One year ago today, it was a Sunday. Terry had an appointment in the afternoon. The appointment was with a group of men, a pulpit committee, at a church in Lawton, Oklahoma, and it was all happening over the telephone. One year ago today, after the meeting, he came in with a look that said, “It’s not the place.” I let out a sigh – because we knew God was edging us out of our comfortable spot in Arkansas, but we weren’t sure where we would end up. I was sad, but also hopeful. After all, Oklahoma wasn’t on my “dream list” of locations. No offense to any Sooners out there, but the parts of Oklahoma that I’d seen weren’t all that great. So, I was sort of sad and sort of excited about who might call next.
A few weeks passed, and Terry got an email. The email said something like, “We’d like to meet with you and your wife, if she wants to come, for a face to face interview.” Wow! This was the place we’d given up on! What an unexpected turn of events! We went to that meeting in February. I was a nervous wreck. I talked too much, for one thing. The more nervous I get, the more I talk and the less I listen.They asked me about my parents. I told them my mom was in Benton, Arkansas, and my dad was in Heaven. At that point, I started sobbing like my dad had died the day before! I wiped the tears and apologized and felt even more stupid. I went back to the hotel and thought, “Well, if they don’t call him, Valerie, it’s all your fault! You’re an idiot!”
All the way home the next day, I looked out the window and continued to feel as though I’d ruined everything. I probably even said to my husband, “You won’t get it and it’s all my fault!” Somewhere along the way, the Lord said to my heart, “Valerie, if I want you to be there, then you will be there. It’s all in MY power, not yours.” From that moment, I had peace. I felt great joy when they contacted us two (agonizingly long) weeks later and said they would like him to come in view of a call! We went on March 24 to meet them. Yes, I was nervous. Yes, I talked too much and I laughed too loudly. Yes, I worried incessantly. But I did feel more at rest in the Lord. (Hey, I’m a work in progress!) 😉
On March 31, they actually voted to call my husband as their pastor! And it all began one year ago today.
I am learning many things in this life God has given me. I’m learning that He can take the girl voted “least likely to marry a preacher”, and have her marry a preacher. I’m learning that His plan is often different – and always better – than my plan. I’m learning that I don’t have great faith, but He can use me in spite of that. I’m learning that any forward progress in the Christian life is good – even if your eyes are squeezed shut and you’re just feeling your way along. I’m learning that a gorgeous landscape doesn’t make a place beautiful, it’s the people in that place that give it beauty.
And I have learned that Oklahoma is a very beautiful place.