Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Surrender


I'd rather not write this post. It would be easier to blissfully ignore the experiences of the past week, at least in this little corner of the web. I would rather write about tomatoes than the struggles of the soul.

Some of you have walked through the last week with us. Some of you have faced similar experiences. Some will read this post and say "You did what?" For you I'll try to give some insight into Mennonite practice.

Our church, like many Mennonite churches, does not have a paid career pastor. We have a leadership team consisting of bishops, ministers, and deacons that serve together in the church. As leaders grow older and there is a need for more help, new leaders are found within the congregation.

When the ministry of our church asked several months ago that the congregation ordain a new minister, there was a certain amount of anxiety. Knowing that a man from our congregation would be called, also meant it could be my husband. Much prayer was offered as our church sought the Lord's will in choosing the right man to carry a leadership role.

Last week, our church gathered to take nominations for a new minister. Each man in the congregation voted for the man the Lord had laid on his heart to be the new minister. Tension in the room was high as the ministry announced the names of the three men who received enough votes to be considered nominated for minister. My husband was one of the three.

During the next several days, each man and his wife was interviewed by the ministry to examine their qualification as a minister. It was a time of bonding, not only as a husband and wife, but also with the other two couples as we shared the stress of soul searching and surrender.


Never have days crawled by so slowly. I wanted to be willing to serve, if the Lord was calling.  I felt so young and unworthy. I feared the change and the impact on our family. I longed for God's call to go to one of the other men and not my husband.

Since all three men were willing and qualified to serve, to discern God's will, the church used a "lot" as in Acts  1. On Sunday evening,  three identical Bibles were placed in front of the church. In one Bible the lot, a slip of paper with Provers 16:33, was placed inside. The Bibles were thoroughly shuffled so that no one knew in which Bible the lot was placed. We earnestly prayed that God's will would be revealed by the man who received the lot.

I'm not sure how many times in that week I prayed that I would accept whoever the Lord called to the ministry. I thought I had fully surrendered. But I'm not sure that anything can prepare you to watch the lot be found in your husband's Bible. Or to be asked to join your husband in the front of the church to be given the charge as minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.


I never desired to be a minister's wife. My first reaction is flail on the floor like a bratty two year old and  scream "Not me!"

(Being honest here. Maybe I should have stuck to writing about tomatoes?)

But I also know that this is no surprise to God. He knew before I was born that I'd come to this place of decision and commitment. Is it possible that all the experiences of my life for the past 35 years have been preparing for this day? Can I see the past expressions of His faithfulness as a preview of His faithfulness in the future?

The responsibility looks big, even overwhelming. But our God looks even bigger. The last couple months have been stressful, soul searching, but most of all faith strengthening as we realize the power and love of a God who wants us to call Him Father.


I'm not sure why I'm sharing this. Maybe because many of you have become friends through your emails. Maybe to ask you to pray for Ed and I as we enter this work. Maybe because, though your circumstances may differ, you too may be struggling to say "Yes, Lord, Your will be done." Maybe to encourage you to find the peace that only comes through surrendering to God.

 Psalm 29:11 The LORD will give strength unto his people; the LORD will bless his people with peace.

60 comments :

  1. I am not Mennonite but I do read every post that you blog. I enjoy your blog so much and will pray for both you and your husband as you embark on this new responsibility.

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  2. I'm pretty sure the Lord knows what He is doing :-). Bless them big time Lord!

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  3. Yes I will pray for both of you as you undertake this calling. Be comforted by the knowledge that His plans are so much bigger and better than our own. All will be worked to good, and I know there will be blessings and little jewels found along this journey.
    God Bless and strengthen you both,
    Niki

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  4. My husband always says that God knows what He is doing..that helps me a lot.

    I found it very interesting the way your congregation handled these things. Do your leaders go to any kind of seminary...just wondering?

    Love your tomato post, btw, I'm going to be going back and using your tips.

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  5. Oh Amen! I am sure the Lord couldn't have picked a more wonderful person and his wife. You will do an excellent job in your role as a minister's wife.

    Hugs...

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  6. Gina,

    You have had quite a week for sure! What an honor to be chosen by God to fulfill this call! I pray for you and your husband during this time of transition and am confident that the Lord knew what he was doing in choosing you!

    Hugs,
    Pam

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  7. Gina,

    God has called you to this and He will provide everything you need; Strength, wisdom, faith....

    Thank you for sharing.

