February 5th

February 5th will forever be a celebration of life for me.

 

It was on this day last year that we found out there was a life growing inside of me.

And it was on this day six years ago that God spared the lives of my best friends when an EF-4 tornado ripped through their dorm rooms.

 

When I told Spencer on the evening of February 5th that we were pregnant, I couldn’t speak before I started bawling.  (Not tears of joy I might add.)

When that awful tornado came through Union, it left behind complete devastation and destruction.

 

But in times of dark uncertainty, God provides hope.  He provides His Word.  He even provides miracles.

In the times when chaos encircles us, God allows us to rest in His unchanging character and in the love of the Church community.

 

The theme of my life has always been that God is good and faithful.

And He is always good and faithful.

In every circumstance.  Expected and unexpected.

No matter what happens between sunrise and sunset or between sunset and sunrise.

He is good.  He is faithful.

And He is God.

 

If Katherine wasn’t healthy, and if the students and staff at Union University weren’t protected He would still be good and faithful.

But K is healthy.  And every life on that campus was spared.  Miracles?  Indeed.

 

Was there any reason to think K might not have been healthy?  No.  But after experiencing pregnancy and childbirth, there is no doubt in my mind that every child is simply a miracle.

Was there any reason to think that there were lifeless bodies among the rubble after an EF-4 tornado stormed through Union’s campus?  Absolutely.  But God had His hands around each person there.

 

I fully know that God gives and He takes away.  He doesn’t always spare lives.  There are times to rejoice and times to mourn.  But in everything we are called to give thanks.  And in everything we can rest in the truth that God is good and faithful.

 

So today, I choose to celebrate life.

I choose to celebrate the brightest of mornings that comes after the darkest of nights.

 

February 5th will forever be a reminder to hold my little one a little closer, kiss my husband a few times more, say “I love you” every time I think it, and fully trust in my good God.

 

 

 

(You can read the first hand stories from the February 5th tornado in Tim Ellsworth’s book God in the Whirlwindhttp://www.amazon.com/God-Whirlwind-Stories-Tornado-University-ebook/dp/B004OA6LT6/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top or watch more about that night on youtube with videos like this:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3O-IiHCrsK8)

 

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Milestones

With the school year gearing up to begin on Friday, I can’t help but think back over the past two years I spent in the classroom.  Legally, I can’t go into details.  But I can say that those two years were filled with daily hardships.  Every morning I knew I was walking into a spiritual battle.  And every morning I had to be fully equipped in prayer and be rooted in Scripture as I walked into a tough situation.  I know without a doubt that the Lord had me there for a purpose.  Even while I was in it, I knew that the Lord picked me out for that job.  Most people would have walked away, but I knew I had to be a light before the students and hope that they would see how I reacted to situations and eventually glorify my Father in heaven.  Not a day went by that I didn’t cry out to the Lord for His help, His Spirit, His strength in my weaknesses.   I had a little wooden plaque on my desk with Nehemiah 8:10 on it, “The joy of the Lord is my strength.”  And at certain moments I would sit down and read it over and over and over.  The simple prayer “Jesus, I need you” constantly rose from my heart.

When we found out we were pregnant, we decided it was best for me to not go back this year.  And as I drove home on my last day of inservice in May, I simply wept.  And I couldn’t stop.  The Lord’s faithfulness and constant goodness in getting me through those two years overwhelmed me.  My faith stood firm in the Lord and my confidence in Him was not shaken despite all the ways the enemy tried.  God is always good and always faithful.  As I drove home that day, another milestone was reached.  One that points to the great, loving faithfulness of God.  One that will be added to the list of reminders of evidences of God’s grace in my life.  One that reminds me that the Lord has a purpose and a plan.

The Lord is good and faithful. 

That has been the theme of my life.

I love thinking about past milestones and remembering God’s faithful workings.

Things like:

-Getting my “you graduated from the wound center” certificate in 2008- As strange as it sounds, that was a glorious day for me.  After a year of intense physical pain following two surgeries and excruciating healing processes, I finally could say, “I’m healed!”  Sometimes healing comes in ways we don’t expect.  In my case that year, the healing took a whole lot longer than was expected.  But it was still healing nonetheless.

