God is SO Good.

I have been having trouble thinking about “what” to blog about because it has seemed like such a long time since I wrote about anything at all.  There have been so many changes in our life that it is hard to update everything in one post.  A new house. A new job for Tom. A new job for me. Sky is almost one. A promotion. A golf tournament win.  Birthdays. Anniversaries. All of it. I feel like the most important thing to say is, “God is so faithful and SO good.”

Recently as many of you know, my husband, separated from the Air Force.  This is what we call it when someone is no longer in the military but they did not work 20 years, and therefore, did not “retire” from the Air Force.  He separated with the hopes and dreams and prayers of pursuing and becoming a professional golfer.  Recently, one of our new neighbors said to my husband, “Oh, you mean you actually golf for a living? I guess I will start telling ‘everyone’ that you are actually a professional golfer.”  We aren’t exactly sure who ‘everyone’ is but we do get the gist that there are those out there who might think we are a little be crazy for leaving a stable, steady, well-paying job to pursue something with so much “seeming” risk.

What most people do not understand though is that every decision we make from where and when to buy a house to what job we apply for or take, is not our risk.  It is not our decision.  It is not necessarily our desire or want.  Rather, we trust and know that what is God’s will and God’s desire will occur.  It is most certainly our desire that Tom is successful in his career and that we will lead comfortable lives, in which we may give generously to others.  However, as much as we desire happiness and health and lots of happy healthy kids, we desire EVEN more, that God’s will be made known to us and that we are lead to our callings to best serve and love Him all for His glory.

I think tonight I am quite reflective as I sit at a new, white Ikea desk in our relaxing blue office.  I sit here and think.  I reflect on the trust we have given to God.  I reflect on the community He has surrounded and provided for us in this stage in life.  I reflect on how Amazing He is and how He turns everything in the ways of His will.  I reflect on how the more we trust in Him, the more it seems we live in freedom and joy in His love. God is SO good.  He IS the truth and the Life. He IS the one guding us on our path.  He is our provider and our father and our comforter and our light in this world. And He is all we need in this world.

A Prayer For New Moms

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We are officially entering a new stage in life. First we were married. Then expecting. And then we had a beautiful baby boy. But now that little baby is learning how to move around! He’s pulling himself around on the ground. Pulling himself to a standing position, and tomorrow I’m sure he’ll be walking! Then next week he’ll be starting his first day of Kindergarten, the week after that he’ll be starting high school, and the week after that we’ll be sending him off to college! Okay, okay, I kid. But he is about to be a toddler! What am I to do with a toddler?

Most days I feel like time is slipping through my fingers. It is rushing by way too fast! I don’t want this time to leave. I want to live in this moment forever! I love this time with my little baby. I love spending time with him after work and on the weekends. I love nursing him in the morning and cuddling until it’s time to get up. I love the way he sees the world and his new experiences. Snuggles on the couch and trying new foods are all amazing adventures. But I think I also love this time because I’m now comfortable with this stage in life. This initial excitement of a brand new baby who mostly sleeps, eats, and poops is do so sweet and uet quickly comes to a close.

This whole “toddler” stage comes with so many unknowns. We have to baby proof, what? We have to pack snack foods for the baby? Do I go with quick and easy? Paleo? Organic? We have to buy a new, bigger car seat? Convertible, all-in-one, rear-facing, forward-facing and boosters are all choices? What about potty training and talking and swimming lessons and arts and crafts? So many things!!! And sometimes soooo overwhelming, especially when information/advice contradicts itself.

Here is my prayer for all new mothers, old mothers and grandmothers who ever have or will say the words above. I love this prayer that I found on page 9 in Desperate: Hope For the Mom Who Needs to Breathe by Sarah Mae. (Which by the way you definitely have to read if you are a mom).

“Lord, teach me how to be a mother. I feel so inadequate. I don’t know what to do. But you are my son’s heavenly Father, and you love him even more than I do, so please show me your way and help me to know how to do the right things.”

