Sunday, December 11, 2011

Another Season Begins


Today, I cried like a baby in church.  They were happy tears, thankful tears.  This morning marked another season ending and another one that is beginning.

Nine months ago, I wandered into Mosaic Church grieving, scared, confused, and as broken as I have ever been.  The most fiery trial of our lives had begun, and I was seeking refuge for a Sunday in a nearby church where no one knew me while my husband faced fierce persecution back at the church we had been serving at for over three years.  I'll never forget my first Sunday at Mosaic, because it gave me hope when the world I knew was falling apart.  That Sunday at Mosaic, Dustin, the lead pastor, was teaching that the Gospel was the best thing that can happen to you, even if it ruins your life.  I sobbed on the back pew knowing that it was true but hurting all the same.  I saw the same Gospel that we were being persecuted for thriving and living around me as this church brought in people of all races, ages, and backgrounds into a packed out skating ring.  It was the most unconventional church I had ever been to, and I loved every minute of it.  We sang a worship song that had offended lead people at our other church, and I stood in awe as worshippers around me joyfully sang it.  As our ministry was ending in one church because of the Gospel, I saw another ministry thriving because of it.

Mosaic Church has welcomed our family into it during this transitional period.  Since Bryan has been an interim pastor at another church in the same city, I have been attending Mosaic to have a time of healing from our last ministry.  The staff and members of Mosaic have loved and served my family and me well this past year.  I will forever be grateful that God allowed me to be part of a congregation where no one knew me or my story and where I had the privacy and space to grieve and heal.   I couldn't be more grateful for their partnership with us now as we plant Church@The Square.  We are weeks away from Church@The Square's public launch service.  Sundays from now, Bryan will be finishing his interim time at his current church and will be plunging full-time into his role as the lead pastor of Church@The Square.  It's a huge leap of faith for us in every way, but we have anticipated this coming day with great expectation.

Today was bittersweet, and the service couldn't have been more custom fit for my last Sunday morning at Mosaic.  Dustin, the lead pastor was out of town, so Sean, the community pastor, was preaching in his place.  His message was about the Gospel and suffering through trials.  I think I cried the whole time he was speaking, because I kept thinking about how far God has brought my family and me this year.  God has been so good to us.  He has brought me from a place of desperate brokenness to a place of healing and joy.  Only God can turn your worst nightmare into your ultimate dream.  When Sean finished speaking, the worship band closed the service in the same song that started our trial.  At that point, I sobbed again.  This time, not in anger or grief as I had many months ago, but in complete praise to the God who is our Healer.  In what seemed to be the Gospel failing as we were rejected by a church, the Gospel was actually prevailing.  We were being released from a traditional church setting and sent out into a community that desperately needs to see the Church body working in a way that speaks to their culture.  Our "failure" in one ministry was really just the birth of another.

I am so thankful that God never abandoned us.  His silence during our persecution felt like He had forgotten us, but I know now that He was purifying and preparing us.  He was strengthening our faith- teaching us the endurance we would need to do something radical and out of the ordinary.  Though I grieved then, I rejoice now.  I look forward to our future at Church@The Square.  God is faithful.  He will accomplish His purpose for us in His time His way.  Here's to a new season of life as we plunge full-time into church planting.

1 Peter 1:6-9

New Living Translation (NLT)
 6 So be truly glad.[a] There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. 7These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.
 8 You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. 9 The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Sunrise


Since we were traveling over Thanksgiving break and busy preparing for our trip before, I'm a little late writing a blog about the things I am thankful for this year.  But hey, better late than never, right?

This year has been one of the hardest years of my life, and it has been one of the best.  I can honestly say with complete joy that some of the most painful things we have been through have been used by God for our good and His good.  Months ago, I wasn't sure I felt that way.  It was just head knowledge that I was hoping would penetrate my heart in time.

Today, I am overwhelmed with thankfulness and joy for the journey we are on.  This year I have been sanctified through fire, tears, illness, heartache, loss, and uncertainty. When I look back over the last nine months, I see how God has used a painful period to usher in a period of deep healing for me and our family on many levels.

After several possible miscarriages this year, one at Easter, one in May, and one in June, God answered our prayers.  Before scheduling an appointment with a fertility doctor to try to figure out why we were miscarrying again and again, I took a pregnancy test just to not feel foolish when we walked into his office.  To our surprise, we were pregnant.  Again to our surprise and joy, we didn't miscarry.  Not coincidentally, our son's due date is Easter Sunday.  Where we felt loss and sadness Easter 2011, God has brought joy and peace through another child expected on Easter 2012.

