The Bury Family Story: Trusting God's Plans

A Letter from the Bury Family

Dear Westport,

 Three weeks ago, Jordan and I packed our Uhaul and moved down to Medford.  Our plan had been for many personal goodbyes and celebrations of this transition for our family.  Unfortunately, an unexpected loss in my extended family redirected those plans and we spent our final weeks stretched between packing, wrapping up the school year, traveling, and attending a funeral service.  

 It is important to us to have the opportunity to share with all of you as our church family the incredible journey we are on with God and how Medford ended up in our path.  The quick and easy answer is that Jordan was transferred to Medford for work.  The long version of the story is best told over a campfire, or a cup of coffee, or where there is time for intricate details to be fully exposed...because God set out to reveal himself to us as we followed him and there's no short cut in sharing what our eyes have seen and our ears have heard.

 Several years ago, as I was doing devotions with our young kids, we read the story of Nehemiah.  I was enthralled by Nehemiah's passion and began to dig deeper into the study for myself.  God stirred my spirit as I read and prayed.  I could feel him prompting me to pray Nehemiah's prayer for our family and for his people.  It is such a big prayer, but it resonated so deeply in my heart that I knew the prompting was from him. Nehemiah prays and reminds God of his promises, 

but if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling place for my Name.’ They are your servants and your people, whom you redeemed by your great strength and your mighty hand.  O Lord, let you ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name.
— Nehemiah 1:9-11

At the time, Jordan had just started a career in law enforcement, and I could see he had passion for the exiled people just as Nehemiah did.  I continued to pray this prayer specifically over Jordan and his work, that God would use us to gather the exiles.

This past November we were days away from closing on a piece of property out in Rainier, which was our greatest and most self propelled attempt to try and bring satisfaction into our lives where we had been battling the feeling of unsettled dissatisfaction at our “every day”.  Instead, Jordan’s supervisor informed him that they had a special project for him in Medford and they were planning to transfer him at the end of the school year.  When we heard this news, we began to pray one simple prayer…

“Lord, you have designed and orchestrated these things, and you have allotted our time.  In the next six months, prepare us.  We do not want to go to Medford as the people we are now.  We want to be transformed.  We want our minds to be your mind and our hearts to be your heart and our ways to be your ways.  Do not let us waste this time.  Stir our hearts and fix our eyes on you.”

Looking back on the week this happened, Isaiah 65:24 is the song of my heart, “It shall come to pass that before they call, I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear.”  God began to transform our hearts and minds at a rapid rate!  He intentionally put people and relationships into our paths that became mentor relationships.  Primarily, he used those relationships to reshape how we interacted with Him.  God began inviting us into personal conversation with him in which he affirmed and loved us, and called us into specific identity as his image bearers.  He named inside of each of us, the reflection of himself that was unique in our creation.  He stirred up in our hearts the things that he had designed for us when he knit us together in our mother’s womb.  The amazing part of this journey is that we both realized that we had been longing for this and attempting to achieve it on our own strength for most of our lives.  The things God stirred up in our hearts were the things we were already doing.  But, through prayer and interaction with him, he showed us the difference between doing those things in our own strength, and doing them by the power of the Holy Spirit.  If we were willing, God was going to take our identity and super power it with Kingdom of God vision and purpose.  We were willing.

In Medford, our careers do not change.  Jordan is still in law enforcement and I am still home and caring for our four kids.  However, our mission has changed.  We are no longer making our own attempt to do those things to our own standard or by our own power.  We are continuing to ask God to reveal his ways and unleash our imaginations for his Kingdom work in those desires he put in our hearts.  

God brought me back to my prayer that Nehemiah had prayed, and we moved forward together in the story.  Nehemiah called the people back to Jerusalem, not just for a relocation, but to bring forth the identity they had forgotten while they were in exile.  In his own strength, perhaps Nehemiah could have convinced some Israelites to change their life style and act more like the Israelites they were created to be.  Perhaps in his own strength, Nehemiah could have rebuilt parts of the city and out of tradition people would have come back to the temple.  But, God had created Nehemiah with a passion for reconciliation, and in HIS power, he would take the desire he had given Nehemiah in his mother’s womb, and he would call back an entire nation and rebuild an entire city and reconcile a lost people to their loving God.  And that…is exactly what we want to do in Medford.

For Jordan, this is happening through his occupation.  God is already connecting him with other believers and giving him vision and desire for unity among the agencies he will be working with in this area.  God is anointing Jordan for reconciling relationships and building teamwork and camaraderie as he leads others into interaction with God, where God can be the one to remind these men who he created them to be and call out to them from his Spirit to theirs in the identity he gave them that is a reflection of his character.  Ultimately this will expand into the work they will do as a team.  

