Sunday, November 3, 2013

Goodbye Canada...Hello Charlotte

There are so many conflicting thoughts and emotions as I type those words. 

I love Charlotte. It was my home for 22 years. It's where I grew up. It's where my family is. It's where my warm days are. It's where Spring and Fall are glorious and long. It's where there's central air conditioning anywhere you go. It's where Chickfila is (and sweet tea of course!). 

But I've grown to love Canada too. I have built and married into family here. It's where hot tea and coffee and cozy blankets await. It's where Compassion is. It's where the clouds amaze me. It's where our life, as a married couple, has grown. It's where we've created memories together. 

And oh the changes that have brought us to this decision to move to Charlotte! Where to begin...married life? Lyme? Canada? Charlotte? Work? Moving? Separation? 

I guess the beginning is always the best place to start, though it is so hard to decipher where the beginning truly lies. We haven't even been married for 3 years yet, and the journey's we have travelled together blow my mind. It has been a very difficult road that we have been on. Every marriage is unique, as there are two unique people in each marriage, that would make sense right? Well, ours has been a very difficult first few years. We've been through immigration, and therefore physical separation (and now we're going to do it again). We've been through relational walls, miscommunication, non existent communication, and technology run "relationship". We've laughed and we've cried, a lot. We've gotten it right and we've gotten it wrong, a lot. We've wondered what we've gotten ourselves into and we've rejoiced in where we are and who we're with. We've been ready to throw in the towel and we've been committed to each other and to our vows to one another and to the Lord. To think it hasn't even been 3 years yet doesn't even seem possible with all that has transpired. But through all the many ups and the many, many downs. The Lord has been so gracious. He has restored. He has blessed our relationship. He has brought us closer than I ever thought possible. He has changed our hearts as individuals and as a couple. He has brought us to our knees and held us close. He is truly an amazing God and He can truly rescue and redeem anything! How do you say thank you for such a gift? All I know is that I can't seem to stop smiling and rejoicing in my loving Savior and the husband that He has truly blessed me with. I am grateful and excited for our future together...oh our God is great!

And then there's Lyme, that has seen fit to take over my (and consequently our) life over the last few months. I haven't been really healthy since moving to Canada over 2 years ago, but the last year has brought things pretty low in the health department. It is so hard, as I sit here on the couch, barely able to type out this post because it requires so much precious energy. It is hard to want to invest in those here as I prepare to move back down to Charlotte. It is hard to have to leave my incredible job at Compassion and all those I have come to love so dearly there. It is hard to try and pack up a life in one country to move it to another all while hardly having the energy to walk up and down the stairs. But it is amazing the "bursts" of energy that come when I need them most. How gracious the Lord is to give my husband the dedication and servants' heart to come home from a long days work to wash the dishes and vacuum the stairs (as well as the rest of the house!). And how blessed I feel to not have enough time and energy to be able to spend with all of the incredible people that He has placed in my life over the past 2 years. It's truly an incredible gift to have so many people that have touched my life so deeply in such a short amount of time. 

So through it all, through marriage, through Lyme, through moving, through long distance friendships and marriage, God is good. He is gracious. He is kind. He is in control and nothing ever takes Him by surprise. 

For those who we will be "leaving behind" in Canada. We love you, and I will back to visit over the next few months as we enter into a long distance marriage once again. And to those who we're "coming back too" in Charlotte, we're excited to see you again and to build relationship with you as a couple :)

Friday, June 14, 2013

Listen... what? To the cars racing up the road, to the birds chirping outside my window, to the dog barking in the other room, or to the thoughts in my head that seem to be shouting?

Thoughts, they are loud and intrusive. They interrupt and overrun my life when I let them. My thoughts are destructive, because they're full of selfish desires, and the what-if's and could-have's of this life.

But God's thoughts, those thoughts are pure, they are convicting and they are holy. But honestly, sometimes I'd rather wallow in my thoughts rather than glean from His. I'd rather crawl through the mud of my own thoughts, trying to figure life out, instead of resting in His thoughts and the plans that are already in place.