    The Lord Bless you!
    Deanna

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  8. Gina,

    Thanks for sharing, I will be praying for you, Ed and the children.

    Carlene

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  9. I read this with interest, because our church is holding an ordination this October.
    I've been reading your blog for only a few months. I've never met you IRL & I don't know anyone who knows you IRL. But from what I've read, I'd say that you are well-qualified to be a minister's wife.
    May God's blessings be with you & your family as you continue to surrender to His call.
    ~ Joanna Yoder

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  10. Blessings to you and your family, Gina!

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  11. I love your honesty and again I have tears running down my face. I also struggle to surrender and give up my desires and wants to God and to allow myself to be open to HIS desires and plans for my life. I can only say that God is bigger than us and I have faith that He will guide us faithfully if we lean on Him. (I know God knows what He is doing, and I praise God that He picked your family) I WILL and AM praying for you. love!

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  12. Lord bless you for your openness in sharing your anxiety. I believe it is characteristics such as the heart you shared with us here that will make you an excellent Minister's wife.

    I am not a Mennonite though my birth family is. Since discovering my own Mennonite heritage I have taken great pleasure in learning more about it. I enjoy your blog for that and many other reasons!

    Blessings to you and your husband as you set out on this new path the Lord has prepared for you.

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  13. For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. (Isaiah 41:13)


    An incredible journey has been placed upon you and your husband. Your raw honesty is amazing and encouraging, you have nothing to fear because God doesn't make mistakes. He must trust in you both and see greatness in you both to have you both called to such a postition!! I'll pray for you and your husband as you start on this journey!! Dana

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  14. Gina,
    Thank you for writing this post. I do not know you in real life so as weird as this sounds...it was great to read that you are like me...you feel like I do at times ;-) The Lord always provides what we need, I have to remind myself of that often. I send love and prayers to you and your family.

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  15. I have been where you are today many years ago. It too kept me up at night. To extend yourselves outside your family roll is a huge one, but there is lots of help. Relying on God is the biggest step, because nothing is possible if he isn't that three fold cord. believe me when I say everything else will fall in place. That is not to say there won't be trials, there will be, But God will direct the proper steps and procedures.Rely on him and look to his Word for direction.

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  16. I'll be praying for you. As you may know by now--I too am Mennonite. My husband and I have been in the lot for the ministry twice now. Both times the lot fell to another brother, but I understand the feeling of not desiring the calling. God will give you strength--as He is the one who called you.

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  17. Gina, I've been praying for you and Ed this week. I can imagine how difficult it would be to have your life changed like this. But, God called and God will bless abundantly. I had thought about commenting to this effect on your tomato post but then decided I wouldn't bring it up on your blog unless you did. :) Thanks for sharing! I'll continue to remember you in my prayers. ~Rachel

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  18. Oh, Blessings to Ed, you and your family! God really does not give us more than we can handle! Prayers are with your family!

    Again Blessings,
    Debbie S.

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  19. Gina,

    I was talking to Andy last night, how it is always such a nice thought to think, "The Lord uses the weak..." and then you think, "Phew, there is hope He can use me!" Then when He does use you, it's scary to actually be weak. It would be better if you had a long list of qualifications right?

    You and (I'm sure) Ed do.

    Remember God said, "My ways are not your ways, nor are my thoughts your thoughts..." He really meant it. There are many ways that I can see how God has been preparing you for this, and I don't even "know" you.

    A pastor's wife has a responsibility with the way people see her. You'll always be in the spot light, but haven't you been in the spot light with this blog? What a wonderful ground work on learning how to share appropriately, be human and point all things back to God. (which you do!).

    The Lord has been teaching you how to run your house smoothly and efficiently in order to be able to jugle other things. You've been sharing about it on your blog. :). Even though I am not there, I bet on the same token the Lord has been teaching you and Ed how to put up boundaries around your family time.

    As long as you faithfully obey God he will be glorified. Look at us, who would have thought God's will would be for Andy to get this great job, and then loose it before a year is up? All for the purpose of moving us to Vancouver?? His ways are not our ways, but He has been preparing you for this in many ways. I know he would not have laid this at your feet if He hadn't been.

    Andy and I will be praying for you both.

    -Sarah.

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  20. Wow, I can only imagine the emotional and spiritual roller coaster you have been on the last few weeks! I cannot express anything more than what has been said in previous comments, but I will also keep you and your family in prayer. Trust Him, even when the way is unclear and you can't see your next step.

