Monday, November 5, 2012

Seven Years

Seven years ago today Ryan and I were married. There are no words that I can say that can truly convey the depths of the love I feel for him, nor are there words that can truly capture how blessed I feel to have been able to spend the past seven years of my life as his wife. Our first night that we hung out was spent talking about God and theology into the wee hours of the morning. Looking back on that evening now, God had set the tone from the very beginning. I vividly remember him leaning against a wall after we had been dating a couple of months and the Lord was clear, “you are looking at the man you will marry.”

The past seven years have been nothing short of beautiful. God has been so kind to me in giving me Ryan. Ryan, you are a man to be admired, respected, and revered. And I hold all of those feelings deep inside of me for you. I have learned more about God’s love for me through the way that you love me so passionately, deeply, and sacrificially. You’ve taught me how to love and how to be loved. You’ve taught me how to trust and restored my hope in mankind. You and I share that once in a lifetime love. We have the kind of love that is depicted in the movies and little girls dream of. We are blessed. And I pray that above all, our love represents Christ well. I pray that the way that we love each other teaches our kids about Christ’s love for them. I pray that our little boys grow up to be half the man you are. I pray that they watch you carefully and that the man you are rubs off onto them. I pray that they see a man who loves well, not just me but how you love them and how you love others. I pray that our boys see the importance of hard work and providing for your family. I pray that they learn about integrity, honesty and character from you. Above all, I pray that they learn what it means to be a man after God’s heart as you are. For our girls, I pray that by your example, I pray that they see the way a man should love, how a man should lead, and how a man should respect his wife and how much he loves his family. And I pray that they never settle for anything less.

 Yesterday as me and the girls drove down the road, Luci was talking about “her daddy” and she says, “he loves me.” I love that at 2 years of age, she knows that her daddy loves her. And I love watching the older kids “preach like daddy” and watching them admire you in their own ways. They all love you deeply and that is just a reflection of what a good man you are.

I love you Ryan. I love you more today than I did seven years ago. I never in a million years imagined that we’d share a love that reached the depths and lengths that ours does. Your presence a lone gives me a peace that I could never explain. I love the way it feels when your hand takes mine. Or the way I feel when you hold me. We’ve seen some amazing parts of this world together, we’ve had experiences that many never will. Yet, my favorite place to be is curling up with you at the end of the day. I love ending my day with you. It’s been seven years. Seven years and five babies. It’s been nothing short of love, beauty and God. Thank you Ryan…and thank you Jesus.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Big Impact

"Therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, 2with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing forbearance to one another in love, 3being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all. 7But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christs gift 12for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; 13until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ," (Eph. 4:1-7,12-13).
There are a lot of characteristics of Praxis I love. The people are genuine, loving towards each other in our own body and those outside of it. It's real love. There is no agenda in why we love the way we love. It isn't to grow Praxis. We love because Christ first loved us. But aside from that, what I love is the unity in the mission that we share with so many others. From other ministries to other churches, we are united for one cause and that cause is to grow the body of Christ. In our short six months of existence, I have been so blessed to be apart of some of the coolest things with other churches, with other ministries etc. Right now we are partnering with another organization that is reaching families on the East Side of Arlington. Here in this little community are many different nations represented and other faiths but every week, we unite for one cause and that cause is Christ. Today I stood back in amazement as I talked with two Muslim women from Africa. They were so kind and gracious to me, loving on me and we shared stories, talked about our kids etc. But the best part....while we were hanging out, I sat and watched their children being taught about Jesus and they were okay with it. Two weeks ago Ryan and Christina were invited into one Muslim families home, they were fed by this family and then Ryan got to pray with them. Praise God. And this isn't our ministry. That's what I love about it. We just saw a need and decided to join God in on His mission. And what a blessing it is.
We learn well about unity from Mayfield Rd. They support many churches in the area. They love on us, and in many ways, we aren't two churches but one big church - why? Because we are on the same mission. They want to see us succeed and grow not because it has anything to do with us, but because it means people are being changed for Christ. And that's what we want, to see the East side of Arlington radically changed for God's glory. When we started this journey, we felt really compelled to be a church that was geared towards families and we felt directed to the East side of Arlington. We have a large family and our hearts were just really broken for the family unit in the church. So God calls us to the East side. We learned this past week that there are so many kids on the East side that they are opening up a new elementary in the fall and 2 more next year. That means there are a lot of families there.
There is much work to be done. In Arlington alone, there are 175,000 not affliated with a church. If we expand that to Grand Prairie and Mansfield, that number jumps to 275,000. Being in the bible belt, that number amazes me. But I am so encouraged because it is clear God's hand is on the East side. That little section of town is working together, and working well together. And we will make a difference, not for our glory, but for His and His alone. As someone radically changed by Him 11 years ago...nothing fires me up more than watching people learn and fall in love with Christ. And today, I stood back and talked to a Muslim woman who said she hopes to return to Africa. She has been in the US since 2006 & she told us that it is too hard living here. What hit me was that we have the opportunity to share Jesus with her and then she return to her home country. We have the opportunity here on the East side of Arlington, to impact another nation.
To God be the Glory!

