Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Happy 2nd Birthday Hudson!

So, my "baby" is turning 2 on Friday.  I am blogging tonight for 2 reasons:  1.  Sam is leaving tomorrow to travel to Greenville for a quick trip to meet with some people interested in our church plant and 2.  We celebrated tonight!
When I found out I was expecting Hudson (#5) I have to say at first I really wasn't very excited.  We had our 4 that we had "planned" on having and when he was born the other kids would be 6 1/2, 5, 3 and 17 months.  What would I possibly do with ANOTHER baby?  Little did I know what would happen the moment he was was love at first sight!  Just a couple side notes about his birth.  First, we opted not to find out if this was a boy or girl, but I knew in my heart the whole time it was a boy.  Second, he went the longest of any of our kids without a name.  By the way, did I mention that I can't imagine our life without Hudson.  We brings us such joy.  He is so sweet and I pray that God will use him in a mighty way.

Hudsons typical look

Hudson when he turned 1

Found this pic while looking for a baby pic...couldn't refuse using it!  My dad's thing with all my kids was getting them to "talk" to him when they were babies.  I believe Hudson was around 9 weeks here.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

I guess Thanksgiving is quickly over and we are headed into the Christmas season very rapidly.  It is hard to believe that there is only 5 weeks left in this year.  I have to say this holiday season is a bit different in lots of ways.  Not only are we living in a different state and part of the country, but we are also missing someone so dear to us.  I didn't really anticipate the feelings that started to flood over me on Wednesday evening and Thursday morning.  All I could think about was the all the years that dad was here and it seemed like he was going to walk through the door at any moment.  When I went the airport to pick up mom, I have to admit that seeing her standing there alone was like a knife in my heart realizing that he wasn't right there with her.  Sometimes, like Madelyn says a lot, I feel like we are going back to South Carolina and he will be all better and be there!  (She mentions this quite often.)  So when I finally step back, take a deep breath and realize that this IS reality then my mind floods with all the wonderful memories we share with daddy.
We had a great time with mom.  She flew in on Wednesday afternoon and left this morning.  We didn't do a lot of running.  Basically we did some Christmas shopping for the kiddos, since she will be in TX with my brother and sister in law.  I did cook my first turkey and meal pretty much all by myself.  Overall we had a great long weekend.  Sam was home all weekend and had no responsibilities so that was a nice break for him.  The kids have 3 weeks of school left before Christmas break.  We will then transition to homeschooling again for now.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

My 5 Little Blessings

As we were sitting at the dinner table tonight it was one of those nights where I just felt an overwhelming sense of pride and joy.  Even though there are some CRAZY times in our household of 7....I wouldn't trade it for ANYTHING in this world!  I often get some crazy looks and comments in public over having a "big" family.  Sometimes people say things like:

  • "Wow, are all 5 of those yours?" 
  • "You must really have your hands full." 
  • "Do you know what causes that?
I often feel a sense of "anger" come over me (righteous anger, of course).  Then it usually turns to pride...I realize how BLESSED I truly am.  God has given me the job of raising, but more importantly discipling 5 precious souls!  I feel so overwhelmed, but BLESSED!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Fall Fun in Pics

Picture Update-Ashlyn

Since I haven't blogged in awhile, I think I will just post some blog posts with pics of what has been happening in the last month or so.  This post is of Ashlyn and school.  She had a Fall Festival in the Preschool a few weeks ago and then some random other school shots.

They had "Daddy and Doughnuts" this past week

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Can't really come up with a title at the moment for this post.  I am sitting on Saturday night home alone with the kiddos.  We came from a full day (of course)!  We attended the Harvest Family Fest (fall festival equivalent) this morning.  The kids of course enjoyed that immensely-lots of candy and fun!  Did I mention the candy?  Hudson was even eating it with the paper still attached.  We came home and chilled for the afternoon and then headed back out the door for church tonight.  It still feels a bit to attend church on Saturday night, however once I am there I forget what day it is anyway.  Pastor James is doing a message series entitled, "Lord Change Me."  It is very convicting and I have to say I feel like God brought us here to Harvest just for this! (I know that's not all true) If you have chance to go back and start with the first message and listen it would really be helpful to you, no doubt.
I think one of things that has impressed me the most about Harvest while being here is how intentional they are.  There is no way you could come to Harvest and not feel like there is a purpose in everything they do.  It has been such an encouragement and sometimes convicting to Sam and I.  They are very big on accountability and I have to say it is amazing to see in action!  Sometimes we want to say that we are just accountable to God or to myself, but life in community done right is in your face where are you in your walk with God.  No time to be shallow and look like "little Miss Perfect Christian."
God is working in my life in so many areas and I am thankful for this season of where He has us.  It is amazing what we are learning that is beyond what we thought we would be learning.
So, where is Sam tonight?  The guys in the training center got an invitation to play "Risk" some military strategy game with Pastor James tonight after church at his home.  I am sure they are enjoying themselves and I as always look forward to hearing what God is allowing him to learn and do.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Whats New With Us?

I realize how busy this season of my life is.  I haven't blogged in almost 3 weeks!  Some of the reason for this too is that Sam has the laptop with him all day, so while I have some free time during the day, I have no computer.  So I decided to recap whats been going on since my last blog post.

  • Kids are all settled into a pretty decent routine as far as school is concerned.  I love Harvest Christian Academy!  The excellence they provide blows my mind!  The boys are definitely being challenged, but I love watching them learn and try new things.  Ashlyn loves preschool so much that we are adding another day starting next week.  Madelyn and Hudson continue to grow like weeds.  I can't believe Hudson will turn 2 in 8 weeks!  
  • Sam's schedule is pretty rigorous with lots of outside meetings and training so that has probably been the biggest adjustment for me personally.  I am used to him being home a lot more and so it makes for some lonely days and nights.  God is giving me the grace I need to fully rely on Him and trust Him.  I know this is only a season and not a forever thing!
  • Fall is in full swing, however we have been teased this past week with some beautiful weather!  It has been in the 70's all week and we have taken full advantage of it! On Monday the boys are out of school and we are going to an apple orchard with some friends (this is also Sam's day off), so we are looking forward to a fun filled day!

  • A couple weeks ago we attended "Party With the Pastors" after church, which is something Harvest does to introduce you to Harvest-it is a real party too!  I took a picture of all the training center kids (this is minus 5 kids that were not available)

We are absolutely enjoying our time here learning all we can about Harvest.  It is really exciting to see God start piecing things together in our hearts and minds.  Please continue to pray for us.  We are still raising support, so if you would like to help us out you can send donations to:
Harvest Bible Fellowship
1000 N. Randall Road
Elgin, IL  60123
Just be sure to include a note that it is for us!  Above the money, we most desire your prayers!

