Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Five Years...

The Past Five Years

Change has been the theme!

What's Happening

The past few days have been a whirlwind.  
Last Saturday, we went to Tuscaloosa for the Alabama Homecoming game against Georgia St 
(the tickets were one of Mark's Father's Day gifts)...and we WON!! 
It was the first game we've attended {but won't be the last!} and we had soooooo much fun!    It was a long day though. We left home at 5:30a, and didn't get home until 9:30p.  
The heat was intense, 90+ degrees, & we walked over 5 miles.  
The kids, although they didn't walk it all, did so well with all the walking & heat!

Last week, we put our house on the market.  
We put a 'for sale by owner' sign up over a month ago, but hadn't really had any interest, so we listed it with a friend, not sure how quickly we'd get people looking, much less an offer. 
While we were at the game, a family looked at the house AND placed an offer.  
This is the second house we've sold but the first time we've sold through an agent, so we had lots of questions about what's next, is this for real, etc. It was such an unexpected blessing that Mark & I were brought to tears right there in the stadium.  We love our house & don't really want to move, but the weight of our finances caused us to evaluate some things & made us look at all our options. We did not realize the equity in our house and know this is a gift from God. 

Sundays are always CRAZY days!  This past one was no exception.  
Rehersal, setting up for Children's Church, service, lunch with people from church....
This week kicked off our first, FALL BREAK!  T has been so excited to be out of school.  
We, Dad & Mom, have been excited too, but unfortunately, work had to continue for us.  
We did set Monday aside though, to spend the day together and just have fun.  
We went to the Atlanta Children's Museum, Centennial Park & Starbucks for a sugar-free hot chocolate, *Trenton's request!  (There are pictures below)   

Sunday & Monday we spent a lot of time driving around as well, searching for a house to rent, because we have to be out of ours by the end of the month.  It's so funny this has all happened right at the five year mark of moving to Georgia.  It's fitting, because this move is really different for us.  It's a big change and it's bringing about an even bigger change.  

The Past

The past 5 years have been all about change.  When we moved here, we had a yorkie and a 10 week old baby.  We had been married a little over 2 years and had been very healthy during that time - only going to the dr once or twice over those two years (except for prenatal visits).  
We had both been in ministry for a number of years, but hadn't really had any difficult or challenging situations.  Our life was good and had been fairly easy up until that point.  

We've experienced a lot of physical problems over the past 5 years.  Mark's unknown heart disease is one of the major factors - when it showed up, it really showed up.  Finding out we were expecting baby #2 while he was recovering from heart surgery & a heart attack was not easy.  Both of our children have struggled with digestive problems that no one has been able to diagnose & recently Sissy's seizure-like episodes have really been a mystery & again brought us to our knees over her health as well as being able to afford testing, etc.  
There have been plenty of church challenges as well - financial, relational, locational.
As well as something I prayed we'd never experience, a church split...they are heartbreaking.
We've also had financial strain that our medical expenses have pushed to the limit. 
BUT, through a lot of stress, heart ache, uncertainty, worry & pain, we've seen God do some really special things.  Many of those blessing have been tangible, but there have been many that haven't... things like great relationships He's blessed us with, encouragement in our darkest places, and certainly emotional & spiritual growth. 

The Change

Over the past 5 years, we've grown & changed so much.  
God has used even the really hard stuff to mold us & prepare us for things only He knows are ahead of us.  Some of those things have already happened & some may still be ahead.  
Most importantly, God has been far more faithful to us than we have deserved.  
We don't know what the next 5 years holds, or really even what the next 5 weeks holds, but we are confident in this, God will never be farther from us than we allow Him to be, because the Bible says that as we get closer to Him, He comes closer to us.  We have also experienced the truth in the verse that says, He is near the brokenhearted!  
He won't let us down, even though we let Him down, usually, daily.  
We believe that we are about to begin a new season of our lives... one big piece of that puzzle is going to be paying off {hopefully} all of our debt!  We are overwhelmed beyond words at the blessing this house has been...we now see that God led us here, when we weren't even looking, just to bless us, October 2013, and bring us out of debt...
something we've been working towards for some time now.  

