We're moving. There. Exhale. The news is out. I feel infinitely relieved to get it out there and overwhelmingly conflicted now that it is reality. I will try to give you the short version of what has been going on behind the scenes here in the Fidler church manse.
Many people will probably be very surprised to learn that this all started last March. Yes, almost a year ago. It is hard to explain, but last March we began to feel that God was telling us our time at Montrose was coming to a close. It is so hard to explain sensing God's leadership, but it was just a sense that Josh and I had. It really did come out of nowhere. Things were going great at church, I had been homeschooling for a few months and taking Sarah out of private school had put us in a better place financially than we had been in years. Josh was coaching t-ball. We had just gotten back from an awesome vacation. It was one of those times in life you cherish. So, when God told us we would be leaving soon we didn't really get it. Josh started sending out his resume anyway and sent it to 5 different states. Less than a month later Josh was laid off from his Hospice job and I just knew. I knew that any day we would be getting a call from another church and we would be moving. There was no way we could make it on the church salary alone and I totally took Josh losing his Hospice job as a sign it was time to go. Wrong. Turns out we could live without that other job and did so for six months. A few churches would call every now and then, but we never felt like it was the right time to go or that it was the right church. We went through a mini wilderness experience trying to figure out what in the world we were supposed to do.
We had a very busy summer that culminated with our high school reunion. We had the reunion in Sept. and then a wedding scheduled in Oct. I kept telling myself that God was just giving us a chance to fulfill all of our obligations before He moved us. Well, at one point I told Josh I felt like we were not supposed to make any major plans past the month of October. Guess what happened at the end of October?Actually it was while we were out of town at that wedding. Josh got a phone call and he had his Hospice job back. I was so confused. I was grateful for the job, but I just could not figure out what God was trying to tell us. Did He want us to leave Montrose or not? By that point I was pretty much begging for a neon sign to drop from the sky with a google map on it. Oh, in case you're wondering...that did not happen. :)
Then, a church called. A church that was about an 1 1/2 north of Montrose, in an area that my friend had been telling me she thought I would really like. To top it all off-y'all are gonna get a kick out of this-the man that called Josh said that one of the ladies on the search committee had been reading my blog and had fallen in love with our family!! Can you believe that? Well, I just knew that was a sign. If someone from a church read my crazy blog and STILL liked us, that had to be for real, right? Well, THE SAME day, we got another phone call. From a church in Port St. Joe, Fl. which is about 40 minutes from where Josh and I grew up. At that point I had my heart set on the church with the faithful blog reader (what more can you ask for from your church members? :) and I just could not believe God would send us back to Florida. I mean, not that I didn't want to go back to Florida, I just had always expected that God would probably keep moving us further and further away from home. In fact, at one point we were contacted by a church in WYOMING! That is a whole other blog in itself. I had such visions of being my own Pioneer Woman. Okay, the pioneer woman who homeschools her children in a trailer, cooks hamburger helper and only leaves the trailer for the 3 days of the year that the weather is warm. But I digress...
Anyway, by this point I knew that we would be leaving Montrose, I just didn't know when or where we would be going. I began to pray that God would make it VERY clear which church we should be at. I don't know if I wrote a bad blog or what, but the one church eventually just stopped calling. The church in St. Joe started calling more and after Josh sent them a CD with one of his sermons on it, they asked him to schedule a time they could hear him preach in person. He didn't have any time left to be away from Montrose before Christmas so he was planning to preach for them in the beginning of January. So yes, all of this was in motion before I lost my Dad. I feel like people will think that we are just running back home because of that, but truly, this was all God. He had been working it out for months. In fact, my Dad didn't even know this was a possibility because I didn't want to get my parent's hopes up in case it didn't work out. But I had been so looking forward to being able to let him in on this secret and see his excitement about us moving closer to home.
The week after my Dad's funeral we went back to Panama City to spend some time with my Mom and Josh decided to go ahead and preach for the church. We felt such confirmation that it was where we were supposed to be and didn't want to put it off anymore. That was such a hard day. It was my first time back in church since my Dad had passed and I was trying to stay strong so I wouldn't look like a total wreck in front of the search committee. We had a wonderful lunch with the committee that day and eventually they called us and wanted Josh to preach at their church so the members could vote if they wanted Josh to come or not. That just happened to end up being the weekend of the SuperBowl, which I am eternally grateful for because it meant I got to be with my family to watch the game! We thought the church would vote that day but they didn't. We would have to wait another week. So, we found out last Sunday that they had voted to call Josh and it was official.
That brings me to today, the most difficult church day I have ever epxerienced. And this is coming from a girl who has spent every church day for the last 3 years in a pew with 3 kids! Today was the day Josh announced his resignation from the pulpit at the end of the service. I have to say that the last few months have been such a whirlwind of emotions for me that I really don't think the reality of our moving hit me until last night. I slept about a wink. My troubled sleep was interrupted at 6:30 this morning when Sarah and Eli came screaming down the hall "KATE IS MESSING WITH THE CAKE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" Oh. my. word. I was giving a baby shower this afternoon and I had picked up the cake from the bakery last night. I woke up horrified that I would make it to the kitchen in time to mop up the cake off of the floor. Thankfully, I rescued it in time and was up extra early to be extra nervous. I think I should be nervous more often. I loaded the dishwasher, did a load of laundry, fed everybody breakfast and got everybody dressed AN HOUR early! All was well until we were about to head out the door and I started gagging like I was going to throw up. For real. I don't know if I have ever been so sick from nerves in my life.
We did make it to church and survived Sunday School. Then, seconds before the service started (Josh had just walked up to the pulpit) Kate fell and busted her lip. I mean, bleeding like crazy and screaming. I grabbed her up and took off running in front of the whole congregation to get her to the bathroom. I cleaned her up and while I was wetting a towel to take with me she took off and headed straight up on the platform to Josh. Great. As if I weren't already a nervous wreck. Kate ended up sitting with Mr. Clyde and Mrs. Dianne and being okay because they give her candy. Finally the moment came. The invitation closed and Josh asked everyone to be seated. He had his resignation written so he could read it and I'm glad he did. I couldn't even look. I started crying right away. He started crying halfway through. By the time he finished and we made our way to the foyer to shake hands we were bawling like babies. I got so scared I was going to have to hold Josh up at one point and I haven't shredded in a few days and I didn't know if I could do it. :) I couldn't believe all of the people who were crying as much as us. One of our men hugged me and he was crying more than me and Josh put together. He told me that I would be a good preacher's wife where we were going and that I had been his preacher's wife through the bad times. I can't tell you how good it was to hear that. To hear that they wouldn't just miss Josh, but they might even miss me too.
Our friends Matt and Cortnee stayed back waiting for us to wrap up the cryfest and I told them I was just overwhelmed by how much harder it had been than I had expected. I said, "I didn't know how people would react. I knew they would either be sad, angry or happy, and no matter how they reacted it would hurt!" It made me think of the day I found out I was pregnant with Sarah. I had been 21 for 3 months and married for 6 months. I couldn't have been any more naive and clueless about motherhood. I should have been thinking about what it would take to raise a child, but really all I could think was, 'There is a baby inside of me and no matter how it comes out it is going to hurt.' Isn't it scary that that was the only reaction I was capable of? Well, that really was how today felt. It was just going to hurt no matter what. I won't lie. I'm glad it's over. Breaking up is hard to do...