O my soul, bless God.
From head to toe, I’ll bless his holy name!
O my soul, bless God,
don’t forget a single blessing! Psalm 103:1-3 (MSG)


The end of 2012 is near, and I am thankful to have some extra time today to reflect on it. I am thankful for how far we have come, I am still learning to understand the turns our lives took, and I know through it all God is good and has provided much. My greatest joy in life is my family, what God has given me. My greatest dream has been to find a man of God whom I can share my life with, to be blessed with the amazing and extremely challenging role of motherhood, and to know with greater certainty that no matter what direction my life should take--I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. I have many reasons to praise my God every single day, but the greatest is to know I have a Savior, that Jesus loves me, that I am saved and God will not forget me and will always take care of me. Life is always going to hand us disappointment, but God never disappoints!

We are looking forward to 2013, to seeing where God leads us next in ministry, in meeting new goals, and in continuing to live our lives as He intends. We will continue to walk the road of life with confidence in knowing God is not finished with us and the best is yet to come! I am praying for each of you, family and friends, near and far, that God richly blesses you, that you will seek to be a better you than you have ever been, and that you will know each and every day how blessed and loved you are!

Blessings to you from the Freeman family!
My heart is heavy today, not just because of the school shooting in Connecticut, but because I am very much aware of how our nation, our world needs a Savior. How do we make sense of this, any of this and a number of other tragedies that has occurred and unfolded in our communities? And then, how do we help our children deal with this? I have seen some of the coverage today and I am rocked to my core by how very short life can be. What is most difficult to swallow--God knew this was going to happen today and He did not intervene to stop it. How do we make sense of it? You and I may not want to swallow this in the raw state of emotion and grief, but here it is.

He makes all things work together for my good!

Check it:

Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good. Romans 8:26-28 MSG

It doesn't compute right now, because so many of us are outraged and brokenhearted. How will these families move forward? The families of those killed--oh, my word, the loss, the sorrow cannot be contained in words and I cannot fathom what they are experiencing right now. The children, the teachers, all those who were witness to and survived--how will they move forward with this experience marking their lives? It is incomprehendable, unimaginable and no words can provide them with absolute comfort. I have shed tears more than once today as I have tried to put myself in their shoes, and watched as this tragedy has continued to unfold. What can we do? How can we contribute toward their comfort and healing? Pray. God must be weeping with us today, because as certain as this day was to happen He is certain to be grieving right alongside us as well. I hope that out of this, we should each take more time to appreciate the time we have with each other every single day. Whatever you are doing today, every day of your life, choose to move forward cherishing more of what you have rather than running around like a chicken with its head cut off trying to do this, get that, keep up with the insane pace of our current society. Perhaps part of God's good to come out of this is to do just that-stop and appreciate this life He has given us! I know there is so much more to understand, that I cannot understand because my mind and my heart can't take it. Certainly God will make sense of it and explain it to me one day when I stand before Him. Until then, instead of wallowing in the senselessness of the tragic occurrences in our world, I will choose to keep loving others as Jesus did, counting my blessings every single day and open my heart to what more I can be doing to give back to my community. There is always something more that we can do. Maybe that is part of the good God intends to come out of this too.



Christmas is just a few short weeks away, and while I am looking forward to it and enjoying the season and all the festivities leading up to it, I am also mindful today in particular of those who are struggling, hurting, in a very dark time. It probably feels as if there is no solution, and it may even seem as if there's no way to climb out of the hole you are in. As Ryan and I are coming to the end of 2012 and looking back at what we have experienced, I find myself asking more questions than finding answers. In fact, there are questions I have no answer for at all. I am quite frankly dumbfounded, at a loss for words to describe, to understand. I think I am finding on this journey of faith, as I continue to talk with God about it, and explore what the Word has to say about it, study a number of resources, find any source for answers---some of them may not come until I stand before Him. I don't like that. I don't like that I can't figure it out, that I can't get a full grasp on it, that it is not meant for my tiny human brain to comprehend. How many times have any one of us wished we could have the answer for someone we know who is in pain? We have all been touched personally by something that has occurred close to us, to someone we love and would do anything for. If only we had a magic wand in our back pocket to whip out and make it instantly better, right? Well, there's a reason for it and believe it or not, God intends it for our good. I think it is remarkable to consider ourselves at our best when we are broken. When we are broken, when we find ourselves finally in this place of complete and utter helplessness, when it seems all hope is lost and we've hit the dark and dirty bottom, that's when it happens. He begins to make us into precisely who we are intended to be from the beginning.

A great song came back to me today and I had to look it up and listen on you tube today. Crystal Lewis, oh my word the girl can sing and has such a gift. This one stuck to me years ago and has come back around. It fits with where I am at right now. This is just the place He intends for each of us to be, and although we can't make sense of the hurt, the struggle, why it seems like it will never end, the truth is He is there with us, all along, and ready to make us new. You will heal, you will come through this, my friend, and He will provide for you.

When sorrow seems to surround you
When suffering hangs heavy o'er you head
Know that tomorrow brings wholeness and healing
God knows your need, just believe what He said

When what you've done keeps you from moving on
When fear wants to make itself at home in your heart
Know that forgiveness brings wholeness and healing
God knows your need just believe what He said

I once was lost but God has found me
Though I was bound I've been set free
I've been made righteous in His sight
A display of His splendor all can see

He gives beauty for ashes
Strength for fear
Gladness for mourning
Peace for despair


(Crystal Lewis/Ron Kenoly, from the album "Beauty for Ashes")

Trust and obey..small but powerful words

I found myself digging deeply in my spirit this morning during my devotional. Something caught my attention, grabbed me and made me stop and think about the condition of my heart. Faith is hard, trusting God is hard, and all too often I find myself feeling a draw to plant my feet equally in both courts—God’s and mine. At what point in our lives and after experiencing a hand full of difficult times, do we suddenly find ourselves so skeptical of God, of everyone, of everything we have known for so long? Is this a step in our growth as Christ-followers? Is this precisely the point God wants us? So in the midst of my devotional this morning the words suddenly became tangible, I could picture the description and myself fully in it. It starts out by defining believing as a decision, that faith does not come from hearing the Word of God alone, but it involves the active decision. As we begin our relationship with Christ, we begin this journey toward a stronger, greater faith in Him. As we trust Him with more, our faith grows more. Next comes the part that grabbed me—
“…the Spirit keeps reaching for your hands so He can pull you forward. That’s when you must decide to believe—or you resist and stay exactly where you are in your Christian experience.” (Joyce Meyer Ministries, joycemeyer.org, “Battlefield of the Mind” Devotional)
What stopped me when I read this, was my own realization that I think there have been too many moments the last year or so when I’ve expected God to do something for me, and when it didn’t happen the way I’d thought it should, I found myself struggling to believe, and my faith wounded. Instead of trusting God to have His purpose for the worst moments of my life when I perceived He was not moving or speaking, I became frustrated and impatient, trying desperately to understand why.
It is in those moments that I realize I have a choice, to dig my heels into my frustration and disappointment, or reach for the Spirit so He can help me move forward, make the decision to believe and as a result grow in my faith in Christ. I can choose to be stuck in my need to understand why God does what He does and let that determine my obedience to Him, or I can choose to simply believe. I am still not comfortable with this but I am learning to say it, “I don’t understand You and Your ways, Lord, but that’s okay. I will trust You anyway!” “I am angry, I do not understand why You would allow any of this to happen, but I will choose to get over it, give it up to You and trust that Your ways are better than mine.”
Ananias was called by God to go and anoint Saul, who would later be known as Paul the Apostle, and can you imagine being in his shoes?! The fear, the lack of understanding, and how could this possibly be a man God would call? Why would I have any part in doing this after all he has done to Christians? I can’t honestly say I would have followed through, I don’t know. How extraordinary it was when he did choose to follow God’s call, and God used him to change Saul’s life and prepare him for the ministry God had for him. (Acts 9:10-19)
This is a difficult journey, life. God didn’t promise us it would be easy, but He does promise to be with us, to encourage and inspire us, to lead us. So, the question for me and for you is…will we follow through? Or will we choose to be stuck in a place of our own making? I hope you’ll join me in choosing to obey, even when it doesn’t make sense and is hard to understand.

I dreamed a dream....

