How God Changed our Hearts
It is funny how God hints at His plans for you, and then you think back to those hints later on and can't help but smile. For example: While I was pregnant with Thaddeus, I was planning his nursery. I scrolled Pinterest for hours looking for inspiration. I was drawn to one design where the crib was against one wall with a beautiful mural of the mountains painted on the whole wall. It was gorgeous so I saved the photo in my board to refer to later but decided against the design because other than the fact that I found it to be a very beautiful nursery, the mountains had no significant meaning to me. . . . Well that is didn’t have a significant meaning to me yet! Now I know that God was using that tiny hint and calling our family to the mountains, or at least really close to them in Calgary.
It all started summer of 2018. I just had our first son, we moved into a house right next door to my parents. I felt like I was thrown into a crazy vortex as I was adjusting to motherhood. But even with all this change happening very quickly, we felt like God was calling us to something more. We had no idea what on earth that could be, but It wasn’t long after that Layne started thinking about his dream of becoming an architect. He is constantly drawing up his ideas for houses. When we were dating we dreamed together of being the next Chip and Joanna. So we thought it’s finally time for him to go back to school and become an architect. So we were thinking – alright God, this is totally it! We can move away for a few years – to some place warmer, (insert excited gasp) TO THE BEACH! Layne can finally get a degree doing what he loves and then MAYBE move back home. Sounds PERFECT!
So we started looking...and looking.....and looking. Layne looked at countless schools in hopes of finding the perfect one but none of them really felt right. Now we discussed that it was important that we found a church in need of a children’s ministry leader. I love my job working in the children's ministry and I know it is where God wants me. But looking at all the architecture programs in the country, we weren't finding much. Throughout the whole process we prayed and sought God asking that He would lead us in the right direction.
So our church's pastor had to resign due to family needs so the Director of Missions for our area was serving as interim pastor for us. It was about that time he came back from a vision trip to Alberta. After hearing him talk about Calgary, Layne could not get it off his mind. We had never even heard of Calgary and had no clue where it was – but Layne just felt drawn to this city. I was working in children's church so I did not hear the sermon first hand. So later that afternoon Layne told me about it. I remember that conversation so vividly and how Layne seem so excited about this city. He told me about the size of the population, the development happening there, and most importantly, how spiritually lost the city is. He told me about how they need missionaries to work in the new church plants, and that is when I started to consider it so I asked, “do they have an architecture program?” And what a coincidence! There was. Our next thought was "HA! that’s crazy!" besides we both HATE cold weather. So we moved on with life and continued looking for opportunities. But Layne just seemed to keep coming back to the University of Calgary.
After some time went by and we still had no idea what this new thing God wanted from us was, Layne started to feel that pursuing architecture was just his selfish desires, kind of felt like he was using this calling for his excuse to go back to school. So we decided to seek wiser counsel, we reached out to John, our interim pastor. We meet with him one evening and talked about what we felt like God was laying on our hearts. John reassured us that God can use anything, including an architecture degree, for His Glorification. This helped us overcome that worry that we were being selfish, but our next question was, "where?" About that point in the conversation was when I JOKINGLY brought up the fact that the University of Calgary has a program, maybe that's where God wants us. John, being the Director or Missions and already having a heart for Calgary, was just like, "OH REALLY?!?!?!" He started to tell us more about it and by the end of the conversation had us seriously considering it.
On the way home that night, I remember me and Layne pretty much laughing the whole time. But I really remember the physical feeling in my heart. God was definitely doing some work in there. Overtime our hearts did change, we literally started to fall in love with the city. So we decided to go ahead and visit. We wanted to check the city out, see what God was already doing there and how we would fit into all of it.