Monday, August 20, 2012


This past week our family had two milestones. First, Morgan started school on Thursday. I had thought I was ready for this. I thought, there is no way I would be sad. I was so happy for her. She is growing up and she is loving it. But I was wrong. No, I didn't cry. But I definately teared up a few times as we made the long walk in as a family. Morgan is shy, a little apprehensive if she is unsure of her surroundings or when placed into new situations so I was all prepared to have to encourage her, to assure her and to comfort her. Boy was I wrong. She was so excited she went right in, sat at her desk and basked in her "big girl" status. The boys on the other hand, were the apprehensive ones. They didn't like the idea of leaving their sister behind. As we left, Matthew told me he was going to miss her and then he asked if we could come back and get her as if kindergarten was a permanent place. Her starting school has had me reflecting over the last five years with her. It's been such a sweet time in my life. My delivery with Morgan wasn't so easy, it was long and hard. I pushed for three hours to have her and then they take her to NICU. Those first couple of days I learned how deep a mothers love goes for their child. Morgan has always excelled at everything she does. She's a natural born competitor. By six months she was crawling, giving high fives and saying words like "uh oh spaghetti-o's" By her first birthday she was saying well over 60 words and we were able to have small convo's with her. She's never been one to just sit back. She was the perfect child to be the leader of our small army. She's a natural born mother herself. She takes pride in taking care of "her kids". When the little ones cry, she beats me to them to hold them or ask them if they are ok. She's such a great kid, wise beyond her years and I am not just saying that becuase she's my kid. If you encounter her, be prepared because she'll trip you up. So as we embark on her new journey, I am so happy for her and look forward to seeing her bloosom in her new environment where for once she'll be forced to think about herself. That's what I hope, but knowing her, she'll find a kid in class to help or she'll discover for us a family to help out. That's what she does, she's a natural born servant.
Then Luci turned two! It's hard to believe! Luci is such a good kid. Now, we went through a rough patch from ab 18 months to 22 months, but what we learned is that she was frustrated from not being able to communicate. Now that we can talk and carry on a conversation, she's such a good kid. And even more than that, she's funny and just really loving. I have to admit, I was a little worried there for awhile. But as I have said time and time again, Luci had to be strong willed. I found out about her two days after my dad had his heart attack. I knew that I was late, but I was too consumed to test and finally Ryan told me I probably needed to so I knew if I needed to take care of myself a little bit better than I had been during that time. So I found out about her, what bittersweet emotions. I sat next to my dad's bedside and I whispered in his ear, that we were having anothre baby and I needed him to get better. But he didn't. And 3 1/2 days after I found out about her, I had to let my father go. It was such a hard time for me but she kept me going. She made me focus. I sat in my ob's office the day that we laid my dad to rest and I told her that the baby had to be strong willed to stick with me through all of that and strong willed she is! I knew she'd be a fighter. She knows what she wants and is more determined than most people I know. I admire that in her. I named her Luci because her name means light..and God was so kind. He knew I would lose my father on Christmas eve, and he gave me a daughter during the same time.
With both of these events this past week, it's made me think of my dad a lot. I miss him. I know he would have been so excited for Morgan. He wouldn't of missed Luci's bday or Morgan's first day. He loved my kids. And I wish he had the chance to meet Luci. To meet Kate and to know them today. I have learned that grief doesn't go away. Time does heal, but as I said at his funeral, I will never be the same.
So, I carry on. With each moment, each milestone, felt with bittersweet memories of my father and what should of been, what could of been.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

