For Anyone Who Is Lacking...

Ok, so I told you last night about my new favorite devotional book, Jesus Calling. I'm going to copy exactly what today's entry said, because it was very timely for me and I would imagine for many of you. I hope it encourages you if you're feeling like you just don't have what you need today...

April 30
When some basic need is lacking- time, energy, money- consider yourself blessed. Your very lack is an opportunity to latch onto Me in unashamed dependence. When you begin a day with inadaquate resources, you must concentrate your efforts on the present moment. This is where you were meant to live- in the present; it is the place where I always await you. Awareness of your inadequacy is a rich blessing, training you to rely wholeheartedly on Me.

The truth is that self-sufficiency is a myth perpetuated by pride and temporary success. Health and wealth can disappear instantly, as can life itself. Rejoice in your insufficiency, knowing that My power is made perfect in weakness.

James 1:2, "Consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of any kind..."

2 Corinthians 12:9, "And He said to me, My grace is sufficent for you, my power is made perfect in weakness."

Take the opportunity you've been given today, to rest, trust, and delight in HIS power being made perfect in your weakness. Be blessed...


"Leaders are Readers"...or Something Like That!

So sorry, I've been absent for a few days...I know you're probably wondering when I'm ever going to move on from my birthday!?!? The truth is, I'm still celebrating (why not?) but I'm reigning it back in and trying to get "back to business!"

I got a very generous gift card for 2 of our very favorite restaurants, so we've been eating out like crazy for the last few days and now I've decided that I'm officially sick of eating out. It's great not to cook and grocery shop and clean up, but after awhile of it, there's only so much that sounds good from a menu. So tonight we've been laying low at home. I cooked dinner, Travis and Ryley went for a run, we've played wii, we've checked email, I've scrapbooked...all in all, a pretty good night. What I haven't done however, is everything I should be doing. You know...laundry, bills, cleaning, looking for Travis' passport, etc...things like that. I guess I figured it can wait because it will all be there tomorrow. I've decided that sometimes you just need a night to play tennis with your husband...even if it's via a gaming system.

I've got several things I could blog about, none of which seem very exciting at the moment. So, in an effort to come up with something, I will choose the subject of great books.

I have been meaning to share some of the books I've been reading lately because I've been on a really good streak. As a general rule, I almost never read fiction. I don't have anything against it, but I just don't enjoy it. I like books that explain things, that challenge me to think deeply or that tell a true story about someone's life. I am not into books that aren't true. I know that's weird, and many people have tried to convince me to dabble into fiction...if I had a dime for every person that has suggested "Redeeming Love" by Francene Rivers, I'd be rich...but, I'm sticking to my guns for now and choosing my biographies instead! So here are a few books that I've recently finished and that I highly recommend:

#1- Feminine Appeal by Carolyn Mahaney

I've read this one before, but felt like it would be a good refresher to read on vacation. It's an incredible read about our calling as women. Great chapters about being a wife, a mother, and a woman who loves the Lord. It's very convicting...I always read it and walk away with something that I need to work on. This time, I was very convicted about what time I get up in the morning and how I use or waste my time. I'm still working on that one, but it has motivated me to start my days in a wiser way. As a fun side note, because I read this almost entirely while laying poolside, it now smells like sunscreen and chlorine! Two of my favorite smells!

#2- Jesus Calling by Sarah Young

Travis and I were each given this little devotional book by our friends, Michael and Roberta, while we were in Naples. We LOVED it immediately and we've both been using it everyday since we returned home. It is a great little book, packed with very powerful reminders about who God is and what his word says to us. I love it because it's written from God's point of view, as if he's writing or speaking to us individually. I've written down so many great lines from this book's basically a good reminder about the promises of God. Each day has just a short devotional, centered on a theme of some sort, and then it lists the verses it was drawn from. It's a great springboard for your quiet time if you're looking for something new. This is probably my favorite devotional book in a long time.

