Monday, August 31, 2009

Reflections on the last week...

In no particular order:
~Brandon preached his first sermon as the Sr. Pastor yesterday. I was SOO proud of him! It is still hard for me to believe that he is the Sr. Pastor. I know he is gifted and qualified, but I am still in awe. I truly enjoy calling him "Pastor Brandon" around the house. It feels like the early days of marriage when I loved trying out the word "husband" every chance I got!
~Many people have asked about the parsonage. In the evangelical church world today parsonages are very very rare. We are SUPER blessed to be a part of a church that has one. We essentially live in it like it is our home (without paying rent or utilities) as long as Brandon is at the church. I know, it does sound too good to be true... I keep pinching myself. We are however, developing "sweat equity" through our LONG hours of wall paper scraping, painting, etc!
~Speaking of painting, we are totally done! Only JOKING! Actually, thanks to a great friend we are done with several areas. Brandon and I put two coats of Antique Ruby on one wall of each of the living rooms. It is starting to take shape though at least two more coats will be needed. Red is HARD to paint!
~Speaking of red, I got a MAJOR sunburn on my nose/forehead while attending an amazing outdoor baptism service yesterday. I think it was so chilly I forgot sunscreen. I did not however forget big sunglasses which created tan lines that look so bad they seem fake! :)
~My "two sweet boys" with their mom and dad came and visited on Friday! It was wonderful to hear their giggles in our home. I was showered with plenty of hugs. The little guy was a hugging machine! What a blessing to see them!!
~Adoption News: 1. We are getting very close to choosing a home study agency though still many weeks from starting the process. We want to make sure we are settled in here first. 2. We continue to meet people at church who have adopted or are currently adopting. Yesterday I interacted with 6 families like that at our church! I am serious! In a church of under 200! ONLY GOD could do something so great! 3. I have been connecting with people in our corner of the world who have adopted from Ethiopia!
~Organization Queen: This week I spent one morning at the 3 local grocery stores with a pad of paper. I went down each aisle and wrote down every item we buy, the ounces in it, and the non-sale price. I will now create a spreadsheet so I know where to get the best deals. We found out they are building an ALDI 11 minutes from our driveway so we are thrilled about the money it will save our family! I know it sounds crazy to spend time doing this, but it will save our family $100's over the years! I was also able to have great conversations with people in the stores about what I was doing.
~Friends and family: Getting excited for a fun fall line-up of family visits. We have family coming on 3 different weekends in September and October.
~Quiet times: I have been having an incredible time reading 1Peter in my daily times of Bible reading and prayer. I so recommend reading it if you have not in a while. Honestly, I am thinking of leading a Bible Study on it this fall at church (Yes, I am revealing this for the first time right now... this is not a sure thing and would not start until October).
~Bible Studies: I lead Bible Studies differently than most people. I write a curriculum based on the text using Brandon's Bible Works program, (study the original languages) commentaries, and several looks at the text. I provide questions for the women and we investigate God's Word together. Yes, it is a lot of work, but I treasure learning more about God's Word and empowering women to drink deeply from God's Word! I just deleted the following 3 lines as it seemed a bit like a rant, but essentially I long to see women caring about Jesus and their relationship with Him as their TOP priority!
~Awana: I am going to be a helper with the girls group this year. I have no Awana experience, but am thankful that I will essentially be listening to girls recite and talk through Scripture each Wednesday. I am looking forward to getting to know the girls and the other leaders!
~Blog news: I will no longer be posting comments on the comment section. You may still leave them and I will read them, but not post them. I am trying to keep things confidential for the safety of the adoption process and our future children. I did create a new email address that each of you can use to send me personal messages:
~Huge blessings to each of you this week. God is faithful!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Big Weekend in photos Post #4

The church at the beginning of the service

Listening to the District Superintendent speak to Brandon about becoming the new Sr. Pastor!

Brandon receiving the Shepherd Staff!

Right before they prayed over Brandon. I got to go up to lay hands on him too!

Passing the Baton. Us with the former pastor and his wife!

After the service! Brandon and one very proud wife!

You know you have arrived when they put your picture on a cookie!!!!

Tasty fellowship after church!

The eating continues...

