Day Eight…Faithfulness…My Favorite Marriage Subject!

3 Oct

Day 8 of the 30-Day husband challenge is all about being thankful for your husband being faithful in your marriage.

To understand why faithfulness is my favorite marriage subject, you must first have a little background about me.  Faithfulness in marriage was not something I grew up knowing.  I grew up knowing and believing that the people you love the most will hurt you the worst and you should be on guard at all times.  This did not help me to learn to be trusting of people.  After several failed relationships, the birth of one amazing little girl, and a couple of more miserable relationships, I met Chris.  Carlie was 5 years old and I was tired of guys who “loved” me for what I brought to their lives giving absolutely nothing back to me in return.  Meeting Chris was like finding a giant glass of cold refreshing water after walking through the desert for days with only a drop of warm stale water left in your satchel.  He was sweet, funny, and thoughtful.  He always wanted to take care of someone else and it did not always have to be about him and what he could get out of a situation.  Although his hair choice at the time was questionable, he had the most beautiful green eyes that just seemed to look right down inside of my soul.  I felt like I could hide nothing from him and that he was the most trustworthy person I had ever met.  I was totally in love with my new best friend.  Chris had a way of making me feel so secure and wanted and because of that I could not possibly believe the he would do anything to hurt me.  Then it happened, I woke up from the love-blinding dream only to realize that my dream-guy was not as perfect as my heart had made him out to be.  Over the next few years we had one 5 month separation, a reconciliation and proposal, a beautiful little baby girl, a wedding,  and a short “honeymoon” period.  What was to happen next was the most difficult and rewarding time of my life.

A short time after we were married Chris was layed off from work.  It hit him hard and he hated sitting at home being the “home-maker” while I was working.  During this time he became very depressed and spent most of his time online.  His “recreational” Saturday night drinking began to happen more often and how much he drank at one time became unmanageable.  The friends he had surrounded himself with were those who also enjoyed drinking and partying and playing around with women (even if they were married).  The longer this went on the more uncomfortable I got and the more he thought of me as a “nag” and of course…the boring wife.  Soon his internet time included chatting with random “unhappy” women about his “unhappy” life and they began to form “unhappy” bonds.  His cell phone would ring and he would hide the calls from me and his truck hid a list of phone numbers belonging to other women along with passwords to dating sites that he had become a member of while I was at work.  Eventually he bonded so closely to one of these women that he decided to openly have a relationship with her while we lived together in our home, raising 3 of our daughters.  I went from being married to a caring and thoughtful man to being married to a cheating alcoholic.  It was at this point in my life that I decided I could no longer do any of this on my own.

As a teenager I had learned about God’s love and had given my heart to Jesus.  As a young adult, I strayed so far away from him that I often could not feel that love no matter how hard I tried (although I never tried for very long).  At the point where my husband had found another woman that he wanted to be with I knew nothing but to fall on my face and beg this God that I knew loved me at one time to save it all for me.  I begged for His forgiveness for straying so far from Him and minute by minute begged Him to save my family.  I found scripture prayers online that came up against adultery and divorce.  Every single time I felt Chris pulling further away I would go somewhere away from everyone and pray harder than I had ever prayed before.  Before I knew it I had people telling me to throw him out and others telling me that he would never change.  Fortunately, God knew better!!  He strategically had placed my long time BFF in a job right in my building only two floors above me.  She was my coach, my friend, my sister in Christ who helped me to STAND by my marriage and prayed with me and for me every single day.  God placed her in the perfect places at the perfect times so that I could learn what it means to truly stand for something in the name of Jesus.  Once I grasped this idea then my life began to change.

First, I had to realize that if leaving us was Chris’ final decision then I could live and make it as a single mom.  That with God’s help I could do anything.  I found my identity in Christ and no longer allowed it to be all about my marriage.  I depended fully on God, knowing that every single thing that happened (good and bad) was ok because He was in complete control and was fulfilling his promise to destroy all of satan’s evil plans against my marriage.  This was very difficult at times, I remember looking out the front door of my home watching the man, who had vowed to love only me, talking on the phone to his girlfriend and repeating over and over in my mind…”God is using this phone call to destroy satan’s plans”….”God is in control”…while tears fell uncontrollably down my cheeks.  The week came that he had planned to pack it all up and move out to be with another woman and somehow I found the strength in God’s Word and in His promise to turn satan’s evil plan into good.