Monday, September 19, 2011

My life at this season

This blogging thing is starting to become hard!  There is SO much going on and deciding what to blog is so difficult.  We are staying very busy, especially Sam.  This past week he learned about Small Groups and what they look like.  He also was able to attend one day of the Acts 29 boot camp, which was held at the Rolling Meadows campus of Harvest.
Okay, so enough about Sam...this is my blog right?
What does life look like for me? Great!  I am loving this season at this moment.  The boys (Bryson & Landon) are in school everyday from 8am-3pm and Ashlyn attends K4 on Tues, Wed, & Thurs from 8-11:30am.  So basically that leaves me with Madelyn and Hudson.  Honestly, I hardly know what to do with all the time on my hands.  For the first time in my life I am caught up on laundry and housework all the time.  I seriously wonder what I did when I had just 2 kids?!?  However, one thing I am learning about quickly is HOMEWORK.  Do you know how hard it is to motivate a child who has been at school all day to do more work when they get home?  Still trying to decide where I stand on this whole homework thing.
This seems to be turning into some random thoughts jumping quickly from one thing to another.  That is seriously how my mind has been since we arrived.  I have to say one of the best things about being here at the training center is this:  I am not in this alone!  There are other wives, moms, women who are facing the exact same struggles, fears and thoughts as I am.  In fact, 6 of us live right here next to each other and it so encouraging to know that they are literally a few steps away.  We were able to attend a brunch on Saturday morning together with a few of the staff wives of the fellowship.  It was held at the MacDonald's residence.  We had such a great time sharing our hearts and how God had brought us to the training center.  We shed tears, laughed and just felt so "full" when we left.  Kathy was such a gracious host and I enjoyed hearing just a bit of her heart.  I know why God has blessed Harvest Bible Chapel so much over the years....the MacDonald's are very humble and faithful to what God has called them to do.  I am blown away the more I learn about the ministries here.  The excellence and the way things are done are such a testimony to the goodness of God!
Finally I have to share something funny, yet neat that Bryson said this weekend.  He said, "Mom, we need to pray for a million dollars!"  I said, "Really, why?"  He said, "We need to pray that God would give us a million dollars for our church!"  I snickered and then later I thought how neat that he is already thinking and praying in his own way about our church.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Beginning of Our Journey Part 2

I didn't think it would take me this long to sit down for part 2....but it has!  Whew, what a week! It didn't take long to unpack, however, there still are a few boxes in the back room (Hudson's).  We really only had Monday to settle.  Mom took us to lunch at Golden Corral and then we went to Target to get the rest of Ashlyn's supplies for school.  We had a quiet dinner Monday night and then Tuesday was the first day!  Ashlyn headed out for her first day of K4.  She absolutely loved it!  She walked right in, no reservation and did well.  She will go 3 days a week (Tues, Wed, Thurs) from 8am-11:30am.
On Tuesday afternoon after Ashlyn finished school we took mom back to the airport while Sam attended orientation from 1-3pm.  I was so proud of myself!  I drove 40 minutes into Chicago and back with all 5 kids.  Mom left us her Garmon so that will be very helpful in the days and weeks to come.  We met Sam back at the apartment and then went to Harvest for a welcome picnic with all the other training center families and the fellowship staff.  We had a great time meeting everyone (some reacquainting), however I have to admit it was a bit chilly for us Southerners.  Pastor James & Kathy MacDonald showed up so we were introduced to them for the first time and then Sam played football with him and all the other guys.  That was pretty entertaining to watch! : )  He (Pastor James) gave the guys their first assignment for Wednesday afternoon when they would work on sermon prep with him.  I took my camera, but got too busy talking to take some pics.

Wednesday morning we all got up and dropped Ashlyn off for school and the boys were tested for Harvest Christian Academy.  It was a bit of a long morning, however God worked out the details and they had their first day of school on Thursday.
Hudson & Madelyn playing on the indoor playground at Harvest waiting for the boys.

So, the boys survived their first day of school and I had no clue what to do with only 2 kids!  I got so much done around here it was insane.  I really could get used to this...Landon had a rough day Friday and didn't stay at school.  Please pray for him in a very special way that God would change his heart and help him make the adjustment.  Last night we had all the training center families over (our apt is the biggest) which is 16 adults and 22 kids!  We had a great time of fellowship and so glad God put all of us on this journey of church planting together.

Today is our church day!  We have to be there at 4:30pm which puts us leaving at 4pm and we will return home around 7:30pm so I am trying to readjust meals today so I don't have a bunch of starving kids!  We will attend church tonight as a family at the Rolling Meadows campus and then Sam will attend church tomorrow here in Elgin and then serve.  

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Beginning of Our Journey Part 1

My mind is in serious information overload!  Not sure where to start this blog post so I will start at the beginning of our journey on Friday.  Our plan was to leave out at 9am, however, our official departure time was probably around 11am.  Not to bad, considering...our first destination for the evening was Frankfort, KY (about 6 hours).  Someone graciously provided us a room there with their travel rewards at no cost, which was a blessing!   The kids did pretty well on the trip.  They took turns riding in the truck with Sam which left mom and I with the other 4 to entertain while I drove. We did stop at a McDonalds on the way for lunch and let them play for a bit.  I included a picture of Hudson on the slide because he was too cute!  He was so brave and kept climbing up the stairs and sliding down all by himself!

Friday was also Sam's birthday, which I am sure is one he will never forget!  We kept promising him to pick a place to eat his birthday dinner when we arrived at the hotel in Kentucky, however after we arrived, unloaded, got freshened up and walked over the Longhorn's it was a 45 minute wait and I just could NOT do that to my sweet children, so we ended up at Panera Bread (his least favorite place to eat).  He is a good sport though.
Everyone slept wonderfully!  All 8 of us were in one room and although it was a bit crowded at times (with noise), it was a very restful night.  We got up, ate the continental breakfast and again didn't get out of there until almost 10:30am.  Our next stop was Elgin, IL (Country Inn & Suites).  After riding in pouring rain and bumper to bumper traffic through Chicago, we finally arrived around 6pm (local time). We are now on Central Standard Time.  I have to say that was the longest drive ever!  Again, the kids were such great sports and really did well.  One benefit to the hotel was that it had an indoor pool, that was the best incentive for the kids.  We kept reminding them that this was the last swim of the summer!

