Blessed Assurance

God never promises us a life without trials.  In fact, James even tells us that we should “consider it pure joy…whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”  James 1:2-3  To say that Greg and I have had our faith tested over the last few months would be the understatement of the year.  Being a Christian doesn’t mean we are exempt from the devil’s schemes.  In fact, I think being a Christian makes us even more desirable to the devil.  He desires to tear us down, to weaken our faith, and lead us down paths of destruction.  If we are not diligent about continually building and fostering the relationship we have with God by being in His Word daily and through prayer, we can easily be deceived by the devil’s schemes.  And before we know it, we may find ourselves down a path of destruction and sin, wondering how we got so far from the true path of righteousness.  But it doesn’t mean God gave up on us.  He never gives up on His children.  If we simply open our eyes to our own sins, and seek God’s instruction, He will lead us out of the darkness and back into His light.  Like a shepherd who seeks and finds a lost sheep, so does our God in our times of trouble.  And just as the father who rejoices over the return of his prodigal son, so God rejoices when we come back to Him with a repentant heart.

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. -James 1:12

I have faced trials of many kinds, and God has pulled me from the depths of my sin and I can honestly say today I feel closer to God than I have in a long time, maybe even ever.  God has also been working in Greg over the last few months, testing his faith and producing perseverance.  We can see God’s work in our marriage as boldly as if it was written in black and white.  I always wondered when people said, “God told me this” or “I knew God was telling me such and such” what that really meant?  I always felt like I had a hard time distinguishing if I was really hearing God’s commands or just my own thoughts.  How would I know it was from God?  Well, I can assure you that if you dive into His word, it is much easier to know what God is trying to tell you.  I began reading through Proverbs, and it was like every chapter had clear instructions on how I needed to change my life.  And here’s something else.  In Sunday school about a year ago, our teacher gave all us ladies the book The Power of a Praying Wife, by Stormie Omartian.  And I took it home and never read it.  Well, a few months ago, I decided to start reading this book and HOLY CRAP!  It was like God breathed every word into this book just for me and what seemed to be random topics for each day of prayer, God absolutely orchestrated it so that our lives perfectly lined up with the specific prayers I would read that day.  I wasn’t even reading it every single day.  Sometimes I would skip days (usually on my early mornings of work).  But every chapter I read was EXACTLY what I needed to hear that day.  I have never been more convinced of God’s direction in my life.  Praise Jesus for his many blessings!

Like I said, Greg has been discovering his own journey as well.  We both grew up going to church, and we’ve been going to church together ever since we started dating.  We’ve been involved in a newly-wed Sunday school class since about our 1-year anniversary.  We even went to Israel with several other couples from our class last summer and walked where Jesus walked.  But something still kept us from really engaging in our spiritual walks with one another. We sort of just had our own walks separately, and didn’t really share them with one another.  Maybe out of fear or our own insecurities, I’m not sure.  But when God begins testing your faith, dramatic things can happen.  God can use anything for His own good and glory.  Even our sin.  And I don’t believe that God purposely allows things to happen that cause us to sin (that’s called temptation, and that’s the devil’s work), but He can take those circumstances and work in us for His glory.  God has done some amazing things in our marriage over the past few months.  Where we didn’t even see struggles, God has opened our eyes.  Greg and I have opened up a lot more about our faith and our walk with God.  We read the Bible together (I know, it’s really sad that we didn’t do that before).  We pray together.  We quit letting fear control our pursuit of God’s plan for us.

About a month ago, during Sunday morning service, Greg felt called to come forward and commit himself to baptism.  It was a desire he shared with me sometime last summer, but beyond that one conversation, we never talked about it again.  He had been “sprinkled” as a child in church along with everyone else his age at a certain time.  But now his relationship with God has deepened and he better understands His purpose in this life, and to show his faithfulness to God he wanted to be baptized by immersion.  And this past Sunday, we celebrated his baptism.  We were so blessed to have several friends and family come witness his baptism. His good friend John from Kentucky even drove down for the weekend.  We are truly blessed with wonderful friends who are there for us when we need them!  After the service, a big group of family and friends went to lunch together.  It was a dreary raining day, but we were filled with joy in our hearts.

Below is the video I took of the baptism.  Each participant gives a small testimony prior to their baptism, so you can hear Greg’s story as well.  I am so happy to call this man my husband.  My appreciation for him has grown tremendously over the past few months, as well as my love for him.  I pray God continues to do great work in us as we continue to seek Him.

Video recap

I’m tidying up my video files on my computer, and I decided it would be fun to share just a few!

