Thursday, January 23, 2014

Joy Experienced!

I've experienced a change, and it's a change in the very core of how I've always defined myself.

My generation has spent countless time and hours trying to label us all and everyone around us, including our own children, to help us understand ourselves and each other better.  We've taken numerous assessments--learning style, leadership style, personality type, birth order, love language, spiritual gifts--the list could go on and on, and quite frankly, most people I meet typically know themselves pretty well, and based on all this information people like to think they know each other and their children pretty well also.

Yet, God is God (Exodus 3:14) because we will never be able to understand him completely. (Isaiah 55:8)  We will never be able to know Him enough.  We can never put Him in a box of our own design and definition of who He is.  And if we could, then He would cease to be God, so it blows my mind that any of us would ever dare to think we've finally got it all figured out, that we know God.  And yet, don't we all come to a place in life where we think we know, only for God to turn us on our head and say, "Nope.  You don't."

And I find that's where I am in this moving journey, sitting at the feet of my Lord, trusting Him, and to be honest, I'm not sure I've ever really done that before.  Not completely.

No, my type-A, administrative, visual, first born, quality-time self has spent most of my life in a state of stress.  I've felt it since I was a child.  My teachers were plagued by my tears in class from first grade on when I would inevitably lose control of my emotions over something that was too difficult for me in the moment, something I hadn't been prepared for, something that wasn't perfect, or something that was out of my control. Seriously, I can remember being barely able to hold back tears in front of my college chemistry professor as I struggled to understand the concept of a mole. Making mistakes has never been an option for me, and when I make them, I beat myself up and try harder and practice more and make sure to cover all my bases until it doesn't happen again, to ensure it doesn't happen again.  Needless to say, I've worked hard and excelled, but the amount of joy I've experienced along the way compared to the amount of stress has always been completely out of balance.

God's been working on me for a long time to set those scales in balance.

And maybe at the age of 33, I'm finally to a point where He can get through to me a little because I can actually look back over the past two years and see Him move in my life, working the whole time to get me to this point where I will trust Him only. Completely.  Let me give you a recent example...

Moving to California is mind-blowing to me.  It seems like a huge elephant of a task that we are taking down one bite at a time, and for me, this means laying it all out at the feet of God and trusting Him completely in the moments when I am overwhelmed and paralyzed by the thoughts of the journey ahead.  For me, choosing schools for my children for the 2014-2015 school year has been on the top of my priorities list--before selling our house or trying to find a new one out there, I needed to find quality schools for my kids.  (Because let's face it, for me, a kindergarten public school class size of 35 with no paraprofessional just wasn't an option.  Just sayin'.)

After researching dozens of schools and touring a handful, we narrowed it down to one.  One school. One school that we prayed and felt was the best fit.  One. Now for me, the idea of one automatically means that leaves no room for mistakes on my part.  Deciding to apply to one school leaves no room for me to have missed God's direction in the midst of my own selfish desires.  It leaves no room for a plan B.  It doesn't give me a back-up plan if for some reason this one school doesn't accept us. Applying to one school is simply something I never would have done in the past.

No, in the past, I would have covered all my bases.  I would have applied to at least three schools just to be on the safe side, just to make sure I wasn't in a panic in the face of an application deadline.  And then if our first choice didn't accept us, I would sigh, giving myself a little pat on the back for being so on top of things, and chalk it up to, 'God must have wanted a different school for us.'  This gives you a glimpse of how I've learned to manage my stress level in my own flesh.  It is more costly from a financial and time standpoint, but to me, it's always worth it if I don't have to stress, if I have a plan B. (Writing this I am just now seeing the folly of that thinking because quite honestly taking the extra steps to manage future stress is stressful!)

So now, in steps God, finally able to get my attention after a long humbling process that has been a cycle in my life for years and years, and this time I find myself hearing Him tell me to apply to one school.  Just one.  So I apply to one school. And then I spend the next month handing this decision back over to Him, over and over and over and over again--in my head--letting go of every desire I have to follow through with other schools just in case.  Because that's all they are, MY desires.  Not the Lord's.  I'm battling the fear that I've made a mistake, that my choice isn't the right one.  But God is the One who said apply to just one school, and even if I did hear Him wrong, blinded by my own desires for this one school, I have to believe, He will work it out for me.

I have to quit fearing that I'm going to miss God.

