Thursday, May 30, 2013

Green Pastures Beside Still Waters...

For all the sunrises and sunsets between August 29th, 1982 and  May 17th, 2013 --------- there's been a place of "green pastures beside still waters" for us in Georgia.

So when God made it clear He was calling us to the other side of the world ---- we had to work our fingers a bit to make them loosen the grip they had on the place we had always called home.
When God said, "lay it all down, walk away, follow me, i'm moving you..." it took our hearts a few months to let go.
We are proof of God's good patience.

Beginning February 3, 2011 my dear Steve and i began praying for two things we'd never prayed for before.
We began praying...
1 - for the family that was going to come live at 6355 Mockingbird Road.
2 - for a place on the other side of the world for us to lay our heads.
Specifically, we prayed for a place of "green pastures beside still waters" chosen by God for us in Kenya.

So we prayed and asked and waited and watched...

Two years later answers came.

On May 1st, God answered the second prayer ---- like this...
In late April we flew to Kitale, Kenya to prepare for our relocation. We needed to get serious about finding a house where we could live.  Shortly after we arrived, Steve became very sick (not something that happens often). There were so many people to meet, things to learn, and places to become acquainted with. We were overwhelmed. Steve was not well enough to house-hunt until several days after we arrived --- time was growing short. Then on May 1st we spoke at a morning devotional time for students and staff at ATS; afterwards we were to go house-hunting. The principal of the seminary had made some phone calls trying to find possible options. We learned that when homes in the Milimani area come available, they are occupied quickly. It's a safe place to live --- it's in high demand. So, at first there did not seem to be many (if any) options. The principal of ATS  called another friend asking if she knew of any possibilities. We held our breath...
She told him she was so surprised he had called her.
She said her husband and she had just talked the night before---- and faced the reality ---- they needed to rent their home for a year or two. A weak economy and disappointing business transactions had put them in a fragile situation. She wondered if we would be willing to consider renting her home? We had not seen her home, but had been told it was a beautiful place on a large plot (we instantly wondered if it would be within our budgeted price range). We had seen a few options --- but nothing that fit us. One place looked like the perfect "out of Africa" setting but inside the floor literally swayed down when we walked across it and bat guano dripped down the walls. Oh Lord, please no... 
So as we drove out to see her place, we prayed. Please Lord, bring us to Your green pastures beside still waters where YOU will restore our souls and let us lie down and rest... whether it's this house or another --- let us be led by You Lord.
We drove through the gate and held our breath. It was lovely.
A two story home sat on a spacious 2 acre plot surrounded by flowers and fruit trees. A smaller home sat behind the main house --- an annex/guest house. Then in the far back corner was a smaller one room "house", where the night guard-gatekeeper-gardener lives.
As we walked through the house --- the fullness of their story slowly came out.
She is a Christian ----- her husband is not (yet).
He has been very successful in business --- but has recently suffered several losses.
He has been diagnosed with diabetes, and is beginning to lose his eyesight.
Steve spoke with their daughter who has just graduated college in the States, is home for just long enough to help her parents transition through their financial challenges and is then moving to the States for work. He expressed our concern over her parents situation. They wanted to rent their beautiful main-house and they would move into the annex house. "Won't it be so hard for your parents to see us in "their" house...???" She reassured Steve explaining it would be a wonderful blessing to them ---- they would not have to lose the house all together. She said they will know you are actually helping them save their house.
Then we wondered what the monthly rent might cost. For a house this size and this lovely, we were preparing ourselves for a price far above our monthly budgeted allotment. We sat and talked as Steve and i silently prayed -- "Lord, please have us be where You want us to be".
When they shared with us the amount needed each month ---- our mouths dropped open. It was less than what we had expected (and budgeted) to have to spend. We asked for clarification -- thinking we must have misunderstood. But we had heard correctly. They were a couple in need, we had been sent to them by a God who cares deeply for them. One of them knows Him ---- the other, is being pursued by Him --- and He is moving us in right beside him.
We walked through the beautiful lawns counting avocado, mango, banana, and macadamia nuts trees and i whispered to Abba, "You've done it Lord --- i'm walking through "green pastures" on the other side of the world... no need to worry over the still waters Lord..." just as we rounded the house i saw in the back yard a tall tower holding two huge black water tanks ------- and surely God smiled as i said aloud ---- "still waters..."
The house is much larger than anything we had hoped for or even imagined ----- and it will cost us less each month than what we expected... God has gone before us... we are amazed.

Green pastures beside still waters in Kitale, Kenya

On May 17th, God answered the first prayer --- get ready, take a breath, you're about to see "the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living"...

