Thursday, December 24, 2009
In 1981, my husband Paul was youth pastor at a church in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. We had two beautiful children then and had just moved into a lovely three bedroom apartment, but then we felt the Lord was calling us to move to Floyd, Iowa, to pastor a struggling country church. We sat down and counted the cost. There would be a tremendous cut in salary. The tiny church could only pay $75 a week and the parsonage was nothing to be desired. In the natural, we would never have chosen to move to Floyd, but whenever we prayed, we both sensed a call from Heaven.
During one Wednesday evening service in Arkansas the Holy Spirit began to draw our hearts. I distinctly remember the Lord speaking in the depths of my soul and asking, "Will you go?"
I remember weeping and surrendering to His call. "Here am I, Lord, send me!"
The next day Paul and I sat down and had a heart-to-heart chat. He, too, had felt the same call. We prayed together and surrendered our lives to whatever God wanted. We would let Him choose the vineyard where He wanted us to labor in.
A few months later we were headed to the little village of Floyd, Iowa. Paul accepted the pastorate of the Gospel Lighthouse Church. We arrived on the last Sunday in August 1981. (Our oldest child Rachel was nearly three and our second child was nine months old. Our two youngest daughters hadn't even been born yet.)
The first Sunday morning Paul preached we had an attendance of 16. (Four of which were the Paul Phillips' family.) We were excited when a farmer and his wife responded to the altar call and gave their hearts to the Lord that first Sunday.
Every year the little flock grew, but there were financial challenges. I remember us praying for shoes for our little ones' feet and Jesus was so faithful to provide. We were learning to walk by faith and not by sight.
The Christmas of 1985, our oldest daughter Rachel had just turned seven. She had asked for a Crickett doll for Christmas. I went and priced one and was devastated when I realized there was no way we could buy the expensive doll. I remember crying and wondering if we should move to a bigger church, but when I knelt to pray I knew we were supposed to stay and be faithful in the lean years.
That Christmas there was no Crickett doll, but another dolly under the tree. Rachel seemed thrilled with her new doll, but I knew deep in her heart she really wanted the special Crickett doll.
Fast foward to this Christmas, twenty-four years later, God has been good to us during our 28 years of service. He has blessed the church above and beyond our wildest dreams and we no longer live in the old parsonage. God blessed us with another home. It was in this house, the home the Lord provided for us, where our family gathered tonight to celebrate our Lord's birth.
It was a full circle moment when Rachel opened her Christmas gift tonight. We bought her a Cricut machine. For all of you who scrapbook, you know the amazing designs this machine can make. Letters of beautiful fonts and adorable diecuts for special occasions. Rachel's eyes danced when she opened her gift and saw it was a Cricut machine. My heart skipped a beat, too, when I thought about how faithful the Lord has been to our little family. Rachel finally got her Cricut and after I thanked the Lord for His goodness all I could say was.... Jiminy Crickett!
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