    Alicia

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  21. I will be praying for you, your husband and your children as you adjust to the this new responsibility the Lord has given you. God Bless you!

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  22. Gina, I love your honesty. As others said, God called and God will give grace. At the same time, I totally understand the feelings you are having. I don't really know you all, but from what I've observed on your blog you both have servant's hearts and that will go FAR in blessing those that you minister too. Blessings to you, dear lady!
    -Lydia

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  23. Having been in the position of questioning God's wisdom with regards to places He's taken me to in my life and situations I've had to handle, it's these "do you trust me times" I hate the most. It's when you want to say NO that He will grow you the most. They are not easy I will say, but they are the most enriching and will grow you in a way you never would without living them out. It's a time to live in the 91'st Psalm and hide yourself in the secret place of God to let Him speak to you, protect and give comfort so you can meet the challenges and recieve the blessings He has in the days to come. God bless you and your family. I will hold you in my prayers. Lynda

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  24. THANK YOU! I really loved reading this post. Yes you blog, you're a mum, you do things that make us think "how does she do all that!?" and you are REAL!

    This is a chance for you to realize that your capacity as a mother, wife and individual is far greater than you understand.
    Difficult things rip us out of our comfort zones (thank goodness the extension was finished first!! haha) and stretch us beyond what we thought we were capable of.

    You (and we all)have enormous potential for growth and this is your opportunity. Own it. Be thankful for the opportunity. Be honest with the Lord as to how you feel.
    We are different religions but I have so much respect for you as a faithful daughter, mother, wife and member of your community.

    This helps me when I'm being stretched beyond capacity (and then grow to fit it)

    "I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them."

    take care.. keep us updated.
    xxxxxx
    suzi

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  25. Gina, thanks for sharing! I think the mennonite church is quite similar to ours. We however dont cast lots.. which I think is nice as it follows Acts.

    But I think you will be a great minister's wife. The best people for this work are those who dont want the task.

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  26. what an honest, open post ... thank you for sharing your thoughts. in similar fashion, i have had to surrendar to the ministry my husband is called to after being secure in his career as a military officer. change is never easy, surrendar is not always fun, and things usually go differently than you ever imagine - but GOD is in control!!!! I almost wish we had a "lot drawing" process in our denomination to show as a sign of God's favor and chooosing. God bless your family as you minister together.

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  27. Gina, I totally understand your feelings and fears, I too have lived them. Even though our circumstances are a little different I can assure you that God will see you through. It's not an easy path but then we've not been promised that.
    We will be praying for you, Ed and your family.
    Welcome to the "set-apart" ministry! (or is that a Brethren-only phrase)
    Love and Hugs! Carolyn

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  28. beautiful post Gina..... Wishing you continued peace in the journey.
    Julia

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  29. Gina,
    I love your blog. I am LDS and I know that our Father in Heaven is in charge and blesses those who follow His teachings, live righteously and make right choices...even when they are hard ones. My love, thoughts and prayers are with you and your husband. We are not called that we are not given the strength to carry it out.

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  30. dear Gina,
    I grew up in a church with the lot and unpaid ministers. Although I go to a different kind of Mennonite church now, I appreciate the value of volunteer ministers called by God through the lot.

    The wonderful thing about following God is how well God knows us, the purpose for which we were formed, the courage (however much it doesn't feel like courage!) we have to keep following. I'm excited for you, even as I read your doubts and fears. May God bless you immeasurably more than you thought possible.
    with love,
    Margo

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  31. Gina- What an honest, brave post you shared with us all. You are beginning a scary, wonderful new phase of your life. I am sure that you are ready..you just don't know it yet :)

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  32. Some days it's a joy.
    Others it's sheer heartbreak.
    You'll see things others don't.
    You'll have to be quiet when you want to scream.
    Expectations never end; don't succumb to them.
    Be your husband's wife, not the pastor's wife.
    Let your kids be your kids, not the pastor's kids.
    People will say things to you and your kids that they would never say to your husband.
    The downs have a way of consuming the ups.
    When I think we just can't go on any longer - that it's all for nothing - I start listing every good thing I can about our people, and then I'm reminded that God is still at work among us.

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  33. Gina, my heart has been heavy and full of emotion for you and your family. We are Mennonites in SE Pennsylvania. Though our church does not practice the Lot anymore, I am familiar with it and all that it means. I love your blog and your heart and I am sure the Lord will use your husband and family for His glory. Thank you for sharing with us all.
    Tracy C

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  34. Your feelings are very understandable. God never calls us to do something and then leaves us to fend for oursleves. He will help you to do the tasks He gives. You are in our prayers.

