Wednesday, February 4, 2009

engagement photos

Jeff's friend, Eric, took our engagement shots in Tuscaloosa on Monday. We had so much fun! Check out our shoot on Pictage.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

i'm engaged!!!

i know. i've been a bad blogger. i got engaged 3 weeks ago and i have yet to post details! here is the website my very talented and detail oriented fiance created to tell our story:

and here is a link to some pictures from our engagement night:

we're having our engagement shots taken on feb. 2, so i will post those once i get them back!

so exciting!!!

Friday, November 21, 2008

why worry?

Andy Stanley just finished a 3 part series called, "Why Worry?" He said, “Today’s worries often wipe out God’s past faithfulness.” This statement struck me and I asked myself this question, Where, when and how has God has been faithful to me in the past? It was an amazing exercise that led to great worship:

1. He has protected me from unhealthy, dead end relationships that could have resulted in marriages doomed for failure.
2. Can we get candid? He has spared me from physical abuse, unwanted pregnancies and STD's. Thank You, Jesus.
3. He has restored and renewed in me a new love and desire for a personal relationship with Him.
4. He has redeemed me from the pit of depression and rebellion.
5. He has saved me and promised me eternal life with Him in heaven.
6. He has given me second, third, and millionth chances.
7. He has replaced the father who abandoned me with 3 amazing and godly stand-in fathers: Uncle John, my step-dad, and
my sister's father-in-law.
8. He has brought women into my life who love me unconditionally, speak truth into my life, and hold me accountable on a
daily basis.
9. He has been faithful in His provisions in helping me get completely out of debt in 2/2008.
10. He strategically placed me in a family who loves the Lord their God with all their hearts, souls, and minds.
11. He brought me to NPCC in 10/2003 and provided a job within the first week of arriving.
12. He has provided abundantly above all I could ever ask or imagine without full-time work for the past 7 months.
13. He has brought a new and exciting opportunity into my life recently in starting a new business.
14. He brought the Pehrson and the Elmer families into my life. They have loved on me and taken me in as their own.
15. The closer I get to 30, the more I feel like I am comfortable being the person He created me to be.
16. He has provided me with several community groups in the last 5 years to walk through life with.
17. He created Andy Stanley and brought me to his church in 2003. Enough said.
18. He has recently brought THEE most amazing man into my life to demonstrate God's love to me most... when I deserve it the least.

so I ask, “Why Worry?” God has been ridiculously faithful in all of my life. I am deeply thankful.

Monday, November 17, 2008

The World Must Be Shown

by Elisabeth Elliot

When Jesus was speaking with His disciples before His crucifixion, He gave them His parting gift: peace such as the world can never give. But He went on immediately to say, "Set your troubled hearts at rest and banish your fears.... I shall not talk much longer with you, for the Prince of this world approaches. He has no rights over me, but the world must be shown that I love the Father and do exactly as he commands" (John 14:27, 30-31, NEB).

A young mother called to ask for "something that will help me to trust in the Lord." She explained that she had several small children, she herself was thirty years old, and she had cancer. Chemotherapy had done its hideous work of making her totally bald. The prognosis was not good. Could I say to her, "Set your troubled heart at rest. God is going to heal you"? Certainly not. Jesus did not tell His disciples that He would not be killed. How do I know whether God would heal this young woman? I could, however, remind her that He would not for a moment let go of her, that His love enfolded her and her precious children every minute of every day and every night, and that underneath are the Everlasting Arms.

But is that enough? The terrible things in the world seem to make a mockery of the love of God, and the question always arises: Why!

There are important clues in the words of Jesus. The disciples' worst fears were about to be realized, yet He commanded (yes, commanded) them to be at peace. All would be well, all manner of things would be well--in the end. In a short time, however, the Prince of this world, Satan himself, was to be permitted to have his way. Not that Satan had any rights over Jesus. Far from it. Nor has he "rights" over any of God's children, including that dear mother. But Satan is permitted to approach. He challenges God, we know from the Book of Job, as to the validity of His children's faith.

God allows him to make a test case from time to time. It had to be proved to Satan, in Job's case, that there is such a thing as obedient faith which does not depend on receiving only benefits. Jesus had to show the world that He loved the Father and would, no matter what happened, do exactly what He said. The servant is not greater than his Lord. When we cry "Why, Lord?" we should ask instead, "Why not, Lord? Shall I not follow my Master in suffering as in everything else?"

Does our faith depend on having every prayer answered as we think it should be answered, or does it rest rather on the character of a sovereign Lord? We can't really tell, can we, until we're in real trouble.

I never heard more from the young woman. I neglected to ask her address. But I prayed for her, asking God to enable her to show the world what genuine faith is--the kind of faith that overcomes the world because it trusts and obeys, no matter what the circumstances. The world does not want to be told. The world must be shown. Isn't that part of the answer to the great question of why Christians suffer?