Saturday, the day of “packing it all up” was quickly approaching so on Wednesday I decided I would draw up a “separation agreement’.  I refused to say the word divorce until God had shown me without a doubt that it was over, but He did show me that I must have the confidence to protect myself and my children during what could have been a very damaging time.  On my home that night I asked God to show me some kind of sign that my marriage was going to make it through this.  As I walked in the house from work, ready to present this paperwork to my husband, he asked if he could speak with me.  His words floored me, as he told me that the plans they had to move him out of our home that weekend had been messed up and he had no clue when he would be able to move out.  All I heard was our marriage has more time…keep praying.  Over the next couple of weeks (that we were not supposed to have together) we grew closer and one night after having dinner alone at a local restaurant and talking about these separate roads our lives were about to take…it happened…in an instant our marriage began healing.  On the way home that night Chris said the following words “I have left women/wives before and I have walked away from the daily lives of my children before.  I love all of my children with all my heart so I know it isn’t that we have Mara that makes it hard to leave.  Emilie, I don’t know why, but I can not seem to find it in me to leave you.  You are the reason I cannot leave.”  In my mind all I kept saying over and over is I KNOW WHY…I KNOW WHY…JESUS MADE YOU STAY…GOD IS IN CONTROL….HE HAS GREAT PLANS FOR US!!  That was August of 2008 and WOW…Has God been working in our life.

During all of this craziness God showed up in so many ways.  One of my favorite ways He showed up happened in early July.  I was at my doctor’s office having a panic attack because my life was falling apart.  A nurse came in trying to calm me down and asked if I attended a church.  I told her that I wasn’t and she asked if she could give me a card with the information for her church.  After my appointment I went home and typed the website address into my browser to see what kind of church this was.  I typed in www.journeychurch.org and knew that this was a place I wanted to try…eventually.  I placed the card by the computer right next to the marriage counselor’s card and made a promise that I would try that church very soon, with or without my husband.  On the night that Chris decided out of nowhere to stay and make our marriage work he asked that famous question, “What can I do to make it right?”.  That was my cue to hand him that card that had been collecting dust next to my computer for over a month.  I told him that I wanted to start going to church and that I wanted to start with this one.  He agreed and since that day God has worked in our life in some mighty ways through people of Journey Church.  I thank God every single day that I married to a man who has been reborn into a FAITHFUL and LOVING husband.  With God’s help real TRUST entered my heart and our marriage for the first time.  I not only have found trust in my Heavenly Father but I got a bonus and found trust in my husband as well.

I am so thankful to God for hearing my prayers and saving my marriage and family and I am so thankful to Chris for listening to God.  Believe it or not, I am most thankful for the heart ache and pain that was strangling life out of my marriage.  Without all that sin and the hurt, I would have never found my way back to Jesus and I would have never found this amazing trust and peace.  In the past 4 years Chris has allowed God to move in such a way in his life that he is a totally new creation.  I am so thankful that God is not done with us and at this very moment He is doing so many new thing to transform Chris’ life from being a man who loves God to a man who want to live a life of true biblical manhood.  I am so totally blessed and although we still have struggles and so much more growing to do, the love is stronger than ever and Chris is truly the husband I always wanted.  He is everything I am not and everything that I need and God created him that way.  I cannot wait to see all that He has in store for us.

I did not write this blog to tell you how bad my husband was to me or to prove to anyone that I was a good wife who stood by my man no matter what.  There is only one reason I chose to relive this not so happy moment in our history and that was to give Glory to God and share our testimony as a married couple who has turned our life and our family over to the hands of Jesus.  We know now that there is not anything that God cannot handle and nothing is to big for our God!  GOD IS GREAT and my marriage is one of His many MIRACLES!