He's Worth It

The last few months have been nothing short of a whirlwind. We had a baby, added number five to the mix and in the midst of making that transition, God calls us to plant a church. "Really God?" That's what we were asking. When the answer kept returning yes and the provisions began pouring in faster than we could process them, we stopped fighting and decided God was moving in this direction whether we liked it or not and  the sooner we got on board, the better off we'd be. Was it scary? Yes. I will be real honest and say that there were many days I couldn't "think" about it. I just had to continue to trust in God's direction and ignore my own doubts and fears. The reality was, I didn't want to plant. At least not now. It wasn't on "my" radar. You see, Ryan and I like structure and order. When you run a house with 5 kids 5 and under, you have to have structure and order. Something that I use to love about myself was that I was really spontaneous. When I moved to Texas from Ohio, my conversation with my bf went like this "do you want to move to Texas?" she said when, I said now. So we told our jobs and in a week we were gone. I thought back to those days often as we planted the church. With moving so quick from Ohio, we never had a chance to think about it. We just did it. And as we began planting Praxis we had to stop "thinking" about it. We just had to continue to listen to the Father. The best part of this season of our life is that we are closer to Him than we have ever been. We were forced to live on our knees in ways that we had never done. We began to see God so differently and began to experience His presence in our life in ways that have absolutely rocked our world. I never in a million years imagined that my relationship with God would be what it is today. Where I thought I was close to Him before, I now realize I wasn't even tapping into a tenth of what He wanted for me. And it's simply A M A Z I N G.
Praxis Community Church is still a small growing body of believers that has been so blessed by Mayfield Road baptist Church. The Lord has called us to minister to the East Side of Arlington. In our short existence, 4 1/2 months, we have grown more than I thought. I remember in our early days, we had on a Sunday an average of 12-17 people. It was our church and the Lord began to open our eyes to a hurting world and everytime we saw a need, we met it with no hope in a return that they'd join us. We simply wanted to share what Christ had shared with us. Over the last few months, we have grown quicker than we had imagined with a majority of our people experiencing church and Jesus for the first time. Praise God. We are hearing stories from our people who have never served the community and are now experiencing it's life changing power in their lives.
Praxis is God's church. It's His idea. It's His place that He has called into existence to serve a small portion of this hurting world. Today, I sat in church tearing up at what He has done. The best part of this for me isn't what He's doing on the East side of Arlington or even in the people He's changing in our own's what He's done in me. I thought I knew a lot. I thought I had a lot of things figured out. But I realized early on in this that I didn't. While I professed with my mouth I trusted Him often in the past, I have learned over the last few months what that really looked like. More importantly, I have learned to trust in the workings of the Holy Spirit in ways that I never had before.
I don't know what all the Lord will do in Praxis over the next few months or years. What I do know is that the Lord is good. I have said that many times over the course of my believing years, but I now say that from a different place. In the past, I would say the Lord is good when good things happened to me or my family. Planting Praxis was one of the hardest seasons I have endured in my life. Coming out of that, I wanna shout He is good! He's better than anything or anyone! And the reality is, the beauty of this is, He's all those things and more not because of me or how I am feeling but because I see Him changing lives of people in ways I never knew were possible. Getting to watch so many learn about Christ and fall in love with Him, makes it all worth it.
And I'd do it all over again if I had to because He's worth it.