Because to be honest, even in the times when I look back on my life, and I see where I think I missed God's direction, where I chose what I wanted at the time instead of what He was leading me to do, even in those moments, I can still see how He wove the lessons that followed into my story.  So if that's the case, if that's how it turns out, I'm not sure we actually ever "miss" God's leading, we just end up missing a blessing of His choosing at that time in that journey in exchange for another blessing at the end of the lessons and path we have to take when we choose to do things our way.  (Because ultimately His will will be accomplished--anyone learned that the hard way yet?)  And I'm seeing now that while my selfish choices do get worked to His glory and my blessing in the end, the path you have to take to get there really isn't all that fun; however, if I choose the path He directs me to the first time, even if it doesn't look fun or easy or quite what I had in mind, if I choose to follow Him down His path the first time, His presence makes all the hard parts bearable because there's no broken fellowship over my selfish choices, and His strength brings joy in the midst of trial instead of exhaustion and misery when I choose to do things my way.  His way makes all the difference!

Ultimately, either way, God wins.  He gets the glory.  The difference is when I trust Him completely, He fills me fully.  There's no room to doubt myself because I didn't do anything.  I didn't cover any extra bases.  I didn't stress over any details.  I didn't do anything except the one thing God asked me to do, and in the meantime, I get to rest in Him, letting go of worries, anxieties, and "what ifs".  I get to cast all my cares on Him. (1 Peter 5:7)  I get to forgive myself for worrying and second guessing and doubting. I get to tell the devil to go take a hike every time his lies encroach on God's truth for my life. And even though all these things are daily battles in my mind, ultimately, I keep coming back to the final outcome is one that rests in the Lord's hands because I'm trusting Him. (1 John 5:4)  No matter what.  I'm trusting Him.  If the door shuts on that one path I thought He pointed me down, then I will turn back to Him in prayer and ask, seek, and knock until the next door opens, and I will trust Him to be all that I need. (Matthew 7:7-8)

And the outcome?  PEACE!  JOY! FREEDOM!  No stress.  No fear.  No limitations because with my God all things are possible! (Matthew 19:26)

And when I get an email, a whole month ahead of schedule, before the school interview even takes place, telling me that my daughter has been accepted into the ONE school we applied to, when I get that email, then what happens?

JOY!  Unspeakable, irrational, overwhelming, let-me-shout-it-from-the-rooftops, let me tell every person I know about my God, my Jesus, my Lord who is faithful to His children (1 Thessalonians 5:24), Who gives good gifts in abundance (2 Corinthians 9:8), Who rewards those who have faith (Hebrews 11:6b), Who is bigger than any plans I could ever dream (Proverbs 16:9)!!!!  Praise be to HIS NAME ALONE!!!!!  I can't even pat myself on the back for this all.  The only thing I did was do the one thing He asked me to do, so it was His idea, not mine.

For once in my life, I didn't add anything of me or mine to God's plan.  And the outcome has been pure, unadulterated Joy!  With no stress, just peace!  Imagine that.  Imagine that God actually does do and act exactly the way He says He will.  Oh we of little faith!  How jaded we are by the sinful world that surrounds us.  How limited we are in our thinking that our only point of reference for a relationship with the Lord is our relationships with other sinful humans.  So very thankful God is So. Much. Higher.

It's taken me 33 years of a stressed-out life to realize the importance of this moment, and I'm not foolish enough to think I won't make the same mistakes again in the future, but for this moment, for this moment I want to raise my Ebenezer (1 Samuel 7:12) in remembrance of what God has done and is doing in my life.  I want this blog to be a stone of remembrance to bring me back to the day my God asked me to strike the rock ONE time and the water flowed, instead of striking it twice out of my own frustration, need for control, or disbelief. (Exodus 17:6 vs. Numbers 20:11)

Trust Him.  Trust Him no matter the circumstance.  Trust Him no matter the outcome.  Stop expecting God to be what you think He should be--our minds are so small.  Trust Him to blow our minds completely because that's exactly what He will do because that's the truth of who He is! (Isaiah 55:9)  After all, He is God.  And when He blows up the box you've put Him in and does something extraordinary that only God can do, make sure He gets ALL the credit and all the glory and all the lip service His God-ways deserve because I'm counting on the fact when He receives all the credit and all the glory that He will continue to show up again and again and again.

Yep, I'm counting on that because there's so many more big decisions that I need to trust Him with coming my way, but if anyone deserves all the attention, it's definitely Him and not me=)

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Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Happy Birthday!