Friday, November 7, 2008

Discerning the Call of God

by Elisabeth Elliot

As a little girl I especially loved the story of God's call to the child Samuel as he lay sleeping in the temple. I wondered if God would ever call me. Would I hear Him? What would He say? Throughout my growing years I read missionary stories and heard them told at our dinner table by guests from many lands who came to stay with us. I was always eager to know just how they were called. As a college student I worried much about whether I would fail to follow the Shepherd, would be deaf to His call. I thought it such a bewildering matter.

It is not a worry anymore. Experience has taught me that the Shepherd is far more willing to show His sheep the path than the sheep are to follow. He is endlessly merciful, patient, tender, and loving. If we, His stupid and wayward sheep, really want to be led, we will without fail be led. Of that I am sure.

When we need help, we wish we knew somebody who is wise enough to tell us what to do, reachable when we need him, and even able to help us. God is. Omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent--everything we need. The issue is confidence in the Shepherd Himself, a confidence so complete that we offer ourselves without any reservation whatsoever and determine to do what He says.

What He says? But how shall I know that?

He calls us every day, "o'er the tumult of our life's wild, restless sea." He comes to us in the little things, in the ordinary duties which our place in life entails. When I was a child He called me. The duty which my place in life entailed was obedience to my father and mother. In school and Sunday School He called me through the teacher. What she said I knew I was supposed to do. In first grade (yes, in public school) we sang the hymn, "Father, We Thank Thee." The second stanza says, "Help us to do the things we should, to be to others kind and good, in all we do at work or play to grow more loving every day." God's call again.

It's alluring to think of our own situation as very complex and ourselves as deep and complicated, so that we waste a good deal of time puzzling over "the will of God." Frequently our conscience has the answer.

My friend Jim O'Donnell tells how he, a hard-headed, hard-hearted man of the world, found Christ. His conscience was awakened. The call of God was immediate: "Go home and love your wife." The change was so sudden and so radical, Lizzie could not make head or tail of what had come over him. This self-confident and self-interested man had quit living for himself. He had died. An altogether new kind of life was now his. The first difference it made was the difference that mattered most--in his private life. It was there that he began to obey.

We are not talking here about audible voices. Although people in Bible times often heard God speak, we can expect that He will usually speak today through conscience, through the written Word, through other people, and through events. Events themselves, the seemingly insignificant happenings of every day, reveal the will of God. They are the will of God for us, for while we live, move, and have our being here on earth, in this place, this family, this house, this job, we live, move, and have our being in God. He "pulls strings through circumstances," as Jim Elliot said, even the bad circumstances (see Genesis 45:8, 50:20).

Three questions may help to clarify the call of God. Have I made up my mind to do what He says, no matter what the cost? Am I faithfully reading His Word and praying? Am I obedient in what I know today of His will?

"Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul" (Psalm 143:8, NIV).

Sunday, October 26, 2008

A New Thanksgiving

by Elisabeth Elliot

Those who call Thanksgiving "Turkey Day," I suppose, take some such view as this: Unless we have Someone to thank and something to thank Him for, what's the point of using a name that calls up pictures of religious people in funny hats and Indians bringing corn and squash?

Christians, I hope, focus on something other than a roasted bird. We do have Someone to thank and a long list of things to thank Him for, but sometimes we limit our thanksgiving merely to things that look good to us. As our faith in the character of God grows deeper we see that heavenly light is shed on everything--even on suffering--so that we are enabled to thank Him for things we would never have thought of before. The apostle Paul, for example, saw even suffering itself as a happiness (Colossians 1:24, NEB).

I have been thinking of something that stifles thanksgiving. It is the spirit of greed--the greed of doing, being, and having.

When Satan came to tempt Jesus in the wilderness, his bait was intended to inspire the lust to do more than the Father meant for Him to do--to go farther, demonstrate more power, act more dramatically. So the enemy comes to us in these days of frantic doing. We are ceaselessly summoned to activities: social, political, educational, athletic, and--yes--spiritual. Our "self-image" (deplorable word!) is dependent not on the quiet and hidden "Do this for My sake," but on the list the world hands us of what is "important." It is a long list, and it is both foolish and impossible. If we fall for it, we neglect the short list.

Only a few things are really important, and for those we have the promise of divine help: sitting in silence with the Master in order to hear His word and obey it in the ordinary line of duty--for example, in being a good husband, wife, father, mother, son, daughter, or spiritual father or mother to those nearby who need protection and care--humble work which is never on the world's list because it leads to nothing impressive on one's resume. As Washington Gladden wrote in 1879, "O Master, let me walk with Thee/In lowly paths of service free...."

Temptation comes also in the form of being. The snake in the garden struck at Eve with the promise of being something which had not been given. If she would eat the fruit forbidden to her, she could "upgrade her lifestyle" and become like God. She inferred that this was her right, and that God meant to cheat her of this. The way to get her rights was to disobey Him.

