Sunday, December 14, 2014


I am tired.  Plain tired.  I am almost positive that any woman can say that at almost any time of any day.  Whether you are married or not.  Whether you have kids or not.  Whether you work out of the home or not.  It's just a common side effect of being female.  I think it's our brains.  The non stop thoughts that process through them.  The non stop activity around us.  The non stop feeling in our hearts to the things we see and hear about.  There is just always something isn't there?

Somehow my October just blended into November which is now blending into December and oh December.  We are two weeks in and almost all of that time has been spent with illness.  Illness of children and myself and I know I am not the only one.  I can name flus, stomach bugs, RSV, colds and even appendicitis that has gone through the friends around me.  I also have to mention this GIGANTICALLY HUGE project that someone decided at my husband's work was a good idea to have happen in the middle of December.  

I have watched and slept and prayed and gotten frustrated for him as he has been up for all hours on countless conference calls multiple nights in a row.  I have been tempted to make an appointment with whatever uppity up made this call to let them know that it was absurd, ridiculous and all the other less appropriate adjectives that spew out of me when I'm eating dinner with the boys and a man who has to have a black headset attached to his ears.  I am most thankful this is a virtually nonexistant part of his job at normal times but seriously there's nothing happening in the months of January through March.  Why not then!?

And then both of these situations are also followed by me getting annoyed with myself as I realize I'm just being a brat since I've spent so much time complaining over virtual blessings in my life.  Children who I love and want to take care of in sickness and in health.  A husband who has a great job and is a bright light of Christ in the middle of a corporate world.

I need to remember that overworked or not, sicknesses or not, overwhelming schedules or not, the beauty can not be taken out of December.  The joy that is known through advent and the celebration of the birth of our Savior and Lord is there always and in everything no matter what, but I do, sometimes, have to fight to see it.  I have to fight against the distraction, the frustration, the ongoing duties, and the sorrows and memories holidays so often bring.  I have to fight against my flesh that wants to get upset when things don't go the way I've planned, or my to do list just keeps getting longer, or my body is worn out and just won't do what I want it to, or the voices that follow me around whose only communication is through a whine or the brief but sweet time of prayer and reading that happened in those wee hours before children wake seem like a distant memory by the end of a day.

So I seek his face.  I repent yet again of trying to do it all on my own and make my own way.  I rejoice again that I have everything to give praise for and none is, or ever will be, due to my circumstances.  Again, I remember his promises.

  I have been doing the She Reads Truth advent study this month and each day has been wonderful.  As I've traveled through old testament prophecies and reading after reading of people and places that served their purpose in the story that leads up to Christ, I have been struck more than ever about the promises of God.  A prophecy is merely a promise, something told long ago that God promises to happen in the future.  The things angels told when they appeared to Zachariah, Elizabeth, Mary and Joseph were promises.  Every word God spoke or left with us in His Word was a promise of what will come, of what he'll do, and of who He is and not once in all of time has he broken any of his promises.  Not once did someone look at what he said and not see what he had done.  No it didn't, and still doesn't always happen in the ways our feeble minds can imagine or even comprehend, but My Father, your Father, the Father of our Savior, has never broken a promise.

  I had this thought the other day about what God may be thinking as I was struggling with the past and of how it still effects my present and my future while sitting in my car, tears streaming down my cheeks wondering why.  Why do I still struggle over and over with this same thing?  In the innermost part of my heart the Spirit calmed me with His promises.  I could just imagine my Heavenly Father tenderly saying I promise it's ok, I can see the big picture, I can see the beauty that is being created all around the yuck. I promise I will never leave you, I will never forsake you, I will be faithful to complete this work in you, all of this will work out for your good and you have nothing to fear.

Far better than even the most well intentioned promises I make my baby boys and the most genuine love I heap upon them, is the comfort of a Heavenly Father who knows no end and the promises He has made that can never be broken.