Check out these links to find this challenge and begin it yourself…

30-Day Husband Encouragement Challenge at www.reviveourhearts.com or go directly to the challenge at http://www.reviveourhearts.com/static/challenges/1-30DayHusbandChallenge.pdf.

Moving on to Day 9…GOD BLESS!!

Days 4 Through 7 – This 30-Day Challenge is a CHALLENGE!

1 Oct

Day Four:  “Let him labor, working with his hands what is good.” (Eph. 4:28) 

As soon as Day 4 hit, I knew I was headed for danger.  My day started out well with some great prayer time on the way into work, but quickly started to decline as I faced some issues at work.  The biggest problem with that is not that I was let my frustrations get the best of me work, but that I did not leave it at work when 5 o’clock hit.  Instead I dragged my nasty mood with me out of my desk, down the hall, out the back door, into my car and stewed in it all the way home.  By the time I reached my front door, I might have been more frustrated than while I was at work and that really is not the way I planned to start my weekend.  Once inside, it was very apparent that my day had been bad and I began to “dump” all over my hubby.  Not only about what had happened at work that day, but I also became quite negative about the way he was going about doing things.  Considering the fourth day of the 30-Day Husband Encouragement Challenge (http://www.reviveourhearts.com/static/challenges/1-30DayHusbandChallenge.pdf) included the following question…”Do you “dump” on your husband at the end of the workday, or do you strengthen and encourage him with your words?”…Well, there you have it – FAIL!

With that being said, I am super thankful that God’s love never fails and that His mercies are new every morning.  It also helps that I have a very forgiving husband who happened to have to be on-call for the weekend and he worked some pretty long hours Saturday after working and being sick all week.  That made a “redo” on Day 4 pretty easy and I was able to let him know over the weekend how much I value his hard work.

Day Five: “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.” (Eph. 4:29)

I have to say that building up my husband is not hard work at all.  I love finding the things that he is doing well and making him see the value he has from my point of view.  My problem though is in not tearing him down after I found all the good.  I do not mean to do it and most of the time do not even realize I am doing it until he says something later or I see a negative reaction to my words.  It comes when I “correct” him or try to tell him how to do something a “better” way.  In the moment I think I am being helpful, but in his mind it feels as if he does not do anything the “right” way and that I think my way is the only way.  Although my way may be the better way, it does not matter any more because I have not expressed it in a loving way.  I must admit, there are usually no butterflies and hearts fluttering around when I am being corrective, it typically comes out sounding very mother like.  He is my husband not my child!  Although I am beginning to see my short comings in this area, it is such a hard one to break.  I think I have been doing it so long that it is just a knee jerk reaction and I will be praying hard for God to help me be loving and more accepting.

Day Six: “Whatever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Cor. 10:31b)

This daily challenge addresses speaking to others about the talent and creativity our husband’s have.  I have no issue with this and do not think it will ever be an issue.  In fact there are many times when my husband finds himself helping others because I have bragged about his wonderful talents.  He is a great mechanic, painter, and the creator of most of my visions.  I can share an idea with him and he can make it come to life.  I was definitely blessed with a man who is not only amazing at the things he does, but he cares so much about the work he produces that he strives for perfection.

Day Seven: “Do not overwork to be rich; because of your own understanding, cease! . . . for riches certainly make themselves wings.” (Prov. 23:4-5b) / “That I may cause those who love me to inherit wealth, that I may fill their treasuries.” (Prov. 8:21)

