Thirsty For Christ Thursday · TTC Tuesday · Uncategorized

Our First Christian Passover Meal

Tuesday

In the midst of this round of IVF, I think I speak for both Craig and myself when I say we have been in prayer around the clock. So many times when we pray, any of us, we are so focused on one thing, in one neat and tiny box, in exactly the way we ‘imagine’ it to arrive. Fortunately, our God doesn’t always stay within our human confines for Him, and He can use our intimate quiet moments of prayer to bring something to our hearts we didn’t know was even relevant to what we were asking.

One thing the Lord has placed on our hearts in a huge way this year has been creating our own family traditions. Genesis 2:24 instructs married couples to leave their parents and cleave to one another. This doesn’t mean to abandon your families or set off on a journey through the desert alone like the Lone Ranger. No, it means that marriage is special. Sacred. It means that we operate as a unit of one with our spouse. We make all decisions together. We rely on one another for support and love. We don’t look elsewhere for that which we should be providing each other. The priest who led us in our pre-marital counseling gave us the best advice of all: Don’t bring friends and parents into your relationships. If there is a problem beyond what you can handle with your spouse, seek spiritual guidance – from your priest, pastor, Christian counselor and from the Lord.

Honestly, that has been some of the best ever advice, and through many trials and tribulations, Craig and I have come through – stronger, wiser, closer and better equipped for ‘what’s next’. And what the Lord has revealed over the past several months has even shed some extra light on our move to Maine…

As a childless married couple, we are often ‘grouped in at the kids’ table’ for lack of a better analogy. With no children in tow, it’s easy to consider us as a temporary situation or just ‘off playing house way out in Maine’ – I imagine it’s a subconscious act, but it’s present nonetheless.

This year, we had the opportunity to spend an incredibly brief 36 hours together over Christmas, and unlike other years, in which we have scrambled and scraped to be in one place or another to celebrate the holiday with one of our extended families; this year, we felt as if we could – and even should – simply enjoy our time together. Create our own family traditions for each holiday. And even, begin to discuss with seriousness, how we would share and celebrate Christmas with our children ‘one day’. Leave and cleave.

Over our 36 hour Christmas, we read the story of Jesus’ miraculous birth from the Bible  – while we sipped champagne. We enjoyed sleeping in as long as we possibly could, aware that next year there could be a baby crying down the hall. Sweet friends from church said they felt sad we were spending Christmas ‘alone’ and invited us to celebrate with them. It was a generous thought – but honestly, we just enjoyed each other.

This year, just before Easter and our embryo transfer, God spoke to us and encouraged us to add in a new and important tradition – for our family. We had been praying and begging and crying for a precious baby, and the Lord didn’t say yay or nay. He simply asked us to begin a new tradition this year – one for our family. A tradition that would be important to share with our children.

Isn’t it amazing how the Lord answers your prayers with His own amazing Ways?

Us: Lord, please. We long to be parents. You asked us to see first Your Kingdom, and we are seeking You, Lord. Please, Holy Father, bless us with children.

God: There is a new tradition I want you to celebrate. One that will bring light to Easter. One that will be important to share with your children.

Just as Noah cried out: Save me from this sinful land!

And God answered: Build an enormous boat in this desert.

Answered prayer isn’t always as plain as we hope it to be.

And so in answer to His request, we studied the Passover and we prepared for our first celebration of this long-standing tradition. You can too – this is an amazing pdf file that leads you step by step through the celebration of the Messianic Passover meal. I won’t even begin to try to magnify its unbelievable significance and undeniable parallels for Christians…Please click on the above link, and you will be flabbergasted to discover that (SHOCK!) God really was in control and knew what He was instituting all along!

Really, our faith makes a mustard seed seem huge sometimes.

The Passover Lamb – totally unblemished and pure |  Jesus – Our Sinless Savior.

The matzoh bread – unleavened, pierced and striped | Jesus – sinless, pierced and striped for our salvation.

The lighting of the Passover candles by a woman | Jesus – light of the world, brought into existence by a woman.

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Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who has kept us in life, sustained us and enabled us to reach this season!
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Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who sanctified us in Yeshua the Messiah, the Light of the World and our Passover Lamb.
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“It is appropriate the woman lights the candles that bring light to the Passover celebration. It reminds us that Messiah is the “Seed of the Woman” and the Light of the World, who will overcome the powers of darkness and restore truth and life.”

