Saturday, November 2, 2013

What Joy Looks Like

 I get caught up in the day-to-day, the same ol same ol, the routine of life.  And when I do, I lose something extremely important.  Grace is extended to me from the loving arms of a Father who knows best.  I want more moments like this.  Reckless abandon, wind in my hair, total unadulterated joy.  Child-like faith.

Friday, October 25, 2013


Writers block is an understatement for what has been going on with me for the last few months.  I want desperately to have something meaningful, beautiful to say.  But I don't.  It isn't that there is nothing meaningful or beautiful going on in our lives.  Quite the opposite.  There are so many wonderful, beautiful things happening around us.  Its just that I haven't had the time or capacity to drink them in.

I sat across a cold metal table tonight, talking and processing with the man I love.  We talked about dreams and hopes, about what God is teaching us both and how to slow down.  This life we're in has been in overdrive for quite some time now.  And although we made our last move in April, an object in motion doesn't magically stop when circumstances change.  We grew accustomed to doing whatever it took to survive and live in a crazy paced life and now we have to learn how to slow down.  It's something I long for and have for a few years now.  But for the first time it feels possible.  To have days off, to hang around our house and drink coffee and let the kids be in their PJs all day.  To do yard work and visit coffee shops and make apple butter.  To make new friends and drive to the mountains to visit an apple orchard.  To be present in the now without the anxiety of the "what's next?".  So, we pull our toes back a little more, easing out of survival mode and into this new life, praying and trusting that the fruit of a tough season would catch up to the exhaustion of it.  Waiting and believing that Jesus taught us far more in those hard 2 years than we can even fathom.  And learning how to step back in to the ebb and flow of a stable life.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Catching Our Breath

First of all, let me apologize for my total lack of blogging over the past 4 months.  Life has been wonderful, and chaotic, and fast, and busy, and new.  But, we are home.  In the truest sense, we are finally settled in our new town, new job, new life.  God has been so gracious to us.  We feel His presence and favor washing over us and our new church.  We have experienced some of the greatest highs and some pretty low lows over the past few months.  Where there is abounding grace and rejoicing, Satan is always close at hand ready to attack and attempt to kill any joy or life the Lord would bring (John 10:10).

We have experienced new life in people repenting of their sin and turning to Christ.  We have seen lives transformed by the gospel through a marriage book  (The Meaning of Marriage - Tim Keller).  We have felt overwhelmingly welcomed and loved by the people here.  From the first day we moved in to this very day the people of Freedom Church have served and encouraged and given sacrificially to us, and we are overwhelmed.  We have seen dear friends get married and engaged.  We have watched our kids grow and become best friends.  We have experienced the joy (and convenience!) of having parents close by.  We have loved our new home.

We have been protected, and loved and encouraged.  But we have been hated, attacked and discouraged by the enemy.  All of our moving, transition and settling, had taken a toll on our physical bodies.  A health issue I thought was taken care of re-appeared and my hubs gets wiped out with a rough case of gout.  It's an interesting place to be when you feel overwhelmed by God's grace and favor and yet on the brink of crumbling under the lies Satan feeds you.  I have been controlled by anxiety lately.  My diet restrictions to keep my health under control are a heavy load.  I feel the reality that the temptations given to me are custom made for me.  I love to cook and bake, and I feel paralyzed in the kitchen.  The Lord has given me grace to overcome serious body image issues, and I have lost a significant amount of weight.  I will choose comfort in any scenario and my skin hurts constantly with no obvious "trigger" we can pinpoint.  In my flesh and my sin, my mind will take me to a place of bitterness and discontentment.  But Gods word never goes there.  There is a purpose for all suffering, may it be cancer, or death, or itchy skin.

For me, music reaches somewhere deep in my soul that just reading truth sometimes won't.  There is something about a melody that penetrates my hardened heart unlike anything else.  I have listened to this song in many seasons of life.  And I will cling to it here again.  God is faithful, and He is being faithful even in the hardest things.  "God has been faithful, He will be again.  His loving compassion, it knows no end....He's always been faithful to me."