We got up on Sunday morning and attended Harvest Bible Chapel (Elgin) which is the main campus where the training center is, the Christian school, etc.  It is literally 6 minutes from our apartment.  This was the kids first time at Harvest and let me tell you....they LOVED it!  They will also be attending AWANA there on Wednesday evenings.  We came back after the service (which was awesome by the way!) and packed up our stuff, let the kids swim one last time while we waited for the magical hour of 3:00!  Let me just say I seriously had butterflies in my stomach at this point...the drive to the apartment was so LONG for me, when really it wasn't.  I was like, "this is it...this is it!"  I pulled in and took a deep breath as this was home sweet home for the next 5 months.  We were greeted by another family that we had met back during our interview weekend...they helped us unload as I walked around our very spacious apartment, literally in shock!  It is wonderful....couldn't of asked for a better place to call home.  We have 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms a kitchen with a ton of cabinet and storage...a safe play area outside for the kids to run and play and lots of great neighbors that are in this as well!  I will end this post with a few pics I have taken so far.  I will take some more and post those later.  I will also finish up Part 2 tomorrow night.
Kids at the dining room table

That is the front door

My kitchen! Learning how to cook with a gas stove.
Living room (from front door) You can see back door which steps out to the patio

Down the hallway from living room

Sunday, August 21, 2011

When My Heart is Overwhelmed

Today was a very FULL day for me emotionally.  Has your heart ever been so full of so many things that you can't begin to even express is one of those days, so if this blog post seems a bit jumbled you will know why.
First thing it hit me that today would of been mom and dads 35th wedding anniversary.  Daddy was always up to something and he usually pulled me into helping him plan something.  Last year he was in Charleston starting radiation/chemo and they came home on their anniversary weekend so daddy called me and had me get 34 roses and have them on their dining room table when they came in.  Lots more sweet memories I could share.  I do know that I am thankful that God gave me parents that showed me what it looked like to be married through the thick and thin of life.  I see now days that our culture preaches such a different message.  Marriage is work, but when you work at it, it is a very rewarding thing!
We went to church today to our next to last service at Grace Church.  Let me just say that when we first walked in the doors of Grace Church approximately 11 months ago I had no clue what God would have for us in this past (almost) year.  When we stepped away from our position at our former church in complete faith that God was moving us to something different I could not even begin to tell you how scary, yet empowering it was to know we were following God completely!  God has taught us so many things through that process and I am thankful everyday that even though some may never understand it, it is the best feeling to know we are in God's perfect will!  I have grown so much being under the teaching ministry of Grace.  The application to my life personally has challenged me, stretched me and grown me in ways that I could of never thought possible!  I saw church in a different light and my life will be forever changed because of it.  For once in my life I don't feel pressured to meet someones standard of acceptance, but I am accepted through my faith in the gospel.  I don't think the gospel has ever been so true to me in every aspect of my life.  I really don't think I have ever come to such reality of how truly broken I am on a daily basis.  I mean we all try to talk ourselves into how good we really are (we don't do this or we do do that) right?  But seeing things in a different light made me realize that we are all so broken and in need of the gospel not just once when we get saved but everyday that we breathe!  There are so many people at Grace Church that welcomed us with loving arms and showed us what practical Christian love and generosity looked like.  They have blessed us beyond words.
We had our "going away party" with our small group tonight.  When we signed up to join a community group (Grace's technical term) I wasn't really sure what exactly a small group was, but had heard different things.  We walked into a group of 13 other people who accepted us with open arms and loved on us at a time when life was a bit difficult.  They gave us meals, watched our kids, sent us out on a date night, more meals, more childcare, but best of all encouraged us and cried with us and weren't afraid to meet us where we were.  I will forever be changed by their example.  When we were first accepted to Harvest Training Center I didn't really think it would be this hard to walk away from our church we have proudly called was a bit emotional for me.
Finally, I am feeling a bit anxious about what it will be like to walk away from what has been our "routine" for the past 11 months to some unknown waters and territory.  We are so excited about where God is placing us and how He is going to use us.  If I could explain all He has done over the past few months to confirm in our hearts that we are exactly where He wants us it would blow your mind!

"From the end of the earth will I cry unto you, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I."  Psalms 61:2

Thursday, August 18, 2011

15 days....

My kids ask us just about everyday, "how many more days until we leave for Chicago?"  So, we made a countdown on our calendar in attempts to keep the nagging at a low.  I am reminded how soon we will be leaving South Carolina for the north!  I know we will only be gone for 5 months, but I also know that things won't be the same when we return!
We took a trip to the cemetery yesterday evening.  The kids have been asking pretty often about going to see papa.  Their different responses were pretty interesting.  Ashlyn (4) immediately asked if we could dig him up.  Madelyn (3) kept saying, "Papa is in heaven." Bryson (8) was fairly quiet about the whole thing.  Landon (6) who seems to be the most outward with his grief spent a lot of time just standing there at his grave.  He picked up a rock and drew a cross in the dirt and wrote "Love Papa."  He hugged me for a long time and kept saying, "I miss Papa and love him so much!"  He said can we get some food and sit right here and have a picnic.  I reminded Landon that Papa's body was buried here, but he was really in heaven and that if we trust Christ we can see him again one day.  I pray that God will continue to work in his young heart.  I have to say the last few weeks have been hard at times.  There are times I want to talk to daddy so bad or just see his smile or touch his hand, but I know that won't happen and some days that is so hard to swallow.
Our days are pretty much filled with last minute doctor and dentist check ups for the kiddos, laundry, packing, trashing, sorting, meeting up with friends, etc.  I have to admit that the closer it gets the more anxious I become about this new step.  I do know however and have the confidence that God is right here with me and knows exactly where I am going.  Church planting is no easy task!  Details seem to cloud my mind and then I become scared, anxious and fretful about how it will all come together....when will I learn?  I just need to rest in God's plan and know that He has everything under control!  I look over the last year and can see His hand so evident in our lives!  This also brings great comfort and peace to me.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Thought I would finish out the story of the van.  To make a long story short, really short, someone called Sam last week and through a series of events gave us $1000 more dollars to fix our van.  So, we now have our van in the shop with $2000 to work with and should have a newly fixed van any day now!  It is funny how when you think God is going to work something out a certain way, He always has a bigger plan and what He gets glory through.  I am amazed at how He has worked out so many details for our upcoming move and adventure in faith!  There are still a thousand and one other things that need to come together, but I have confidence that in HIS timing and HIS way they will all be worked out by September 2nd....that is the official move date.
I have seriously considered throwing away all the kids clothes and starting over....but, I know that would be foolish, but it is VERY tempting, let me tell you.  When I started having kids, I didn't realize the amount of clothes and socks they produced.  : )

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

So I am running out of titles for my posts, so today's does not have a title...maybe just a few random thoughts and update on what is new.  First, our van is still not fixed.  When we put it in the shop we just knew that God was going to work it out to cost $1000 or less that was promised to us, but God had other plans.  The quote we got was closer to $2000, so we thought about trading it in for something newer, God has since closed those doors and we have peace about getting things on the van fixed that will make it reliable for our upcoming move.  We do have the $1000 to work with so between Sam being able to fix a couple things hopefully it won't cost much more than that.  I know God has a plan so we are still trusting that He will provide exactly what we need in His time.
I still have not really started packing, not really because I don't need to be, but because I am such a procrastinator at times....I work well under pressure!  Seriously, I need to get busy, because going through clothes and shoes for 5 kids is not an easy task, and I guess that is why I haven't started yet.
Sam and I are both staying busy working as much as possible to save for our move.  Sam has had some recent conversations with several people about our future plans and that is very exciting!  I know God is going to do great and mighty things and I am so excited that I get to be just a small part of that.
I am excited that my mom is going to travel to Chicago with us when we move and help out with the kids.  Sam will be driving the small moving truck so she will help me drive the van, then fly home.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


