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Sunday, June 28, 2015

The Breakup

This weekend I broke up with someone... well some place actually. Dallas and I have had this thing for almost as long as I can remember. My parents would send me to the BigD for little weekends when I was about 10 and every summer or break after that I would spend with my aunt and uncle and very little, at the time, cousin.

Even at 10 we did Dallas up right. Shopping, symphonies, theater, restaurants. NorthPark declined my debit card several times in my high school years because I had no idea about money and no credit card (thank GOD) but man I knew good shopping. When we moved there 7 years ago I was so excited. I gained 5 pounds in about 3 weeks and almost went broke when we discovered Central Market. When we joined Northwest Bible and bought our house on Princess Lane the addition of friends and children and a community of incredible women was more than my heart could take, I was in heaven.

So when God called us home to B/CS I was confused. And this past year I've carried on a long distance love affair with Dallas. I didn't want to really be here, I wanted to be THERE. I didn't want to make friends, my friends were THERE. I don't want to get involved in my church, my church is THERE. And I don't want this to be home, DALLAS is home.

But, this weekend I couldn't deny that in the 10 short months since I've been gone I have changed. I couldn't keep up this long distance thing anymore. We've only visited twice and how can a love affair really work if you don't see each other? So... we broke up. I have untied the ties that bind and let that ship sail. It's not fair to my new home,  it's not fair to my husband and kids and it's not fair to God that I kept looking back, or north really.

I still love Dallas, and of course it goes without saying that many of my dearest friends are there and will always be a part of our life. But I was running with a weight on my back. I had to get the weight and ache of missing that old life off so I can really grow here. Who knows what will happen! I believe good and exciting things are around every corner, we just have to have the eyes to see them.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Joy Complete.

On New Year's Day I chose a word for the year... Apprehension. Leading up to the new year I just felt that way - worried, doubtful, unsure... apprehensive. 

In comparison, last year my word was a full and joyful "Abundance"! I felt at peace, strong in my faith, in relationships and even physically. And although at that time I didn't anticipate the enormous change our life would take this year I felt good about the year and whatever came I knew we'd be more than ok. Through our move and all the decisions leading up to it we saw an abundance of blessing that continued through the year. 

But this year on New Year's Day as the words came out of my mouth, "My word for the year is 'apprehension'," God did something special. He let me witness a miracle on the first day of the year. Although Annabelle was born December 29th to Tricia and Jonas, her fight for life continued for 6.5 more days - 150 hours. This was a miracle. The fact that she was carried to term was a miracle but outside the womb living, breathing, 2 chamber heart beating, noisemaking, milk tasting, being held by mother brother father family, preemie clothes wearing, knit hat sporting baby doll kept on going my apprehension turned to complete aw and my WORD for the year? Uh yeah - chunk that out the window, my WORD for the year is Annabelle.

Instead of wondering and worrying about what the Lord has in store for us this year, I trust in a God who makes the impossible possible. And whatever I was worried or unsure about I'm going to hand over to Him. And while I don't know what the year holds, no one does, I am trusting that God's will is good, pleasing and perfect and it's going to be ok. 

Annabelle means "joy" and she is in the fullness of joy now with our Lord and Savior, the giver of blessings and life and the Healer of broken hearts. Join our family in praying for Tricia, Jonas and Big Brother Cameron, that the Lord would carry them through this time. 

John 16:24 "Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete."

Monday, December 29, 2014

For Annabelle

Today I am amazed at the mountains a tiny baby can move. Some of my Dallas buds may have heard the news stories of the Bishop Lynch volleyball coach who at 14 weeks gestation found out her daughter was diagnosed with Trisomy 18, a 100% fatal disease and has chosen to continue her pregnancy. Today she will go in for a c-section to deliver Annabelle a few days early not knowing what life or how long life will hold for Annabelle outside the womb. 

Tricia and I had been in Bible study together for about a year and we walked with her and prayed with her through her pregnancy just as she and the group prayed for us through our move. I found my life paralleled with her struggle on more than one occasion and when the unexpected diagnosis came I was heartbroken for her, her husband and her son (3) who had been asking his parents for a "lady baby" for quite some time. 

But today, today is Annabelle's birthday. And her parents and brother will get to meet this little one who has turned their life upside down. Is there anything that turns ones life upside down more than a baby? Especially when your expectations are one thing and WHAM just like that they - come 5 weeks early (Jack), come 12 weeks early (S), cry 24/7 (L), have an unexpected diagnosis (Annabelle)... are born in a manger. 

For some reason that we probably will never know, God chose to give Annabelle to Tricia knowing that Tricia and her family would respond by giving her right back to the loving arms of God. And this response of obedience, of loving care is what shines like a GIANT beacon in the night, like THE STAR in the night beckoning us COME, COME AND SEE what our great God has done! Annabelle's life, at the moment her tiny heart began to beat has been setting the light of Jesus ablaze because her parents responded in obedience allowing her story to continue until God determines it is finished. 