I love that and pray it almost every day. And that, that is what brings me peace as we enter this new stage of “toddler”.

Habits: Making Scripture A Part of Everyday

20140119_082734Yesterday at church Aaron Stern discussed week 3 in the Habit series.  Week 3 was about scripture and digging into the Bible.  Here are a few points that I found to be great. I will have to pray about these this week! To hear the full sermon or any other podcasts from Mill City Church, visit their podcast page.

“The Bible is not about reading a book to get more information but to change our lives.”
“The Bible is not primarily a book of rules to memorize and follow. It’s not a self-help book or a book of life principles.”
“The Bible is livable and is the text of living our lives, but don’t just read the Bible to ‘get God’ in YOUR life.”
“You should be drawn into God’s reality on HIS terms, not your terms.”
“The Bible is not primarily a book to be used but a story to be entered.”

The Habit series overall is not about just “stopping” bad habits but replacing them with good habits. Part of the Habit series talked about prayer, fasting, and now scripture.  We NEED the Word of Christ in our lives daily, but how do we make it Habit?

Colossians 3:8-11 puts this is modern terms…

“5-8And that means killing off everything connected with that way of death: sexual promiscuity, impurity, lust, doing whatever you feel like whenever you feel like it, and grabbing whatever attracts your fancy. That’s a life shaped by things and feelings instead of by God. It’s because of this kind of thing that God is about to explode in anger. It wasn’t long ago that you were doing all that stuff and not knowing any better. But you know better now, so make sure it’s all gone for good: bad temper, irritability, meanness, profanity, dirty talk.

9-11 Don’t lie to one another. You’re done with that old life. It’s like a filthy set of ill-fitting clothes you’ve stripped off and put in the fire. Now you’re dressed in a new wardrobe. Every item of your new way of life is custom-made by the Creator, with his label on it. All the old fashions are now obsolete. Words like Jewish and non-Jewish, religious and irreligious, insider and outsider, uncivilized and uncouth, slave and free, mean nothing. From now on everyone is defined by Christ, everyone is included in Christ.”

When reading the Bible, ask yourself, what does this passage show you about God? What part do you play in the story that you are reading?

2 Timothy 3:14-17 states, “But don’t let it faze you. Stick with what you learned and believed, sure of the integrity of your teachers—why, you took in the sacred Scriptures with your mother’s milk! There’s nothing like the written Word of God for showing you the way to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us.”

What tasks does God have for you?

PS Picture from before church on Sunday… just had to share!

The Big News? A New Home!

For those of you who were patiently waiting, I hope that our big news makes you smile as much as it does us! Yesterday was our 6 year anniversary. January 12, 2008 Tom and I went on our first date to Applebee's. Fancy restaurant, I know haha. But we were on cadet budgets so what can you expect. Plus it doesn't matter how much you spend on a date or where you go, it is simply WHO you are with that matters most.

It was on or about that fateful day that began our epic journey to January 12, 2014.

So what happened yesterday? What's the big news?

We are beginning a new journey as HOME OWNERS!!! That's right, yesterday we signed a builder's contract with Journey homes to start construction on a new house in the Rigden Farm area in Fort Collins. We are so blessed with the opportunity to purchase this home. We have been pretty quiet about the process because we want to make sure this is God's will for us to commit to such a large purchase in Fort Collins. After much expectant prayer, we both feel so at peace with this decision! There is a lot of excitement in our house with Pinterest pins and houzz.com searching, but there's has been just a little bit of fear as well. Buying a new house is kinda scary and daunting at first! But we know that God will provide. And will take care of us during this process and this new season as well.

Here's a picture of the land where the house will be in April! There is a bike trail just to the right!