In the process of planning our trip is when we got our first big hint from God. We had no idea how we were going to make a random trip to Canada work. For those of you who are Dave Ramsey fans, I am a major free spirit and I married a major nerd! He has a plan for every penny we ever make. So we definitely did not have any extra funds laying around. I mean we were going to have to get passports, plane tickets, hotel and food. It seemed IMPOSSIBLE! But it was about a month before we were hoping to go that we really saw God do the impossible. So I am a part-time online clothing reseller. I definitely do not make bank with it but God has given me the opportunity to help with a few expenses but still be home with my baby. Anyway we were praying and asking God that if this is what He wanted us to do that He would provide a way. Not even a week after we started praying that prayer, I sold three times more in that week than I usually do in an entire month, and it was just enough to cover the cost of our trip! I mean like WOW! At that point we were like, “Ok, Lord! We hear you!” And off to Canada we went!
So while there we really wanted to figure out what God is already doing there. The North American Mission Board and all their Calgary Missionaries have already started 8 church plants. Within those plants they each have their team together in order to keep that church running. So a lead pastor, music leader, a youth pastor, and children’s director etc. They meet every Sunday morning like normal, then have bible studies in their own homes and host many outreach events. The most important part though, is that they use every opportunity they have to share the Gospel. We met with many church planters and other team members to hear their stories. Each of them said the same thing; that they fell in love with the city but their hearts broke for how spiritually lost it is. That was exactly how Layne and I felt!
Just a quick recap for you, Calgary is a huge metropolitan city located in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. It is thriving with opportunity that is drawing in people from around the world. They have everything they could want but are missing the one thing they need; a relationship with Jesus Christ. 95% of the 1.6 million residents have no idea who Jesus even is. You know we grew up in church; God is as real to us as our parents are. What shook me the most is the thought that kids might grow up in a world where the name of Jesus is never even mentioned. So I when I found out that many of the church plants were in need of a children’s ministry director I got really excited about how God could use us here.
Before we left Calgary, Bob Shelton who is the send city missionary for Calgary, advised us that we wait a little while, let the excitement wear off, and be sensitive to the Lord’s leading so we don’t get ahead of ourselves. So we did and we waited several weeks. We prayed and fasted and were waiting to get clarity on this decision. After some time went by Layne and I both agreed; we cannot know these devastating facts about this city and not do anything about it. So I start my application process with NAMB and became an appointed missionary for Calgary. We did feel like God used architecture to get our attention and still felt like God could use Layne in that field, so he went ahead and applied for the program.
But Layne would admit that in the back of his mind he was thinking that it ALL depended on whether he got into school or not. But one day he was driving home from work and listening to KHIS (our local christian radio station) and the song Burn the Ships by For King and Country came on. He kept thinking about this song and was curious to know the story behind the meaning. So he looked it up! It is about an explorer who went to a foreign land to explore the horizon, and explore the mountains. He had a lot of ships and a lot men with him and when they had arrived in this foreign land he called all of his men to the shoreline and said we’re going to go explore. But he realized that none of his men wanted to follow him, instead they wanted to stay near the ships. It was comfortable and they didn’t want to leave that. A few days later the explorer called all of his men back to the shoreline and gives the command to his generals to burn the ships. They would not go back, but only move forward into their future. Layne started looking through scripture for something that went along with this story and came across Hebrews Ch 11 specifically verses 1-3 saying:
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.”
The chapter goes on to give many different examples in the Bible of men and women stepping out on faith. What Layne gathered from all of this was that faith in God was our only option and that we needed to do what we felt like God had called us to do. It didn’t matter if he got into architecture school or not.
A few weeks later he found out that he did not get accepted into the architecture program. I kept asking him if he was ok, I knew how excited he was about the program and if it were me I would be deep into some cookie dough watching Breakfast at Tiffany's for the third time. He said he was completely fine, he was a little disappointed but not dismayed because he realized that it’s not about what seems comfortable or pleasing to us – It is about having faith in God.
So, Lord willing, we are moving to Calgary, AB Canada in August of 2019. We are moving away from friends and family. We have to fundraise half of our income (which is not easy so I have found out.) We are absolutely terrified yet extremely excited all at the same time, but someone told us that God wouldn't have it any other way. We have faith that God will continue to provide.
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