Friday, January 30, 2009

Countdown to 6- THIS Year!

Six years ago, we walked out of the sanctuary and into a full marriage. Children, trials, moves, and waiting were before us.

As I look back on our most recent year to celebrate, I know that this year was a hard one. The relationship between the leaders of the church soured. Criticisms flew towards him and myself. We knew that it wasn't working, but wanted to be faithful. And with no place or direction that God was clearly leading us, we stayed and endured.

But in September, Casey was convicted that he had to stand up and address some of the issues, and instead of talking through them, we was dismissed.

Without getting into details, the separation was ugly and not glorifying to our Father. And we are still healing from the hurtful manner in which the relationship ended.

But God has been faithful. Our house was listed, and it was occupied by new tenants in 6 weeks. We moved to Oregon and began the process of moving my grandmother into an independent living facility, clearing out things and cleaning her home. It is a good home for us, and we are thankful that we can help her like this and that she can help us like this!

And here we are. Today, one day before we celebrate walking out of the sanctuary having taken our vows, we don't know what today will hold nor the next few weeks or months. Just like January 31, 2003, we face tomorrow knowing that God will give us the grace for each day that follows.

So, without full-time work, and savings dwindling with each month, there are things to be nervous about, but we know that God is faithful. We enter year seven praising Him for what He has done, and with hope of what He will do.

"God has poured out upon us all his treasures which no man can measure
and no angel can understand or fathom."
-Martin Luther
"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights
with whom there is nor variation due to change."
James 1:17
(The Martin quote is off our wedding invitations, and the scripture was in our wedding program)

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Countdown to 6- Year Five

Our fifth year of marriage was the quietest ever. There were no additions to our family, no moves and no job changes. In fact, there weren't any major life changes at all!

God allowed us to be able to focus on establishing ourselves in Grand Junction and just settling in. Did that mean we had no trouble? Absolutely not. Before we lived in Colorado for a year, we began to be tested. God was at work in our lives, bracing us for the next year. He was challenging both Casey and I in ways that we had never been challenged before and in ways that we needed to gain strength for His glory.

We would not see how and why all the different challenges came our way the way that it did, and even now, I don't understand all of it. But what I do know is that God is building our family and preparing us for good works, always. And we praise Him for that.

We are thankful to God for His faithfulness in trials and peace.

Our fifth year was precious (as they all are).

Haddon turned 1! He learned to crawl and walk, and had his first haircut- if you notice his hair above, that is a big deal and worth mentioning. He had CRAZY hair!

We visited family in Oregon and the kids got to go to the coast for the first time!

Norah was a ballerina for Halloween, and this is one of my favorite pictures of her EVER!

Daddy got a seat so Norah could ride with him. She was so excited.
Haddon has enjoyed this too.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Countdown to 6- Year Four

So, the fourth year of our marriage looks like a child's fingerpainting: God's fingerprints were all over it!

2006 started with us living with parents, Casey working a part-time job, and me just trying to balance the demands of a young little girl with the demands of a growing baby inside. It was a hard pregnancy for two reasons: 1) I have diabetes, so especially when pregnant, diet is a huge issue, and 2) I WAS JUST PREGNANT, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD! Seriously, my body had not recovered fully. And as the little boy inside grew and grew, so did I.

I remember one night in the living room, when my father-in-law was across the room, and I turned at a certain angle. In his astonishment, and cried, "Whoa! You're just all out there!" I said, "Huh?" He went on to explain that he just hadn't noticed how all my pregnancy was all belly- sticking way out! Thanks dad. Like I didn't know!

Oh well.

We visited Grand Junction in the beginning of May. On Mother's Day, at 13 months, Norah walked in the living room of the senior pastor. Casey was in the other room interviewing/meeting with the elders, and I wanted to call him in to watch. I was glad that they let him come witness that.

Time went on, and it was clear that we should go to Colorado. Everything seemed to be the right fit, and we looked forward to moving. We just had to wait for Haddon to be born.

Well, he came, and he came early. I had already set it up so that we were on the Oregon Health Plan for the last month of the pregnancy since ours ended right before our son was due. Wow! Was it God's providence that happened!

Haddon was born July 2, 2006, about three and a half weeks early, and he was a big guy. Weighing in at 8 pounds 13 ounces, I was a little stunned (but not at the same time, because I really was BIG!), and what added to my surprise was that an ultrasound two days earlier measured him at about 6 pounds! Ha! That's a joke!