The family in our backyard. You can get an idea of our proximity to the church.

A beautiful view just blocks from our home! We are so blessed to be a part of this lovely community and wonderful church body! To God be the Glory!

The big move with a couple photos/ the BIG weekend in words #3

Just over two weeks ago we loaded up all of our "stuff" in a U-haul and headed north to our new church/home. We have had busy weeks of settling in and adjusting to life here. It is been simply wonderful to begin to feel at home and see things come together.

The amazing Nikky came to help for a few days. Sadly, her entire time here was spent scraping off, steaming off, peeling off, highly toxic chemicaling off (yes I made up the word and yes that is the reason for the masks and gloves), and praying off the wallpaper in our kitchen. It is FINALLY off, but it seemed never ending at the time. I am very excited to post some "after" photos for you in a few weeks. We are still in the middle of painting and we still have our furniture at the townhouse so some day I will post photos... consider this your preview!

Last weekend was one of the most significant in our lives. Brandon was installed as the Sr. Pastor of our new church. Brandon's parents stayed with us from Thursday until Monday while mine stayed from Saturday until Monday. We had a wonderful time together as a family exploring the community and creating memories. The highlight of the weekend was Sunday! The service was filled with touching speakers and beautiful prayers. There was not a dry eye among our family or most of the church. Brandon received a shepherd staff from the district and a baton from the former pastor. Each part of the service with special and humbling. The music with perfect and I believe God was greatly glorified. At the end of the service they commissioned Brandon and the whole church gave him a standing ovation. As a wife, it is amazing to hear others talk about how wonderful your husband is. The things they said were all things I knew, but to hear them said publicly was awesome and humbling! I kept thinking, "Who am I to get to be married to this man?!?"
We had dear friends join us for the event from many life stages. We had a BBQ after the service at our home and enjoyed tasty food and fellowship.
I still have to keep pinching myself to believe it is real, but I know that it is, and I know God has BIG plans!!!
Lord, we surrender this time of transition to you! May you receive all praise and Glory! Amen

Summer Favorites... movie and book #2

Almost every book I have read in 2009 has related directly to our future family, specifically talking about adoption! Well, I received for the "Duggar Book" 20 and Counting for my birthday. I really enjoyed reading about the history of the family and how their larger than average family works. I think Michelle is a super mom and I hope to apply many of the principles of this book to our future family. The Duggar's TV show "18 Kids and Counting" is great as well. I received the first season "17 kids..." for my birthday and really appreciate watching a family on TV I can relate too. If you have not heard of this family. They love the Lord and they love children! Their shows run on TLC!

I really appreciate good movies. Many of you will remember how excited I was about "Fireproof"... well this summer my new favorite is "Faith Like Potatoes." It is a very well done movie which takes place in South Africa. It is so faith stretching and inspiring. I believe that my faith grew from watching this movie and the real life story of the main character (included on the DVD). I want to tell you all about it, but I would rather have you just watch it for yourself! I HIGHLY recommend watching this movie on your next date night or movie night. Make sure to save time for the extras, and as always, get your popcorn on the stove ready!!!

Summer 2009 in photos #1

Here are some photos from our summer road trip. They are not a wonderful representation of the events as some days we were camera happy and other weeks we forgot to capture with photos!

Brandon's extended family

The family (Brandon's side) Isn't my handsome nephew getting cuter each day!?!

Brandon and Baby A playing together

Too cute to leave out!

The first family I nannied for! Wow time flies!!!

The Family (Shelly's side) Enjoying time together at the cabin!

Time with grandparents!

Happy 28th Birthday Shelly! I made my own strawberry cake that I could eat. It sure didn't taste like the strawberry cakes of my youth, but it was gluten, dairy, and sugar free and perfectly enjoyable to me!!! Brandon thought it tasted OK while my parents only ate one bite. I guess it is a learned taste.

Monday, August 17, 2009

The highlights... more to come... eventually...