Monday, December 1, 2014

back home

The day after mine and Logan's birthday Zach left to go to Denver for a training class.   He was gone for 6 nights and 5 days, not that I was counting, and checking them off and praying that the time would go by quickly.  

I'm always excited when he goes somewhere fun for work and I get to go with him but I am never excited when he goes somewhere for work and I am left alone.  Not that anyone is excited to have their husband traveling so I know this is a shared feeling.  When I am gone for a day or a girl's weekend or something He never fails to let me know how thankful he is for everything I do.  Being left alone with three boys that you have to clothe, feed, and keep track of and a house that you have to not let get too destroyed definitely brings out a thankful heart.

Same goes for me when he is gone.  The daily things aren't too big of a deal.  I get them ready for school everyday and pick them up and help with the homework and make the dinner and all that on a daily basis anyway.  It's after dinner when there's the clean up of kitchen and children, and then the reading of the stories before bed and the praying and the singing,when my heart deeply misses my other half. Don't get me wrong, I miss him during the day too but at least then I can just pretend he is still at work!  Added to the normal schedule there was also Connor's Thanksgiving program at school and a Thanksgiving Feast to be eaten twice in one day and doing it alone was just no fun.

Though I can be truly satisfied in the Lord alone, life is just more enjoyable with my baby by my side.  God said it was not good for man to be alone, I am only assuming it's not good for women either.  I love having my encourager, my sanity provider, my partner, my fellow parent, my escape if needed, my cuddler at the end of the day.  I prayed more for single mothers last week than I have in a long time.  My heart was opened up to them in a new and fresh way with a desire to figure out how to reach out in assistance or at the very least show the love and grace that is so needed during times of frustration and struggle.  Will you pray too?

 Zach has been gone for extended periods of time before but for some reason last week the thought of living life like that hit me more than it ever has.  Probably because I now know all to well how quick something like that could happen and how thankful I am that it didn't.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

looking ahead

My birthday was two weeks ago.  Well mine and Logan's birthday was two weeks ago.  For three years now I have shared a birthday with my 3rd son.  Yes some people think it's sweet and amazing.  I think my son is sweet and amazing but the jury is still out on the sharing thing being such as well ;-)

It never fails that I feel a little off around my birthday.  It's not a bad feeling per say, it's just a different feeling.  Many people spend the first of the year reflecting on the past and making plans for the future and while I am definitely a new year, fresh start, list making fool, a lot of my reflecting goes on around the time where the number associated with my years on this earth is about to go up by one.  This year that number went from 32 to 33 and my heart just wasn't sure what to think about it.

In the week leading up to the Saturday celebrations, my mind wandered through the past and what the previous year had brought, but I also spent a little too much time thinking about what it had taken away.  Without even trying too hard my mind kept wandering to the negatives, the hard stuff, the things that make my heart sink and tempt me to forget the wondrous things God has done.  I fell head first into that temptation the Tuesday before and spent the majority of the day in tears, but praise God for not allowing me to dwell there too long.  He took my eyes from the negatives and reminded me, yet again, of where I am now, who I am now, who I have now and who He is always.

Even after all this, it still wasn't until the day after my birthday at our community group that I began to understand where my thoughts needed to go.  As we were sharing our weekly "what is God doing in our lives" a friend talked about how God has been bringing up situations in her life that have initiated conversations with her husband about their future and what they should be looking forward to.  Something woke up within me when I heard that.

This past 15 months has been full of both heartache and joy that has required an immense amount of looking back and while in a lot of ways there was nothing but moving forward, in a lot of ways that moving forward was just to get us back to level ground.  I'm ready to rise above.

Looking back is always a good thing when you are looking back and seeing the faithfulness of God in your life.  I look and see what the Lord has done and it is GOOD, but I think after so many months of looking back I am ready to not just look at the past of what He has done and not just look in the present of where I am now but to look to the future of where He is taking me.  I think I am finally ready to live out the first verse I wrote in this new year 11 months ago.