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“Knowing He had been given all authority in Heaven and on Earth and He had eternally shared the glory of God and would soon return again to share God’s glory, [the] Messiah acted as a servant and washed the feet of His disciples. He set for all time the supreme example of servanthood and humility. Let us now wash our hands.”
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Urchatz: Washing the hands
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Karpas: Parsley; Passover, is celebrated during spring, when the Earth is green again with life. This parsley represents life. It is dipped into salt water, representing tears. This is a reminder of God’s people’s slavery in Egypt, and also represents hyssop – the plant dipped in the blood of the Passover lamb and applied to the doorposts of the Hebrew homes in Egypt.
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Maror: Bitter Herbs; This is eaten because the ‘Egyptians embittered the lives of the Hebrews they enslaved.’ For the Christian and Messianic Jew, we remember the bitterness of life before we were saved by Christ’s death and resurrection!
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Charoset: Sweet Apple Mixture; “This represents the mud mixed with straw to make the bricks to build Pharaoh’s cities. It reminds us that, if we really know the Three-In-One God and know that we are redeemed, there can still be sweetness – even in the midst of life’s most bitter circumstances…This reminds us that the sons and daughters of God…whom the Father purchased with the blood of His own Son, and for whom He has prepared an everlasting inheritance, must endure trials in order to enter the Kingdom of God. Though we may be despised by the world, we are kings and queens and a royal priesthood.”

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Our make-shift Matzatash is the white cloth to the right. A piece of matzoh is divided into 3 separate ‘compartments’, separated by a piece of cloth. The middle piece is removed, broken in half, and one half is placed back in the middle section of the Matzatash. The other half is placed in a cloth and hidden. As Christians and Messianic Jews, we recognize that these three piece of matzoh represent the Triune God – the Father (whom no eye has seen), the Son of God, Messiah (who reveals God to us), and the Holy Spirit (whom no eye has seen). 
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The middle matzoh is removed – just as the Son of God came down from Heaven and was revealed to us as our Savior on Earth. It is unleavened just as Jesus lived a perfectly sinless life. It is stripped and pierced just as Jesus was for our transgressions.

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This meal touched our hearts so much and was an even more thorough representation of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for His children than we could have ever imagined. There is so much more beauty in this Passover meal than I can relay to you. I do hope you’ll visit the link I mentioned above and learn more for your own family! Who knows – maybe next year, your family will be celebrating both Passover and Easter alongside ours!

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God's Will · TTC Tuesday · Uncategorized

Our Unexpected Journey

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Wow. Where do I even begin? I haven’t posted since August 26th…there’s a new domain name for our site…so much has happened…

The Lord has been knocking on my heart to begin blogging about Him – to share His Holy Name with the world, and to be honest, I’ve been lazy. I’ve been intimidated by the responsibility. I’ve been hiding in my grief after losing my precious baby boy this summer. But God continues His knocking, His beautiful persistence. And this morning I literally had no choice. I was compelled to follow His nudging. So let me catch you up on our journey to now.

I’ll begin at the beguine. If you are new to The Not-So Newlywed Lefebvres, I would ask you to back up a few posts and get a little bit of back story…but for any of you who have followed us for awhile now, you might remember that all Craig and I have ever longed for is a child. God promised us our precious Jonah Elizabeth, and we have been waiting patiently for nearly five years now. We were called to serve God in Maine this past year, and at the end of June 2016, we packed up our home in Georgia to move to a tiny town in Maine, into a big farmhouse we fell in love with. Almost immediately upon our arrival, amidst all of the painting and decorating and revamping, we received a call from the adoption agency we had been courting (but had not yet committed to), with amazing news: they had a precious baby boy (to be born in a month) for us.

As you might imagine, we ran the gamut of emotion: overwhelming joy, utter fear, anxiety, love, and were especially filled with praise for the amazing Father God who had blessed us in such a MIGHTY and unexpected way. Adoption had always been on the table for us. We have always wanted a house-full of children, and the moment we were exactly where God called us to be, here was our baby boy. Overwhelming cannot begin to describe the fullness every emotion carried during that month.

The adoption agency demanded every cent of their funding at the drop of a hat, and while scrambling to prepare a nursery and a home for this precious child, the Lord, literally, blessed us with every cent and every single thing we needed for our miracle. I could not have been more in love with a child if he had been growing in my own womb. I  must have cried tears of joy 60% of every single day. Every. Need. Was. Met. In less than a month. How can that be attributed to anyone but God?

I spent afternoons with the birthmother. I heard our boy’s heartbeat, watched him wiggle on the ultrasounds, saw him kick her stomach. He was my miracle. And then, he was not.

On August 17th, the birthmother’s parents intervened and told the agency their daughter could not give her child up for adoption. This precious child who they had tried to abort in the first months; who was the victim of alcohol and heroin and methamphetamine and cocaine abuse… And there was nothing we could do, but pray.