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Dream House

We've moved.  A lot.  In less than an month we will be making our 7th move in 6 1/2 years, and we are not in the military.  Though my heart feels a lot of things about this reality, many times sinful, the Lord has used these relocation's to teach us in really unique ways.

The places we have lived vary greatly.  In a a duplex that was previously a bachelor pad, a second apartment close by, small brand new ranch, a sprawling rental in a quiet community, large 1940's bungalow seconds from a University, a dark second story apartment, and now in seminary housing where our living space maxes out at about 500 sq feet.  It has been an adventure for certain.  We have learned to be adaptable.  And yes, my kids will sleep anywhere.  But one reality continues to knock at my heart.  The Lord has used all these places, some we loved (oh, my Greensboro bungalow) and some we...didn't (that DARK 2nd story apt!) to teach us to be content in all circumstances (though not without periods of grumbling from these stubborn sheep).  We have learned to live here, with little space and even less storage.  With seminary books and dog crates as side tables, and bikes in bathrooms.  But God has been gracious, and with this major subtraction in space, came a major addition in community.  We live beside and around tons of other families who know where we are in life.  They know the sacrifices we are making and what this call on our lives means.  We have made friends here, in just 3 months, that we will keep forever.  This has been the reality everywhere we lived.  Like when we witnessed multiple hit and runs and had a young man arrested (all within the first few months of living there) in our driveway in Greensboro, in the house that served to be a hub for college students to be discipled and eventually become part of our family.  Four of those students are now moving with us to serve in the church Clint is pastoring.  Or the dark second story apartment where my kids refused to go outside (in the summer!) where we met Nick, a New Yorker who eventually gave his life to Christ and joined our Church.  The Lord is full of grace.

I have never been so thankful for the contentment and adaptability He is teaching us until now, when I am weeks away from moving into a house I can't believe I get to live in.  A house we have dubbed "Dream House" for over a year now.  While the details of how this all happened are for another post,  lets put it this way for now, the Lord gives good gifts.  In His time, in His way, for His glory.  Sometimes its the gift of a little seminary townhouse, other times its our "dream house".  So as I look at the stunning exposed brick, and drool at the amazing kitchen, I know that one thing is for sure.  This house, as amazing as it is, will not make me happy.  An awkwardly shaped room with frustrate me, the lack of a coat closet will tempt me to grumble, the size will tempt me to complain about cleaning.  Because it isn't about the house.  My heart will be present whether I live in a hut in Africa or an 1800's colonial in a quaint little town.  And my heart is the problem.  If Christ is my treasure and my hope, if my home is viewed as a gift He has given and not a right I am entitled to, and if I remember that He has given that gift to me so that I might open it to people and show them who Christ is, then indeed it will be my dream house.  And if not?  My heart will be as discontent in that big, beautiful "dream house" as it would be in a tiny dumpy apartment.  The size and extravagance of our homes have much less to do with our contentment than the size and extravagance we experience from our God.

There is grace.  And this is a grace.  The Lord loves us so deeply that he will not allow material possessions to fulfill us.  Our emptiness even with the best gifts, are meant to lead us to Him.  The perfect one who gave himself up to offer us the greatest home we could imagine.  Perfect glory and perfect communion with the Creator of the cosmos.  THAT will make us happy.

Lord Jesus, would you fill me with your presence and joy so that I would turn away from Satan's pitfalls of loving what is temporary too much.  May I love you, the giver far more than I ever love your gifts.  May my home be a safe haven from the world while simultaneously reminding me that it can not be compared to my true home in Heaven.  May it be a place of love, security, and adventure for my family and of grace, hope and love to the visitor.  And above all else, may we use it for your glory and namesake.  In Jesus name, amen.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Big News

Some big news became public for us today.  No, we're not pregnant. :)  But it is life altering news.  News that will change everything, again.  But make no mistake, it is very good news.

 This past year we have prayed and dreamed and battled with the Lord over what is next for us.  Clint is in an amazing church planting internship and we have dreamed big and bigger over the last 8 months.  Twice we have  been steps away from making concrete plans to plant a church in Greensboro.  We love that city.  It is diverse and growing and has tons of college students.  Perfect for what God wants us to do...or what we thought God wanted us to do.