Leaving a church at the beginning of the year was something that neither Bryan nor I had foreseen.  What started out as a scary nightmare has turned out into the greatest adventure of our marriage.  We have been supported and loved by our families, friends, and our new church family.  Without either of us having a single full-time job in a tanking economy, we have had all of our financial needs met this year.  With our hodge podge of multiple jobs, God has provided for us so well that we have been able to stay debt free (besides our home), even with multiple medical problems rising, and we have been able to be generous with others in need as well.  God is so very good.  God's provision during this unusual season of our life has been needed confirmation that we are indeed planting His church- not ours.

I love our ministry at Church@The Square.  It is so refreshing to be part of a church that matches our personalities, gifts, and vision perfectly.  We love the simplicity of meeting in a "borrowed building" on Sundays so that our church resources can be funneled back into the Kingdom without as much overhead.  We love that our church body is made up of people all different ages, backgrounds, and races.  We love that people feel welcome when walking through the doors and are hearing the Gospel sometimes for the first time clearly.  There is so much more that I am excited about, but I'll have to save that for another blog all of its own.  Can you believe our launch is only a month away now???!!!

I am so thankful for Jesus.  What other god takes things meant for evil and turns them into good?  There are still things I don't like- don't understand.  I am so thankful that weeping only lasts for a night and that joy comes in the morning.  Like the Proverbs 31 woman, I can look at the future and laugh.  Though life is uncertain and at times very difficult, the joy we have in Christ is unshakeable and helps us overcome all things.  In Christ, we can look at the future and smile.  Even if things do not get better for us in this life, we know we have one to come as believers... a life where all things wrong will be made right and where peace will reign and night will be no more.  The morning is coming beloved Christian.  Take heart and be thankful.  Jesus will not let us down.  Close your eyes when you are discouraged and anticipate it.  The sun is rising.  Our Master's return is near.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

My Thoughts on Proposition 26


One thing is for sure.  Whether or not Proposition 26 passes, it is bringing to the table many important discussions that we need to understand as Christians.  For those who do not hold to the authority of the Word and are not Christians, it is still something that needs to be talked about.  We just may look at everything from a different perspective.

I've hesitated to blog about this (1) because I hate drama (2) I have enough drama in my life without inviting it in (3) I do not want friends who disagree to feel judged or condemned.

Let's just get this out in the open.  I am writing to an audience assuming you are Christian and assuming that you believe in the ultimate authority of Scripture.  I have friends who have aborted babies, and I do not condemn them.  I grieve for them and their unborn.

Since I don't believe in reinventing the wheel, I read a blog someone wrote that I think answers the questions that I see popping up on facebook well.  I'm linking it below.

http://joshandemilykines.wordpress.com/2011/11/01/initiative-26-do-you-believe-that-an-unborn-baby-is-a-person/

If you're still not sure about what this blogger says about the Pill, here's an informational website by a pharmacist that I think is helpful in understanding how the Pill works that another facebook friend recommended.

http://www.pfli.org/faq_oc.html

What I have found interesting in the debate about whether or not Proposition 26 should be passed is the discussion that has came up surrounding several routine forms of birth control.  People are furious about the idea of IUDs, the morning after pill, and the Pill going off the market in our state.  Planned Parenthood and all of the larger organizations that are against Proposition 26 are making this a main issue.  What I find intriguing is that they are not arguing that these methods of birth control could be abortifacient.  They are arguing that we have a right to use abortifacient birth control.  I find that scary.

Years ago in college, a student challenged me to research out the Pill well when I was writing a research paper on abortion.  Honestly, I thought he was stupid and probably too conservative at the time.  The more I researched the more I was troubled.  I'm ashamed to admit that I was too selfish to choose another alternative, even with all I knew, when I first got married, because it was convenient.  Thankfully, the Pill made me feel hormonally crazy, and after trying several different brands, I gave up on it and began using barrier methods instead.  Now, looking back, I am disturbed by how hard my heart was towards the topic.  The Pill was easy and neat.  Other methods aren't always.

I am not against family planning.  I think there are times when it may be helpful to use a form of birth control.  A woman battling with cancer would not be able to take the same treatments if she became pregnant without harming her child.  A family whose husband just lost his job might want to wait to have more kids until their finances stabilize again.  Life is messy, and there are no perfect scenarios.