After being taken away, Haddon stayed in the NICU for five days getting weaned off higher glucose levels and trying to get a sucking reflex. Praise the Lord he was safe and we didn't have to pay a dime!

After God provided a home, we moved to a new life and ministry as a new family of four. We were welcomed. We were cared for. We were loved.

(The move exhausted Norah.)

But as we would know pretty soon, it just wasn't the right fit. God had a lot of work to do, and looking back on what He did blesses me, as I hope it does you.

(This is a view in Ouray, Colorado where a couple sent us on a one-night getaway for our anniversary.)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

"Okay Momma,"

said Norah.

Yes, this was her response to, "Okay, Norah, I want you to stay in bed and be a good girl."

We've been working on immediate obedience, without "but's" or arguments.

Thank you, Lord, for your faithfulness.

Countdown to 6- Year 3

Here it is! This is a big one! Our third year of marriage saw 3 moves, one birth, two pregnancies, and a church split!

Things seemed to be going well at the church where we served, but things were happening. Letters were being sent. Phone calls were being made, and who knows what else. The troops were being rallied, and the mission was to get the senior pastor out of the pulpit.

Meanwhile, Norah was growing in my tummy. Spring was coming and flowers and my figure were in full bloom! About a month before Norah's due date, we moved from our little duplex into a 4-bedroom, 2 bath home that had a living room and family room! Wow! We were excited!

But... oh there's always a but, isn't there?!

All the scheming that was happening behind the backs of leadership was about to come into the public eye of the church. About a week before Norah was born, things really started to unravel.

Norah was born on April 3, 2005. And she was beautiful, one of the prettiest newborns you'll ever see (don't know where newborn pics are, but someday we'll have to show ya'll). In the happiness of the moment, there was a cloud hanging over our heads because we had a battle ahead of us.

In the coming months we had to move out of the home that was Norah's first home. The owners were wanting to move back in, and we didn't want to live there anymore anyway. You see, they were plotting against leadership. The house we were once so happy to live in was now just really awkward to live in.

Two months after moving, we began the process of clearing out all our stuff. We would have to move again. Those who wanted to take over the church and boot out its godly pastor, won. My husband resigned from his post, and with no job and little severance, we looked to return to Oregon where we would live until Casey began seminary.

Norah was 6 months old when we left Woodland, California. We were so blessed to be surrounded by the people we knew there, and even still hold friendships so dear to us. We learned the value of holding to convictions no matter what the cost, and we know now that this time in our lives was a launching point for greater maturity and deeper love for the church.

Upon arriving in Oregon, we lived with family and began planning for seminary. But God had different plans.

The pregnancy test was positive. Norah was only 7 months old, and things were different. Instead of going to seminary, Casey decided that he would pursue a full-time ministry search.

In December he inquired about a position in Grand Junction, Colorado.

We welcomed 2006, and looked to what the year would bring.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Countdown to 6- Year Two

So our second year of marriage was our first year in full-time ministry. Casey was youth pastor to high school and junior high students, and our first major event was to a winter camp. The thing that I remember most about the camp wasn't the camp, but the drive to the camp. It was snowing hard (I was soooo sick of snow!), and one minute a leader from another church was driving in front of me, the next, she was in the ditch. I couldn't stop though, because if I had stopped, I wouldn't have started again.

We went to Mexico- and successfully, I might add (Casey was bothered by folks from Day 1 that he needed to start Mexico training in January. The trip wasn't until June-ish!). Two weeks before we left, as we lay in bed, I said, "I think that I'm ready to start a family. So, whenever you're ready, I just wanted you to know, I'm ready." I left it at that. We returned from the short-term Mexico trip, and as we lay in bed, husband said, "I'm ready to start a family too."

I got pregnant the next month. I remember walking into VBS and telling a girlfriend that I was so spacey lately, and she asked, "Why? Are you pregnant or something?!" I was silent. Shouts and hugs followed. And thus word spread. We thought that we would keep it quiet. But it didn't work. We were too excited. Those who found out were too excited. A pastor's kids hadn't been born to that church in about 30 years! So yeah, people were pumped.

Our second year of marriage was nice. The youth ministry was going well. We were starting to adjust to life away from family. We were making friends and getting settled. And most importantly, our family was growing!

But I will tell you that in year two, a storm was brewing. We were busy being blessed with good things, that we didn't see that God was preparing greater blessings through really hard things. Year two, 2004, was the calm before a major, major storm...

