Believe God's Word and His Promises...
by Darla Trimble
“Bloom where you are planted.”
I must have heard that phrase more than a 100 times during my husband Kevin’s 20 years as a Free Will Baptist youth minister and pastor. Yet during that time, I didn’t understand how God was allowing my roots to deepen in the rich soil of His service to one day bloom for Him in the place He would plant me—into the chaplaincy and the soil of Fort Campbell.
Looking back, I realize that I had always relied on my relationships in the church, community, WNAC, or Bible study groups when it came to reaching out into the world for the cause of Christ. I knew I was comfortable, and I desired to do more for God.
During the summer of 2007 at the National Youth Conference, God began to speak. Listening to Gowdy Cannon—a bilingual youth pastor working in inner-city Chicago—challenge teens to do something bigger and greater for God, my mind started to reel, and my heart began to throb with the thought of so many ministries, so many people, so many ways to serve, so many who needed help. I spoke with Kevin, and we prayed together about possibilities. I sensed God asking us to go beyond our comfortable boundaries into an unknown world of ministry. He gave us a glimpse into the open doors of the military. We began praying, and God began working.
After months of waiting and preparation, Kevin was accepted into the military. After three months of chaplaincy training (CHBOLC), we received orders to Fort Campbell in Kentucky. Five months later, Kevin’s battalion deployed.
During this transition, I worked at Free Will Baptist Bible College. But when the school year ended, I moved to our home at Fort Campbell—alone. Although my children helped transport our stuff, by this time my daughter was busy working at a summer youth camp, and my son was training for his own military career. It was time for me to bloom, on my own, without the aid of anyone, and it was hard.
In the past, when my children were seeking direction or praying for God’s call, I’d always told them they needed confirming circumstances, confirming Scripture, and God’s peace. Now my situation required these of me—true reliance on God’s previous promises and His Holy Word. Kevin was gone. No one at Fort Campbell really knew me or knew who I was. No church had called us to a position. I couldn’t rely on my children. It was just me.
God reminded me of a Bible college chapel sermon Jack Williams preached earlier that year concerning Noah and the ark. He emphasized that the ark served its purpose for a specific period of time. Then God asked Noah to leave the ark to be planted in another place. As I pondered this, I realized my job at the college had served as a bridge. Now, I was leaving the comfort zone—evacuating my ark of safety. God had called me, and He was planting me into a new place of service.
Convinced that God had called Kevin into the chaplaincy, I reminded myself constantly of the confirming circumstances that took us through the waiting and the waivers that finally brought my husband to this place.
First, Kevin was older. But that year, the Army extended its age limits for chaplains. Second, when Kevin needed more education, officials graciously allowed him to finish his classes after being fully accepted. Third, there was Kevin’s broken leg from two years earlier. Through a competent surgeon and God’s grace, 22 broken bones healed miraculously. The army noted the doctor’s comments of miraculous healing and allowed him to join. Finally, Kevin’s passion for soldiers and their issues, problems, and questions during his initial consultation served as confirmation.
Throughout those dark days of deployment, when I truly wondered how I would make it through, I remembered and reaffirmed my belief in all these promises, confirmations, and God’s Words. If I were to flourish, I had to believe.
Bridge the Distance
I was lonely. Alone in the house for days, I tried to stay busy, sending packages to Kevin and visiting my children and family when they were available. But I wasn’t blooming. My neighbors at Fort Campbell might as well have lived 100 miles away. I did not know them. They were busy, stayed to themselves, and most had small children. We had little in common. Plus, it was summer, when most families leave and there’s little activity—a difficult time to move to an army post. In order to bloom and not wither, I could not just stay inside my house. I had to do something; but what could I do?
Nothing says caring like cooking. Since cooking and baking are two things I enjoy, I began to reach out to neighborhood ladies through cookies, gifts of food, and preparing meals for neighbors. One neighbor started accompanying me, and this eventually led to a relationship. I was able to minister to her through difficult family situations. I invited another chaplain’s wife over for a brunch and coffee. I helped young mothers, watching their children when I was available. God began to open doors in the neighborhood, and it became my own mission field. I couldn’t wait for others to come to me. I had to move out of my safety zone and bridge the distance in order to bloom where I was planted.
As a chaplain’s wife, I was invited to Battalion Steering Committee meetings. Although I knew little of military protocol, I began to volunteer and was later asked to serve as treasurer. I went to the Officer Spouses Club meetings, Chaplain’s Spouses coffees, and volunteered at a school on post. Perhaps the hardest step of all was attending chapel services alone. No longer the pastor’s wife or Nathan and Rachel’s mom, I was just Darla. I volunteered for children’s church, something I had rarely done because of Kevin’s preaching ministry. I had always taught Sunday School. But in the military chapel, there’s only children’s church, so I determined I would thrive with the opportunities available.
With each new step, God continued to plant roots of faith, trust, and belief deeper in His soil. And I was blooming. The words of Luke 6:38 stand true: “Give and it shall be given unto you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over shall men give into your bosom, For with the same measure, that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.”
Blossom or Wither
Throughout life, we all face choices. We can blossom or wither. During the hardest and most lonely days of Kevin’s deployment, I had to dig deep into God’s wellsprings and bloom where God had planted me.
Satan desires us to wither and surrender to depression when we encounter difficulty and darkness. But when we wither, Satan wins, and God’s kingdom does not flourish. In contrast, when we believe God’s promises, trust Him daily, and reach out to others to accomplish His will, we will bloom. What choice will you make in your hard place today?
I thank God for every church, WAC group, friend, family member, and adopt-a-chaplain participant who called or sent cards, notes, packages, and gifts. I displayed all of them proudly. I sometimes waited days to open them, looking forward to the words inside. Many days, they literally gave me the encouragement I needed to make it through another day.
My cousin adopted me and sent me a card each week. When I went home to visit my family, my home church planned a 25th wedding anniversary celebration for Kevin and me. They took pictures and sent them to Kevin in Afghanistan. My family came and picked me up at Fort Campbell to spend those long summer days with them. Each card, each act of kindness helped me blossom and not wither.
May God bless everyone who gave, following the words of Romans 12:10-16: “Be kindly affectioned, one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another Rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer. Distributing to the necessity of the saints; given to hospitality, Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. Be of the same mind one toward another.”
Truly, God has given me an opportunity to “bloom where I am planted.” More than that, He’s taught me the meaning behind those words and helped me implement them in daily life. In your ministry, your neighborhood, your hard place, believe God’s words and His promises, bridge the distance through hospitality, and blossom for Him. He calls us all to do something beyond our familiar boundaries. What’s keeping you from that calling today? Find your place and bloom!
About the Writer: Darla Trimble is a longtime WNAC participant and frequent contributor to its program materials. WNAC encourages all women to bloom and allow God to stretch them for His purposes. (www.wnac.org) A Missouri native, Darla attended Hillsdale FWB College in Moore, OK, where she met her husband Kevin. Chaplain Trimble and Darla currently serve at Fort Campbell, KY.