The new house will have 4 bedrooms and 3 baths so we will have lots of room for guests. We will have a family room and living room which basically means an entire room dedicated to Sky's toys lol. The master bedroom has a walk-in closet and 2 sinks (it's the little things that matter hehe). The laundry room is upstairs, which will make diaper laundry much easier. There is a pantry in the kitchen, which we don't have right now. And best of all the new house is close to some bike trails, and we will still have a backyard for Roxy to play in. More pictures to come later.

We found this house by working with a real estate agent named Jack Taylor. He works for The Group in Fort Collins. I would highly recommend him if you are looking for a home in Fort Collins. His son works on base with us which is how we heard about him. And Jack used to be a police officer in Fort Collins for many years. He's been very helpful and informative with open communication throughout the process so far!

Today we started the process to get our home loan in place. A friend of ours told us about his home lende whom he recommended. The lender happens to be the cousin of one of our sponsors from the Springs! God's plan or what?? As soon as Tom heard the name, we knew we had to contact Dustin Camping to find us the best loan for the new home. We contacted him, filled out the prequalification application, and were approved in 3 days! Probably would have been quicker had it not been the weekend when we messaged him ;).

His company Cornerstone isn't exactly a mortgage broker, but they sort of act like one. The company is considered a lender which means they handle the whole loan process from start to finish. Big banks are their investors, so after the final close date the mortgage is sold within a few weeks to the bank that had the best interest rates. Wow, we are learning so much already on this journey!

Well, I'm sure there will be more posts to follow on this. We are asking for prayers as we continue on this journey and collect all the required paperwork for the loan. Also, prayers for the house that it will go up with no hassle or issues are much appreciated. Thanks for reading, ya'll 🙂

 

2014: New Year, New Goals

DSC_5459 copyAs the New Year began, I contemplated what God might possibly have planned for us in the upcoming year.

2013 brought great joy and happiness to our household with the birth of our first son, Skyler Thomas on June 15th, 2013.  Tom and I have loved being able to get to know our son and to enjoy the adventures of parenthood.  We travelled quite a bit last year and lots of family came to visit as well.  Overall, it was an amazing year on both a personal and family level.

In 2014, I know that God will provide just as an amazing year as 2013, but perhaps He will challenge us this year to trust and put our faith in Him even more than we ever have before.  It is human nature to want to know why and how and when exactly everything will occur, but it is Faith to step-out in the direction God is leading us WITHOUT understanding or knowing why or how or when or IF anything will ever occur.  We will be stepping-out in faith a lot this year, and I’m excited.

A couple of changes and big decisions are coming up in our lives that we have been praying and continue to pray about everyday for guidance.

Tom is applying to get out of the Air Force this Spring to pursue a professional golf career. This would be his dream job, and he has been trying to get out of the Air Force for almost 2 years now.  We think they will finally let him out this time due to force management programs and Air Force reductions.

We are contemplating buying a house in Fort Collins. We just love it here. And if I decide to get out we could stay here for a few years while Tom establishes his career. Or, if I stay-in it will be a great rental property to other Air Force families. More to come.

In the new year Sky will turn 1 years old.  We will celebrate our 4th anniversary being married, and we will enjoy all of the milestones in between.  What else will God send our way?

So what are my goals for this coming year based on above uncertainty? Well, there is no use in worrying about what I cannot control, but there are a few things that I can set my sights on that I do have control over!

1. I want to do my devotionals and spend more time in the Word every day.  We are participating in 21 days of fasting and prayer with our church right now, and I hope that this time of focusing on my relationship with God will be fruitful and help me grow more as a Christian wife, mother, sister, and daughter.

2. Because Tom will most likely be separating from the Air Force, we will focus on honing our budget as much as possible as our two incomes dwindles to one secure income with the potential for much more.  We have fairly accurate historical data from the past two years on spending habits, but I would like to hone it down even more. I bought a book called Your Grocery Budget Toolbox, and I look forward to working through it through the next couple of months, which means lots of new spreadsheets!  Woohoo! I know… I’m a nerd!