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own.  But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 3:12-14

Friday, November 7, 2014


It's November.  I didn't think I'd make it through October.  I remember eating dinner with Leslie on October 1st and looking at her and asking her to pray because I was already tired from everything that was going to happen that month.  I am so thankful and humbled to be sitting here a week into November not only having made it through October but having made it through, by grace and grace alone, better than when I started.

The Holy Spirit has been stirring within my heart pointing and pricking and pushing and convincing and setting me toward a path that is difficult but one I am finally ready to walk down.  I'm in the early stages, just a few short steps in, but as I continue the trip forward, with no step backs or at the very least no turning around and fleeings, I will continue to share.  We all have hard roads we need to walk and we can't walk them alone.  While my official sharings of clinging to my beloved God of Hope is complete my desire to write about His work in my heart is not.  Whether just for me, a handful of others or enough to fill Jordan-Hare (which is HIGHLY unlikely and not a goal just for the record) I want to continue to bare it all, to process it out and to pray it encourages just one.

I've been nervous about continuing on and letting all the doubt and insecurity try to weasel it's way back in or maybe inviting it back as the case may be.  But then a word from a friend or a well timed verse from the bible or a devotion shared by my husband encourages me and gives me truth, sometimes hard truth, in love.  I don't know why I'm always surprised when God shows up.  Of course with that surprise comes awe and to lose that feeling toward my Creator would be a sad day indeed.

I want Him to use me.  I want to share my heart and to keep none of it to myself.  I want to show others and help others to do the same so that all masks are off and the only thing we see are the beautiful hearts of other sinners who are firmly in the hand of God ready to be on each other's team, on the Kingdom's team, and not fighting amongst ourselves.  I pray this desire never goes away.  I pray it only grows stronger.  I pray that He will continue to surprise me as I see Him show up in this desire or keep in awe as He drives it in different ways.  Will you pray with me please?

Friday, October 31, 2014

thank you

Day 31 of 

31 days down.  It's over.  I did it.  My heart and mind feel lighter having poured out so much this past month.  I am so glad I took that step out, the action of writing and sharing.  I pray it encouraged someone, but regardless it surely encouraged me.  Thinking and walking through the whole path again is helpful because it reminds me of where I stand now and who I have been abiding in because if not for Him I'd be way back at the beginning or lost on a lonesome road somewhere in between.

If you are reading this, thank you for visiting and spending some of your not so free time, if your life is anything like mine, reading these words.  If you are reading this and read any of the 30 days previous, seriously thank you for entering in to my story for a moment.  If you actually finished the whole list of 31 ramblings from this very non professional writer, WOW, you might be the only one but I am thankful for you and pray you saw Christ in between the lines.

This little space was created specifically for this purpose.  To share for 31 days about the journey God has taken me through, to learn how to cling to Him better.  I don't know if anything else will show up on this little space in the interwebs.  I pray it will.  I pray I will continue to share what God is doing in my life in this little corner.  Even if it's only for me.  Even if it's only so I can see His faithfulness in my own life and the lives of those around me.

Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known.  But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.  All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure (1 John 3:2-3)

Until then cling to the God of hope and

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13)

Thursday, October 30, 2014

verses of hope

Day 30 of 

There is nothing in scripture that is not useful in your life (2 Tim 3:16), but there are definitely seasons we go through where we are combing the word for specific things to meet our present need.

  Because God is awesome and sovereign over all, our pastor had started a HOPE theme a month before the bomb.  As the year went by, the messages went hand in hand with many of the things we were learning as we walked our narrow road, not because he was using our lives as a stairway to writing sermons, but because when you talk about Hope it integrates every story and every life no matter the person or situation.

In the beginning of the Hope theme, our weekly bulletin had a list of scriptures to help us explore hope.  I spent the next few months looking each of them up, writing them in 'the' journal, and praying about how they each on their own needed to be assimilated into my daily thinking.