#3- Standing Tall by C. Vivian Stringer

I just finished this book last week and I LOVED it cover to cover. For those of you who like college basketball, or women's sports, you would love it. Holly Shelton, I'm talking to you here!! I chose it for a couple of reasons. First, Coach Stringer used to coach my beloved Hawkeyes at the University of Iowa and she is cherished in Hawkeye land. She took the Hawkeyes to the Final Four and she won the Big Ten conference several times. Secondly, I knew she had overcome some kind of personal tragedies, but I wasn't sure what. Let me just say now, I had no idea the level of sorrow this lady has endured. One of her greatest losses was that of her husband, who died suddenly of a heart attack, while they were in Iowa. She felt the need to move not too much later, because she was so devestated and she could not escape all their memories there. She got a job at Rutgers, where she is today, and some of you may remember her as the coach of the team that Don Imus now famously degraded with his racist comments. After reading this, I am almost certain that she is a believer in Christ. I would describe her as a picture of grace and dignity in the face of unbelievable trials. She is a history making coach...the only coach, male or female, to take three seperate teams to the ncaa finals. She has an incredible reputation among her collegues, her players, and her critics. There are few women like her in the athletic world and I have such tremendous respect for what she's been through and how she's held her head high regardless. If you are a sports fan, get this book. It will inspire you and challenge you. She is the kind of coach any parent would dream about entrusting their daughter to and the kind of coach any player would be privileged to be mentored by. Amazing.

#4- Mistaken Identity by Don & Susie Van Ryn, Newell, Colleen & Whitney Cerak, and Mark Tabb

I am currently reading this book, after seeing this unbelievable story on the Today show, Dateline, and Oprah. It's the story of the two girls who were mistakenly identified after a horrible car crash at Taylor University. What is so amazing about it, is that both families are Christians and they have handled an incredibly devestating situation with grace and forgiveness and strength that can only come from the Lord. We saw their story on tv and we both agreed, we were awed at how the love of the Lord radiated in them, in the midst of their worst nightmare. The fact that no lawsuits have been filed, or even mentioned, and that they are able to move forward not as enemies, but as true friends is incredible. It's been a great read so far, I'll let you know when I finish it.

So there you go, some of my favorite and recently read books. I have great plans to post about a few other things this week, but we'll see if that happens or not! Also, stay tuned because this blog may be a bit of a mess in the coming days. I'm trying like crazy to get some updating and blog re-decorating done, but I know it will probably take a few days to get it all back together. So hang in there with me and hope for a better outcome! Have a great Wednesday tomorrow!


Happy Birthday to Me, Indeed!!

Before I even begin, I want to thank you for the sweet birthday wishes all week, I truly appreciated your comments and emails. Just so you know, I had a Fantastic birthday yesterday!! I wanted to post last night about it, but I was just too tired when I got home, so I opted for sleep instead. However, it took me forever to get to sleep, because my birthday was so fun and full of great surprises! 28 was not a milestone I've been thrilled about, but I'm starting to think if my birthday is any indication of how this year is going to go, maybe 28 is going to be my year!?!

Although my day began yesterday with dreary skies and rain that wouldn't quit, all day long my heart was warmed with sweet people and phone calls and emails. I hardly noticed the weather.

When I got to work yesterday, my precious little guys sang "Happy Birthday" to me with their mom, and we ate the cupcakes they made for me. If I was thinking, I would have taken a photo, but I forgot to bring my camera. After a fun day with them, I went to Starbucks for an hour by myself. I ordered their new brew, Pike's Place, (which is fantastic) and I spent some time reading and writing and just reflecting on these 28 years God has blessed me with. It was a good "perspective" moment.

Just nine months ago, I imagined this birthday much differently. When I found out I was pregnant in Septemeber, my doctor gave me a due date of May 6th. I immediately fast forwarded to the Spring and thought about all the things that would be different, with a baby on the way. Of course my birthday was one of them. I wondered if maybe I'd even deliver early and get a baby for a present? It was certainly possible, but regardless, I knew this birthday was going to be unlike any other.

When I woke up yesterday, I thought about that dream and the way it had been shattered. The rain I heard outside was reflective of the way my heart felt. Dripping a in few tears while I showered, I asked to Lord to fill that hole and help me be thankful for this day and all the blessings that have come along with it. I'm happy to say, I was able to leave those tears in the shower and move on in His abundant grace through my day. I had no idea what was in store for me, but I knew I was going to trust Him and not dwell on what I could not have. His grace was very sufficient.

After I left Starbucks, I met Travis at one of our favorite restaurants, Maggiano's. We fell in love with Maggiano's back in our seminary days,when we used to go with Buddy and Meredith and Mike and Holly. When we moved here, we were THRILLED to discover a Maggiao's in Edina and it's become a place we go when we have something to celebrate.

