Monday, December 31, 2012

Level Complete, Keep Playing!

A few video games have been played in our house this Christmas vacation.  I can hear the kids playing now - or at least the bickering anyway.  Jeff has been trying to complete one over the break, too - even having to listen to some tutorials online about how to get through certain parts.

I'm about the furthest thing from a 'gamer,' but here are a few things I've observed about video games:
  • The games are challenging.  If Mario could take a leisurely stroll right up to the Princess without jumping over barrels or worrying about Donkey Kong, what would the point be?  If you could see the end and walk right to it with no bumps along the way - it would probably be considered a pretty lame game.  Would you improve your 'gaming' skills at all?
  • Some games are easier if you have someone else to partner up with to help you through, give you hints or cheats, or work together to complete something. (As I hear Emily instructing Evan what to do as they try again.)
  • Most games have complex levels/worlds/tasks to complete within the big game.  Once you have completed one, you go on to the next and you don't go back to the one before.
  • There is an end, a prize, to all of them.  Whether it is a fun little song or your character dancing around, there is a sense of accomplishment when you have completed all the tasks, mastered all of the side-stories, and defeated all the enemies.
Looking back over this past year, we can probably identify several tasks and side-stories we had to complete and enemies we had to fend off.  We've been given second chances, or new lives, or forgiveness over and over. Other players have come along side us to help us through a hard spot so we didn't get hit in the knees by a rolling barrel or fall off the road into the dark.  We've helped other players, too, realizing that we are all playing together on the same team and for the same attainable prize. We've stumbled, we have fallen, we've made bad decisions, we have done the opposite of what we are supposed to do - and can't explain why.  We have learned something new each time we tried which will make it easier the next time. We have consulted the Writer of the game to see what He suggested we do - and feel privileged that the Creator of the game cares about how we play it.  It's best played if we don't look back to completed tasks, knowing that we can not change what has already been played and it will only distract us from our current performance.  Occasionally we've looked up and have seen the goal and it became downright overwhelming and we wondered if we will ever get there.  We've wondered if we should even continue!  Putting one foot in front of the other, picking up coin after coin monotonously became tiring at times.  Trying to figure out what the next step was has been painful.  We have been reminded that, as chosen players, we have a unique advantage - some 'cheats/help' which are already inside of us - in the form of our Helper.  As we've pressed through in level 2012, we have made improvements in ourselves, our abilities, our wisdom, and our skills. We have gotten one step closer to the prize and more like the One who wrote the game.  Our prize isn't just flashing lights and fun music - although I'm sure there will be a Light and music like none other!  Our prize is the ultimate Prize. And to hear the Writer say, "well played!" will be amazing!
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:12-14
...being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.  Philippians 1:6

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Merry Christmas from the Kissel Family!

Dear Family and Friends,

It's been a fun year of 'getting our feet under us' in our new area, grieving the loss of old, and enjoying the excitement of new!  We are happy to say that God has been blessing us richly with good friends and feelings of being 'at home' in North Carolina!  We may not have everything we want or desire, but He provides for what we need!  Here is the 2012 Kissel Family update - which we just know that you’ve been waiting for!

We have enjoyed our new church home - we've gotten involved and have met a lot of awesome people.  We’ve been so excited to host many of our ‘old’ friends and our family in our home this year - so many fun memories have been made!  We’d love to have you stay with us if you are out this way!  We've explored a bit around this area and hope to do more in the coming year.  

The whole family is growing in faith and patience, as we still own our Indiana home.  Amy has been actively applying for jobs since the summer with no offers.  Even though things haven’t panned out exactly as we thought they would here - we are still undoubtedly here for a reason that God has not revealed to us yet.  We’re thankful that He has given us peace about being here, when everything else is an unknown to us it seems.  We are enduring.  God is a rock to lean on in times of trouble.  He has helped us through.  Try Him  out if you haven't! ;)

Emily has played more seasons of soccer and enjoys her junior girl scout troop.  She enjoyed a weekend retreat for kids from her Sunday school recently and was baptized on December 2nd!  Emily's sweet and adventurous spirit and pretty smile is going to knock some boys off of their feet.  Fifth grade is upon us and she will soon be going to middle school.  We don't know where time has gone as she approaches her eleventh birthday.

Evan has continued to play baseball and enjoys playing with his legos and his friends.  Always active!  He is a good student in the second grade and always has a smile, a joke, a laugh, a hug, a compliment, or a fart for you!

Jeff spends a bit of time driving to and from work, but has done a great job with his team and still enjoys his job - most days.  He is co-leading our LifeGroup and got to assistant coach Em’s soccer team this year.  Flies his IU flag on his truck proudly and has some stellar Hoosier pride in this Tarheel State!  Still cooking, baking, smoking, grilling, and trying new beers! 

Amy does mom and wife and friend stuff mostly- which is exactly what she loves to do!  She has continued to blog about her thoughts and experiences since we moved - www.evansvillekissels.blogspot.com Still passionate about connecting women together to other women in order that all feel the love of Jesus - you are not alone!  Whether that is through lunches, or groups, or get-togethers, or school functions, or ministries - she loves it!  

We truly hope that your family is well - in all ways!
Have a blessed and Holy Christmas!
Jeff, Amy, Emily, and Evan

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Never Say Never

I have spent over a year pouring out my heart about my spiritual journey as we have made the transition to a new life in North Carolina.  For many years now I have enjoyed writing and sharing small devotions and encouraging others.  I've made a few changes to my blog and I hope to reach more people.  I invite you to 'follow' my blog, subscribe to updates, leave comments/questions, and share it with your friends.  I am human...I am imperfect - I promise to humbly share my heart and what God is doing in me - you in turn, won't feel alone and can say, 'I'm glad I'm not the only one!'

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

What are You Doing God?

Relief mixed with fear, embarrassment, and pain as I read the email last week.  The job that I had applied for and interviewed for with five different people - the one that I was qualified for and had experience in - was not going to be mine.  As I continued with my quiet day at home, I took a few moments before I told anyone and asked Him, "What are you doing God?"

Friday, November 16, 2012

You Can Count on Me!

I have always considered it a pet peeve of mine when people agree to do something and then fail to follow through.  It even irritated me when it was that super sweet, pure intentioned mom who volunteered for everything and got most of it done (very haphazardly and somewhat chaotically) but with a completely joyful heart.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Thanks for Giving

A friend and I have been recording what we are thankful for in thankful journals for a few months now.  I haven't been extremely faithful in doing it, but I have noticed that I am more aware and thankful for small blessings than I used to be.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Faith - It Ain't Easy!

