I want to take you back in time for a moment. There’s a story I rarely get to share that really tells the story of God’s provision and goodness. This journey starts in August 2016.
I got back from a summer-long internship with Next Step Ministries at their Joplin, Missouri site on August 12, 2016. I was serving as a Worship Leader and it truly was a transformative experience that brought both healing and heartache. Mostly, it made me feel more secure in my calling to pursue music ministry, as I felt called to it already and now had the experience to back it up.
I was not only ending an internship, but I was coming home after 2 years at an out-of-state college. I didn’t have a “home church” to return to, so I asked a friend where she had been attending recently. She pointed me towards the church that I attend now (and work at!). I loved it and I ended up pursuing an opportunity to be a Music Director at a different campus and ultimately, it just didn’t suit. I was truly devastated. It was too good to be true, anyways. Right? I left that church in tears, truthfully, screaming at God. I was devastated and angry. This would’ve been PERFECT, I thought. Why on earth was it a no? I went home and listened to “King of My Heart” and just tried to convince myself that God was still good.
*Fun fact: I actually came to observe a Sunday morning rehearsal on August 21, 2016 at this campus and met my now-husband on his first day of work as their Technical Director. How sweet! God is in the details, y’all.
Following that door’s closing, I found myself working at a vegetable stand at the farm where my cousin works. I literally just volunteered to do the job one day and ended up there much longer than expected. Those were long days, spent with a nose buried in a library book, when I wasn’t helping out with pumpkin season activities. I worked there for almost three months. I worked from September to the first week of December. The farm didn’t usually stay open that late in the year, but this particular year they did. I didn’t make a lot of money and the job mostly left me feeling like I was so far from living up to my potential. I was a skilled leader who had just come off of a summer of excitement, of days directing worksites, and leading a team of musicians and students from all over the country. What in the world was I doing? How was God going to use this?
I continued to seek jobs. I honestly was desperate for an out-of-state job, but nothing came through. I wanted adventure. I was a single woman and felt like I had nothing holding me back. I continued to go to the church in my area that I had visited my first week back home. The Music Team there inspired me. I felt like they were really doing church the way I would like to.
Just before December, I was at church with my dad when the Music Director announced he would be moving on from his position following the first Sunday of 2017. That announcement literally led me to tears. First of all, I wondered what would happen for the Music Team, since the director was doing such a great job. Second of all, I felt the Holy Spirit was calling me to the position. I knew it immediately. It was mine and it was time.
I cried all the way home. I cried for hours. I worshiped and sang “King of My Heart” over and over again, proclaiming the goodness of God. Things were starting to make sense. But I didn’t have the job yet!
I ended up meeting with one of the pastors at church and put my name in for the job. He told me that he would bring me on as a volunteer after the Music Director moved on, and he took over as Interim Director. I was stoked.
Finally, it was the final week that the vegetable stand was open. I truly didn’t know until that week that it was closing. At this point, there was not a lot going on, and I stayed in a small room with a space heater, reading and journaling as I waited for the few customers who would come in for gravel orders. The farmer/owner came by one day and told me that he and another man I had met while working a festival had put in my name for a job as a home-care worker. Their friend from church ran a business and he was looking for people to care for the elderly and to do some light housekeeping. I appreciated it, since I had absolutely nothing lined up. However, once again, I heard the nagging voice in my head reminding me I was not living up to my potential.
Christmas came and went and the farm was closed for winter. I was unemployed. I felt like I was going where the wind took me. The week after Christmas, I interviewed with the home-care business and was immediately hired. Shortly after, I was assigned to work with an elderly man that I will refer to as Mr. T.
My first day on the job meant wearing a white polo, khaki pants, and my old black Danskos I wore when I worked retail. I showed up at a pristine new townhouse in the nicer part of town in my 1998 Honda Civic, completely clueless why God had me wearing such awful clothes, working with an old man, and totally unsure what the job would actually look like.
Mr. T lived with his single, adult daughter. He had a specific way he liked his oatmeal prepared, which I made every morning for him and served him with a bottle of Ensure. I would let his daughter’s dog out, sweep the living room floor, vacuum his bedroom, make his bed, wash the dishes, grab the paper for him, do his laundry, and just generally keep an eye on him. He was becoming more and more forgetful and it was getting to the point that assisted living was just around the corner.
Some days, we would go for a walk around the neighborhood. He walked slowly, with a walker, and I with my long legs took itty-bitty baby steps all along the way. Sometimes, we would run errands together. I’d carefully help him as he crouched down to get into my extremely low-to-the-ground sedan. Walking around Walmart together, we were truly a sight to behold.
After breakfast, he would turn on the TV to check up on the stock market. This was one pastime of his I truly didn’t understand. I took this time to read my Bible and make highlights. I did some of my best studying in his living room. He’d always encourage me to bring my “GIT-tar” to practice the songs I was learning as I volunteered on the Music Team. He was a supportive audience member, but always ended up asleep. God bless him!
He rooted for me as I vied for the Music Director position. We watched the 2017 presidential inauguration together. One day, he encouraged me to sit down in the chair lift and check the thing out for myself. I slowly was carried up the stairs, dying of laughter as Mr. T and I waved at each other. He was really a funny dude to work with. It didn’t feel like work, though.
Finally, I had been hired at the church. Not only that, but it was time for me to go on a week-long trip to Los Angeles to lead a worship team for students on a mission trip. As these new beginnings were coming about, the end of my time with Mr. T was coming as well. It was time for him to move into a very upscale assisted living community. He was excited and hopeful and it honestly sounded like one great big party. We parted ways, and though I knew I’d miss him, I was excited because I felt like my life was beginning.
Looking back, this season of my life is possibly my absolute favorite. There were times where I felt helpless, and it felt like God was refusing me a million olive branches. There were times as I mentioned earlier when I felt like I was wasting all of my potential. I was terribly lonely. But let me also tell you, during this season of my life, my faith grew leaps and bounds, oddly enough. I began tithing consistently, even though my tithe felt pitiful and as if it might have made no difference at all. I began giving generously, even though I had hardly any money at all. I cultivated hospitality, as I cared for an elderly man who really could not take care of himself at all. I grew more as a person in this season than I ever did during a “mountaintop” season of my life. It was my biggest training ground for ministry.
I bring this up because just this past weekend, I thought of Mr. T. I’m sad to share with you that he passed away just last summer. But with his passing, he leaves a reminder of a season where I truly let go of what I thought my life was supposed to look like and where I let God really work on me. In my time with Mr. T and the time I spent at the vegetable stand, God carried me. He sustained me. He gave me everything I needed.
I hope that this story encourages you and reminds you that God doesn’t work like an Instant Pot. He’s definitely more of a Crock Pot sometimes.
Yes, I know the Instant Pot can slow cook too, but you know what I’m saying!
If you’re in the Crock Pot, hang in there. I promise you the end result will be worth the wait.