Thanksgiving brought me many moments to stop and weigh the depth of my life to this point. I am so incredibly blessed to have my husband Ryan and four amazing children Rylee, Bailey, AJ and Chloe--God is so GOOD! Now to get down to the nitty gritty of where my heart is at this point in my life. I am aware of and amazed by every experience God has given me in my life in the form of "work". From a very young age, all I ever wanted was to be like my Mom. To be the best wife and mother I could be someday, get married, and have a bunch of kids and live happily ever after. Isn't that what nearly every girl wants? Well, in some ways I got that, and in others, I have yet to experience "my dream". Dreams take on many forms as we age, as we see what we have to accomplish, tackle in life to get to it and make it happen. Life has handed us more than I would have chosen to deal with, and the path I'd hoped to take has gone in some directions I wouldn't have chosen willingly. Hard work is not fun, but it is necessary to make it in this world. Along my journey, I have had to take on some things while internally kicking and screaming the whole way. Truth is it would have been a whole lot easier for me to run the other way, simply hide, give up, refuse to do what was necessary because I didn't want to do it, or I didn't have anything left in me to do it. As we came out of our experience in Indiana this year, and as I have looked at my life and what I want to do to find true peace with myself, what I believe God intends for me to do, I can only find myself in one state. A state of discontent. I am not happy with where I am at this present time. What does that mean? I am considering with a great deal of prayer, thought, research and counsel from family and friends an avenue I intended to pursue out of college. My heart is to be with my family. I am tired of the demand that has been placed upon my life due to my job, and I am seeking to better myself by choosing an alternate route. That alternate route is actually the route I had always intended to go but never really did. I am not sure why, I don't know that there was one particular thing that stopped it, but I know now that I am ready to pick up where I left off. My background is in child and family development, and it was my intention all along to offer childcare in my home. I am eager to start preparing for this new adventure, and I am taking it one prayer at a time, one day at a time. I know as I walk down this path, God will provide the answers I need. I have high expectations of what God is going to speak into my heart over the course of the weeks and months ahead as I begin to pursue this new avenue of opportunity. I want to end this entry the way it began, with thanksgiving, with nothing but a grateful heart, reflecting on what God has provided so far and looking forward to what He has for me in the days ahead. I appreciate your prayers, for wisdom, for clarity of mind and heart, and to wait patiently and with great expectation for what God is about to do in my life. I know and believe only better things are to come! I was reminded today in a devotional about timing. God's timing is perfect, and when life beats us down to the point we can't see a way to take that leap of faith and go in a direction we'd always hoped and dreamed for, we are missing out on everything He truly designed us to be. Here's a taste of what it said:

'Today might not be the perfect time to "plant your seeds" — but when will it ever be? Resources and opportunity will always seem scarce — and motivation will come and go. Nevertheless, we can't allow procrastination to hold us back. We have to remain productive no matter how we feel, no matter what obstacles come our way, and no matter how hectic life gets.
...there will never be a "perfect" time to do the things we envision.'

Ecclesiastes 11:4 cautions: "Those who wait for perfect weather will never plant seeds; those who look at every cloud will never harvest crops" (New Century Version).
(calledmagazine.com, "The Perfect Time")

Inspiration I needed and have taken to heart today. I hope you are encouraged and inspired!

gratitude

Thanksgiving is upon us and I wanted to jot down my thoughts before the week gets away from me. I am so thankful for my life, that God sent His Son for me, for His perfect provision, for my family, my friends. I am thankful for food, clothing, shelter and a job. I am thankful that no matter how far life drives me to despair and frustration, God will take care of me and provide relief, peace, the answers and instructions for what I need to do one day at a time, one step at a time. I try every single day to be mindful of my blessings because if I do not, I will find myself very quickly spiraling down a tunnel of anger, regret, sorrow and defeat. That stinker downstairs is absolutely to blame for when my condition goes in that direction! There are days that I can feel so on top of the mountain, so ready to conquer anything that comes my way but all it takes is one little poke in just the right spot and I am falling. Falling into thoughts of, “Why? When? How?” Gratitude is like medicine for the heart and soul. A favorite song of mine has come back around a couple times the last few weeks and I found myself looking it up again today. Nicole Nordeman’s song, “Gratitude” is a staple in my music pantry that will always take me to a place in my heart of peace and reflection. I hope it does so for you. No matter what your circumstances are today, I know and believe you have something to be thankful for. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

Gratitude

Send some rain, would You send some rain?
'Cause the earth is dry and needs to drink again
And the sun is high and we are sinking in the shade
Would You send a cloud, thunder long and loud?
Let the sky grow black and send some mercy down
Surely You can see that we are thirsty and afraid
But maybe not, not today
Maybe You'll provide in other ways
And if that's the case . . .

We'll give thanks to You
With gratitude
For lessons learned in how to thirst for You
How to bless the very sun that warms our face
If You never send us rain

Daily bread, give us daily bread
Bless our bodies, keep our children fed
Fill our cups, then fill them up again tonight
Wrap us up and warm us through
Tucked away beneath our sturdy roofs
Let us slumber safe from danger's view this time
Or maybe not, not today
Maybe You'll provide in other ways
And if that's the case . . .

We'll give thanks to You
With gratitude
A lesson learned to hunger after You
That a starry sky offers a better view if no roof is overhead And if we never taste that bread

Oh, the differences that often are between
What we want and what we really need

So grant us peace, Jesus, grant us peace
Move our hearts to hear a single beat
Between alibis and enemies tonight
Or maybe not, not today
Peace might be another world away
And if that's the case . . .

We'll give thanks to You
With gratitude
For lessons learned in how to trust in You
That we are blessed beyond what we could ever dream
In abundance or in need
And if You never grant us peace

But Jesus, would You please . . .

(Nicole Nordeman, christianlyricsonline.com)
I haven't blogged in a little while and I am sorry to say it is because I have been so busy, and just felt I didn't have a lot to say. We are settled in to our new home in Springfield, Missouri, new jobs, new life, new start. I am thankful, truly thankful for what God has provided. I should be really excited, but I find myself just plain tired. Can you relate? It's just life, and I am struggling more so now than any other time in my life to find a balance, to carry the joy I know I should throughout my day. I try very hard to live my life in obedience and with an active, authentic faith, and I know there are many times I don't get it right--the times I do, I feel a sense of peace and accomplishment that I've somehow met a goal. I know I am not perfect, and I know I am extremely flawed, so I hope that the mistakes I make, and what I have learned from them can somehow be a helpful lesson to someone else. I am struggling today with the weight of our reality. That while we are doing good, making slow but steady progress, I am burdened by what we face still. I have been spending too much time this last week dwelling on what could have been or what I'd hoped would be by this point in my life. How sad is that? And why does it make me feel not just like a failure in so many ways, but guilty because I feel like I am at fault? I don't like feeling this way, and as if the only way I can deal with it is to crawl into a dark place in my closet, close the door and cry. I struggle with this battle between my heart and my head: I know what I am doing is right and necessary (head) but I would much rather being doing something else that is more worthwhile, more enjoyable, more of what I am truly called to do.(heart) It is hard to be called to something, but not have the freedom to pursue it because life has gotten in the way. One of the things I feel called to is counseling, specifically troubled teenagers. I want to be part of the solution, meet the needs by offering services to them when and where they need it most, in those critical years when there is such an intense war going on to discover their inner confidence, their identity, their security in society and relationships, and just a basic support system particularly when there may not be much support at home. My biggest struggle with that desire right now is finding the motivation and the time to pursue the additional education I need to make that dream a reality. I have started looking at what I need to do and I've talked with several advisors, so now I have to decide when the time is right and when I am truly ready to pursue it. I think, given my state of being tonight, and because I have returned to this state more often in the last two years, I need to start taking serious steps toward it and just do it. If you are reading this, struggling with some of the same questions that I am, I'd love to hear from you. We can all inspire and encourage one another as we each walk the journey that is before us. I know what I need to do, and it is up to me to pursue it. I just need the motivation to go for it. Pray for me as I consider what is next for me. I love my life, and I am thankful for what God has provided, but I can't help feeling like I am meant for more than this. Here's a great quote I came upon tonight. I hope it inspires you in your life pursuit, whatever that may be. Just keep in mind God's hand in this because He is in control, He has our very best in mind.

“Every day, a new opportunity to decide where your next step will go is given to you. Your future will be determined by the accumulation of these daily decisions. You control your steps and therefore your destiny, so choose wisely.” (Kevin Ngo)
‘Life without thankfulness is devoid of love and passion.
Hope without thankfulness is lacking in fine perception.
Faith without thankfulness lacks strength and fortitude.
Every virtue divorced from thankfulness is maimed and limps along the spiritual road.’
John Henry Jowett


It’s Friday and I am oh so thankful for many things. First, to be where I am today having come so far it seems. I have been reflecting this week on how I feel about it all, I mean, the journey so far. All in all, I choose to be optimistic and see the twists and turns in my life have had lasting purpose. It is as it should be and as God has intended for it to be all along. I stand firmly grounded today in the certainty that I have a wonderful life, I love my husband and I believe in him wholeheartedly, and I am so incredibly blessed to have four wonderful children. God is so good! My mind has also wandered to consider as I begin this new job, where do I see myself going from here? Well, a few things I’ve determined. I know what I am capable of. What I am gifted for, purposed for, passionate about is to first and foremost be who God has called me to be. I am looking forward to singing with the worship team at church in the near future and I know God will continue to place opportunities before me to utilize that gift. I have a strong desire to lead a women’s home study group again and I am prayerfully considering the time and place for that to start. For now, I feel like God has spoken very clearly to me to rest, be patient and wait on His perfect timing. With an 8-5 work day for both of us, and a few hours in the evening left to get the day to day stuff done, baths, bed time and prep for the next day, there is just no time other than to sit down and crash before it all starts again. I remember thinking years ago, I don’t know how working Mom’s do it and I could never do that. Well, here I am, doing it. Yes, my house is messy most of the time and some days I want to pull my hair out and scream because I realize the time I have to clean up and recover and somehow enjoy some time with my family before collapsing out of sheer exhaustion…well, it is gone and I find myself wishing I had a few more hours. Do I wish it could be different? Yes, most certainly. Does that mean I don’t appreciate what I have today? No, I appreciate it all because I have worked very hard to get to where I am today. God has blessed me abundantly, and I am thankful for how the partnership between God’s provision and my initiative has made me who I am today. I am learning more and more each day, as I study, pray, consider what life has thrown in front of me, that the key is a harmony in mindset between gratitude and joy. Without this, we will slowly shrivel up and die. I won’t go down that road, although I’ve veered that direction and it would have been easier to linger there, wallow, and choose to give up instead of turning the other direction and moving forward. That could be a great study subject. I’ll have to give that some serious thought, maybe start putting it into writing. Now to find the time and the energy to do it!
The past couple weeks have been nothing short of amazing for Ryan and I. In that time frame, we have both been blessed with new jobs, very good jobs for which we are truly amazed and thankful! This is that moment, that moment we have been praying for nearly two years now. The moment when we know we've found a step up, a way to the light at the end of the tunnel that has been our most recent journey. Ryan has begun to settle in to his job, and I will be starting mine in another week. I am excited, anxious and extremely thankful! My heart is just so full! I cannot put into words, it just seems impossible to fully express our gratitude for the prayers and support we have received all this time. God is so good to provide precious family and friends, to stand beside us and walk with us through the best and the worst of times.