I want to share the references with you now in case you would like to spend time looking some or all of them up on your own.  I also want to encourage you to consider doing a word study of your own if you are in a season of searching for scripture to speak to a certain need, or asking someone else to do one with you.  Consider doing one even if you aren't.  For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope (Romans 15:4).

Ezra 10:2                                         Matthew 12:21
                                         Psalm 9:18                                       Acts 2:26
                                         Psalm 33:17, 18, 22                         Acts 26:6
                                         Psalm 39;7                                       Romans 4:18
                                         Psalm 42:4, 11                                 Romans 5:1-5
                                         Psalm 62:10                                     1 Corinthians 9:10
                                         Psalm 65:5                                       1 Corinthians 13:13
                                         Psalm 119:43, 49, 74, 114               1 Corinthians 15:19
                                         Psalm 147:11                                   2 Corinthians 1;7, 10
                                         Proverbs 13:12                                 2 Corinthians 3:12
                                         Proverbs 23:18                                 Galatians 5:5
                                         Proverbs 26:12                                 Ephesians 1:12, 18
                                         Isaiah 20:5, 6                                    Ephesians 2:12, 13
                                         Jeremiah 14:22                                 Colossians 1:5, 23, 27 
                                         Jeremiah  17:13                                1 Thessalonians 1:3
                                         Jeremiah 23:16                                 1 Thessalonians 2:19
                                         Jeremiah 29;11                                 1 Thessalonians 4:13
                                         Jeremiah 31:17                                 1 Thessalonians 5:8
                                         Lamentations 3:21-29                       2 Thessalonians 2:16
                                         Hosea 2:15                                        1 Timothy 1:1
                                         Jonah 2;8                                           1 Timothy 5:5
                                                                                                   1 Timothy 6:17
                                                                                                   Titus 2:13
                                                                                                   Hebrews 3;6
                                                                                                   Hebrews 6:11, 18, 19
                                                                                                   Hebrews 10:23
                                                                                                   1 Peter 1;3, 13, 21
                                                                                                   1 Peter 3:15
                                                                                                   1 John 3:3  

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

end and beginning

Day 29 of

It's been a little over a year since the bomb blew up.  I waited patiently for the year mark because once it passed it meant I would have gone through everything at least once.  On the anniversary of different days, different experiences, different hardships, and different memories that we had walked through I will have the ability to say God brought me through it last year and He'll keep doing it this time around.

It blows my mind how many things God has taught me, truths He has tattooed on my heart.  It blows my mind still that there are so many more to go, and humbles me to know that I am so dear to Him that those truths will never stop coming.  It has no dependency on me and what I've accomplished, but everything on who He is and how much He loves and cherishes.

I am not the same person, and wasn't that His goal all along?  To rid me of myself so He could fill me completely with Himself.  To mold me as my Potter, to enhance me with His character, as the author of my story.  Won't He still continue to do so throughout my life?  That is a great and resounding yes.

Before it all blew up, my goal was to live steadily.  No see-saws for me, no ma'am, keep me in the middle where it's safe and comfy.  Now, I know that comfort was false, it was nothing but hiding.  It's in the peaks and valleys where you find true comfort, because those are the times you need it, and our Comforter is the only place to find it.

We ended a year of wisdom, a year of trauma, a year of growth, a year of restoration and renewal.  We are beginning another phase.  One I don't know, one that has been written since before time began but not yet acted out.  I have hope though.  I cling to the God of Hope.  He will remain faithful, remain comforting, remain loving, remain strong.  He will simply and always remain.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

our renewal

Day 28 of

This is a repost I wrote on our family blog to tell about the surprise renewal my husband planned for us and just to give you a warning, this is going to be a LONG post. The next few, many, paragraphs is an attempt to do justice the amazingness that was Saturday, May 31, 2014.  I already know that my words will not be enough.  If I was a better writer maybe I could come close, but there will be no way I have the vocabulary or ability to explain what my heart felt when I crested a hill and saw a dream come to life.

