Chomping at the bit? Yep, that is where we are!

If you know the phrase, "chompin' at the bit" then you know what we are experiencing the majority of the time. I looked it up and it describes the behavior of a horse, anxious to get going. Yep, that is a great way to describe where we are right now. We know God is using us even in our "holding pattern" but it is difficult when we have no real outlet for the gifts He has given us. For the sake of just a good update, here we are.

As of today, Ryan has had very little work the past few weeks at his job. He is lucky to get a full week's paycheck when he goes in and day to day never knows if they'll have work or send him home. When he gets home, the paycheck ends up being minimal and as a result you can imagine how quickly what little we have goes. This is where God comes in, and WOW, has He! Over the course of these past few weeks alone He has done something miraculous but isn't anything He does miraculous?! Words cannot describe how humbled and thankful we are are to watch as His provision arrives at the very moment we need it most. If you are reading this, and you know who you are, thank you from the deepest part of our hearts! The prayers, the cards, the time you take out to really ask us, "How are you doing?", the chats over a cup of coffee, the hugs, the tears, the text messages.....I cannot say enough about what a blanket of strength and peace you have provided for us. God is good, and He has used each and every one of you.

Ryan has since interviewed for a job at our local grocery store and did a drug screening. We expect they'll contact him in the next week to offer him a position. This is likely to be the best job offer he's had, probably not great pay but a more dependable job and less gas money for us overall. Lord, how good You are!

Ryan has had a second email from a church in Missouri that is considering him among about 60 other applicants for their worship pastor position. They notified him they are observing a 30 day holding pattern while they do a trial run with some local applicants. It may not be the answer we'd like, but it is an answer. Lord, how good You are!

As he sees other ministry job openings, he is applying for them. We continue to walk day to day in this, knowing that we may be frustrated because it is not moving along in the timeframe we'd hoped and expected, but in God's timeframe it is all according to His perfect plan for our lives. Lord, how good You are!

Please continue to pray for us, this being the most powerful and effective thing you can do for us and for that---we are so incredibly thankful!

Finish what you started in me, God.
Your love is eternal—don't quit on me now.
Psalm 138:8

Lord, How Good You Are

Psalm 34:8 Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see—
how good God is.
Blessed are you who run to him.

How often, in the middle of our greatest struggles, do we find ourselves saying, "Oh Lord, how good You are?"
If we are honest, most of us would answer not at all. It is hard, it is not our natural response and even the strongest Christian can be beat down pretty quick by an unexpected blow from life. The past few weeks as Ryan has had very little work and thus very small paychecks, I have been meditating upon this. I think it has been mostly an unconscious meditation because it has surfaced vividly in my conscious mind today. I have been mulling it over all morning and I heard this great song come on the radio by Drew Cline, "How Good You Are" and it just washed over me like a cool breeze on a very hot day. How can we possibly grasp His goodness in the midst of our weakness? I believe and I keep coming back to this idea of daily arming ourselves with a mindset of great expectation. He has promised us in His Word and we can stand firmly on the foundation He has provided that He will not fail us, He will take care of us, He will sustain us, He will empower us, He will deliver us, He will not fail us! Do you believe it? Are you embracing it? Are you living it? Are you sharing it? He has called us, and if we are being who He calls us to be in this terrible world then we are following Him with reckless abandon! Can you say that about your life? I hope so. I can say that I have a lot of work to do but I hope I am moving in the right direction. I hope when I face the trials of this life--and there are certain to be many more beyond this one--that I will be able to stop, throw my hands to the heavens and shout to God, "Oh, God, how good You are!!!"

Courage

Courage. I believe it has taken a considerable amount of courage for Ryan and I to choose to walk this path as we have these past months. Courage. God has given it to us, we couldn't possibly have it within ourselves. Courage. I was reminded this morning by my Dad of someone else who had courage even in the worst of circumstances: Joseph. He had so much happen to him, and he had so many reasons to curl up in a ball, curse God and just lay down and die but he didn't. He trusted God, and when the day came that he stood before his brothers after all they'd done to him and all he'd been through and he was able to say, "Do not be afraid. What you intended for evil, God intended for good." I know He has good for us, I know He has purpose and I know He will sustain us through every single moment of our lives. There are moments when I feel as if I could cave in, I could give up so easily because it appears that we are in this holding pattern but I had to say out loud this morning as I drove in to work that I realize even in this holding pattern He is using us for His good.