When we started this journey a few months ago I would have to say it was a giant leap of faith!  As I look back over the past 10 months, first I am amazed it has been that long already.  Second, I am amazed at how much God has taught me through all of this....I wouldn't change that part for anything!!!!
When Sam sent his application in to Harvest, honestly I never thought in a million years we would be going.  It is a very rigorous process and I just wasn't sure that we were "good enough" for what they wanted.  I then realized that taking away all of the human aspects of things there is a God who has a much bigger plan for us than I could ever dream!
Since we submitted to this new phase of calling in our lives I can't begin to explain how everything is falling together.  It was such an overwhelming feeling once we knew it was a go.  Moving....for only 5 months....12 hours the cold north!  Our first prayer was to work something out with our van.  Our van is 12 years old with about 130,000 miles on it.  It doesn't have a lot of miles, but has several issues that we live with, but weren't comfortable driving it that far and knowing it would be reliable.  I got a phone call from a friend last week and we were "catching up" and she then asked me about our van.  I told her we were still praying about either trading it in or getting it fixed.  She said, "that's why I called.....we want our mechanic to look at it."  Long story short, they will pay up to $1000 to get whatever needs to be fixed.  So, our van goes to the shop today--please pray with us that it will be no more than $1000.
Then, someone called me Friday and asked if we would be stopping on our way to Chicago.  They offered to book a hotel for us in Kentucky with points her husband had earned from traveling.  Once again, God has provided without people really knowing our specific needs.  There are a few other small blessings....hand me downs that are the exact fit and in perfect shape, great deals on some homeschool books.
I just want to remind you that there were days in the last 10 months that I was not really sure about what the future held.  I just knew that God was in control and that HE was able to work things out for HIS good.  There were days that I just couldn't see how we would work things out....but now I look back and see how God was working through it all.  I am just so overjoyed in my heart and excited to see what God does.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Playing Catch Up

I really feel like the last month has been a complete whirlwind.  I am still trying to figure out where all the days went.  Daddy went to the hospice house on Wednesday, June 22nd.  I seriously think that was one of the hardest days for me personally.  The Saturday before that daddy wrote mom a note and said, "I'm dying."  We were a bit taken back by that because he did have some signs that his body was weakening, but definitely not what we were expecting to hear from him.  When we asked him how he knew that he said, "God told me."  So I really believe looking back that was the day that daddy came to grips with the reality that his days were numbered and God was beginning to give him (&us) the grace to deal with what the next days were to hold.  Taking care of daddy began to be so much harder in the days before we moved him.  He was to weak to move himself at all which made things hard for mom and her health.  We had a CNA that came in everyday, but we soon realized that wasn't enough help.  It was not an easy decision to make.  I knew in my heart that once daddy left, it meant he wasn't coming back home...ever!  The night before he left he had all of us come in his room.  Wipeout was on TV and the boys often watched this silly show, well really we all did, and laughed together.  By this point daddy was not really able to write very well so communication was going down hill pretty fast but we definitely knew he was asking for everyone to come in the room.  We watched the rest of Wipeout, and then the kids went to bed.  The selfish part of me that night was saying, "God, why did you have to take his voice away."  I really think that was the hardest part for me.  I wanted him to speak as much wisdom to me and the kids as he could, but I had to accept how it was and know what he was thinking in his heart.
Waiting for the inevitable to happen was not easy either...waiting on God's timing to take him home to heaven.  I knew his time was through and I had no things left undone to say to daddy.  I had spent the last three months having some great conversations and times with him that I will never forget.  I know God had a plan in letting us live here for the last 8 months.  I tell my kids everyday to be thankful that they could spent papa's last days right here with him.  They loved going to see Papa at the hospice house, even though daddy got less and less responsive to them.  They have lots of great memories and times spent and shared with Papa that they will never forget (I hope).  I had the privilege of staying the last night with daddy.  Something in my heart told me to stay.  I sent mom across the hall to sleep and I laid there and listened to daddy breathe.  The nurse came in around 5am to take his vitals and his blood pressure was 75/45, she didn't say much and I somehow managed to finally doze off to sleep.  Mom came across the hall around 7am and said, "Erin, I think he's gone."  Sure enough, he wasn't breathing anymore....we called the nurse in and it was confirmed.  It was so peaceful.  Everyone had been there the night before to give their love, our former pastor from TX and dear family friend had even been by and shared some thoughts about daddy and heaven before we went to bed that night.  I can't help but think that was where daddy's mind was.  All I know is that the moment he breathed his last breath we was perfect.  No more cancer, no more coughing, no more pain or suffering!  The selfish part of me doesn't want him so far away...but the loving part of me knows that he is more alive than ever.
So somehow all of this was part of God's big plan that just keeps unfolding to Sam and I.  The weeks and days before daddy's death I kept thinking all these thoughts about being away in Chicago and something happening....and I got to be right there with him in the same room when it all happened.  I have learned so much from watching my mom tirelessly take care of daddy from day one.  No one was ever so dedicated to my daddy.  That will be forever etched in my mind.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Dad's Obituary

I really can't believe I am posting this, but here it is:

Mr. Robert Allen Kelley, 64, husband of Patricia Quinn Kelley, of Greenville, passed away Saturday, July 2, 2011 at McCall Hospice House.
Born in Linwood, CA, a son of Robert Kelley and Marilyn Buchanan Kelley, Mr. Kelley was an Educator in Christian Education for twenty years and a member of Tabernacle Baptist Church.
Surviving in addition to his wife of the home are a daughter and son-in law, Sam & Erin Jones of Greenville; a son and daughter-in- law Adam & LaTosha Kelley of Edinburg, TX; a brother, Glenn Kelley of Pensacola Fl; a sister, Robin Robinson of Santa Barbara, CA; and six grandchildren Bryson, Landon, Ashlyn, Madelyn, Hudson & Mairin.
Funeral services will be 2:00pm Wednesday, July 6th, 2011 in the chapel of Robinson Funeral Home-Powdersville Rd. Burial will follow in Greenville Memorial Gardens.
Visitation will be from 5:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m Tuesday at the funeral home.
Memorials may be made to the Hollings Cancer Center, 86 Jonathan Lucas Street, P.O. Box 250955, Charleston, SC 29425.
Condolences may be expressed online at or in person at Robinson Funeral Home-Powdersville Road, which is assiting the family.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Grace is Real

I can't believe that I am writing this dad is days, even hours from passing from this life to eternity in heaven.  The grace that God has provided to me personally over the last year of this journey with dad has been unreal.  It has been scary, yes and at times very overwhelming, but the peace and grace that has given me has been so real!  I have read so many testimony's of others that have gone through similar situations and couldn't imagine being there myself and here I am.  I know the days and months ahead will be testing and trying to my complete faith and trust that God holds the future and knows everything!  Sometimes I sit back and think over the last year and think, "God, what were you really trying to do?"  I mean why does someone who loves you have to suffer?  Other times I think, "God, wow-I have learned so much about how things are not in my control or my power," and it makes it so much easier to trust.  

