8 years of Houston: Lessons Learned

Friday, July 19, 2019

God blessed us by bringing us to Houston 8 years ago. Each year, I pause and reflect on the lessons learned. Each year, I realize how incredibly good God is to us. 

Tough seasons teach us resilience - I had difficult jobs in these past 8 years. I learned resilience. I learned not to allow those who want to harm me to have control over my life. I remember being in a difficult assignment. It was shortly after I found out it was going to be difficult. I decided to take care of my health, so I started losing weight. I decided to take care of my inner life. I chose a Bible verse to think about when the going got tough. God surprised me with an open door at the end of that season. I learned once again that I can be resilient if I know that God sees and He takes care of me. I also learned that if I don’t take care of my health, no one else will. 

Kids have the right perspective - Our kids hear stories about our family's walk with God and they have a different perspective than we do. They love, trust, laugh, play  and live for today with incredible hope for tomorrow. When we go through hard times, I watch our kids closely. A few years ago, they could care less that we were in transition. Other than not giving them details, because we don’t believe in encouraging them to be anxious, we did share that we were praying about our next assignment. Once they said “amen,” the joy and the games continued. I had a visual of what “life is a continual feast” looked life. The kids taught me that my attitude about my Heavenly Father needed to be the same. I trust Him and I want to trust Him as our children joyfully trust us. 

Something new - God opened incredible doors of opportunity these past years. Even our enemies were surprised. “They must really want you there,” they said. I honestly didn’t know what to say other than “God is sending me there.” I was told many years ago that God would do something new in my life. He would use me in an area that was completely new. Well, here I am. I learned to trust God’s ability to move and arrange things without me. He who sees the end from the beginning is the master connector. He brought us here and He decides how we can best serve Him. 

A different type of Preaching - I learned that as I close my Bible, I open up my life to others. I’m not sure if God will call me to work at a church. For years I thought I would end up at a church but now I am really happy working in academia. There is no Bible quoting outside of church and home. People are really looking for “results.” People outside of church study character and they know a phony when they see one. If you say Jesus is your Savior, they basically wait and see how you act daily. I learned that some of us, working in the secular world, can’t hide behind our Bibles. Our lives are wide open for others to see it. That’s actually good. I learned that God often uses people who rely on Him to be present in the absence of religious paraphernalia. What we really have is the life we choose to live. This type of lifestyle requires sensitivity to the Holy Spirit. It requires being open and honest with all people, no matter how they choose to live their lives. It requires good listening skills. It requires the assurance that God has an assignment for me in my workplace. Living and working in the secular world has taught me to take a deep breath and ask God, “what do you want me to express in this situation?” He might want to encourage the other person with hope. The fact is that some of us are called to serve in secular places like Daniel and Joseph once were. God needs His best people working excellently in the secular world. There’s no hiding behind our Bibles. There is quite a bit of walking out what we believe as we rely on God’s Spirit. 

Some Friendships are hard to keep - I wrote extensively about this the other day. I experienced waves of people in and out of my life. There are a lot of friends who are seasonal: when the small group (or church job) is over, we no longer see each other. There are friends who come to me out of convenience: once their life crisis is over, they go silent. I also understand that our family serves in a ministry where you are there for people in times of need. I remember grieving a few years ago with the loss of two major people in my life. Because we are in ministry, one of the sheep had priority. All the prayers and attention went to the sheep. Good thing God didn’t forget about me. A group of friends noticed me and did something so beautiful to celebrate the lives Heaven gained. I’m forever grateful. 

Invest in connections outside of church - I learned that the church can’t be my everything. I tried to find friends in church when we first moved to Texas but they were either busy or I wasn’t their kind of person (I didn’t have the same hobbies for example). I learned to reach outside of the church for connections. I think that was one of the best things I’ve done outside of caring for my family. When I reached outside of church for friendships and connections, I no longer had to depend on one group of people to be part of my social circle. I also had a wealth of groups and friends who truly enhanced my life. These friends don’t see me as the pastor’s wife. They have a different view of who I am which helps make our friendship easier. I say that because when people see you as a pastor’s wife only, their mind brings up good or bad stereotypes which they project on you. When people see you as a person who is friendly, they give you a chance to be yourself without all the baggage some titles naturally carry. Investing in connections outside of the church is an easy thing to do. You just have to persist until you find your people. 

More in this Series:
7 years of Houston: Discovery

• 6 years of Houston: adapting to a new community
• 5 years of Houston: stuff I can say

• Isolation