Whether or not Proposition 26 passes or is forgotten, I think it is revealing our hearts.  It is showing us what we really value.  The things we value may not be evil in themselves.   Maybe it's only if they become idols.

Do your homework.  Stop listening to the scare tactics of the side that doesn't want Proposition 26 to pass.  If you vote No, do it informed and aware of why you are doing it.  All birth control is not being banned.  Women who suffer from miscarriages are not going to be persecuted and imprisoned.  Humane IVF will continue.

If you vote yes, know why you are doing it.  The unborn are counting on our discussions to be accurate and fair.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

13 Weeks!

Image borrowed from http://www.babycenter.com/fetal-development-images-13-weeks.

We've made it to the 2nd trimester today!  Hello 13 weeks!  Since we have miscarried twice before now, it's refreshing to get to this point. 

Baby is doing well.  He/She wasn't in a good position for gender prediction this past Monday, but we should find out the sex on October 24th at our next appointment.  After talking to Dr. Sams, my ob, he agreed that I should continue on the gluten/dairy free diet, since it relieves most of my really bad symptoms.  At this point, it is important that we get the vomiting under control, so I can gain a healthy amount of calories pregnant.

Obviously, if I eat normal for three days and puke 60 plus times then eat gluten free/dairy free and don't vomit once, something is up.  It looks like the gluten/dairy sensitivities are confirmed.  At least I have a plan of action now, even if it means I have to eat in a crazy way.  We are just praying that everything returns to normal once Baby is born.

Some interesting things we have found out since I have been on this gluten/dairy free diet.

-The severe reflux I was having was caused by the food sensitivies. What I still have now is related to a hiatal hernia and can be controlled by Prevacid and elevating my bed at night.
-The constant nausea I was having all day long is gone now that my tummy is healing.  I only have morning sickness at night now.  Much better!
-I was apparently very bloated from swelling from the food sensitivies.  I have lost 5 lbs in water weight this week and my waist has gone down a couple of inches.  I hardly even look pregnant now which is weird since I am farther along.
-I am very sensitive to gluten.  I accidently used a couple of tablespoons of mayo that had gluten in it in a batch of deviled eggs I made, and I was sick late into the night from eating them.  I have to be diligent and a little OCD reading labels now.
-The odd stroke-like episode I had a month ago could have been caused by the gluten sensitivity.  It apparently can happen if you ignore the symptoms and continue eating like normal (which I did in ignorance).
-If ignored, gluten sensitivity can cause miscarriages, because it throws off your body so badly.  

Praise God for direction and that Baby has been safe while we have been figuring all of this out.  I am so thankful that our obgyn doesn't think I am crazy and agrees that staying on the diet is working and is the way to go.  He actually has experience with other patients doing similar things during their pregnancies. 

Yay!  We have answers.  Thanks for your prayers.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Doctor's Reports

Here's the scoop from the doctors' visits yesterday.

Neurologist:

It looks like the stroke-like symptoms may have just been related to a weird migraine.  It's hard to say for sure without more tests, but while I am pregnant, we would all rather play it safe and avoid any head scans unless they become absolutely necessary.

Diagnosis: Migraines

Plan of Treatment: Don't get stressed (SERIOUSLY).  He said the only thing I can do is to cut out stress and make sure I don't get stressed at all.  If I have any more funny symptoms, we'll have to proceed with more tests.  Let's pray that it stops here.

Allergist:

She seemed to think it was unlikely that I have developed gluten/dairy intolerance during pregnancy.  She seems to think that the reason I feel better on that diet is because it is low fat.  I'm not sure, so I am going to food journal a little longer and try out some ideas.  It would be awesome if I could eat normal and not have any problems again!

Diagnosis: Severe Reflux.  She thinks all of my other symptoms are attributed to the fact that I have crazy reflux.

Plan of Treatment: Elevate the head of our bed on cinderblocks until baby comes.  Eat low fat and avoid any foods that seem to make me feel worse.  Get on Prevacid since Tums don't help.  Since Prevacid is in the "gray category" with safety during pregnancy, please pray that our baby stays safe during this medication regime and that it knocks out the reflux so we don't have to try anything stronger.

Thank you for all who are praying for us.  We appreciate it so much!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Updates for Our Prayer Warriors

First and foremost, thank you for all of the prayers.  We have so many people praying for us, and we appreciate it more than words can say.