Listening can be really easy when it's what I want, and listening can be one of the hardest things I will ever do when it's not. Because if I'm truly listening, then the next step is either obedience or disobedience; there's no half-way-happy place. It's one or the which will it be today?

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Games We Play

"Nevertheless, the people refused to listen to the voice of Samuel, and they said, 'No, but there shall be a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations, that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight out battles.'"
1 Samuel 8:19-20 ~ The Israelites response to the Lord's warning about a king.

I was reading 1 Samuel this morning and this phrase caught my eye...that we also may be like all the nations...Why is being like everyone else so desirable? Why would we rather try and be like someone else than be who we really are and who Christ created us to be? Why do we choose to play the comparison game and let what we find steal our joy from who and where we are right now?

When are we ever to learn to live as Paul? As David?

"I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me." 
...and I love the last first in the Message as well...
"Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am."
Philippians 4:11-13
"Delight yourself in the LORD; and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He will do it"
Psalm 37:4-5

When will contentment come before whining? When will joy come before self-pity? When will delighting in the Lord come before delighting in circumstances? When will these verses describe my heart? When will I allow pretenses to give way? When will I let go of my desire to please everyone to a fault? When will I care more about what the Lord thinks than of those around me? When will I give up the picture of the "perfect life" and desire His LIFE instead? 

Because really, there is no life outside of His LIFE; outside of Christ and the sacrifice that He made on the cross; outside of His resurrection which is our gift of life. There is no life outside the one offered and freely given by my Savior. May I cling to that life, His LIFE, that is forever rather than this earthly life that will not last.

May the worries and fears of circumstances fade away, may the comparing and complaining turn to joy and gratitude when I look upon and live out His Light and Life in my life. May I find such peace as I give up on perfect and instead cling to Jesus.   

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Overflowing Blessings

Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name's sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord

When I look back at this week I am amazed to see such a contrast between the valley and the anointing. This week has felt long. I haven't worked at all and the days just seem to drag on and on when you're unable to get out of bed. And yet, this morning I have tears in my eyes as I look at all the blessings that have come from this week.

~ Matthew started his job at Wal-Mart ~ I had visits from Christine, Juanita & Shelley ~ Juanita and RoseMary stocked my fridge with amazing gluten free meals and snacks ~ we had a lovely evening of fellowship with Ted and Sharon last night ~ there are now lovely purple orchids on my dresser, another blessing from RoseMary ~

And there are more blessings to come as I look ahead...

~ Victoria, Joe, Daniel, Dustin and Luke are all coming over this evening ~ And I leave on Monday to go and stay with Amanda and Michael over the next couple of weeks to help in my recovery ~ 

And of course there have been more through phone calls, emails, blogs, books and #shereadstruth in 1 Peter this week. These blessings that often come from others that do not know the heart and physical struggles that are my everyday life, and each one breathes life and hope into this heart of mine.  

It is amazing as I look at the struggles that are overwhelmingly before Matthew and me. Satan is working hard for the desire to wallow in doubt to win out, and yet the Lord is victorious! We are in a spiritual battle with the Evil one who so desperately wants to distract and overwhelm so that all we can see is our insurmountable circumstances. But our God is bigger, He is greater, He is All-Powerful, He is Provider, He is the King of Kings, He is Comforter, and He is Abba. He is everything that we could ever need and more. Our focus has to move away from circumstances and onto our Heavenly Father.

"And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love [Him], to those who are called according to His purpose." ~ Romans 8:28

Monday, June 3, 2013

Real Life {It All Starts With Thanksgiving}

"...and He took the seven loaves and the fish; and giving thanks, He broke them and started giving them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. And they all ate and were satisfied..."
Matthew 15:36-37

"Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will if profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?"
Matthew 16:24-26

Jesus' rode wasn't easy. He didn't have a "cake walk" during his years spent here on earth, and so why should we expect our lives to be any different? Or when we experience hard times, why does that make us wonder if God is really there? Christ came to this earth to suffer and then commanded us to "pick up our own cross and follow Him". I would say those words should make us expect the hard times, the times when we don't understand why, and the struggles that come our way.