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Fathers Day (Part 2)

My second Fathers Day post, I wanted to focus specifically on my husband.  I have to say when I married Sam 10 years ago I dreamed about what it would be like to make him a dad and how it would be to be parents.  I never dreamed how great of a daddy he would be to our children! of us are, but exactly what they need....yes!  I was reminded this week of a thought:  "God gave you the kids you have as a gift to raise them in the Lord, no one on earth is best suited for this job, because no one else loves them like you do!"  How true that is! (by the way, that is not a direct quote, hence why I didn't give credit)

I love the way he jumps in and does anything to get involved with them.  He is not selfish or thinks that "dads don't do that."  I love that he tucks them in at night and prays with them and reminds them of the good things God has done and is doing in our lives.  I love that he cuddles with them and tells them that he loves them.  I love that when he comes home from being away for a bit they all run to the door to greet him.  I love that he is ever growing and changing to become more like Christ and leading our children and family.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Happy Fathers Day! (Part 1)

I wrote a post called My Sweet Daddy that will cover some of what I want to express today.  The only difference is that I realize that this really may be my daddy's last Fathers Day here on earth.  You start evaluating how fragile life and time really are.  I think of all the times I took for granted that dad was just there in all his wisdom and sweetness.  Now, I can't even hear his voice anymore....I really took that for granted.  What I would give to hear him sing again (he was always singing), or for my kids to hear him say or do something silly.  Now, all they can do is tell them something exciting going on with them and hug him and tell him they love him (which they do doing random times).  The other morning Madelyn ran to their room opened the door, yelled "I love you papa and nana!" closed the door and kept right on with what she was doing.  Hudson still wanders in there several times a day to get daddy's hand to express his love.  In fact the other morning he was coughing and he kept bugging my mom like, "get in there and see what he needs!"  Watching my kids figure out where to fit in all of this has been awesome....they love him just the same, I think because they see how much their mommy loves her daddy!  

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Parenting 101

The title sort of sounds like a college course doesn't it?  Don't you wish there was a college degree offered in parenting?  I do! : ) I love my 5 precious kiddos, but sometimes they completely stump me and I don't know what to do.  Our church has offered a 4 part parenting class and Sam and I signed up to give us a refresher.  Its so easy to get tired and unfocused on the important things in raising and training children, especially when they are in the ages of 2-7.  Sometimes training (proactive training) is so tedious and overwhelming when you have lots of little ones, however the benefits are so rewarding.
I was reminded again of the importance of being as consistent as possible.  I realized that some things in parenting are completely my deal, not my kids deal.  I am going to work on creating a more structured atmosphere as to avoid some conflict and create a peaceful environment.  If you know me, I am not very organized, but am looking to do a better job at that.  I want my kids to be great adults that will be humble and moldable to God.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Packing Is Never An Easy Job

So, we are a little over 24 hours away from our departure to Chicago and I am busily packing bags for all of us.  Even though Sam and I are the only 2 actually going....all 5 kids are going elsewhere.  We have a crew of wonderful friends who are watching our kiddos for the next 4 days while we head north.  I have to say that I am excited about the trip, however, a bit nervous about how my kids will do without me for those few days.  I am leaving them with people who I know will love and care for them, yet I still feel a bit "sad" about it.  I know they will be fine and have a great time and Sam and I really need this time away.  We will celebrate our 10th anniversary on the 9th, so I am looking forward to some adult conversation without being interrupted a million times...or eating a whole meal without interruption...not just one meal, but 3 days in a row worth. : )
Please pray for Sam and I, as well as Harvest Bible Fellowship as we seek God's will about a church planting opportunity.  Our interview is scheduled for Friday afternoon from 2:30-4:00pm (central time).

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Quick Update-Trusting in the Lord's Plan

Just wanted to type a quick update about the Harvest Training Center opportunity.  We finally got a phone call back today that we will be going to Chicago next weekend!  Yes, Sam and I are going alone!!! This is even more exciting because its a week away from us celebrating our 10th anniversary.  I am so excited for this opportunity and being able to be away together for 3 days, which is a first for us in about 8 years.
So, my mind is racing in preparing for this trip away.  The kids are all being split up to different peoples houses while we are gone so I have to pack all of them separately (except Bryson & Landon).  I also am a bit nervous about leaving my baby Hudson for 3 days.  It is easy to leave the older ones because they understand that I will be back in 3 days, but Hudson just doesn't.  However, I am very confident in his worries there and I trust the Lord to take care of all of them while we are away.
Please pray for Sam as well as he will be traveling to Hickory, NC on Thursday to visit with a Harvest affiliate church there and the pastor.  He will spend the day with him and be involved in some staff meetings, etc to get a feel for the ministry there and how things are done.  Also, pray for Sam as he has to prepare a 25 minute message to preach to the staff at Harvest while we are up there for "evaluation weekend."  I know he would appreciate prayers as he seeks clarity and understanding.
I have to admit this past weekend I was a bit discouraged because they hadn't called yet and I was thinking, "God, is anything EVER going to work out for us."  Let me just answer this and say I know that was a dumb thing to say!  I was thinking very selfishly for the moment.  I have complete peace knowing that God is ultimately in control of everything!  If this is His purpose and plan then so be it, but if it isn't I will trust that He knows whats best and has an even better plan than I could ever imagine.  Whew....that was hard to type, but so true!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Waiting Game

I think I would have to say after my short 33 years on earth that waiting has to be the hardest part of life!  I see it in little things, like when I am cooking dinner and having to wait for something to cook, when I needed to be finished 30 minutes ago. : )  I see it when I am sitting in the drive thru line that is suppose to be "fast" and isn't.  I see it when I am ready to go somewhere and we are right on time and my 5 kids are not in so much of a hurry to get in the van, buckled and ready to go.  I see it when I am watching my sweet daddy suffer and wonder how much longer till he gets to go "home."  I see it when I am praying for a particular need we have and I need it taken care of today and it doesn't get answered how I see fit!  But, then I am reminded of all the times God has blessed and taken care of us in His timing and it always brings Him glory.  I always have to stand back and just say, "thank you Lord!"  If things only worked out the way I thought, then I wouldn't need God.  So, again today and everyday I am reminded that waiting is part of the "game" of life.  I could type on and on about the things I am "waiting for," but in the end it is just empty words to you.  God is the one that will answer in His time.  He is faithful!