We are on the verge of a big change, not sure what it is.  I've not felt this 'unsettled' since before we got the call to move to Charlotte.  I am confused, yet He is making my path pretty clear.  The confusion is just basically not understanding what He is doing.  But who said we need to understand it.   He has closed door after door for me with jobs thus far.  He has made clear our budget and what we can and can not do.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

In Good Times and In Bad

Winter's cold is chilling, while summer's sun brings warmth.  However, all sunshine and no rain make a desert.  Each season has a purpose.  "Let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart" (Gal. 6:9)   (Taken from "Live Beautifully: A Study in the Books of Ruth and Esther" by Lenya Heitzig & Penny Rose)
A very beautiful, tiring weekend we had.  A flight to St. Louis to share in time spent with family, an intimate exchange of vows and a wonderful time of fellowship - meeting people who live life with Jason and Jenny.  I was overwhelmed with happiness for another person.

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Important 'Stuff'

“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:9-13).
Jesus taught a lot about prayer in Luke 11.  I was thinking about these words - 'ask and it will be given to you' - this past week.

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Right Door & The Good in Every Situation

Where should I start?  I know I need to write and try to figure out some 'truths.'  My mind is swirling like the leaves in the dreary, windy, cool, gray day today.  

I have told many of you over the last few weeks, "my heart is at home still, but I am willing to do what I need to for my family and go where God leads me."  I guess I'm having a hard time as to where God is leading - I know I need to sit back and remain faithful. Sit back - as in BE PATIENT. Nothing new here.  But I also know that I need to continue having action with my faith - continue trying - continue pursuing other ideas, etc. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Safely Tucked in the Middle


When I was in high school I went with a group of friends to one of the haunted houses in downtown Evansville.  The one with the Texas Chainsaw Massacre weirdo chasing all of the screaming teens out of the building with his very real looking blood-dripping chainsaw.  I broke my tailbone while inside.  Yup, sure did, but no - I can not tell you what happened.  No clue.  It took talent I'm sure.  I never was a huge fan of paying money to go into a place that scared the pants off of you, but unfortunately that is what you did in high school in October.  If you've ever had the pleasure to do this too, then you understand that being in the middle of your group is where you want to be.  You don't want to go first and you don't want to go last.  And you certainly don't want to be alone.  Being safely tucked in the middle shelters you from most of the grabbing limbs and the sudden scares.  Eek...I get a jumpy feeling just thinking about it!!  

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Our Daily Bread

I have enjoyed this past week opening up the windows and sleeping with them open, listening to the sounds of nature and the fountain on the pond.  The cool breeze coming in and blowing the curtains gently - so peaceful.  I worked on my craft room this week, making it more of a cozy place and enjoyed sitting in front of the window at my desk and creating some.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Weary and Broken

Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,

and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
Isaiah 41:28-31
This has been a long two weeks.  Loooonnnggg.  I am tired and weary and am stumbling and falling.  Right now I need to hope in the Lord so that my strength is renewed.  So I can walk, run, and soar over my circumstances and not become bogged down.  I know.  I have heard.  He is the Creator of the heavens and the earth.  He is not someone we can understand.  He does not become tired or weary.  He gives His own strength to the weary and gives His own power to the weak.  I am so thankful that His Spirit is inside of me, picking me up right now as I stumble along.  I need a recharge!
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  Ephesians 6:12
On the morning of August 22nd I woke up at 4am with a headache.  It was so dark and quiet in the house.  It was raining.  A steady hard rain.  I was praying myself back to sleep.  Praying about the sell of our house.  God spoke to me.  He said 'soon.'  I knew it was Him...no question.  I was so at peace, thanking Him.

Since that moment, it seems like I have been battling.  The rulers, authorities, and powers of this dark world and the spiritual forces of evil are present and trying to make themselves known - that is not a joke.   I definitely am not battling with any human right now...well, except my flesh maybe.  I know what I believe yet I question myself. I need to claim what I heard and Who I heard it from - He told me that it would be 'soon' - I need to cling to it. The devil is trying to tell me that I didn't hear it or it wasn't Him. He is also letting me entertain feelings of complete hopelessness on the whole situation.

Since that morning...
  • Jeff's company had a consulting group (or whatever you call them - probably could insert some not so nice names here!) in to make some 'suggestions' on how to save the company money.  They made some decisions on cutting some jobs/positions out here and there and reorganizing some others.  They have known this for a few weeks now - us knowing that Jeff would find out on August 30th.  What a weight to carry around.  I'm proud of Jeff - he handled it so well - giving it all to God and letting Him have complete control of it instead of worrying day in day out.  He found out yesterday that his position was going to be fine.  I always felt pretty positive about it - Jeff has done wonderful things with his department since he moved here and has been recognized for it.  But you just never know...and being in the situation we are in... Ugh.  So, praise Him for protection for Jeff's job - once again!
  • Our church home of 34 years in Indiana went through some hard changes last week - that had most likely been brewing for a few years.  Many mistakes were admittedly made in handling the changes and unfortunately has left many disheartened and so broken.  We are hurting too for the divisiveness this has caused amongst the body.
  • Our church home of 9 months in North Carolina went through some hard changes last week.  Our lead pastor stepped down.  There was inconsistency between his behavior and the standard for spiritual leaders as listed in 1 Timothy 3:1-7.  We are so sad - we so enjoyed his preaching.  And so burdened to pray for him and his family.  What is affecting us the most though - the fallout from this - the ripple effect that goes throughout the families in the congregation.  As life group leaders, Jeff and I are in the midst of this - trying to check in on and comfort and encourage our friends and the church leaders.  Jeff has been incredibly strong through this - speaking truth and God's encouragmenet into lives here and in Indiana.  As a couple, we have decided that our church has handled this the best that they could - taking many steps to prevent it from happening, we agree with the plan they have moving forward so that this is less likely to happen again, and we are letting go of the want to know 'what in the world happened??'  There are several couples/people that I feel we have grown closer to through these past few weeks of this hard, sad time.  So, praise Him for giving us friends - once again!
  • I still have not heard a thing from the 7 jobs I have applied for.  But, I will praise Him for providing for us, Jeff's job stability, and more time at home!
  • Our house has been for sale for 14 month now (minus the few months the renters were in).  This has been where I have struggled the most...for a year now...wow.  God wants me to trust HIM.  Our sense of security and stability should be found in Him, who never changes and never fails - not our situations, our relationships, our finances, our jobs, our homes, our churches... He wants me to learn this and accept this. I am being broken...I do believe.  God and I have been in a tug of war over this for a year.  I am tired.  Of course, He is not pulling  - I am.  He'll let me keep trying to control it.  Our poor realtor got the brunt of my frustrations this week.  I hear suggestions and advice and I think - ah! maybe that will work - maybe that will sell it.  All the while, God is standing patiently right by my side saying - 'Just give it to Me.'  So I give it to Him, I wait a while...then I take it right back...thinking - you aren't doing anything, so I will try.  “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”(Mark 9:24)  I really do believe.  THIS is what spiritual warfare is all about...I believe.  I do!!!  Then self gets in the way.  Then the devil whispers - 'this is hopeless...it's been 14 months!  take action - you need to do something.'  Then I say - "Get away from me."  Then I'm ok for an hour...maybe.  Exhausted.  Weary.  I will persevere.  God gave me encouragement a week and a half ago.  I will NOT let the devil stomp out my hope.  And as our Indiana neighbors celebrate because they just sold their house in about a month so they could relocate out of state, I will choose to celebrate with them.  He can't make us all have cookie-cutter stories and experiences, so our situation is what we need. Them selling quickly is what they need.  I wrestled Him last night for awhile over this...at least it was a nice night out - full moon, pretty fountain to look at - hopefully no mosquito bites - we'll see!
  • I went to the doctor for a UTI on Monday, but am feeling much better from the drugs.  Having palpitations though.  I know that is from stress though.  The three day weekend will help I'm sure.
  • The kids started school on Monday.  They love their teachers!  I'm so glad.  
  • Emily pulled out her last tooth without us knowing and put it under her pillow to see if the Tooth Fairy would come.  Jeff and I talked to her last night and now my baby girl is another step closer to being an adult.  There were tears...mostly hers.  But she accepted things really well.  And once again, Jeff stepped in and did an amazing job explaining things to her.
So thankful that God has provided us with a great community, growing friendships (new and old), a good school, a good job for Jeff.  That my husband has stepped up and been so strong through this since I've struggled.