And yet what is our attitude during those difficult times when we find ourselves face to face with uncertainty? When the spiritual decisions we feel the Lord is calling us to war against the practical and earthly mindset of our every daily lives? When stepping out in faith isn't a little thing, but something that looks impossible/stupid/insurmountable when we look at what lays before us through our human eyes rather than looking into the unknown and the uncertainty through the eyes of faith. I would have to say that my attitude isn't always the best. In reality, it pretty much stinks!

I am definitely the one to look at everything in a practical sense. "Well if we do this than that will happen, so therefore we can't do that. But if we do this than that might happen and that could be good or bad but I can't guarantee anything so we probably shouldn't do that either..." And I could go on and on. This is the reality of my brain. I want to have a detailed plan that ensures that everything is going to work out fine. I want to be responsible. I want to look put together on the outside even if I'm a hot mess on the inside. 

The Lord has been challenging me A LOT recently through the many uncertainties that He has brought into my life over the last several months. And yet through this time He has also brought people into my life to speak words of encouragement and conviction that He is using to mold my heart and my mind to be open to His leading no matter what that looks like. He has used friends and family here in Ingersoll as well as back in Charlotte. He has used women I have never met but who I feel are walking with me through this journey by their willingness to sharing their words through a computer screen or through the books piled on my nightstand...

Ann Voskamp ~
"That which I refuse to thank Christ for, I refuse to believe Christ can redeem."
"And I’ve felt Him say to me in the deepest part of my heart, the part I sometimes let get too covered up, “You are so much harder on yourself than I am.”

I am. I’m hard on myself. I get caught up in the comparison game and feel like everyone is loving better, living more purposefully, doing more significant things and, essentially, blooming so much better than me.

I give other people the benefit of the doubt, but I never give myself that same grace. And that’s what God has been whispering over me.


Emily P Freeman ~ Grace for the Good Girl

Sarah Young ~ Jesus Calling

Each of these individuals have touched my heart deeply. God has used their words to bring me to a breaking point where I acknowledge that I want to be in control, I want to do what's right (and what other people think is right), I care about what other's think and it can sometimes rule my decision making. All these hidden heart attitudes, and more, that the Lord is bringing to light so that He can draw me closer to Himself. He is convicting me of my lack of faith in my God and in my husband, because I am not willing to let go so that they together, as the head of our house and our life can lead me. I'm just too scared as to what that might look like, but I am learning to let go, because letting go is all that I have left...

So, this might cause you to wonder what uncertainties would bring me through all this heart struggling? Well Matthew has been looking for a job since November of 2012 and until last week was unable to find anything. Thankfully last week he was able to get a part time job at Wal-Mart which we are both so grateful for! During the time that he was looking for a job my health also began to decline. I had to start pulling out of commitments that I had made (like being a youth leader and attending small group through our church) and my life began to consist of going to work, trying to sleep as much as possible, and hoping to make it to church every Sunday (which didn't always happen). But over the last several weeks my health has taken a drastic dip downward so that I am now having to take time off of work to  allow my body the time it needs to heal.

During this time of healing and recovery we will be living on the part-time hours that Matthew will be working at Wal-Mart . This of course put my overactive, everything has to make sense, we need a plan, brain into a major freak out session! I cried, asked God why, I ranted, I threw up my hands in an overwhelming "I don't know anything" motion. And He has answered. Not my questions mind you, He has answered by reminding me Who He is. He has been patient through my freak out session (ok, lets be honest, there's been more than one!) and has shown up in a mighty way. He hasn't changed our circumstances, and He hasn't made anything more clear in human terms. But He has bombarded me with the Truth about Who He is, what He is capable of, and what He has brought me through in the past and what He has brought others through. 

He is faithful. I know this to be true. He is now giving me the opportunity to live out what I say that I believe. And it is my choice to take Him up on it. It is my choice to say, "Ok, You are God and I am not. You love me more than I could possibly imagine. And You, not me, You are in control." Now the question is, will I trust Him, really truly trust Him with every single "I don't know" detail that we are faced with?

Yes. I will trust Him. Though I will fail, though I will let myself get overwhelmed when I look at the reality of what He is asking us to do, I come back with a broken and battered heart and lay it all at His feet once again. And I will trust Him.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Heart Work

God is a master at heart work. At molding, breaking, shaping, creating.

