I met Tabitha what seems like a lifetime ago when we both attended Central Bible College in Springfield, Missouri. I was in a Philosophy study group with her now husband and came to know her through Kevin. I do regret not getting to know Tabitha more during our time there, but as it goes, sometimes even on a small college campus your paths just don’t cross as much as you’d like them too. But what I love most about that small college campus is that those people (even the ones I didn’t see all that much) became family. So, you can imagine how many times my heart leaped when I caught a glimpse of Tabitha last year walking through the mall in my hometown in Ohio. I had just moved back and felt pretty out of place. I couldn’t tell you the last time I had been in the mall before that, but I needed a job for the moment and so I went on the hunt. I had to look about four times before I believed it was actually her! One of my dear CBC family members right there! We were able to attend a bonfire and catch up where I finally met their darling daughter Charlotte and was just so refreshed to be in the presence of family.

Tabitha is family and thus I am so very excited to have her sharing her heart and her story on the blog today. May it encourage and inspire you in your walk with Christ and may you walk away knowing more of His love.

My husband and I will have been married for six years in July. We started out like any newlywed couple, full of hopes and dreams for the future, ambitions about who we were going to become, goals for our personal, spiritual, and financial lives... All OUR ideas. Not God’s. 

We held on to all our hopes and ambitions so tightly in our hot little hands for the first two years. We followed the Lord’s call to a small church in Arizona. I took a job in the medical field, and we were working towards everything we had discussed in our five year plan. We had been self-sufficient since the start of our marriage, never having to rely on parents or anyone else to provide anything for us. We had a sense of pride that we had succeeded in building our little kingdom and were standing on our hills like the top dogs we were.

Then one day, we were lured out of our tower. And the prince wasn’t there to save us or guide us back to safety.

Our daughter, born six weeks prematurely with a bowel obstruction that required surgery two days after birth, had a lot to do with this. She is a miracle. She is the one who brings sunshine to our sometimes dreary days.

After she was born we wanted to move closer to family. Arizona was at least a 48 hour drive from either side, and we were tired of working our booties off in a small church that would not be able to give me the option to stay home with our new daughter. So, we took the biggest, best church we could find that was within a 12 hour drive from home. We stepped out of God’s will and into our own.

The position in ministry turned out to not be a fit (big surprise there), and we left less than a year after moving there. We moved to Ohio to be close to his family. Kevin had a great job lined up on the railroad. I would be able to continue to stay home with Charlotte. We had pretty much decided we were done with full time ministry, choosing instead to find a church to get plugged into and just enjoy being volunteers. Again, our plan. Not God’s.

The job fell through. We moved after being told that he could start the day after we got up to Ohio. When we got there, nothing was waiting for us. I quickly found a job in food service and supported our family while my husband looked for gainful employment, but to no avail. We quickly became reliant on his family members for help, and while it was a blow to our egos, we were thankful for their support and help during this time. We got behind on bills due to having no income. Again, a huge blow to our pride as we had never even been late on a payment before. 

Almost a year later (both of us becoming more and more miserable working jobs we hated), we felt the call back to ministry.
Correction. We had felt it all along, but had ignored it.

We began to stalk the internet for new positions, and even interviewed at a couple places. We were offered jobs, but for some reason always had a check in our spirits about these locations. Until one day, I saw a posting for a part time position near my home town in Florida. Just for kicks and giggles, Kevin submitted a resume. Long story short, we moved about a month later and have been here ever since.

When we moved, it was with the intention of eventually moving into the parsonage at the church. Until this became available, we would stay with my parents in their five bedroom house, along with my three teenage siblings. Wow, was it ever tight! We are now in our own house, and while we are still working to get to where we need to be in certain areas of our life, we are so much happier knowing that we are in the perfect will of God.

My point in all of this, one cannot show the love of God without first receiving it.

We had spent years building our empire, only to have it shattered. We relied on the love and care of others, and it was such a blow to our little egos. What was so humbling, through all of our struggles, was the ever present love of Christ, shown to us through family, friends, church members, even random people we met at the grocery store!

I’m a giver. It’s hard for me to accept anything because I want to be the one who gives out. So when a church member showed up at our front door yesterday with over $200 worth of groceries for us, it was so incredibly hard for me to accept it. And I guess maybe that’s why I felt terrified when asked to write about the love of Christ... Because I’m still learning to accept it.

It’s a constant process. But it’s only out of the overflow of God’s love that we will be able to give it. It’s an unexpected way of showing his love, really, but by learning how to receive and bask in the extravagance of his love for us, we will be able to teach others to do the same.

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