2.04.2015

The Great Unknown...

"Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior"


Have you ever heard the song by Hillsong United called "Oceans"?  It's a wonderful song.  One of my favorites probably.  

In the past few months I have deeply prayed, like the song states in the chorus, that the- "Spirit would lead me where my trust is without borders", and that God would "let me walk upon the waters- Wherever He would call me".  That He would "take me deeper" than my own, human feet would ever take me on there own.  And that my "faith would be made stronger In the presence of the Savior" through whatever door He would choose to open to me.

When we came to Alabama six months ago I knew right away when he blessed us with our home that he was calling us to use it as a place to gather, to fellowship.  We have tried to stay faithful to that calling by opening the doors to our home as often as possible.  However, as I prayed my prayer of Him "taking me where my trust was without borders" the more I felt the burden to use our home for something more.

It was around this time that a few different things happened.  1) We started to really speak to our children about the need for Christ's followers (Christians) to see and to serve through love the needs of those hurting around them.  2) I started to become really good friends with my neighbor who has devoted her life and her home to the needs of foster children.  And 3)  I started to diligently read the blog of a sweet friend from many years ago who has been called to foster children- and just recently adopted two of those children.  And as I prayed my prayer and began to open my eyes and heart to what I knew God was trying to tell me- I knew...

...He was asking me to be faithful to the scariest part of the prayer.  The part where he takes me "deeper than my feet could ever wander"...He was calling us to open our home to children through Foster Care

Would I have chosen this path on my own?  I'm not sure.  If I'm being totally honest I would probably say "no".

It's scary.

It's uncomfortable.

It's the unknown, and that is never a fun place to be.

But the comfortable place isn't where God always calls us to be.  Actually the more I grow in my faith and love for Christ the more I'm realizing that if I'm comfortable I'm probably NOT where He wants me to be.

So I spoke to Nolan, and he immediately was supportive and on board.  We spoke to our children.  We told them about this wonderful opportunity to open our home and our hearts to the hurting and how it is a perfect opportunity to show Christ's love.  One of the proudest moments in my walk as a mama was the moment they both said how much they loved the idea.  How they loved the idea of loving on a sweet child that may have not experienced much in their shorts life.  We have plenty to give around here and my sweet babies are ready.  God went before me and prepared the hearts of my husband and my children.  He was just waiting for me.  For me to say "Here am I!  Send me."

Last night we attended the first of ten classes that we have to take to get licensed.  We have to have a home inspection, and get background checks.  Nolan and I have to be interviewed together and separately, and our kids have to be interviewed also.  I tell you all of this to ask you to please be praying for us as we travel this journey.

Pray for peace.

Pray for our hearts to be opened to whatever God has for us along the way.

Pray for the hearts of our children as this will be an adjustment.  The main concern they've voiced is the sadness that will be present when a child has to leave our home when their time with us is up.  Pray for understanding for them.

Start now praying for the children that will be placed in our care.  Pray that they will make a smooth transition, and that they will see Christ and know his love while they are in our home.

Pray for us that we will be able to love those children through the heart of Christ.  And that we will be able to be His light in a very dark situation.

In the song, "Oceans", it talks about God calling us out upon the waters to the great unknown.  Where we know that our own, human, feet may fail us, but that it is there, in the great unknown, that we find God.  And that because we find him there, "in oceans deep" our faith will stand- it will not fail...

Pray that as we are headed into "the great unknown" that "our faith will stand", and that even when things get hard and the waters feel deep that we will "Call upon His name" and that there, in the unknown, we will find Him.

"He has never failed, and He won't start now."



"Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)"
By: Hillsong United

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand

And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You've never failed and You won't start now

So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

Oh, Jesus, you're my God!

I will call upon Your name
Keep my eyes above the waves
My soul will rest in Your embrace
I am Yours and You are mine


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1.22.2015

Happenings and Such...

Hello!!!

So you know what's going on- I've decided to basically make this blog my family scrapbook.  Just a log of all that has been going on in the lives of our little family.  Now that we are living in Alabama it also seems like a great place for our family to see what's been going on in our lives.  So here it goes...