Finances have always been an issue for us, just as it is in many marriages.  For the first few years of our marriage, I had my own bank account and it remained that way out of fear and inability to trust anyone else with the finances of our household.  I had good reason at the time not to trust my husband with this part of our life, but it began to cause many deep issues.  Once we turned our lives over to God, I began to feel convicted about the way I chose to handle our finances.  My first step was getting a joint bank account and believing in my heart that by trusting my husband, God would not let us fall.  Even though we have both made some poor financial choices since then, we still have that same bank account and it is not currently in the negative, so God has kept His promise.  My next step was to include my husband in the finances and have him help me create the budget and allow him to be a part of paying the bills and figuring out the saving.  Our last step in the right direction in the area of finances was to begin tithing again.  We had started strong for a while and then my need for security took over.  I was often too afraid to give God His 10% up front.  I would say, if I still have it the day before we get paid again, I will be sure to give it.  Well, of course we never had or and if we did, it was the furthest thing from my mind at the time.  I had gotten so far away from tithing that we had then become dependent on that 10% for other things in our lives.  Then out of no where a friend just said “DO IT!  If you wait until you have it and can afford to, then you will never do it.”  So we did and have been ever since that day.  In fact I do not pay any other bill until God’s money is paid each week.  I don’t worry if I will have enough to pay the bills left after it is gone, I just tithe and then figure it out with what is left knowing God will provide.  We have a very long way to go in our financial growth, but we have made progress and I look forward to making new steps with God’s direction.

Tuesday will bring me to Day Eight….God Bless!!

Days 2 and 3 of the 30-Day Husband Encouragement Challenge

27 Sep

After a very busy and productive day I decided to write about both days 2 and 3 of the challenge.  It is important to note that if at any time you blow it and forget to complete the daily challenge or even let your feelings get in the way of completing the challenge…DON’T GIVE UP!  Start again the next day!!

DAY 2:

  • “Today, find some way that your husband is serving you or your family. Does he help around the house? Take care of the car? Fix things that are broken? If your budget allows, give him a new, small tool with a big bow attached. But make sure he doesn’t think it’s part of a “Honey Do” list!”

On day 2, I left work knowing that I was on my way home to a house full of sick people.  I first had to stop at the store to get my high schooler a few things for “spirit week”.  I entered the store with my list and on the bottom of that list it said “a little thank you for Chris”.  A thank you he really deserved since at that very moment he was home making dinner for everyone even though he was sick.  Chris is really top-notch when it comes to serving our family, so it is really easy to be thankful and think of ways he serves us.  Chris is in charge of the kitchen on most days (cooking and cleaning).  From the very beginning of our relationship he has always done the laundry for all of us, even when we had 5 kids living in our home.  Home projects are a breeze with my hubby on the job, he listens and has very creative ideas.  To be very honest Chris may huff or puff occasionally if I ask him to do something, but he is more than happy to serve our family as well as others.  He has no problem looking at our friend’s cars and appliances, helping them with painting, or anything else they might need.  Needless to say I am SUPER blessed to have such a great hubby with an amazing heart to serve our family and others.

DAY 3:

  • “Love indeed suffers long and is kind.  As you consider your Encouragement Challenge, determine today that you will not say anything negative to or about your husband.  Speak kindly to him with words of genuine encouragement.”

Chris was sick again today and called me on my way to work to let me know that he would not be able to make it at work today.  This is usually when I go into “finance mode” and while trying to be “understanding” always make sure I mention how missing work will affect his next paycheck.  It did cross my mind, but I did not want to leave him feeling guilty this time so I simply told him to rest and feel better.  As soon as I hung up the phone I did not “stress” about him missing work, but instead I prayed for him and that the illness leave his body.  I then made sure to call him as I left work and let him know not to worry about dinner that I would pick up some pizza on the way home.  When he thanked me I took the opportunity to let him know that he does a lot for us and today I just wanted him to rest.  I am so happy to report that he is feeling much better tonight.

Feeling the difference:

After only 3 days of taking this challenge I have found that my attitude toward my husband has changed.  He is still him, but I am changing.  It feels good to feel good about him.  Even in those moments when I slip and think or say something negative, I find myself catching it and changing that thought.  I like it…I LIKE IT A LOT!!

Day 4 tomorrow…GOD BLESS!!

Day 1 of 30 – How did I do yesterday?

26 Sep

For those of you following along yesterday I started a 30-day challenge to encourage my husband.  The challenge is to become a blessing to my home and my marriage.  To not say anything negative about my husband, to my husband, or to anyone else, about my husband.  I am to remember to say things about my husband that I admire or appreciate to my husband and to someone else, about my husband.  There are daily challenges as well and as for Day 1, it was very interesting.