It had been a difficult year to this point and if you count the time leading up to September of 2013 it adds up to a long road past. But all of these things are part of my story and as much as I don't understand at times the whys of what God does, I think about something a favorite singer/songwriter/author, Andrew Peterson, said, God is the author of my story and he knows who I will be at the end of it.  Therefore he will take me through trials and joys needed to mold me into the person I need to be when my story is done.  Such a beautiful thought when you think of the big picture.

Because of these things and because Zach wants and knows how to love me better than anyone walking this Earth, he planned the most beautiful surprise and loving earthly gift I have ever and probably will ever receive.  At the end of that day he said his one goal was for me to know how much I am loved mainly because he knows this is one of my greatest struggles.  There's a good chance I will struggle with it again, the knowing that I am truly loved, because let's face it Satan has a good idea of where to get us.  However, for now and forever I will have this day to look back on to see that I am loved by Zach, my family, my amazing friends and church community but most of all, holy and dearly loved by the One who gave all these things to me.  

The "Big" day

Saturday started normally, or at least what I thought of as normal but it was all part of a master well thought out plan.  My parents were in town to stay with us for a couple days before they drove to Virginia for their hiking vacation.  I was woken up way too early, made breakfast for the boys, and watched our normal morning shows of MLB Whip Around and Curious George.  School had just ended for us all and Rebekah, a friend who moved away last fall, was in town for the weekend so a group of girls were getting together for lunch and a nails date.  Rebekah came to get me under the ruse of wanting to spend some extra time together in the car before we met up with everyone.  Obviously that was a big fat lie but hopefully there was truth in there as well ;)

Lunch was great.  We went to a new smoothie and sandwich place and just chatted about whatever girls chat about when they finally get a chance to hang out.  We headed over to get our nails done and had an awesome time laughing and talking across the room as the six of us sat there with our feet in bubbly water.  There's a good chance we annoyed everyone else there but sometimes that just needs to happen.  Zach had told me a couple days before that he was taking me on a surprise trip for a couple days for our anniversary so I was telling them about that as well.  Looking back it's amazing how skillful these ladies are at giving up no information.

On the way to take me home Rebekah said she forgot her wallet at Grace's the day before when she cut her hair so we were going to stop by "real quick" so she could pick it up.  So after hugging everyone goodbye and hearing many "have a great trip" we headed out to go "pick up a wallet."  I was standing in the living room waiting for Grace to finish giving her a tour of whatever when Morgan comes walking in the kitchen followed by Leslie and then Lisa.  Grace and Rebekah came back in the living room and I was just staring at them trying to figure out why the heck they came back too.


I'm pretty sure the first words after we have a surprise for you was Lisa saying oh my gosh I'm so glad this is finally here it was killing me.

I was informed that I needed to not worry, the boys were fine and I was to relax because this was the kick off to our anniversary trip.  I needed to spend the afternoon with the girls, get ready and then later Zach was going to come pick me up for dinner and a 10th anniversary sunset photoshoot.

For the next threeish hours they showed me three different dresses that Zach, with their help, had picked out and had fun bossing me around while I tried on different dress, shoe and jewelry combinations.  Bless my husband's heart he had thought of pretty much everything including my entire jewelry drawer that he just took out of my dresser and put in the car.  I ended up choosing this awesome white eyelet dress from Anthropologie because it fit the best and let's face it, it was from Anthropologie and I wasn't sure if I'd ever have another opportunity to get a dress from there.  They are not cheap!

After the dress was picked, Grace did my hair and make up and she's seriously just amazingly skilled.  I loved it all.  In between the getting ready and waiting there was more fun talk, a little drinking and some crossfit games watching.  Don't all girls do that together?

I was pretty excited and nervous the entire afternoon.  Suspense pretty much is the worst thing for me so the waiting for Zach had me in a very first date butterfly mode and I had a feeling there was still something I was not being told.   Shortly before Zach got there it started thundering and pouring and I asked Leslie if she thought Zach was freaking out over the rain.  The looks that passed between them all were not ones of confidence.

