Thursday, June 29, 2017

Keeping Up with the Tucker's...

Well, the cat is out of the bag and the Tucker's are moving to Wylie in a few weeks! (For all of our non-Texas peeps, that's about 45 minutes SE of where we are now). Had you told me this 6+ months prior, I would have bet my life against it. I mean why would we? We were completely happy being on staff at a church in the McKinney/Prosper area doing what we love from worship to special events, youth and everything in between, with incredible relationships, a wonderful ministry and looking forward to the new year. God had given us a mandate to support His endeavor which is the whole reason we moved cross country with our pastors in 2008 anyway. God expected immediate obedience to the call then and He expected obedience to the call now. 

We are firm believers in Revelation 3:8 which says "I have set before you an open door that no man can shut." So if the door shuts on a season, then God is the only one that could do it. It doesn't mean it isn't devastating or inconvenient or that we even understand it, but it does mean that we choose to trust Him regardless. We'd been in ministry long enough that we've learned when things beyond man's control occur, it's time to take a step back to ask God what the heck He's doing. So that's exactly what we did. We, in agreement with our pastors, took three weeks off to seek His face in January. During that timeframe, Jeremy and I both received prophetic words, dreams, direction and confirmations. On a sidenote, we also fell in love with a new community in St. Paul/Wylie called Inspiration, but we weren't really sure where or how that all fit in the plan.

Here's what we DID discover over the course of those first three weeks
1. God lead us to discover a church in Allen we'd never really heard of and knew nothing about. I mean what is Eleven32 anyway? Who names their church after numbers??? {Cool story comes from Daniel 11:32 which is to know God, be strong and do great exploits. Know. Be. Do.} Anyway, we watched online for the first time and the pastor spoke right to us and didn't even know it. We went the following Sunday and cried the whole service as we sensed God's direction co-mingled with the tearing away of what we knew would be an extremely difficult decision for all of us. We are loyal even to our own detriment which is why the Lord was ultimately going to have to be the One to do it, and He did.
2. It's also important to note that our current lease in McKinney would be up in the summer, so we needed to make some decisions soon. We felt a peace about moving to Wylie, but curiously, why not Allen? I mean that's where the new-to-us- church was going to be, right? This was already an about-face from the subdivision we were originally looking at in the Prosper/Celina area. Still, we followed the peace.
3. Toward the end of the first week, God began to speak to a couple of our friends who were unaware of our situation. One called us with a dream and the other with a word of knowledge. This lined up exactly with what God began to show me in His Word.
4. By the second week, we attempted to sit inconspicuously in the dark back corner of a very packed youth service and instead was called out to receive a prophetic word from someone that had never even met us. He was spot on. Again, we wept, but he also let us know things were about to move VERY fast. And boy did they ever. Keep reading...
5. During one of the "Encounter" services on week three, we listened to a guest speaker, Michael Maiden, prophesy some amazing things over the lead pastor at Church Eleven32 where he assured him that God was already bringing the leaders in to accomplish these goals...and there we sat. "Hmm, interesting..." was literally the thought that went through my head. Nothing more, nothing less. I was still just watching and listening, but my interest was definitely peaked and my heart started to pound a little faster. 
6. On the heels of that, I was reading a phenomenal book a friend felt compelled to give me. In it was something so precious to me that it was like the words leaped off the page. I knew God was speaking directly to me again. It was about a woman in the Bible I had never even heard of before. Then I went to another "Encounter" service later that night, and the speaker felt lead by the Spirit to teach on that same Bible story. I had NEVER heard it preached prior to that night and I've been in church my whole life...Bible college included. OK. Yes, Lord. I hear you.
7. At the end of our commitment to prayer and more confirmations than we could count on one hand, Jeremy circled back with our pastor who agreed that our "assignment" had been completed and supported that a new one had been given. Regardless, we are all one team with one goal and that is to make His name known. That meeting happened just days before the membership class at Church Eleven32. Woah. Can we slow the train? No? ok. 

Fast forward a few months and now we know why. After stepping out in faith, we've watched God reveal his plan one page at a time, but before I've even had time to process the previous page, the next one is already turning. Coming from someone who likes to read the end of the book first, this has been slightly unnerving to me. I think Jeremy enjoys the thrill of the surprise though. Lucky duck. Anyway, one of those pages unfolded in February when we were sitting in the "Vision" service. They revealed plans to open a Wylie campus this year. The light bulb went off. Ok, God...I see where this "could be" going. But when? Several weeks later, the announcement was made that it would actually be this fall. After promising ourselves we would never do another church/campus plant, guess who's on the launch team? Shocker. God began (quickly) preparing our hearts and we've been running full steam ahead! We've had to adapt to a new "culture" that already seemed quite familiar and have watched God open doors faster than we can walk through them. I can now look back and see His hand, His protection and His provision that has already supernaturally unfolded this year.

