ladies praying specifically that the Lord would reveal who He wanted to Pastor the church through His Word. Hello Isaiah 43:18-19 & Habakuk 2:3! There were actually other little interminglings of messages the Lord gave me & some of the ladies on the search committee through our separate quiet times. We would text each other the Word we got from the Lord that day & it would overlap or coincide with what God was showing them. We know none of that was coincidence. None of this was a need, but it helped give us an undeniable confirmation with which no one can argue.

-Our realtor. God gave us an awesome realtor (a Petal church member, SS teacher, deacon) who we have come to absolutely love. He took us out looking for homes twice. On one of those trips, he overheard me tell D I had a headache, so he gave me Tylenol & took us to a gas station to get some water for me to take it. He spent much of his time on the phone, Internet, in person, & doing who knows what else to take care of things in Petal when we were in Vivian. Our new home didn't have blinds in the dining room, or a mirror in the guest bath when we moved in, but he brought them by the week we moved in & had them installed/hung & tried to act like that was part of his job. :) He was the first person to meet us when we arrived in Petal to stay. Our neighbor even told us he was wiping down our mailbox before that b/c he wanted our first impression to be perfect. Who does that??! How great is this man?!! None of that was a need. We could have had some stranger realtor, but God blessed us!

-Finding a home. Other than quite a few Internet searches, we found our home after just 2 visits in town & looking at less than 10 homes. Our 1st home search left me wanting. We saw some very pretty homes in some subdivisions. I liked them, but something just felt "off." After that 1st house hunting trip, we were leaving the church parking lot to start our drive home, when a Petal staff member (Jason) called & invited us over to his house. We went by & had a great visit & as we were leaving I told D that I wanted their house! I loved the architecture & design & I loved the neighborhood. There just happened to be a home for sale in the subdivision & it is the home I am in at this very second! Yes, our home was a need, but it is more than we need & the way in which the Lord gave it to us was such a blessing.

-D's Bookcases & office. For anyone who has been to D's office, they know that he likes him some books. (Some, who shall remain nameless, call him a book hoarder.) At FBCV, D had a HUGE office with customized bookshelves & he loved it. We figured that anywhere else he would go, his office would probably be smaller. Not so at PHBC! The office was just as big as his other, the only thing it lacked was the many bookcases he would need to house his books. God solved that problem! One of the committee member's husbands built D some more customized bookshelves (not a small feat) & installed them in his office. This was not a need, D could've squished into any office, but God gave him His best where D can have everything in his office the way he likes it & can keep his book system to help him study & write sermons.

-My replacement at work. I was the Office Manager for my family's air conditioning business. My moving away obviously would leave a void & my parents would have to replace me. The process of leaving them & preparing someone else to do my job was really more than I cared to think/worry about. I prepared a detailed handbook on how to do my job, reminded my parents that I would be leaving, but for the most part, it was an extra stress I didn't want to think about. About 4 weeks before we moved, a lady called randomly & asked about an office position. She had had a little experience working for an a/c parts distributor. I told her that actually, my job would be available soon & took her information. Of all the years I've worked there, we got numerous job inquiries for techs & installers, but never office people. It crossed my mind that maybe God sent this lady, but I was skeptical & didn't want to get my hopes up. We interviewed her a week later & I started training her a week after that. She came in to train Monday a week before moved. (I really don't like training-I had my share of training when my family owned a restaurant & it's not my favorite thing.) But this lady came in, I showed her the ropes...& she basically had it!! By Tuesday, she was totally doing my job while I helped with any extra questions & ran around trying to get the office ready for me to leave. This was a need, but the blessing was how God answered a prayer I honestly hadn't had the strength to pray AND Lord gave us more than we could hope or imagine through His perfect timing  & sending such a smart, capable, trustworthy employee!!

-Stay-at-home wife & Mom. Even before the Lord told us He would move us, for the past couple of years, I have felt God tugging at my heart to stay at home with my babies. I've always been able to have my kids at work, but the business has grown so much that it is really too busy for me to have them at work with me & me be the best at my job (as Office Mgr OR Mommy). Also, God has told me He wants me to do some specific things that I would need a lot more time for. (More on that one day.) And finally, I felt the need to free up my schedule to help me be the best Pastor's Wife I can-even if it just means me keeping the kids so that D can tend to his ministry's needs as best he can. I was called to be a wife, mom, & PW. I want to do my best to honor God. This wasn't a need, we were making it the way we were, but it is more than I could hope or imagine in that I can now fully concentrate on my callings, be obedient to God, & we are taken care of financially so that I may stay home.