My sweet husband met me with roses in hand and a big smile on his face. I had that feeling in my heart when I saw him of overwhelming gratitude. Sitting there alone, waiting for my "date", I was casually people-watching, and thinking about those years of being single and how I wondered what my future-spouse would be like. Then he arrived and I felt my heart race a little, like it always does when I see him. I know this is sappy, but I don't care. I LOVE Travis and I am incredibly blessed with a great husband. He is a living, breathing, reminder of God's faithfulness and goodness to me. The wait for him was worth it and given the opportunity to do it all over again, I would wait 10 years if I knew he was the one I was waiting for.

When we sat down, I knew something was up. He couldn't wait for me to get my coat off and to even get our drinks ordered. He was dying with a surprise! From the moment I met him, I've realized he cannot keep a secret!! I believe he had my engagement ring in his hand for about 40 minutes when he proposed to me. He is not one of those guys who held onto it for months, waiting for the right time. He got that ring and headed straight for me! I know he didn't even have it for an hour before he put it on my finger!! I love that about him. I've learned to never hint at a gift I may have bought him. It's absolute torture for Travis. He loves surprises but he is no good at waiting for them. Last night was no different.

Our poor waitress barely got our drink orders in when he flat out turned his back on her and turned to look me in the eye. "I am so excited about your gift, I cannot stand it. I want you to open it right now," he said. "Ok," I replied, "where is it?" Like a little kid brimming with excitement, he pulled out a litte bag and put it in my hands. I reached in and had no idea what I was pulling out when he blurted, "It's a new i-pod!" I was totally shocked and thrilled. I loved it! It was exactly what I wanted and he picked it out, and totally surprised me. He also bought me 4 i-tunes cards, with lots of money for new songs. "How comepletely sweet," I thought. He read my blog and actually took one of my wishes and made it come true, and he's genuinely excited for me.

And then he hit me with more. "Steph, I'm so excited for you because not only are you getting this new i-pod, but you are going to be able to use it with your new MacBook-Pro, which is in the mail and will be here in a few days."

I think my jaw may have hit the table. I couldn't even put a sentence together! "What??? Are you serious?", I replied. Then he explained the best part. He got a call Wednesday night, from a friend of ours who we got to know at Church before they moved to Atlanta in the fall. Jill had read my blog and called Travis to say that they could, and would like to, help out with one of my wishes on my list. Travis must have died when they said it was the thing I've wanted most, a new computer. Long story short, Jill and Brent graciously blessed us with something we've been talking about for a long time. They had exactly what I was hoping for, and what we were hoping to be able to buy in the coming months, and they thought of me and generously called to offer it. Isn't that they sweetest thing? I cannot even describe how touching that was/is to me. I totally felt my eyes filling with tears and my heart brimming with gratitude once again. I just remember the thought running through my mind, "Lord, you are so know every detail of my life and you do not withhold any good thing from your children." In the sweetest of ways, Jill and Brent provided the "icing on my cake yesterday." They blessed me by giving me something I longed for and they blessed Travis by relieving a burden and allowing him to surprise me with something he also longed to give me.

I just love it. I cannot get over the blessings of the Lord. The ways He prompts us to love one another and the ways He prompts us to give for his glory. He knew our need, He knew the blessing our friends would receive, and He knew the great story we'd be able to tell. All for His glory, all for His fame. True kindness, genuine love, and over-the-top blessing. What a birthday!

After my sweet husband got all those surprises out, he left to go to the restroom and I found myself sitting there, dumbfounded. I pulled out the card he wrote me, that I hadn't read yet, and I cried. Cards, written words, thoughts expressed are my love language. I know, given the length of every post I write, that is not shocking! But it was not something that came easily to Travis when we first met and yet, as he realized how important it was to me, he's consistantly written some very sweet cards to me and yesterday was the best one yet.