  •  Message for Day 1:  “The heart of her husband safely trusts her; so he will have no lack of gain. She does him good and not evil all the days of her life.” (Prov. 31:11-12) – To help you get started, have you ever thanked your husband for choosing you above all other women? He found you attractive as a person, and appreciated you. Though many circumstances in your marriage may have changed, let your husband know that you are glad God led you together, and that you want to be a blessing to him for the rest of your marriage. Let him know that he can trust you to be in his corner.

I chose to go to the store on my lunch break and pick up a card for my husband.  Nothing fancy or with a lot of words, I kept it very simple so the words that filled the actual card would be mine.  The front of the card said “Thank God for people who make life more beautiful” and since the middle was blank I filled it with why he makes my life more beautiful.  It was placed on his pillow when I got home and he found it and read it right before we went to bed.  As we went to sleep, he simply whispered in my ear that he was so happy that I was his wife.  I must say, that my husband is always sweet with his words, but it was defiantly a very nice way to end the day. 

What I found the most interesting was my own attitude throughout the day.  Because I had taken the time to write the card over my lunch break, it really had an impact on how I behaved the rest of the day.  After writing all those nice words and reminding myslef how thankful I was for him, I found myself reacting to him in a totally different way.  I did not feel the need to criticize or get angry.  Even when I slipped and said or did something that may have come across as ungrateful, I immediately recognized my behavior.  So even though he did not read my note until the very end of “Day 1”, it was a great day of being thankful and having a thankful heart for the man I love. 

If you are simply following along to see how this challenge works, give Day 1 a try to see what kind of results you get.  You can find the 30-day challenge below on the http://www.reviveourhearts.com/ website.

 30-Day Husband Encouragement Challenge:

http://www.reviveourhearts.com/static/challenges/1-30DayHusbandChallenge.pdf

Now on to Day 2!  GOD BLESS!!

30-Day Husband Encouragement Challenge for Wives

25 Sep

Beginning this week I will be starting a 30 Day Husband Challenge that I found on the http://www.reviveourhearts.com/ website.  This is a challenge I have started before and have fizzled out after only a week or so.  I am hoping by placing it in my blog I will be able to finally accomplish this goal.  Along the way will let you all know how it is going for me, my accomplishments, struggles, and overall experience.  I have a husband who has allowed God to transform him in so many ways and continues to look for ways to become more of a biblical husband and father.  I really feel that it is my turn to begin to transform into the biblical wife he deserves.  I am one of those people who gets very comfy in my own ways and often finds it hard to change, so this will definitely be a challenge.  If you would like to follow along or begin this journey yourself, the link to this challenge is listed below.  Check out the website as there are MANY wonderful resources there for finding your way as a woman of God.

 30-Day Husband Encouragement Challenge:

http://www.reviveourhearts.com/static/challenges/1-30DayHusbandChallenge.pdf

Let me know if you plan on following along so we can encourage each other while we encourage our men!  Let’s face it, sometimes a bad mood from him can make us just not want to be encouraging that day…we will need help and motivation from each other as well as God!

September 2012: A Month of Memories and Goodbyes

24 Sep

Loss of an old friend…

The month of September, 2012, started out and ended on a very sad note.  In the beginning of the month I found myself faced with saying goodbye to an old friend who I had loved in many different ways over our 18 year friendship.  Only weeks later did I find myself sitting in the place that I met that friend (and many others) as they prepared to shut their doors for the last time.  Yes, it feels a little ironic and all together sad to have dealt with two significant losses tied so closely together in my life story.  Most of all this month has shown me that the best part of my “life story” is that Jesus is the author and perfecter of my faith (Hebrews 12:2).

