Exactly eight months ago to the day I am writing this blog post, I revealed a secret I was pondering in my heart. This is what I told you.
It’s a bittersweet time for us. I’ve wanted to tell you about it, but like most stories, the parts keep moving, the plot shifts, the characters expand beyond my ability to communicate about them. Perfectionism keeps me from sharing.
Somewhere in this process, I forgot that you must read the messy middle chapters of my story in order to appreciate the fulfillment in the last.
We are moving to England this summer.
Well, that didn’t exactly turn out the way I anticipated, did it? The messy middle chapters have been long and arduous.
As I begin reading the Gospel of Matthew for the Lent Challenge this week, I am comforted by the story of Mary and Joseph.
Aren’t the best stories those in which we glimpse our true selves reflected in the characters and plot?
“Mary’s pregnancy is Spirit-conceived. God’s Holy Spirit has made her pregnant. She will bring a son to birth, and when she does, you, Joseph, will name him Jesus – ‘God saves’—because he will save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:20-23, MSG
Though married, Joseph waited to consummate his marriage.
He waited for months to celebrate a new beginning, the fulfillment of promise, a marker in the life God had chosen for him.
He waited to tell his closest confidants about the greatest press release since the world was created. Passion burned inside Joseph yet he trusted and surrendered to the leading of the Holy Spirit.
Their story kept moving, the plot continually shifting and the characters expanded beyond Joseph’s ability to communicate about them. Yet he did exactly what God’s angel commanded. (Matthew 1:24-25, MSG)
And like Joseph and Mary, H and I are walking out a story crafted by the Holy Spirit, waiting to tell you about the birth of a dream that has been incubating in us over the past eight months. While expectant, a holy hush fell over us regarding public notice of the details after they arrived last week.
An official job offer for H from the diocese of London in the Church of England slid into his inbox, allowing me to finally tell you what we’ll be doing.
H will serve a dual role as Associate Pastor at St. Barnabas Kensington where he will speak, teach and undertake an audit to develop a strategic mission plan for the church. He will also serve as the Church Planting Network Developer for the HTB Network (Holy Trinity Brompton) where he will develop architecture and strategy for the next 5 years, oversee the website and work with members of the network through coaching and training.
All of this comes on the heels of getting a contract for the sale of our house last week, after seven months on the market. We are scheduled to close in late March, a full nine months after that initial announcement I made to you.
To say we are breathing a huge sigh of relief after months of labor is an understatement.
Everything inside of us that leans on the need for certainty, immediate gratification, and public assurance was sacrificed for God’s perfect timing. Because right there, in the midst of God’s faithfulness to Joseph and Mary is Herod’s story warning us.
There are repercussions on controlling outcomes when we allow fear to dictate our decisions. In the end, God wins every battle that threatens to thwart His purposes.
“When word of (the wise men’s) inquiry got to Herod, he was terrified—and not Herod alone, but most of Jerusalem as well. Herod lost no time.” Matthew 2:2-4, MSG
While Herod was attempting to manipulate outcomes like a crazed lunatic, Joseph kept quietly listening.
Want to know God’s purpose for your future? How the pieces of your life fit into the puzzle of humanity?
Follow the example of Joseph.
Protect the conception of your dreams until they are ready for birth. Dreams that seem unconventional are not mistakes to be fixed but quietly protected.
Listen for the still small voice breaking through your dreams for instruction and reassurance. He will confirm them through the words of prophets.
Surrender your plans and interruptions to God’s faithfulness even when that seems irrational.
Disregard the opinions of people who are negative about the dreams God has given you. Sometimes that means He will divert the plots of well-meaning people who are clueless.
Obey what He is telling you without hesitation. The what-ifs keep you from realizing fulfillment of promise.
Remember that God is with you always, especially in the silence of waiting. And the words of John the Baptist will be your mantra (despite the messy middle chapters of your life being . . . . well . . . . messy).
