One year ago, we stepped out of our comfort zone and into a houseboat. God called us to downsize, sell everything, and simply follow Him. He didn’t tell us where we were going, but we knew He was guiding our steps. With an act of blind faith, our adventure began.
Ten months ago: We realized that life on the lake can be cold (even in Arizona!). We spent our evenings huddled around space heaters and learned to store blankets by the front door for our golf cart commute to and from the car. Chilly nights, no space for an actual Christmas tree, and (very) cold showers made winter on the lake more than a bit challenging.
Nine months ago: God gave us a burden for our community and we decided to plant a church. Slowly, the pieces of our story began coming together as God revealed His plan. The lake became a haven for us where we could be still, pray, and wait for God’s direction.
Eight months ago: I looked around at our crowded houseboat and wondered how I had accumulated so much stuff again. I was storing kitchen appliances in my dishwasher, and using the extra shower as a closet. (When five people and two dogs share less than 1000 square feet, you learn to improvise!)
Seven months ago: We bought a dining table for our back patio. We spent many mornings at that table, overlooking the water, drinking coffee, and studying the Bible. In the evenings, we enjoyed our dinner outside as we watched sailboats cruise by. With the cold (finally!) behind us, we began to enjoy the great outdoors again.
Six months ago: Our children changed schools. They had already changed homes, communities, the church they were born and raised in. Now, they had to say goodbye to their friends. It was a difficult year for them, but how beautiful to lead them in saying yes to Jesus and trusting Him with the unknown.
Five months ago: Maddie’s tenth birthday took the form of a slumber party on the houseboat. The theme of the party quickly became “improvisation” as the water and electricity to the marina was shut off hours before the party. We kept the girls entertained on the lake, enjoyed an ice cream sundae bar in the dark, and headed to a hotel to sleep. Our lessons in flexibility were well underway.
Four months ago: Summer was in full swing. We sat on the patio and listened to live bands playing in the distance. Boats cruised the lake, people roamed the docks, and we discovered that we had adjusted to life on the lake. We had developed friendships with the entire marina staff, learned the ropes, took on the challenges, and made this boat our home.
Three months ago: Everything changed. Again. We couldn’t have predicted that the worst storm in twenty years would hit our floating neighborhood, severing our dock from the rest of the marina, destroying walkways, sinking boats, and causing a mandatory evacuation. We walked away from our home not knowing if we would ever return.
Two months ago: We waited for the final insurance verdict on our home. Temporarily homeless, we lived out of suitcases while our future hung in the balance. The insurance company delivered the news: Due to structural damage and damage to the pontoons, the boat was totaled. God gives and takes away.
One month ago: I wrestled with my feelings and thoughts, trying to make sense of the situation. God spoke to my heart through the story of Abraham. This familiar story suddenly came alive with new meaning. God asked Abraham to make the ultimate sacrifice by giving his son as a burnt offering. So Abraham and Isaac set out towards Mount Moriah where Isaac would be killed as an offering to God. I’m sure we are all relieved every time we get to the part of the story where God stops Abraham. It was a test, after all—to determine if Abraham was fully surrendered and willing to give up that which he loved most.
When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”
I believe that John and I walked through a test this past season. How would we respond? Would we trust God? Would we have integrity on the journey? Would we willingly sacrifice the things we love the most in order to walk in complete obedience? Would we step out in faith despite the cost and criticism along the way? We were willing to do whatever God called us to do because we truly are passionate about radically following Him, and we are fully confident of His leading, now more than ever.
Our adventure continues: We received back via insurance the entire amount we originally invested in the boat, which means we are moving back to land. We’re moving back to a house where my kids will have their own rooms and I will have a bathtub! (It’s the little things.) I look back over this past year and am so grateful for the lessons we’ve learned, the joy we discovered in the middle of a quiet lake, and the memories we made as we stepped out and trusted God. In some ways it feels like a chapter in our lives is coming to an end, but deep down I know that this is just the beginning.
The best really is yet to come.
This article was borrowed. It, along with other resources for ministry women, can be found at Her Green Room.
Lindsay Petri is the Arizona Women's Director by day and writer by night. She is passionate about helping women find freedom in Christ, and is transparent about her own struggles on the journey towards peace and joy. Lindsay and her husband pastor a new church plant, Reclaim Church (launched September 2017), in Peoria, Arizona, with their children Bobbi, Noah, and Madelynn.
How often have you heard that phrase, “Today is a new day!” It’s pretty common, but how often do we forfeit what that truly means? Too often a new day comes, and we don’t enjoy it to the fullest potential because we are trying to walk out the blessings of a “new day” while still trying to carry the weights of yesterday.
I know it is easier said than done, but with God it is possible to put away yesterday’s weight.
Don’t allow the enemy of your soul to rob you of your new day! The devil’s objective is to kill, steal, and destroy any way possible. He wants to kill your will to walk it out, he wants to steal your joy, and he certainly wants to destroy any plans you have to succeed in your walk with the Lord.