3. We are decluttering and reducing excess “stuff” and furniture in the house so that we are more efficient and as close to minimalist as two pack rats can get. I am hoping to do a full inventory with this as well.  I will keep you all informed on how this one goes…it’s going to be hard! But I know that life is so much greater and simpler when there isn’t so much “stuff” around! Whenever I need motivation to declutter, I just go read The Minimalists website for some inspiration.

4. I am projected to finish my masters this year. I have been working on my MBA for the past 2 years part-time.  I am signed up for 3 classes this spring, 2 in the summer, and 2 next fall.  If it all works out, I will be done in December!

5. I will be training for RAGBRAI in July. I look forward to getting to know more about cycling and staying in shape.

6. I want to maintain this blog all year long. My goal is to post at least 3 times a week and to have at least 100 followers by the end of 2014.

I am putting these goals out here to hopefully have the motivation to stick with them all year.  Nothing like the world wide web to hold me accountable! If you have goals for the new year to share, please leave a comment  and we can encourage each other 🙂

Advent Week 3 – Joy and Generosity

What a joyous time of year! We are only a week and a half away from Christmas which means there is only a week and a half left of anticipation for the big day! This advent season I committed myself to actually following an advent plan… I’ve actually been doing pretty good this year! I know that I missed posting about Week 2 and perhaps I will go back and make that post up but I knew that I couldn’t miss this week.

One of the things I have loved both about the advent series “Hark” from Mill City as well as my Advent readings, is that they really have been focusing on the response of the people in the story.  I have heard the story so many times but you just put a new spin on it when you consider, “What did Joseph think when Mary told him she was pregnant because of the Holy Spirit??” I mean, wow, put yourself in Joseph’s shoes!

Today at Mill City, Pastor Aaron spoke about joy. To hear the full sermon, you should go to millcitychurch.org! I’m not going to go into too much detail tonight, but I will just bring out a few little nuggets that I picked up from the sermon today.

Joy is much different than happiness.  Happiness is often tied to the circumstances of the moment, while joy can be experienced despite the circumstances.  Joy is recognizing that God is present in every situation and at ALL times.  In the good situations and the bad.

Remember that God is always at work.  The key to joy is to never try to figure out HOW God is at work in the moment.

This little nugget from Aaron is SO true.  Have you ever been in a situation and thought, “I just don’t understand God’s plan?” But, have you ever looked back and thought, wow, I totally see how God was working in me during that situation! Hind sight is 20/20!

Just remember and recognize that God is present. He will restore what is broken.  He will redeem what has been stolen.

Another little nugget I enjoyed from today’s sermon that is so true is, if we expect things to happen a certain way we are going to miss out on something.  Certainty in life is one of the biggest weaknesses in life.  It develops a sense of control (and us humans are never in control).  Instead, we should cultivate curiosity for what God’s will has for us.  Curiosity cultivates surrender. It is so hard not to want certainty and continuity and to have a PLAN. But what God really wants from us is just to trust him, and trust that HE has a plan for us and that it does not matter if life happens “out of order” from what we expect, because it is happening “in the order” He expects.

Finally, the last little nugget from the sermon today is the idea that even though there is a difficult circumstances, we are still joyful because in the end we know that God is present.  That because of Jesus we are a part of God’s story.  We are participating in the rule and the reign of Jesus in the world, and that should literally take the weight of the world off of your shoulders.  Wow, so good!

So, if the Sermon was about joy why did I put generosity in the title? Well, remember

MCC 1my first advent post from week 1 where I took a break from social media in order to better focus on those around me and appreciate the people I am with? Well, this week my book is talking about generosity.  It is encouraging us to pray about how we can be generous in this holiday season because God is generous with us.  The book challenges us to not only be generous with our time but also with our resources and finances.

I encourage all of you to look at the world around you and see what joy there is and what you have reasons to be joyful about! Also I encourage you to pray about how you can be generous in this time of year where sometimes money seems tight.  What has God given you that he wants you to give to others?