At the same time as we are finding ourselves in a better place, my heart is broken for family and friends who are experiencing trials right now. There are too many to detail here and even if I could, I would not because some of these are too fragile, too private to share publicly. What is always hardest to grasp for me, and has been throughout our most recent struggles, is that God knows and understands and is not surprised by it. He has a purpose, even for this...yes, this! So how can this be for my good?! It seems to me it would have been so much better for me if it hadn't happened at all! Seriously! As the days go by and I continue to ponder what God intended for me to learn from the last couple years, it honestly is my preference to not even deal with it. It would be so easy for me to get caught up in the anger, the frustration, the anxiety of it all, but the bottom line is it is not worth it. I could choose to lay down and die, but the fact of the matter is I have way too much to live for! So I will choose to give it over to God, every single stinkin' day of this life, this miserable hard life. God didn't promise any of us that life would be easy, but He promises to be with us through it. How many times has He heard us cry out to Him, "God! Please take this!" and "God, I am so freakin' weary, please give me the strength to just keep breathing!" Know what that's like? To feel so weary, so burdened and beaten down by life that it hurts just to breathe? Yeah, it sucks. Truly. There are no words for the depth of desperation, of helplessness when you truly wonder if God is going to come through or not. I was just listening to an amazing song by Plumb called "Need You Now (How Many Times)" and I've heard it many times before, but it came to me tonight like a light bulb turning on in my head. It struck me as I listened, that as many times as He's heard me cry out, He doesn't get tired of it. He wants that from me, from each of us. He wants to hear our joys, our sorrows, our anger, our desperation, to truly come to Him with every ounce of our being, every single day, throughout the day. He is our Father, and our truest friend. He longs for us to commune with Him, pour our hearts out to Him, because He loves us--oh, how He loves us!

So there's no magic formula, no. What I am finding in this new season is the importance of walking it one day at a time. There is suddenly this new depth of appreciation, for each day and what it may hold for me. I know that in my weakest, darkest moments when I fear that everyone will see the worst of me...He will lift me up and He will love me still. What an amazing, wonderful God. I read through some of James 4 again tonight. Thank you, Lord, for reminding me that You truly desire to be closer to me.
Jeremiah 31:25 For I have given rest to the weary and joy to the sorrowing.

I admit I've not been as consistent on my blog the last few months as we've transitioned into a new season of our lives. The move to Springfield has been good, but the work is still hard and well ahead of us. We are not out of the woods yet but as we press on, work hard and meet our goals we know that God will take care of us and we will continue to be faithful with what He has given us. I have to admit I've been very weary even after the physical work of the move has been done. I am weary emotionally and mentally due to the battles raging in our marriage and in other "relationship arenas" in my life. God knows the details and there is no need for me to hash it out in a public forum because it is too personal and there are likely to be too many feelings hurt unintentionally. I have wrestled for years with this need to help and fix and do what others cannot do or will not do for themselves, and well, quite frankly I've got nothing left. I have tried to let go time and time again, and to an extent I have once again come to this place of realization that I cannot do for others what they choose not to do for themselves. There is a point in each of our lives, and I keep coming to this place, at times it has required professional intervention, to realize in order for me to be healthy, whole and balanced I must embrace the me God created me to be and let go of all others to His care. I must be okay with being flawed, even if others feel the need to remind me over and over that I have an obligation to them to meet some expectation they have of me. I struggle with being at peace with the simple knowledge that no matter what the perception is of me on this earth, I can rest in knowing I am loved by a big God, that I matter more to Him than all others, and that I don't have to prove myself to Him. So how is this perfectionist, OCD-ish, God-passionate gal dealing with these issues? I am thankful to be loved by a God who knows me best and understands all of this best. I am also thankful to have a few precious Christ-sisters in my life that I can trust to be my sounding board, my support system in all of this to help me work through the "stuff" that clogs my system every few days. I have this re-occurring tap on my heart from God that it is time to start a new women's study group so if you are reading this and you are in the Springfield area, and you want to join me in a community Bible study--message me on fb today! I want to start a gathering every other Saturday morning. I need it, you need it, so come on! Let's get it started! I need it and have missed it so much. I promise you God will show up and you will be blessed by the fellowship. It has been a blessing for me over the years and something I have missed for the last couple years with all the ups and downs we've endured.
Please continue to keep our family in your prayers as we continue living out this new season. Ryan started his new job last week and we are so thankful! God is good! For me the wait continues. I had an interview two weeks ago with a department at MSU and it went very well, but we are still waiting to hear their decision. Last week I got a call to interview with another department at MSU and it is tomorrow morning at 11:00 am. I am still wrestling with a third job possibility as well, so it is a wonderful position to be in for me. To have several choices, particularly in this economy, is nothing short of amazing! I want to make the right decision, and I want to see the job presented to me that is the job God intends for me. More than that is this-I don't want to take a job just for the sake of it being a good job. I want to take a job because it is what is best for me and also for my family. I don't want to settle, I want to do something worthwhile and challenging professionally and really truly enjoy it. I believe God has that for me right here, right now. We need your prayers for financial restoration. The path our lives have taken the last couple years has been difficult and highly misunderstood by many. We are thankful for those who have chosen to stick with us, prayed for and supported us and our family in the best and worst of times, and in particular those who've done so with no strings attached. We are committed to do the same for someone in a similar situation one day. It must be said--until you've been through what we've been through and known the depth of despair, desperation and defeat, you cannot truly understand the depth of healing, restoration and rebuilding our lives are undertaking now and well into the next year or so. There's no magic switch, there's no magic wand to instantly fix it and make it all better. We need your prayers for our marriage, for our family, for the work we are doing now to get ourselves in a healthier place in every aspect of our lives. We know God is at work, and we know it will be done according to His perfect purpose for our lives. With that, it must be said to each and every one of you, family and friends, how difficult it is to put into words just how full to overflowing our hearts are for your selflessness, your willingness to obey the nudge of the Father to help us in our most desperate moments. We will continue to share our joys and sorrows with you, because that is what it means to be part of this wonderful family of God. It is what draws us together, to one another, keeping us connected. Let's not let go of that connection ever! Know that I am praying for you and your needs today. I know God has something to speak to your heart, your day today.

Progress, yes, we have some progress here!

Yesterday was a pretty exciting day in our lives. Well, exciting in terms of what we've endured the last year and a half. Ryan got a job. A really good job. A job that pays a good wage, a job he is good at, and that he can enjoy. This is a healthy and very positive step in a direction we've prayed over for months. He starts his new position as Accounts Payable Specialist for a company in Springfield on Tuesday. We are so thankful, so excited, so glad to see this door open, and God lead him through it to a real and wonderful offer with a great company. Thank you, Lord!

In my world, the wait continues. I had a wonderful interview with MSU last week and hope to hear from them in the next couple days. Ryan's offer got me a bit anxious, hoped I might hear something sooner than I have. Well, God has the plan in His hands. So I'll keep waiting and trusting He will lead me the right direction. The other job possibility is with old friends of mine from high school, a great opportunity with a lot of potential. The flexibility, creativity and opportunity to do more professionally than I have yet is very attractive and interesting to me. I am so thankful that God has opened both of these doors. In the mean time, I am working for one of our favorite retailers that I worked for previously. Thankful for that but still very focused on something far better, more rewarding, more satisfying than this. I know and believe God will honor the desires of my heart. Patience, faith, hope and trust. God is good, all the time. I will certainly keep you posted.

We are weaving our way right in at Northpoint and love it. God knew just what we needed when He moved us here. Ryan is on schedule to play, I am excited about singing soon, and the kids have gotten involved in their youth and children's programs, and we just can't say it in any other way but ahhhhhhhh...
It is so freeing, so amazing to be in a church with no expectations, no boundaries, just freedom and feeling as if we have come into a new season of true peace and joy. We are excited to get involved in more and more of what NPC is doing, and do our part to contribute all we can to our community for Christ. What an amazing God and what a journey we are on!