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A Night Out I Don't Get

I'm interrupting my anniversary countdown because I was very blessed last night to be able to go to a Ladies Night Out at church. In typical women's ministry manner, the tables were decorated, and everything was done up in a ways that only women can do. There were announcements of upcoming events and a time of worship through song- even a brief time of exercise to burn off calories we consumed in the Fiesta Dip! And, of course, there was a time of teaching and encouragement through the Word.

Besides the message being practically tailor maid for me in my current circumstances, it was so nice just to get out away from the house and the kiddos. My husband graciously made dinner for himself and the kids, and got them to bed on his own.

And I was also able to have my sweet sister-in-law come with me. I haven't had nearly as much opportunity to bond with her as I have with my other sister-in-law. And this was so nice. I told her that we will have to have a monthly standing date together! I am so grateful for Kari being a part of my family, and truly enjoy any time I get to have with her.

I hope the time was encouraging for her too as both of our husbands are out of work, and it is a sometimes stressful time for us and our families and we try to adjust and trust in God's faithfulness in the present and future.

So I am very grateful for a night out that I don't usually get.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Counting Down to 6

In just a matter of weeks my husband and I will be celebrating six years of marriage. Wow!

I think I'll do a little counting of blessings.

In our first year of marriage, we got our first taste of waiting. We waited and waited to see where God would lead us in ministry. While searching for ministry positions on various job boards, Casey worked as an auto detailer, and hated just about every minute of it. I remember one day he came home early because he twisted his knee in a very odd way. That knee has never been the same since.

I worked for Old Navy, and then got a job with Key Bank. I worked both jobs for a while until I was able to be nearly full-time with the bank.

Finally, it came. The ministry we were supposed to go to. Casey was called to be youth pastor of First Baptist Church in Woodland, CA. We visited, and liked what we saw there. We didn't have a clue what we were doing in a lot of ways. I guess you could say we were very green.

Before we celebrated our first year of marriage, we moved, for the first time in either of our lives to another town, another state. But it was New Years Day 2004, when we tried to move. And we didn't make it very far. Snow pummeled the state of Oregon, and I-5 was closed. We had to wait until the next day. But we made it.

We adjusted to life away from family and to a duplex with green carpet. We went to see Big Fish at one of the little theaters in Woodland to celebrate that anniversary.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

To Be Published?

A while ago I posted about my husband's paper that was recommended for publication. And we heard back from the publisher, and we were encouraged by his feedback.

Even though I know that there wouldn't really be any money in having a husband as a published author, it's exciting to think that it might happen. Casey put a lot of thought and effort into his 13-week series in Job, and it's neat to think that it might be shared with whoever may choose to buy the book. My hope is that he will have the opportunity to bless people in this way.

That's what I'm thankful for today. My husband was encouraged, and he also has a job interview today. No matter what the outcome of either, these are blessings of grace to get through today.

Saturday, January 3, 2009


I'll admit that I wasn't really looking forward to the ball dropping and ringing in 2009. The new year meant more unknowns and an extended waiting game. Starting in January, we officially begin tapping into our savings that we have from the sale of our home in Colorado. That money is like sand dripping through a monthly hourglass. (Can you have one of those?) We have to use it to pay for rent, bills and food. A seasonal position with UPS, helped decrease the dent we have to make in savings for January, but we don't know about February... or March... or April.

I didn't want January to come. It meant facing the harsher part of unemployment. So far, we have been somewhat immune to it.

Not anymore.

When my husband lost his job and we had to sell our home and move, we looked at what we made off the sale of our home and were excited that it might allow us to have some significant savings to build on and pursue some dreams for our family. By moving to Oregon, we've significantly cut our cost of living, and that was a potential open door to save even more.

But as we look at 2009, we're not sure when there will be steady income. We're not sure if we will be able to pursue the things that we have wanted to.

Now these thoughts are daunting, and a little disappointing- but not really for those who believe in a sovereign God who always gives us the best. Maybe, having the money to easily adopt is not the best for us. Maybe, living tightly and using our resources very carefully and wisely is needed training in discipline. Maybe seeing the savings account balance diminish is not bad, but good. Maybe God is doing a mighty work preparing us for further good works.

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts."
Isaiah 55:8-9
Maybe our Father is training us for deeper faith, greater grace, and higher joy. Maybe that's what 2009 will bring. Maybe if I remember the Sovereign One and believe the promises of the Word, then that's exactly what 2009 will bring.