I may be weak, but Your Spirit's strong in me.  My flesh may fail, but God - You never will.  Give me strength to trust what you say.  That You're good and Your love is great.  I'm broken inside.  I give you my life.
(click on it - it's a song I've been singing over and over and over in my head for weeks...)

Please pray for me to rest in Isaiah 41:28-31...thanks friends.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Some of What I've Learned

A year ago today we left the comforts of a lifetime in Indiana cornfields and drove to the blue skies of North Carolina. We went through some crazy emotions of loneliness, sadness, anger, excitement, happiness, and jealousy.  We got used to setting our GPS every time we went anywhere.  We got used to introducing ourselves and telling where we came from.  Slowly we have put down roots in NC and cut ties in Indiana.  And today, one year later...we are blessed beyond measure - we love it here.  Our home is here and it is truly where we want to be.  God has done this.  I never wanted to leave Indiana. 

In a year's time you can learn a lot.  Especially when you are grieving on so many different levels.  Especially when most everything/everyone you know is gone.  Here are some of the things I've learned.

  • It's ok to cry - even in front of others!
  • Getting involved in what we love right away was good for us in so many ways.
  • Writing makes it much easier for me to express my emotions, pick things apart, and release my frustrations.
  • It's one thing to have a lot of acquaintances, but to have one or two real sister in Christ friends is absolutely a blessing like no other!  Getting redirected back to His promises over and over and over and over by these women have helped me get through this.  Their patience is amazing.  
  • Grieving takes quite a while.  Once you think you have one thing dealt with another pops up.  You can't rush it or will it to end.  You have to experience it so it is dealt with when it does end.
  • If you've gone through a big move in the past - you understand - you can relate - and you encourage those who are going through it SO much.  I felt so much more comforted when I was talking to or with those who 'got it.'  Not that those who haven't can't - but just not to the same level.
  • We have really fun and special times with our family when we see them now since we aren't seeing them every other day.
  • When making new friends - you can't wait on them to make the first, second, third moves.  I have to get off my butt and invite invite invite!  Most are too busy to think of doing it themselves, but love it when you do.
  • My passion is still connecting other women to other women in order that every woman feels encouraged and loved and a sense of belonging and knows His peace and love through others.
  • Another passion of mine is emerging - a sense of urgency that the lost in our own little worlds would know Him and what He has to offer before this life is over. 
  • Some friends I thought were friends weren't such good friends.
  • Some friends I thought weren't friends were good friends.
  • I love to belong to a women's Bible study, but I don't love to lead them.
  • Jeff and I are each others family here. He and the kids are most important to me.  Period.
  • It is hard to keep in touch with friends when you move, but those "pick up where you left off with" ones are precious.
  • You can endure anything for a time.  We drove 2 hours a day for 10 weeks when we first got here last year.  We have now had our house on the market twice - but since July of last year have had this burden.  And not just endure - live...and live joyfully...and learn and grow!!
  • We were saved from a situation in Evansville where Jeff would have lost his job earlier this year.  The loose ends of this transition are not tied up yet - but this is where God wanted us.  
  • We have no regrets about moving here - because this is where God told us to go.  If we would have stayed because of fear or doubt, I am positive we would have regretted it.
  • Jeff and I CAN do handy things around the house without my mom and dad - we just had to try!
  • Sunshine, blue skies, and working in landscaping makes me giddy happy!
  • It is a pain to move to another state.  Just the work for all of your stuff is enough.  But, the switching of driver's license/plates/registration, voting, address changes, insurances, utilities, nursing license, etc - it has been a job to get it all switched!  
  • Talk to new people like they are old friends - it's easier and more comfortable :) They get to see who I am immediately!
  • Surround myself with those reflect Him and help me to be a better me.  I need not bother with drama of relationships that I know are not healthy for me.
  • It is fun to have the ability to have guests stay with us.  We have been so happy to have had so many people pass through Charlotte and see us or come just to see us!
  • Tithing is important and an act of obedience and trust.  I'm learning to do it with a joyful heart.
  • Time with Emily is becoming more and more important as these years go by.  We now are having 'girl time' every single night were we can talk about anything and do some devotions together.  
  • Patience - ok, well, I'm haven't learned this one.  I'm 'learning' this one.  Everything has been about waiting this past year. 
  • It's ok to let a mess go in the house.  I can not stay on top of it as easily here...and it is ok.
  • Being by myself is ok.  Being over-committed so I'm not by myself is not ok.
  • "Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails." Prov 19:21

