The alarm clock went off at 5:45 am.  I woke up and it looked to be a fabulous Sunday morning.  When I was a child, I felt a calling on my life spend my life serving in the local church and so most Sundays I do wake up with joy and look forward to spending Sunday morning at church ministering.

I brewed a pot of coffee while I prepared  my bath and got my IPod set to play Hebrews 11.  As I soaked, I listened and focused my mind on that truth from Hebrews 11 & 12 that we would be teaching the children at church.

Following my bath, it didn’t take long for my mind to wander to some concerns that were on my heart and to lose sight of the teaching of Hebrews 11.  Before I even headed out the door for church, I found myself battling thoughts of worry.

As has happened many times in the past few years, I started to allow my mind to be overwhelmed with the unknown that lies ahead for our family.  Most days I find myself feeling very blessed with the life God has given me to live.  However, there are moments when I feel that Joe and I have been stuck in neutral for so long and that a calling that God put on our lives will never come to full fruition.

In 2005, God placed a vision in our hearts, and we chose to uproot our family for the sake of the call of the Lord.

Seven years ago in the summer of 2005, God did some amazing things that confirmed in our hearts that He would indeed be faithful to provide for our family if we trusted Him and followed His voice.

Our house sold the first day we put it on the market.  I got a teaching job within 12 hours of my deciding to go back to working full time to put Joe through seminary (for a second seminary masters)…I never even filled out an application for that teaching job.

The next two years in seminary definitely had ups and downs, but we always went back to the Spring of 2005 when God gave us the vision for our family and how He confirmed it time and time again by providing for us every step of the way.

In March of 2008, we found ourselves moving to Tulsa, Oklahoma where we knew not even one person.  We left behind dear friends and a city we had grown to call ‘home’ to continue to follow the call that God placed on our lives.

At that time we had it in our minds that we would live in Tulsa two years while Joe worked as a counselor and got the supervision he needed to obtain a state License in Marriage and Family counseling.    And in our plan by 2010 Joe would have his license and we would be on our way.

Just as quickly as blessing and favor came our way in our 2 years at seminary, complications and setbacks came as Joe worked to obtain his license.  A glitch with transferring hours from Texas to Oklahoma.  An employer that was dishonest and didn’t follow through with supervision hours as promised.

Eighteen months after we moved to Tulsa, Joe found himself no closer to getting the license that he felt strongly God had guided him to pursue.  He changed jobs and the ball finally started rolling for him to get started on the path to obtaining his license.

More bumps along the way with his employer.  Continued bumps with working with the State.   So many times in the journey we have been on for the past 7 years we have wanted to throw in the towel. . . not to mention go punch a couple of employers and state workers in the face (I have been a state and federal employee…so I can get away with saying that.)

Many of you reading this have been on the entire or part of the journey with us encouraging us to persevere in our calling.  As I talked to the children today about the virtue of perseverance found in Hebrews 11 and listened to Joe tell the children the amazing story of Gideon, it felt as if clouds were surrounding me.

Not the kind of storm clouds that are not welcome on a sunny day of picnicking.  Not the clouds that hide things while you are driving on a foggy morning.

But the kind of clouds that I felt surrounding me this morning are described in the twelfth chapter of Hebrews.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:1-3 NIV)

Joe and I are privileged to be surrounded by an enormous “cloud of witnesses” who have set examples for us of living a life of enduring faith.   We have a “cloud of witnesses” (both in heaven and here on earth) who have cheered us on and encouraged us to “run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”

In March, we started on year 5 of living in Tulsa (so much for the two year plan).  Joe still doesn’t have his license, though he has been told that the supervision hour miscalculations are being corrected and that it should all be worked out by the end of this summer (never mind that he passed both test on the first try last summer…..) and that he will soon have a license in hand.

Now when I get the urge to go punch an employer, or a state worker, or a supervisor….I am going to think about that cloud that surrounds me.  I choose not to focus on what at times seems to be ‘lost time’ instead I choose to continue to ‘fix my eyes on Jesus the pioneer and perfector of faith.’

So to those of you reading this who have been a part of our ‘cloud’….’Thank You!’  Because of you, this morning we could confidently encourage the children at our church to persevere when things get tough.  We could boldly quote their memory verse to them and know that it is indeed the truth.

But those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint. (Isaiah 40:31 NIV)

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This picture is a monument in more ways than one. The two years prior to this picture I had spent travelling back and forth to Ft. Worth to finish up six years of working on my Master of Divinity with Biblical Language. I had finally received my diploma. Joe and I had hoped that this would be the end of school for our family. However, just weeks after my graduation in May of 2005, God placed it on our hearts to move back to Texas to seminary to pursue the dream God had for him to counsel children and families….Looking at this picture I wonder what we would have said had you told us that day that Joe would be back in school that fall…I think I know and it is not appropriate for someone with a seminary degree and working on a church staff to say…so I will hold my tongue.

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Joe and the kids this past Spring. Joe got to share the gospel to the kids at our church using his incredible roping skills.  City kids…they had never seen such a thing and couldn’t believe he was a real life cowboy!

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Along the long journey, God has been faithful to use Joe and I to minister to children and families. Joe is sharing a Bible story on the very first Sunday that our new church launched.

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The kids are not quite as adorable as they were in the graduation picture above…but seven years later they still rarely cooperate for staged picture…and I love it because it tells the story of our lives with truth! So blessed to have an enormous cloud surrounding our family as we persevere through the ups and downs that comes with living a life of faith.

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