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!

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