Our waitress came back, probably thinking we were rude and/or odd at this point because we were so wrapped up in our own little world, and she asked me, "What's the occasion?" She saw the roses, the present, and the card I was holding, and with tears I answered her, "It's my birthday." "Oh," she said, "and what did you get?" I told her honestly, "I got the best husband in the world, a total answer to all my prayers." She looked at me, holding an i-pod, and said, "That's sweet and did you also get an i-pod?" "Yes," I laughed, "and a Mac Book too", as if that was just an additional bonus. What I wish I would have added, was that the Lord was the best gift I've ever received and He is truly the only gift that is worth getting. He is the author of eternal life, the provider of salvation, the prince of peace, and the giver of all good gifts. All else pales in comparison and is just icing on the cake. I should have added that, but I was too overwhelemed to think of it. I hope she left with a picture of a husband and a wife who are truly more in love today than the day we met. I hope she caught that. Regardless, I know it's true.

My birthday was nothing like I thought it would be nine months ago. The gifts were different, the circumstances different, and the outcome different. But you know what, different is good. God is not limited in what He can do and He is not bound by expectations and plans. His ways are higher than our ways and His ways are always for our good.

Thank you for caring about me yesterday. It was a good day...a mighty, fine day as matter of fact and it won't be long until I'm blogging on my new computer, with my new i-pod playing in my ear! Birthdays aren't about what you get, but isn't it fun to make a wish and find it coming true?


I've been "Tagged" again

My new friend, Faith, tagged me tonight but I've already done it before. So, in the spirit of compliance, I thought I could still do it, but with a twist. I'm supposed to tell you 7 random things about me, but instead I'm going to tell you 7 things I want for my birthday, since it's on Thursday. I've decided to ask for alot, realizing that I will definately not be getting any of these things...but a girl can dream right? Travis is unaware of this list, I gave him a much smaller, cost effective version, but he wouldn't be surprised by anything on this list I'm sure! So, sorry Faith for not playing by the rules, but here it is:

7 Things I Wish I Could Get On My Birthday

1. A Mac Book Pro. I desperately need a new computer, and I totally want a mac, simply for the photo and video software. It's my dream. My Dell has served me well for the last 6 years, but it's a dinosaur now and the source of many's time to let my Dell go and welcome Mac to my world. Here's hoping!

2. A new i-pod. I've never bought an i-pod. Travis has one and our friends Mike and Holly took pity on me and gave me an old one of theirs, when they realized I didn't have one...isn't that sweet? But, I would love a new one, with video capabilities and lots of my favorite songs already loaded on it...hey, it's my list, so why not? I'd really like an i-phone, but we have a contract with sprint for 2 more years, so that's not going to work. But I'd still like one!

3. A big, fat gift card to Archiver's. I can do serious damage in there and it would be fun to spend money that isn't coming out of our checking account! That way I wouldn't feel guilty about it. I would love some new scrapbooking stuff and they have a limitless supply!

4. A new camera. I love my camera, it's my second Sony Cybershot, but I would love a new one with a much better/sophisticated zoom and lens. I love to take pictures and I would love to improve my shots with a better camera. I think I would still prefer a Sony, because I've really loved them and they are very user friendly. But I'm open to new options too. I just would love to take great, crisp, clear photos with lots of settings to choose from. To go along with my new camera, I would love to take lessons from someone. I don't want to take a class because I am done with school and I don't want the stress anymore of tests and projects, but I would love a one on one tutorial!

5. I really want my subscription to People Magazine back. I was a subscriber for two years, and I have to say, I loved it. Every Friday brought me joy when I opened our mail and found my issue waiting for me. And Travis loved it too, although he would never admit that. In January I decided not to renew, in an effort to spend our money more wisely, but I miss it and I would love that one indulgance back. Think what you want, but I like reading about celebrities and big public interest stories. I'm not proud of it, but I'm not denying it. I'm a People addict going through serious withdrawl.

6. I would also love another loaded gift card to Homegoods. Possibly one of my favorite stores. I love shopping for our house there and I also can do lots of damage. We are in "need" of some artwork for several rooms in our house and I would like to just pick a bunch a great pieces out. And maybe a new area rug. And some storage pieces. And a big black mirror. I'd have to pace myself. I'm getting giddy just imagining it!

7. Finally, I would like a housekeeper service to come to my house once a month. Not to pick up after us, but just to do the deep cleaning jobs that I don't enjoy. Bathrooms, kitchen floors, windows, dusting, etc. And to clean the dog hair off our furniture. Those are the things I don't love and wouldn't it be great to let someone else do them? Again, it's my list and it's my dream.