Even amidst the muck and grime that is found in this heart of mine. With the dark and dirty corners, the dust hidden under rug in an attempt at making this place, this heart more presentable. But really, this heart is a mess, it is a human mess that can only be made new through Christ.

He sees me, all my mistakes, all my joys, all my fears, all my hopes, all my human plans. He sees all of me and chooses to step in and mold me. He takes my heart in his hand, like a Potter with a piece of clay (Jeremiah 18), and He begins to work. 

He doesn't work based on my timing or my desires, but on His. He sees the struggles and joys of my life right now and in the future. The struggles and joys in the lives of those around me right now and in future. And He works them all together for His good. 

Often I am confused, worried, wondering why this or why now. Why couldn't this have come later, or why can't this come now, or why did this ever have to come at all. But He knows exactly what I need and when I need it. He is asking for my faith to be unwavering in Him. He is asking for my trust.
Sometimes I want to give Him my trust. And other times I want to hold on to what I think I need and want. I don't want to want His way. I want to give into stubbornness and be selfish. I am such a child. It amazes me that He meets me right there, in that moment of selfishness and calls me to Himself. He reminds me of journey's we've been through together. He reminds me of times when I thought that I knew best, but I was wrong. He helps me remember who He is and who I am.
I am so grateful for this relationship. This God Man who chose to die for me that I might have a personal relationship with Him. How much He must love me I cannot fathom. It is truly an amazingly wondrous gift that I am, and will be, forever grateful for.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

God and Glory and Daily Life

Glory : very great praise, honor, or distinction bestowed by common consent: renown;
adoring praise or worshipful thanksgiving.
What does it mean to give glory to bring glory to let God get the glory for it all?
I don't know how to give God glory. I don't know how to take the focus off of myself and let it be all about Him. I don't know how to give Him the glory for my life, for my marriage, for the struggles and for the blessings.
I know that I am called to give Him the glory, but practically, daily, I have no idea what that looks like. I guess when you look at the definition, my favorite part is "worshipful thanksgiving". I think that is such a beautiful picture. 
I envision dancing and singing. Hands and hearts raised to Heaven. Quiet moments of pure amazement at His greatness. Absolute awe in Who Christ is and what He has done. Speechless wonder that He would choose to love me.
Can you see it? The giving glory, the humility, the selflessness, the vulnerability, the offering up of life. It scares me and excites me all at the same time.  
It reminds me of 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 - "Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." It reminds me of Ann Voskamp and choosing to give thanks through 1000 gifts. 
How do I live in His glory every day? How do I display His glory, His life? Do I complain or do say thanks? Do I grumble or do I praise Him in every circumstance? Honestly, I do more complaining and grumbling than offering up thanks and praise. That's the ugly, honest truth. 
Thank the Lord for grace! I think we'd all be lost without it. I daily grab a hold of His grace with both hands and pray that it keeps me from scraping up my knees too badly with my stumbling. What a Savior. To hold me and carry me through the stumbling and complaining and offer grace. That is love. 
Jesus thank You. 
For grace upon grace. 
For love. 
For Your sacrifice upon the cross that gives Life. 
For carrying me. 
For walking with me and never leaving me or forsaking me. 
For listening. 
For the simple blessings like hot chocolate and whipped cream. 
For the intricate blessings like marriage and friendship. 
For music that pierces the heart. 
For words the stop you in your tracks. 
For kindred spirits. 
For quiet moments to reflect and rejoice in Who You are.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Underlined Words

Genesis 1:1 - "In the beginning God [Elohim, All Powerful]." That's what it all comes down too...

Exodus 6 - "Go." You can't stay where you are and go with God.

Psalm 37:4 - "Delight yourself in the Lord." In whom does my heart delight?

Matthew 5:13 & 14 - "You are the salt of the are the light of the world." I am...there's no ifs, ands or buts about it. I am, we are, the salt and the light.

Ephesians 3:17-19 - "So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know [have experience] the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God." To know, to [have] experience[ed], the love of Christ, and then to live in light of that knowledge.

Colossians 3:15-17 - "Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word [expression] of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teach and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name [the character] of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father." Stop holding back. Let go and let God.