Easy is great!  
I love it actually, but it doesn't bring about the growth & trust 
in the One who holds tomorrow, that change & uncertainty usually bring.  
Change is still certain in our future.  
But whatever comes, we know that walking with the One who created this world 
will assure us of a few things - 
we are loved, 
we can trust Him, 
no challenge on earth will last forever,
 we are winners in the end.

Your Life

If you have challenges that rocked your world, know that you really aren't alone.  
There is someone that has been through what you're going through. 
But an even greater assurance is this, God will stay by your side even if no one else knows the struggles going on in your life, even when you don't look to Him until you've looked everywhere else, even when you've exhausted yourself in trying to find the answer, make it work or fix it all, Jesus will be right there, ready & willing to wrap you in His arms 
& carry you through the places where you can't carry yourself.  





Centennial Park...the weather was beautiful!

 Kamdyn @ the Atlanta Children's Museum

 Trenton @ the Atlanta Children's Museum

 Our family...we are so blessed!

My Love!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Moving...

Well, our church has officially moved out of our old location!  It was a week of complete exhaustion!! ...full of lots of boxes, trash, planning, coordinating, frustration, joy, excitement and energy drinks! ;)

Leaving the parking lot yesterday was surreal.  Definitely something I've prayed about and for, for a long, long time.  We are overjoyed to be debt free!  God's way of working things out always exceeds what you dreamed up or how you thought things would best work!  I am honored to be a part of this church, this team and this season of outreach and ministry for McDonough.  

I have been blessed to be a part of two church plants and this, in a lot of ways feels like planting a church.  The great thing about it is, we already have 200 people planting with us!! This move has been much harder for some than others...and rightfully so.  But I read a question yesterday and it really made me think - here's the question - "Is it possible to get so wrapped up in our faith, that the concepts of faith become more important than our actual faith?"  The answer is yes!  That made me think about the church... Is is possible to get so wrapped up in the concept of church, that "doing church" {i.e. dinners, socials, fundraisers, plaques on the wall, classes that we've always had, doing things the way we've always done them, & even the relationships we build with people} becomes more important than true church?  I believe that the answer is, YES!  What is church?  It is us.  It is a group of people who have come together for 1 purpose and that's Jesus.  We are the church, whether we meet in a cathedral or a small, rented store-front; a multi-million dollar building or underground.  Who we are not determined by where we meet or what our facility looks like - although I believe that God blesses when you prepare for people and do it with excellence - it is determined by who we believe God is, how we allow Him to shape us, as well as whatever He calls us to do. 

I am praying and ask you to say a prayer with me that our church as well as all Christians, will begin walking out our faith and not just living with "faith" around us.  Let's also realize that we are the church...not the building and not just the group of people that meet with me each week, but all people that have put their trust in God and live for Him.  I love how two different churches are drawing close to each other; bonds are being made & faith being strengthened as we receive God's awesome blessings!  My heart is full when I think about all that God is going to do through Tabernacle of Praise & The Landing Church @ McDonough as we both move forward!!

Blessings ~ W

Saturday, March 9, 2013

What a load?!

I rarely share this type of thing in a social media type setting, but the Bible says, we have not because we ask not.  I know, that is speaking of what we are asking God for, but part of the reason God makes believers a "family" is so that we can 'share the load'...
I'm asking you to help us share our load.  

We, (Mark, Trenton, Kamdyn & myself) need your prayers.  We are humbled by the position of ministry God has led us into.  We, by no means, sought it out.  We can look back at situations over the past 4-5 years and see things that we took for surface value, that were actually key moments of God's preparation for this season of our lives.  We are in awe at how God has orchestrated every detail over the past year, and our church's upcoming move is no exception!  Please understand, our hope, confidence and trust is in God and Him alone and we lean heavily on Phil. 4:13 ("I can do all things...") but, we are not exempt to human weakness and we are definitely feeling the strain of the enormity of this move.  