-FBC Vivian. As you can probably tell from my past blog posts, I practically made myself sick thinking about telling FBCV that we were leaving. Partly b/c I love them all so incredibly much, & also b/c I was afraid that they would be upset at us. I couldn't have imagined all the reactions we got from everyone. 1-Everyone who talked to us about our leaving had no doubt that we were only following God's will. 2-Financially-the church itself overwhelmed us with how they took care of us for the future. I can just say, it was way beyond what we could have ever hoped or imagined. 3-They have supported & prayed for us. It's really felt like they "sent" us. 4-We have been assured of our lifelong relationships. (Some people already have visit dates planned!) We will see this family again-whether it's when we, or they, visit, or in Heaven (probably sooner than later!). 5-They gave us a horribly wonderful going away party. :) It was done-up in true Dustie Dunn style--with a popcorn machine & chocolate covered almonds. We were INCREDIBLY blessed. (We only went through 4 boxes of Kleenex.) 6-They really loved on us. On our last Sunday-after D's last sermon they clapped to show their support & lined up (so we could cry on them...talk about "ugly cry"!) to love on us one last time. None of this was a need. Goodness, I just didn't want them to be mad at us, but God wanted us to have more than we could ever hope or imagine!

-Prepared Our Home. The past two churches D & I served in together were some really special people. They both could write a book on how to love on & care for your Ministers & their families. I'm not gonna lie. The Saturday after our going away party I was thinking, " We are crazy to leave this church. There's no way Petal will love us like this..." Right as I got the thought out, Dr. Hutto called (Search Committee Chairman). He told me that the church had a big church work day & they cleaned up the church, & that after that, about 4-5 couples went to our new house (that we had been in ONCE) & cleaned it inside from top to bottom. It was move-in ready. (What a huge load off our shoulders!) Some of the men took care of our lawn. This was not a need, but the Lord blessed us with not only the gift, but informing me at just the right time to silence any doubt I may have had.

-Move-in/Getting Settled. We were scheduled to move in on Monday. We arrived in Petal...the movers did not. (Nor did they answer their phone for a couple of hours--during which were when we were expecting them to arrive). Finally, they call us & tell us they won't get there till Tuesday. (There will NOT be a blog post on that adventure...) Immediately, we were able to our new church spring into action. The word spread that we really wanted to stay the night in our new home & countless people dropped by with air mattresses, sheets, blankets, towels, pillows, soap. Our meals were provided for the first 2 weeks. (& I'm talking breakfast, lunch, & dinner on most days.) Then, when the movers arrived on Tuesday, (in the middle of the day when everyone's at work) 4-5 strong men from church help them unload in record time! (It took them 3 days to load it.) The Huttos kept the kids on numerous days, as did some of the other committee members so that we could have time to unpack, open bank accounts, etc. Then, on top of all of that-after services on our first Sunday, we were given a "pounding!" I'm talking out of control: groceries, gift cards to many places (gift cards as in-Petal Walmart RAN OUT of gift cards), & more gifts of money. Again, none of that goodness was a need, but the Lord just wanted to bless us with it & wanted to shut my mouth about any worries about this church loving us. They are picking up right where FBCV left off. Thank You Jesus!!

I'm not recording these things to brag. I'm recording them to remind myself of the overflowing goodness of God. We know we live a life in the favor of the Lord & we never want to take it for granted or keep it to ourselves. Not any of this was because of us. D & I love to pray & ask for big, specific things just so we can share it with as many people will listen. It is so important to us that God gets the glory that He deserves.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Gandy!!

Get your popcorn, or snack of choice, & get comfy because this is not a short post. I tried to take my time & make sure I didn't forget any of the "goodness" & I still didn't cover every detail. It would have been even longer! (I plan to in the next post.)

*The Gandy (Evelyn Gandy Parkway) is the part of Hwy 42 that goes through Petal, MS. The next part of the story (see previous blog post if you don't know what I'm talking about) is entitled, "The Gandy" because it describes our very personal road, or journey, to Petal.*

As I said in The Waiting Room post: On May 21, 2013 the Lord told us (through His Word in Isaiah 43:18-19) that He was about to do something new & that once it started, it would not be slow. 

Five days later (May 26, 2013...WOW) we received a phone call from a man named Dr. Hutto from Petal-Harvey Baptist Church letting us know that he received D's resume from one of our friends & he wanted us to prayerfully consider interviewing for the position of Pastor.