Friday, April 6, 2012

God's Story

The last few weeks have been a bit of a whirlwind for us. When God gave us the call to plant Praxis Community Church, our "vision" was that we would take a break for a season, rest some and plan for Praxis. We had been told over and over how much work planting is so we thought we would rest, soak in a lot of teaching and use the time to refresh prior to Praxis. We were going to have a bible study for those that wanted to help us launch the church so that we could just have a place to study God's word together and grow in Christ together. Well, this bible study has quickly turned into a church. We have been overwhelmed by God's provision during this time. He has taught us much. As a wise friend told me, I confided in her that this was all moving much quicker than we had planned and she told me "we plan and God laughs". So true.
We have learned much the last couple of months. And I do want to talk about that at some point, but for now, I want to this Easter weekened, talk about God in Praxis. Praxis is not Ryan's vision, my vision, or the any of the launch team's. Everything that we had forseen, God blew it out of the water. This church is God's vision. In our short time, we have seen new believers accept Jesus, we have a non-believer who is actively invovled with us as he figures things out even helping us on the launch team. Our first Sunday meeting, God sent a new convert to us who had zero connections with anyone at Praxis, zero advertisement etc. That's the God I serve. God doesn't need human hands to make Him known. He just needs willing hearts. I have been encouraged much over the last few weeks. I have seen God awaken people to a deeper walk with Him. I have seen Him move people to trust Him and have been willing to lose everything for His names sake. That's the God I serve. We are watching God heal hearts and marriages. And the beautiful part is this all started on March 18th. We are not even a month into this and God has blown our minds and moved us to nothing but pure awe and amazement
Praxis Community Church is a place where Jesus is supreme. It's a place where people are wanting more of Jesus. It's a place where we practice grace and love to one another continously. It's a place where needs are made known and then are met. We aren't perfect, but we love the One who is. God spoke Praxis into being and because of that, not man or the pits of hell can stop it. We are a diverse group of people! We come from all different walks of life. We couldn't of planned what we looked like if we tried. And that is why I love Praxis Community Church. If you are looking for a place to either figure Jesus out, we're you're place. I've been in your shoes. If you are looking for a place to call home, come check us out! If you need healing from life, come meet the one that can heal! At Praxis, our heart felt desire is to watch people change their lives because of the One who gave His life for ours. Once your heart can grasp that truth, it changes everything. As with the bible, my life, your life, Praxis Community Church etc, this is all God's story, we just are merely playing a part and I am thankful for the part I get to play in His story. What's your part?

Monday, March 5, 2012

No Guts No Glory

It was roughly six years ago. I was driving down the road when the Lord said we’d plant a church. I was picking up my cell phone to call Ryan to talk to him about it when he was calling me. I answered the phone and he said “what do you think about planting a church.” Confirmation in the moment for us. We began praying about that and the Lord said the timing wasn’t right. We tabled it for the time being, but never forgot about it. Time went on, we began having kids and about a year ago the Lord began to stir in us that the time was nearing to plant, and all I could think was “really Lord.” I mean, we had four kids and were pregnant with our fifth. The timing couldn’t seem any worse for us. We have read enough planting books and heard enough sermons to know that planting can be rather stressful on the marriage, couple that with having five kids under 5 and it seemed on the surface a recipe for disaster. Yet, over the course of prayer and seeking wise counsel, it became clear that God wasn’t saying later, He was saying now. I would love to tell you that when God said go plant, we jumped on it and said ok, no problem God, we’re going. The truth is, we fought it for a few months until we got to the point where it just felt wrong to continue to say no.
God has often reminded me of Judges 6, when God has Gideon dwindle his army down to face the Midianites and when it seemed impossible Israel won and God got all the glory. What I have learned over the course of the past few months is where is God’s glory when we can do something that everyone already thinks we can do? Like Gideon, God is beckoning us to defy the odds. Why? I think it’s a way that we get to see God’s omnipotence on a grander scale than imagined. Why? Because this is about God getting all the glory! At this stage in our lives, Ryan and I feel completely inadequate, totally ill prepared for this but we rest knowing that faith is about trusting God no matter how impossible things seem. Our impossible situation gives us a chance to experience God’s glory in ways not yet known. And we rest in that.
So, what does that look like? It means Praxis Community Church. When Ryan and I first agreed to plant, we had looked at Arizona to plant a church. We feel called to Arizona, but God said not now. He ended up calling us to the South East Arlington area. Right in our back yard and Ryan’s hometown. So here we are. Details are still sketchy. But God opened the doors to us through a church on the east side called Mayfield Road Baptist Church. They have become our sponsor church, giving Ryan an intern position and allowing him to focus solely on the plant. What is beautiful about being at MRBC is that this is where God has taken Ryan and I for so many off our “beginnings.” This was Ryan’s first intern position in ministry when he was in college, this is where we got engaged, where we got married and now it’s where we will plant our first church out of.
We begin weekly bible studies out of MRBC beginning on March 18th during which time we develop the launch team that will do what its name says, help launch the church. Right now the launch date looks like it will be January 2013, but we are open to whatever the Lord has for Praxis. As we continue on, please pray for Praxis, for Ryan and I, for our leadership team, our launch team and the people of South East Arlington that needs a church home. Our heart is that people learn to have an intimate relationship with Jesus based on who He is, what He has done and how that changes everything.