New path, new life, God's plan at work

We are still unpacking and most likely will be for months with the schedule we are keeping right away, but that is okay. We are moved, we are settling in and we are so incredibly amazed and thankful for God's goodness to us. In the last year and a half our lives have taken a less than ideal turn. At the time of this writing, I am working as an area supervisor at a retailer the majorit you are familiar with, Ryan is working a temporary position with a local auto retailer in their human resources department and the kids have started new schools. We are not out of the woods yet and in some ways not entirely settled yet. Ryan has interviewed for a permanent position that has opened up at the company he is with now-Yay!-and I have two interviews this week with two additional job options for me. I am thankful for the job I have, but my intention in taking it was knowing it would be a temporary fix and stepping stone to the next great job opportunity that awaits me. I am excited about the new possibilities that are before me this week. Ryan and I so appreciate and need your continued prayers in this early days as we continue to settle in to our new home, new jobs, and new church. We are so thankful for great schools, teachers and counselors for our children, and for a wonderful church we are certain to call home for awhile. We want to extend our thanks, our joy and our overflowing hearts to each one of you, family and friends, for walking beside us through life and the ups and downs we've dealt with recently. We know His grace is all we need, and so it is even in the worst of it, we trusted, we questioned but we knew deep down that God was still on His throne, and still in oontrol. In 2 Corinthians 12 we are reminded that God's grace is all we need, He is sufficient and He will sustain us throughout this life. Thank goodness, He is so good even when we forget.

A new season is upon us....

This time next week we will be spending our last night in our home in Brazil. Saturday, August 4 we will head to Springfield, Missouri and officially begin a new season in our lives. If you've been following our journey this past year and half, it has been nothing short of an "unexpected adventure". We look back at where we were and couldn't have imagined being here now. Ryan lost his job two weeks ago and rather than attempt to drag ourselves through another year of killing ourselves to get by, we have taken the leap and chosen to move on to "greener pastures". Now don't let that phrase give you any impression that suddenly our problems are over and we've had a "silver platter" land in our laps. Nope. It is an entirely different picture than what we would have expected. Our "greener pasture" is going to require starting over, starting new jobs especially for Ryan and it will include going back to school and finishing his degree. If you keep up with the economy and are in any position similar to what Ryan has been through, you know now more than ever is a good time to just do it. We have our work cut out for us in the next few years, rebuilding financially and making some difficult but necessary decisions for some form of security for our family's future. We will not look back, we will consider our blessings and strengths for this day and we will walk confidently into our future trusting in the One who has planned and purposed our lives from beginning to end. Here are the facts:
*Ryan has started a job, temporary but so far unending, with a reputable company in Springfield. We are hopeful it could lead to something permanent, but for now we are thankful for this start. He has several other job possibilities in the works too.
*Andrea has accepted a position as area supervisor with Kohl's. It is a smart move, with the opportunity to advance if she chooses. Pay is not great, but it is a start to what could be a dependable career. That said, she is keeping her options open to what may come about in the way of something better. In fact, this week there have already been several other open doors. Nothing is set in stone, and it is amazing and wonderful to watch as God leads the way to numerous possibilities.
*We have secured a nice 3 bedroom apartment in a new community in Springfield. It will be tight, but it meets our needs and will work for the time being. We are hopeful that in a year we will be able to secure something roomier. For now, we are focused on being thankful for this and that there are many families living in much smaller, poor conditions in comparison.
*Both of our families, including Ryan's youngest brother and his family as well as Andrea's brother and his family are there and this will be a welcome comfort and support throughout our transition in this new season.

We are excited to get involved in a new church, participate in worship teams and enjoy some much needed rest and fellowship. We have learned over the years that being in ministry is a calling, and for many of us it requires examining the heart of the matter. We are not certain that being on church staff is right for either one of us, but in looking ahead we both feel very confident that it would have to be something extraordinary, unique and nothing like what the majority of churches are choosing to define as a pastoral role today. Too many churches are getting it wrong, and too many people in our churches are being hurt in the process for the sake of one committee's definition of what it means to be a pastor and if you are the "right fit" or not. I believe wholeheartedly that churches, ministry in the way it has been defined and practiced is going to take on a big change in the next twenty or thirty years. It will not be the same and it should not be the same, if we truly are following Christ's call and the purpose of the church. We should never be comfortable doing the same things, we should adapt and change as needs, pressures, demands, society as a whole evolves. It is an ugly world out there and we cannot approach this dying world with the same song and dance. We need to share God's love in new but relevant ways, so that ultimately lives are changed for Christ. It isn't about doing worship the same way, doing Sunday School or not, doing the same programs year after year, season after season. As we find creative and imaginative ways to meet people's needs, we will see the truth remains and that bottom line: God loves us and cares enough to meet us right where we are. When they see that we care more about what's going on in their lives than what's going on inside our churches, that is when they stick. That is what keeps our churches alive and thriving, doing what God intended for the church to be doing all along.

Please keep us in your prayers as we walk through this new season, especially for our kids. This will be a difficult time for them, starting new schools, making new friends and all the unfamiliarity that comes with a new place to call home. We know they will adjust but it is this adjustment period that will be hardest of all.

We are so thankful for you, for your prayers, your encouragement in text, email, beautiful cards and personal notes, and your amazing generosity at times when we had no idea how we could make what was in our bank account last another week. God is so good and so faithful and it is a certainty that He can always be trusted to take care of us, in good times and bad times. He never changes and He never fails us. Thank you, from our overflowing hearts!

If you would like to keep in touch, our contact information is changing. The best way to reach us is by email: aofree6@aol.com

We will keep you posted as we walk through this journey. Thank you, family and friends! You are a treasure, each one for which we are truly thankful.

I Need You More, Lord...

What a great message today from the interim pastor at my brother in law's church, a reminder that life comes and goes in seasons and this, like so many others, is just that. A season. Although it seems like we have been in this season for an eternity, I realize and I hear God speaking to my heart, "All in good time, my child, all in good time." Some scripture for today:

2 Corinthians 1:8-11 ...We were crushed and completely overwhelmed, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we learned not to rely on ourselves, but on God who can raise the dead. And He did deliver us from mortal danger. And we are confident that He will continue to deliver us. He will rescue us because you are helping by praying for us. As a result, many will give thanks to God because so many people's prayers for our safety have been answered.

2 Corinthians 1:21-22 It is God who gives us, along with you, the ability to stand firm for Christ. He has commissioned us, and He has identified us as His own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first installment of everything He will give us.

I am listening to Kim Walker/Jesus Culture sing "I Need You More", and it is the song in my heart today. I need Your presence Lord, more than the air I breathe, more than the song I sing, more than anything...I need You more. I identify more than any other time in my life with the time Jesus chose to be alone, to spend time in deep meditation with God the Father. Ryan and I have appreciated taking a slower pace, the kind of pace that being in full time ministry does not afford. We have seen it from both sides now, life in ministry, life out of ministry and we have learned so much from our experiences to this point. We recognize this is not it, we have so much to learn yet but we know we are on a journey of healing.

As of two days ago, Ryan is unemployed again, and we are at a point once again where we need to make some decisions quickly. I have been contacted with a great job opportunity this past week but it is just in its infancy stage. We are praying that calendars will coordinate for this next week for me to secure a second interview, it is just a matter of waiting to hear from the employer. We are tired of trying to find just any job in this area for Ryan, and I know he is ready for something better than what he has had to do for the past year or so. Emotions are running very high, and the stress levels are through the roof. We are thankful for God's provision, our faith in Him is grounded more than ever, and we know that with the prayer support of our families and friends that we will get through this and there must be something greater on the horizon! Keep praying, know that we are thankful for you and we believe God will work only good from this. We may not be able to see it, but we know He does and He has our best in mind.

Empty net..Worn heart..God can handle it all!

Determined? Yes. Discouraged? Yes. Seeking? With all my heart and soul. Hopeful? When my anxiety doesn't overwhelm me. Human? Yes, entirely. Which means I am far from perfect, I am certainly going to fail a lot in this life. Supernatural? Yes, Christ in me! Which means I have a choice daily to start by recognizing how incapable I am but how capable the Spirit is that lives within me. I am currently reading Max Lucado's, "Next Door Savior" and I just hit a great chapter entitled "Discouraged People". The scripture reference is Luke 5:1-11. I read the familiar story of Jesus telling Peter to cast his nets again. This was after a bad day of fishing, we are talking 0 fish. So, you can imagine how worn out he is, ready for a hot bath, dinner and straight to bed. It is one of those days that I can only identify with as one that leaves you feeling empty. I don't have a thing left to give and I don't see the point of even making an effort. I have found over the last year or so that there is a serious and sometimes very tangible battle going on between the mind and the heart, the natural and the supernatural. How do we prepare for this battle? By staying in relationship with our God, by digging deeply into the Word, by calling upon our sisters and brothers in Christ when we are at our lowest. It is hard to ask for help isn't it? I don't like to ask for help and I don't like admitting I can't handle something. So let's go a bit deeper: What happens when it seems God is not enough? I have been there and I am certain if you have not experienced it yet, you will. I believe God allows us to hit this low to ensure we have completely emptied ourselves of well, ourselves. To find at the bottom of it all, that we can look up and see Jesus. He is there. When you are sitting in the dark, wondering how am I going to go to sleep tonight with so much weighing on my heart and mind...sink into the realization that God wants to take it and bear it for us. Like any method or tool we adopt through a therapy process whether it is for your marriage, for dealing with a condition like OCD or Bipolar Disorder, for an addiction, whatever your battle may be--we have to choose to practice and use the tools we've been given every single day. When we use those tools in partnership with our supernatural tools--prayer/scripture/time with God, we can overcome. It is no different than eating a healthy diet and adopting an exercise routine to keep our physical bodies healthy and in balance. Somehow we have to find this balance for our lives on a natural and a supernatural level, and when we do we can experience peace and relief. Thank goodness Peter's day didn't end with an empty net. He did what Jesus asked him to do, cast his net and oh, what an amazing thing happened!
I encourage you today to know you are loved and prayed for, God is bigger than what you are facing today and He will help you. There is nothing He can't handle.

