Sunday, April 26, 2015

You Make Me Brave

As I mentioned in a previous post, God has used our circumstances from the past year to prepare us for a ministry opportunity at our church. God has been preparing me but that doesn’t mean that the enemy doesn’t still try to creep in and place fears and doubts in my mind. I am human and stepping outside of my comfort zone is a difficult thing. I know that God has to get me out of my comfort zone in order to help me grow, because only then I am forced to rely on him and he is able to work through me.

I have always been comfortable working with children. They are precious and they don’t judge you. They love unconditionally and speak their mind. They don’t hold grudges or talk about you behind your back. If they are mad at you, they tell you. If they want to be your friend, they just ask. You get my point. Us adults? Well we are a little more complicated. That’s why when Andrew told me he felt God calling us to be involved in some type of ministry with couples our age, I was a little hesitant. I tried to convince him that they probably needed help in the children’s ministry at our church and that we should check into it. He was pretty adamant that he felt God’s call to work with young couples. He reminded me that sometimes it’s good to be out of our comfort zone (he knows how much I love working with kids). And so I agreed to pray about it.

Andrew recently got a call from a pastor that he knows at another local church asking us to pray about working with their youth group. I could handle that, I thought. Leaving our church would be hard but if God was calling us to work with youth, that would be awesome! Deep down they really are just big kids. (I am just walking you through my thought process here. My self-centeredness was still in full force as I was hoping to avoid the one area of ministry I feel the least equipped for. I’m not professing that these were very “spiritual” thoughts at this point). But after talking to the pastor about the opportunity, Andrew told him that he strongly felt God calling him to work with couples our age. The pastor was very encouraging and told Andrew that he would be praying with him about where God was leading us.

Since before we were married, Andrew and I have been involved in a Nearly/Newly Married Lifegroup (Sunday School) at our church. We have been ministered to by some awesome teachers and this has allowed us to develop relationships with other couples in our church who are going through a similar phase of life. So in thinking about ministry with couples our age we had thought about continuing to participate in this class and maybe start another Bible study for young married or un-married couples. We would open it up to anyone, even outside of our church. We felt peace about this but were still praying about how it would all play out. And then two weeks ago one of our teachers from the Lifegroup we are in now approached Andrew and asked if he had ever thought about teaching. They were wanting to step down from teaching our class and asked if we would be willing to take it over. Wow! We were immediately sure that this had been God’s plan all along and the promptings of the Holy Spirit that had been placed on Andrew's heart. And I was glad Andrew had been talking to me about this for the past few months because I have had time to pray about it and God has had time to work on me and my willingness to step outside of my comfort zone. 

We are so completely humbled and in awe of God’s willingness to use us. As I said earlier, I feel so unequipped in this area. So it does not surprise me at all that this would be where God is calling us. God tends to use our weak areas because only when we are weak do we allow him to fully take control and work through us. A verse comes to mind. “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”  2 Corinthians 12:9 

I know that God is faithful and we have already seen him moving in our small group. I see it in the spiritual gift of teaching that he has blessed Andrew with, the willingness of others to help us lead and the relationships that we have developed with others in the class as we do life together. Our vision for this class is to create a sense of community where people our age can come together and invest in each other's lives and encourage each other's spiritual growth. As proverbs says, "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another."

As I was praying about all of this yesterday I heard a song on the radio that resonated so deeply with me. It is called “You Make Me Brave” by Amanda Cook & Bethel Music. The lyrics to this song are just so beautiful and have already begun to encourage me as we begin this next season. 