She would have turned 20 years old today, and I'm sorry, but the world hasn't gotten any brighter since she left.  I keep waiting for it to.  Part of me keeps waiting for her to burst through my front door also, but it's never going to happen.  I trust the Lord that gradually my world will get a little brighter again without her, but right now, if it's happening, it's kinda like watching a plant grow--the increments of brightness are too small to see.  Happening!  But too small to see.

Forgive me if I ruin this song for someone, but every time I hear the song If I Die Young by The Band Perry, I start belting it out with tears running down my face as if it was her anthem.  And I smile every time the line in the song sings, "I've had just enough time."  Because I think she'd agree, she had just enough time to experience the loves and the joys of this life, but now it all pales in comparison to where she's dancing and loving now.

Honestly, I'm a bit jealous.  Not to say that life is all downhill after your twenties, not at all, but the first quarter she lived definitely has many of the good highs, lots of fond memories, and it was filled with fun.  No, I know she didn't want to go, but I think she'd agree she had "just enough time."

Happy Birthday beautiful girl!  Beautiful friend.  This is all the words I have today.  I'm tapped out.  Could sure use one of your hugs.  I'd settle for just hearing you laugh.  But I'll have to hold on to the hope that I will see you again.  One day.  When the good Lord is done wringing me out and using me for His purposes, I'm gonna come looking for you, and you better have plenty of stories to tell me because we will have a lifetime of catching up to do.

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Saturday, January 4, 2014

The Path to Joy

Grief by definition is keen mental suffering or distress over affliction or loss; sharp sorrow; painful regret.  This is the noun or being state of the word.  To grieve or the process of grieving is the action or verb form meaning you FEEL all of those things.

You FEEL keen mental suffering--like just the idea of leaving the house where your babies were born and life has formed and moved and thrived--makes you physically wince, stomach turn and heart ache.

You FEEL keen mental distress--like the idea of leaving your in-laws behind who just recently moved 10 minutes away from you, so they could see you more--makes your head want to split open and explode.

You FEEL afflicted like when it seems you are pulling away from those you love and it appears they are pulling away from you.  My mind is afflicted with the daily, minute by minute, moment by moment battles with lies from the way life is perceived sometimes.

You FEEL loss, keenly.  I have fully counted the cost on a moment by moment basis, of what it means to leave this home of mine behind.  I am aware of every moment of laughter, time spent with family and friends and small cousins, future events, etc. that we are leaving behind here in GA.  Believe me, my friends, I have spent many sleepless, restless nights counting the cost. (Luke 14:25-33)

You FEEL sharp sorrow.  Like I could physically walk around crying all the time.  I really could.  By the grace of God alone and the hope He alone provides, I don't, but I could.  And let me assure you all, that just because I don't show it on the outside doesn't mean it's not screaming on the inside.  The sorrow is real, and it is sharp.

I FEEL painful regret over what might could have been here had we chose to stay, over the relationships that could have formed, over the time that could have been spent.

And it's not just the move that's coming up, my friends.  When I sat down to write the Christmas letter for 2013, I realized that I have spent almost an entire year or two grieving.

Because you don't just grieve over the death of people. You grieve the death of dreams, the death of ideas about life, the death of hopes for the future, the loss of time, the loss of money, the loss of goals. People grieve for many, many deeply personal reasons over deaths and losses and changes of many things.

You grieve the process of aging.  When my back went out for three months the first of last year, I couldn't move without pain. God provided excellent therapists, and I did what they told me to do even when I didn't feel like it, but I grieved the loss of some physical motion.  I grieved the reality that as I continue to age, their will continue to be loss in this area.

I still grieve the loss of my sweet friend, sister, daughter in Christ.  There's not a day that goes by I don't think of her.

I grieve, mentally distressed, often by the way life has turned out sometimes.  Expectations really are a beast of an enemy.  You grow up your whole life thinking your life should look and feel and act a certain way, and when those expectations are killed one. after. the. other. you start to feel very defeated.

So to move on, you have to grieve the death of those expectations.  Let go of your ideas of how relationships are suppose to work, of how other people are suppose to act, of how life is suppose to function.  You have to LET. IT. ALL. GO.

Because you know what the opposite of grief is?  Funny, when I looked it up, most words have several words listed as antonyms, but the word grief?  It's one antonym was JOY.

And it made me smile from ear to ear.  Because I have been living in the depths of the process of grieving over everything.  Everything my friends!  Last birthdays with family, last Thanksgiving in Georgia, lasts of this, lasts of that--everything is winding down in a rapid yet painfully slow bundle of moments that need to be stored up and deeply treasured and held onto for safe memory-keeping, and oh my friends, it is exhausting and exhilarating all at the same time so much so that this run-on sentence should have you as out of breath as I am!

