Back in the summer, our youngest son, Parker was going on a mission trip to Idaho. Our 11-year-old son couldn’t wait to go share about Jesus. I knew without a doubt, I was to go with him. Not to be the “expert” on the field so to speak, but to serve along side of him. Shortly after I decided to go, my husband, and two other sons jumped on board. It was our first time away together as a family in several years. I also knew my husband was going to hear clearly from God while in the mountains. And sure enough… his cell phone rang while on a mountain in Utah. While floating in the Payette River in Idaho during what seemed like some free time, God told me to get out of the boat. While in the water, I heard clearly that we moving. Today I write this from a much different place than in my previous articles for SERVE e’zine.
For many years our family had been praying for the next place and individuals we would serve. My husband and I already had planted deep within us a love for this place and these people long before we knew the details. In 2005, when we gave away or sold almost everything we were blessed to call ours, we weren’t sure how long that part of the journey was going to last. While we wouldn’t trade a moment of taking care of my parents and serving that town and community – not even the ones that hurt like heck, we knew we wouldn’t be walking in the outflow in staying. God saw to it that every detail was taken care -that included my mom marrying again and no longer needing us to live with her. So, back during Labor Day weekend, we filled up a moving truck and with tears and yet much excitement, made our way here. In the truck were many gifts that God saw to it were ours to take freely.
We are now in a tiny town in the panhandle area of Texas. My husband is the pastor of a church here. And I am no longer a paid staff member of a church but am able to stay at home without also being a caregiver for my parent(s) while inside her walls. This is a house that happens to be located directly across the street from our physical church building. And while this house is not necessarily ours in a sense that it belongs to the church -it is very much our home. And for the first time in many years, this mom can welcome her sons to invite friends over any time. It is not uncommon to find a teenage boy whose last name is not ours – opening our frig to get some sweet tea or checking out our dining room table to see what goodies I’ve baked up in the kitchen we’re having a blast in or sitting down to eat with us.
With my husband being the new pastor here, we received several invites for Thanksgiving. Invites from where we moved from came in as well even if it meant a quick trip. But my husband and I knew we were to stay at home. And for the first time in the 20 years we’ve been married, we celebrate Thanksgiving Day together in our home with our sons. We laughed. We played games. We ate pie for breakfast instead of waiting for whatever other guests to arrive and lunch had been devoured. I even wore my sweats and didn’t have on a stitch of makeup. We were simply chilled to the max and napped for hours. It was a very different Thanksgiving Day indeed for the 5 of us.
We are blessed in the fact that all three of our sons are not only Christ-followers but get what living in the outflow really is. But there are times when it is okay to say no. Yes, even for a new pastor and his family. And at 6:00 p.m. the doorbell rang. It was a teenage boy who has been spending much time at our home. Our sons could have said, “Send him away.” Instead, he was welcomed in like every other day. He sat on the couch with my husband and I while we were watching the movie CARS with Parker. And in a moment of sheer comfort he said, “Your house is the safest place for me to be.” This Wednesday night, he said he would be across the street with us too. Remember? Across the street from our home is where the physical church building is. Showing us yet again, one can serve their family in the outflow and catch others up in the wave of God’s love and kindness.
Now that the Christmas season is upon us, may we be reminded that in training up a child – sometimes the parents can learn a lesson or two along the way. Our family looks forward to the “Parsonage Open House” we’re having on December 20th. We’re baking up goodies not only for our own church peeps but will also be taking some along with baskets of food and everyday items to neighbors here in our new community. No doubt our favorite Christmas already! And December hasn’t even officially started yet!
We are praying for you daily as you seek His Kingdom first! Remember – those closest to you are paying attention even when you’ve taken your makeup off. And may you be home for Christmas!
Camey Gravley is an Unashamed Christ-follower and Lifestyle missionary. Her passion is to help others notice God in the moments of every day life and living. Prayer of dangerous prayers too! It is her pleasure to serve others out of the outflow of God’s love!