Yes! There is a purpose even for this!

If you are going to do something, do it with purpose. Every moment we endure in this life, good and bad, happy and sad, has purpose and we have a choice what to do. We can dwell on what it could have been, or we can evaluate it for what it was worth and move on. God allows life to happen very purposefully, and nothing happens by accident. When he hands us something to deal with, whether we expect it or not—and most of the time we are surprised!—we are immediately thrust into his spotlight, you could say. He is allowing it to see how we will act upon it. He is allowing it so we have the opportunity to behave in a way that says, “Lord, I believe in You and Your purpose for my life! I will walk this out by faith and trust You have use for even a moment such as this!” or, we will do the complete opposite and turn from God, curse Him and wallow in bitterness and regret for the rest of our lives. I think it is safe to say that most of us have faced a few things in our lives that we would have rather not, had we been given the choice. The difference between how the world handles it and how we handle it, that is what sets us apart. I have been studying a number of familiar characters in the Bible over the course of the past several days. Paul, my goodness what he did and how God transformed him—the struggles he endured and to boldly state that we should endure it with great joy! Job—could it have been any worse? The loss, the suffering, the grief he endured and how God brought him through it. Daniel—can you imagine being thrown into a den of lions, and surviving it? The faith, the trust He had in God to take care of him and to see how God miraculously delivered him. And today—Jonah. Called by God to go, and he ran the other way. He had no interest in doing what God called Him to. I am not sure any one of us in our lifetime could claim to know what it is like to have been ingested by a large fish and vomited out, and go through all that he did to finally understand God would take care of him, God had a mighty plan for his life beyond anything he could have imagined for himself. At some point, each one of these men and all of us must come to the realization that regardless of how we feel about it, we must push through the most difficult times in our lives because God has allowed it for our good, to help us grow and change, to mold us more into who intends for us to be, and ultimately it is necessary, required before we are truly ready for what He has for us to do next. The painful truth we must face in what seems like unending struggle, we must realize brokenness is a necessity on the path to righteousness. We will never be completely righteous, worthy until we stand before Him one day and tells us we’ve done good, we’ve done what He called us to do in this life. We must make this our life goal, to work toward righteousness daily, to work toward being more whole and complete, the creature God intended for us to be. We are called to be set apart, and to live a life in this manner:

“Be joyful always; pray continuously; give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

I am learning as I walk through life that God’s will for me is not something I will completely understand or grasp in a few years and that is it for the rest of my life. God’s will is continuously evolving for me and He only will reveal to me what is necessary for this season right now. The seasons to come will be revealed as He sees I am ready, as He sees the time is right. I must let go of my need to be in control and trust God to do what only He does best. As much as I’d love to be at the wheel and drive, that is a place that only God is intended to fill. He is the driver, I am the passenger. I must trust Him to know where I need to go, and not hound him like an impatient child on a family road trip, “Are we there yet?!” Somehow I will choose daily to be content in the passenger’s seat, and trust the Driver more because after all He’s done for me….He deserves it.

Fear and faith: It's a heck of a journey!

I realize today more than any other day I am so blessed. I don't know if it comes with age and a variety of life experiences, but at the wonderful age of 40 I find myself enjoying more moments of solitude with my God to fully appreciate what He has given me. To say the last year and a half has been hell on earth in some ways is the only way to describe it. Now I realize that is probably being overly dramatic, and I am certain there are people experiencing far greater struggles than me but for me I have to say it has been the most difficult and painful portion of my life journey so far.

This leg of my journey started when I was 8 months pregnant and had to spend the day comforting my husband after he came home to tell me he had been asked to resign from his job as worship pastor at our church here in Brazil, Indiana. Fast forward about a month later, and I remember the day we brought Chloe home, sobbing uncontrollably, I had so many questions racing through my heart and mind. Most of it was the result of my sheer anger and disappointment in how God had allowed the situation to unfold. God called us here to experience this? Really? What was He thinking? How in the world are we supposed to handle any of this? What do we do now? Where will we go from here, when what we thought was so certain is now such an uncertainty? As the days and weeks passed, and we watched doors open and close for Ryan, it became very clear that what we wanted and what we were expecting was not what God had in mind. At some point I went into survival mode I guess, because I was amazed how I was able to cope on such an edge. You know that edge? The point where you are so ready to curse God for what has happened, and yet something pulls you back? It is difficult to describe how that feels, to be in such a place of deep despair and at the same time experience this very odd sense of clarity. Like waves in the ocean, Ryan and I went in and out of periods of time when one of us was really getting what God was doing, while the other was practically shutting down--mentally and spiritually. How many of us can say we are completely aware of every single moment our spouses spend with God? We can't. So we hope and pray the few moments we do spend together in prayer and His Word, and the chance moments we glimpse each other in some form of quiet time--even if it is 10 minutes in the bathroom with the door locked so the kids will stay out--that God is getting through. Hoping and praying neither one of us has become hardened toward God, blaming Him for what has happened.

So, how have we processed it all so far? How have we managed to make our way through the days, the weeks of waiting, praying, hoping, exploring, anticipating, agonizing, thrilling, working, working, working....? We still are. There is no definitive answer at this point and there is no end to it in sight. We have found in this portion of the journey that whether it makes sense to us or not, whether we can see it, hear it, touch it is irrelevant and not a requirement for defining our faith. God is not dead, He is very much alive and yes, He is right beside us, He is sitting with us while we are wallowing in a heap on the floor, crying out to Him, "Why God! Why now? Why us? What is the point of any of this?" He hears us, He cries with us, He knows us to our very core. And yet, there is no audible answer. Just His amazing peace, strength and comfort when we have completely emptied ourselves and we are right where He wants us to be. Raw, weak, exhausted, exasperated and more aware of our inability and vulnerability...that is the point when His work in us can truly begin.

I have been reflecting in my quiet time the last few days on His peace and His presence. I have developed in the last month an almost tangible sense of trust in God unlike any other time in my life before. I point to two things in my time that have made that happen: reading this wonderful book "Learning to Breathe" by Alison Wright and God's word to me in the Bible. I was reminded time and time again in my devotionals that fear and anxiety can squirm into my life at the earliest, tiniest sign of weakness. That is why I must bathe myself daily, throughout my day in His presence and in His word. The love God has for us dispels fear and anxiety, eliminates that chance it may have of overcoming us. The moment we realize God's love, and invite Him to envelop us, wash us, and ask Him to take it from us--the fear, anxiety, doubt--the weight of it can be so unbearable! That moment, that is when we can know for sure we know Him, we know His perfect love and we know for certain that He is perfecting that love deeply in us. (1 John 4:18) Alison Wright's book couldn't have come at a better time. Mom had it in her personal library and I asked with great eagerness to borrow it. I am so glad I did because I haven't been able to put it down. I have taken my time reading it, not wanting it to end really. The things she experienced, learned, the amazing journey her life has taken and what she lived through. I can't imagine surviving what she did and being able to tell about it. I am getting close to the end of the book, and what I read last night struck me as I have wrestled and reflected on this tug of war between fear and faith. She states, "There's no end to the process of getting your life back--eventually you have to come down from the mountain....the real success is surviving the descent." Fear and anxiety can be paralyzing, but when faith kicks in we realize we can fight it, we can move on and we can be better because of it.

Today was an amazing day for me. I had a really, really great opportunity present itself and the experience went so well. I came away from it feeling it to be one of the best experiences I have had in my life that I can recall. I went in to it with an attitude of trust in God and thankfulness in my heart. I found myself telling two very dear friends tonight that I honestly don't care if it works out. I am just so thankful for the experience itself. Is that what we should be aiming for in our lives? Is that the point? To finally be so completely surrendered to God, so focused on Him and the truth that He really does intend only good for me in all situations--to be able to say I am residing in peace? I think so. I hope to find myself in this place more often as I continue on the journey God has placed before me.

Waiting, searching, anticipating....