Your past does not define who you are. Your mistakes are not who you are. Through the strength of God you can stand in the truth of who you are. When we choose to do that, we then can put off every weight that sets out to hinder us and we can march on knowing that we serve a God of second chances. We serve a God of “new beginnings,” and a God who is able to meet us where we are.
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God" (Hebrews 12:1-2, NIV).
Make a choice to enjoy the blessings of our “new day.” Maybe everything is not going how we planned. Maybe everything is not perfect and this day may not be our best day . . . but God is good even on our worst day.
I like to think on these simple truths:
Dear friend, sometimes we have to say it out loud. Sometimes, we need to declare the truth audibly—out loud, so we can hear it.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”
(Jeremiah 29:11, NIV).
God is so faithful. Prayers and blessings to each of you as we run this race together!
This article was borrowed and can be read at Her Green Room.
Lisa and her husband Steven are lead pastors at Faith Assembly, Winterville, N.C., and have been in full-time ministry for the last 15 years. She is a credentialed minister with the Assemblies of God. Lisa's heart and passion is to see women set free to live their lives in victory as they discover the power available to them through the blood of Jesus. Lisa leads Faith Women, and shares in this journey of life to see women who adore God become all that God is calling them to be. Lisa travels and shares real life experiences and biblical truths to congregations, workshops, and conferences. It is her prayer for women to be changed, renewed, and refreshed in His presence. Lisa loves being a mom to two teenage daughters and is married to the love of her life! She also shares regular devotions to encourage at www.overcominglife.info, and would love to connect with you today!
When our family moved from Texas to the Pacific Northwest 10 years ago to be church planters, we felt prepared for the sacrifice and costs that would come our way. My husband and I had been in ministry for several years and had already stepped out in faith several times; we knew some sacrifice and cost would be involved. But we quickly realized that sacrifices would not only be asked of us but of our children as well, and that pill was much more difficult to swallow.
My immediate response was to fix it. I didn’t want my children to have to wrestle through sacrifice so young. But I quickly realized "fixing it” wasn’t an option. The best thing I could do was recognize the costs they were experiencing so we could process it together in a God-honoring, emotionally healthy manner.
Some of the things my daughters sacrificed were related to geography; they were so far away from friends and family. They missed family gatherings and celebrations, and that was hard. They left behind wonderful friends who shared their beliefs and morals and were thrown into a world that looked completely different. Our girls currently attend public schools in Vancouver, BC. While we absolutely love our schools and have so many good things to say about them, the reality is my girls haven't met a single Christian in the hallways. To try and help them through that season, I'd buy devotional books for teen girls. Sadly, the devotional books would only emphasize things like the need for surrounding yourself with Christian friends, and that simply isn’t an option for them.
My girls also experienced sacrifice when it came to privacy and having their own space. When we moved, our home immediately became the church, the office, the fellowship hall, the children's and preschool area, etc. My girls had to learn the meaning of sacrifice the minute we moved. We had people in our home constantly; the lack of privacy was deeply felt.
They have also experienced sacrifice of things and opportunities. As church planters, we live on a “missionary salary.” Our needs are always met but there is very rarely—if ever—room for extra. We have an incredibly full life and are extremely thankful for all God has given us. But the reality is, our kids do without quite a bit. We don’t go on vacations like their friends do, and we don’t have the nice things that many others do. We learn to live with less which honestly is a great but hard lesson to learn. We have also learned that they miss out on opportunities their “old” friends have. Because of social media, they see their friends having church, school and extra-curricular experiences they never will because of our calling.
I know that these things are not essentials. Our lives are not in danger and, compared to other countries and regions, we have so much. But the sacrifices felt by my children is something I can't help but recognize. I know that it is hard for them to see others doing things we don’t get to because we have chosen to follow Jesus. But I cannot simply recognize it. I need to respond biblically to their sacrifices and feelings. And while we have not perfected this by any means, let me share a few ways we have learned to process this along the way.
1. We allow our children to feel the pain of sacrifices.
In his book, Inside Out, Dr. Larry Crabb explains sacrifice and the feelings that follow so well.
“Biblical change never requires us to pretend that things are better than they are. Christ wants us to face reality as it is, including all the fears, hurts, resentments and self-protective motives we work hard to keep out of sight, and emerge as changed people. Not pretenders. Not perfect. But more able to deeply love because we’re more aware of His live.”
Ultimately, I want my daughters to be changed for His glory by our church planting journey. I know that cannot happen if we pretend everything is perfect along the way. We allow space to feel disappointment, pain and longing so that we can see our need for God in a way that will never be satisfied on this earth...continue reading
Amy lives in Vancouver, B.C., Canada with her husband, Tim, who serves as a church planting catalyst. They have three daughters. Tim and Amy are both originally from Dallas, Texas, but moved to Seattle, Washington, in 2007 where they were church planters for eight years in urban and suburban settings. Amy currently serves as the coordinator for church planter wives support with Vancouver church planting, as well as the North American Mission Board's consultant for church planter wives development. More from this author
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