I realize that the likelihood of me getting any of these things is low, but it doesn't hurt to be prepared in case I win the lottery (which I don't play) or in case I run into a millionaire who is looking for someone to spend money on. It could happen, right? If it does, at least I'll be ready with a very detailed list!

*** Wii Update***

Thankfully we solved our wii remote problem and did indeed get them synched again with our console...thanks to our wii guru, Jason, we happily competed all evening. So much so in fact, that my shoulder started aching! Playing tennis does it to me everytime but it didn't help that Travis nailed me in the elbow while attempting a wicked forehand! Last night I nailed him in the hand during my backhand...we've got to learn to stand farther apart or just relax a little bit. At least now I will once again be able to take the wii fitness challenge and prove that my wii age is much less than 45!! Wouldn't you be insulted by that too??

Highs and Lows

I've been a little absent in the blogging world lately. We've been steadily plugging away, catching up from being on vacation and just re-imersing ourselves back into reality. That's one of the hard things about coming home from takes awhile to get motivated to be productive again!

On Sundays, I lead an 8th grade girls small group and one of the things I always do, to get us started and to get conversation flowing, is to ask the girls to tell me their highs and lows from the week. Now, because they are junior high girls, I always have to set time limits, like one high and one low in 30 seconds! Otherwise we'll never get to anything spiritual in the 45 minutes we have together!

So, in an effort to catch you up to where we are and what we're doing, I thought I'd share my highs and lows today (and from the last few days). I'll try to practice what I preach and be brief!!


-I'm home today, without my car, because my husband's plan to ride his bike to work today, didn't work.

-After a fun night last night with our youth staff, we accidentally switched our wii remotes at Jason and Greta's house, bringing home the wrong ones and leaving me unable to play this morning. Not at all a big deal, but a slight bummer.

-We found out last week that our health insurance at Church is changing...while it couldn't be helped and the new plan does have some new benefits, it is not great news for us, on the brink of wanting to do some very expensive infertility tests. The financial gal from my clinic called this morning to tell me, "Good news, Blue Cross approved you and you're ready to move ahead." I had to tell her, "Bad news, we only have Blue Cross for one more week, then we switch to the new plan." I knew it wasn't good when she replied, "Ohhh...well, that is going to be a little more challenging for you. That means that you'll now have to pay in full as you go, which is going to require lots of money out of pocket." To which I said, "I know, and that's a bummer."

-I woke up this morning to a very disturbing dream, which took me awhile to shake. I don't know what my deal is, but I dream very intensely and very specifically. I often wake up in that state unfortunately.

-While we were at my parents house this past weekend, their basement flooded and we spent lots of time trying to help clean up the mess and doing serious damage control. Today we are very tired and my poor parents now have a basement problem to deal with, 7 weeks before my sister's wedding. Last year, they faced a similar last minute crisis when the air conditioner and furnace all of the sudden stopped working and had to be replaced...again, just weeks before the wedding.


-It's a GORGEOUS day today and Ryley and I spent some time this morning on a beautiful walk around our lake and on some trails...I love this time of year in Minnesota!

-As mentioned before, we played wii last night with our youth staff friends and had lots of fun. For Travis' birthday, I suprised him and bought him a hard-to-find wii. That was a significant surprise because he had absolutely no idea I would do something like that. Usually I rationalize why we don't need a game system and I come up with a million other things we should or could spend our money on. But, I knew he would love it, I knew I would love it and I rarely get to surprise him so I went for it! He was of course shocked and thrilled! Our friends Jason and Greta actually found it for me while we were on vacation, so I got to tell him poolside on Sunday afternoon after Jason sent me a text, telling me that they found one...of course I took a picture of his reaction after I teased him all week and made him guess what I bought him! He was way off...he guessed a skydiving package, which I would NEVER, EVER do!! But I scored major points with that gift and we've been having tons of fun playing it ever since. I know you must find that hard to believe...after all, we're not at all competitive or anything...yeah right!! I wanted to play this morning because I took a wii fitness challenge last night and I was insulted by how it rated my skills. It bothered me all night and I couldn't wait to get up and prove it wrong this morning! I know, that's sad...don't judge me for my incredibly competitive nature...God made me this way!!

