Tuesday, December 20, 2011

I can't believe another year has gone by... A good friend of Andrew & I told us that once Albany started school that time would really speed up. I think he may have been right! We've had a good year. We saw Albany start kindergarten and dance. Andrew received funding for grants he's been working on. And I enrolled in school (finally) and begin in January. And we bought our first home. God has truly blessed us!

We've faced some pretty difficult situations this year, as well. It has strengthened Andrew and I as a couple and I can say, at least for me, going through the difficult has taught me to stand my ground and to speak up when needed (and that timing and leading is crucial on when to talk and when to stay silent). It has taught me that revealing a problem does not make you the problem, it is simply exposing the problem. It's taught me the importance of healthy, loving friendships. It's taught me that the truth truly does set you free. And it has taught me that forgiveness and the Holy Spirit bring healing and guidance on what to do next.

I am full of joy, full of peace, and overfilled with excitement of what is to come. I'm enjoying this time with my family for Christmas. And I look forward to what is in store in 2012. May each of you have a very Merry Christmas and may 2012 bring you health, happiness, and peace.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Sweet Child Of Mine

When I was younger, I remember my mom saying she hoped I had a child just like me (I think that was supposed to be like the mother's curse or something like that haha.) But yep, I had a spitting image of myself. The older she gets, the more obvious it is to me. People often tell me they wish they knew what was going on in Albany's head. I know...

I'm growing tiresome of finding stickers all over the house. The walls, the headboards (mine and hers), doors, chairs, the bathtub, and even the toilet. Albany and I have had multiple conversations about where stickers go. (ON PAPER!) and yet the other morning I walked into the guest bathroom to find My Little Pony stickers adorning walls, fixtures, etc. I quickly called her into the bathroom and using my stern voice told her stickers do NOT go on anything except paper. With one of the most pathetic (and honest) face she looked at me and said, "But I was just decorating." Feeling rather cold and heartless, I made her unstick the stickers and then sit in time out for a couple of minutes. Later that evening she found yet another page of stickers and asked if she could use them. I told her only on paper. To which she grinned and replied, "Yes, your majesty!" and then skipped off. I know her well enough to know she wasn't being disrespectful, just being Albany!

Later I was reminded of a story my mom often tells. My mom once entered my room when I was probably about Albany's age and noticed there was a Care Bear magnet on my wall. Figuring I must have found a stud, she went to pull it off only to find I had Elmer glued it to the wall. She then noticed around my room at about a 3 foot level were puzzle pieces, pictures, and sheet music. I remember that on television the kids always had super decorated rooms. I'm sure I told my mom, "I was just decorating!"

I guess things come full circle. And I wouldn't trade it for the world. :-)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Vision

I've never been a long term vision person. while other kids were dreaming about being ballerinas or astronauts, teachers or baseball players, I was dreaming about... well, I don't know what I was dreaming about. To be truthful, I was probably daydreaming. :-) I remember telling my mom at age 6 that I wanted to be a preacher. She never told me I couldn't, but she told me that it wouldn't happen in the church we were at. I continued to "preach" to my stuffed animals and "baptize" my friends in the swimming pool growing up, but I always wondered if something was wrong with me. At 18, God got a hold of my life and at age 19, I knew He was calling me into full time ministry. I fought the thought of following my mom's footsteps into children's ministry and spent a summer and a year interning with different ministries. Despite the thought of being a missionary in India just to avoid following my mom, I discovered my passion was undeniably children's ministry. For the past 9 years, I've worked in children's ministry.

Things began to change a few years ago. I was super blessed with a pastor in Oklahoma who continued to push me out of my comfort zone and to encourage me to follow the desires God had given me. He sent me and his wife to the Gifted to Lead conference with Nancy Beach. It was incredible and showed me that God did not make a mistake when He made me and gave me the gifts and desires that He has given me. As I began to study, I realized that while what I was doing was my passion, God had something different in store for me. Everything I was doing was preparing me for that time and I was content to wait on Him to show me what it was.

Recently I've been reading Craig Groeschel's book Chazown. At the same time I was listening to Steven Furtick's Sun Stand Still sermons. They both rocked my world. I realized it had been awhile since I had really prayed about vision. I had noticed my passion for children's ministry had begun to wane. I still enjoy it, but the passion I had for it once, is just not the same. So I began to pray. It seemed like everything I read, whether a book, blog, or Bible, all was bringing up some of the same questions. A quote from Steven Furtick continued to bother me. He said, "If the size of the vision for your life is not intimidating to you, chances are it's insulting to God." I didn't really have that much vision, let alone one big enough to be intimidating. So I began to pray even harder. What was it God had for me? What am I supposed to accomplish in this life? What was I made for? I didn't want to run ahead of Him, but I want to feel that passion again, knowing that I'm doing exactly what I was created for.