“I stand before You now
The greatness of your renown
I have heard of the majesty and wonder of you
King of Heaven, in humility, I bow

As your love, in wave after wave
Crashes over me, crashes over me
For You are for us
You are not against us
Champion of Heaven
You made a way for all to enter in

I have heard You calling my name
I have heard the song of love that You sing
So I will let You draw me out beyond the shore into your grace

You make me brave
You make me brave
You call me out beyond the shore into the waves
No fear can hinder now the love that made a way

You make me brave
You make me brave
You call me out beyond the shore into the waves
No fear can hinder now the promises you made

You make me brave
You make me brave
No fear can hinder now the promises you made"

Please be in prayer with us as we begin this journey. If you are in our area and would like more information about our class please feel free to contact me at We would love for you to join us as we learn and grow together!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Difference a Year Makes... A New Season

Last March, Andrew and I began a different kind of season in our marriage. I almost used the word difficult, but in retrospect, although it was difficult at times, that’s not what stands out the most. It was one of those seasons that changes us for the better even if we can’t see it at the time. It was a season of growth.
Early last year Andrew was asked to manage a job for his company which would require him to be gone out of town for the majority of the time. He would get to come home on most weekends, for which I was so grateful, and we knew it would last up to a year. { I want to stop here with a quick disclaimer: I realize that there are couples and families who are separated for longer than this and don’t have opportunities to even spend weekends together. I know that our situation could have been much harder. This post is simply about our specific situation and what we learned from it.}

I went through a period of denial at first as I didn’t want to think about spending most of our second year of marriage apart. But then there was the fact that a camper was parked in our driveway and the next thing I knew we were putting sheets on the bed and adding picture frames here and there to try and make it as home-y for him as we could. It was no longer possible to ignore the fact that he was really going.

I processed it the best way I knew how but that first Monday morning getting ready for work after he left around 3 a.m. was hard. I was just going through the motions and wishing the day away. I wish I could say that I handled it really well, but in reality I had myself a big ‘ol pity party. I tried to keep the perspective that it could be much worse, but honestly it just stunk. It was just one of things that at the time I didn’t understand how anything good could come from it and I didn’t think it was fair that we were having to put our marriage on hold for his job. You can say I was just a little spoiled and self-centered. But then, the weekends starting coming around quicker than I realized and we spent incredible quality time together and didn’t waste a precious second. And the weeks turned in to months and we got into a routine that worked for us.  

Although I still missed him terribly, I learned how to make the most of my time. I got involved in a girl’s bible study group, joined a mentorship program at our church, ramped up my quiet devotional time – which were all opportunities for spiritual growth that I could have done, but probably wouldn’t have had as much time for if Andrew had been home in the evenings. I also hadn’t expected how much we would grow together during this time. Yes, I knew that we would survive it – but growth? I had only thought of what would have to sacrifice, not what we would gain. But God has an awesome way of using the tougher parts of our lives to shape and mold us. We grew as a couple because we depended on each other and knew no one else understood what we were going through. We prayed together on Sunday nights and we trusted God to protect us. We prayed for physical safety as well as the health of our marriage. We prayed for God to use us where he had placed us and trusted that it was for a reason.

Well, it’s been a little over a year since that first early morning good-bye. We are settling into a new routine with Andrew able to be home most of the time now. We look back and can’t believe how much we have grown this past year. A lot has changed but a lot has stayed the same too. We are so thankful for an ordinary night together – of coming home and just cooking dinner or sitting on the back porch and getting to have face-to-face conversations about our day. We are now getting to see how God was working all along. How he was shaping both of us individually and teaching us to depend on him in preparation for what would come. It is amazing how God works. He can use everything for his good. We have been praying about how God would use us – use our marriage for his kingdom.  And just as always, God’s timing is perfect. We have just been offered an awesome ministry opportunity that I will write more about later. I can’t wait to share how God orchestrated it in his perfect plan. 

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  Romans 8:28

This time last year I could not have imagined where we would be right now. I am so thankful that God was able to take my self-pity and turn it into something good. To take my loneliness and turn it into spiritual growth. To take my fears and give me peace in its place. It is a continual process and I still struggle with these, but God uses the past to remind me of what He can do. I’m so thankful that he doesn’t give up on me. I am excited to see where God takes us and how he uses us in this next season!