God is doing something. God is up to something. We have done what we must, and we will work tirelessly doing what we must in our time on this earth, but at times….it is so stinkin’ hard to wait! Beyond our time here in Indiana, Ryan and I have both wondered what it is God intends for us to do, what He has called us to. We have embraced ministry work both in volunteering and in church staff positions, but we long for something so much more than this. There is something more for us, we know that now more than any other time in our lives. Ryan and I have been on a road together, but in other ways we are on different roads. I believe God is doing a work in each one of us, shaping us, molding us, tweaking us here and there and quite frankly—at times it is painful! It is easy in the darkest hour, in the most difficult times of our lives to hold on to what we can grasp with our hands a little more tightly, to question God when we don’t see tangible evidence of some sort of progress, to wonder when is it going to get better. Yes, this is our nature, but at some point we let go and ask the Holy Spirit to take over. We have to choose to trust God wholeheartedly with what we don’t know, and rely on Him to take care of us with what He does know. The unknown is scary for us, but nothing is unknown to God. Trust, for anyone, even someone who has had the “perfect” life, is difficult. Deep down we just want to know it is going to be okay, that we can walk through life with confidence knowing nothing will harm us. Well, the reality is none of us has a perfect life. When the abundant years come, we know like Joseph warned Pharaoh, that we had better be wise, be prepared with the abundance so that when we arrive in the years of famine we are prepared, we are able to stay centered on God’s purpose for us. If we are communing with God daily, spending time with Him, deeply rooted in our relationship with him come what may then we can ride through even the most difficult times in life with confidence. I have found in recent years, there are many of us struggling to find just what it is God has for us to do next. We wait, we pray, we hope for what we want most but as I am reminded daily by a quote on my bathroom mirror… ”Faith is not the belief that God will do what you want. Faith is the belief that God will do what is right.” Romans 8:28 has been resonating in my heart and mind for the last couple of months, God keeps giving it to me in my devotional time, in my prayer time, in my moments of sheer joy and sheer despair, it keeps coming back to me! He works it all, ALL, for our good! Nothing is wasted, we cannot go through a day in this life with an ounce of bitterness or regret, or we will find ourselves shriveled up, miserable and looking back at our lives with such a deep sense of sadness. Sadness over what we lost, worrying, wasting away, wondering when God was going to move us, drop what we had hoped and dreamed for in our laps without an ounce of effort on our parts. We cannot expect God to wave a magic wand and suddenly change our situation for us. We must do the work, we must make the effort with what we are given right now, today, what we know we are capable of doing until the timing is right and God sees we are truly ready for what He has for us to do. There is no magic formula; you can’t pick and choose verses and portions of your favorite books from your favorite authors or experts to make your problems vanish right away. The truth is, most of us will have to work very, very hard in this life to get where we really want to be, and ultimately where God intends for us to be. The peace and certainty I have found the last two months is in knowing I must stop fretting over what I cannot control, and I must be content in knowing God has everything in His control! I don’t like it, I’ll be honest. I am a fixer, I am a pleaser and I like to be in control and know what is happening well ahead of time. So, this is a constant battle for me, a work in progress you can say. But, as I find that peace, it becomes a bit easier day by day to let go and let God. Let Him just be who He is. Let Him do what He does best. Work in me, Lord. I am Yours. I cannot do this on my own. It is such a relief to know that I don’t have to do this on my own. 1 Peter 5:6 So be content with who you are, and don't put on airs. God's strong hand is on you; he'll promote you at the right time. Live carefree before God; he is most careful with you. (The Message)

What's next?

I don't know anyone who enjoys waiting, it is not fun for me at all. I have had people tell me I have a very patient nature, I don't anger easily and it amuses me when I hear that because I know it isn't me, it is God's strength in me to be that way. I can get upset, angry just like any other person, but I diffuse it in a number of ways so as not to explode on anyone who may come across my path at just the right moment. Believe me, I have had my moments of complete panic, emotional meltdown. Ryan could tell you first hand, he has witnessed my worst moments and unfortunately he has had to absorb the shock of it too many times. Thankfully he loves me anyway, in spite of my moments of weakness. Thankfully, I can come back to him and say, "I'm sorry, I was weak and hurting, and you didn't deserve that. Please forgive me!" You know, God is the same way. He knows our weakness, and He wants to hear what we are experiencing; our joys, our sorrows, our frustrations, our anger, our heartache, our accomplishments. He wants to hear it all, and He wants to carry us through the worst of times when we don't think we can take another step. I have had some moments like that this week. Just sheer panic, not doubting really but wondering, "Okay, Lord, what is next? How are you going to move us?" We are taking some early steps now toward a move. We are in the process of securing jobs, we are getting ready to do a big yard sale, we are doing all we can with what we have to trust God with all of the details. We have a renewed sense of hope and determination, and we are ready for a fresh start, a new beginning. There is more to the waiting than just waiting. God has called us to be active in our faith walk, and that means making every effort to explore any open door he places in our pathway. We have been doing that for just over a month now, and we are seeing some doors open. We hope you will join us in the next two weeks in praying that God provides confirmation of jobs for both of us, that God will miraculously provide for us financially specifically for the cost of a moving truck and security deposit on a home, and that we continue to be faithful and trust Him with all that we have. We have seen and known His amazing provision before and we know He will do it again. We ask that you also pray for us to continue to be steady and consistent in our time with God. Ryan and I have both had some amazing time in solitude and meditation with God, worship at home as a family, time that we would not have had before. We are so thankful for this precious time and we know it is necessary for strengthening our relationship with God. We can't tell you, our precious friends and family, how much your prayers, encouragement, loving support have made a difference in our walk this past year or so. Words just don't adequately convey our deep thanks and love for each of you. There are moments, especially in the darkest times, when we are hanging on by our fingertips that the peace that only God can give suddenly comes in and we know...someone has been praying and God is so good! Thank you for standing beside us, walking with us through these days. Amazing scripture for me today that I just have to share in closing: Romans 15:5-6 ".....God wants the combination of his steady, constant calling and warm, personal counsel in Scripture to come to characterize us, keeping us alert for whatever he will do next." (The Message)

What's next? God knows.

“Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live.” 1 Thess. 5:16-18 MSG This past weekend was so good. I had the opportunity to interview for an amazing job, one that could very well launch me into a career field that I believe I have been destined for all my life. God has opened a door, and I am so excited to see what happens next! Ryan had a great opportunity as well, some really good job prospects for him to consider. Coming home was hard for him, more than for me. I went into the weekend with no real expectations, and I deliberately chose to have the mindset that God has provided this interview, and I am so thankful for it. What happens beyond that is not a concern. On the drive home, I listened to my husband share his concerns, and I could sense he was disappointed. How many of us can relate? You are in a job you do not like, you go away for a weekend that is a great start to some new possibilities, and then you are headed back home to that job. Disappointment is a good word for it and I knew he was hurting. As much as we hate to admit it, we wish God would move faster don’t we? We wish He could just snap and it would be so much quicker in terms of how things happen in life. We don’t realize how useful the waiting is. We don’t realize that the waiting, the time in between is when He is requiring us to be teachable, to be flexible, to be moldable. He has His reasons, and they are far above what we can comprehend in the moment. We cannot see further than what He has allowed us to see in this moment, and that should be enough. That should be enough, because we need to trust Him. Trust is hard when we are ready now, when we are not happy, when we are ready for the change because we feel like we have been waiting for so long. I found myself in a different state than Ryan, but I believe there’s a reason God allows for that. When one of us is weak, the other is strong. It is a beautifully balanced system God has given us in our marriage, and I am so thankful for it. At the time it may not make sense, but after, when the dust settles and we know a little bit more, we receive confirmation, then it makes more sense. I am certain God has a plan, and I have a peace that this opportunity is not ending here. I am excited to see what God will do in the weeks ahead. I know He will provide precisely what we need precisely when we need it. His timing is perfect! In these days, I will choose to lean farther into Him than ever before, thanking Him, praising Him, daily, without ceasing, because I know He is working on my behalf. Please keep us in your prayers as we consider what lay ahead, specifically our financial needs. Our budget is already tight, and now we are seeing how we must tighten it a bit more to consider what we may need to relocate in the way of a moving truck, security deposit for housing, etc. We know God is bigger than what we may see as a challenge, and that He will provide for exactly what He intends to take place in the days ahead. We remain incredibly humbled and grateful to you, our sweet circle of friends and family, standing beside us through these days and lifting us to the Father. Your prayers have been felt and make such a difference, far more than you can know. No matter what happens, we will live each day thankful. We can’t wait to tell you what God is doing in the days ahead.

Prayerful, Hopeful, Thankful

I was reminded in my study time last night of giving thought to how I pray. So many times, we pray answers rather than requests. We've all done it. We pray for someone to be healed, to receive something very specific and then we are disappointed when we don't see it happen. So, have you considered how you are praying? I did this great study on prayer years ago in a women's Bible study group and I pulled it back out a few days ago. It is full of such good stuff on prayer! Last night I read the portion that specifically talks about how we pray. It caused me to stop myself in the middle of my prayer time this morning and I realized...I don't like this, I am not used to this! What was it I didn't like? You know it is coming.....surrender. When we pray for a need, a dream, a situation that we've been made aware of for someone we love dearly, are we truly giving it all to God and trusting Him to handle it? I believe wholeheartedly that God wants us to be specific in our prayer time, so please don't misunderstand what I mean. In every sense of the word, we must surrender every care, every need, every want in our lives to His care. When we detail in our prayers what we hope for, what we think is best, or will make the situation better, are we truly trusting God to do His will? Or, are we asking Him to do what we want or what we think is best? This process for me is already changing the way I pray. I am immediately aware of my intent in what I ask of God. So we have to consider very carefully, are we trying to interpret what God's will is for a situation in our method of prayer? I wonder. I will not change my prayer methods in one sense, that I know God wants to hear my hurts, my joys, my dreams, my needs, but along with that I will release it all by recognizing above it all He is the author and perfector of my faith, He knows what my life will be from start to finish, and I cannot attempt to fully understand Him nor can I match His wisdom. When we choose to surrender our all, and trust Him with every fiber of our being, we learn to be content as He intends. If you are as unsettled as I am, then you are probably in the majority because most of us have to admit it is so easy to get comfortable with what we think is certain in the tangible sense. I know it sounds strange, but I think that is when we are right where God wants us to be. Content in Him, content to trust He is in control, but discontented with this world and all that is in it. That's the moment we are ready to embrace our God fully, that is the moment when we are absolutely helpless, recognize our own vulnerability and find confidence in Christ alone. When we find it, then we can find true confidence in ourselves. As we approach this weekend and what it may or may not hold for us, I hope you will join me in praying God's will. Pray for safe travel for our family, pray for favor for Ryan and I in the opportunities that are before us, and pray that we remain humbled and grateful for what God has given us. We want to embrace each day with a thankful heart simply for its own, and not look too far ahead. Romans 12:12 (The Message) “Don't burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don't quit in hard times; pray all the harder."