A sweet girl in our youth group had a birthday the other day at this great park that we have been wanting to take the kids to.  It's a historical park with a great playground, live animals, hiking, and buildings that were true to the 1800s.  It was so much fun and the kids had a blast!  Here are some pics from the day...


Sister Love...

Love this one!  Ruthie's hair- Wild!...

 Getting pushed by big sister...

Look at that face!...

Zip Line...

Silly faces with her Mama...

My boy (he styled his own hair- Love it!)...

This goat looked at us like we were crazy.  We probably are...


Nolan and the kiddos with a few boys from our youth group...


Later that night it was pass time for Nolan to get a haircut!  He preached Sunday so he needed to look goooood.  As you can see he was so excited about it...


Baby Girl turned 2!  I'm pretty sure she was more excited about the balloons we got for her little party than anything else.  Next year she's just getting balloons.  There was a green one but her sister made sure to pop that one about five seconds after we got home...


We bought pizza and I made cupcakes- It was quite the party!...




I'm not sure she liked it...

Happy Birthday Baby Girl!


This last picture is from Christmas.  I just love the picture so I thought I'd throw it in.  I love the man in this picture with me so much!  He's pretty much the best.  I need to tell him that more often.  I want him to know that I'm proud of him and how hard he works to love his family.  I'm thankful for the way he shows me and the kids how to follow and love our Savior.  And he's nice to look at...so there's that too.  

So that's what has been going on around here.

Blessings!

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1.09.2015

Year In Review...

Our 2014...A recap.

Where to start?

A lot happened in 2014 I feel like.

Early 2014 my hubby started to feel the call into ministry after being a high school teacher/coach for the last 8 years.  We visited three different seminaries pretty sure that God was calling him to school first in preparation for full-time ministry.  Even though we were fairly certain that seminary was God's will Nolan still seemed to have a nagging feeling that maybe we were wrong (when you have a wife and three kiddos to think about, quitting your job, becoming a full-time student, and hoping you find a part time job that pays you enough for you and your family to survive on can be a little scary).  However, after visiting Southern Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky we felt certain that is where God was calling us...

We were wrong...

The day after we arrived home from Louisville sure that we were headed there a friend of ours who is a pastor at a church in Alabama called us and told us his church had an opening for an Associate Pastor/Youth Ministers position and he felt like God had laid my husband on his heart.

God is so funny sometimes isn't he?!.

So once again we started praying for direction, for peace, and for His good and perfect will to be accomplished through us.

Would we ever make a decision?  I was starting to wonder.

In the end we truly felt God calling us to Alabama.  The hubby felt at peace knowing that he would be providing for his family while getting experience serving and working in a church all while doing his seminary work online.  It really was amazing how God worked out all the little details and showed us (me mostly) that sometimes we must earnestly seek and pray for His guidance and will to be revealed, and He doesn't always make it easy or quick.  We must learn to be patient as we learn to listen and understand what He's saying to us.  While the uneasiness of being in limbo and just not knowing what we were doing and where we were going was enough to make me completely frazzled at times I wouldn't change that time in our journey for anything. Learning to earnestly pray and seek God during that time grew my faith in ways I didn't even realize possible. We learned to trust God's provision and to know that He would make his plan clear to us in His time.  I learned to trust my husband as he lead our family.  It was such a blessing to experience His hand at work in our lives and has become such a huge part of our story- how God has truly shown himself good and faithful to us.

So in 2014 Nolan changed professions and we moved to Alabama!  Pretty Huge Right?!!

We bought a house that was built in 1912.

In the short amount of time we've been here we've made some amazing friends.

We love our church, and immediately felt right at home.  We work with the youth at our church.  We have them over often.  The highlight was our tacky Christmas sweater party.  I wore a Christmas jumper with matching turtle-neck.  It was pretty legendary I'm not going to lie.

In November we took the students out door to door to pray for those in our community and to offer meals to those in need for Thanksgiving.  It was eye opening to see the huge need in our own community, and a blessing to take our students into the community to serve.  We delivered around 40 meals to those in need on Thanksgiving.  It was awesome to be a part of!  Since we didn't go home for Thanksgiving we had our own Thanksgiving here in Alabama and invited a few friends over to celebrate with us.  I cooked my own Turkey!  It was so scary and gross- I totally didn't pull out the bag that was inside it...oops.