During the summer of 1994, while attending Oak Crest United Methodist Church, I met Ronnie.  At that moment my life was changed in so many different ways.  Meeting him added boldness, confidence, adventure, and a child to my life when I least expected it.  As a teenager, Ronnie was adorable with beautiful hazel eyes that seemed to put me in so much of a trance that the word “no” very rarely ever came out of my mouth.  On the occasion that I would not agree to some crazy idea or step out of my comfort zone of being a “goody-goody”, all it would take was for those long eyelashes to flutter up and down over those amazing eyes and I was putty in his hands, once again. I will admit that the choices he was helping me to make would cause any good parent to have small heart attacks at the mention of his name and my parents reminded me of that fact on a daily basis.  Of course, being told that Ronnie was not good for me only made him even more beautiful in my young and disillusioned eyes.   I realize now that I could have made many better choices for my life, but through all the craziness and heart ache I am not sure I would have chosen a different path. 

Ronnie had a great big heart and hated to be judged as a bad person, but due to some of the choices he had made this was often the case.  He was really always only looking for love and acceptance in those days and I am pretty sure all the way to the end of his life.  He hated to see anyone sad and always went out of his way to make them laugh and feel better.  He knew exactly what to say to take pain away and make you see the good in yourself.  He was very quick to forgive but not as quick to admit his wrongs and ask for forgiveness.  To a young girl who had not been in the dating scene for very long, he was truly addictive. 

As time went on it was very apparent that he was not only addictive, but addicted.  His lifestyle was one that I did not want to be a part of mine.  He tried repeatedly to walk away from those things in his life that held him back and made him feel like a bad person, but the hold was always so strong.  Even his son had a hold on me, I loved Cameron from the second I met him as a tiny little baby, along with anyone else who came in contact with him.  He was the sweetest little boy and loved by so many then and still to this day.  He had become a large part of my life and was even living with me at the age of 5 and it was at that time I realized that I had to break free from the craziness and stopped all contact with Ronnie for quite some time.  Cameron continued to live with me and after he returned to his mother’s care a few years later, he remained a part of my life, even returning to live with me again as a teenager.

Over the years Ronnie and I have tried to be friends, mostly for Cameron’s sake.  Each time we would give it a try and reconnect, I would immediately remember why I cared and loved him so much, but shortly after the friendship would seem to begin to heal, I would remember why I stepped away and would be forced to cut ties again.  The last time this happened, a few years ago, we shared a moment in the hallway of my home.  For the first time he sincerely apologized for all the pain and suffering he had caused me over the past 14 years and for the first time I genuinely felt forgiveness for him enter my heart.  I was no longer angry with him or held anything against him.  In fact I remember my words being that I forgave him completely.  I told him that had he not loved me the way he did and then hurt me the way he did that I would not have found my husband or be the person I was at that moment.  As freeing as it was at the time, it soon came to pass that once again the friendship would come to an end due to his lifestyle and addictions. 

I often wish I could have done more to help him out of his addictions and to recognize that he was all he needed to be without the drugs and alcohol.  To help him recognize his identity in Christ rather than a bottle or a substance, but it did not work out that way.  On Friday, September 7th, very early in the morning, Ronnie ended his life.  He was found by his son, Cameron, hanging from a tree outside of his home.  All of the heart, personality, and beauty drained from his amazing eyes. 

Because of the current animosity between our families, my family did not attend the funeral, instead we stood outside of the very place Ronnie and I met all those years ago and said our goodbye through praying for the lives of Ronnie’s precious children.  A fitting moment, that God took control of, as we had planned something totally different for that evening.  I have decided that from that day forward I will stand in the gap and pray for Ronnie’s other 4 children just I as do Cameron, like they are my very own.