But oh, when I was in California for 48 hours right before Christmas, oh the JOY!  You see because on the other side of grief, if you will muddle through the process, if you will hold onto the hope of Christ alone (1 Timothy 1:1)--oh my friends!  The opposite of grief is JOY!

I have been in desperate search of joy, and let me tell you something it's not in California.  No, what I feel when I'm walking those beaches, driving those mountains, searching for my community out there--what I feel is joy because that's where God wants my family to be.  Period.  And that Joy gives me the strength to do what needs to be done (Nehemiah 8:10).

Oh, His presence is here in Georgia with me now, every day, and in His presence alone is pure joy; I've been doing some reading, and there's really no other way to experience joy except through the presence of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13).  So why am I not living every day with that joy?  That's a good question.
For me, I think the circumstances of my life here for MANY reasons, complicate my thoughts.  I can't get free. I can't get out of my own head.  I'm daily battling those expectations I mentioned earlier of myself and others.  It's been a daily battle for a few years now.  I think I'm losing.  And that has to do with me, not my God.  I keep choosing other things, other people over Him, and I know He knows what's best for me, and I don't want to presume I know what God is thinking, but I think He knows I won't ever stop grieving if I don't get away.  If I don't leave, if I don't remove myself, if I can't get far enough away for a long enough period of time to just let it all go--I think He knows I'm gonna drown inside my own head.

And if you find yourself living in a process of grief, I'd say the same goes for you as well.  You don't have to move to California, but you do have to find a way to get away, to separate, remove yourself from the circumstances, the situation, the people.  You have to allow yourself the space to figure out how to let go.

And I think this is hardest for the people around you.

Because what this looks like to those around you is you're pulling away, you're making different choices with your priorities. You may stop doing certain things you've always done in the past, you may stop seeing certain people you've always hung out with before.  You appear to be shunning the people you love most.  You may seem distant or distracted or apathetic because you are mentally, physically, or spiritually or all of the above choosing to leave, remove, and let go.  You are working through the grief. And this simply takes time.  Alone.

But we aren't alone very much anymore are we?  We stalk Facebook, watch TV, listen to music, surround ourselves with ministries and activities and family and friends.  Anything to make us not feel so alone, yet to be alone, completely alone is exactly what we need to move on, to process, to hear God.  All of these good things can actually hinder the grieving process if we're surrounding ourselves with them outside of God's calling, if we're doing them for the sole reason of not being alone.  Inside God's calling, they can help heal, but otherwise, I'm of the tendency to believe they are joy-stealers, time fillers--something to distract us from the needed process of grieving. Just a thought....I digress...

So for those of you who know someone who is grieving, love them through the distancing.  Realize they are processing even if they don't know they're processing.  Accept them for who they are in the situation they are in, and point them to the joy on the other side of the grief.  They don't need to feel your distance too because they already know they are the cause of their own isolation.  They don't blame you for not wanting to be around them, but they feel the lack of your presence in their lives just the same.  Just one more thing to grieve.

People grieve all the time for many different reasons, so it wouldn't be uncommon to find yourself in a situation where you are in a group of people where everyone is grieving for one reason or another. Grieving people have a hard time comforting others.  So this situation is just hard.  Period.  Give each other a double portion of grace.  Give each other the benefit of the doubt.  Give each other more good will than you may each deserve. Assume nothing--ever.  Give a wide berth for flexibility, hurt feelings, and the meeting of needs.  Stop expecting anything of anyone.  They're grieving too.

And for you, the one grieving, keep letting go.  Don't give up.  I know it's hard and painful and difficult.  But when you stop letting go, you begin to hold on and that breeds nothing but anger, contempt, and bitterness. Do you know an angry, bitter person? They stopped letting go of something at some point in their life and decided it was better if they just held onto it for a while.  To get to the joy on the other side of the grief, you have to LET GO.

And here's the thing, you're letting go of pain and hurt and affliction and sorrow and regret!  Who wants to keep those?  You're letting go, and then you're letting God fill in all the holes they leave behind.  Have you ever seen an empty shell of a person?  Someone with no life in their eyes?  With no goals, no purpose, no meaning?  That's a person who has grieved, but never let God fill in the holes.

If you don't let the Holy Spirit fill in the holes, you will NEVER experience joy.