Zach showed up around 5:30 and I just sat on the couch as our five chaperones demanded that he come to the door to get me.  We took a couple of cute pictures and they loaded all the stuff in that Zach had lugged over earlier back into his car.  I hugged everyone good bye...again.   and headed out with my hubs who was looking all handsome in some khakis and a white shirt while I was dressed in a white dress.  I'm pretty sure that I commented on the fact that we matched and looked a little ridiculous but that since he looked hot it was ok.

We went to dinner at Las Flores and in the midst of him being a little anxious and checking his phone literally every five seconds to look at the weather, had a fun time.  We got their super yummy house margaritas, chips and dip and split a quesadilla and talked.  I have NO CLUE what we talked about.  Like seriously I remember none of it.  My stomach was in knots trying to figure out if there was anything else going on and he just alternated in between looking at my phone and telling me I was gorgeous.  Shortly before we left an older lady came up to our table to tell my my ring was beautiful and congratulations.  HA!  We did totally look like we had just gotten married in our all white and me done up like it was prom.  We just told her thank you :)

He said he had found a cool place in Covington to take pictures and had rented a nice lens for Reilly who was going to do the photoshoot.  She is a wonderful and talented young lady who goes to church with us and helped us with our family photoshoot last fall.  She also happens to be an amazing babysitter.  We passed a car dealership and then all of a sudden he off roads it up this hill on the way to a field and I saw Reilly standing at the top.  I couldn't believe he had made a 15 year old wait in a field in the rain by herself just so we could get pictures taken.

When we got out of the car he looked at me and said that there was a little more to the surprise then I thought.  That's when I saw a person crawling behind a hay bale and I got really confused.  I wish I could remember his exact words, but they were along the line of He knows we had talked about a vow renewal at some point but didn't want to stress me out with details, so he just planned one himself.  Then we walked a few more feet up the hill and all of a sudden I saw a white arbor in the middle of a beautiful field and rows upon rows of people.  Leslie later said that I squealed which doesn't surprise me. I just started crying and walking and looking.  I kept spotting more friends who had come from in town and out of town, both of our families who had driven from Alabama, south and north Georgia, and South Carolina, and our sweet boys all dressed up in their khakis and white shirts.

The closer I got the more people I could see and randomly started waving and crying some more.  Then I heard the music that was playing and saw Mike and Lindsay, our previous worship leader and dear friends, singing one of his songs that we absolutely love called I love you still.  As I walked down the aisle with Zach and the boys I was stopped by Rebekah, Morgan, Leslie, Lisa, my mom and Zach's mom in turn to hand me daisies that became a bouquet.  At one point someone handed me a tissue which was sorely needed.

We made our way to the front and Dave began our ceremony.   It was beautifully specific to
us.  Seven of our couple friends did readings of some of our favorite verses.  Those truths have been such an integral part of my last year.

Colossians 3:12-14 (Zach & Lisa)
12 Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other;as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 

Colossians 3:15-17(Matt & Dara Lynn)
15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus,giving thanks to God the Father through him.

John 15:4-5, 9 (Ryan & Morgan)
4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.

1 John 4:7-9, 16-19 (Donovon & Grace)
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 

1 John 4:16-19(Jeff & Rebekah)

16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this, is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is, so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. 19 We love because he first loved us.

Psalm 139:1-2, 13-14, 23-24 (Brit & Lisa)
1 O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
   you discern my thoughts from afar.
13 For you formed my inward parts;
   you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart!
   Try me and know my thoughts!
24 And see if there be any grievous way in me,
   and lead me in the way everlasting!

Revelation 21:2-5  (Matt & Leslie)
2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
5 And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”

After Katie and Jered sang Abide with me, one of my absolute favorite hymns, Dave gave his message which I am planning on writing up and posting separately at some point because it was encouraging and dripping with Truths that we all need to hear.  Then Zach shared with me his renewed vows...

