This morning, I read Joshua 1-4. Lately I have been reflecting back on our time here in St. Louis. How the Lord has done mighty things. I want to remember these things. At this point, I wish I had written more down along the way, but I want to at least put down now, how I have seen the Lord provide for us and work through our time here.
1--2 years ago...it was a couple weeks from the semester starting and tuition was due. I recall sitting on the couch in tears wondering what we were going to do. First, let me go back. The Lord first provided in that we have had scholarships every semester we have been here. The first 2 years, we were given a 50% scholarship. That is incredible in and of itself. That is provision. The other 50% we have trusted the Lord to provide. We would send out updates to friends and family just letting people know our needs and every semester we would have people want to help us in paying for the tuition. But this semester was different. This was the closest we had been to due date for the money without knowing how we would pay. Then we get a phone call. A guy called Michael (which they are good friends, but rarely get a chance to catch up on the phone). He and his wife had been feeling like the Lord was calling them to send us some support. They had a certain amount put aside each year to support someone, and they wanted to send it to us. His words were, "It's not going to be much, just $1,700, but we hope that can help." Y'all. What we still needed to pay the bill was $1,700. I am still drawn to tears as I write this to think of that day and how we sat shocked at what the Lord had done.
2-We knew we wanted to get started on our support raising before graduation. We knew the Lord was calling us to England, and we didn't want to have to wait another year to begin raising funds to get there. We also knew it would be hard to begin raising funds for England, while we were still needing funds for tuition for our last year. We heard about a scholarship for final year students that was 100%. We applied and were chosen to receive this scholarship. That provided the means for us to be able to begin support raising last summer. How incredible that we have been on 100% scholarship this last year.
3-I remember when we sold our house in Alabama, we were asked "how are we going to make it? How are we going to pay bills and buy groceries?" At that point of walking away from our home, we really didn't know. A month or so before moving to St. Louis, Michael and I came up to visit to find somewhere to live and interview for me a nanny position. I had a couple interviews lined up for nanny gigs. My prayer for finding work was that I could do something that SK could be with me and I could still be mommy and not have to be away from her. I interviewed with 2 families and was offered the job on the spot for 1 family. I remember sitting at the airport waiting to board the plane to come back to B'ham, calling the family and accepting the job. They had a newborn baby girl and were looking for someone full-time. They lived right behind the campus and seemed super sweet and happy for me to bring my daughter with me. Now, more than 3 years later, I am amazed at how the Lord put them in our life. They have truly been like family to us. They have trusted us with their daughter to still go and do life and not just be in their home all day. We are still able to go out and about to do fun things like go to the library or go to the park or even if I need to run an errand to the grocery store. They have trusted us and been very generous as well. They have given my children gifts for Christmas and their birthdays (and Michael and I). I could go on and on about how great it has been to work for this family.
4-On our trip back a month before moving here, Michael was also offered a job working at Chick-fil-A. It was a great job when we first got here, but then the Lord opened a door for him to work at the church we were attending. Between his part-time work and my nannying, we still didn't make enough to meet our monthly bills. But the Lord raised up a handful of people who have supported us monthly while we have been here. And when extra things have happened, the Lord has provided. Either by someone sending us a 1 time financial gift out of the blue or providing extra work somehow for one of us. How cool is it that I can say now 3 years later, while we haven't made tons of money, we haven't gone hungry. We are walking away from here without credit card bills or loans. And that is not to say that someone who has had to take out loans or use a credit card or what not, the Lord hasn't provided for. For our family, though, we knew being in a support raised position after leaving here, we truly desired to have as little debt as possible.
5-Evie. I could go on and on, but I have blogged a bit about our journey to conceive her further back on the blog. The Lord provided greatly with a Christian doctor who was so kind to help us in treating infertility and loving us well all through the pregnancy.
6-When we chose a duplex to rent when we first moved up, we thought we would be in that place for the entire stay here in STL. The lady renting the place wasn't convinced that we would be able to pay rent, given that our income didn't necessarily add up to what the bills would be. We told her we were willing to sign a longer lease, but she would only sign a 6 month lease for us. Little did we know at that time that the Lord was working through that. By a few months in, we realized we needed to move to campus. I needed that community of women and to be closer to where the family was that I nannied for. The Lord knew I would need those things. So 6 months later, we were able to move on campus. We were able to sell a vehicle to decrease our monthly bills and so many blessing have come from living on campus. I could go on and on about how great it has been for me to be here.
7-Dates with my hubs. I wondered when we moved here if we would be able to go on dates very much, given that we didn't have grandparents ready and willing to watch our kids for us or many funds for going out. Well, the Lord met our needs above and beyond in this. We were able to connect with another family that lives in our building where we date swap once a week for each other. So 1 Friday night, they will go out, then the next we will. We were also blessed to have someone buy us an occasional groupon deal so that has helped greatly in letting us go out to some fun places and it not cost us much.
8-Michael being able to take the trip to S. Africa 2 summers ago. It was paid for, so we didn't have to figure out how to pay for him to go. He was hooked up with a church in town that had a mission trip planned and ended up with such an incredible team to go with. And how the Lord worked in him being able to stay over in England for a couple days after leaving S. Africa.
9-A church where we have been ministered to greatly while we have been here, that has been such a gift. Michael has had the opportunity to serve there and practicing things like preaching and teaching Sunday School, and going to visit the sick, and seeing the workings of the church more closely. He has learned a lot from his time as an intern here.
10-The opportunities I have had to audit classes here at Cov. for free. And Michael being able to learn so much from his time here. I am sure he could go on and on about how much he has learned and will take away from his time in the classroom here. There is truly some great professors here at Covenant. I have learned so much from taking the counseling classes here. Things that I am sure will come in handy as we prepare to move to a new culture and take our children into a new culture.
11-SK's friendships here. I wondered when we moved here if SK would leave with many friends here...well, she will. I am praying for her now (and you could too if you want to join me in praying), as she nears the time to say goodbye to some dear friendships. By us living on campus, she has played with friends literally every single day that we have been home. The Lord knew what he was doing when he made her an extravert. The girl could play with friends all day every day if we would let her. Which I am thinking will come in handy as you are moving overseas and wanting to do ministry and get to know people in your community. She has such sweet friends here and that has truly been a blessing.
12- Dear friendships we have made here. I was nervous moving somewhere new and having to start fresh with people and get to know new people. The Lord placed some pretty incredible friends in our lives here. We are sad to leave here and not see these people every day (which you do if you live on campus :)), but so excited to know that we are literally spreading all over the world. We know people that are heading to the south, the north, the east, and the west here in the states, and also people who are going all over the world. We have friends that we can call confidents. Friends that we know we can call when we are facing hard times and they will pray for us and be a friend that can help be a sounding board and be an outside perspective when we might need it.
I am sure if I sat here longer, I could go on, but I will stop for now. This blog is getting long. But isn't it cool to see? I am blown away really. God is mighty and so kind. And loving. And He cares about our every need. While He might not do things at the timing I want, it hasn't been what I have needed, and He does know best. I have to trust him. Because he's got the whole world in his hands.