Last spring Greg’s roommate’s dog Lola had a liter of puppies and we went up to Jasper one afternoon to see the pups. They’re purebred labrador retrievers, and were probably about 4-5 weeks old at this point, I think.  John and Leah’s pup Josie is in there somewhere, although looking back now, I don’t remember which one she is! The pups had never been in water before, so we decided this would be a great day for a little swim!  As you will see, most of them were not fans yet.
This next one is from our honeymoon in Atlantis last October.  It’s one of the fish tanks at the Royal Towers where the giant manta ray lives.  This is probably the best representation I have of how HUGE he was!
Also on our honeymoon, we sat out on the beach for about an hour one afternoon as a storm was rolling in off the ocean.  This is definitely the closest I’ve been to lightning strikes (you’ll see it at the last few seconds of the video). They were striking the water a couple hundred yards off shore…and eventually, we had to leave cause the storm actually made it to shore.
And lastly, this was taken January 2012 when we were in Disney World for the marathon.  Katie ran her first half marathon with Chuck and Zach, and then the next day the boys ran the full marathon.  This is the only clip I have of Katie passing us during the run (which if I remember correctly, this was about 5 miles into the run!)

a magic weekend

Wow, a LOT has happened in 1 week.  Since turning 25, I went to Disney World, got engaged, watched a marathon and had a wonderful time with my family and some friends.  We’ve been planning a trip to Disney World for several months to go see my sister’s fiance and his friend run the Disney Marathon.  Since we all love Disney so much, we decided to make a family trip of it (along with some friends and significant others!).  So, last Friday morning we boarded a plane to Orlando and began our Disney vacation.  We stayed at the All-Stars Sports hotel, and first thing Saturday morning we began our day in the Magic Kingdom.  We made our way through Space Mountain, Snow White’s ride, Peter Pan, and the 3D Philarmagic show.

Then some of our group wanted to go “take some pics in front of the castle.”  So we casually made our way around to the castle, stopping to take pics on a bridge facing the side of the castle.  Greg kept wandering towards the front of the castle so I just followed him and figured the rest of the group would catch up.  There was a show going on at the castle, so we got to a spot and stopped and I started taking pics of the characters up on stage.  Greg casually reached into his bag and says, “oh, I forgot to give you your bday card the other day,” So I took the card and started reading it (not thinking anything out of the ordinary). I opened it up and it read “the top 10 reasons why you should say ‘yes’.”  Me (still oblivious) did not catch on to anything at this point.  Some of the reasons were “because you are my best friend,”  “because we still haven’t played bridge at the senior center” (which is in reference to the very first text message Greg ever sent me that was the top 10 reasons why I need your phone number…one of those being, ‘to go play bridge at the senior center’), “because I can’t imagine my life without you,” etc.   I got about halfway through the list and then noticed Greg was down on one knee in front of me with a ring box.  I was in TOTAL shock.  I had NO IDEA he had planned this for months. He actually picked out the ring 2 months ago!  It took me a few seconds to register what was happening around me, but of course, I said “YES!”  He is the sweetest, most caring person I know. He would do anything for me, and I couldn’t ask for a better husband-to-be!  He’s completely opposite of me. I’m quiet and shy, and he’s outgoing and funny.  But we compliment each other well, and I’m so excited for what’s ahead.

The remainder of the trip was spent hopping from park to park. Sunday we watched the marathon. Unfortunately, my future brother-in-law tore his iliotibial band a week before the race.  The IT band runs from the top of the femur down to the knee, and when he ran it cause him severe pain.  But he was determined with everything he had to finish the race.  However, he had to stop at the halfway point (13 miles), because he simply could not go on.  He told us the pain set in at 0.4 miles, but he pushed on to 13 miles then pulled out of the race.  I’m so proud of him. That guy has more determination than anyone I’ve met.  When he sets his mind to something, he will do whatever it takes to make it happen. He would have walked the entire remainder of the marathon had there not been a maximum 16-minute pace. He couldn’t bend his knee at the point when he stopped, and walked with a slight limp the remainder of the trip, but luckily he was able to get around and still enjoy the parks.  And, we’ll be back next year so he can hopefully run the marathon then.

There’s so much more I could write about, but I think I’ll let the pictures (and video) do the talking.  It’s been a wonderful kick-off to 2011. I couldn’t be happier!   🙂

eat, drink, and be merry

We had so much fun Monday night celebrating Christmas with all my girl friends. I’m lucky to have such beautiful, hilarious, sincere friends who truly have hearts of gold. I love them dearly! We cooked a huge dinner, sat together around the table, drank wine, played dirty (nice) Santa, and “danced” the night away to some awesome Michael Jackson on the Wii. We shared stories, old memories, laughed and cried, and laughed till we peed our pants! Here’s a little peek at our fun… enjoy!