Here are a few health updates for those who have been praying for me:

  • I haven't had any more crazy stroke-like episodes so far.  We are cutting back life stressors as much as we can to slow down a little.
  • I'm seeing Dr. Evans September 19th to try to follow-up with a neurology clinic and see where we go from here.  That was the soonest I could be worked in with a referral.
  • My test for Factor V Leiden came back negative.  That means we don't have any answers for why I have miscarried in the past, but we at least know I don't have this blood disorder.
  • I'm super nauseated and sick with reflux every day, but I have found out that there is a possible connection between dairy and something else (still trying to figure it out) that makes me have worse nights.  Let's just say I have tried every reflux trick out there and nothing is completely correcting it.  It's hard to think about spending the next 7 months hugging the toilet, but I don't regret it for Abby.  I'm sure I won't regret it with this baby either.
  • I'm scheduled to see Abby's allergy doctor September 19 as well to see if maybe I have pregnancy induced lactose and gluten intolerance.  I read a few articles about it and the symptoms do seem to match mine.  Who knows???  Until then, I'm trying to be careful with my diet and eat as blandly as possible in small spread out meals.
As for the church plant, here are a few updates:
  • We are now receiving financial support from Mosaic Church in Ocean Springs and Ridglea Heights in Escatawpa (as well as those who are part of the church plant).  That has enabled our family to start receiving some financial support from Church @ The Square.  Perfect timing!  It's not quite a full salary yet, but it has been a big stress relief for us to be able to cut back in our "tent-making skills" to focus more on the church.
  • Because of my health scare a couple of weeks ago and a few other factors, Bryan decided to slow down with his school schedule this semester to spend more time investing in Church @ The Square and being home right now.  It means he won't graduate in December, but he will still graduate soon.
  • Church@ The Square was able to move into the BSU building last month, and that has been a HUGE blessing.  We had outgrown our home, and it is great having more space.  Now, we are making some changes we need order to prepare for more families in the future.
Ways you can pray for us right now:
  • God would continue to keep me and our baby safe during this pregnancy.
  • God would continue to provide for our family financially through Church@The Square, so we can focus on our ministry here in Gautier more.
  • This terrible nausea and reflux would pass quickly.
  • God would send leaders to help Church@The Square reach out in Gautier more effectively.
  • God would prepare the hearts of the unchurched people here in Gautier to receive Jesus and become part of our church body.
  • Bryan would have wisdom and creativity in leading Church@The Square well.
I'm sure there are other ways that I am missing.  Here are some ideas for those of you who like lists. Thank you for partnering with us to reach the unchurched in Gautier and along the Mississippi Gulf Coast.  Jesus is worth our sacrifices.


Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Mermaid Room!!!

Abby has been asking me to paint a mermaid on her walls for a while now, and I finally decided to do it.  As you well know, our kid is terrified of sharks and usually thinks they are coming to get her around bedtime.  We decided to paint her magical bubbles and a mermaid to keep the sharks away as she sleeps in her little boat at night.  

Abby is ecstatic about how it turned out!  It's hard to tell from the photos but there are jewels and glitter everywhere!  When she saw the finished room, she wrapped her little arm around mine and told me I was her friend.  The ultimate toddler compliment, huh?

The room before we took down the flowers and old curtain.
You can barely see the pencil sketch of the mermaid in the works.


1st Layer of Paint

Finished Room Complete With Pergo Floors- Yay!!!
(You can see she is out cold from all the day's activity.)

View 2 of Finished Room
Lastly the Finished Mermaid
You can kind of see how shimmery everything is here.  It's so girly- I love how it turned out!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Our Big Answered Prayer

I went in today to be tested for Factor V Leiden, a blood disorder that runs through both sides of our families, and we found out why I have been so tired this summer.  I am 8 weeks pregnant!  I've been having pregnancy symptoms for most of the summer, but we weren't 100% sure until we saw the ultrasound today.

We were able to see a healthy heartbeat and a cute little peanut.  We are very excited and ask for everyone to pray for the health of our little one.  Our due date is currently Easter 2012.

Our obgyn is obviously concerned about the episode I had this past Friday, so he is helping me get into the neurology clinic in Ocean Springs sooner.  Thanks to some help from Mosaic, we have a name of a recommended neurologist to visit. 

Keep us all in your prayers and celebrate with us.  God is good!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Crashed


Today, I hit my limit.  I've been burning the candle at both ends for most of this summer managing our business, caring for our family, helping with the church plant, and dealing with back to back stressful family situations.  Physically, my body had enough today.