-I had a really fun time seeing both of my sisters and my parents this weekend. Stacie flew home for a few days and because my Mom's friends threw Jennie a shower on Saturday, we came home too. Despite the flooding, it was lots of fun. I'm excited for the wedding week now, because we'll all be home and we'll have lots of laughs and good times amidst the stress! These are fun days in my family, we're all in a fun stage of life and I'm very grateful for the opportunities like this to get together. And on top of all that, I love my parents, I love my sisters, I love my brother-in-law and I love my new brother-in-law-to-be. I know that's a real blessing from the Lord and I try to remind myself not to take it for granted.

-Ryley is finally home again!! He was in Iowa for the last 3.5 weeks and we missed him terribly! Although I know he has tons of fun at my parents house and he gets lots of love from them while we're gone, we have hated how quiet our house has been without him and the companionship he provides us. He is just the best dog ever and we are so happy to have him home.

-Yesterday, because of the amazing weather, I cleaned off our patio furniture and put our cushions out and got our patio cleaned up as well. I sat out there and read a great book, we ate dinner out there, and I drank my coffee out there this morning. Once again, I LOVE, this weather and this time of year in Minnesota!! We grilled out for the first time of the year last night and today all my windows are open...thank you Jesus for sunshine and a gentle breeze!! How can you have a bad day when you walk outside into this??

-And finally, because I'm home today without my car, I've decided to declare this a scrapbooking day! I have been wanting to scrapbook for awhile, but I never take time to do it. So this morning, when I mentioned it to Travis, he said "I think that's a great idea and you should totally do it!" So, I did and I am!

Happy Monday to me and to you! Hope it's filled with lots of highs and very few lows!


The Peace of God

Isaiah 64:8
"Yet, O Lord, you are our Father. We are the clay, You are the potter; We are all the work of your hand."

It seems as if there are certain points in this journey where I am overcome with God's presence and other times when I can't seem to find Him anywhere. I've learned that the discrepancy lies not with Him, but with me. He is always there. He knows my heart better than anyone else. He sees my struggle intimately and He longs for me to trust Him with the wait and the pain.

Some days I wholeheartedly rest in His love for me and I believe that He is in control. Yet other days, I question His plan and I doubt His love. Either way, the outcome of my peace is dependant on a choice I make. When I choose to put my confidence in Jesus and to let Him carry my burdens, His peace washes over me like a warm, gentle breeze. My days are easier, my relationships kinder, and my sleep sweeter. The burden remains, but I'm no longer the one carrying it.

Conversely, when I choose to pick that burden up and carry it my way, the way I've determined is best, I choose the way that produces no peace. Suddenly I feel my world spinning out of control. I'm trying my best, working so hard to handle this, and yet I'm getting no where. And where is God? I thought He was the One who "never leaves me, never forsakes me?" So why does it feel like He's farther than I can reach?

The truth is that He is farther than I can reach, if I'm the one doing the reaching. Fortunately He knew that when He sent Jesus into the world, to be the One to bridge that gap, the reaching could end. Now, with my trust in Jesus alone, God is a mere whisper away. And when I choose to call His name, He always answers. When I choose to trust Him and His plan for me, He grants me peace that is unlike anything I can experience myself. When I choose to believe His word, I find delight in His promises. And this is what He's promised:

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."
Philippians 4:6-7

I'm happy to say that for a little while now, we've been walking in God's peace. Do we still have hard days, yes. Do we have concrete answers about what's happening, no. Do we have some kind of glimpse into the future, no. Do we have any guarantee that we'll get the baby we long for, in the way we hope??? No, No, and No. And yet, even without answers...peace reigns. So in that peace we want to keep walking. It's addictive. When the Lord is in control and when He is faithfully blessing our obedience, how can we not trust Him? Will we still slip and fall? Yes. Will the pain of empty arms go away? Not necessarily. But will we strive to turn that over to the One we know can carry it better than we can? Yes, with God's grace we will.

Our God is so good and He has ordained our days in His perfect way. Since September, when we lost that pregnancy we had waited for and when I thought my world would end, the Lord has consistently laid one question on my heart:

"Am I enough for You Stephanie?"