Monday, August 13, 2012

Dwelling on Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him
and he will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3:5-6
These are the very first verses that made sense to me and brought me comfort 15ish years ago when Jeff took me to church with him. I ripped it out of the bulletin in the old sanctuary at CFC that day and took it back to college with me, pinning it on my bulletin board.  This passage was tucked into Pastor Kevin's message yesterday at church and was the 'one thing' I needed to hear - making sense and bringing me comfort again.  I need to dwell here this week. 
Trust in the Lord with all your heart.  To trust means to believe in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of something/someone.  What do I truly trust in with all my heart - without abandon - childlike - completely - with my full being/passion/everything I am?  That's a pretty big claim - "with all my heart."  Not just most of my heart - but all of it.  Do I believe in the reliability, truth, ability and strength of the Lord with all my heart?  Do I believe wholeheartedly He is who He says He is?
Lean not on your own understanding.  The understanding I have right now is definitely not firm enough to be leaned on - it would be like leaning on something that you quickly realize is on wheels, falling awkwardly (then looking around to see if anyone saw that!)  But, if I leaned on God - He is a rock and a firm foundation, not to be shaken or moved.  Psalm 18:2 says, "The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold."  I like to plan and I like to control.  I take what I know (or think I do) and I try to find a solution - the best solution. One problem is my own understanding is not complete!  I know only fraction of what is going on and why.  Yet I obsess over what I do know or imagine I know or think I know and work myself into a tizzy trying to manipulate the universe into lining up perfectly so that each part of the puzzle falls just right and THEN and only then I will be content and happy and all will be well in my world.  Whew! Just reading that sentence exhausts me...no wonder every few weeks or so I hit a wall and cry out to God saying "I can't do this anymore, please help us!"  That's a lot of energy spent spinning my wheels on things that I won't succeed at.  Why am I looking at things and saying "I know what needs to happen here?"  We've been taught to be problem-solvers, leaders, and planners. But, my understanding is not His understanding.  They are not equal, not the same. Isaiah 55:8 says “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.
In all your ways submit to Him. All my ways would include everything I do, hence 'all.'  My ways = my physical actions, my thoughts, my speech, my interactions with others, my desires and wants...  To submit means to accept or yield to a superior force or to the authority or will of another person - or in our case, God.  Do I, in all my ways, accept, bow down, and step aside to allow God to be in control - in the driver's seat?
And He will make your paths straight.  The first three points have been the IF and now this is the THEN.  IF I do this, this, and this, THEN He will do this.  It is a promise - it doesn't say He might, it says He will.  I picture 'making my paths straight' as a clear understanding of what to do, where to go, and where He wants me.  No confusion and lots of clarity. (Sunny clear skies and a working GPS.)  Straight roads are easier to drive than curvy ones (I know from experience since we have a lot of mountain curves on our trip to Indiana.)  They also get you where you are going faster than roads with lots of bends do.  When we do not trust in Him but trust instead in what we think we understand and we do not let Him be in control, I imagine our paths are foggy, curvy, hard to navigate, dark, stormy, with lots of detours, pit stops, standstills, and accidents.  (And isn't it annoying when you are on a long trip and you come to one of these?)  It does not, however, mean that our drive will be perfect.  We may have some of these hardships along the way, but with our trust in Him and not in ourselves with Him in the driver's seat then we are not thrown off course, but prepared, ready, and able to handle what comes into our path.  We throw our hands up and say, "I don't understand, and that is okay.  I trust you with every ounce of my soul.  Your plan is perfect and You will work everything out for my good.  I yield to Your plan in my actions, thoughts, interactions, and wants.  I know that You will bring me clarity as to what to do, where to go, and where you want me!  Now allow me to enjoy the beauty of the drive since You've got it under control!"

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Renew A Steadfast Spirit Within Me!

Last weekend we took a quick trip to Evansville.  It was fun, got to see our parents and Jenny and Jason, saw a few other friends very quickly, checked on our house, and ate some Turoni's, Hacienda, and Donut Bank.  While there I commented how weird it felt to come back after not living there for a year and it felt so normal there -so routine.  We know every place there, every road, every restaurant, etc.  It is weird to not call a place we know like the back of our hand 'home.'  Yet, it didn't feel like home.  And it was frustrating, yet again, to visit and not have a heavy weight looming on us.  I imagine it will be so nice when our house finally sells.  It will be like the loose ends are tied and we can completely close this chapter.

Jeff and I left Em and Ev in Indiana with some eager grandparents and made our way back home.  It has been quiet here, but I've made friends with our kitties again since the kids aren't hogging them.  We have gone on a few dates.  I made Pad Thai for Jeff one night - something he's wanted me to make again for him for at least a year now!  During the days I've kept busy painting a cool design on the foyer wall that I saw on Pinterest, painting the upstairs bathroom, visiting with my friends Stephanie and Wendy, going for walks, running a few errands.  I'm glad I've had things to keep me busy so it wasn't lonely.  I have applied for six or seven nursing jobs now but haven't heard anything yet.  It's been so quiet I have had plenty of time to be in praise and prayer throughout the week, crying out to Him more than I ever have.  I have experienced several bouts of what must be anxiety (I guess that is what it is - my chest feels like it is going to split open almost!) over the last few weeks when I let my mind wander to the 'what if's' and start worrying about the future. 

Psalm 51:10
For the most part I have had an upbeat attitude and a steadfast trust.  The last few days have been a little rough though and I have let fear and doubt creep in.  It's hard.  I could easily choose to go down the 'it's hopeless' path.  I can not believe it has been a year and here we are - in the same position...  (yes, that was kind of a hopeless thought I just typed - see...)

I also went and ate at Chick-fil-A on Wednesday to show my support to the company's owners who will not deny our God, but lift Him up and bring glory to Him by not being afraid to say that they value and believe and practice what the Bible says.  I applaud him - we all need to be so bold!  And as the world gets worse and worse - as it will - we definitely need to expect that these type of situations will come up more and more. 
2 Timothy 3:1-5 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.
2 Timothy 4:1-5 In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage —with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.
It has amazed me all of the comments I have read from those who are so lost and so angry and hateful - they need Jesus and they need Him before it is too late.  Not to preach gloom and doom... Sometimes there is a place for personal opinion, but some things are God's doctrine that is not to be twisted for convenience and comfort.  Everyone wants to argue their stance, but the bottom line is - if you have not put your trust in Jesus Christ as your Savior admitting your need for help in this life and turning from your sins - when He comes back for us you will have an eternity to regret it.  Since we have moved to this city (I've never lived in a town larger than 120,000) I am constantly amazed at how many houses are everywhere we look.  There are people everywhere - and we are only in the 18th largest city in America!  There are people everywhere!  And so so so many of them are hurting and lost and have no idea that Jesus died for them.  Now, what do I do about this?  I think Christians took a stand this past week, but there are some who are being self-righteous about it and mean and nasty towards a certain group of people.  That doesn't help anyone!  I pray that God gives me opportunities to use the passion that I have developed over the past year on this subject matter in a way that would cause lost people to see a glimmer of Him.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

We don't want to be Ephraimites!

A few of you remember almost a year ago me asking for prayers for us to do what God wanted us to do.  (And if you have kept reading my blog for a year I am super impressed!! LOL)  Yes, it's been almost a year since we've been here in NC.  Unfortunately the loose ends still remain!! 

And so the saga continues... 

The renters/buyers of our home in Indiana can not follow-through.  We were hoping that maybe they just couldn't buy it and would be able to continue renting (since that was covering our mortgage payments) but they are moving out by Monday.  We did have a contract. We will be getting the house ready to go back on the market.  Any prayers would be appreciated!!  We need prayers that we will trust in His plan and fully rely on Him.  Doubt and worry keep creeping in.