Dustie told him that he would be out of town the next week for school, but that we would definitely pray about it. D & I prayed all week long about whether or not the Lord wanted us to proceed with this committee or not. By the end of the week, we knew we were to at least talk with Dr. Hutto some more to continue the process.

That weekend we told him we felt it was God's will for us to continue in the process & he said they wanted to Skype with us that Monday night. (Let me just let you know what kind of craziness that was. We had VBS all that week & it didn't start until 5. We BARELY got out in time to Skype with them--let alone, have ANY down time to gather out thoughts. We were a MESS back in the back room of our friends' house so that they could watch the boys!)

The Lord blessed me all day in preparation for that interview. He used soooo many different avenues to love on me & remind me not to fear (or be anxious or worried). I have a whole blog post on that very Word from God that day. The link to that post is here: 

The Lord has shown Himself to me so much through this process & one of my very favorite things He has shown me is how very sweet He is. He's all about the little things with me. He knew I had racing thoughts about leaving my friends, family, & the only church family my boys have known & He chose to basically hold my hand throughout the entire process. I also feel like a huge reason that He told us so far in advance that He was going to move us was to help me prepare in my head & in my heart. He knows my Type A, crazy planner side & He allowed me to wrap my head around His plans that were different from mine.

We Skyped with the committee that Monday night. All that consisted of was them telling us about their church & explain their search process that led them to us. Dustie & I were most impressed with this group of people. As a committee they had read a book/study about the church, met many times just for prayer, & fasted. Each member, all professionals, sacrificed a LOT to make sure his/her role on the committee was a priority. They sacrificed time with their families, gave up vacations, as well as put Master's Degree & Doctorate work behind this on their list of priorities in order to find THE MAN that the Lord had for their church. This spoke volumes to us!!! This was basically all we did at that meeting. We took the rest of the week to pray & the committee wanted to Skype again that Friday. (God wasn't tarrying!)

We escaped from VBS early that Friday night. (I'm sure my friends thought I was NO help in cleaning up.) We chugged some iced coffee, I put concealer under my eyes ;), & we sat down for another Skype session. This one was for the committee to ask D questions. Both of these meetings were really fun. Other than the awkwardness of Skype, it was like talking to old friends. 

After that meeting, we all continued to pray about the Lord's will for us & them & we both decided to continue on in the process. (At this point we felt that the Lord was probably sending us to this foreign land :). We prayed for Him to "close the door" if we were wrong & it wasn't His will for us & PHBC.)

Dr. Hutto & D spoke at some point that week & decided that we should come & meet them in person & check out the town. We were going to go down on a Friday, stay the night, & go back home the next day. 

One committee member, Jan, called me on a Tuesday night the week before we were to go visit. I didn't know this at the time, but before she called me, she had a Bible Study & then asked her husband to pray with her. (Yeah...that's how awesome these people are.) She called & we discussed plans for the next weekend, & that was that.

The following Saturday morning, Dr. Hutto called D just to finalize plans for the next weekend. Before he got off the phone with D, he said he wanted to read an email that Jan sent the committee that week. [Idk this info...D was the one on the phone with him & my superhearing (super nosey) couldn't pick up what Dr. Hutto was saying.] The next thing I hear is D saying, "That is good! But there's even more to that than y'all know. The Lord gave us those exact verses a couple of weeks ago!!" I (not so) patiently waited for D to get off the phone so I could find out what they discussed. D told me that Dr. Hutto read Jan's email that she sent the committee & after she signed it she typed verses the Lord had given her right before she called me earlier that week. The verses were ISAIAH 43:18-19!!!!!!!!!!! [Let me just add that there is NO emoticon to describe the "holy goosebumps" moment that was for us!!] 
We took that as straight confirmation from the Lord's Word that we were on the right track. (I texted Jan as soon as I found that out & pretty much threw off her trip to Sam's. She had such a Holy Ghost moment that she forgot what she went to buy!)

Dustie & I felt through prayer & through the Lord using His Word & others for confirmation that He was sending us to this church. We continued to pray for the Lord's guidance & only His will. We felt so strongly about it that we decided we would tell our parents to help prepare them & have them praying for us. (This is something we NEVER do b/c we don't want them to go on the emotional roller coaster we go on every time a different church calls. We were just so sure of this that we wanted the Lord to prepare their hearts. & we knew God wasn't going to tarry!) At this same time, we prayed for God to prepare the hearts of our FBCV family. I truly believe that He did. On several different occasions we had people make comments alluding to us being moved. (This was even before the committee came or we missed the Sunday for revival & then to go in view of a call.)