So today, if you would, please say a prayer for Tricia and her family, for Annabelle that her pain would be limited to null and her time on earth would be multiplied forever in the hearts of her family and loved ones. Because isn't that what happens with our great God? A tiny baby is born and thousands of years later we're still talking about him, BELIEVING that God is bigger that hope is ALIVE that LOVE NEVER FAILS, His love never fails and that one day we will see him again. One day.

Merry Christmas and blessings for a beautiful New Year. 

Saturday, November 1, 2014

This is Love.

Psalm 23:6 "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life..."

I wish you could've heard it, the stillness, my family talking and laughing in the background. I wish you could've seen it, my son fishing in his spiderman costume. I wish you could've felt it, the chill in the air. I wish you could've seen the big bright moon shining on us even before the darkness set in. 

Tonight my family had the annual Chili Gala, the kickoff to deer season at our family ranch's camp house. As I watched my son fishing with my husband and joined in a span of minutes by my dad, brother and cousins, I was truly overwhelmed with emotion. I felt in my heart over and over again  "this is peace, this is beauty, this is love." 

In that moment, I felt so happy that my son had a place to go to get away from the city lights and see nature, experience it. It was so different than the hustle and bustle of the city. And I felt so grateful for my grandparents, particularly my Daday who's been gone now almost two years. He and Mimi sacrificed so much all those years ago and throughout their lives so we could enjoy these moments, so our children could enjoy them. And I missed him so much, so so much. 

It's nights like tonight that remind me why we're here. Why we trusted God, why He moved us right into this new, full life. Because this is love. He loves us so much. He loves you so much, I just thought you should know.  

"This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us." (1John 3:16) 

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Running to Win

When I was in 8th grade I ran track. I was never very good at it, we had a lot of girls way taller, faster, stronger, but I was pretty quick. I remember sprinting like my life depended on it at track meets. There wasn't time to look left or right and certainly not back when you were trying to win (or in my case not be last!).

Last week a friend of mine asked me how it was being back home.  I told her that being busy thanks to my job and my kids, was more of a blessing than I could've realized. I didn't have time to look left or right... or back. I was sprinting. God truly does know what we need and provides.

Not long after that conversation, in fact it might have been the very next day, I had a few hours of down time. Not much but a little with a quiet house, happy kids playing, not much going on. And I started looking around, we were outside in the driveway and I looked left... no Emily and Alice, I looked right, no Angela and Will, and then I looked back and hyperventilated. I just missed my people, my old life.

It was at that point that I clearly understood the verse we've all heard, 1 Corinthians 9:24, "Don't you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win!" or Philippians 3:14 "I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."

I've determined that my current busyness is God-purposed. In other words, I'm almost not choosing it, it was destined for me. Prayer is powerful and not long after we got here both of our current bosses/partners told us they had been praying for us. (They were praying for "someone" but that someone turned out to be us.) So the question for me became, how do I meet with God when I'm not able to meet with him like I used to in Dallas.

In Dallas, I had the most amazing group of women I met with on Wednesday nights since I joined Northwest Bible in 2008. For six years, Wednesday nights were my spiritual chiropractic adjustment. My Bible studies kept me in the word, my group kept me on my toes and I grew in my faith. So much so God moved me right out of there. It's hard not to look back and miss our church too...

So recently I've determined that getting up in the mornings is an absolute must for me. Even if it's just 15 minutes before pitter-patter of little feet, I have to meet with Jesus. My Bible is on the coffee table, my computer for my online study (written and recorded by my cousin - so cool), and whatever beverage I need to wake up. I really try every morning of the week to do this.

As I've stewed on this verse "Run to win!" I picture Jesus at my bar waiting for me, I know it's silly, but when I can't meet with him, I feel like I've missed an important conversation that keeps me focused on the task at hand - right now. Not looking back or trying to see too far ahead, but right here in the present.

I believe my task right now is best described in Proverbs 27:17 "As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another." We are running to win, we can't look left, right... or back.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Home Sweet Home.

It flew by, but today marks one week since we've been in College Station. In that time I've experienced - or should I say re-experienced all sorts of firsts with my home town. 

1) People here are just NICE. Like really nice! I've had so many sweet ladies tell me how precious my kids are and that they'd keep them if I ever needed it - ha! If someone told me that in Dallas I would've called the cops. But that's the thing, nobody really did because they knew you'd call the cops. Sheesh! Loosen up people and tell a stressed out mom her babies are cute! Sometimes that's all she's got to hold on to because they drive her batty crazy! 

2) I love my house. God picked the best house for us. We thank him everyday for how he worked this out. We had it painted top to bottom before we moved in and let me tell you that made all the difference. It's so fresh, our stuff fit right in and looks great and we have more room but not an overwhelming amount of room, just enough room to grow. We love that one of the cutest parks in town in just four houses down from us. We go nearly everyday! Our neighbors are so nice and there's lots of kids in the neighborhood - praise GOD because that means there's lots of moms who are nice to chat with as well. 

3) My HEB is amazing. It's got lots of Central Market pretty and the HEB prices and it's a rock throw from my house AND since I went at 8:30 a.m. the sweet gal who bagged my groceries offered to help me out. I was hauling Lydie around because Jack was smooshing her when she was in the basket so I gladly accepted. By the time I'd finished buckling both kids, she'd finished unloading my groceries and had waved goodbye! Thank you ma'am!