“Change your life. God’s kingdom is here.” Matthew 3:2, MSG
I’ll be publishing stories here once a week inspired by the Gospel readings from Margaret Feinberg’s Lent Challenge. Over 50,000 people are reading the Gospels together during the forty days of Lent. I would love for you to join us.
For conversation and accountability, I’ll check in with those of you who join me on my Redemptions Beauty Book Club page. If you aren’t already a member, just request to be added to the group. Find out more about the Lent Challenge here and download a reading plan or the YouVersion reading guide. I look forward to sharing more about our move to London through the lens of the Gospels over the coming weeks. Stay tuned.
How are the scriptures like a mirror for your current life situation?
Beautiful news. And your points at the end are so practical. We know they came with hard earned lessons. Thanks for sharing.
Thanks for being there for me during each and every step Glenda, you are a blessing.
Gloriously, good news!
Praying with you and for you. Love watching your story unfold.
Your prayers are truly a git Lori, just like your friendship. Honored to have you here with me.
9 months…. God has such a way about Him. It’s been quite a season for your family. I’ve grown watching you grow.
I’m so happy that the time is drawing near. You know I’m praying. XO
He definitely has a way about him. He surprises us often with creativity in communicating and writing our story. We are so glad to be on the final days of seeing this happen. Not without more hurdles but that shouldn’t surprise you. It’s been a theme so far, hasn’t it?
So excited for you!
Thanks Leigh, I’m thankful you are here with me.
Shelly, the list of ‘remember these’ at the end is a keeper.
What have I found in Scripture that mirrors my life situation? Hmmmm, I’ve been memorizing Psalm 27 with Do Not Depart people. The last two verses are a great promise for my husband and I at this new season of our lives,
“I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.” Amen!
(9 months, eh? sounds like a new birth to me 🙂
Yes, the timing is not just a coincidence, is it? That verse sounds is hopeful and I pray it is instilling hope in your situation.
Joy! I think you know the word and the feeling. I’m not sure Joseph fully understood all of the story his life was swept into—God coming to dwell among us. I know he must had many, moments of joy but also times when he must have questioned the timing and the silence, the hiding out in a foreign land. I’m grateful this joyous day has come for you and H knowing that this journey has challenged you in new ways. I agree with Kris–“I’ve grown by watching you grow.” There’s more to come, fruit to bear…it’s exciting to think about.
I have been finding myself in the parables of Jesus lately…Jesus the ultimate storyteller and teacher. Oh, how I love Jesus 🙂
Joseph’s story reminds me that we aren’t living our days only for ourselves but for those after us who will need hope. Making decisions of sacrifice and surrender aren’t easy but most things in life with lasting consequences of meaning don’t come by taking short cuts.
LOVE it that it is all coming together AT L A S T ~!
All that the long waiting process has achieved will be revealed as you birth it 😉
You have been there through every step, frustration, wandering in the desert, and dark night of the soul, crying out with us. We cannot begin to repay your kindness or replicate the battle you’ve fought on our behalf in the heavenlies. This is your victory too Mary, we are so grateful for the way God inserted you into our lives.
Clapping happy for your new adventure being launched!!! 🙂
I hear it and my heart is thankful Kathy.
Oh blessings! And Holy Trinity Brompton – I’ve only been to London briefly and the ONLY church service we attended was there. What a special place. What a gift – as you will be to them.
It is a special place and love that you have been there and know about it Kelly. Appreciate you so much!
Fabulous news. I have huge respect for the HTB family. Glad you’re coming to live on our little island!
We are so honored to be part of such a vital, thriving community of innovators and creatives in HTB Tanya. I hope our paths will cross once we get settled. Can’t wait to get there.
So genuinely happy and excited for you and your family. For I know the plans I have for you. It is an exciting new chapter in your lives, a big congrats to your hubby H. Continued prayers and blessings.
