"For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace"

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

just a few sojourners.

I have recently seen the word sojourn a few times and it has caught my attention. It has struck a chord in my heart. It is attractive to me for some reason. Maybe because I feel like I can relate to it, to being it- a sojourner. Someone who stays somewhere temporarily.

I have been learning about Abraham from the Bible recently and am struck by his faith. I read this quote… “Like Abraham, we are called to regard ourselves as mere sojourners in this world, not so much because earth is fleeting and its values are transient, but because our true affinities are with the unseen and the eternal…Abraham was willing to wander because God called him to do so; he was separated from home and kin in order to be separated to God…” [Dwight Hervey Small].

God told him to go to a land he’d never seen, and he went. God promised him that he and his wife (who were near 100 years old at the time) would bear a child after they had never been able to conceive. Can you imagine? Being in your 90’s and becoming pregnant for the first time and having to do those sleepless nights, nursing, etc. That idea probably sounds RIDICULOUS! And in fact, Sarah (Abraham’s wife) laughed at the thought. Probably more out of disbelief than out of disrespect…because in spite of how impossible the idea sounded to her, God asked, “Is anything too hard or too wonderful for the Lord?” (Genesis 18:14).

I was struck by their faith. And their patience. Their unwavering commitment to leave what they knew and to embark on a journey where they may never see the things promised to them…but their descendents would. And they still obeyed. F.B. Meyer said, “it was his unquestioning obedience that endeared him to God”. I want to have that unquestioning obedience.

We have come to a fork in the road and must make a decision on which way we are going to go. Do we stay at FamilyLife? Do we start back into the construction field? If so, do we do that in Arkansas or do we move back to Illinois?

We’ve been praying. And praying. And praying for direction. We’ve counseled with people, done a bible study, hashed it through and through and yet have not reached a decision…or even something mirroring a close decision. Each day it seems like we are on opposite pages…one wanting to stay here and the other wanting to move back and then the next day it switches.

Did I expect to fall in love with the south? No. Did I expect to fall in love with ARKANSAS?! No way. But I did. I had no idea 2 years ago when we moved here and began to meet people that they would begin to feel like family to us. I had no idea that I would experience this depth of community and richness of friendships. Our lives have been ruined [in a good way] by moving here. We are different people now than we were when we came. God has done some painful and major cleaning out & remodeling in our hearts & our marriage during our time here. My heart is tangled into this place and I don’t know where the end is to unravel it…I don’t think I ever want to.

Do I often miss IL? Yes, of course. Did I think it would be hard to be away from family, especially now with a baby? Yes, very. Do I yearn for the nearness of my family and friends up there & to be able to do life with them again? Yes. I miss them. Do I worry things will be completely different if we move back? Yes. Thoughts like “Will I fit in anymore?”, “Will my friends still be my friends?”, “Will I survive those winters again?”, “Will I forget so quickly this life?”...but my heart is tangled there, too. Deeply.

And yet sometimes I just want to run in a completely different direction as fast as I can from either of these because it “feels” easier…I can irrationally trick myself into thinking it wouldn’t hurt as bad if I just ran from both places I love so much…and what? Get my heart tangled somewhere else too? Bad idea.

There is a song that I’ve been repeatedly listening to lately…there is something about it that resonates with every fiber of where I am at right now. The chorus can be applied to anyone. It’s one of those songs that I just need to hear over and over. The line is simple. So simple. Yet it is so comforting through this unknown time.

“I don’t know what you’re doing, but I know Who You are” [JJ Heller- Who You Are].

Haven’t I been here before? In this very seat? Wondering what is next or how I’m going to make it through this next season? I mean, yes, the circumstances are completely different but my God is the same. He’s faithful. I’ve been learning about trusting the names of God and I don’t think it’s any mistake that this song has caught my attention at the same time… in order to know Who God is, I have to know Who He is. Isn’t it through the hardest times in my life that God has shown me, drawn me, taught me and held me in such a deep embrace? So, though this decision seems at times- daunting, life-changing, scary, unknown, full of challenges…. I know that the same God who has led me through valleys and mountains will not only be present but is working good and is working in ways beyond our understanding.
 Who You Are- JJ Heller

I love love love the music video for this song because it shows reality. People face hard things…really hard things everyday. And they don’t just “get over them” and healing doesn’t just “happen overnight”. But as a community we join together and embrace one another through the challenges, seasons, joys & sorrows and sojourn on together. We keep living life. Because we know not what He is doing but Who He is and that is enough.