Worth

I am a child of God, and therefore He sees worth in me. He loves me, He will care for me and provide for me--so there's no need to worry! Okay. Sure. That's not something I struggle with at all! (Can you hear the sarcasm?) These past months since Ryan was asked to resign, it has been a rollercoaster of many emotions for us both. What has gotten us through it? God. What has brought us peace and strength in the darkest moments, when we are on the floor, crying out for answers? God. What will we do as these days continue to pass and we wonder, we wait on what God has for us to do? Trust in God. Obey god. Give Him all the glory because even in this, this valley that seems so deep and as if there is no light at the edge for us to walk toward, He has purpose, He has a plan to prosper us and not to harm us. I found myself meditating on Jeremiah 29:11 again today as I do many days. It gets me focused and centered, re-sets my way of thinking before my day gets started. I continue to marvel at the ways God has blessed us through these days. There is no way in words to fully express how incredibly thankful we are for family and friends who have rallied beside us, blessed us and supported us when we needed it most. It is humbling, and it is inspiring. I know God will use this time and our testimony will be strengthened by what we learn in these days. I believe He will bless us and use us to impact others as a result of what we experience in these days. Nothing we experience is wasted, God has a use for it all. Even in the moments when we ask God to give us what we ask for, what we may not realize is what He has purposed for us is what we are doing this very day. Each and every day, regardless of how we perceive our current circumstances God is using us. We just may not realize it until we hear it in someone's kind words, or in a card, or through a phone call, just what an influence we have been on the lives of those around us each and every day. I am overwhelmed and amazed at what God is doing. I am certain the best is yet to come. Thank You, Lord.

What is mine....is His

What does it mean: ownership? The dictionary defines it as "the legal right of possession". So what is possession? It is defined as "to have in one's control". Bottom line, what do we own, possess, have in our control? Answer? Nothing of worth, eternal worth, that is. Isn't that the point? As we live and breath on this earth, my goal as a Christian is to focus on the things that matter most, that contribute to eternity with Jesus. It doesn't matter how much money I make, what kind of house I own, what kind of car I drive, what kind of electronic devices I use, the clothes I wear, the people I know, the things I accomplish in terms of worldly success.....none of it matters what bit or increases my eternal worth if I am not making a difference for Christ. To love others more than myself, to make a lasting impression on the lives of others for the Kingdom and that they would come to know Christ should be my greatest desire and focus! I have always been of an optimistic nature, looking first for the best in others and expecting good things from life. But I also recognize that to get there, to see the good and find purpose, to know and live in what God has intended for me means I must make an effort, take initiative, do the work. God does not guarantee us an easy life, or that everything we want will just land in our laps on a silver platter. When our hearts and minds are right before God, when we have set goals for ourselves to achieve what we know we are gifted to do, and when we do the work that God calls us to do to get there...oh, my goodness! Then, that is when it happens. It means complete surrender, and complete trust in the Father. It means it isn't going to be easy most of the time, and though the waiting is difficult and we may have to do some things that aren't as thrilling or fulfilling as what we dream to do, I believe God honors our efforts as our hearts and our minds remain focused on Him every single moment of every day. I was inspired by my devotional today and so I literally printed a portion of it and tacked it to the wall of my cubicle. I have looked at it more than once over the course of the day, and it is such a truth, a humbling statement that I want to carry with me every day. Here it is. Catch it. Soak it up. Let it roll around in your heart and mind and hopefully you will be inspired to appreciate less of what this world has to offer and more of what God wants for you.

'God owns ALL and provides ALL. He owns our possessions, our relationships, and our ministries. He owns our abilities as well as our lack, our successes as well as our failures. As we come through our next battle (and we will!) - in fact, even in the midst of the battle - let's return the ownership and give Him all the glory. We must never attempt to control or hold tight to what the Lord has provided.'