Over and over again, that thought has captivated me, challenged me, and convicted me. I could not answer it for awhile because I wasn't sure. There are certain things I've wanted and frankly, pridefully thought I deserved. But fortunately, the Lord has begun a refining work in me that He is not willing to give up on. My heart has been divided and His light has shone on some dark places. Places where idols live, where deals are made, where sin has taken over. And so the weeding out has begun. In His great love for me, He wants better for me, He wants all of me. And I want to give all of me to Him. So I struggle on, day by day. And failure creeps in, but victory redeems.

And now I can more honestly say, when He gives and He takes away, I will choose to bless His name.

In all things...even Infertility appointments.

I know you've been praying and wondering how yesterday went, but I wanted to share what God's been doing in my heart before I can adaquately explain how we feel. So in light of the choice to trust Him and with total peace, we went to see what medical wisdom could offer us on Friday. We prayed and talked and prayed more about this new road of possibility and I'm grateful to say that before, during and after...peace surfaced.

When the sun rose on Friday, my God was very near. Through my MOPS demo, He remained and joy filled my heart. I enjoyed myself and remembered why I love floral design. I saw those mothers, still wishing I was sitting with them, and realized that nothing is ever as good or as bad as it seems. I found out that many of them were just like me. Infertility plagued many in that room. There were adoptive moms there, in-vitro moms, moms who've lost precious children, and moms whom God has blessed regardless. And I smiled. My heart hurt for lots of them and I immediately felt a connection to some of the pain they bear. But I also saw hope in them. They were on the other side of motherhood and they were to me, a testimony of God's incredible faithfulness. And so, I thanked Him for the opportunity to see that and I left with more peace than I came with.

With an almost surreal feeling in our hearts and strength we did not have, we met with our new Infertility Specialist, Jamie. And while I expected the worst, I found myself sitting across from her, with a smile on my face and a calm that I couldn't believe I had. I listened intensely. We asked questions. We shared concerns. I looked at Travis and remembered thinking, "I love Him. He is such a gift to me." She methodically and kindly reassured us and helped us consider our options. She gave us much hope and she didn't pressure us to go down any roads we didn't want to...that was a specific answer to a fear of mine and I did not take it for granted. God's hand was working. All of the things we asked Him for and hoped to leave with, He answered. We felt very comfortable with Jamie and with the staff we would come to know. We walked out with a handful of information that we found very helpful and we feel good about our options and how we want to proceed from here.

We laughed, we were comforted and we found hope. On a day when I imagined much brokeness, many tears and anxiety, we left with none of it. To the glory of God.

Instead, we were overwhelmed with peace.

From this point on, our road is unknown and we are totally dependent on God's direction and wisdom. Our hearts are softened and ready to willingly submit to whatever the Lord wants for us. While we were in Florida, laying by the pool one day, I was thinking about all of this...where we've been and where we're going...and it occured to me: if this is as good as it gets, I cannot complain. I have a husband I love, deeply, and a life that God has sovereignly given me, ordained just for me. Who am I to suppose that my future is bleak? What have I to base that on? My God has given me more than I could have imagined or dreamed and I believe that He is worthy of my trust.

So this is where we are. We are encouraged. We are hopeful. We are waiting for God's best for us, and we are realizing that might look differently than what we thought. Thank you for praying for us...I cannot tell you how greatly your prayers have impacted us. We are indebted to your pleas on our behalf.

It's good to be home now. It's good to be walking in peace.

"But I trust in you, O Lord; I say "You are my God." My times are in your hands..."
Psalm 31:14-15


Too Busy to Blog!

I want to weigh in for just a second and ask for your prayers tomorrow. Since we've landed, we've had absolutely no time to sit still! Talk about a total crash course into reality...we are so busy this week and weekend, it's a good thing we just went on vacation or we'd be exhausted!!

I'm going to give you a list of bullet points, because I have about 5 minutes to do this and not enough time to elaborate on much!

-Tomorrow I am speaking to Grace's MOPS (mothers of preschoolers) group, teaching a floral arranging demo. Should be fun, but lots of prep work on my end. Picked up the flowers today, beautiful, just have to plan my talk and write up a handout.

-Ironically, after my MOPS talk, Travis and I are meeting with an Infertility Specialist at my OB/GYN's office. We have peace about this...God has been showing us some things in this process and laying some truths on our hearts. We feel like this is a necessary appt. to get some answers we are seeking, but we have some reservations too and have had to really talk about what we're willing to do and what we're not. I will share more about this later, but for now, please pray for our appointment. I'm asking the Lord to help me trust Him with this next season and I'm choosing to praise Him regardless of what we learn. He is Sovereign over all this and we are simply wanting to go where He leads and walk in obedience and surrender to the best of our ability.

