The five year anniversary of Travis’ service at our current church is this month, on the 17th. In light of this milestone, it seems appropriate to share how the Lord called and led Travis and our family to leave the church where Travis had served for almost 12 years and come to a new place of ministry. We saw God’s hand in so many ways during the process. It is not an easy thing to make a cross country move with a family of 8, and a lot of obstacles were in our way. The Lord moved them or helped us overcome them, one at a time. To write this story as a narrative would result in a book; so here is the story of our calling and move, told as a series of mountains moved.
1. God worked in our hearts and in the hearts of others.
The first time that Travis got a call from the Chairperson of the Music and Worship Minister Search Committee from our current church, he told her that he was not interested. Somehow, that was not the end of the story. God worked in our hearts and in the hearts of the Committee, and He prompted them to try again. In spite of the fact that we had 6 boys, then ages 2, 2 (twins), 4, 5, 8. and 15 and were in the middle of the process of adopting the younger 5 boys, a second phone call resulted in an ongoing dialogue that eventually led to recognizing God’s call to a new place of service. I can’t speak to the committee thought processes except to say that calling a Minister of Worship who was in his 50s certainly wasn’t the trend. Whatever other barriers to consideration may have been discussed, the age factor was certainly one that had to be overcome.
2. God worked through DHS workers, lawyers, unbelieveable piles of paperwork, and the judicial process.
At a time when meetings were being held, court dates were being met, and snags to progress were common in our journey to adopt our 5 younger boys, we were also dealing with the probability and then the certainty of a major cross-country move. As we made two trips to Georgia that Fall, the adoption process was moving very slowly and sometimes seemed to be stalled. There was nothing we could do to speed up the judical process other than handling everything we were asked to do (which was a lot!) in a timely manner and praying that God would intervene. At one point, we encountered an obstacle that made a delay seem very likely. A delay beyond our moving date would have meant that only my husband and our oldest son would have been able to make the move initially. I would have had to stay behind in Oklahoma with the younger 5 boys, and Travis would have had to fly back in several times for court proceedings, or we would have had to just delay moving altogether. Even as we interviewed movers and got quotes (which involved taking the representatives for the potential movers through our home, our garage, our storage building, and two rental storage units, as well as our backyard and allowing them to estimate the volume and tonnage of all of our stuff), we had no idea when the adoption process would be finalized. We chose a moving company, had a garage sale, and gave a lot of things away, emptying the two rented storage units… and the adoption process still dragged on. A date was set for the movers to come and begin packing, and yet the adoption was still not final. Finally, we reached the end of the process, and the adoption was finalized… two days before the movers were to come and begin packing our belongings.
3. God worked in the midst of the economic crash of 2008 and the housing values crash that followed.
As many readers will recall, the Fall of 2008 was a turbulent time. it was an election year, and the economic crash loomed large as we were in the midst of the process of planning to move. What that meant for us was that we were going to have to purchase or rent before the dust settled, at a time before the housing values were really affected very much. Values were no longer at peak prices but were still close to that level. It is not easy to find a house that is a good choice for a family of 8 with a broad age range even in the best of circumstances. We had a specific school district in mind, based upon a recommendation, so that narrowed our search somewhat. Our other main criteria were price, overall size (living space), and number of bedrooms and baths. We felt that we needed at least a 4 bedroom home, preferably with at least 2 and a half baths. However, we were really looking for a home that had the potential to meet our future needs as the boys grew; so we hoped to find a home with 5 bedrooms. We also desired 2 living areas because the wide age range would result in a great variety of activities taking place at any one time. We felt that everyone would need “a place to be”. In addition, a safe location was very important, and we hoped to find a yard suitable for playing outside. We also hoped to find a home with a small office or with a room large enough to accomodate an office area.