I was at Mammaw's helping unpack and waiting for Cableone to finish fixing her internet (vital for someone who relies on a Captel phone and internet to communicate well).  I knew I was tired and had pushed myself too hard, especially these last two weeks helping get Mammaw moved and the estate sale ready.   At noon, my vision blurred in half of my peripheral field for 30 minutes.  I called Bryan and told him I would probably need him to come pick me up from her house.  Within the hour, my hand had went numb on my right side, and it quickly spread to the right side of my face and the right inside of my mouth.  My thoughts became jumbled, and I couldn't communicate clearly or think well.  By then, my mom had arrived home from work, and she took me to Bryan.  He took me to the ER.

By the time I was seen by the ER doctor, my symptoms had faded, and he proposed that I probably have a rare vasospasm condition that causes unusual migraines and symptoms.  I am being referred to a neurologist.  At this point, he said the only way to prevent another episode is to cut out stress and take it easy.  The good news is that it is highly unlikely that I had a stroke or a blood clot- both fears of ours.  I'll make an appointment with the neurologist this week to follow-up and see what I need to do from here to prevent another attack.  The last one I had like this was the day before I had Abby (thus why she was induced a few days early).

Needless to say, Bryan and I both had a good scare.  On the plus side, my sweet grandmother is almost completely moved in.  I hear the estate sale is a success so far.  Can you pray for us that life calms down for a few months now?  I think we can all use some rest.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Sometimes Life Is a Mess

Can I just say I am tired?  Life has been very difficult this past year.  God has been so gracious to take care of us well, but I am well aware that He is the only One holding me together most days.  This past year has been a year of loss but also a year of growth.  Here's what I mean.

-Last summer, a friendship became irreconcilable the same week Bryan was going through diagnostic procedures to figure out why he was having some serious health problems.  I was heartbroken.  / Now, God has replaced that friendship with healthy ones.  I now have friends that love me and walk with me through life and take the time to understand and know me.  They get that I am pulled in a thousand different ways with our ministry, business, and life situation.  They are patient with me.

-A few months later, Bryan and I found out we were pregnant in September, but we miscarried in October. / I have cried and grieved over losing another child (our first miscarriage was in 2007).  I know God is good even when I don't understand or even like His plans for me.

-At the beginning of this year, it became increasingly clear that the leadership of the church we serving at was moving in a direction that was unfaithful to Scripture.  After months of struggling and praying, Bryan resigned at the end of February. / God has opened a new chapter in our life that is entirely frightening and wonderful at the same time.  Because we felt release from our previous church but not from our city, we are planting a new church here to reach people who would not normally attend church.  We are so excited about what God is doing here.  As Bryan has lost his full-time job, God has provided for our family so well in many other ways.  One is that Peripety Designs, our web design business, grew from being a part-time addition to our income to being our main source of income within the exact time frame we needed to make the transition work.  God is so good!

-Since Easter I have had unusual health problems where my body has simulated being pregnant without it actually coming to fruition.  I have actually cycled in and out of feeling pregnant and having all of the 1st trimester symptoms for a month to just have them go away again.  My obgyn has tested me  and ruled out thyroid problems.  It's speculated that I may have miscarried several times but really there is no way to know for sure.  I have struggled deeply with this unidentified health issue.  We have always wanted to have a big family,  and I feel teased for my body to keep mimicking a healthy pregnancy. / I am having to learn to trust that God is good- not cruel.  I am learning to trust in the truths of Scripture- not my emotions.  I am learning to rest in God's sovereignty, even if it hurts sometimes.  I have even more compassion for families who silently suffer through fertility issues.  It's hard to talk about them.

-In May, we found out that Abby had a severe dust mite allergy.  With that, Abby's doctor has given us a list of some pretty big changes we need to make to keep her healthy. / I have seen God provide for our needs in this area in big ways.  It has been comforting to know that He is going to take care of us, even in this area.

-This June, my dad's mom, Meme, was hospitalized.  With that, we learned that she had a large tumor and kidney cancer.  By the end of July, she had passed away, and it is has been harder than I thought it would be to let her go.  It's difficult to see people you love pass away, even if they have lived a full life. / I am once again reminded how permanent death is and how fleeting our lives are even if we get to live to 92.  I want to make the most of this life so I can look back without any regrets and know deep down that I have served Jesus and my family to the best of my abilities.