-I Have a great Bible Study tonight, talking about leadership and time management (of course!) I always leave very refreshed, but getting there every time is a total struggle!!

-We have a student ministry event all day Saturday, "Fiesta Dodgeball"...doesn't that sound like fun?? It actually is quite fun and hilarious to see the teams our students come up with and their crazy outfits! In honor of that, and the big news today, THE OFFICE IS BACK TONIGHT WITH AN ALL NEW EPISODE, I am posting the third installment of the Student Ministry Office videos for your enjoyment!! Too bad I'm too busy to watch the primetime start, but rest assured, I'll be watching it on tivo when I get home!!

-Oh, and just to top the weekend off, we're supposed to get rain, sleet, and snow tonight, tomorrow and Saturday...maybe 8 inches! Let me just tell you that we've already been searching for plane tickets and jobs back in Florida!! What were we thinking when we left?????


Safely Home Again

We came home today...and we're postponing our entrance into reality as long as we can! At least there was no snow on the ground when we got here, but it was significantly colder and we keep looking out our balcony, hoping we'll see that familiar sight of palm trees swaying in the breeze over the far, just a familiar view of the parking lot. Oh well, we have hundreds of pictures and just as many memories to remind us of a fantastic week. For now, we're reveling in one last night of "vacation!" Thanks for praying us home safely!


Making it count!

It's our last day in Florida today and we're packing as much stuff in as we can! I'm blogging from the one and only Starbucks on Marco Island...we always squeeze that in...and thought I'd upload a few more pictures. We're headed to the beach in a few minutes and then to Naples to eat at one of our favorite restaurants. We've had so much fun this's honestly been the best vacation we've ever taken. We are not anxious to come home, but we are grateful that when we do, we will be very refreshed and rested, which is exactly what we hoped to gain from this trip. We've seen so many precious friends and had such a great time together. After we're home and we get a break, I'll fill you in on the details and share some of our favorite pictures and memories with you. Thank you so much for praying for us...we have felt those prayers all week. We know the Lord gave us this trip as a gift and for a reason and we are excited to share what He's been teaching us here. You know Mondays are my favorite day, but this Monday might go down as my best in a long time! It's hard to top a Monday at the beach, with my man, in the sun! Hope your week is off to a great start...our's sure is!


Just Another Day in Paradise....

I imagined I would break from blogging this week, but as it turns out, we're having such a fun time that I thought I would check in and share a few of our photos! Travis told me that he fully expected me to be blogging this week, so I thought "well why not then?" Let me just tell you, we are LOVING this vacation even more than we thought we would...

It is GORGEOUS here and we have been totally blessed with fabulous weather and a classically defined, stress-free week. So far our days are going something like this:

Sleep in. Eat on balcony. Swim. Tennis. Beach. Eat again. Starbucks. Shop. Eat more, with friends. Ice-cream. Sunset. Relax and do it all over again...PERFECT.

I'll let our pictures do some of the talking, but know that we are having a wonderful time, so full of rest and joy. Being in southwest Florida is totally overwhelming to us. Many times I've gotten very teary just remembering all that this place represents. It's very similar to the stones that the Israelites used to carry to remember what God had done. When I came to Naples, I was fresh out of college and on the cusp of some hard life lessons. I grew abundantly in the Lord here. I was very heartbroken in some ways, lonely from all that I left behind, and unsure of who I really was and what I was all about. Faithfully, the Lord gave me friends that encouraged me, a job that stretched me, a Church that challenged me, and a sweet, wonderful guy who would change my life. Travis is the biggest blessing that Naples gave me, but he isn't the only thing. It's so fun for us to just drive from place to place, while the memories flood our minds. When we're here, we have such peace and certainly isn't a perfect place, but it's so special to us that it might as well be perfect! Plus, it's hot, beautiful and very far from snow of any kind...what Minnesotan wouldn't love that right now??

Anyway, here are some pictures from our first two days...I know this might be rubbing salt in the wound for some of our northern friends and family, so sorry! I warned you in advance..