Psa 27:14 - Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!
Psa 31:24 - Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the LORD!
Psa 37:7 - Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!
Psa 37:34  - Wait for the LORD and keep his way, and he will exalt you to inherit the land; you will look on when the wicked are cut off.
Psa 38:15 - But for you, O LORD, do I wait; it is you, O Lord my God, who will answer.
Psa 39:7- "And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you.
Psa 130:5 - I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope;

Friday, May 13, 2011

Happy Birthday to ME!

Yesterday I celebrated my 33rd birthday!  I sent a text to one of my friends and told her that 33 felt pretty good!!!  Sometimes I think about getting "old" and it seems a bit scary, but mostly I have learned to embrace the life God has given me and enjoy every minute.  Thought I would reminisce about a few things that have happened this past year in my life (keeping this list as brief as possible):

  • In June of last year my dad was diagnosed with Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the base of tongue and into his lymph nodes.  This completely changed my life!
  • In June/July, Sam was gone 2 separate whole weeks for camp once and youth conference another and I survived with 5 kids all by myself!!!
  • In August I started my 2nd year of homeschooling, this time adding Landon in K5, Bryson started 2nd grade.  I had no idea what this school year was going to hold...
  • In September Sam resigned his position at Tabernacle because he had a pretty promising position at another church, however that fell through.  God had much BIGGER plans for us!!!!
  • In November we moved in with my parents while Sam continued his job search.  I started working part time/seasonal for Gymboree, which has become permanent since and I enjoy very much.
  • In December dad had a PET scan after he completed his radiation/chemo treatments and told that the cancer had responded some but was still present.  Also, we were blessed with a bountiful Christmas for our kids, thanks to some wonderful people!!!
  • In January we joined a small group at church.  Couldn't imagine then how important this great group of people would become in my life.  I have been so challenged and encouraged by them all.
  • In February my new niece was born into this world and I became an aunt for the first time!  Love Adam & Latosha, and just wish they lived closer to us.  I also started a 8 week study
  • In March, we surprised the kids with a couple days away at Great Wolf Lodge.  We had a fabulous time and were so glad that God provided for us to go.  Dad had another PET scan near the middle of the month that confirmed the cancer was definitely there and growing! Sam received a phone call from Harvest Bible Fellowship to start the interview process.
  • In April dad had some major setbacks with his health that led him to choose no more treatments.  Now, I have the privilege to help care for him.  We also enjoyed a quick visit from my brother, sister in law and new niece.  I loved meeting her and enjoyed getting to know my sister in law even better.  
So, I guess the last year has been pretty crazy!  Some days I just wake up and think, will my life ever be "normal" again, or is this the new normal?  Seriously, I thank God everyday for His blessings on me.  I have an awesome, Godly husband who has a burning desire in his heart to passionately serve God.  I have 5 beautiful, healthy children who bring much excitement to my life.  I have 2 parents who love me and have given us a place to live and an opportunity to serve them in a way that I never thought.  I have great friends who have literally become like family to me over the last year.  I will have to say that I can't imagine what God has in store for me this year....but really can it get more exciting than this?

Monday, May 9, 2011

My Better Half

I remember being a little girl and dreaming of what it would be like to be married.  I had lots of fairy tales on my mind and thought my prince charming would come and sweep me off my feet and we would live happily ever after.  Don't get me wrong, I love my husband with all my heart and wouldn't trade him for anything, but life isn't such a fairy tale.  Sometimes those love stories that are in all the movies make marriage and love look so easy and somewhat fake.
I am so thankful that God has given me a husband who loves God with all of his heart.  Looking back over the almost 10 years of marriage (June 9th), I see how God has brought both of us together.  It was in God's perfect plan.  God knew exactly that I would need Sam to help me become more like Christ and to challenge me to grow spiritually.  I love that we can sit down and talk about spiritual things and how they affect us and our family.  My husband has made a lot of hard choices and decisions over the last 10 years, but I have watched him grow in grace and become a better Christ follower because of it.  Walking away from everything you know and are comfortable with isn't easy, but I am thankful for how he has led our family.
I have no idea where God will lead us next or how that will work out, but I know that I have a husband who loves God even more than he loves me-and for that I am grateful!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

When My Kids Imitate My Behavior

One of the hardest things about being a parent is watching my kids imitate my character flaws.  It seems I can teach them a million things in a day, but they are sure to pick up the one thing (or more) that I do wrong!  I think my kids have taught me more about myself than anyone else could have ever done.  It's not easy taking criticism from anyone, but when you see the "subtle criticism" I receive watching my kids react to certain situations I am cut deep in my heart.
I long with everything I am to break certain patterns that I possess so that my own children won't have to struggle with those same things when they become adults.  I am reminded daily that I can take every situation presented (which by the way is a lot with 5 kiddos 7 and under!) and make it a teachable moment of how Christ would want us to respond, or screw things up horribly and have to cover my tracks later and apologize and reteach everything of "what not to do."
The only way I can be the kind of mom I should is to stay close to the Lord and not become stagnant in my relationship with Him.  My one true desire in my life is to pass on my love for the Lord and desire to serve Him with all my heart.  A heart that is genuine and unselfish in every way.  If I am to do this, it is only through the grace and mercy that God grants me everyday as I fail, pray and show my kids the love and grace of God.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Loving Others, Sharing Christ

What keeps us from sharing our faith with others?  What keeps ME from sharing my faith in a bold way with others?  My lack of love for others.  I am so selfish.  I get so caught up in what I am doing and what I need to get done that I don't make time for others like I should.  I think of the people God puts in my path on a daily basis and how I could share what Christ has done for me.  When we take the focus of life off of ourselves and put them on Christ, then we can be bold and proclaim the love of Christ to others.  I want to be an example to my children in all areas of my life that Christ has done something awesome in my life and the least I can do is be selfless and share this with others.