The kids and I volunteer once a week at a local thrift store that raises money to buy food for the needy.  It's pretty awesome to serve right along side my kiddos, and to see them learning to love and serve those in need.

Little man played football for the first time ever, and started piano lessons.  He rocked Jingle Bells out like an All-Star pro at his Christmas Recital.  He's now in basketball season, and he's getting better and better. He continues to be an amazing reader, but his most exciting news of all is that he excepted Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior in January of 2014!


Ruthie continues to be sassy, but at the same time sweet and loving.  She loves her big brother and and thinks he hung the moon.  We are hoping she might play soccer in the spring but in all reality she just wants to dance, twirl, dress-up, and use her imagination to take her to places that I'm sure are full of unicorns and colorful dresses and high-heels.


Baby girl is a mess!  She is by far the friendliest child we've had.  She waves at and tells everyone she sees "Hi!".  She's a climber, but by far the craziest thing she does is take her diaper off every chance she gets!  I seriously can't hardly keep the thing on her- and it's all fun and games until she's poopy!  I'm sensing potty-training in her near future- Ugh!



Nolan is doing awesome and I love him more and more each day.  He's serving in our church.  Working on his Masters degree through New Orleans Theological Seminary.  Playing basketball when he can, and starting Monday I'm making him do a 10-Day Detox with me...He's very excited about it.  I feel so blessed to share this journey with him by my side!




There you have it...2014.

It was pretty great!

And crazy...


And Silly...


And Wild...


And sweet...


And I loved every bit of it...


I hope your 2015 is Amazing!  Happy New Year!

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4.09.2014

He Is Faithful...

If you haven't read the first part of my testimony you can read it HERE.

Part 2- All Grown Up:

I left off talking about how even in the most beautiful of God's gifts- in my case- my marriage- sin can take root and cause pain and strife.

The hubby and I got married when we were pretty young.  I was 22 and he was 21.  He was finishing up his bachelors degree down in Texas when we got married- so after the wedding off to Texas I went with my bags packed with not only clothes, but big dreams of marital bliss and happily ever afters.

Once we were settled in we immediately started going to church.  Nolan had not gone to church since he had been in high school and his parents had made him.  However we were married now- so he was more than willing to go to make his sweet, new wife (me- haha) happy. 

I'm not going to lie- marriage was a huge adjustment.  When you move in with your significant other you find out all sorts of stuff about the other that you never imagined...some good- and some- not so good.  However, we made it through those first few years better for the things we'd experienced together.

In the next few years Nolan finished school- started a career, we moved a few times, and we began to start our family.  First God blessed us with a sweet, little boy, and then a few years later with a loving, cuddly, little girl.  It was around the birth of our little girl that Nolan began to struggle with his faith.  Now when I say struggle what I really mean is he came out and told me that he wasn't completely sure that he had ever truly believed in God, and if he did he definitely wasn't sure he believed in the Christian God.  He started throwing around words like atheist and agnostic.  He told me he would no longer be joining me and the kids to church.  He had always been a Sunday morning service goer- never Wednesday or Sunday nights.  I knew deep down that if I had ever said lets not go to church anymore that he would have said, "Sounds good to me".  But despite knowing this it still felt like he had literally punched me in the stomach, and that my world had just crumbled to the ground. 

Up until this point our marriage had been fine- good even.  We had the occasional disagreement, the occasional fight, but nothing, I mean Nothing, had prepared me for this.  I was literally devastated.  We had two little ones.  How was I going to explain to them why their daddy never came to church with us?  What happened when they got older and they started questioning why they had to go if dad wasn't going?  I was the wife- it is not biblical for me to lead our family spiritually- how in the world would I do it?  It was through all of these questions that I became very, very angry.  Angry at Nolan.  Angry at God.  The angrier I became the more I lashed out at Nolan.  The more I lashed out at Nolan the more depressed and distant he became.  He was confused.  He was very depressed.  He was hopeless.  He was Lost.  And I was just angry- and I let him know it often.