I just read about the Ephraimites in the desert this morning and how they first ran off scared when the battle began - even though God had armed them with what they needed and had provided for them in the past. Then they saw a miracle of much needed water gushing from a rock that was struck, but it wasn't good enough and they asked for meat as well.
Psalm 78 9-16 The Ephraimites, armed to the teeth,
      ran off when the battle began.
   They were cowards to God's Covenant,
      refused to walk by his Word.
   They forgot what he had done—
      marvels he'd done right before their eyes.
   He performed miracles in plain sight of their parents
      in Egypt, out on the fields of Zoan.
   He split the Sea and they walked right through it;
      he piled the waters to the right and the left.
   He led them by day with a cloud,
      led them all the night long with a fiery torch.
   He split rocks in the wilderness,
      gave them all they could drink from underground springs;
   He made creeks flow out from sheer rock,
      and water pour out like a river.

 17-20 All they did was sin even more,
      rebel in the desert against the High God.
   They tried to get their own way with God,
      clamored for favors, for special attention.
   They whined like spoiled children,
      "Why can't God give us a decent meal in this desert?
   Sure, he struck the rock and the water flowed,
      creeks cascaded from the rock.
   But how about some fresh-baked bread?
      How about a nice cut of meat?"
I pray that we will not be like them - that we will remember His faithfulness, that we will not be scared, and that we will not demand more when He already provides for us what we need.  We are ready to trust Him and allow Him to lead us to the promised land in His way.  Please just pray that we can remain steadfast in Him as we face upcoming decisions and financial struggles.  Please pray for clarity.  I am in the process of having my nursing license transferred to NC so that I can search for work, but we have the kids to think of as well - so please just ask that we'd do the right thing and not just panic and do something we shouldn't in this regard.


Our crape myrtle bloomed yesterday.  God has used crape myrtles all throughout our journey to give us peace.




Jeff and I do know that God wanted us here.  If we were in Indiana he would have lost his job.  We have grown tremendously in our faith in the past year.  So, yes, this has drug on and on - the house thing has not gone particularly smoothly, but there IS a plan in this - and we don't have to know the why.  We are called to live not by explanations, but by faith.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Be Proactive - Yet Not In Control

Things have been going well since last post.  My time with God has been better, although I still wish it was more, but it is heading in the right direction.  My yucky attitudes are mostly gone - confession has such a cleansing factor - duh! 

I pondered a friend's suggestion that maybe I am holding back something since we've been here whenever I meet new friends.  I took another's advice that I can't just sit back and expect things to fall into my lap.  She spoke the verse - James 2:17 'In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.'  So, after relaxing a bit and making some phone calls, inviting some people places, and opening myself up to making some friends (action) - I can say in the last two weeks some of those acquaintances I've been keeping at an arm's length have become some really good friends...one's I now feel as though I can turn to when I need someone and also encourage on their walk, as well.  I have had some hurts in the past.  Do I want to get hurt again.  Nope.  Yet, I can't and shouldn't miss out on the blessings God is providing me by hiding behind the 'what if's.'  There is a possibility that these friends might not be good friends...but there is a possibility that they are the best friends that He will ever provide me with!  I still hurt over some lost relationships from the past, but God is leading me step by step forward.  I need to take actions - be proactive - in this area, yet let Him be in control and my Guide.  I pray for good, Godly friendships for both myself and Emily...I think we are both longing for that. 

Things don't look like I thought they would.  Pretty sure I've said that before.  Something I have been struggling with:  I am still trying to 'set my life up' here just like it was in Indiana. (No control issues here!) Trying to find the same type of friends, the same ways to serve, the same activities to be involved in, the same ways to live...it is not working.  This is a new time and a new place in my life.  Isaiah 43:18-19  “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.  See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?  I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland."  It is not going to be the same and I am hurting myself by trying to make it so.  Just this past week I had signed up to serve at church on a committee for a large consignment sale in the fall...but it didn't feel right at all...so I had to let the organizer know that I changed my mind.  I have never liked it when people are wishy-washy in their decisions and commitments.  I have always felt like I've known for sure 'yes' or 'no' and then I fully commit, but I am learning the struggle of wanting to do something (because it is something I would have done in Indiana or it's a good opportunity to get plugged in) but then feeling like it really isn't what He wants of me and my time. I have had a hard time committing and following through on things since we moved - I've never been like this.  It might be a little easier to not follow through here too because no one knows that 'that's not like her' if I don't!  But it is not God-honoring to be non-committal and not follow through on what you started.  So, until God makes it clear that I need to be doing something - I need to stay out of it!!  I have been pushing to find how it is He wants me to serve, but I think He must be telling me to wait at this point - as I am hearing nothing. 

He has moved us here...we know that He did that.  So now when we face the bumps in the road and hard times here in NC, we need not look back and question - 'Did we do the right thing?' (I guess the devil likes that one, as I always immediately ask that when the going gets tough).  Instead of asking that or "WHY??" we will ask, 'What do we do now, because of this?'  Yesterday we found out that things might get hard for us financially - some issues with our house in Indiana.  I'd like to say we have had a very strong, mature, Christian response to this news, but we haven't.  We thought we had things under control finally after a year of uncertainty.  The wind got knocked out of our sails...our so-called control went away.  And once again we are at a place where He wants us to be every single day -- total and complete dependence and surrender to Him.  Give Me Faith...  Not just in these situations, but every day, every moment - even during the 'good' times.  Because we all know deep inside that life can change in an instant - we will get that call, that news...  We are not in control.  But the One who is, has our best in mind.  We have a lot to learn...but He has been faithful in the past - and He never changes.

Monday, July 2, 2012

It's a New Day!

Happy July!  I can't believe it is July already.  I can't believe that our journey began a year ago in July when Jeff got that phone call!  Wow.  I would not take any of this back.  People have been asking lately whether we feel settled?  Do you like it here?  Yes!  Jeff has felt more at home here than he ever did in our last home.  I feel at home here.  I am settled.  Yes, I like it here.  Is everything perfect and rosy all the time?  No.  In fact, the last few months have been dark for me.

I have spent the last few months feeling sorry for myself...about everything.  I have become someone I really don't like to be around.  I've written about it before, so I won't go into every detail.  I did, however, go into every detail this morning when I confessed it all to God and to Jeff and a friend so that they could pray for me.  I have found that I can not pray lately so I decided to write my prayer, because that I can do.  It worked well.  And because James 5:16  says "Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective." - I confessed my ugliness to two people whom I trust the most to pray for me.  When sin is in the dark it is so powerful.  Bringing it into the light exposes it and the power that it has over you diminishes. 