In all our dreaming there was a nagging in both of our hearts "what about the small town?"  We are both small town kids.  Almost every single college student either of us discipled were small town kids.  And the church planting movement is looking over the small town.  There have been so many nights that we have looked at each other and asked "If we won't go, who will?"  And then the pursuit started.  Both times we decided to move toward Greensboro, phone calls came from the small town within days.  Confused and frustrated, I wished it would go away, leave us alone.  We had decided what God wanted.  And it was not this.  But slowly, slowly, God indeed made it clear.  There is work to do in the small town.  Hard, glorious, gospel work.  And there is a church full of amazing people there.  And they needed a pastor.  (Not to mention the city has shown me in vivid color, I am indeed a small town girl.)  So today, in a small town called Lincolnton there was an announcement.  A pastor named Clint is being put forward as the selection for Freedom Church.  We are excited, relieved, hopeful and prayerful.  And yes, this means another move...sooner than later.  Three in one year!  There are hundreds of details I am leaving out, but the Lord has made it clear, this is the work he has prepared for us.

So as we soak up every ounce of this seminary, these friends and this church for the next few months, we will be praying for that church, those friends, a new life.  Would you pray with us?  For our home to sell so that we might settle down and breathe the air of stability.  For yet another new home.  For jobs (6 to be exact) for some faithful friends of ours who are willing to forsake the city to make their lives in the small town with us.  For the Lord to prepare us for what He has called us to do.  And for our hearts to burn over the hearts that do not know him there.  May that small town be ever changed by His goodness and grace because of our years there!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Oh, 2012

That is how I feel about it.  It has been a whirlwind of a year for us.  With low low valleys and Everest type peaks.  We have watched two kiddos grow and change and adapt better than we ever imagined.

We have changed jobs, became a seminary family, moved to Raleigh and adjusted to traffic and life after Hobby Lobby (sigh, we miss you Greensboro!).  We have been a part of one of the most unique and healthy churches I believe exists.  We have met new friends that just within months, have become life-long relationships.  I have dealt with a health issue that, although not serious, has changed life as I know it (nice knowing you gluten, potatoes, dairy and nuts).  I have seen depth of my sin I didn't know existed as a result.  We have dreamed and planned for the future, and in some of those we have heard the Lord give us a very clear "NO".  We have (attempted) to balance Clint working 2 jobs, raising support, being a landlord and being a full-time seminary student (all with a 4.0 I might add...looks and brains :)).  We moved again into the Pleasantville of seminary housing.  We had our first Christmas at home with just us 4.  And although one (BIG) present came early, it thoroughly enjoyed taking its spot under the tree...

She's been a joy and a means for the Lord to continue to grow my patience :)  The kiddos are crazy about her and so are we, mostly because of what this next picture captures....

Nothing like a girl and her pup.

Although this year has been hard, HARD (did i say hard?), The Lord has once again met us, full of grace and truth.  And he has humbled us.  He has shown us our humanity again and left us weeping at the Cross again, thankful for Him taking our sin upon himself so that we might have His perfect record of deeds instead of our selfish, prideful, impatient ones.  I believe this year has been one of the Lord putting us under His refining fire so that we might be better ministers of the gospel, more gracious friends and more humble servants of His church.  May it be so, Lord.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Celebrating Season

That's what fall is in our house.  Between the middle of October to the middle of November we had 3 birthdays and an anniversary.  Phew.  It's been exhausting but so so fun!  Here are a few shots of our celebrations!

 This little pumpkin is now this big boy!  I can hardly believe it!  He is such a joy to us.  That smile is almost constant and he makes sure the rest of us are always laughing!

And then this handsome fella on the left had a birthday too!  

And then this ^....  Turned into this > 
                                                                                      6 years! 

And finally this ^ somehow now this >       Our beautiful, sweet, bright big girl turned 4!  

 posing at her princess party

She wanted him to help her.  Love that kid!   

Happy celebrating season to you!!