-This July, the week before Meme passed away, my mom's mom tore her rotator cuff severely, and we learned that she is going to need a full shoulder replacement.  Since she is the primary caregiver to my step grandfather with Alzheimer's, this is a really big deal.  A couple of days after Meme's funeral, my step grandfather was taken to hospital via ambulance, and his health has declined since.  Now, Mammaw and Grandpa have decided to move into Meme's old house to be closer to my family for care and help.  We are in the process of getting both homes ready, getting Mammaw and Grandpa's home ready for an estate sale, and moving them in within the next week or so. / I am learning that sometimes life happens so fast that you can't possibly have the strength to keep going on your own.  I am finding strength for each day in Christ.  Life is always changing and moving, and we have to rely on Jesus to have the grace to be kind and loving when we are stressed.  If anyone understands stress right now, my family does.  There is a lot of responsibility on everyone's shoulders right now (some more than others) as we all pitch in to make this transition happen.

I don't write all of this to complain, but just to be honest, sometimes life is tough.  Really tough.  I am so ready for life to stabilize and slow down.  Even if it doesn't, God is still good.  If we are willing, He can be glorified in our crazy mess.  I am praying that He receives glory from mine.

Monday, August 8, 2011

New Orleans Part II

I thought it would be fun to contrast our trip to New Orleans' Aquarium of Americas from May 2010 to this past week's trip.  It's amazing how much my kiddo has grown in a little over a year!  Apparently, the photos show how much we have changed too.  (Bryan and I both have learned to embrace our curls, and Bryan's a little fuzzier now too.)  Enjoy the photos!

May 2010

August 2011

May 2010

August 2011

May 2010

August 2011

May 2010

August 2011

May 2010

August 2011

Sunday, August 7, 2011

New Orleans Part 1

I am so proud of my hubby.  He is only a semester away from finishing his Masters of Divinity at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, and he has worked hard!  He spent this past week finishing up a seminar there, and Abby and I joined him for a night out Thursday night and a day at the Aquarium of Americas Friday.

Thursday night, we took Abby to listen to jazz music and eat shrimp poboys at a great open air restaurant in the French Quarter.  Afterwards, per her request, we watched boats on the side of the riverbank until the sun dipped into the horizon.

Here are a few snapshots to show you how much fun we had boat watching.

Waiting expectantly for the green boat in the distance.  This kid loves green!

Getting closer!

Abby was hardly able to contain her excitement about seeing the big green boat.

The much anticipated ship.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Goodbye

The funeral begins today at 2 p.m.  I can't sleep for the second night in a row.  It's all surreal still.   It's hard to believe Meme is gone.  I know she lived a full and happy life, but I'm still sad.  I miss her.  She was dynamite and spice as long as I have known her, and watching her fade away slowly this week has been really hard.  I'm happy that she is with Jesus now.  I still hate death.

Sunday night was the last conversation we had where she was able to respond back much at all.  It went like this.  I bent down to tell her my visit had come to an end.  She called me her little princess and moved my hair out of my face to comfort me as I silently shed tears that were long overdue.  She traced my arm with her hand until it touched my face and brushed through my curls.  We both knew it was goodbye.  I could see it in her eyes.  She squeezed my hand before letting go.  I kissed her forehead and said a prayer over her before walking away.  Neither of us had dry eyes.  Goodbyes are never easy or adequate.

Tonight, I started looking through photos I have of her from our wedding until now.  Here a few favorites I thought you would enjoy seeing as we celebrate her life today and grieve over her death.

July 8, 2006- My Wedding Day
2008- Celebrating Abby's Imminent Arrival
Spring 2009- Dedicating Abby 
Easter 2009- Abby and Meme's "quality time"
Thanksgiving 2009
Spring 2010
Summer 2010
Fall 2010
Fall 2010
Spring 2010- Our Most Recent Abby/Meme Photo

We love and miss you Meme.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Difficult Day

Abby and Meme this May

Today has been a tough day.  It started off incredible.  Abby was at Gaga and Pap's (my parents') house, so Bryan and I got to sleep in late (for us).  We began thrift shopping for barstools until we got a phone call that Meme (my dad's mom) had taken a turn for the worse.  We immediately stopped what we were doing and headed towards the assisted living facility where she was staying.

Nothing prepared me for how much she has aged in only a week's time.  It was so hard seeing her frame fragile and weak gasping for air.  She has been fighting kidney cancer, and we knew the tumor was growing.  She lived 92 years... more than most people get.  It's still not easy.