Strength for today, Hope for tomorrow

Great is Thy faithfulness O God my Father
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not,
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine with ten thousand beside!

Great is Thy faithfulness,
Great is Thy faithfulness,
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided-
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!
(Thomas Obediah Chisholm, 1866-1960)

This song is my meditation today. Today we are so weary. Today we are feeling helpless, not hopeless, but as if we have very little to cling to. It is a day in which I know the prayers of many is the only thing holding us up. Ryan has had 3 shifts in a row now without work. Imagine going in to a job-a job for which we are very thankful despite it being very little pay and nowwhere what we need to get by-and they tell you they don't need you, they don't have work for you. Needless to say the stress level is heightened even more so than usual. We find ourselves today in desperate need of provision, provision that we know the Lord is aware of, that He sees and He knows exactly what we need. I try to imagine how Ryan must feel in the place he is. Every job he can apply for he has done just that, and yet this job was the only one to open up. He has done everything humanly possible to put himself out there with ministry jobs and secular jobs and this is the only door that has opened. There is a void for him now that he has no place to serve, as things with our home church still feel awkward in light of how his job ended there. So for today, we choose to embrace the strength that only God can give in knowing He has a place for us to serve and is moving us toward that. We have strength today in knowing we have a roof over our heads, food in our refrigerator and a warm bed to sleep in at night. We are far from destitute, and we recognize there are so many people who have far greater needs than ours today. We will embrace the strength that comes from God and His faithfulness to us so many times before, and we have hope in tomorrow knowing He will meet our every need. We are here, Lord, we are broken, we are humbled, we are ready to embrace whatever you have for us to do. What a mighty God we serve, and what an amazing work He is doing in our hearts. What is to come, we do not know for sure, but we know it is coming. Thank you Lord, for your faithfulness to us each and every day.

More of Him, Less of me

He must become greater, I must become less. John 3:30

I just finished Louie Giglio's book and I am still soaking up the knowledge of the nature of God, that He is I AM and I, well, I am not. As we grow in our knowledge of Christ, walk the path He has laid before us and find successes along the way, it is easy to become a bit arrogant in our Christianity. It is a shame that humility typically only comes when life smacks us across the face with something truly unexpected and devastating. We say to God,"Okay, I've been doing what You called me to do, following your lead, answered Your call and here I am in the middle of this waste land that somehow, some way you have a purpose?" Yep, that's right. At some point in the midst of struggle, when we let go of what we are feeling, when we have purged our systems of all the hurt, anger, grief, disappointment, heartbreak....purpose comes in to focus. I know, and even in the darkest moments of our struggle I could see a glimmer, that there is purpose even for this. Regardless of where we are and what we are doing at this very moment, God is working. Regardless of my view of where we stand today, God is working. No matter what comes of all these applications Ryan has put in, or who responds or how they respond, I know God is working! He is always working in us, through us, for us to bring about His glorious purpose! It is at the point now that I find myself having more moments of relief than grief. Relief is a much better feeling than grief. I recognize it is the Holy Spirit's way of bringing about healing and restoration in me. I can say at this point in my life this cycle has occurred more than once and for some reason it feels new each time, as if I have never experienced it before.
I have had a feeling this past week or so, a feeling of being on the very edge, waiting for the great reveal. I know God has something amazing, something that will blow my whole idea of expectation out of the water because even as amazing as it may be to me it is over the top to Him! I can just imagine and I am excited to think of it, how God will react when that moment comes and He gives us the open door...."Here it is! This is your opportunity to sieze precisely what I have intended for you!"
God is working. I know He is. I will choose in this moment to continue this focus of more of Him, less of me. It isn't about anything I know or am capable of doing on my own; it is all about my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and the calling He has placed upon my life. To be Him, to serve others, to love others deeply and to give of myself until there is nothing left to give. There is no better place to be than right in the palm of His hand.

my Ebenezer...

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