Sarah, 10 years ago we made vows to God, and promises to each other. And time and time again, I failed those promises. And then I got lost. I lost sight of your love, and the love of God. But after all that, you love me still. You were the constant one, never wavering, never giving up. You have exemplified the love of Christ more than anyone, and for that I am eternally thankful. And now, He is making all things new in us. God brought us together, and he’s not done with us yet.

So in humble reliance on God’s grace, I promise to seek the Lord first in my life. Not you. Not anything else. I promise to build you up with compassionate acts, produced by an inner disposition that only comes from God. I will cherish you and pursue you, encourage you, and assume the best in you. I will honor you and respect your thoughts, and try to never use my elder voice. I will always be exhilarated with your love, your beauty, and your gracious heart. I will serve you humbly, fold clothes with you, and will always sweep the floors. I will desire you and none other. I promise to be committed to you, stay alongside you, and walk with you for the rest of our lives. I give you all of me, a broken man, trusting that the Lord is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

His words and humility melted my heart and I just stared with my tearful smile so thankful.  Next in the ceremony Zach gave me a new band to go with my rings.  It's gorgeous and glittery and makes the female inside me smile.  It's a beautiful white gold band with ten diamonds inlaid in it to represent our ten years together.  One of my favorite parts came next.  Since I obviously didn't know about the renewal I couldn't write any vows, but over the sound system they played the vows I said on our original wedding day.  It was such a sweet moment listening to the voice of my pastor growing up and the voice of a little 22 year old girl I barely recognized.  

We prayed together while Lindsay sang my hands down favorite song of Mike's.  Psalm 27  

The Lord is my light and my salvation;
Whom shall I fear, whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life; 
Of whom shall I be afraid?

When evil men advance against my life,
When my enemies and foes attack my soul,
Though an army raise against me,
Though a war rage within me,
Even then will I be confident in Him.

One thing I ask of the Lord,
This is what I seek, This is what I need;
That I may dwell in the house of the Lord,
All of the days of my life.

To gaze upon the beauty of the Lord,
And to see him in the place his glory dwells;
For in the day of trouble, I am safe in his dwelling;
He will hide me in the shelter of his arms.

To end, Zach and I went to the middle of the aisle while everyone surrounded us and prayed.  My dad, Zach's dad, Ames, Matt Rieger, Matt Cardoza and Dave all prayed aloud for us.  Then standing in a field surrounded by people we love, we shared our first renewed kiss. 

Dave ended with the benediction that Zach's dad always uses.

Jude 1:24-25 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever.  Amen.

I thought that was the end but as soon as I asked if I got to talk to everyone now they told me that there was a party at the Rieger's house that we all got to go to.  Of course I couldn't wait to give out hugs and talk so we did a little of that before we finally got around to that sunset anniversary photoshoot.  

The rest of the evening is somewhat of a blur.  Dara Lynn, Kayla and their husbands did an amazing job decorating her house.  There were flowers, tiki torches, white lights and delicious desserts.  There were laughs and smiles, sharing of secret plans, more hugs, pictures and just an overwhelming sense of joy and peace.  

I will never remember all the details of this day, but I will never forget the feeling it brought.  There was nothing I would have changed about the day from the location to the people to the music to the decorations.  It was literally a dream come true and there are not enough thanks in the world for not only the people who worked to make it happen but also the ones who just came to be a part of it all.  

To Zach, Dave, Leslie (and Matt), Lisa, Grace, Morgan (and Ryan), Rebekah(and Jeff), Kayla, Dara, Matt, Alex, Ames, Donovon, Brit and Lisa, Mike, Lindsay, Adam (the manager of the field), Mary, Magda, Gina and Bailey (for the yummy desserts), Reilly (photographer) and Eric, my parents (for helping with the boys), Jered (video) and Katie, and our family and friends for knowing and not giving up the secret.  I hope that I can one day do something just brings you just a little bit of the joy that you all brought me!