4) Cool stuff happens here. Just last night I sat right smack in the middle of a crowd of well over 1,500 people to listen to Dr. Ben Carson speak on the beauty, complexity and gift of life. My dad happens to be on the board of Hope Pregnancy Center which happens to be the philanthropy of Aggie Sisters for Christ who sponsored the fundraising event. Did you know this community can say that one year ago we HAD a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic? But through "peaceful and prayerful means" (thank you Dr. Haywood Robinson for that description) it SHUT. DOWN. Not before providing 8,000 life ending (for the baby) and life altering (for the mother) abortions though - but no more. Now we have agencies like HOPE that new parents can go to for healing, hope and help. Thank you B/CS, Dr. Robinson and Dr. Carson for renewing my zeal for the importance and sacredness of LIFE. Jesus truly does heal all hurts.

5) My family is here. And it's awesome. Patrick's parents babysat for us last night so we could hear Dr. Carson's talk. My cousin's wife and sons came over for a playdate today - we've NEVER done that! And my mom and dad, two brothers and two grandmothers and all my aunts and uncles but one are here. Patrick's parents, brother and sister and her family are all here and many of his aunts and uncles and cousins. Mom is going to be keeping Lydie one day a week for me while I work and Jack goes to MDO! My MOM is going to keep my daughter... that just boggles my mind. Mostly because I know how awesome my mom is and also because she doesn't charge me - I won't hemorrhage money to sitters anymore! Maybe a little but not nearly as much. 

6) We love our church. I grew up at Grace Bible Church on Anderson. BUT we tried Grace's Southwood campus which is over near A&M Consol and absolutely loved it! We knew people, loved the worship time, Blake Jennings the preacher did an awesome job, both kids did GREAT at Sunday School and the couple who did our marriage counseling just happened to sit catty corner from us during the service so we got to reconnect with them after all these 12 years. So special. 

So while we are still adjusting, with every box that is unpacked and every normal activity that comes and goes, it really does feel like home sweet home. I often wonder what my grandfathers would've thought, what Patrick's grandfathers, and one in particular (Jack) would've thought. Sometimes I get the feeling they know, they just have to. There really is no place like home. 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Settling In - Life and Work

Wednesday the trucks came and unloaded all of our stuff. It went so fast and thanks to the helping hands of my Aunt Julie, cousin Kay and Patrick's dad Wayne (even though it was his birthday!) we made an incredible amount of progress. Mom and Dad kept the kiddos all day so we could work and worked we did. We went back to my mom's for another night there after a quick family bday dinner for Wayne at the Koenning house. Patrick and I worked another three hours or so that night and landed in bed around midnight. Thursday we did a little more but were ready to get our family in one spot and after mom helped me get my china cabinet put up Patrick brought the kids over. 

Jack's room was set up so cute and even had a little "Jack's Room" sign on the door which he LOVES. He really loves his room. He was so excited about it. We have a little room/closet under the stairs which we've named the "clubhouse." It's basically a toy room that is perfect toddler size and Jack and Lydie have enjoyed playing in there and dragging toys out to the living room and I just put them back and shut the door after bedtime! 

I knew with Lydie it wasn't going to matter where we were. She's at the age that as long as she has mama and Jack (and dada can come too) she's fine, she's home. But Jack... he's still adjusting. He's even been running a smidge of fever the last 24 hours. I think so much change, a new place, today at church he had a new class of kids, it's been a lot. His preschool teacher came for a home visit on Friday and read him a book about school, it was cute and he did so well. But we think he's missing our old house, his friends, everything he knew. It makes me sad that we couldn't give him that consistency of "place" you're told as a parent is so important. But I know he'll adjust and more importantly I know it's right. We are doing what God asked of us and therefore it is what is right for Jack, even though what we had was right too. It was just time. *sigh* 

Patrick starts at Gilmore tomorrow. He's kind of getting his sea legs back for a few weeks before he jumps in. I think that's smart. We're praying for some good help to come along as they get more work and decisions regarding rebranding. It's exciting and I'm so proud of him but it's a little nerve wracking to be at the point that all of this stuff we prayed about is actually here and happening. I haven't mentioned this yet, but I'm going back to work for my first boss. Yep, my first job out of college was in marketing at David Gardner's. David and Julia have long been like family and mentors to me and I'm so honored to be able to go back and work with them part time doing what I love. Heck I even worked an event at the store Friday night! Talk about jitters! But before long I'd gotten my sea legs back and it was great. Being able to work with them really makes home seem like home. I'm so thankful. God didn't leave any stone unturned and here we are starting this new chapter. 

We miss our friends, we miss people knowing our story and not having to start from the beginning, but we are happy. And mostly, we're thankful, we praise the Lord for his continued goodness and we surrender to his calling. Months ago we said, "Here we are, what would you have of us?" and now here we are. He is faithful. He is loving and He. Is. Worth it.