Thank you for celebrating this milestone with us Veronica. Your continued prayers are coveted as there are still several hurdles before us to get over.
YAY!! It’s been a crazy year! My internship sites have finally been calling me for interviews. Let this new momentum bust through the remaining hurdles. The in-between times are the hardest, but it’s where all the sight-unseen growth happens. 🙂
So glad to know things are moving forward for you too Tracey!! Transition is so very uncomfortable, hopefully we are both on the backside of it.
Thank you, friend…I needed this right now.
Thanking God with you for timely words Dena.
Exciting news! Now for the leap across the waters! I will keep praying for you.
Thank you so much for your prayers Janet!
Love it, Shelly! Congratulations to you and your husband. The waiting and listening, although often hard, can be so rewarding. What an amazing God we serve.
Amazing indeed! Glad we are finally at the end of the long climb up a mountain, nearly at the top celebrating a feat of nearly eight months.
So, so, SO happy for you and your husband. Your children will be blessed as they watch your obedience. Can’t wait to see how God uses you in the UK.
I pray our kids will be blessed Shelly, it’s been a constant prayer that God will use this time of waiting for them both and redeem what has been lost in the process. Grateful you are on the journey with us!
I am so excited for you. Thank you for your honest sharing of this waiting time. I think we all learned much from your words during this time too. Blessings on the next step
I’m honored that anyone would learn from our messy journey Jean. Grateful for your prayers and love over the past few months.
Kelly, we can rest assured that when the dream is from Him, it will come to fruition–perhaps not always without pain, uncertainty, and delay (at least on our timetable), but it will come to be! Mary said, “Be it unto me as you have said.” And this is what you and H said, too. And now, dearest one, it is FINALLY HAPPENING. you have waited faithfully for such a time as this, and it is coming to pass in God’s way, God’s time, and for God’s purposes. And from this dream, many others will be birthed–not just yours but others’. I cannot wait to see the dream becoming real. And if I might share my dream? I’m hoping to have tea with you in London in the future. Dream with me?
All my love,
I think we can make tea in London a reality Lynn, no doubt about it!
Shelly, I got so much out of this! Just finished journaling about it and the Matthew 1-2 reading for today.
I’m so happy for you! I’ve been praying for y’all for so long about this move. love you!
Megan, what a gift to know God spoke to you through this, thanks for letting me know and for praying continually. Love you too!!
SO appreciate the six lessons you’ve learned from Joseph’s story, itemized at the end of this post. Point #2 about listening to God’s still small voice, and taking note of prophets who confirm his words, was especially meaningful. Just this week a “prophet” spoke encouragement to me, and this post of yours adds further confirmation. Thank you, Shelly, for sharing these insights. P.S. As H prepares for his exciting new position, I can’t help but think that God has something exciting planned for you, too!
You have been one of those prophetic voices Nancy, in case you didn’t know that. You words, thoughts and encouragement have often been timely during this hard season. Thank you for being here! Truly.
Praise God I could be one of those voices, Shelly. I am honored and humbled that he used me to minister encouragement to you.
Wow, that’s great news, Shelley! After waiting with you (virtually and in spirit :)), this makes me happy, too! So good to hear that God came through and has rewarded your waiting!
I hope you’re excited for the things to come. I have friends in Kensington and I also know HTB. In case you need connecting…:)
I wish you lots of wisdom and peace as you close the chapter in the US, finish packing and say goodbye to loved ones. But I also wish you open eyes and a wide heart to be expectant what the Lord has prepared for you, as a couple, individual and family! Looking forward to how your story continues!
Thank you for celebrating with me Katha and I love knowing that you are familiar with Kensington and HTB, we look forward to all the new people we will meet. My heart and senses are wide open to all that God has for us, we are excited about the next chapters He is already writing for us.
Lovely post! It’s great that you are moving to London! I hope that you will feel great! Wish you all the best! Thanks for sharing your beautiful thoughts and inspiration! website