The end of my prayer went like this:
Lord, I confess each and every one of these ugly sins that disappoint You and me both.  I know that you are a forgiving and loving God and for that I am thankful.  Thank you for forgiving me and please please please help me through this day and the next as I heal from this and move back to the place that I've been in before where these sins are not in charge, but You are.  As I have written my prayer out I know that I need to go back to the basics of relying totally on You for my fulfillment and joy.  Please help me to pour into my relationship with You over the next days.  Help me to take every thought captive and make it obedient to you.  Help me to pour into my family.  And please Lord, help me to see You and to feel loved by You.  Fill me with Your love so that I may overflow - I am receiving it right now.  Psalm 90:14 Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.
I am so excited to report that after I prayed this morning that I felt such a burden lifted.  And I also felt like I should make a phone call and check on a friend who I thought might need it.  Which shouldn't have been a big deal.  But ever since we moved here I have become almost afraid to make that step of making a phone call.  I was reminded this morning by this friend though that I can not sit back and expect things to happen.  God wants us moving and we need to trust that He will lead us right.  We have to take that first step.  So, she was blessed that I noticed and checked on her and I was blessed by her wise words.  And, I could see an answer to prayer immediately - I asked that He would help me to see Him and feel loved by Him.  He sent His love.  It has been so long since I've felt that.  It's been there.  I've just been deadened to it.  I'm sure my sins have prevented me from seeing Him.  My eyes have been closed.  I pray that today is the beginning of my eyes being open again and this season of ugliness being over.  Please pray for me.

The Kissel Happenings
The kids on vacation

The adults on vacation
Evan and Patrick playing at the water park
Kendra and I enjoying a day of girl time in North Carolina!
We've had a pretty good start to the summer.  We enjoyed seeing some friends from Indiana, then we traveled to St. Augustine and enjoyed some time with friends from Washington.  The kids and I have joined the YMCA and have loved the outdoor water parks!  What a blessing to be able to go to a pool any day that we want to -we've never had that luxury before.  We are participating in the library reading program.  Even I have been able to read quite a bit - especially at the pool.  It's been nice.  I've read some really interesting books.  If anyone has read "Uncharted" by Angela Hunt - please let me know!!  I need to discuss this book with someone.  Want to know what you thought!!

Jeff and his group just had their most successful month at work.  Probably has a lot to do with him bribing them with promises of his cooking and baking for them!  He is adjusting to the longer commute to and from work, I think.  His office moved to a different location further from home a couple months ago. 

Jeff and I have agreed to co-lead our LifeGroup after one set of leaders left.  Our group is young and has been through a lot of changes over the last six months or so.  I love that we are leading with a couple originally from Henderson - so that is such a neat bond we have.  I do feel uncertain about this decision at times, but Jeff has really stepped up and is doing a great job with it so far.  My role might just need to be to coordinate and plan stuff - I can do that!  I do think our group is bound to do great things!

Friday, June 8, 2012

A Desert...(not a dessert sadly!)

I wanted to write two days ago.  I started writing 3 or 4 different times.  It just didn't feel right. The majority of my blogs since last August have shown how much I have clung to God and how much my relationship with Him has grown - not that that is why I started my blog or what it has to be about.  It just sort of happened that way.  What a journey spiritually I've been on.  You see, I could not have survived this move without Him.  Anyone who knew me five years ago - even a year ago - would have said "no, she'd never be able to move away from everything she knows."  And they are correct!  I could not - but with Him I could!  While I thought for sure that when we moved last August I was going to be in a depressed and dark place - He took me to a mountain top spiritually - allowing me to cling to Him and experience relationship with Him like never before...and growing my faith tremendously.

But now...we are settled.  The 'time of change' the 'challenging experience' is pretty much over.  Things seem normal.  And now...I am in a valley spiritually.  A desert.  I wish I could say I don't know why.  Any relationship that I don't spend any time with at all is bound to suffer.  So, being the awesome, forgiving, and patient God that He is - He is still right there even though I've not had time for Him.  So I cry out.  Several times over the past few weeks.  Yet, silence.  I know He is there.  I just have not been in constant communion with Him like I was when I felt like I needed Him to survive.  I guess it is humanness to not cling to Him like you are dying when everything is going well and normal and comfortable...  I need Him in order to survive every day though - not just during 'challenging experiences.'  Now, don't get me wrong.  I don't enjoy times of change and hardship - but wow...the comfort I had in Him was like nothing else.  And now that I've been there...I miss it.

Instead of blogging two days ago I read this devotion on Psalm 63, When God Feels Far Away.  Here is a portion of it:
It begins with permission to declare the desert:
O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you,
in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
It begins with a statement of the present reality. But then it moves to a memory:
I have seen you in the
sanctuary
and beheld your power
and your glory.
The Psalmist remembers who God has been, the times that were rich and vibrant and emotionally satisfying. And once he remembers who God is, even if he can’t feel God now, the Psalmist can move forward and praise:
Because your love is
better than life,
my lips will glorify
you.
 Ah...perfect.  

The effects of not spending time with Him don't just end with me not feeling close to Him and missing Him...my whole life is affected!  My last few blogs are evidence.  I have struggled with comparisons, jealousy, depression, anger, a judging spirit, and a need to please man and earn their acceptance.  I've felt confused as to what He wants me to be doing.  I've tried to make my loneliness (from not being with Him) better by eating, shopping, praise from others, busyness, and being a 'part' of things.  This seems like the theme of Ecclesiastes...I've mentioned this before.  Solomon tried to put so many things in that God-sized hole in his heart and none of them worked. 

I confess that I didn't want to blog two days ago, because others in my life seem like they are walking so closely to Him and I am ashamed that I am not.  But, it is normal for all of us to have mountains and valleys and He knows what is best for me.  So, I will put that ungodly comparison out of my mind, mind my own business, and move on.  He is not done with me yet.  He still seems quiet as I start to call out to Him again, but "because Your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you!"


KISSEL UPDATES:
Emily and Mrs. Plyler
Evan and Mrs. Gordon
Emily and Evan are enjoying their last day of school today!  I will have a fifth grader and a second grader in a few hours...which I can hardly believe.  There are some new families who have moved in across the pond from us and they have kids Emily and Evan's ages - they are thrilled to have some new friends close by!  Emily received an award for being on the honor roll every grading period and she has gotten perfect attendance this year. She competed on the Knowledge Bowl at school, too.  Evan's teacher has kept him in the top of the reading groups in his class this year and seems to have a knack for spelling like his Dad.  I'm so proud of them.  They both have had great experiences this year, as have I, and we have been blessed at this school! 

I agreed to coordinate a Welcome Wagon for our school's new families for next year.  Since it is definitely a passion of mine to connect people to other people for support and encouragement - this fits in perfectly.  As I thought about it I remembered the Ministry to New Mothers theme verse 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God."  Obviously being in a school it isn't a Christian based group or anything, but my desire for doing this stems from the comfort I received so I can comfort others since I've been there...just like it was for the ministry to moms.  A group of us (10 moms were excited about this!) will be writing up a booklet for new parents this summer.  