I"ll go, Lord...because You want me to

The pathway is broken and the signs are unclear
And I don't know the reasons why You brought me here
But just because You love me the way that You do
I'm gonna walk through the valley
If You want me to.... (Ginny Owens, "If You Want Me To")

Psalm 36:5-6 God's love is meteoric, his loyalty astronomic, His purpose titanic, his verdicts oceanic. Yet in his largeness nothing gets lost; Not a man, not a mouse, slips through the cracks.
(The Message)

God has a plan. Day in, day out, we live our lives, many of us assume our lives will remain relatively unchanged, we grow very comfortable in our habits, our schedules, our rhythm and then it happens. Something a bit unexpected. I suppose it is His way of keeping us on our toes. Reminding us that, well, we are not in control. He is! As Ryan and I have walked through the past year or so, we have had to face some less than desirable moments. Thankfully, we have a God who is bigger than it all and has taken care of us every step of the way. We have watched some doors open, and some have closed. We do not want to settle, we want to live a life that is extraordinary and meaningful. We have a purpose, we have been set apart, chosen so that others may see Christ in us. It is in those moments when our faith is tested, when we are pushed to the point of giving up or we may choose to press on, we are truly ready. We are right where He intends for us to be. Please keep us in your prayers as we consider in the days ahead what He is calling us to.

Refresh, Renew, Re-focus

Spring is here, well, at least I hope it is here to stay and we don't have some freakish weather coming in April. I am enjoying this above average weather, how warm it has been and it is truly uplifting to the mood. I have been completely unmotivated to blog for awhile. The last couple months have been some of my hardest. I have found myself hitting a wall emotionally, spiritually, mentally. Thanks to some help from family and friends and my doctor I have found some relief. I am hoping in time to see progress with my ability to manage life, cope with the stress and anxiety that is the norm for us. I have not lost hope, but I am finding I have more moments that God seems to be very silent and unresponsive. I realize this is my interpretation and that in fact He hasn't gone anywhere, He is still with me. My humanity, my brain seems to be interfering a lot more with the willingness of my heart to trust God and allow the Holy Spirit to work in and through me. I am very much aware of God's deep and abiding love for me, and I have not lost sight of His purpose for me. The struggle is with the day to day waiting, wondering when the change is going to come. When are we going to be where we want so desperately to be? We know this is not it, we know we are not going to be in Brazil, Indiana for long but in terms of the knowing how long and where we are headed--that is the frustration. Daily I ask the Lord, "What more do you require of us? How long? When will that moment we've been praying for, dreaming of finally present itself?" We don't know, but He does. So, we are left to give it up, somehow be okay with not knowing and the silence that seems to follow as we wait. We know we need to trust Him and He will take care of it in His good time, but it is hard. Those of you who have been in a position similar to us know exactly what I am talking about. I am well aware of how truly useful we are right where we are, and we have seen blessing after blessing occur as we've kept ourselves planted and growing in some wonderful relationships. God is good to continue to take care of our needs and use us even when we feel we are not exactly where we are meant to be or would like to be. I know the time in between is when we are being stretched, pulled, challenged and grown in preparation for what He has for us to do in our next ministry. Ministry is not just about where we serve in a job, but how we live out each day. First and foremost God has called us to love Him and to love one another as He loves us. There is no greater calling because as a result of that, we can grow the Kingdom and bring others to choose a relationship with Christ. I know how incapable I am on my own, but with Christ--nothing is impossible! There are many days when I would much rather curl up into a ball and not face the world or what I must accomplish, but by forcing myself to get up and cling to Christ, trust His ability in and through me, I can go on. I can make a difference. I can find peace and strength in knowing that He is in control and has my best in mind.
Please continue to pray for Ryan and I as we work, wait and pray. Ryan is still seeking a full time worship ministry opportunity and we have yet to see any progress after nearly 15 months. We appreciate your encouragement, your loving support, your advice and your prayers. We will keep you updated as we watch God's plan unfold in the days ahead.

Spring is in the air....

March 2. Very special day on my calendar. At the age of 39 I gave birth one year ago today to my beautiful daughter Chloe Grace. Truth is, I would absolutely do it all over again in a heartbeat! All four of my children, all four pregnancies were really good. Honestly, I enjoyed being pregnant and had very few complications and had wonderful doctors with each one. I can remember vividly as a child imagining my life one day when I was all grown up. Marriage, kids and a wonderful life. Little did I know what twists and turns life would take. None of us can know that at such a young age, when we are so innocent and unaware of how reality can spin some very different scenarios our way. Thanks to the good Lord above and my faith, my hope in Him I can stand with confidence in knowing I am a better, stronger person today because of what I have experienced. What I didn't say previously is that part of my childhood dream did include being just like my Mom, specifically marrying a man who would be in full time ministry. The road that Ryan and I have traveled together so far has not been easy, predictable or like anyone else's. That's the point. It has been our journey, nobody else's but ours. The frustrations I have experienced over the past year or so since Ryan was let go can be summed up here. I am more confident in my convictions than ever before that we as Christians, we as the "church" have a long way to go before we are anywhere near what God intends for us to be to reach our world. Let's stop trying to make those we seek to serve fit into our idea of "church" based on what we did 50 years ago and open our hearts and minds to what will draw them closer to Jesus. No amount of worship styles that make everyone happy, programs for Sunday School or Bible Study or whatever you call it, and any number of lists you push in front of your pastors to check off each week is going to make an eternal difference. What matters? That needs are being met. That we are loving God and loving one another. How many times I cross the steps of my church each week, classes I attend, or programs I volunteer for does not matter if I am not in relationship with the Father and in relationship with others who need Him. We need Him, we need each other and there are so many people in our world who need Him. Ryan and I have watched doors open and close over the past year and we have witnessed several ministries in person and online that are doing "church" right. It is not and it will never be about what we do inside our buildings that we have built but what we are doing outside those walls with what God is building inside our hearts! How long will we stand by and enjoy being so comfortable? Let's step out, let's make some changes, let's not do the norm--do something different and embrace something new especially if you are stuck. There is a reason our churches are not growing and are shrinking, dying. We have a lot of work to do and a lot of people are not coming in to our churches, because most of our churches are not getting it. Get out of your comfort zone, step out into the uncomfortable places in your community and do something new! Spring is here, so what better time to do it then now. Come together, it is time to shake things up and do something different from anything you have done before. My kids' generations are less and less interested in church and walking away from it for other things...why? Because they want to be part of something that matters beyond themselves, to impact this world for good. We cannot approach every generation that comes after us with what was presented to us 10, 20, 30 years ago. We must evolve, we must consider what can we be doing to meet their needs that is fresh and relevant, new and lasting? God is the same, yesterday, today and tomorrow but that doesn't mean our way of doing church has to be the same over and over and over again. The challenge has been placed before us and will be year after year. Be true to God, be true to your faith in Him, but do not fool yourself into thinking a one package deal will keep people coming into our churches. What will you do to make a difference for the Kingdom? Take up the call, follow Christ--no matter your denomination--and make a difference for the Kingdom. He put it to us before He left this earth, and we need to keep this in mind every single day of this life.

Jesus, undeterred, went right ahead and gave his charge: "God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I'll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age." Mathew 28:19-20 MSG

God Confidence

Most days I can dig deeply into the faith my God has provided and find strength, confidence to be the best wife and mother I can be. When I consider what the world has thrown at me up to this point in my life and how I have come through it, I think I’ve done okay. I know there are moments I have made decisions that may not have been the wisest choice, but in that case I think I learned from it and moved on better off than I was before. It is disturbing to me as a Christ follower how so many people I have known in my life to be what I considered “strong Christians” have given in, fallen, or just plain given up for the sake of something in this world. What disturbs me even more is that it is usually for one reason: pride and the inability to admit fault. Let’s face it, we are all going to screw up at one time or another in our lives, so why not instead of allowing our pride to go before us and be a stick in the mud just for the sake of being right—have the decency to admit you’ve screwed up! Why is this so hard? It comes to this: our confidence should come from God and God alone, no other source! If we are truly confident in Christ, and we have fallen before Him, humbled, open and broken, every single day of our lives, then we should have no trouble being completely transparent with one another. How dare we take one step through this life with confidence in any other source but our God! We have so much to gain eternally by choosing to be fixed wholly on the One who gives us our strength, our confidence, our ability to be exactly who He intends for us to be!

1 Corinthians 10:12-13 These are all warning markers—danger!—in our history books, written down so that we don't repeat their mistakes. Our positions in the story are parallel—they at the beginning, we at the end—and we are just as capable of messing it up as they were. Don't be so naive and self-confident. You're not exempt. You could fall flat on your face as easily as anyone else. Forget about self-confidence; it's useless. Cultivate God-confidence.
No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he'll never let you be pushed past your limit; he'll always be there to help you come through it. MSG


As Ryan and I come through this wilderness one day at a time, I can tell you it would be very easy for us to get stuck in the blame game, the feelings of depression, frustration, anger, bitterness, regret….but we will not! We have chosen to deal with it in our own way and with the help and encouragement, prayers and support of our families and sweet friends. God is good, ALL the time and for whatever reason He has allowed this time in our lives to very purposefully prune us, cultivate us, and prepare us for what He has for us to do next. The waiting is not easy and our patience is being stretched more and more each day, but we believe and we trust in the God who created us, loves us and has purposed us for great things! Our hearts are filled to overflowing when we consider how many of you have taken time daily to lift us to the Father. We know He is working, and we trust that His perfect plan for our lives will unfold when the time is right. Thank you for standing beside us, walking with us and allowing us to lean on you through this time. It means more than you know and we are so thankful!