Friday, April 29, 2011

How God is Working in our Lives

I am amazed looking over the past year in our lives and how God is working and growing in our lives and family.  Some of you reading this won't understand, but I see God's hand in each step that we have taken in faith-obeying and following Him.
About 2 years ago Sam started listening to a program on the radio called Walk in the Word with James MacDonald out of the Chicago area.  His teaching transformed our lives!  For the first time in a long time we heard teaching/preaching straight from the Bible, not someones opinion or rabbit trail about what they think the Bible says or twisting it for their belief, but what it says verse by verse.  So, we started being challenged about what he had been told our whole church life that preachers like this were "false teachers" not teaching what the Bible says, etc...I could fill in a lot of different things I have heard said over the years (not important).  So as we started learning and comparing his teaching with the Bible we were discovering that not everyone who isn't independent baptist is wrong.  Just because someones opinion or the way they do something is different, doesn't make them wrong.  However, I am not writing this post to argue with anyone, just to share my heart and where God is leading us at this point.  I have no harsh feelings about where God had us before and am thankful for how God worked used that in our lives.
We were introduced to Harvest Bible Fellowship which has a training center for church planters.  Our hearts have always been in church planting and our desire has been to plant a church here in the USA, but never felt adequately prepared to do so.  We began praying about this opportunity, however we knew that where we were serving at the time wouldn't agree with our decision and wouldn't provide a avenue to really apply for a spot in the training center.  We thought God was leading us to another church at the time, but that fell through, which was obviously the Lord!  We landed at Grace Church the first Sunday we had free and found a breath of fresh air.  We had heard of church like this, but for the first time were experiencing it ourselves.  In the meantime we were still just praying for God to provide a job for Sam and at that point had pretty much put the training center idea at the back of our minds.  About 2 months ago, my dad shared his heart with Sam and told him if his illness was holding Sam back that he really thought he should apply and see how God would lead.  So, after 2 years of praying and waiting to apply he sat down and started the process.  This application was not like a little job application where it asks you a few short questions and that's it.  It took Sam about 4-6 weeks to fill it out and to get through everything.  Not only did you have to fill out the application but you also had to have reference forms filled out that were very thorough and even I (as his wife) had to fill one out. This training center is very intensive and they only accept less than 10 men to train over a 9 month period.  So, he completed everything he needed to do, included a preaching/teaching CD of him and sent it off.  Honestly, the skeptic that I can be at times thought OK, you might hear back from them but I just don't know.  So, he gets a call the day they receive it in the mail!
Where are we today with the process?  After talking a bit back and forth over the last month they are flying Sam to Chicago next Saturday (the 7th)-Wednesday (the 11th) for him to participate in Harvest University which is Mon-Wed, but also for Sam to observe and become more familiar with the ministry there and for them to get to know him more.  This is just the beginning and we have no idea where this will go and how God will lead.  This is very exciting for us and Sam is stoked about getting to go to this conference!  Please continue to pray for our family and how God will use us.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Thank You Jesus for the Cross

Last Sunday at church, we were challenged by Bill to reflect this week on Christ's sufferings and what He did for us on the cross.  Each day I have tried at some point to sit down quietly and ponder what He did for us.  Have you ever stopped and imagined how vain and empty our lives would be without Jesus' sacrifice on the cross?  Where would I be without the cross?  Then I think about the hope we have knowing HE IS ALIVE!  All of His suffering was not in vain.  Not only did He take my place on the cross, but He gave us a hope that there is more to life than all of this.  Life is hard sometimes.  Things don't seem to make sense at times especially when you watch someone you love so much suffer, but knowing that as soon as their life on earth ends, they will be alive and healed in heaven.  Here are some words to a song that I have grown to love:
Thank You Jesus For the Cross

My life lived for only me
My days spent so sinfully
My heart was dark, my eyes too blind to see
My pride destroying me
Your life, sent for sin to die
Your blood, shed to justify
Upon the cross, my ransom to afford
This sinner’s great reward
Thank You Jesus for the cross
Thank You for the price You paid for us
Giving up Your life to save the lost
Thank You Jesus for the cross
The crown placed upon Your head
The nails meant for me instead
Your death became the ONly WAY to LIFE
For me to live is Christ
Thank You Jesus for the cross
Thank You for the price You paid for us
Giving up Your life to save the lost
Thank You Jesus for the cross
You knew no sin, but You became sin for us
The great sacrifice
so we’d become the righteousness of God

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Grace for Every Need

I didn't want to stick with a total grace theme for this blog, however God is reminding me everyday of my life how without His grace, we are nothing!  These past few weeks dealing with my dad's health (and lack thereof) has been a real challenge for me.  Not because I doubt God or question His ways, but trusting in the fact that He knows my dad's future and the plan He has for his life.  I know what plan I have for my dad's life.  I have sat for the past 2 days reflecting over my life for the past (almost) 33 years and thought about what influence my dad has made on who I am today.  Not just who I am as a person (personality, etc.) but who I am as a child of God.  I thought about the grace of God in saving my dad in his early 20's and giving him a love for God and desiring to raise his family in the right way.  This couldn't be easy as my dad wasn't raised in a Christian home or really around church at all.  Wow....what would my life be like if I didn't have a strong, Godly example to pattern to me what being a Christ follower looks like.  My dad has read his Bible everyday that I can remember.  He has always had a desire to encourage others to read their Bibles and study it for themselves.  Several of his former students have shared that with us in the last few days/weeks.  That is a testimony and that is my daddy!  He is the most humble man I have ever met, yet strong and full of wisdom.  I have seen the grace of God so evident in his life the last few weeks.  I can't imagine where I would be today if not for the grace of God that was extended to my dad, who in turn taught it and lived it to me.

Thursday, April 7, 2011


So I have been wanting to sit down the last few days and write a post, but I have a billion things going on in my head and I was trying decide where to start.  Frustrated at my feeble attempts to handle stress.  I know in my head how I should respond, but somehow it doesn't always come out that way.  I am really praying that the Lord will continue to work in my heart and change me to be more like Him.  It isn't always pretty what the Lord points out, but I want to be a true follower of Christ in every way I live.

Friday, April 1, 2011

My Sweet Daddy

Let me just start this post off my saying what a wonderful daddy I have!!!!  Watching him suffer through so much the last 9 months has been the hardest thing as his daughter...ever!  I remember the day we sat in the doctors office and got the news of his cancer- life took a fast turn in the other direction.  Don't get me wrong I have no doubt that God is in control and lean on that everyday,  but.....I am human and so very selfish.  Watching someone you love and are so close to having to suffer is not very fun at all.  You see, I have plans for my dads life!  This cancer thing wasn't part of MY plan, but yes I know, it was part of God's.  So, I have to remind myself just about every other minute that "my thoughts are not your thoughts...."  I want my daddy to be strong and healthy so that my kids can have their papa.  He has so much he could be teaching them about life, just as he taught me.  So many times in my life, I have relied on him for strength and wisdom and now as I watch him weak and frail it seems so messed up!!  Nothing about this cancer thing is black and white.  Its a journey of complete uncertainty....boy is that scary....wondering what the future holds when I see him lying here.  Sometimes I just want things back to the way they used to be.  When they were "normal" I took so many things for granted...hearing my daddy sing, laugh, enjoying a family meal together...little did I know how quickly things can change.  So for now, I have to accept the new normal and love my daddy everyday more and more and appreciate the things he has taught trust in God!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Recap of My Weekend

I was given the opportunity this past weekend (Friday night & Saturday) to attend the Extraordinary Women Conference at the Bi Lo Center.  It was awesome!!!  Something I have never experienced before.  I was able to go with 2 friends and enjoyed experiencing this with the both of them.  There were several speakers and dynamic music by Casting Crowns and Michael O'Brien (who led worship).  I guess I would have to say my 2 favorite speakers were Lysa Terkeurst and Candace Cameron (Bure).  (I know lots of links, just in case you want to check them out.)  Lysa spoke about trusting the MESSiah to take your MESS so He can give you a MESSage to share with others.  That really spoke to my heart as life lately has seemed just a bit "messy" and I don't want to stray from the opportunity I have to share Christ's message with others.  Candace Cameron gave her testimony about "being good is not good enough."  She shared how Christ convicted her of her trying to be "good" and of her need of a Savior.  You can find her testimony on her website and probably on You Tube-very powerful the way God is using her in Hollywood.