Last weekend, we were helping some friends move. Well, Andrew was helping them move, I just went over for pizza when it was over. ;-) This friend told us that while they didn't have a home owner's association they had a neighborhood covenant. Basically things like, I'll keep my yard up, take care of pests, etc. Except there was a line in the document that to live in the neighborhood, you had to be Caucasian. I was too shocked to even say anything. He also shared he had been a little irritated when a new neighbor had suggested he hire a couple *racially insensitive term*s to do some of the work. Again, wow! It bothered me all night and I found myself in tears Saturday night just thinking about it. It just amazes me that in 2011, we still have that kind of segregation and hate.

Sunday, my heart was still so heavy. Andrew asked me what was going on and while crying I just let it all out. Every bit of it. Between the tears and ranting, I was reminded of something from Craig Groeschel. He said that often when searching for your passion, people ask you what do you love, but he posed the question, what makes you mad, what ticks you off? He said that often it reveals what you are passionate about. It was right that minute that it was crystal clear and I announced, "I know what I'm supposed to do! I have my vision! I know what my passion is!" Andrew listened as I shared my heart. There have been few times in my life I have been that sure that God was speaking right to me and it was Him undeniably leading me!

God has revealed to me that I am to start a church or help be a part of an existing church that breaks barriers down. Color, gender, income level, size, past, it does not matter, the only thing that matters is that people can gather together and worship and grow! When I shared my vision with Andrew, he began to point out some of the difficulties. While I know there will be many difficulties ahead, I reminded him that if God was calling me to it, He was was going to provide everything I needed. Then I shared with him a reoccurring thought I've had. If the Bible was still being written, would you be able to say that you lived your life so passionately, so full of faith, and allowed God to accomplish the impossible through you, that your story made it in the Bible? I don't want to settle for good enough, or even what I'm naturally good at. I want God to stretch me and use me for more than I can fathom. When I was finished, Andrew smiled at me and said, "Fair enough! Whatever God calls you to do, I will be there to support you."

As I shared this new vision with a few people yesterday, while I was looking for anyone's approval, I was very encouraged. Then last night... I had shared with my friend, Jay, on the way to Birmingham to attend the Basement. (I'm so excited and fired up, I'm having a hard time NOT telling people.) When we arrived worship was just beginning and we couldn't find the group we were meeting, so we grabbed seats in the back. Within the first 10 minutes, I was looking around at people of all ages, all colors, all backgrounds, all worshiping God together and it was as if something inside of me wanted to scream, "This is what church should look like!!!" And I felt a confirmation in my spirit, this is what I was created to do. This is my vision.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Happy New Year!!! (23 days late...)

Well, I was thankful to see 2010 go! It was a hard year and very tough at times; I was tempted to give 2010 a swift kick on its way out!!! I don't feel like rehashing the negative, so I'll focus on a few of the positives. :-) God has richly blessed us with some incredible friends in MS. I had a fabulous girls getaway to celebrate our 30th birthdays. I met my soul sister. I am so thankful to be closer to my family and enjoyed visits with them. Ok, so maybe it wasn't all that awful... ;-)

I'm believing 2011 is going to be our best year yet. As always, I'm excited to see what God has in store for us. It's guaranteed to be a big year. I plan to start on my master's this fall. I'm finishing up the paperwork now and then will be awaiting acceptance. Albany also begins Kindergarten at the same time. I've so enjoyed watching her grow and reach new stages, this is the first time I truly feel a little sad seeing her reach a new milestone. I drove her past her new school the other day just as the school was letting out. As we drove past all of the buses, Albany told me, "Mommy, I'm gonna ride the bus to school!" I told her, "Sweetie, you're too little to ride the bus." She quickly informed me, "I'm NOT too little! I am a BIG girl!" I've made a promise we can pretend mommy is driving her in a bus on the way and I'll even stop every so often and open the door. :-) Thankfully Goose has a great imagination! ;-)

I didn't make resolutions, but have set some goals for this year. My biggest goal is to end 2011 better than I began it. I believe 2011 is going to be an awesome year and just have such a sense of excitement to see what is in store!!! I'm gonna close with two quotes I just love.

"We spend January 1 walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched. Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives... not looking for flaws, but for potential." ~ Ellen Goodman

"Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each new year find you a better man." ~Benjamin Franklin

Here's to an awesome New Year! Wishing you much love, peace, and joy this year! And that we each end the year even better than we began it. :-)