Monday, February 28, 2011

Happy Anniversary, Middletown! (Sort of)

Two years ago today, my family and I boarded a plane for our first trip ever to Albany, NY. Here we would be picked up by our new friends Dan and Betty Ellingsen and taken into Vermont, a state which none of us had ever visited (or quite honestly probably even thought of visiting) before. We didn't have anything against it--it just wasn't really on our radar. At the time, we had been living in Nashville, TN for about 13 years and always assumed that God would eventually send us back to Texas so that our kids could grow up closer to ALL of the rest of their family. Enter God's sense of humor, for the rest (as they say) is history. We now live in Vermont. :-D

And we love it. But most of y'all already know that, and since that is not the purpose of this post, I won't elaborate on that point at the moment.

What I really wanted to talk about here is the process and experience that led to our dramatic and significant life change. I've had several people ask me how it was that I was so sure this was the right thing to do. Certainly along the way there were challenges (and still are!) which might lead some to believe that God was throwing up roadblocks. I mean, we do still own our house in Nashville. . . (not-so-subtle hint to anyone who is interested in taking that bad boy off our hands in the near future :-D) BUT--to answer that question-- How did I know? WELL--I'm no theologian, nor am I any sort of teacher/leader/counselor who should be giving advice on how to hear and interpret the voice of God. But I can share my experience for those who are interested. And if it helps, then thank you Lord for using my experience in spite of my weakness to share it effectively. ;-)

This is what I remember-- Mass chaos. Ok, not really, but kinda sorta. It was a WHIRLWIND weekend to say the least. Packed with activity from the moment we landed until we were back on the plane headed for Nashville exhausted in our bodies but exhilarated in our spirits. We had meetings and activities scheduled throughout the weekend. Dinner with the pastor search committee and their families the first night, women's breakfast in one building and men's breakfast in another building the next morning followed by lunch with our hosts and a tour of the area (the closest city, the house that was being discussed as a rental possibility--which we now live in, etc.), church-wide game night that night, church the next morning (Jared speaking of course) followed by Q&A time then soup Sunday gathering then meeting with the deacons and then youth group meeting that night. Go go go go go!!! Of course we wanted to fit in as much as we could as quickly as we could so that we got a chance to meet as many people as possible and understand as much as we could about the church and the community. To say it was a busy time would be like saying chocolate is pretty good. !!!!!! So understated it's really not even true! Pretty good?!? Come on, people! Chocolate is MAGICAL!!! But I digress. . . .

Here is what else I remember-- Overwhelming peace. In the midst of what really did feel like a tornado of activity at times, (Jared and I still laugh about hardly remembering even talking to each other that weekend because we were so swept up in everything else that was going on), I experienced the greatest peace I can ever recall in my entire life. It was so real and so complete to me, it was almost tangible. I have never heard the voice of God audibly. I believe He does still speak to people in that way, but for whatever reason He has never chosen to do so with me. But He does speak to my heart in a way that I can't deny. And in that weekend, He did so in a way that I will never forget. Little whispers all throughout the weekend in the midst of all the activity and then warm, rich, full conversations in the rare moments of time alone. Again, nothing audible. Just thoughts and perspectives and realizations that I knew I could never have generated on my own. This is one of the ways I recognized God's voice in my heart. I knew that prior to this visit, there was no part of me that wanted to move to Vermont. (Sorry, VT friends--nothing personal. I just didn't want to take my family ANOTHER 20 hours away from all the people who loved them the most--we were already about 12 hours northeast.) I mean, obviously I was trying to be open-minded, or I wouldn't have agreed to make the trip in the first place. But these people had A LOT of convincing to do! :-D Little did I know, God had the intro and closing argument all tied up already--and all points in between. And he presented them to me so sweetly and gently throughout that weekend, I could hardly wait to start packing as soon as we got back to Nashville. And at this point, they hadn't even "officially" offered Jared the job yet! Didn't matter to me. I knew in my heart what God had told me, and I was ready!