For me, God stirred inside the deep love I have for his kids.  I taught in a classroom for 3 years before we started our family, and God brought back to my memory the relationships I had with my students and my strong desire for them to know their value.  As I prayed about those things, he filled my imagination with the faces of the students at the public elementary school down the street from our new house in Medford.  I felt God lovingly encourage me.  In my own power I am doing my best to love my own kids and teach them about God.  In his Kingdom power, my kids and I walk hand and hand into this elementary school and through relationships with teachers and moms and friends of theirs, we show this entire school how treasured and loved they are by the God who created them and desires intimacy with them.  

 Collectively, our house is quickly becoming our mission center.  It is on our property and in our home that we can invite anyone to come and taste and see how good is the love of the Lord.  When Jordan was praying over Medford and moving, God gave him Acts 2:42-47 for our house and our mission,

“They were continually and faithfully devoting themselves to the instruction of the apostles, and to fellowship, to eating meals together and to prayers. A sense of awe was felt by everyone, and many wonders and signs (attesting miracles) were taking place through the apostles. And all those who had believed [in Jesus as Savior] were together and had all things in common. And they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing the proceeds with all, as anyone had need. Day after day they met in the temple continuing with one mind, and breaking bread in various private homes. They were eating their meals together with joy and generous hearts, praising God continually, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord kept adding to their number daily those who were being saved.”
— Acts 2:42-47

In our own power, we would have re-established ourselves in Medford with similar style to how we were living in Portland.  We would have done our jobs to the best of our abilities and continued to try hard to do the right things for the right reasons.  In God’s amazing power, we believe that in Medford we will experience Acts 2.  

 We treasure your prayers as we move forward.  In Nehemiah 4, he shares about the opposition that the people faced as they made their repairs to the city.  Nehemiah said half the people worked on the wall while the other half stood watch, ready to defend.  Everyone who worked had one hand for building and one hand on their sword.  We are asking God to give us community in Medford.  As Jordan and I reach out around us, our desire is that our home is a place of gathering and encouraging and protecting and defending and celebrating the sense of awe and the wonders and sharing meals and the growing number of exiles that are returning to God’s family.  

 When the Israelites had come back to Jerusalem, Ezra read them the law and reminded them of God.  The people confessed their sins with grief over what they had lost, but with hope for renewal!  They recalled all that God had done for them and lamented their sinful state and then renewed their covenant with him.  And then they had the most amazing worship service that had ever happened!  They were overcome with the revelation of the One true God, and their response was to celebrate it with all of their gifts and resources.  When I read this part of Nehemiah, God stirs my heart for the second coming of his Son.  Nehemiah did all of these things in preparation for Jesus coming to the earth to rescue us.  It was a shadowing forward of the rebuilding and reconciling that He would do through his death on the cross and resurrection, defeating the power of sin.  God is giving us, all of us, the invitation to be a part of the shadowing forward in preparation for his return!  Then he will come and call all of his exiled children to him and reveal the fullness of himself and there will be lamenting over things lost for many people, but there will be a celebration of all celebrations for those who have lived in his promises.  

 Jordan and I want to be there for the celebration, along with all of those whom God has allowed for us to share in bringing back to his family!

 We want to encourage each of you to truly engage God about your hearts.  The identity that God gave you when he knit you together in your mother’s womb is a truly beautiful and unique reflection of him that he longs to power in your life.  Ask him to show it to you.  Believe that he will specifically respond to you.  Know that he will make a way to display himself to his lost children through you.  It will change your life even if it doesn’t change your career or your location.  

 We would love to talk personally or share with any who are interested to hear more of this story, or who would like to be included in praying specifically for our family, or to be updated on how we are walking forward here.  Our kitchen table is always open, as are the seats around our fire pit and the couches in our living room and the bed in our guest room and the walking trails around our house.  We would also settle for emails and phone calls :)

 Thank you so much to all of you and to the staff at Westport.  You have truly been our family for the last 10 years.  All of our children have been dedicated on the stage of Westport Church and Jordan was baptized there after the men’s retreat many years ago.  In the most challenging stage of my life, when we had 4 tiny kids and a new career, I was supported and loved and encouraged by Westport Moms group and the relationships I shared with pastor’s wives that reached out and invested in me.  My kids have learned and flourished in the Port, and I had the opportunity to love on and teach many of your children while I volunteered.  Westport has been the only church home our family has known, and we are honored to have shared our life with the life of this church body.  The Bury family will greatly miss Westport.  We had the opportunity to share all of these things with the Fookes, Wolvertons and Kings before we left, and it was with their blessing and their genuine prayers that we were sent on our way.  All of you will also remain in our prayers!

With love, affection, and celebration,

 The Bury Family