Jeff and I celebrated 14 years of marriage on Wednesday. We didn't do anything special...but we did do a lot of reminiscing.  I am so thankful that as we have changed, grown, matured, endured stuff, made mistakes, celebrated, hurt - we have become even closer. The saying is true - "I love you more than yesterday, but not as much as tomorrow." Jeff is truly a gift to me...every day.

We are looking very forward to some fun summer weeks ahead, spending time with old friends and new ones!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Same Title 21 Days Later...

So, twenty-one days ago I wrote the blog entitled 'Stop searching for more, Amy!'  I'm still looking...looking everywhere...for something to make me happier.  It is so dang stupid too!!  We are still on the book of Ecclesiastes in church - learning about how silly Solomon was to try everything he did to try to make himself happy.  And in our Bible Study we just studied a chapter on being content.  Am I learning anything? 

A week ago I realized I had begun being very envious of others.  Comparing my life to theirs is what I was doing - I wanted what they had or were getting.  Why can't I fit in here as well as she is fitting in there?  Why can't I do that to make myself look prettier?  Why can't my entire family participate in that event together?  Why can't my husband be as Godly as that husband appears to be?   Wow...really?  Yeah...  I know, pretty sad.  Hopefully I'm not the only one that has ever been stuck in this nasty cycle.

Envy and comparing ourselves to others just leads to discontent. 
Galatians 6:4  Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else.

Romans 12:6 ... let's just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren't.

1 Thessalonians 4:11 ...make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands...

Hebrews 13:5  Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.
Father, forgive me for comparing myself to others and wishing I was different or had more.  I should be minding my own business and remembering that You provide me with all my 'needs' and You will never leave or forsake me.  Help me to be content in my circumstances.  I long for joy to return...for simplicity.  Lord, direct my paths and lead me in the ways You want for me.  Show me where to prune and where you want me to grow!
Life has been a complete whirlwind.  I don't think I was even this busy ever in Indiana.  And I'm not saying this in a good way!!  I have not enjoyed being this strung out...not at all.  It is NOT all it's cracked up to be, people!  And I won't be doing it again.  I felt so out of control.  I couldn't remember my address the other day when asked, I was 20 minutes late to a dentist appointment because I couldn't keep it straight, I ended up sick (big surprise, right?), it just is too much.  Maybe most people can do it...I can't.  Let me take that back - I can - but it is not worth the sacrifices I make in the other areas of my life.
Evan taking a swing during practice
Part of the cafeteria for the Silent Auction
Here's some of the latest.  Evan's baseball this season was really fun.  He had a really great coach - one who was more into making it fun for the boys and teaching them the basics than winning at all costs (which holy cow is it big time out here with baseball.!!!)  His last game was Sunday when they lost the third game in the tournament.  Emily's soccer this season was an awful experience for all of us.  Emily became so discouraged with the lack of direction from the coach, as well as his yelling approach.  Her last game was yesterday too, but after she left the field in tears on Saturday we decided that that was enough and did not attend the game yesterday.  The Spring Fling was Friday, as well as Evan's 8th birthday!  The day was long - was at school for over 14 hours on my feet working.  It was so fun to be a part of things though and to get to know so many other moms at the school.  The auction was a success raising around ten thousand dollars!  I love doing it, but will need so much more than just one other person helping next year in order for me to participate...I just was doing too much of it.  Bible Study has gone well.  Our last meeting was this morning.  None of us know what the fall holds as far as scheduling, so I am not sure that we will continue meeting or not.  I will be praying a lot about this, but I am not positive that I will continue.  Emily had her end of grade testing last week and did fantastic.  We are going to enjoy some girl time tomorrow evening and get our hair cut.  
Em looking cute in Jeff's hat
Went back to the doctor last Tuesday.  The ultrasound showed that the bigger cyst on my ovary is gone - which is what they thought would happen.  But...the smaller one that they thought was the endometrioma - it grew and got bigger.  Big enough to cause some pain - but not huge.  So...now...he said it will probably not go away - most likely will stay this size or continue growing.  So...he said we could go ahead with surgery or wait and see if I have any more issues.  I opted to wait and see.  Will go back in 4 months for another ultrasound unless I decide in the mean time that I can't handle the pain.  And of course, I haven't had any pain since about 2 weeks ago when it was so bad I was about to call.

Friday night we will be able to have some friends of ours stay with us overnight as they travel to South Carolina.  We are planning a big breakfast for Saturday morning and lots of catching up to do!  Tyrone and Lynette left Evansville around the time we did last summer and began their new adventures in Arkansas.

The kids have three weeks of school left.  We then will have Matthew and Kendra here with their family!!  And then we will be traveling to St. Augustine, Florida for vacation and meeting up with Scott and Jill and family!  We are so excited to be seeing our friends!  At some point this summer we plan to come to Indiana for a weekend and drop the kids off - my parents bringing them home in a week.  Jeff and I might just have to check out Charleston, SC for a few nights while we have the alone time. We are also joining the YMCA here - they have an outdoor pool/water park.  Our neighborhood eventually will have a pool but we have to have more houses built still, so not this summer!  I look forward to a lazy summer!!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Stop Searching for More, Amy!