So with that, we will be moving to an apartment in Wylie on July 18th while our new home is being built at Inspiration in a neighborhood called Wisdom on Lantern Faith Drive. How fitting is that?! Well, we did pray for wisdom! But that's not all...remember when we lost everything in North Carolina (including our home) before moving out to Texas in 2008? Ironically, the name of our floorplan is called the "Carolina." For real! God promised to restore what was lost and we are seeing the evidence of that finally come to fruition. Yes, my fear still creeps in cautiously thinking this is all too good to be true, but then I'm reminded that my God IS good and my God IS truth. It's a little to early for me to do the happy dance, but rest assured when I have keys in hand, there will be no containing it! In the meantime, here's a view from our dirt and the lovely Lake Lavon.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Hung Jury

It's been a few weeks since the verdict was given late in the evening on Friday, the 9th and it's taken this long to really think through and wrap our heads around the process. A "hung jury" was definitely not what we wanted to hear. For "Jane's" sake, I was hoping for closure and that she would never have to relive or recount those horrid details ever again. Sadly, that will not be the case. The trial has been tentatively reset for the fall and a new jury will be chosen.

I had just dropped Jane off at work about 30 minutes before I received the verdict. The thoughts running through my head were "how will she handle this and what kind of a setback will this incur." I texted her the results and ended up picking her back up from work. I prayed all the way there, and I knew nothing I could say would make things better. With tears streaming down our faces, we drove back home in silence. I expected her to shut down, retreat to her room and close the door which is her typical response when she's upset. Historically, she has chosen to deal with things alone for which we now understand why. She rarely opens up or communicates her feelings, so I assumed we may not see her until her graduation the next day.

But not this time. This time was different. We all grieved, vented and cried---TOGETHER. For the first time, she knew she wasn't alone...that she was loved...and that someone else besides her knew the whole story...and believed her. Someone else knew all the details and all the shame she spent many years hiding. For three hours, I watched the Lord make something beautiful out of something so unfortunate. What I thought was a complete waste of time this week, the Lord showed me that he never wastes a moment or a tear. I saw Him take an unfavorable decision and very bleak situation and work it out not only for our good, but especially Jane's just like he promised to do in Romans 8:28. The last three weeks have brought us closer together than I ever could have imagined. Her walls have come down and she's beginning to trust and learning to love.

I've come to realize that we take for granted even the simplest things in life like love. I thought my role in Jane's life was to be a light in the darkness and share Jesus' love with her, and while that is still true, it's even more basic than I once thought. The latter is assuming that someone has experienced or understands even the general idea of love because then you can explain how His love is different. But how do you share love with someone that has no concept of love to begin with? This racked my brain. We learn love from the moments we are born usually from a parent, a sibling or someone like a parent, but what if you never had any of those? To complicate matters, Jane's mom died from breast cancer when Jane was still very young. All of this explains why she was able to show no emotion when those in the courtroom heard for the first time that she's never been loved by her father. It wasn't shocking to her like it was to everyone else. Why? She didn't know what she was missing! Thankfully, now she does and I'm honored that God chose us to model that for her and to be an example of His love. This month, she has been able to see how a real father acts, protects and cares for his children. Jane watched a real dad fight for her. My hope is that this gives her a new perspective of her heavenly Father as well. Time is not mine and not a moment is wasted, so I'll just let God keep doing His thing.


Friday, June 9th-The jury is still out...literally. It's 1pm and I decided to go to work today instead of the courthouse. The encouragement from everyone checking in on us this morning is overwhelming and much appreciated. My mind is racing and my feet are antsy, yet my heart is still at peace.

Playing the waiting game coupled with the unknown is quite a challenge for my personality. I've said many times I like to know the plan. I don't know the plan. I don't even know what the jury is thinking at this point. Nothing. Nada. Am I really going to trust God with the outcome? What if it comes back as "not-guilty?" Am I ready to lay it down at his feet? Eeek. I honestly don't know. I hope so, but I'm hoping more for victory. Absolute justice. That would be so much easier to deal with.

I'm being forced to have faith and forced to have patience. Story of my life. Ugh. So, I've consciously decided to worship through it. The song I have on repeat today is "On the Throne" by Desperation Band (feat. Kari Jobe). Click here to give it a listen!

I will walk through the fire
Walk through the darkest night
I will walk through the flood
I won't be overcome, I won't be overcome
I will walk through the trial
Walk through the valley of fear
I will walk through the storm
I won't be overcome, I won't be overcome
For the Lord is
He is able, He is faithful
Higher than the mountains that I face
Every season, I will press on
For God alone, is on the throne
I will walk in Your promise
Walk in Your victory
I will walk in Your power
I won't be overcome, I won't be overcome
On the throne
Glorious, victorious
Sovereign over all
On the throne
Infinite, magnificent
Reigning over all

The Waiting Game...