Someday I will blog and blog and blog, but not today! Our lives have been quite busy lately with our big move and settle in! We bit off more than we could chew with painting, and we will be working on painting projects for the next couple of months!
Big news in our life:
~Brandon is installed this Sunday. If you know us and want to come we would be very excited to see you! We joke that it is when Brandon will marry the church. Don't worry he only has one wife, but it will have a ceremony feel to it!
~Today was Brandon's first day in the office and my first day as a home care CEO (also known as housewife) I managed to do 8 (or 9) loads of laundry, start the process of setting up bank/check accounts, move all belongs off the floor to prepare for the carpet cleaning, answer questions during the cleaning, and make dinner. Wow! Actually, it was great! Tomorrow will be quite relaxing for me as I can't go on any of the carpeted surfaces (still wet)! I guess there is enough work to do in the kitchen...
~Our families are coming this weekend!!! Brandon's on Thursday and mine on Saturday! We are so excited to host them even with a half finished home!
~ I have much to blog about soon (soonish actually as it could take a while) . I hope you are all doing well!
~Through all of the stresses of home projects we have seen God's hand so faithfully guiding us! He sustains us each day and gives us wonderful hope! We are so thankful!

Friday, August 7, 2009


Thank you all for your bold prayers! When God's people pray He listens. We we surrender our plans He allows us to see the wonder of His plan! Sometimes He "exceeds our expectations" so much that we don't even know what to do! Well, the morning that we came home from vacation I received an email from our agent that someone was going to make an offer that day. The offer was very fair and we countered and he took it!!!! PRAISE THE LORD!!!!!! Most people thought our bold prayers were crazy... but not God!!! That is right, our house sold after only 17 days on the market. No end-unit town homes in our sub-division have sold in over a year!!!!!! ONLY GOD could do that!!! We see this as the perfect cherry on the top confirmation that we are truly called by God to our new church!!!! I have seen God do amazing things throughout my life, but the way we have seen His fingertips in the last few months is SOO incredible! I don't have much time to write (we are in Panera while the inspection is going on). So there will be more to come sometime. Please pray for a good inspection and for a good appraisal. Because no houses have sold in 12 months+ there are no comp. sales so we are not sure how it will go. We feel like our price is VERY low and we should have no problem. We feel that God will keep opening doors for this process, but we also want to be faithful to pray!
Please let me encourage each of you today that our God is GREAT and MIGHTY and cares about each of our prayers!
I am still in AWE!!!!!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Back to reality...

We left our lovely townhouse on July 15th and have enjoyed a wonderful family filled vacation, but tomorrow we are heading home! Sadly, as of 10:53 CST we have heard nothing about any possible home offers. A couple of days ago we thought someone was very interested, but now we hear nothing. Friends, I am still praying that we will get a realistic offer before next Saturday when we are scheduled to move. As it stands we are going to leave our furniture in the townhouse (for staging) and move our "stuff" to the parsonage. Oh how joyous it would be to move everything at one time!!!! Yes, it would not be the end of the world to move twice, but I feel compelled to lay my requests before the Lord and before all of you and wait in expectation!
Our week at home will consist of two days of work/sermon prep. and two days of packing/loading the U-haul. I don't think I will have any computer access during that time. After we move we will be quite busy for a pretty long stretch so I may not be able to update any of you for quite a while. I have much to share about our time with families and many photos to share as well. I have also done some productive reading and movie watching (yes, movies can be productive) and I am excited to share about them as well. Stay tuned for more of that plus before and after painting shots in the weeks to come!
We are so excited to begin our next chapter of life in "the parsonage." There is much ministry beyond the parsonage, but since I will not be referring to the church name or community name "the parsonage" represents much more! Thank you all for your thoughtful prayers for Brandon over the years! God has been more than faithful!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Shelly the pioneer and more

Brandon and I ready to head into the museum!

Standing next to THE mantel from the TV show! The museum had things from the show, books, and Laura's life!

We are ready to head west!

How romantic!

Shelly with mom and dad ready for the show to begin! The pageant is done outdoors and has a real dugout, uses animals etc. All the little girls attending were wearing bonnets! There was much excitement in the air!

This is a scene from the Laura Ingalls Pageant.

Mom struck up a conversation with the people sitting behind us. You can see them in the above photo. The man just happened to be the former president of the E-Free Church (the whole denomination). We knew many of the same people and had wonderful conversations. It was a crazy small world feeling! What a special blessing from the Lord!