Around this time a close friend and mentor of mine was sweet enough to let me share my burden with her.  She advised me, prayed with and for me, and told me to bring my kids and come to her church.  So that's what I did.  Every Sunday I would load up the kids and go to my friends church without my husband.  I would love to tell you that I did this with a happy spirit, but the truth is- I felt like my spirit was completely broken.  I usually walked out the door with a snide remark to Nolan about him not joining us and him making me go alone.  This went on for about a year, but it was sometime during that year that God really laid it on my heart that all the nagging, complaining, and snide remarks were doing nothing beneficial in the war for Nolan's soul.  He revealed to me that what Nolan needed was prayer and grace. 

I'd love to tell you that over night I stopped nagging and that the angry outbursts just disappeared, but the truth is it took time and lots of prayer.  Prayer for Nolan to know the truth, and prayer for myself- that I would learn to love him right where he was.  And God was faithful.  He met me were I was- broken, hurt, and angry, and little by little my anger ebbed, and the atheist philosophical books littered around my home began to be replaced by Christian titles.  And then one day out of the blue Nolan was dressed to go to church with us.  And almost four years ago, sitting in our room alone, Nolan excepted Christ into his heart to be the Savior of his life. 

Since then God has begun a work in our family that is beyond anything I could have ever imagined!  Nolan has stepped into the role of spiritual leader of our family leading us in bible studies, prayer, and to church.  God has healed our marriage and brought us closer to one another than we have ever been.  In January 2013 God blessed our family with another sweet, baby girl.  In January 2014 I watched as God allowed Nolan to lead our 9 year old son to Christ.  God is moving, and we are willing and ready to answer and to follow wherever he leads.  And all of this because he was willing to answer my small- fragile prayers with power and faithfulness that has blown me away!

He is faithful.  Through this he has shown me so many things.  He has shown me to rely on him.  To trust in him.  To give it all to him.  He allowed me the opportunity to pray over my husband- to be a part of the amazing miracle that took place in my husband's life.  And while it was the hardest season of my life so far- He used that time in my life to draw me back to him because if I was being completely honest- before my husband came out and said he was a non-believer I was just going through the motions.  Doing the minimal- no more- no less.  He used what felt like a hopeless situation to bring about new life in Christ for my husband and myself.  I have recommitted my life to Him, and am so thankful that he was gracious enough and patient enough to show me the way back.

So while I became a Christian when I was very young I spent many years wasting time- not forming the relationship with Christ that he calls us to experience.  Through my husband's salvation he showed me the many areas in which my own relationship with him was lacking.  He showed me that he is my Savior and that he should be #1 in my life, not my husband, not my children, and not my things, that nothing else can replace the giant, God sized hole in my life but him.  Daily he transforms me, molds me, and shows me areas in my life where I need his guidance, grace, forgiveness, mercy, and wisdom.  Sometimes he has to teach me these lessons through discipline and suffering in order to humble me and to show me his ways are better, but thankfully these lessons always come through love, and with hope of a new and brighter day. 

"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
'The Lord is my portion,' says my soul,
'therefore I will hope in him.' "  -Lamentations 3:22-24

I don't know where you are in your walk with Christ.  Some of you reading this might not even know Christ, but as I sit here I pray over this testimony in hope that it will reach you right where you are.  That from it you can see how powerful and amazing the Love and Mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ are.  Maybe He's calling you to walk closer to him, maybe he's showing you areas of your life that need prayer, or forgiveness, maybe he's laying someone on your heart that needs to hear about his saving grace, or maybe it's you that needs his saving grace. 

Wherever you are- know that he is faithful, that he loves you, and that he will meet you right where you are- no matter where that might be.


Blessings,

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4.07.2014

All Roads Lead To Somewhere, But Where?

I have posted this before. It's my testimony- my hope and prayer is that you will take from it how much I love God, and how wonderfully, amazingly, good and loving He is. It's a two part post so I will post part 2 later this week (probably wednesday)...

Part 1- Before Marriage:

I have a true story to tell you.

It's about the road that has led me to this place that I'm at right now. While the road has been rocky and the journey a little ugly at times- it has led to the most wonderful of places.