We had flown to Georgia in mid-October for several days with several purposes: going in view of a call to the church, having several meetings and get-togethers that week-end, and finding a home (if Travis was indeed called as the new Minister of Music and Worship that Sunday). With the combined efforts of our own internet searches and our realtor’s expertise, we had a total of 12 houses that met all of our criteria, so we looked at some on Friday and Saturday and again on Monday. To anyone who knows this area, only 12 houses to view seems like a small number. However, we were being very financially conservative in setting our price limit because we had no idea how long it was going to take to sell our Oklahoma home in view of the financial collapse. The price factor ruled out a lot of the larger homes that would have provided the space our family needed. Some of the homes were unsuitable because of factors like a cliff for a back yard. Others simply had an unworkable lay-out or condition issues that would have made them a poor choice.
After seeing all of the homes, we had 3 that were possibilities. One had a wonderful kitchen and good layout. The drawbacks to that home were the fact that there was no office space and the fact that the home was on the main entrace street into the neighborhood, which would have made it less safe for our boys, especially considering the fact that one of our boys has special needs and doesn’t always understand safety issues. The second home was large enough and had enough bedrooms and baths. It had a great yard and great first floor lay-out. However, the second floor lay-out was weird. The area that would have become an upstairs family room (2nd living area or play room) was separated from the other bedrooms by the Master Bedroom, which meant that the children would have to go through the Master bedroom to get to it. This room also had the washer/dryer hook-ups in a closet. In other words, the only 2nd living space would also be the utility room, and the Master Bedroom would have functioned as a hallway. Our third contender was head and shoulders above all of the other houses. It had 3 bedrooms upstairs plus a loft space that had a half wall, open to the two story family room below. It had another bedroom in the basement, which would work for our teen-aged son. It had 3 living areas: a small formal living room, a larger family room next to the kitchen, and a downstairs den in the basement. It was located on a cul-de-sac and had front and back yards that were both fairly flat (a rare thing in this area) because the slope occurs on the sides of the house. It also had a small room off the Master Bedroom that could be used as an office, and it had 3 and a half baths. in addition, there was an unfinished room in the basement which was large enough to be a bedroom, playroom, or music studio. When we were walking up the slope on one side of the house after viewing the back yard, I picked up a small pinecone and took it home as a tangible reminder of the place that I hoped would become our new home. Home #3 seemed like the best choice. With safe outdoor play areas and all of the rooms previously mentioned, the home had the most potential to eventually meet the needs for our family of 8. We did not have the time to negotiate a contract before flying home, but at least we thought we had found our new home and had a couple of other possiblities if that one didn’t work out.
We were not going to be able to buy a home right away since we still had to sell our home in Oklahoma, but we hoped to be able to do a lease/purchase agreement. However, the day after arriving back in Oklahoma, our realtor told us that there was already another offer on the home, and it looked as though the sellers might take that one. The economic crash worked in our favor in this situation. The other buyers were offering less that selling price because property values were beginning to fall. However. the other buyers would be buying the home outright. Normally, a lease/purchase would not be as attractive an option as a sale; but we were able to get the home by signing a contract to purchase the home at full price after leasing for up to one year.
The economic crash did not work in our favor when we were trying to sell our home in Oklahoma. We had to take almost $40.000 less for it than it would have been worth if we had sold it before the crash. In addition, it actually took almost 14 months before we were able to close on the home. We had to get a brief extension of our lease agreement. The fact that we did not come out well on the home after living there for 12 years and making numerous improvements was very difficult. It meant that our payments would be higher than optimum on our Georgia home and would make it difficult for us to make ends meet. However, after a couple of years, the economic crash again worked in our favor. Since interest rates had continued to fall, we were able to refinance and get a much better rate as well as a 15 year mortgage. The payments still make it difficult for us, but at least we are building equity faster. That’s important because of our age and because of all of the equity we lost due to the crash.