When there just aren't enough hours in each day or energy in our bodies, it's easy to get cross or short.  It's easy to lose focus, to feel like you're drowning, to begin looking only at yourself and taking pity.  Life doesn't go on hold because of one, single situation in your life...tonight, after working at the church for most of the afternoon, I got home to 4 loads of laundry that need to be folded and 5-6 more that need to be washed.  My exhausted Kamdyn cried for an hour trying to drift off to sleep and Trenton had a tummy ache that was keeping him up.  I have several documents to create before church, sippy cups & snacks to pack, dinner to prepare for tomorrow since we'll be working at the church, and clothes to lay out.....my list goes on, but my heart says just call on God.  
In doing that, I was impressed to ask for a few people to be like Aaron was for Moses - for Mark & me.  Some jobs Aaron worked at together, with Moses, and other times he just held up Moses' hands.  We usually look at Moses & what he did, because He was the leader, but both jobs were necessary. Both had to be done.  Both we're needed to accomplish God's plan. 

We really are just at the beginning of this move process, and if we're being honest, we're already a little weary going in to these next two weeks.  Please, say a prayer that we stay focused on the big picture and that God speak to some Aarons to work alongside us, while others keep us lifted up in prayer.  Also, please pray for Trenton & Kamdyn, they are such a blessing and are amazingly flexible with our crazy schedule.  They don't feel the weight of it all, but they experience the results of the weight and for that I ask God give them a special blessing, understanding & endurance!  The great thing about it all, that it is just for a season and that this challenge has an end.  What's even better, is that through this, God is doing a great work in our lives & in our church!!



As I thought about all of this, I thought about trucks with the "Wide Load" sign.  It's easy to see when there is a wide load, even without the sign, but there are no signs and often no clues to the real weight of a truck's load.  I think the same is true for our lives.  It's easy to see when there's a big job or a big situation in a person's life, but not often known how heavy a load they are carrying.  The only way to see that, is through the Holy Spirit, opening your eyes to it.  I'm praying that my eyes be open and my heart be sensitive to those heavy loads being carried, by those around me!  Blessings ~

Saturday, March 2, 2013

1000 Days


1000 days ago, I was facing the most frightening day of my life!  My love was heading into surgery...major surgery!  The man, who had been to the doctor once in the almost 4 years we had been married (for a kidney stone), was headed into bypass surgery for his heart.  It was a day full of anticipation! Dread, fear & anxiety all kept welling up inside of me...but there was also assurance, hope & even moments of complete peace.  

As I think back on that day, I thank God for it!  Without that day, my life would be drastically different now...my husband's life was saved.  Our lives together were forever changed, but we know that God has been with us completely!  There are challenges that we will forever face now, but there is also a confidence in our tomorrows that we gained through that experience.  I thank God for guiding the doctors, for the support of friends & family during that time - there are people I had never met that touched my heart so deeply with their prayers & words of encouragement, but most of all I thank God for His constant presence with me when I felt I was facing an impossible situation! 

The 1000 days that have passed have taken us through some wonderful moments and some others that we would have rather not traveled through, but I'm reminded of the verse in Psalm 90:4 - "For you, a thousand years are as a passing days as brief as a few night hours."  God holds everyday.  Nothing slips by Him.  Each day may seem huge to us, but God sees it as a brief moment of the great plans He has for each of us.  He never leaves us to face, even a moment, alone.  His will is perfect & His plans prosper those who put their lives fully in His care.  His love is like no other. He is sovereign! 

In the past 1000 days we have...
Dealt with a serious medication reaction just a week after Mark got out of the hospital; welcomed a lovely little bundle, named KAMDYN; Mark dealt with pleurisy, which mimicked previous heart issues, giving us a scare; bought a foreclosed house, a HUGE blessing; discovered Mark has Bundle Branch Blockage; sent Mark off on his 1st missions trip since we've been married; begun a wonderful tradition with our family - our presents at Christmas are in the form of time away with our children & parents - PRICELESS; had our first "real" injury to Trenton - he's now proud of his scar ;); saw Mark go into surgery again, this time just a hernia repair & had great results; gone through the most challenging year of ministry, but also the year that we have felt the most love & blessings from our Pastor & congregation; watched our brilliant Trenton go from a baby to a boy, now getting ready to begin kindergarten, 
my list could go on & on....

This has been a time of crazy changes in our lives, but they all, through the work of God in our lives, have been turned to good & helped shape us into who we are today.  The next 1000 days are yet to be walked out, but I've learned to lean more on God & what He has today...we aren't promised tomorrow, but if it comes, let God be your guide through whatever challenges come because that's when you'll see Him most, sense Him closest to you & experience blessings you never thought you'd see!  They may not always come immediately, but they will come!


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