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  35. Dear friend - I can only imagine the way you may feel. (Several of my good friends have gone through this experience and are now a "ministers' wife.") I pray that you will feel God's presence very close to you as you adjust mentally, and then physically work through the change of schedules etc. You seem well fitted for the work. =)Maybe this will bring you to our church sometime!

    I echo many of the other comments - many can put into words what I'm thinking and can't find the keys to type it. It's quite obvious that you have blessed many through this blog - those qualities will flow over into your ministry among your church family, I'm sure.

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  36. Dear Gina, as I read your brave and honest post, and all the loving comments that follow..I can't help but think of all the heroes of the Bible who were also reluctant, and felt unqualified!Mary, Moses, Sarah, and even Jesus in the garden prayed "let this cup pass from me, nevertheless let your will be done"

    I heard a preacher say one time that God isn't much interested in "self" confident fools..He can better use those of us who lie awake at night with eyes wide open, wondering and praying, and crying out to the Lord for "His" help and confidence!

    I pray the Lord will give you and your family increased Godly Love, strength and wisdom, and will continue to supply your every need, prospering you in every way. ((I know your congregation is very blessed to have you!))

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  37. i can't imagine how you are feeling, but if this is any comfort in addition to the fact that God doesn't make mistakes, when eunice told me that ed had been called to the ministry, my response was something like, " oh, that doesn't surprise me much." i don't know either of you well, but as i remember the interactions we've had through chorus & youth activities as well as the more recent blogging interaction, you've made a Godly impression on me, gina; i've heard a lot of good about ed as well throughout the years. you'll be a very hospitable minister's wife!

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  38. Just wanted to leave a note and let you know that I prayed for you this morning! Just yesterday I was talking w/ a sister about the possibility of us being on the mission field some day... and was so encouraged by the thought that there is no better place to be than the center of God's will, even if it is not always the easiest on our flesh. God's blessings be upon you and your husband, and children.

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  39. Wow, Gina- thank you for sharing your heart. That is why you wrote it- you always share your heart and that's what touches us who read your blog. Thanks for being real, as I'm sure you know many of us feel the same - we just have different circumstances.

    Hope you don't mind a question- what position will Ed and you be ministering in- deacon or one of the others?

    And I can't help but think of the Lord's timing: right when you finished (almost!!) the addition that has taken so much of Ed's time. :-)

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  40. God bless you and your family! Philippians 4:6

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  41. Blessings on you and your family Gina! I have been there and know and understand your feelings exactly. God is faithful! All the comments shared are so encouraging. You will be a wonderful ministers wife. Count it an honor to serve the Lord in this way. Lynette

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  42. My prayers are with you, Gina. I just recently came across your blog and have been enjoying browsing your posts. I agree with what someone else said - though I have never met you and only "know" you through your blog, you seem well qualified to be a minister's wife. May God bless you and give you grace for each day. I can only imagine all the feelings that would go through me should my husband be chosen someday.
    Lanita

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  43. yes its funny how all along the lord was preparing you and your family for this time, seasons, eccl. and He doenst make mistakes, he knows what we need in our lives cuz we dont.
    blessings
    debbie

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  44. Dear Gina,
    I'm sure that you know as well as I that our God does all things well. While this new call is intimidating, remember that your husband was chosen by more than just a vote of those that know and respect him: he was chosen by Christ himself.
    God bless you and yours,
    Susan

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  45. Thanks for sharing Gina; Good to see the beautiful comforting comments of all your friends!

    May you and Ed continue to look God for your strength and stand on His promises.

    Carolyn~

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  46. How interesting to read how your church selections are made! Certainly leaves little room to deny the Lord's Sovereign hand in the decision.

    I'll pray for your family as you make the transition Gina.

    Love, Quinn

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  47. Just a little note to say that you folks are in my thoughts and prayers as you begin this adventure in Christ!

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  48. Gina, you will be a wonderful minister's wife. I've been inspired by you many times through your blog, even though I've never met you. There's a poem I like that says "in acceptance lieth peace" and I'm sure you will find this true. I'm praying for you both; God bless you richly!
    - Mary Beth

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  49. I came back to read all of the comments after reading the post initially! What a great amount of encouragement and support the Lord is giving you! Praise God!!
    I will be praying for you and the family Gina!
    I just had some reading in 1 Corinthians 1-2 this morning and I think you'll be encouraged to read it!! God's ways are not man's ways!!!
    Annie

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  50. Praying for you all. May God bless you in this new responsibility.