In light of my wonderful experience at the Ewomens conference, my parents left today to head to Charleston/MUSC (Medical University of South Carolina) where my dad will have a feeding tube placed tomorrow around lunch time.  This is a surgical procedure and he will stay in the hospital one night for observation, and for my mom to learn to "feed him."  They also will have various doctor appointments to prepare for his upcoming surgery (that has still not been scheduled).  Please continue to pray for my dad, as he is experiencing lots of things physically that are hard to bear at times.  Also, continue to pray for my mom who is his main caregiver, that God would give her the grace and strength to help him as needed.  They will Lord willing be back home on Thursday or Friday.

On Friday before heading to the conference Sam and I were able to have dinner with Kevin & Beth White, who are missionaries in Bolivia, South America and also dear friends of ours.  They were in town for the day and it was a blessing to spend a couple hours catching up with them.  They have been home on furlough and heading back to the field in June.  Always a great time of fellowship with them and sharing what God is doing in our lives.

Friday, March 25, 2011

A Bit Overwhelmed

So I just realized tonight that 4 whole days have past and I haven't posted.  I could tell you everything that has happened in the last 4 days of my life.....unemployed husband, living with my parents, helping care for my dad who has cancer, 5 children the age of 7 and under, van in the shop....where would I begin?
Actually, this is my normal life...I have begun to accept life as it is.  Some days I really just have to sit back and laugh and I catch myself saying, "what next Lord?"  I don't say that in a sarcastic, disrespectful way, but knowing that God will not give me more than I can bare.  I really have to remind myself of that pretty often these days.  Sometimes there seems to be no hope in site or no way to fix the problem at hand.  Then, I am reminded that is exactly where God wants me to be...humble and open to what he is trying to teach me.  So, rather than be upset in my circumstances I can rejoice knowing that God is working in my life.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Our Responsibility in the Resurrection

Heard a great message this morning from I Corinthians 15:1-11 on the Resurrection.  I have heard this passage before, but wow, it brought new meaning this morning as I heard it taught again.  Do you realize that without the Resurrection we have no hope.  As a Christian that is the one thing that is different from all the other religions in the world is that our Savior is alive, not dead!  We have proof in the scripture.
The application in this passage was so good. First, Paul takes time in the first few verses to first give proof that Christ rose from the dead.  All of a sudden, Paul takes a detour and starts telling his life story. He talks about how broken he was and how he was the least to be called an apostle.  Think about Paul's life...he was a murderer, hater of the Christians and Christ saved him and used him in a mighty way.  We can't let our past point us toward feeling like God can't use us or we are defeated.  We also can't be swelled up with pride like we have arrived and we are the best Christian that has arrived.  Paul gives us a practical reminder that no matter who we are talking with we should be able to tell our story of how the gospel has changed our lives.  The problem is that most of the time we give excuses to why (we are shy, don't know what to say) when in reality without Christ we are nothing!  Why would we not want to share that with everyone we come into contact with?

Friday, March 18, 2011

Grace in Action

So we heard news yesterday about my dads cancer-it is still there!  Not really the news we were hoping for, but I know that ultimately God is the one in control.  The only option he really has is surgery, which is not really what he wanted to do.  More than likely they will have to cut out his whole tongue which isn't something pretty or fun to think about.  I think I am a bit selfish because I want my dad to be the strong pillar he once was and now I see him weak and frail.  With all that in mind, I look over the last 9 months (since his diagnosis) and see how God has given us such grace to deal with what He has placed in our path concerning my dad's cancer.  Even though at times it seems very overwhelming to take in what the doctors say and what they want to do, I know that that ultimately God is in control and that is the only thing that gives me any kind of hope.
"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope."  Jeremiah 29:11
"The LORD is my portion," says my soul, "therefore I will hope in him."  Lamentations 3:24
"Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer."  Romans 12:12

Thursday, March 17, 2011

My Personal Testimony

As a part of becoming a member at Grace Church we have to do 3 things:
  1. write our personal testimony
  2. sign a covenant
  3. fill out a personal ministry profile (how we can serve)
I struggled with what to include in my personal testimony because I could of included lots of extra details, but tried to keep it short and simple.  I thought I would post it as a reminder of God's grace to save me and continue to work in my heart.  I am a work in progress and love what God is doing in my life!

I was born in Santa Barbara, California on May 12, 1978.  My parents were both fairly new Christians.  At the age of 5 my dad made the decision to move our family to Springfield, MO for him to pursue a degree in Elementary Education at Baptist Bible College.  He finally graduated after I finished 7th grade and accepted a teaching position at a Christian school in Mission, TX.  We moved that summer and I started attending a Christian school from 8th grade until graduation from High school in 1996.  I grew up being in church every time the doors were open (Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night, any church activities).  We were always involved in good, solid churches with excellent and solid teaching.
My mom always told me that I had made a profession of faith as a younger child, but I didn’t really remember it and spent years doubting whether or not I was really saved or not.  When we moved to TX, I became actively involved in a youth group there.  I developed a pretty close relationship with the youth pastor and his wife and really respected how they spoke truth into my life.  During my 10th grade year of school I was really struggling with my faith and doubt and really felt convicted that I was lost.  Since I attended a Christian school, we began each class period with prayer and it seemed on this particular day all the teachers were mentioning salvation.  By the time I got home from school that day, I knew I needed to pray and tell God that I believed in Him and wanted Him as a part of my life.   I called my youth pastor to discuss the struggle going on in my heart and he told me to come over (we were neighbors) and him and his wife prayed with me and I accepted Christ that afternoon.  I put my will on the back burner and accepted whatever He had for me that day.  I know without a doubt that I will spend eternity in heaven, not based on anything I have done, but based on what He did on the cross for me.
Having grown up in a Christian home my whole life, I didn’t make such a dramatic decision, but it was my personal decision none the less.  I had to decide for myself that I was going to choose Christ, because He had done so much for me.  I guess it didn’t mean as much to me then as it does now.  I can’t imagine after all the many things God has brought me through how I would have made it through life without Him.