And I WANT JOY!  Oh, how I have been longing for joy!  To be rid of the shadows that lurk in the corners of my mind, to be rid of wondering if someone is going to get their feelings hurt over this, to be done battling over why my feelings shouldn't get hurt over that.  No, I want all of that gone, and I think the Lord knows I will find a freedom I have never known in California.

Oh, I'm not naive.  Life will catch back up to me.  Because there is always a time to mourn and a time to dance (Ecclesiastes 3:4).  Life is a crazy roller coaster of a balancing act.  But if you see me blow up my Instagram, Twitter, and/or Facebook feed with all the wonderful things about California, please don't take it personally.  Please be happy for me because for the first time in a very long time, when I am walking that shoreline, I am free, and I don't have one single other thought in the whole wide world other than, 'Look at this beautiful world God has made just for me.'  Not one. other. thought.

To my little brother who inadvertently requested this blog=), I will miss you.  I have been missing you.  I have been grieving everyone and everything and life in general for quite some time.  But joy comes in the morning (Psalm 30:5), and for me, that sunrise is on a different coast.  I need to focus on that.  I need to live in the Hope of that Joy.  It's what keeps me smiling when you see me.  It comes from Christ alone.  So if I seem ok to you, I hope you know you're seeing Jesus because that's simply the only Good thing inside of me to see these days. ....Huh.  Truthfully, He's the only Good you see in me on any given day.

And for those of you who God has seen fit to leave you right where you are to deal with your grief, I encourage you to follow the path He's going to open that allows you to escape, to leave, to remove, to be set apart for just a time, maybe just a short season or maybe a long one. He will provide a way of escape (1 Corinthians 10:13) when the temptation to wallow in grief becomes too great, but you have to be looking, and you have to trust Him because it's probably going to feel scary. It may come in a form you could never imagine.  So pray hard, search the scriptures, open your eyes and heart to new possibilities.  Dream big!  The question is will you trust Him enough to follow Him in His way out of the grief?  Because there's joy at the end of that path, my friend!  There is joy!  I can see it and feel it already!

Psalm 16:11
You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.

Be encouraged today that Christ is the fullness of Joy!  Anyone searching for it can find it fully in Him. His paths and His ways alone.  Grieving is only a season of life.  It's an emotion that must be processed and put behind you, not put in control of you.  This too shall pass if you let go.  Follow the process through.  Do the hard thing of being in the process; see it through.  Then enjoy resting in the arms of the King of the process.  Because the opposite of grief is joy.  By definition joy cannot exist in the the presence of grief and vice versa.  One must be absent for the other to exist, and grief doesn't just disappear overnight.

What are you grieving?

Be alone with God and see it through.  He alone is the Fullness of Joy.

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Thursday, January 2, 2014

Christmas Letter 2013

post signatureSo this year I tried to cut down on the number of cards I sent out, but with large families and an even larger pool of work folks for Joey--that didn't happen:(  However, some of you who may have always received one in the past got dropped this year, and I apologize.  I guess that's life.  No offense was meant, and if you sent us a card, I tried to send one back to you as well, so without further it is:

Merry Christmas (And now Happy New Year) Family & Friends!                                                           

Ah, 2013.  You have been a year for the books, yet coming to the end of it all, I feel so at peace and full of joy, expectant for the year to come.  Strange, considering I began the year with three months of intensive physical therapy because my back went out shortly after I mailed last year’s letter.   Happy to report I was back up and running the Gobble Jog with Joey for the 4th year in a row this Thanksgiving!   

The month of April was good, but it was followed by May bringing only pain in the loss of our beloved babysitter of five years.  I had known her since she was 12 years old, and she was an intimate part of our family.  At the too-early age of 19, God called her home.  Her death still haunts the corners of our days.  I have grieved the closest thing I ever want to feel to losing a child this year.  Our Savannah has mourned her passing so deeply and tenderly.  This still casts a shadow over our lives as a family, and only time continues to let in the Light of God’s hope and comfort.

In the midst of the grieving though, we did have one of the best family vacations ever in June—such a sweet time of healing with family, only to be followed by an unexpected foot surgery for me and two small surgeries for Savannah in which infections had to be lanced.

Uneventful is NOT how you would describe our year.

The fall season brought us many firsts as well: a new future sister-in-love, (Congrats to my little brother Mark on his engagement!), both kids playing soccer for the first time (hilarious!), the schedule of a Kindergartner and a 4K preschooler, two new nieces, a nephew and a “niece”-cousin, and Upward basketball and cheerleading to boot.  Life has been busy, yet so good.