Death is so hard to comprehend though we all push against it.  It's hard for me to understand that another person that has always been a constant in my life will no longer be here.  Feeling the pain of grief begin again today has been too much.  I hate to see people I love suffer.  A slow death is hard on everyone.

Abby came up to me tonight worried because I was teary, and asked if I was sad over Meme being sick.  When I told her I was, she said I need to play "animal farm" with her, so I would be happy again.  I had to smile.  I often wish life was that simple again.

Tonight, I don't grieve as someone who has no hope.  Yes, life does seem futile and hopeless sometimes.  I'd be lying if I said it doesn't.  Even when my emotions give way to despair and sadness, I can stand firm knowing that Jesus is my constant.  Nothing in this life is guaranteed except for Him.  In Jesus, I find comfort and hope for tomorrow.  Even when this life ends, the best is yet to come.

"For this God is our God for ever and ever; He will be our guide even to the end." Psalm 40:18


"Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. I heard a loud shout from the throne saying, "Look God's home is now among His people! He will live with them, and they will be His people.  God Himself will be with them.  He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain.  All these things are gone forever." Revelation 21:1-4

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Reaching the Unchurched

Summer is almost over, and I have had the incredibly blessing of participating in three different Bible school outreaches.  I have talked to a lot of people in and out of the church, and here are some things I have learned from listening to others' stories.

1) Religion turns people off to the Gospel.  Many people who are unchurched think the Gospel is not a big deal, because they can't past all of the rules tacked onto their heads the minute they walk through church doors.  They know their tattoos will be frowned on.  They know they are a single mom with kids.  They know they are divorced.  They know their lives are messy.  It makes me sad.  The Church is supposed to be the body of Christ- not a self-righteous possy that beats up broken and lost people. 

2) Churches that are active and making a difference in their communities are attractive to unchurched people.  Most of us in the South have been part of dysfunctional churches where pew warmers are the norm.  Many of us have scars from nasty church fights within, and some of us leave to escape the pain.  When the unchurched see a church that is actually doing something, they get to see a glimpse of the Gospel.  They wonder... maybe this place is different?  Maybe there is something here that matters?

3) The environment your church creates every time you meet is HUGE.  I've visited quite a few churches during this transition period, and let me tell you, how the church feels when you walk through the doors matters a lot!  It doesn't take a visitor long to figure out whether or not they are welcome, whether or not they are being looked up and down for wearing the wrong or the right thing, or whether or not the people in this room actually care about each other.  The churches that are growing are the churches where people feel loved and safe.

I don't know about you, but I want to be part of a church that matters.  I want to be part of a church that takes Jesus into the darkest places in our community and to the ends of the earth.  I want to be part of a church that embraces sinners and leads them to Jesus for healing and new life.  I hate religion.  I want to experience the freedom that Christ has purchased for us.  I want to see unchurched people try out church again and realize that God is not dead.  Jesus is alive and powerfully working through His body to redeem and make a treasured people for His name's sake.  Brother and sisters, let's repent if necessary and commit together to do church well.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Planting a Church Is Like Buying a New Couch

Well, as you know, our precious toddler tot was diagnosed with a dust mite allergy recently, and we are scrambling to make as many changes as we can in our home to keep her from getting sick as often.  We have carpet out of one room and have three more rooms to go.  We have the laminate flooring for one more room but then have to find more for the other two.  Since money is obviously tight as we transition full swing into church planting, I have been praying like crazy for God to provide the resources we need to knock out the dust mites in our home.  Like a good Calvinist, I haven't just been sitting by waiting for everything to drop in our laps. We have been building websites like there is no tomorrow.  I have been scouring craigslist like a vulture waiting for the perfect deals on flooring and furniture.

This past week, God graciously provided the deal of a lifetime on a fairly new leather couch and loveseat set.  A lady was downsizing and needed to get rid of her lightly used furniture quickly, so she sold us everything for $150.  Is it 100% leather?  I doubt it, but it is 100% dust mite unfriendly either way.  For a mom that is sick of seeing her sweet girly whiny with one sinus infection after another, I jumped on the bargain and sent Bryan to pick it up.   Yay!



We quickly realized after moving the new furniture into our tight cozy living room that this was going to be a big change.  After shifting item after item around for about 2 hours like puzzle pieces, we figured out the best combination and locked everything in to stay.  The end result- we have much more room but realize that not everything we have is going to work well with our new setup.