I can't say this happens to me as often as I'd like. Many times, God's answers aren't nearly as clear to me. But OH when they are, what a beautiful blessing to let Him sweep me off my feet! How could I NOT love it here when I feel like I've been picked up and hand-delivered by God Himself? Awesome.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Too Good to Read Just Once

Last night we had our 2nd Forge gathering in downtown Rutland. Chris Booth spoke about God and God-centeredness and how to find infinite joy in being God-centered. Not fleeting happiness. Infinite joy. This is a man whose wife died of cancer last year. He wasn't speaking of vague ideas. He was testifying from firsthand experience to the glorious power of the gospel and how it can simultaneously wreck us, heal us, and bring infinite joy into even the most painful and completely devoid of happiness situations. One of his final thoughts was Psalm 63. Read it more than once. It's too good not to.

Psalm 63

My Soul Thirsts for You
A Psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah.
1O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
as in
a dry and weary land where there is no water.

2So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
your power and glory.

3Because your steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise you.

4So I will bless you as long as I live;
in your
name I will lift up my hands.

5My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,
and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,

6when I remember you upon my bed,
and meditate on you in the watches of the night;

7for you have been my help,
and in
the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.

8My soul clings to you;
your right hand
upholds me.

9But those who seek to destroy my life
shall go down into
the depths of the earth;

10they shall be given over to the power of the sword;
they shall be a portion for jackals.

11But the king shall rejoice in God;
all who
swear by him shall exult,
for the mouths of
liars will be stopped.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Good List 2-23-11

10. The NBA slam dunk contest. I mean, it's not football, but it's pretty entertaining. :-D
9. Lenticular puzzles. They're kinda trippy. :-P
8. Lenny Kravitz. Still got it.
7. The super cute strawberry pin cushions the girls made last weekend (at a class at the West Rutland library taught by our fabulously special southern friend Sheri Ross and hosted by our huge-hearted, precious friend Kimberly Krohn)

6. The olive and red pepper tapenade our sweet friends the Englishes bestowed upon us last weekend. So very yummy.
5. Ghirardelli Chocolate Cinnamon Almond coffee. I wish I didn't have to swallow so I could taste it forever. YUM!
4. The perfectly fresh and delightfully cheerful yellow tulips my spectacular friend Kim Carr brought over on my birthday. They make me very happy. As does she. :-D

3. Greg Laurie's testimony. Check out the documentary The Lost Boy. It is a powerful story of redemption.
2. My baby's coming home tonight! I'm grateful for the ministry opportunities and personal refreshment he's had with some old friends in Nashville over the last couple days, but I like it better when we're together. ;-)
1. Stubborn friends. The kind who WILL NOT allow you to walk through a difficult time alone. You know like when you get an offer on your house. And then the buyers withdraw. So you decide to let renters move in. And then they back out. But then you get an offer again. And it falls through because the buyers didn't qualify for their loan. And now you're back at square one. If we were alone in this, I would have had a nervous breakdown by now. BUT our friends and our church are not just walking beside us through this. Nay. They have in fact hoisted us up onto their shoulders and are carrying us through. It is a phenomenal experience indeed.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Gotta Love Denver

From What Difference Do It Make?--

I ain't got no way to read the mind a' God, but I 'xpect part a' His business is makin it Christmas for somebody ever day. If all the Christians--I mean all of 'em--got outta the pews on Sundays and into the streets, we'd shut the city down.
We'd shut down hunger.
We'd shut down loneliness.
We'd shut down the notion that there is any such of a thing as a person that don't deserve a kind word and a second chance.

Gotta love Denver Moore for tellin' it like it is.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Good List 2-16-11

10. Crock pots. Seriously brilliant invention.
9. Strawberries. If I could afford to serve them with every single meal, I totally would.
8. This picture. I can't fully describe why I love it so much, but I do. Something about the simplicity and the light.

7. Bruce Matthews named Titans offensive line coach. Yeah buddy! I love that guy! He's a class act, that one.
6. Grace's weird addiction to The Price is Right. She can't walk away from it when it's on. Makes me giggle. I finally told her I would set the DVR to record it, and you would have thought I gave her free lifetime passes to Disneyworld. ;-)
5. Ray Allen breaks the NBA record for 3-pointers while his cute little Mom watches with tears in her eyes. Great moment.
4. BOTH of the Mandie movies that Nana sent the girls for Valentine's Day. We watched the first one Monday and the second one Tuesday. I love that I grew up reading these books and now Macy and Grace love them too. (And the movies are really sweet.)
3. George Beverly Shea, Julie Andrews, Dolly Parton, and The Ramones all get Lifetime Achievement Awards on the same night. Really wish they could have come up with a more diverse group, though. ;-)
2. No school this week! Which means the girls and I got to spend Valentine's Day together. I love that!
1. The sound of my children's voices reading or reciting scripture. Best sound ever.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Moment by Moment