So stayed tuned….eventually we will be making this decision!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

a month of family

Really, is April almost over already? I was talking with some ladies the other day and they mentioned how their kids were taking finals or getting ready for graduation and I couldn't believe it was already almost time for school to be out for summer. The past month has been a busy, yet fun one. It was a month of "family". We (well technically, gracie & I) spent a week in IL after Easter and then we had Seth's sister and her family come for a weekend and then my parents came for the weekend.

I'll update with photos:

Illinois- it was fun to introduce Gracie to friends that hadn't met her yet as well as spend quality time with family. I was able to be there when my newest nephew, Creed Taylor, was born- which was amazing. Seth and I attended a Weekend to Remember marriage conference in Normal and left Gracie over night for the first time (for two nights!!).

                                    Uncle Chad teaching Gracie early to have a love for music

                  For some reason this picture just cracks me up, the way gracie is just sitting there by herself with grandpa

                    Watching seth build a snowman for gracie...look at all that snow, haha.

Grandpa and gracie with her first snowman

                                          One of my absolutely favorite pictures!
                               In honor of Grandma K....the fancy butter :)

We got to see Jeff for a few short, sweet hours

                                                       Darling pic of Aunt Bets & Maggy

                                         Gracie's first Easter basket from G&G Braker

                                                Love this sweet buddy, Rio

                                                    Grandma Braker & Gracie :)

                                         Aunt Jackie- just a few days before Creed was born!

                                                       Love this guy and this girl.

                                                          Grammie & Grandpa Weber

                                     such a sweet moment between grammie & gracie

                                                    Family picture on Easter!!

All dressed up for church on Easter Sunday!

                                        Helping to hold her bottle!

                                                                My little Easter bunny :)
Great Grandpa Weber and Gracie...I love watching his joy when he sees his great grandkids

Uncle Seth holding Creed for the first time!

Seth brought me some treats for the weekend to remember!

                                                    We love you baby girl!

3 generations!

Zimmermans- Jake, Betsy, Dayne & Maggy came to Arkansas for the first time! We were so excited for their visit and to spend time with them. We went to an outdoor playground downtown that has tunnels in the ground and all sorts of adventurous things a 4 year old would love. We "swam" in the hot tub- since, according to Maggy, it isn't a vacation unless you can go swimming :). We broke out the old Nintendo- yes, the original. Took them to a couple of our favorite restaurants, went to Pinnacle State Park playground and Betsy and I even got to do some shopping without our kiddos. We had a great weekend and loved every minute of their visit!

                                                       Maggy helping feed Gracie her bottle :)

                                Outside park at the riverfront...it was a beautiful day!

                                                Love these guys!!

                                                   Uncle Jake loving on Gracie

                                            haha, love this picture...like brother, like sister :)

                                                            LOVE those smiles!!

                                             Dayne is such a a good, big cousin!

                        Maggy loved playing with Gracie's things with her "gracie" baby dolls

My parents- we always love when they come to visit. We just love the good, quality time we get to have conversations or try out some activity. Plus, I just love to watch them play with Gracie, it's something truly beautiful. She found her voice when they were here, so she was "talking" a ton which we all soaked up. We went garage sale-ing and to their favorite bookstore and out to our favorite barbecue place here. We took Gracie on a couple walks and a hike and went to the usual frozen yogurt spot. I will say, goodbyes still break my heart and this one was no exception.
                                          She slept while we went garage sale-ing!!!
Grammie getting her some gracie time!

Trying out the exercise bouncer for the first time, she LOVED it!

Going on a hike, proud papa!

Our hiking buddies!

Love this face.


Now we are plugging away at making our decision for what is next....i'm sure there will be a blog on this soon...it's an emotional roller-coaster.