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“Just as you’ll never understand the mystery of life forming in a pregnant woman, So you’ll never understand the mystery at work in all that God does.” – Ecclesiastes 11:5

 

Hark: Advent Week 1 – No Social Media!

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Today marks the first week of Advent, where we anticipate and look forward to Jesus’ birth.  It is the time of year when we prepare for a celebration of His birth by slowing down and appreciating God’s blessings and love.  Advent begins 4 Sundays before Christmas.

We started a new series at Mill City this week that is geared towards Advent.  I love that even though Mill City might be “classified” as a “non-denominational” church, Pastor Aaron is not afraid to incorporate and recognize what might typically be considered only for the more “traditional” churches.  (The reason all of these words are in quotations is because Aaron would much rather we not classify Mill City as any one specific type of church but rather as a “Jesus Church.”)  But any way, the series is called Hark. Hark means to “listen attentively, lend an ear, pay attention.”

I love the idea of listening attentively.  To listen attentively you must slow down and be still yourself.  You must not talk and you must keep an open mind.  You must  listen into the silence in order to hear what is not being said at all.  Listening attentively is key during this busy, busy time of year.  Yes, it is necessary during all times of the year that we rest and recognize a Sabbath but during the holiday season it is especially important that we stop in the middle of all of the holiday noise to listen and hear the voice of God.

The first advent candle we lit represented hope.  Pastor Aaron went on to talk about hope during his sermon.  The sermon started in Luke 1 and went through the story of Zechariah, when he is told by the angel, Gabriel, that his wife would have a son in her old age, who would be named John.  Zechariah didn’t want to believe the angel and asked for another sign to prove that this would happen.  So Gabriel made him mute until the baby was born as a sign.

Pastor Aaron put this situation in such a good context.  I love the new way he makes me look at a story I have read several times! He explained, put yourself in Zechariah’s shoes.  Do you think that if an angel told you that you would have a child that you would immediately believe him and not doubt him?  However, if you had hoped for years and years and years that you and your wife would have a child, but you were always disappointed would you still believe?  And now that you are in your old age and you have given up hope of ever having a family, wouldn’t you be afraid to hope again even if an angel told you it would come true?

Wouldn’t you hesitate to believe because you didn’t want to be disappointed again? Can you think of another situation where you have given up hope? Hmm. I’ll have to contemplate this one.

“Hope is looking at the future and believing things will be different.” So simple. So true. What is in your future that you hope will be different?

Another key lesson Pastor Aaron pointed out from the passage in Luke 1 is this: sometimes, to remember our hope we must have silence.  Silence can be such a gift, especially in this technological age where we are constantly bombarded by other’s words and pictures and ads and music and this and that.  I mean come on, you are reading my blog right now aren’t you? Silence is key to collect your thoughts and truly see God’s creations around you.

I loved this sermon today because it challenged me to look at what I might just be going through the motions doing.  It has challenged me to look at my life to see if there is something in which I might have “given up hope.” Or perhaps, what hopes do I have for the future that I am giving to God?

During this Advent I am going to try to keep up with a Devotional called, “Embrace the coming Light: Daily Readings and Prayers for Advent” by Eddy Ekmekji and Tyler Watson.  It was recommended to me by someone in my small group from church.  I bought the $2.99 version on Kindle to try and follow along each day as we get closer to Christmas.

This particular devotional has a different discipline for you to follow each week of Advent to prepare you and help you anticipate the celebration of Christ’s coming.

This week it has asked us to give up social media. Yikes! That one is one of my hardest to give up but I am so glad because I think it fits perfectly with the sermon.  Giving up social media will be an opportunity for some silence in my life and for some time to reflect and to praise God!

I will be praying and thinking about each and every one of you during this week. And I challenge you to find your own silence. To reflect on hope and to anticipate Jesus.

I will leave you once again with, “What are you afraid to hope for?”