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  51. Remember Psalms 3:5&6 and you and your husband will walk with the Lord in this new calling. My prayers are with you both and I know that God has something wonderful planned for you and your family.
    Dorothy (from Vancouver Island Canada)

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  52. Thanks to all of you for your kind encouraging comments.

    And special thanks to those who reminded me that though I'm not worthy to be a minister's wife - but God is fully able to give grace and strength for whatever role He calls us to.

    I also appreciate the respectful questions that some of you have emailed. To answer one here, Ed will continue his regular job as a printer. His ministry at church will be a volunteer position.He will work with other more experienced men, so he isn't alone.

    Thanks so much for your prayers.
    Gina

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  53. Gina, I think you'll be wonderful and exceptional in your new role. You have such a sharing and giving heart, at least from what I've seen on this blog. I don't always understand God's will and plan (if I did, maybe I would understand why my nearly 92 year old Mother has been in a nursing home with dementia for 6.5 years), but HE does have as will and a plan for all of us.

    On a practical note, aren't you glad the house addition is basically completed! At least that time consumer is gone.

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  54. Thank you so much for your honesty! I can understand in a small way how you feel. Two years ago my husband made the commitment to be the head trustee at our Presbyterian church. His term lasted for one year and it was a very stressful time for our family. But he felt the need to serve in order to play a role in the future of the church.
    I will pray for both of you and remember that the Lord loves to bless us with new challenges that enable us to grow in the faith.

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  55. I just found your blog a few months ago...Three years ago we were finally able to become foster parents, something God had laid on my heart for years. After a year God provided the perfect opportunity for us to do this on a much larger scale.(my ministry is to help keep large sibling groups together). In a month, much to the dismay of my parents, we had moved 10 hrs away, from East Texas to Lubbock, TX. Now we have 4 newly adopted children and 5 more foster kids. God has blessed us in so many ways, the biggest is my second husband who was all for us following God!
    I have been fascinated with the Amish way of life for years. Wish I was so selfless. What part of the country are you from? God Bless you and your family! Christy

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  56. Gina I can just imagine what you must be feeling but we know that all things work together for good to those who love the Lord. Let me remind you of something my preachers wife told a group of ladies recently she said that everything happens for our good and for God's Glory. I just thought of this after reading your post. I am very familiar with casting lots with our contact with the the Eastern Mennonites. Blessings to you, Ed and your family.

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  57. Gina, you will be a wonderful Minister's wife. Just continue to be the sweet soul you already are. Although I am not Mennonite, I have great respect for your faith and envy how you are raising your children. We have a small Mennonite community near us in Tampico, IL, where I buy all my bulk goods and fruits for canning. I pray that God helps guide you in your new role.

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  58. I can identify with the struggles of surrender you are going through! We are also Mennonite, and in fact, Rebecca whose husband was in the lot twice and I are members of the same church, and the second time, my husband was the one who found the paper in his song book! My husband and I have reminded each other more than once that the Lord did the choosing, not us. Take heart, and may the Lord's enabling power fill you both!

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  59. Oh my goodness I can see why you were stressed. It is a very high calling and something not to go into lightly. So yes I can see why you were not wanting to surrender. I would have been right there in your shoes to. I pray God will give you everything you need for this job and that you and your whole family will be richly blessed through all of it. If He calls, He will also equip. Thank you Gina for being honest and for sharing with us all. I have always been so interested in the Amish and Mennonites. I love to learn because it's just so interesting to me. We went to Montery,TN. a few years back for our 32nd wedding annv. and we stayed in a Mennonite community and I could live there in a heartbeat! I just LOVED it because there was no hustle and bustle and everyone was so peaceful and laid back. I love the lifestyle and everything. I just found your blog the other day but I have so enjoyed reading it and checking out all your recipes. I am going to can some of your soups to!!!! Already got the recipes printed out! :)

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  60. Dear Gina,

    Although you posted about your family's calling into ministry 4 years ago, I've just recently discovered your blog. Thus, I just discovered this post about surrendering unto the Lord. The timing for me to read this is perfect. Although I've faced situations that have required surrendering to the Lord in the past, I currently am in need of a reminder. So, Thank You for sharing your heart with your readers.
    Blessings,
    Mrs.B

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