Thursday, June 8th-Hurry up and wait. That's what today has been. We finally made it to closing arguments around 2pm and it was more difficult than I anticipated. Listening to the defense address the jury and accuse a child of "crying wolf," then telling her the motive for her continued lie is that "if she recanted her story now then she would lose everybody in the courtroom there to support her" actually ended up being one of the biggest lies of the day. Our love for her is not conditional! But in forced silence we sat, unable to protest and unable to disagree. All I could do was shake my head in disgust. Luckily, "Jane" knows the truth.

But nothing hit harder than hearing a twisted truth from the defendant himself. He took the stand and shared a testimony I'm glad I wasn't allowed to hear. But it was so unfathomable that the prosecution referenced it in closing arguments against him. How can a father declare he has never loved his daughter? He admitted to NEVER uttering the words "I love you" to her and never wanting her. He admitted neglect and rejection and literally, just didn't care. As a parent, heck as a human being, I will NEVER understand.

Keeping a straight face in the midst of my raging emotion was more than a challenge. Jeremy sat there seething and teary-eyed. Jane stayed fearless, emotionless. She took the ridiculous and false allegations against her character like a champ. But then the prosecution came out like a roaring lion, validating all and turning the tide on them instead. They addressed every attempt at "(un)reasonable" doubt cast by the defense with details not suitable for children. And yet, here we the trial of a father who "allegedly" sexually abused his child, his daughter. Jane didn't just hear it; she lived it.

We are now back in the Victim's Assistance suite of the DA's office just waiting on someone to tell us a verdict has been reached. However, as we near 5pm, I fear that the deliberation will push into tomorrow and we will be sent home once again.

In the meantime, no matter what is decided by man, I have chosen to stand on Deut 32:35 which says, "It is mine to avenge; I will repay. In due time, their foot will slip; their day of disaster is near and their doom rushes upon them."

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Peace Through the Storm

Wednesday, June 7th-This week has been a whirlwind of emotion so far. I'm choosing to blog about the following events so that I have a reference point in history to look back and see God's hand in it all regardless of the outcome or my inability to understand. Due to the sensitive nature of the content and to protect the parties involved, I have changed the name of the witness/victim referenced since this case is still ongoing. For those of you that may not know, "Jane" had to testify in the most uncomfortable of situations and speak of unthinkable acts in front of a jury and open court. Staring the defendant in the face and recounting a series of events that I'm not sure I would have had the strength to endure, she has developed a maturity that I've watched blossom through this process.

We were both subpoenaed to testify and it's been a lot of adrenaline, frustration and angst, but I have purposed to intercede for all involved, including the defendant. I am praying that God captures hearts that have strayed or have never had the privilege to know Him...His goodness, His vindication, His authority and His peace.

Yesterday was the first day of testimony followed by another long day today. Jane testified this morning and I am anxious to soon be able to discuss with her everything I cannot right now due to "the rule" being invoked. As a mother, knowing you cannot be in the court room for the most heart-wrenching day of her life leaves you feeling useless. Literally, the only thing I could do was pray and trust God that He would be there with her with ministering angels surrounding her. Cross examination was expected to be brutal in an attempt to invalidate her experience, devalue her character and dilute her story. I am standing firm on Isaiah 54:17 which says, "No weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and this is their vindication from me."

Needless to say, when she walked out of the courtroom and I saw the sigh of relief and peace on her face, I knew God was answering prayers...not just my prayers, but the prayers of all friends and family interceding on our behalf. I cannot thank you enough! No matter the outcome, I reminded her that truth is still truth regardless of someone's ability (or inability) to perceive it.

Now we are sitting in the "Victim Assistance" suite, sequestered and drained, and I know that in a courtroom not too far away, the battle still rages on. However, I look over to find her sleeping on the couch. I couldn't help but remember Jesus sleeping in the hull of the boat amidst the storm. Talk about a peace that surpasses all understanding! (Phil 4:7)

And while my strategic piece in this puzzle has been shifted many times, my supernatural peace has remained steadfast. I hope to draw from the courage that has already been on display if or when I take the stand next, and I know that Prov 13:6 says, "Righteousness guards the person of integrity, but wickedness overthrows the sinner." I am believing for a ruling in the favor of justice, but I will choose to trust God in the process regardless. I know that he will provide the grace for whatever comes next, and I'm ok with that.

Once again, thank you for everyone that has supported us in prayer, in person, via text or social media. We have felt it and the enemy knows it.