Go Deeper, Reach Farther

We are called by Christ to walk this life with bold faith, share the gospel with all who will hear it and encourage them to embrace it, reaching without ceasing for greater wisdom and understanding of Him. This is certain to give the Holy Spirit fertile soil in our minds and hearts to develop us into the righteous and holy beings we will one day be when we are in the presence of God. We will not attain this in our earthly life time, but we can strive toward it, and we can humbly approach the throne of God one day in hopes of hearing Him say we’ve done it, we’ve accomplished what He called us to do.

Over the course of the past year and in looking back over what we have experienced in our time in Brazil, Indiana, the question that is foremost in my mind is, “Lord, did we do/Are we doing what You have called us to do? Did we make/Are we making a difference?” Although our time at FCC was brought to an end, our time in Brazil is still unfinished since God has kept us here a bit longer. As I consider these questions daily, I am reminded of opportunities that have presented themselves. I am so thankful for the countless opportunities I have had to partner with some very sweet friends in prayer and accountability as we have shared heart aches and disappointments with one another. I have been pleasantly surprised by God’s blessing in the form of chance conversations with new friends who are enduring difficult circumstances of their own. We cannot discount anyone or anything in our lives because God will present us with a moment to meet a need when we least expect it! We have been so blessed by the loving support of our precious families, friends, our church families who have rallied beside us and…. I just have to point you out:

University Heights Baptist Church, Springfield, MO
Forest Hills Baptist Church, Nashville, TN
North Metro Church, Thornton, CO
Ridgeview Community Church, Franklin, TN
First Christian Church, Brazil, IN

You have loved us and labored beside us with your prayers, encouragement, accountability, your support in so many amazing ways! God is so good and we are so thankful for you! I have said it before and I will say it again: Our hearts are filled with thanks that cannot be fully expressed in words! Please continue to keep us in your prayers for a full time worship arts position for Ryan. We are confident, and we know that in God’s perfect timing we will see the door open in the form of an amazing opportunity for us! We are on the edge of great expectation and so excited to see what is to come!

I have been uplifted, inspired and motivated daily by what God has given me in His Word. Here’s what I came upon today, it was just what I needed to once again-get focused.

Going through the motions doesn't please you,
a flawless performance is nothing to you.
I learned God-worship
when my pride was shattered.
Heart-shattered lives ready for love
don't for a moment escape God's notice. Psalm 51:16-17 (The Message)

Another birthday. Whatever! Don't look back--Look ahead!

I’m taking a good look at the year ahead, another year older for me. 40 to most people is such a big deal, but honestly it’s just another number for me. I stopped caring about my age somewhere back in my thirties. I just don’t look back, I don’t miss my younger days because I have come so far, learned so much and changed so much. I have great memories of years past, and there are moments I miss and time seems to move a whole lot faster as I get older, but if I had a choice to go back—I would not. It can be said that as we get older life is appreciated so much more, isn’t that true? Well, it is for me. How interesting it is to consider when we are younger we are in such a hurry to grow up, but when we get older we want so badly for everything to slow down. So, here I am, at the age that I am and how do I see myself?
I am a proud, independent, self-sufficient, passionate woman who has found joy in God’s blessings to me as a wife, mother, sister, and friend. God is so good, and I don’t deserve any of it. My heart is for worship ministry and women’s ministry and I find such joy in both! I am so thankful for the opportunities He has given me to lead and to follow in these ministries because it has changed me, made me a better person and I hope He is pleased with me because of it! I find more and more that I am so much like my Dad particularly as I get older. I have perfectionist tendencies in that I can’t stand disorder and all is right with the world when everything is in its place. I find my day can be shot to hell if I come home and things are out of place. Just ask my family. I am sure that their impression of me would not be very pretty because when I get on a tangent, well, I go all the way! I realize there are things I should save that energy for, greater causes, but it’s the simple things like an empty sink, an empty laundry basket, and no “man piles” around the house that give me joy and enable me to sleep at night. If I had my choice of what I’d like to do for my birthday, the ideal, dream day for me? Send me to the airport, put me on a plane to the Bahamas and give a lovely cottage by the ocean. All I need is a beach chair, a cold drink with a pretty umbrella in it, and a great book. An entire day just for me—time to myself to do nothing but soak up the sun, sigh repeatedly with contentment and enjoy having no responsibility but for myself. No watch, no schedule, nothing to do but relax.
I realize at this point in my life, what I’ve accomplished and what God has done is so good but I am also painfully aware of how much work there is yet to be done. The burden is great, when I consider what is happening in our community, our world, and how the things I considered to be unthinkable twenty years ago, are now common to this day and age. I am watching my children’s generations grow up with very little interest in church—yes, it is true! Too many of our kids are finding that what our churches offer them is convenient for a time but in the grand scheme of things they’d rather do something more worthwhile and extraordinary with their time. I see how desperately they want to make a difference, but what are we doing in our churches to really meet them where they are? We can only take so much credit for what we are doing inside our walls for the sake of Christ, but the point of what we are doing is to get outside those walls and do what is necessary to go where they are. It isn’t about programs, activities, what we can do to bring people in but what we are doing to pour the love of Christ into their hearts! If we are really doing what Jesus called us to do, we will be spending less time inside our church buildings and more time on the streets and in the homes, in the lives of the people who need Him so desperately! It is not such a radical concept! Oh that we would be more like Christ! I am proud to be the child of a pastor and grew up both resenting and appreciating being in such a position, but ultimately it has taught me to appreciate this: It isn’t about how many times we grace the steps of our churches, how many ministries or programs we are committed to, checking off a list of things we should be doing to be considered “good enough” by our church leadership. It is about our hearts and our time. What is your motivation for what you are doing? Who are you in Christ? What are you doing with the time He has given you on this earth? There is no scale that matters but God’s. We cannot allow any of man’s preconceived ideas of what we are doing or who we are as Christians be what defines us! So, here I am, at the age that I am and determined more than ever to make a difference in this world for no other reason but to please God! I know He loves me and I know He is proud of me, even when I stumble and fall. Thank goodness He understands me since He created me, He has given me far more than I deserve in terms of grace and mercy. What an amazing, awesome God we serve! I hope to live a very long, healthy life but I cannot wait to stand before my Lord one day and hopefully hear Him say to me, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” Be inspired today, my friend. Be bold, be selfless and do the unexpected today for the sake of Christ. He is counting on us to do what is right in a world where so much is going wrong.

Here is a simple, rule-of-thumb guide for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them.
Don't look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don't fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life—to God!—is vigorous and requires total attention.
(Matthew 7:12-14 The Message)

When life gets us down, God picks us up!

2012 is here, and I am less than enthusiastic. I have struggled to find joy in this new year. It does not help that our circumstances have not changed. That weighs heavily on both Ryan and I day in and day out. We keep thinking something is going to come, something is just around the corner in the form of "relief". The questions that dominate our conversations with each other, with God, "When is the door going to open? How long must we wait? What more is there to learn?" Emotions run high, we are battling waves of doubt, frustration, fear, anxiety, hanging on by what feels like our finger tips. As tired as you may be hearing me say it, believe me--we are tired of going through it! How God must think of us as we wrestle with all of this? Along with all of that, I struggle with how inadequate I am to be exactly what God wants me to be. I wonder if He is disappointed with me when I behave this way? I would expect Him to be, but the truth is He is not and He loves me exactly the way I am! How twisted is that?! I can recount so many times in my life I have fallen short, not met someone's expectations and been called out because of it, or just fallen flat on my face because of my inability to release my pride...and God still loves me. God has not abandoned me and will not forsake me. God will take care of me especially in the moments when I can't stand on my own two feet. Regardless of how I feel and what I am experiencing day in and day out, my God has a word for me and He will comfort and strengthen me. I am certain I will have more questions than answers as I continue to live out this life, in the best of times and the absolute worst of times. I think our faith is strengthened all the more for the road ahead when we do not stop asking Him our questions, when we make time daily to talk with Him and dig deeply in His Word, and especially when we can lean on one another and truly be the body of Christ. Please continue to pray for Ryan and I:

1. Full time worship ministry position for Ryan. He is online daily and communicating frequently with a number of friends and pastors to assist him as he continues to search for what God has next. We know God has something extraordinary in mind for Ryan, and we know we need to continue to pray and wait on His perfect timing.

2. Health--Ryan and I are both fighting a respiratory cold/sinus thing and as you can imagine it doesn't help with the paycheck. Ryan has also been struggling with carpal tunnel in his hands and arms due to how physically demanding the work is. Not helpful to a guy who plays guitar! The company he works for only allows 4 days until he has been there 6 months. That means if he misses work for any reason or is tardy even 30 seconds, he will lose points and ultimately could be let go. As you can imagine, this job is proving to be more stressful than beneficial to him.

Despite how difficult these days can be, we find our way back to hope in Him. We love you dearly and we are so thankful for your prayers, your encouragement and your support.

my Ebenezer...

“…Thus far the Lord has helped us.”-1 Samuel 7:12 There are moments in my life when I look back and can see how God in His perfect yet my...