Loss of an old home…

In 1973, at Oak Crest United Methodist Church, my parents were married and then moved to Connecticut where they continued their lives and added 3 daughters to their family.  Eighteen years later in 1991 my sisters and I moved to Florida with my mom after my parents divorced.  It was a very difficult transition and the fact that my Grannie Patterson was such a “Bible thumper” did not help much at all.  She was very determined that we get involved in a church and eventually we all ended up in that very place where it all began for our family.  So many things that are significant in my life have happened at Oak Crest UMC and it really felt like my home away from home.  Very soon after I started attending I met Carrie, who would become my closest and dearest friend then and still today.  I met this crazy blond curly-headed chic on my first day of Sunday school.  She made me laugh when I really didn’t feel like even smiling and happened to be one of the best things that could have ever happened to me.  She has continued to be by my side ever since that day always laughing, loving, and praying.  There have been 4 WONDERFUL and UNFORGETTABLE events in my life since then.  The birth of both my daughters, the day I married the love of my life, and the day my marriage was saved through the love of Jesus Christ.  Carrie was there by my side for each and every one of them.  Carrie held my hand (and my leg) while I gave birth to my oldest daughter Carlie Ann, she prayed hard on the sidelines leading to the quick delivery of Mara Jane as she watched from just across the room, she performed the most beautiful and meaningful ceremony at my wedding, and later down the road she became my prayer partner which led to the day satan was defeated and my marriage was saved.  I will forever be thankful to her for allowing God to use her to take the spiritual lead in that fight and guided me all the way to victory.  God has worked miracles in my life using the friendship I found at Oak Crest UMC. 

Carrie was just one of many “forever” people in my life that I met at Oak Crest.  Some people know exactly who they are and I will forever be tied to them because of our friendships that started many years ago.  Some will never know at all how their friendship and support or even lack of support impacted me and made me who I am today.  God used Oak Crest UMC as the place I first turned my life over to Jesus and recognized him as my Lord and Savior.  He used the relationships I developed there to teach me many life lessons and I continue to learn from those people and those relationships each and every day.  Closest to my heart is the connection I developed with my “Bible thumping” Grannie that God provided through our love for Oak Crest and Christ that has never been shaken or weakened in the least.  Who would have ever thought that the seeds planted at Oak Crest UMC and through God’s love that this girl would one day be considered “Bible thumper” herself. 

Yesterday, September 23, 2012, I sat in a pew for the first time in many years at Oak Crest.  As I looked around at the red carpet and stain glassed windows, not much had changed from my last visit.  I began to remember all the fun times as a Youth member and young adult (Christmas candle light service, caroling, Lake Junaluska summer camp trips, weekend trips to Epworth, performing dramas on stage, singing as a “Penny Loafer” for Brian Weller, being in the choir, my first real boyfriend, senior high girls nights, Spring Break NC mountain trip, glasses flying out the back of the church van,  Pastor Guy praying with his eyes closed while driving, hanging out in Herman Hall, fighting, crying, laughing, making up, boogers on rails and other disgusting things that regularly made me sick to my stomach and on occasion actually throw up, and so much more…).  I won’t begin to name names of those who meant so much to me because I would be so afraid I would miss just one, but I assure you that God led me directly to Oak Crest for a reason and I am so thankful for every minute, mistake, experience (good or bad), person, and life changing event that ever came out of being a member of that church.  I have not been a member of Oak Crest in many years, but I am sad to have lost the comfort and the knowledge that the congregation is there as they shut their doors for the last time yesterday afternoon, but I sure am glad that I was blessed to be raised up there in the love of Christ.  I pray for those who have lost their church home and for those who had to say goodbye to a lot more than memories yesterday. 

Jesus as the author of my life…

Earlier I stated that more than anything this past month has shown me that the best part of my “life story” is that Jesus is the author and perfecter of my faith (Hebrews 12:2).  The truth is God led me to people as a teenager that led me to understand that His love is greater than anything I could ever imagine.  After I learned of this love, I walked so far away from Him that there were times that I could not see that love anywhere.  I made some horrible mistakes, but because He loved me, He protected me and led me out of a life that could have led to drug addiction, alcoholism, and even death with the birth of a special beautiful blond baby girl.  God continued to bless me through my messes, giving me yet another amazing little girl.  These two angels light up my life with so much of God’s love that I can never forget how much He loves me again.  Even though, after all of that, I continued to walk in a way that did not glorify God or anyone else for that matter, He still protected me against divorce and shame.  Each and every day I learn more, my direction changes closer and closer to the path He has already set out for me, as I walk in His Word with all my imperfections I feel His love for me stronger than I did the day before.  God is GREAT!  His plan is PERFECT! 

“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2)

“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”  (Philippians 1:6)

“In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory” (Ephesians 1:13-14)

Examples of Meal Plan (Created in Excel)

3 Sep