Thankfully, Weston and Joey both stayed well with no major bumps in the road to report.  Weston did have his tonsils removed in March, but the relief it has brought him was totally worth it.  He turned four in August, and he couldn’t be more witty or charming or sweet boy.  He definitely made the transition from toddler to little boy this year, and we couldn’t be more proud of how well he’s learning and maturing.   His thoughtfulness and laughter add a warmth to our days that is so needed.

Savannah turned six in October! (Where does the time go?!)  She couldn’t be more smart or loving or exuberant for life in all her pent-up enthusiasm for everything.  Starting Kindergarten at Midway Covenant Christian has been as natural for her as I always thought it would be.  She loves school as much as she loves everything else in life, and she has definitely inherited the Bounds family trait of being good at whatever she sets her mind to do.  She lost her first two teeth and learned how to swim and ride a bike on her own this year.  I caught a glimpse of her lounging in the back seat of the car today, and my heart ached at how grown up she looks.  Such sweet joy.

Joey worked with a new market this year as a financial consultant and still loves his new life as a corporate employee.  His travel schedule has become more routine for our family, and we thoroughly enjoy having him all to ourselves on the weekends=)

But the biggest announcement for this year was only a pipe dream this time last year, and it wasn’t even on our radar until the end of May, but God has been working in our lives as a family, and we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that moving to California in July of 2014 is completely and assuredly His will for our lives and our family.  We could not be more excited!!!!

This was a surprisingly easy decision to make, but only at the end of a yearlong process and journey God took our family through. Ultimately, God has been teaching us what it means to trust Him, how to trust Him.  He showed me through the study of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph that nothing is too big for Him to dream for my family or me. Then He showed me that He, Creator God, would give our family a big dream that He would fulfill in His time, in His way, for His glory.  And we started to get excited!  The dream that God plants in your heart is so much more exciting than anything you can imagine dreaming yourself, and living in the knowledge that we are exactly in the middle of God’s will for our lives is a very freeing and safe place to be.  Trusting God and following His plan for our lives is worth the sacrifices we have and will make with this move.  There’s just no words to describe other than all the glory that may come from our lives goes to a Great God who is truly Good to us in every way.

Yes, the yearlong transition stage is not fun, and it is hard emotionally for our family here in Georgia and for us. There are moments of deep sadness when we think about what we will be leaving behind for the years to come, but those thoughts are quickly followed by all the hope for what these years will hold for our family during this journey and adventure together as well.  We cannot express how deeply God completely fills us in the fulfillment of this decision!  We simply cannot wait to get going!

But in the meantime, we are here, serving faithfully where called, ministering as needed, training up two beautiful children (inside & out), and resting in the peace of knowing God is going to work out every detail to get us to California in His way, in His timing.  For those who know me, it is strange to find myself so completely at peace in having no idea what is going to happen next—my heart and my God just assure me it’s going to be good=)

So we ask that you please support us with your prayers.  Pray for God’s will for the right school choices in California for our kids, pray for Joey as he takes on a slightly more challenging role in his job with this move, pray for his and our safety as we travel often between east and west coast between now and then, pray for our family as we continue to weather the waves of grief that inevitably ebb and flow in and out of our days for so many reasons, and pray for me that God would keep my eyes lifted to Him in the hard moments of this transition.

And for yourself and your family this Christmas season, I pray this letter encourages you to put all your faith in our Lord Jesus Christ and His plan for your life.  I pray it challenges you to take the leap of faith and step out into the unknown when God calls you to do something that just sounds absolutely absurd, regardless of what others may think or say or how they might react.   Trust God my friends!  It doesn’t make one bit of logical sense sometimes, but we are having the time of our lives on the days when we can really live in the Spirit of that trust.  May trusting in the God who set the world in motion with just His words bring you to a place of safe haven this season as well.

This verse has been my hope and stay this year; I pray it could be yours also:
“Trust in Him at all times, (your name here); pour out your heart to Him,
for God is your refuge.” Psalm 62:8

Wishing you and your family all the blessings of this Christmas season.  May the reminder of His perfect gift to us in the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ spur you on in faith that He is the Giver of all good gifts and big dreams!  
Trust and obey/ for there’s no other way/ to be happy in Jesus/ but to trust and obey. –John H. Sammis

Trusting Him,
 Joey,  Jennifer, Savannah, & Weston