During the many months of trying to sell our house on Mockingbird Road there have been deep running, mixed emotions. Excited over all that God has been doing, but also very tearful over leaving a place we had loved. Still we knew, God was serious about His call to us; we went through all the necessary motions --- and prayed.
We prayed daily for the family who were being moved to Mockingbird Road as we were being moved away. Not knowing their names, not knowing where they were coming from or what they were experiencing --- we prayed diligently for them. God urged us to pray fervently for them. Surely something was happening in their world that would propel them to move from wherever they were to this peaceful place. We knew ---- God loved them ---- and He was moving them to one of His sanctuaries.
As the months passed by with no buyers ---- we pressed ahead and prayed. What was going on in their lives?  We were ready to go (we thought), What was taking them so long...? no answers, and so we prayed.
Several offers were made, none that we felt were right. We waited and prayed.
We missed the "personal" element we had wanted to have with buyers ---we wanted to know them and bless them. We had asked God to give us a God-story in the selling of the house. I had often said, "When we are in Kenya and those tough days come along, i want to be able to stand firm on the fact that God had moved us". I wanted to have a beautiful story to lean into on those hard days. Please Lord, show us Your hand in the selling of our house.
Our real estate agent was distant, there was no relational, warm story, it all seemed so business like and cold.
Then an offer came.
We countered.
They accepted.
The appraisal came in at the exact amount we were asking.
Inspection passed.
The house sold.
But ---- no story.
Then 3 days before the closing, we received a message asking if we would be willing to let the couple come meet us at the house on the morning of the closing. We agreed. They were coming at 10AM.

We were weary from packing and sad that it was all so "professional" and lacked any personal touch. But when they arrived ---- their faces glowed, their smiles warmed, their joy was contagious, we melted.
Shortly after the initial greetings, we told them we had been praying for them. Steve and the gentleman went one way; the lady and i went another. As stories were shared God's gift wrapped "story" came clear.
She asked, "When did you begin praying for us?"
I said, "The day after we knew we were called to move to Kenya, on February 3, 2011..."
She smiled so sweetly and said ------ "you were praying for us before we even knew Christ"... (what? what did you just say...?) she repeated, "neither my husband nor myself were believers when you began praying for us... we accepted Jesus as our Savior on Mother's Day of 2011... and while our son had been born several years before, we had not met our beautiful foster daughters when you began praying for us. Six months after we accepted Christ as our Savior, we got the call that two little girls needed a safe haven. We went from a family of 3 to a family of 5 overnight." Her parents live just 7 miles from Mockingbird Road --- but they lived a long 2 hour drive from their other home. So after the little girls came, they wanted more than ever to be nearer Grandparents.

Oh Lord... You were hearing our prayers... You were moving in mighty ways... You saved them and increased their home and are moving them now to be closer to family. Oh Lord... what a lovely story of your goodness and faithfulness.

I've wept over the fullness of the story.
The very thing God is asking us to give up ---- He is multiplying in this dear families world.
He has given us a Sanctuary on Mockingbird Road all these years. Now, He is moving a family with two little girls into His Sanctuary --- a place where the girls and their older brother can grow surrounded by peace and family and love. 

As we stood in the front yard talking, and wiping our eyes, Maggie arrived back home from classes that day. She walked out to greet the lady and welcome her to her new home. And when i shared with Maggie their story, i said, "So Maggie, that means the youngest little daughter will be living in your room, all safe and secure within the walls that have held you so safe and secure all these years." Maggie reached for the lady, they cried together, big tears.
Maggie's heart had been hurting over leaving her sanctuary.
Her heart could now joyfully give it up at the thoughts of a little girl moving in who needed the beauty of those walls around her.

Later that same day, the closing went smoothly --- smiles all around.
Afterwards we prayed with the new owners of 6355 Mockingbird Road.
They asked us to come by the house one more time that evening to meet their children and her parents.

That evening as we walked through the empty, echoing rooms ---- little children ran 'round us, playing hide-n-seek in closets and corners. The house was filled with so much joy ---- just as she had been so many times before with our squealing little ones. I stepped into the kitchen one last time to be sure i had gotten everything out ------ and paused.
I thanked the wooden shell for being such a good place, such a safe haven, such a place of peace in a noisy world. Without words but in my heart i felt her response ---- "it's been wonderful, thank you for sharing your children and your life inside my walls, i've loved every minute... but now... do you see these sweet little ones?... i've got so much to do again. i'll never forget... but i really must be attentive to them now... thank you for obeying God and moving aside so i could hold little, laughing children again -- they need me now ......... goodbye dear donna..." (peace)
Green pastures on Mockingbird Road... ready for another family

And so --- the Lord gives, the Lord takes away, and He gives again... Blessed be the Name of the Lord.

Two prayers -----
both answered-----
Men can not do things like that, not even on their best days.
God can.
He did.

©2013 Donna Taylor/Reaching for the Robe


  1. this is such an amazing story Donna! i love it, love it. so thankful for the gifts God has given y'all in preparing for this move.

  2. Donna, I spoke with my dad, Bob K., this morning and I asked him to send me your blog link. First, thank you for visiting with him! Second, I have been praying for a job change for months now and I told my dad it is ALWAYS wonderfully encouraging to read other people's stories of prayers answered. Blessings to you and your family (although it seems you have God's favor and blessings already!! ;-)

  3. Thank you for connecting with me Karen. You are a blessed lady, your dad is an amazing man of God. I was so honored to get to meet him before we left for Kenya. He is inspiring isn't he. May God bless you with the exact change that is needed --- and then may you encourage many as you share your story of answered prayer with them. :) Blessings and peace to you Karen.

  4. Dearest Deitra and Wendy ----- thank you two for being beside me and even holding my hand sometimes when the way gets too steep to travel solo. I love you both very much!