-Climbing Half Dome in 2009 for the second time – After an awfully hard year emotionally, this hike proved to be more of a spiritual testimony of joy and peace, strength and forgiveness for me than physical strength.  The Lord used that arduous hike to show me how much He walked me through over that year and that He never left me.

-Getting Spencer’s first paycheck from teaching last August – Somehow we made it through last summer financially.  And when that first paycheck came, all we could do was praise God for His provisions.  He faithfully provided for us when we didn’t know how we would make it.  (And He continues to provide in astounding ways that can only be attributed to Him.)

Those just show examples of physical, emotional, and financial milestones.  I could go on and on naming more milestones in my journey with the Lord.  But instead, ask me for my story sometime.  I’d love to tell you what the Lord has allowed me to walk through that has enabled me to have the perseverance and strength I have today.

The song “Never Once” by Matt Redman echoes my heart as I dwell on God’s faithfulness.  Listen to it here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n1bXG4WIesA

Soak in the lyrics:

Standing on this mountaintop
Looking just how far we’ve come
Knowing that for every step
You were with us

Kneeling on this battle ground
Seeing just how much You’ve done
Knowing every victory
Was Your power in us

Scars and struggles on the way
But with joy our hearts can say
Yes, our hearts can say

Never once did we ever walk alone
Never once did You leave us on our own
You are faithful, God, You are faithful

Kneeling on this battle ground
Seeing just how much You’ve done
Knowing every victory
Was Your power in us

Scars and struggles on the way
But with joy our hearts can say
Yes, our hearts can say

Never once did we ever walk alone
Never once did You leave us on our own
You are faithful, God, You are faithful
You are faithful, God, You are faithful

Scars and struggles on the way
But with joy our hearts can say
Never once did we ever walk alone
Carried by Your constant grace
Held within Your perfect peace
Never once, no, we never walk alone

Never once did we ever walk alone
Never once did You leave us on our own
You are faithful, God, You are faithful

Every step we are breathing in Your grace
Evermore we’ll be breathing out Your praise
You are faithful, God, You are faithful
You are faithful, God, You are faithful

You are faithful, God, You are faithful
You are faithful, God, You are faithful

May our lives be evidences of God’s grace and point people to Him.  Let us not find things to complain about or boast in ourselves, but testify that God is good and faithful.  This life is hard, but He remains true to His promises.  We are never alone.  Take time to look back over your life and see the many ways He was faithful.  May what the Lord has brought you through so far in this life fill you with gratitude, joy, peace, and a holy confidence in Him.

An Honest Look at the Budget

We just worked on our budget.

We worked through the numbers, sifted through receipts, and stared at the computer screen adjusting and reconfiguring.  You’d think our solemn expressions afterwards meant we had just been involved with something devastating or tragic.  Yet, it was just the budget.

But in all reality, it can be a scary thing to review finances and look at the budget.

 

How can we be the wisest we can be with our money?

What can we change so that we can put more into savings?

Will we be able to make ends meet this month?

 

Every month we’ve asked similar questions.

Every month we’ve wondered how it will all work out.  

And every month the Lord has provided.

 

We so often hear about marriages being torn apart because of finances.  We refuse to be in the majority that don’t talk about money, don’t communicate in order to be on the same page, or live in an ignorant way that doesn’t reflect their actual income.

It is so easy to worry, stress, argue, or even ignore things related to finances.

But we refuse to.

 

For a quick minute after reviewing our budget, we both had the “oh my gracious” moment of wondering how it will work out.  But then we erased those thoughts and breathed in the peace of God’s continued faithfulness.

He has taken care of us and sustained us every step of the way.

Our Lord has provided in incredible ways throughout our marriage.

And today, we choose to trust Him again.

 

We cannot fear with Him beside us, behind us, and in front of us.

We cannot worry when our Savior has conquered the grave and sits enthroned in heaven.

May we as believers live differently than the world.  May we not get entangled in the traps of materialism and living beyond our means.  May we not outdo one another in material gain but in love and service.  May what we do with our money point the world to Christ.