I started on this road when I was about 7 I think (while the exact age seems to have left me- I remember clearly the place and the company). I was sitting in the hall of my house where I grew up waiting to use the restroom when my father came down the hallway. I asked him to sit down and visit with me for a minute- I had some questions. Questions about Jesus and God. Questions about my salvation and where I would go when I died. There in the hallway, with my earthly father's support, waiting to use the bathroom, I chose to believe in Jesus Christ as my Savior.

Fast forward a few years to a teenager who believed in Christ but really didn't take it much further than that. Who was super quick to throw others under the bus with judgement for their "sin", but felt like since she wasn't going to the parties and doing "those" things then she must be doing right by God. Right?.

Fast Forward a few more years to college. I continued to say I loved God and believed in his Son as my Savior, but unfortunately continued to live a life that was contrary to what I professed. I made many poor decisions and followed the road of the world in a way that I'm sure made satan sing with joy. I dated and then later became engaged to a guy that was a relationship unhealthy for both parties I'm sure. Emotional damage seemed to be the base for which that relationship was built on. I prayed and prayed that God would heal our tattered and torn relationship. I was marrying this man for crying out loud! How could we ever have a successful marriage if we couldn't even date properly? I shed tears over the brokenness of it all- all the while crying out to God to fix what we seemed to tear down and break so frequently. With invitations sent out, two wedding showers under our belt, dress, flowers, and cake all purchased, and less than a month before the wedding we threw in the towel and walked away from each other.

What had gone wrong? Had I not prayed hard enough? It felt like complete failure had consumed me. Embarrassment. Shame. Hopelessness. What had started as a smooth road, had turned into pebbles, then rocks, then boulders, and had come to its end as this huge mountain that I could see no way over. Along with the ending of what I thought was supposed to be the beginning of this new life came other changes. I immediately moved home to my parents after living on my own for 3 years, changed schools (or so I thought at the time), and basically just tried to figure out where it had all gone wrong.

The next few months to follow would not be what I would describe as pretty. Without going into too much detail lets just say that rock bottom seemed to be my new address. However I had mastered the art of putting on a happy face and making it seem like all was well in the world. I was not happy with the person I had become, and I know that God was saddened by where my life had gone.

It was one of those things that in the midst of the sin and shamefulness I could hear and feel the Holy Spirit convicting me. Telling me to turn away from the ways that seemed to be consuming me, but I just kept turning from him and digging myself deeper and deeper in. I just kept turning to the world to try to put out the pain, but it only seemed to produce more pain and more trouble.

It was during this time of lowness that the future hubster came into the picture (again. Seeing as how he and I had grown up together and then dated in high school for a couple of years off and on, only to part ways when I went off to college). I'm not going to lie and say that it was all roses right from the start, because frankly drama usually follows when your heart is saying one thing and your brain is saying another. However, after a few talks, a few situations, and a few shed tears it became apparent that Nolan was God's answer to the prayer I had prayed a year earlier. The prayer where I had prayed for him to heal the brokenness of another relationship with another guy. The prayer where I thought he had abandoned me and left me hopeless. The prayer I thought he had chosen not to hear- not to listen to. It wasn't that he didn't care or had chosen to ignore me- instead like a faithful and loving parent he had just chosen to say "No."


"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you," declares the Lord, "and will bring you back from captivity." -Jeremiah 29:11-14


You see, only He knew my future. My small faith had left me feeling abandoned and alone in my time of need. I felt that God had failed me, but he had really delivered me choosing to reveal himself true and faithful on his time, not mine. Most of all he chose to show himself loving despite the lack of love I had shown him.

Nolan and our marriage was a "good and perfect gift" that could have only "come from above," but like I'll show you tomorrow when I finish this story- sinful nature is not pretty, and can unfortunately, cause hurt and pain within the most wonderful of God's gifts.

For now I'll leave you with this. My hope is that through my story you can find hope. Just know that God is faithful, and merciful, and always- ALWAYS- shows himself true. Unfortunately we have to hit rock bottom sometimes to recognize our need for him, but find joy in those moments- for it is then that God's Glory and Awesomeness can truly be realized and we can find him.

Blessings,

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