The next weekend we made the journey to Petal. We met with committee & they took us around the town on a borrowed church bus to throw off any suspecting church members. :) We had dinner that night at Mrs. Becky's (from one of the yummy Hattiesburg rants featured on Food Network!) & we just took the time to talk to the committee. D & I just decided to lay it out there for the committee & tell them that unless the Lord "shuts the door" or tells us otherwise, we know He wants us at PHBC. Michael Hogan asked D why we were so sure. So D takes them on our whole journey (described in the previous blog post) & D gets to the part where we're in the hospital room after I had John & D tells them about God giving us the Habakuk 2:3 verse. Jan & Ruthie said, "HABAKUK 2:3?!!!!!" It turns out that God gave the EXACT same verse to Ruthie May 26, 2013-the day they first called us. We squealed, we cried, some of us wanted to be in awe of the Lord even more, but were too full from supper ;) (little committee inside joke)
More undeniable confirmation!!!

Later that night, we went to the church & toured it. It was a super sweet time that meant a lot to us. The committee gathered around us at the altar & all prayed for us & the future of PHBC. After that, we ended up in the Pastor's Office (decked out with the sweetest Petal gift basket...gifts are my love language ;)) & we discussed what we should do next. We planned another trip to Petal to meet the Staff, the committee wanted to come hear D in person one Sunday, the committee would have a service to share this whole process with the church, & then we would plan what Sunday to come in view of a call. I thought it was really funny b/c as we sat around the office discussing the next steps, D was sitting behind the desk telling them "what he would do." For those of you who really know him, you know that soooo him! It was so "foreshadow-y" to me that I took a picture.

I've spoken with other ministry friends & we talk about how this crazy process is like nothing else. During this whole time you're caught in an in-between place where your heart is still completely in love with the church you're at, but the Lord starts making room for this new church & ministry. Thankfully, we are so blessed that I can kind of liken it to when you have your second child. You COMPLETELY love your first child with all your heart & you can't fathom sharing any of that heart space with another, yet when that second child comes to be...it just naturally happens. You love both children with everything you are...there are really no adequate words to describe how this happens.

A couple of weeks after out initial visit, we go back on a Thursday to have dinner & meet the Staff that night & then to look at houses the next day. D wanted to meet the Staff before meeting the rest of the church to give them time to pray about it & get to know D a little bit & be able to ask questions. D is the youngest of the Ministerial Staff. He knew if the situation were reversed, he would be skeptical of some 30 year-old thinking he's a for-real grown-up Pastor. We ate dinner, then the Staff went to go talk separately (& maybe a little hazing happened) & the spouses stayed back to have our own chat. D & I really enjoyed this meeting time. The PHBC staff are so different & gifted in different ways & each one given a heart for different ministries-it's really neat to see how God put them together to reach this community in different ways.

[Pics of our dinner & the dinner table. It was covered with all the verses that the Lord gave us as confirmation through the process. It was so special. It means a lot to us, so I had to capture it.]

After that, we went back to the hotel. Friday morning we had breakfast with some of our committee buddies, then we went up to the church to meet the support staff. We loved them too! After that, we went around with a realtor (another one of our favorite Petalites-a church member & deacon) & looked at some of the homes we found online & liked.

After looking at those homes, we went back to the church to get our car & go home. As we were driving out of the parking lot, Jason (one of the ministers) calls & asks if we have any questions & if so, if we wanted to come over. We drove to his home & ended up talking like old college friends for a couple of hours! I was really excited for these new ministry partnerships & relationships.

After that visit, the committee came to Vivian the next weekend so that they could hear Dustie in action in his element. We went to dinner with them Saturday night in Bossier & went back to their hotel lobby & talked for a long time. (I don't know if you can tell, but we fell in love with our committee members. D & I say they "sold" us on Petal.) The next day the committee came & attempted to sneak into our service & sneak out. (They were totally spotted by our FBCV family though.) While they were on their way home they had a meeting & then called us (Dave Ramsey call-in style) & told us that they were all in!

Yikes. It got real.

Two weekends later, we went back to Petal on a Thursday. Friday morning we went house hunting & found "the one" on the same street as Jason & Kaylee (the subdivision I loved). That night we had a big meet & greet with the deacons & their families & then one directly following for the rest of the church. What precious people! That Sunday the church had one service & it was rockin!!! What a talented Music Minister Tim is & what an amazingly blessed Music Ministry! Dustie preached, gave an invitation, & then we were escorted out for the vote. We went to get the boys from their classes, then pretty much went right back in to the sanctuary where they announced that we were the new Pastor & Wife of Petal-Harvey Baptist Church!