Thursday, August 27, 2015

Great "Expectations"

I need to preface this post by saying it is a bit long, but I PROMISE it is worth the read! This is one you will want to pay close attention to;-)


I have been slightly cryptic but mostly pretty quiet about some recent events in our family's life. This is not because I am trying to hide anything, but simply because my heart has been so very broken and confused that I don't even know how to put my feelings into the right words at this time.  It is times like these--times when your world feels shattered and you have no idea where to go from here--when all you can do, which is the very best thing to do, is to fall limp into your Daddy-God's arms and cry. I love that my Saviour never grows tired or weary of my cries, because His mercies truly are "new every morning." I have been reminded these past few months that even when our world feels like it is falling apart, the Word stands firm! So, as I've cried out to the Lord, He has continually brought me to His Word to encourage me, to correct me, and to nourish my soul. The following are some very specific verses He has led me to during these past few months:

B: "BUT for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love." 1 Corinthians 13:13

A: "AND not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us." Romans 5:3-5

B: “You’re BLESSED when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.
You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you. 
You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.
You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.
You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for. You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.
You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family. 
You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.
Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble." Matthew 5:3-12

Y: "YOU will go out in joy and be led forth in peace. The mountains and the hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands." Isaiah 55:12

I'm not sure if you noticed, but check out the first letter in bold of each of those verses, then connect them all together to form a word. 

Do you see it? 

See, the Lord wasn't only using these verses to heal my wounded heart during a time of grief in our lives, but He was using those verses to prepare my heart for a tremendous GIFT in the midst of such grief: 



That's right! Two days after my husband and our pastor resigned from our church, we received the shock of our lives: we are expecting!  In the midst of a pretty dark time, the Lord has given us such a gift--such a bright spot! I told a friend this week how we are just so thankful for His perfect plan. All those years we struggled with infertility, when my heart felt so broken, the Lord was working.  If we had things "our" way and had gotten pregnant when we wanted to, we never would have gotten our son...and I just shudder to think of our life without Gabriel! No other baby could have filled that void in our family that he has. He is SUCH a special gift that God ordained to be a part of our family! God is so good to let us kick and scream along the way, knowing that He has it all figured out for us. So, I choose to trust in that glorious hope He gives us as His children, even in the midst of such a confusing time in the life of our family and our ministry. I know He has a much greater plan than we could imagine, and I am confident that He will make beauty from these ashes. 

So, as I am currently "expecting" a child, we are also "expecting" for our God to move in great and powerful ways in our family's life--ways that only He could! We are so thankful for the hope we have in Him, and we choose to trust in His goodness and His grace. Please join us in praising Him with great expectations

Corner Time...

I've been a bit quiet this summer on my blog, but not for lack of things to talk about, but more for lack of  adequate words to express what our family has gone through.  July 2015 was a month filled with lots of heartache and transitions for our family. We've cried and prayed and grieved more than almost any other time in our lives. However, we have also chosen to trust in our Heavenly Father, knowing He's seen every tear that has fallen, heard every prayer that has been uttered, and held us with His perfect strength as we've walked a very difficult road.  I've seen my husband (my music minister) and my dear friends (my pastor and his family) be treated in a way that none has deserved, but I've also witnessed them rise up to show the integrity they have. Their love for the Lord and their desire to please Him has been evident in not only their actions but also in their reactions. August 2nd was both of our families' last day serving at our church, and we now embark upon a new journey of transitioning to what God has for our families next. It is scary, it is sad, and it is stressful, but it is also an opportunity to trust our God in a new way as we eagerly anticipate what He has in store for us.

In an effort to get some much-needed rest and relaxation and time to regroup, our pastor's family decided to take a beach vacation a few weeks ago, and they graciously invited us along with them. What an amazing week it was! The house they rented was right on the beach, so we literally would walk out the front door to this amazing view:
The skies were blue and sunny, the wind was cool and breezy, and the company was healing to our weary souls. Traveling with small children can often be anything but relaxing, and we certainly experienced some "moments" with exhausted and over-stimulated kiddos, but for the most part, the week was so very refreshing, which is exactly what we were all hoping for.
 And while getting to sit on a quiet deck with the waves crashing in front of me and the fresh air blowing in my face proved to be an amazing spot for my morning quiet time, and taking morning jogs along the beautiful shoreline was an incredible time of worship, I think it's what God taught me through my children that week that has stuck out to me the most...

If you're a parent of small children, I'm sure you're very familiar with time-outs. Dealing with two 7 year olds, one 4 year old, one 3 year old, and one 15 month old this week,
 time-outs have been a regular part of our vacation agenda!  But what is the purpose of a time out? We most often use them as opportunities for our kids to reflect on the decisions that they've made, to take a deep breath and get a grasp on the reality of the situation we're dealing with, and to realize how they can choose to respond differently in the future.  
Typically, a "time-out" is a form of punishment, but I realized this past week that time-outs can also be a form of healing. Our beach vacation was exactly that: a time out. A break from our usual routine, a time of separation from our "world" to be able to reflect on the past and properly assess the future, and the ability to just step away and breathe without all of the daily "noise" we so often deal with.
Let me tell you, friends, that when your soul is weary and your emotions are raw, there is something powerful about taking a time-out! Instead of sticking my head in a corner, I pushed myself out the front door to gorgeous runs on the beach,
 and instead of sulking at the table, I found myself soaking in the refreshing sea air,
and instead of feeling beaten down by the cruel actions of others, I felt the powerful waves crash against me and carry me safely to the shore.
 No, we can't run away from reality, but sometimes, we can keep it at a standstill for a little while.  The hurt was still there when we came home, the consequences from the actions of others was still found, and the uncertainty of our future continued to await us, but for a few days, we were able to gain some perspective that only distance could grant...a time to reflect, a time to heal, a time to "selah" (pause and reflect) as the psalmist so often wrote.  Sometimes, you just need to get away. Sometimes, you just need a time-out, and I'm so thankful for one with dear brothers and sisters in Christ, traveling on this same journey through the unknown "corners" of this life...