The list starts like this... The chandelier is going to have to leave the room... ok.  It was getting in the way every time we rearranged furniture for launch group anyhow.  We are going to have to downsize our big table. No problem.  Bryan has what we need to build a smaller pub table.  And the list goes on... a necessary change (a.k.a our new leather furniture) has caused a cascade of smaller changes that are inevitable to make the whole thing work.

Welcome to my life now as a church planter's wife!  As we welcomed church planting in as the next frontier of the Cirlot household, so many other things about us are changing and shifting. More than ever, I know how much I need Jesus.  But... I am not complaining.

Just like our new couch, church planting is exactly what we need right now.  Living day to day seeing God's provision is a beautiful, challenging thing. 

I am thankful to be on this journey.  I like being His.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Jesus Storybook Bible

I just wanted to share a link this morning of a book that we have been going through with Abby during our family devotional times.  I absolutely love this so far!  It does an excellent job of teaching the Gospel message in word imagery that even my two year old can understand.  Check it out!  I've also added a link to Amazon- so far the cheapest place I can find that sells it.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

From Carpet to Foam Tiles

Life has been moving really quickly for us in the Cirlot household in the past month.  We've been to Birmingham to visit Audrie and meet her gracious host family.  We've met with church planters to learn how to do what we are doing now most wisely.  We have built several websites and logos for companies local and beyond.  We are quickly nearing the end of Phase 1 of the Acts29 assessment.  Bryan has taught a Dnow,  has had a guys retreat with old friends, and I have taught a VBS class.  Abby has had another positive doctor's appointment from her allergy doctor who just affirmed that our carpet and upholstered furniture has to go soon, and that the changes we are making are making a big difference with her dust mite allergy.  Here's where we are.  

I have been praying that God would provide us with the flooring we need to get rid of our carpet.  This weekend, I found a lot of foam play mat tiles on Craigslist for $30.  We had already bought several packs before to keep over the center of her playroom floor.  The extra tiles I picked up yesterday were EXACTLY the same type we had already bought and EXACTLY the number we needed to rip up the carpet and completely cover the floors.  Isn't God good?
The old gross carpet we had to start with minus the baseboards.


No wonder Abby is sick all of the time.  It is gross when you pull up carpet!  It smelled funky too.

10 hours later... Flooring is complete! Abby saw it for the first time this morning and said, "WOW!"

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Story

Check this out.  It tells the Gospel in a beautiful way that is easy to understand.  I shared it with my VBS class today, and they really listened to it well.  I hope you enjoy it too!  Share with your friends.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Silly Daddy!


Silly Daddy from Peripety Designs on Vimeo.

Daddy trying to get Abby ready for bed. He tried to take her dress off without unbuttoning it to begin with. Funny!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Laundry Room Redo & Turning Our House Into a Library

Here are the photos of the latest Cirlot family projects.

We had a problem with our dryer last night that ended up being a laundry room remodel.  I thought you would enjoy seeing the progression of how our closet/laundry room has changed since we moved in a few years ago.

This is our master bedroom's closet before we moved in.  It was huge, but we needed a space for our washer and dryer.

With help from Bryan's dad and our friend JJ, Bryan made electrical and plumbing changes, tiled the floor, built a false wall, added closet doors, and built a wooden half-wall to enclose the utility cords, plumbing, and etc.

Here's our finished project after last night. Bryan had to redo the half-wall and redid it with beadboard.  We added shelving (love having scrap wood in our shop!), and we used leftover paint from another project to make the walls fun! 

Now, I am finally organized in here and all of our cleaning stuff is out of Abby's reach.
Here it is zoomed out, so you can see how our closet is now lined with bookcases for Bryan's library.  We used to have a double-sided closet, but about a month before Bryan resigned, the left side fell.  It turns out to be providence.  We both just got rid of half of our wardrobe and joined it together on the right side.  Who really wears that many outfits anyhow?
Abby and Aslan decided to model in this one.  You can see how all of the bookshelves are maxed out!

We moved a desk into the master bedroom, so it could be a quieter place to study.  We added a short bookshelf on this side too.  

More Bookshelves in the Living Room/Dining Room area.  I do like how colorful they are!
Abby's makeshift bookcase and reading area.  You can see her artwork displayed above with repurposed table mats.

So, that's it for now.  More projects are always being cooked up, so I'm sure you will see something new soon!
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