 It is weird that almost anything that I'm asked to do or be a part of or anything I hear anyone else talking about being a part of I have a desire to join and do here.  I think it's just that longing/desire to be rooted here...to belong.  But yet I am overwhelmed with the responsibilities I already have!!  Why do I feel the need to do more?? Repeat after me!  Just say 'no' - it's ok...I'm not going to miss out on opportunities to meet people.  God is supplying the opportunities where I am at- where I am involved...  I don't have to go searching for them and chasing them down. 
So - last Wednesday I went to Coffee Buddies - a group that meets just socially from our church at a local coffee house. It was a fun time and some great conversation.  We also had a very fun potluck Sunday with our LifeGroup - the large group - everyone before we split.  It was a fun, fun time!  Bible study was fun Monday morning - I really feel close to these ladies already! Monday morning I also got to meet with the women's ministry leader and another women's LifeGroup leader - Stephanie.  Stephanie emailed afterwards and asked if I'd like to have lunch sometime.  And as I am writing I am realizing that I am involved in enough ways that I can stop searching for more in order to find a few more friends.  The opportunities are right in front of me.  They are all around.  I'm plugged in.  I am a part of things.  I just need to spend some time now (meaning I won't have it RIGHT NOW) and nurture what is developing.  Pastor Rob is preaching on the book of Ecclesiastes right now.  Solomon tried to get happiness every imaginable way...he searched for and got everything earthly he could imagine...yet he concluded that it was all vanity...all meaningless.  In the end he says, "fear God and keep His commandments." (Eccl 12:13)  It's that simple...nothing on this earth placed on the throne of my heart is going to make me happy.  Only God can.  Stop searching for more, Amy. 
Ready to leave for camp!
Sunday night after Emily had a great time at Girl Scout camp and we had a busy weekend, we decided to have a family night at home and get in bed early to prepare for another busy week.  Well, Jeff had a run in with an axe while splitting some wood for his fire pit.  His left thumb didn't make out so well.  We all got in the car and went to the urgent care then on to the ER for some stitches.  It's our first trip to the ER as a family - can you believe that?  Well, it took FOREVER since he wasn't dying - which I am thankful for!  LOL.  Cafeteria there was closed already, of course.  I did contact my friend Jennifer (her and her husband are our couples LifeGroup leaders - and both doctors) on the way to ask where to go.  I couldn't get a hold of her, but she called later and really wanted to come get our kids, but the doctor had finally come in, so it wasn't really necessary.  I also had a sweet neighbor, Jade, offer to drive up and come get the kids.  I did think several times how spoiled we had been all those years where we just call our parents up and have instant help.  It is hard in a new place to think - crap, where is the nearest hospital??  who can watch the kids??  We ended up home with a stitch and a peeled off nail and bandages - could have been so much worse, so very grateful.  Ate at 9, home by 9:30 and kids to bed going on 10.  And after talking about it afterwards, so many others say please call if anything ever comes up again.  We are already blessed and cared for.
But for some reason I am sad.  I'm so worn out, so stressed out.  I am having increased pain now and debating whether to hang on until May 15th for my next ultrasound of the cyst on my ovary or call in about it.  The reason to wait the two months was to see if it went away.  Well, I know it hasn't. I'm a little concerned with whether surgery is going to be the answer.  Between this and being busy I've got a lot on my mind and feel like I'm chasing my tail day after day. (Making jokes about Solomon a lot - 'this is all meaningless!' - maybe I should be saying that not joking!!)  I've also felt a little ill prepared for the parenting talks that have come up lately. I'm sure you never are prepared - or don't feel like you are.  I just desire with all my heart for Emily to not take some of the same paths that I did...  I remember some of her feelings all too well...and I don't want her to have them.  I want her to have her confidence in the Lord.  I need to be on my knees for her more as she is entering into this time of her life.  On another note - she has asked to be baptized!  Most likely will be toward the end of the summer at a service.  
So, I feel more positive after writing.  Ready to get going with the day and tackle it - being thankful for what I do have, allowing Him to lead me, praying for guidance, and placing Him on the throne of my heart where He belongs.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Left Over Thoughts...

While I was trying to go to sleep last night I continued reflecting on what I had just written in my blog about comparing.  I remembered earlier in the evening on the way to Evan's baseball game Emily asked me, "Mom, I heard you say something about a rose bush.  Did you get a rose bush?"  I answered and said, "Yes, I did, I got a knock-out rose bush -- like the ones we had at our house in Evansville."  Then I pointed to the landscaping at McDonald's that we were by and said, "see, like those pink ones."  She remembered and said, "oh yeah, I know what you're talking about."  I told Emily how I got the last yellow one they had because they were really pretty and we'd never had a yellow one before.  She responded, "That's good!  We don't want everything to be the same as what it was in Evansville!"  Me..."yup" - not even thinking about what she said.  And that was the end of the conversation.  It's just like God to use our kids to teach us something, huh?  I'm glad He reminded me how true what she said was later in the evening.

Some verses that came to my mind this morning:

Philippians 3:13-14
Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Isaiah 43:18-19 
 Forget the former things;
   do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
   Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
   and streams in the wasteland.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
There is a time for everything,
   and a season for every activity under the heavens:
 a time to be born and a time to die,
   a time to plant and a time to uproot,
 a time to kill and a time to heal,
   a time to tear down and a time to build,
 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
   a time to mourn and a time to dance,
 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
   a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
 a time to search and a time to give up,
   a time to keep and a time to throw away,
 a time to tear and a time to mend,
   a time to be silent and a time to speak,
 a time to love and a time to hate,
   a time for war and a time for peace.


Thankful this morning for my blog...a place that I can write my thoughts and work through my feelings and emotions.  It has helped me to learn and grow and has been an outlet - almost a therapy of sorts for me since August.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Comparison Game - A New Twist...

I am having a hard time with comparisons.  For once I'm not comparing like this: "she is prettier, more athletic, more likeable, etc" but comparing what I did have with what I have (or don't have) now.  Someone asked me how my Bible Study was going and I answered, 'good.'  Evidently it was underwhelming.  Which - oh my, it is going good!!  After she questioned whether I actually meant my 'good' answer I realized that yes, it is going well, but I am comparing it to my old Bible Study in Evansville - a few years of meeting together and bonding AFTER we had already known each other and served together for years and years before that.  What is just beginning here is NEVER going to compare - so why try?  But be thankful for what I am a part of here.  God is blessing me with these Godly women each week!!

The friendships I'm forming here are NOT "Kendra-like" - and probably won't ever be because she and every other friend back home I'm missing is unique.  Kendra is more 'unique' than most - ha ha ha - you like that, Kendra?   I should not be trying to replace her!  Hello???!!!  Doesn't the girl scout song go: Make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other's gold. 

The soccer team that Emily is on here is not as good as E-ville, don't work together as well, she's not learning...blah blah blah - you get the point.  Jeff and I have had the hardest time watching on the side-line and comparing almost everything going on (or not going on) with how wonderful the last team Emily was on in Evansville - the one that Jeff got to assistant coach with a buddy and the girls clicked, worked together well, and won every game except one.  We obviously miss it - anyone listening to us would find us quite obnoxious!  Emily even was upset after the past game, as she doesn't have friends on her team - 'like she did in Evansville.'

Our 11 years of living in Evansville, Jeff and I made friends with many 'transplants' - couples who moved to the area from another state.  We always loved getting to know people from other places and the friendships that developed out of it.  Some of our best friends!  What always irritated us though - the comparisons.  Usually though - it was more of the soccer-type comparisons.  "Back home _____ was absolutely top notch.  This type of crap would not be acceptable."  Which considering they were basically putting down Evansville - the place we lived our whole lives and loved - we really didn't like.   Yeah, well, now I understand...  I understand that there are things in the place you lived your whole life that you just like better.  And there are people you don't want to let go of.  And there are things and relationships and groups that will not be replaced.  Since we've been here I've been very conscious of making sure I don't fall into the trap of 'things are not as good here' - of course, God blessed us by moving us somewhere that really is hard to find stuff we don't like!  Just look at these blue skies!! I even made a list on the side of my blog of things we've discovered we love about NC.  But you know what - it is okay that we don't love it all here.   But...it is not good that we are comparing things to how it used to be...because it is going to be different here.  And what 'used to be' has passed and what 'is' is here now.  Does that make sense?  Everything is different here.  I don't have to replace everything I had in Evansville with something identical here.  It's a new time.  Trust.  Be thankful...and gracious...for what we've been blessed with...  Still, allowing ourselves to mourn our losses - there is a time for everything.