No new temptation ever comes to any of us. Satan needs no new tricks. The old ones have worked well ever since the Garden of Eden, although sometimes under different guises. When there is a deep restlessness for which we find no explanation, it may be due to the greed of being--what our loving Father never meant us to be. Peace lies in the trusting acceptance of His design, His gifts, His appointment of place, position, capacity. It was thus that the Son of Man came to earth--embracing all that the Father willed Him to be, usurping nothing--no work, not even a word--that the Father had not given Him.

Then there is the greed of having. When "a mixed company of strangers" joined the Israelites, the people began to be greedy for better things (Numbers 11:4, NEB). God had given them exactly what they needed in the wilderness: manna. It was always enough, always fresh, always good (sounds good to me, anyway, "like butter-cakes"). But the people lusted for variety. These strangers put ideas into their heads. "There's more to life than this stuff. Is this all you've got? You can have more. You gotta live a little!"

So the insistence to have it all took hold on God's people and they began to wail, "all of them in their families at the opening of their tents." There is no end to the spending, getting, having. We are insatiable consumers, dead set on competing, upgrading, showing off ("If you've got it, flaunt it"). We simply cannot bear to miss something others deem necessary. So the world ruins the peace and simplicity God would give us. Contentment with what He has chosen for us dissolves, along with godliness, while, instead of giving thanks, we lust and wail, teaching our children to lust and wail too. (Children of the jungle tribe I knew years ago did not complain because they had not been taught to.)

Lord, we give You thanks for all that You in Your mercy have given us to be and to do and to have. Deliver us, Lord, from all greed to be and to do and to have anything not in accord with Your holy purposes. Teach us to rest quietly in Your promise to supply, recognizing that if we don't have it we don't need it. Teach us to desire Your will--nothing more, nothing less, and nothing else. For Jesus' sake. Amen.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Thanksgiving for What is Given

by Elisabeth Elliot

Some people are substituting "Turkey Day" for Thanksgiving. I guess it must be because they are not aware that there's anybody to thank, and they think that the most important thing about the holiday is food. Christians know there is Somebody to thank, but often when we make a list of things to thank Him for we include only things we like. A bride and groom can't get away with that. They write a note to everybody, not only the rich uncle who gave the couple matching BMWs, but the poor aunt who gave them a crocheted toilet-paper cover. In other words, they have to express thanks for whatever they've received.

Wouldn't that be a good thing for us to do with God? We are meant to give thanks "in everything" even if we're like the little girl who said she could think of a lot of things she'd rather have than eternal life. The mature Christian offers not just polite thanks but heartfelt thanks that springs from a far deeper source than his own pleasure. Thanksgiving is a spiritual exercise, necessary to the building of a healthy soul. It takes us out of the stuffiness of ourselves into the fresh breeze and sunlight of the will of God. The simple act of thanking Him is for most of us an abrupt change of activity, a break from work and worry, a move toward re-creation.

I am not suggesting the mouthing of foolish platitudes, or evasion of the truth. That is not how God is glorified, or souls fortified. I want to see clearly what I have been given and to thank Him with an honest heart. What are the "givens"?

Thankless children we all are, more or less, comprehending but dimly the truth of God's fathomless love for us. We do not know Him as a gracious Giver, we do not understand His most precious gifts, or the depth of His love, the wisdom with which He has planned our lives, the price He pays to bring us to glory and fulfillment. When some petty private concern or perhaps some bad news depresses or confuses me, I am in no position to be thankful. Far from it. That is the time, precisely then, that I must begin by deliberately putting my mind on some great Realities.

What are these "givens"? What do I most unshakably believe in? God the Father Almighty. Jesus Christ His only Son. The Holy Ghost, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, the life everlasting. Not a long list, but all we need. "The necessary supplies issued to us, the standard equipment of the Christian." We didn't ask for any of them. (Imagine having nothing more than we've asked for!) They are given.

Take the list of whatever we're not thankful for and measure it against the mighty foundation stones of our faith. The truth of our private lives can be understood only in relation to those Realities. Some of us know very little of suffering, but we know disappointments and betrayals and losses and bitterness. Are we really meant to thank God for such things? Let's be clear about one thing: God does not cause all the things we don't like. But He does permit them to happen because it is in this fallen world that we humans must learn to walk by faith. He doesn't leave us to ourselves, however. He shares every step. He walked this lonesome road first, He gave Himself for us, He died for us. "Can we not trust such a God to give us, with Him, everything else that we can need?" (Romans 8:32, PHILLIPS). Those disappointments give us the chance to learn to know Him and the meaning of His gifts, and, in the midst of darkness, to receive His light. Doesn't that transform the not thankful list into a thankful one?