Although we have had to do a LOT of work on this home, it comes closer to meeting our many needs (for the price that we were able to pay) than any other home. God worked through the timing of so many things to make it possible for us to live here. We have been able to finish the unfinished room, do a lot of land-scaping work, re-build the deck, turn an under-the-eaves space into an additional closet, put in a door to the backyard, extend our patio by 6 feet to the location of the new door, and add extra shelving and cabinets all over the house and in the garage to maximize our storage space. So, in spite of the fact that our pantry is too small for a family this size and that we have to turn our table for 8 at a crazy angle to fit it in the room, we are grateful. Even though our boys’ bedrooms are small and our 3 youngest share a room, they have had a safe place to learn to ride their bikes in our cul-de-sac. And even though the circumstances of this move and other moves have meant that we don’t have as much equity in a home as we should by this time in our lives, we are thankful for mountains moved and obstacles overcome that have allowed us to have a home that comes close to meeting our needs and still has potential for improvements.
4. God continues to work to meet the needs of our family.
With six boys of varying ages still at home, we are constantly surrounded by needs of various kinds. Our 9 year old has special needs, and God has been at work through countless circumstances to meet the needs that he has. We have had wonderful teachers and therapists, special helpers at church, and lots of people who love him and have been important in his life. Our oldest son has graduated from high school and is moving into a new phase of life. We can also see God’s hand at work for him. Each of our boys have known people that have become very important in their lives, both in our previous church, schools, and community and now in our current church, schools, and communities in Georgia. Our family has also been blessed as others have helped us in very tanglible ways, with everything from physical labor to child care to gifts of clothing outgrown by their children. We see God’s hand at work constantly. For every need that remains, there have been countless needs met and innumerable blessings along the way.
5. God continues to work through the Worship Ministry at our church.
We have met and come to know so many wonderful people at our church in Georgia (and every place where Travis has served). Since our curent church has worship ministry programs for every age group, we’ve known so many awesome and talented folks who have a great love for the Lord and a passion for Worship Ministry. Some of them have since made moves of their own, but there remains a committed and faithful group of people who just love to praise the Lord and are willing to commit themselves to serve. There is plenty of work to do to keep up with all that is going on in Worship Ministry here, and Travis stays more than busy. As a couple and as individuals, we have learned and grown through evey circumstance that the Lord has used in our lives, all of the places of service, and all of the lives that have touched our own. We have a greater passion for Worship Ministry than ever, and God has even opened some new doors that have allowed us to serve the body of Christ in new ways (such as this blog).
6. God will continue to demonstrate His love throughout all of our lives… and beyond.
We have seen the heart of God revealed through circumstances, through people, through the Word, and through our own relationship with Him. God is so good. He continues to give us a new song of praise. It’s a blessing to look back and see all that He has done in our lives and in ministry in the past 5 years, and it is a blessing to know that His work in our lives continues, no matter what the future holds. We are so blessed to know the One who holds our present, our future, and our eternity.
7. God is at work in the hearts and lives of each of our children.
Our adult daughter, who still lives in Oklahoma, has been able to move forward with some very important life choices. We also see God at work in lives of each of our boys, and we are so thankful for all of the people who have invested in their lives. Thank you!
We are grateful.
Thank you, God, for your goodness to us in so many ways. Thank you for loving us, for salvation in Christ, for your mercy, your strength, your provision, and for the blessings you have sent our way. We love you, Lord.
To all of you that we have had the privelege to know, we love you all. Every church family is still very special to us, and every individual has a place in our hearts. We pray for you all to be blessed and fruitful in your lives and ministries. We also pray God’s blessing on our church family here. Obviously, God wanted to us to join you in ministry for this time period. Five years ago, He moved many mountains in order to make that possible. So often, in over 30 years of Worship Ministry, we have seen God confirm His calling to a new place of service through miraculous events that He has caused to work for our good. He is always at work in other ways as well… ways that we may not see or understand right now. Through it all, we have learned (and are continuing to learn) that life can be challenging and even overwhelming, but God is good! As the song says, “How can we keep from singing His praise?”
This post was written by C. A. Boyd