Monday, October 27, 2014

i am his

Day 27 of 

Even though I had been assured that our bomb was not my fault, even though I believed it wholeheartedly, I knew I needed to learn something about myself in this process.  I knew God was not bringing me through this just for my husband to be broken and search himself.   I didn't just want to walk the road with him, I needed to walk the road.  I needed to come out on the other side different as well.  I needed to come out on the other side better, more beautiful, because He turns our brokenness into beauty, He makes all things beautiful. (Ecc. 3:11)   He does everything for His glory. So what about me needed to show His glory as well?

One day, a lengthy car ride conversation led to thinking, and thinking led to writing, and writing led to a moment of clarity that showed me exactly what one of the biggest things was that I needed to learn.  It was seriously one of those moments where the last piece of the puzzle fell into place and I could finally see the whole picture.  In a moment I began to understand myself more than I ever had.  The whys and whats of my thoughts, decisions, struggles, etc.  Obviously, it didn't completely fix me. I'm not a perfect woman who never struggles with this anymore.  It did however give it a name and now with that name I can identify it when that struggle comes.  That in itself makes a world of difference!

Zach and I were chatting about what keeps us from focusing on the Kingdom, and what are our biggest struggles that occupy our minds instead.  As we were talking, I got out my handy dandy notebook and started listing my biggest struggles. Here's what I came up with:

 being liked
 getting it all done (by myself)
 making sure everyone is ok
 not concentrating on my own sin, needs, struggles, etc.
 needing to appear ok
getting frustrated when my plans get changed
being right
hearing criticism

The next words out of my mouth were "I have some identity issues."  For as long as I can remember I have struggled with what people thought of me, but I never realized how sinful that was and how much it affected my relationships.  I have always been a 'good girl'.  The one who always followed directions, did what was expected, didn't want to make waves by disagreeing, followed instead of leading, letting others walk over me for fear that standing up would cause hurt feelings.  I tried to be so many different things because I didn't understand who I was supposed to be.  I have been His child for 20+ years but in that amount of time I didn't truly understand what being a child of God really meant.  My identity was so wrapped up in what I thought of myself and what other people thought of me, when it should have come from God alone.

Because of this, I usually never acted, I almost always reacted.  Instead of thinking I could change a situation I was in, I adapted to it, trying to "make the best of it."  I very often looked at whatever was happening and tried to figure out on my own what the "right" thing to do was, and then did that.

 Sometimes it worked and it would be great, but sometimes it didn't and I would immediately blame myself for not doing whatever it was the "right" way, and made a mental note to not do whatever that was again so that I could make sure everything was "ok."  Basically I created these rules inside my head that I needed to live up to, set the standards for my behavior and reactions, and set my own punishments or consequences in my head for when I failed to do so.  I lived a life of self righteousness because I lacked the knowledge of my identity in Christ.  I didn't know who I was in Him, therefore didn't know how to live life in His righteousness and not my own.

Christ came to fulfill the law, period. If I am in Him, then all I need is to live through the righteousness He had, because no amount of trying on my own part can fulfill it.  I needed to truly understand that when I act in any way, "good" intentions or not, but ignore what Christ did for me, I am telling Him that He is not good enough and that I could do it better.  Bitter pills to swallow at first but the most freeing thing for my heart and soul.

In one of many journals I have an ongoing list of identity verses.  Words of God that tell me exactly who I am because I am His.

I am holy and dearly loved (Col. 3:12). I am forgiven, holy and blameless before Him (Eph 1:4).  I am adopted and have every spiritual blessing (Eph. 1:3).  I can never be separated from His love (Rom. 8:35-39).  I will find grace and mercy in time of need (Heb 4:16).  I am His work of art (Eph 2:10)  

My identity is in Christ.  My identity is based on His works and not my own.  I can cling to the Hope I am given, and when I fail to do so I have full assurance that my God is still clinging to me.