Since October 19, Nolan and Bill have been preaching through a new sermon series titled “Get Your Bearings”, which focus on five core values that can calibrate your relationship with God to one that is vibrant, fruitful, and life-giving. During yesterday’s service, Pat Penner, Executive Director of Sealy Pregnancy Crisis Center, shared a personal testimony of how God is using the value of risk-taking as sacrificial worship to strengthen and stretch her relationship with Him:
“Dave and I married in April of this year. The day I returned to work from our honeymoon I was told that I was part of the group of lay-offs, and would be on the payroll for 60 days starting the following month and could not accept a job during that time or I would forfeit my severance. I had worked for BP for almost 35 years and really hadn’t pictured myself as leaving in this manner. I was saddened, but I accepted it as a new chapter in my life about to begin.
My immediate thought was, to update my Linkedin profile and get my resume together as I had a list of 30+ recruiters in a spreadsheet in preparation for such a day as this. However, my wonderful husband suggested I take these next 60 days and listen to what God had to say, as maybe He had other plans.
I took that time and reflected, on my life, where I was and how far I had come. In looking back, I had seen Gods hands all along the way leading me. Each time it was for a specific purpose, as I was going through these trials, I would get angry or frustrated because I didn’t understand. But when it was all over, I’d reflect back and could clearly see that His purpose was obvious. For now I know and have confidence that my Father either removes me from the storm or will hold my hand and be with me through it. Either way, He has never abandoned me.
So I knew that I had to step out in faith by trusting that this was a new stage in my life and He had a plan for me. At the time, I didn’t know what that plan was, but I needed to be still and listen. That meant I had to trust God and walk that tight rope knowing that he had that protective hand just below me, in case I fell. And if I fell, it was because there was something for me to learn. That’s because I have total trust in God and know that He has my best interest at heart.
During that down time, I asked myself, what I found most fulfilling. Volunteering at the Pregnancy Help Center came to mind immediately. I thought well there are no jobs available there, the pay is too low and 52 miles was way too far to commute on a daily basis. So that thought was a big “No Way!” Within a day or two, I received a call from the center director Sylvia Johnson asking me if I would be willing to help out periodically during the week while I was off as they were in need of help. I gladly agreed to volunteer on Mondays and Saturdays. The commute on the weekdays was horrible. Eventually, I thought, I can’t keep this up; gas is expensive, wears on my car and it’s not bringing in any income. But supportive Dave encouraged me to continue.
A couple of weeks later I was in the grocery store in Sealy and was reflecting on some of the young ladies I had counseled that day and the issues she was facing. I felt God tell me “Look around. See, there are young ladies here in need. Where can they go for help? There is a need for a pregnancy center here. That’s what I want you to do.” Sadly, I said “Is this in my head or is that You speaking, God? Because if it is, I need you to prove to me that it’s really You.” Then I said, “Number one, starting a business is a lot of work. Number two, I can’t do this by myself, so if this is what You really want, I need Your help and your guidance.” I then thought, “I just got married, my salary would go to literally nothing, I can’t do that to Dave and I couldn’t dare tell him that I was going to start a pregnancy center knowing that starting a business requires a lot of time, money and no salary. Not only that, I’m a control freak: I had a job, owned my own home, and paid my own bills. That would mean in a few short months I’d go from total control to no control.” My entire life was being transformed before my eyes.
One evening, as we sat down to eat dinner, I had this nagging push to tell Dave and I kept pushing it back down thinking “He’s going to think I’m nuts.” Finally, I told him and his response was positive, supportive and he said ‘Who am I to stand in the way if God is calling you to do this. You have the time. See where God takes you with this.” I called Sylvia and told her the idea and that I was just thinking about it and immediately her response was excitement and she said that she was willing to help and work with me to get it off the ground and she was telling me all that I needed to do to get setup. My immediate thought was fear and “what if this isn’t Gods calling and it’s just in my head? I don’t want people getting too excited about this just yet. Let’s just keep it low and under the radar. I’m just thinking about it, not sure I’m going to do it.” The fear in me began rise higher and higher.
So what did I do? I prayed. “God, if this is what you want me to do, make it clear and obvious. I’m listening. I don’t know where to start and, I don’t want it to be a burden on my husband. Please help.” He has done just that.
With every step taken, I have clearly seen Gods hands. When I need help in any specific areas, He has brought the right person across my path at the right time and reason to answer any questions, give me guidance and offer assistance when needed, such as Cheryl, Marcus, Cathy, and others. I thank Cheryl for her help, as she has been giving me any spare time she has to pull data, look up information, you name it. She has become a wonderful friend. You see I have learned that we need others as we walk our walk.
I felt God tell me, “All that I have brought you through has been to prepare you for just this. All that you have learned up to this point prepares you for what I have in store for you, at this stage in your life.” You see over the years, I have worked in accounting, administrative services, HR, as an engineer, commercial analyst, project manager, etc. Many times I’ve looked back and thought, if only I had made better decisions I would have been so much further in my life and career. But God has taken these experiences and given me an opportunity to share them with others, offering encouragement not to give up and that it’s never too late and never beyond hope for them and their child. As I have progressed through this, I have met others that have this same passion and encouraging stories to share and they too are a part of this plan. So, I have learned through this process to be open so that others have room for their spiritual growth through this process as well.
He has been and continues preparing us for the betterment of His Kingdom. He wants someone to be there for the young ladies who are losing hope and don’t have anywhere else to turn, and I am so honored that He has chosen me as His vessel to do His work. You see what I haven’t mentioned is that I, too, was one of them. I had my son at age 16. He is now 37 and is an amazing intelligent young man of whom I am very proud. I can’t imagine him not being here or where we would be without the love and support I too received at that time. Through all of these experiences, my relationship with my Father continues to grow stronger and stronger.
I remind myself often that this isn’t about me; it’s about God and His work. I am just the tool He uses. And if I hadn’t said yes, He would have chosen someone else, as His work will be done, with or without me. I’m glad I said yes.”