Sometimes it's the little are...that can stop us in our tracks. Sometimes it's the words that we hear all the can take your breath away if you let them.

Sometimes all it takes is closing your eyes, and being still, for words that you've heard a thousand times to wash over you anew. Sometimes when we stop, and be still, is when God gets loud. And sometimes the quiet ebbs on and God never gets loud and it seems so eerily quiet. And sometimes that's ok.

"Sometimes He calms the storm and sometimes He calms His child."

Sometimes we have to be ok for the world to be raging all around us and to find peace in the only place that it can truly be found, at the feet of Christ. Sometimes we are blessed with quiet moments and days when hours with Jesus are what fills our days. Either way...God is good. In the calm and in the storm, God is good.

Grace, thankfulness, joy...are here for the taking. Peace, patience, gentleness...are waiting to be chosen. Love, above all else love, is always overflowing if I will but partake.

He is waiting, waiting in the wings to be chosen, to be given back the life that He so freely gave for me. When I hold back, thinking I can live in my own strength, my fountain of life runs dry because He cannot fill what I have decided to try and fill myself. I must empty myself of all that I think I know, and let Him fill me with everything that He is. 

Father God, You are wonderful. You are gracious. You are loving. You are good. Thank You for your peace that surpasses all understanding. Thank You for never changing. Thank You for Your love that knows no boundaries. Thank You that in the calm and in the storm You are there. Amen [let it be].

Monday, February 11, 2013

Stumbling Over Keys

My fingers stumble, they stumble over these keys. Not knowing how to bring forth the thoughts that can't seem to make their way on paper...or onto this screen. They twist and turn inside my brain and I can't seem to form the thoughts that so desperately need to be poured out.

About love, about life. About faith, about failure. About grace, about hope. About God, about Satan.

"Put on the full armor of God...for our struggle is not against flesh and blood...but against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places."
Ephesians 6:11 & 12

Satan strives so hard to rob us of the life that Christ calls us to live. Whatever angle he can find, he goes after it with a vengeance, just to pull us a little bit farther away from LIFE, from God, from Jehovah. 

And yet in that moment, when we feel the pull of the devil, all we have to do is cling to the One that has already won the battle of that moment, and every battle before and after that moment. Unfortunately that is easier said than done. Why? Because we choose to believe Satan's lies, just like Adam and Eve did in the garden, rather than cling to the life giving promises of our Almighty God.

I have always had a hard time with hope. I want to cling to it with all my heart and yet at the same time I want to run as far away as possible. Because I have always seen hope as relative. But I was challenged several weeks ago to see hope as what I know will happen because it has been promised. To hope that God is good, because He is. To hope that His plan is perfect, because it is. To hope in His love, because He is love. To hope in His molding of me, because He is the Potter and I am the clay. These are truths, promised by a God that never fails. I can hope in that.

I cannot begin to imagine my life without this hope. Without the love of my Savior. Without His forgiveness that I daily seek. Without His grace and mercy that are poured over my weary soul before I even know I am in need. Without His patience that I seem to push to it's limit (though there are none) at every opportunity. 

Father God, I am grateful and so very humbled by Your grace. By Your desire to pursue me. How You long to mold me into the woman You long for me to be. May my heart be open and willing to be challenged and moved by Your touch and direction. I am Yours. May You be seen in me. Let Your light, Your peace, Your life shine through me. Amen.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Real Life {2012 in Pictures}

Well apparently, before the iphone I didn't really take many pictures. So the first half of this year is mostly picture-less.

Summer 2012

Shooting guns at the Baigent's...Nannying for the Martin's...Charlotte Visit...Ezra is finally home!!!!...Coffee invades my life, with lots of cream and sugar...4H

Late Summer/Fall 2012
Our 1 year Anniversary of being in the same country (year and a half of being married)...Joe & Victoria get engaged...Job at Compassion Canada...Snow...Surprise American Thanksgiving

Late Fall/Early Winter 2012
Joe & Victoria get married...Capernwray breakfast...Charlotte for Christmas...Snow, Canada's welcome home present...New Year's Eve


Happy New Year Everyone!!!