A rare quiet morning. A good cup of coffee. Some time with the apostle Paul. And this view out my window--

If there is a contest going on for the perfect THANK YOU JESUS moment, I nominate this one for consideration. ;-) Hope you have a similar moment today.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Good List 2-9-11

10. VRBO. Lots of good deals to be found using this service.
9. Packers win! YAY! Ok, I confess I wasn't really that emotionally invested in either of the Superbowl teams this year, but I was happy to see the Packers win. And I was happy that both teams made it a pretty fun game to watch. Ready for August!!! ;-)
8. Kashi Cherry Dark Chocolate granola bars and the coupons that allowed me to get a box for $.59 last week.
7. The Phantom Tollbooth DVD that my Mom included in Macy and Grace's Valentine box of goodies. Such a great movie, but I've looked for it on DVD for years and never found it until recently. Score!
6. Topher Grace. I hear he's working on a new movie set in the 80's. This could either be a huge disaster or an adventure in adorable hilariousness. I'm hoping for the latter.
5. Ginger Shrimp Soup. My favorite new recipe. YUM!
4. My fabulous friends Tiffany Lechinger and Ryan Westbrooks who have given me SO MUCH great advice for helping plan my upcoming trip to NYC! Can't wait!!!
3. Driving along on winding mountain roads while listening to The Eagles, Van Morrison and CCR. If I were a therapist, this would be my prescription for pretty much everything.
2. Macy's drawings, which she does completely freehand just by looking at a picture. She is so much more talented than her mother will ever be in so many areas. (And that makes me happy.) These were done for her Dad, because they love watching Phineas and Ferb together.

1. Finding this page in Gracie's "doodle pad."

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Prayer Time 2-8-11

It's snowing again. As beautifully as ever.

Macy is home not feeling well and wanting to lay around and snuggle and rest most of the day.

It's a good day to pray. Let me know if you have requests you'd like me to lift up on your behalf by leaving them in the comments section of this post. As always, these will not be published publicly for the sake of those concerned about privacy.

Blessings in the Gospel today.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Congratulations, Texas!

You've had your practice. Next time you'll be ready for THIS!

And it's been here for WEEKS!

Is there something wrong with me if this makes me really happy?

There is? Oh well. :-D

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Good List 2-1-11

10. Making cappuccinos at home. You don't need a fancy machine. An immersion blender works just fine.
9. The word "splendid." It's quite splendid, don't you think? I challenge you to incorporate it into at least one conversation a day and see how people respond. :-D
8. The super cute little reusable snack bags that JoJo put in Macy and Grace's Christmas stockings. Brilliant idea!
7. The loooooong list of super fun things my Mom and sister and niece and I are trying to whittle down for our trip to NYC this summer. So much to do and see! I can't wait!
6. Finding skirt steak at a Price Chopper in Manchester, VT! (of all places!) This is REAL fajita meat. The other stuff is just sliced beef. Jared is very happy.
5. My new favorite hobby. This helps me justify my "need" to constantly pursue the perfect picture.
4. SNOW DAYS!!! Ok, so I'm not crazy about the idea of having to make them up at the end of the year, but there's something uncomparably sweet about a snuggly day at home watching the snow together. (It's really blustery out there. I love it!)
3. Watching my husband shrink. Not because I care what size he is, but because I'm happy that he wants to be healthier so I can keep him for a long time.
2. Macy and Grace's imaginations. Currently, our kitchen has been transformed into an airport (complete with security check-in area), and half of our living room is an airplane. Grace is on her way to Washington, D. C. What an adventure!
1. Hearing from my sweet friend Michael at LifeWay about how excited he is to promote Gospel Wakefulness when it releases later this year. Go visit a LifeWay store on Oct. 31!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Prayer Time 2-1-11

Happy February! It's ANOTHER snowy day here in the 802! And I am one of the only weird ones on the planet who absolutely LOVES it, I think! It's a good day to hibernate and pray. :-D Tell me what you want to add to my list by posting your requests in the comments field. These will not be published publicly for those concerned about privacy.

Hoping you will feel God's pleasure today.