And we did. A whole army of prayer warriors rose up and prayed for this situation. But alas, what I believe was God’s Will was not done. And we were left standing there, not knowing if we could move or breathe or smile ever again. I have never known that kind of pain – pain I still face whenever I allow myself to think about our would-have-been baby boy…So I try not to.

Our failed adoption led to persistent longing. In prayer, the Lord was urging us on as He had never done before in pursuit of parenthood. It was as if a lion had been awakened from slumber. Friends reached out of the woodwork and recommended specialists and volunteered themselves to help in anyway they could have. It was beautiful.

On one such recommendation, we made an appointment with a doctor of functional medicine in Minnesota, Dr. Paul Deglmann. And in the same breath, we also made an appointment with Boston IVF, to speak with them about our options – maybe after 4 years and all of this heartache, we felt it was time to see if an IUI was an option for our family.

‘Dr. Paul’ in Minnesota, proved to be excellent and bring-about some thought-provoking insights for us about our infertility. After numerous tests, we began to solve many issues that didn’t seem directly related to infertility, but were certainly underlying factors. Eight months later and my blood work is what doctors have been referring to as ‘fantastic’. I feel better than I have in years. I don’t even need coffee in the morning. It’s pretty amazing.

Meanwhile, in New England, we had been to see Dr. Lannon at Boston IVF for an IUI consultation. After looking at our medical charts, he told us an IUI may not work with our particular fertility issues, because I may still (even after my procedure to reopen my collapsed Fallopian tubes in which I woke up from anesthesia during said procedure) have tubal damage. However, he said that in looking at my charts, we were a very unique case because I had been ‘diagnosed’ with PCOS, but had almost none of the  symptoms. Dr. Lannon said he didn’t feel like I had been properly diagnosed (the same thing my endocrinologist and Dr. Paul thought), and that there was a clinical study that almost no one qualified for (but I did), in which we would undergo IVF for *only* $6,000 all-inclusive.

  1. We were shocked. $6,000 is actually an unbelievable savings to undergo in-vitro fertilization.
  2. IVF is something we had never considered for ourselves, and in fact, had always been opposed to doing.
  3. Dr. Lannon felt that given our age, and our medical history, this could be our ‘only shot’ at having children biologically.

This was quite the amount of information to process…So we told him we would consider it, and get back to him…

Again, IVF is something that had been totally off the table. We both felt as if it would be unnecessary in our case, but after our summer of surprises, we decided we needed to seek the Lord about the options that lay in front of us.

Now, when Craig and I both ‘go off’ to seek God’s Will about something, we always acknowledge we will be praying, and don’t reconvene until the Lord has spoken. In this instance, God showed me some things, pretty emphatically, very quickly, but I knew Craig hadn’t received a Word yet – so I waited, as I have in the past, and lo’ and behold, several days later, he called from a trip to tell me what the Lord had revealed to him. Interestingly, God showed us the same things in different ways. Because God is AWESOME like that!

He showed me the book of Genesis, and pointed out that His first command to His creation was to “Be fruitful and multiply.”

“So God created human beings in his own image.

In the image of God he created them;

male and female he created them.

Then God blessed them and said, ‘Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.’ ” Genesis 1:27-28 NLT

To Craig, He revealed He is the author of life, and that this step would not be ‘taking matters into our own hands’ – that only God gives life, no matter science’s role in the ‘process’. We both felt, after years of feeling otherwise, compelled to take this step.

And so we did.

We began repeating every. single. fertility test known to man at the flagship Boston IVF clinic in Waltham, Massachusetts, driving there several times each week. Giving blood samples like candy to kids on Halloween and being poked and prodded and tested. Everything was set in motion. This was really happening.

And then it wasn’t.

We received a seemingly standard call from Boston IVF, and were told that the group heading the clinical study had decided against my participation due to the fact I take the prescription Metformin – a fact they had known all along.

And once again, it felt like the world was crashing down around us. But still we felt IVF was on our table. Still, we felt the Lord right there, next to us, in the midst of all this pain. After four years of being still and silent, all of a sudden, this summer had become tumultuous and sad.

Dr. Lannon called us and apologized that this had happened to us. He felt that everything was handled incorrectly, but told us he still wanted us as patients and that the clinic would take our particular case into consideration, and possibly be able to discount our own in vitro fertilization journey. Honestly, he was more considerate, kind and caring than any other physician we had seen – and we had only met with him in person once.

Fast forward to today. After much prayer, we are in the midst of an IVF cycle. I won’t say it has been a fun journey – because injecting yourself with three shots per night would only be fun if I were a masochist, but we are here. And we are at peace.

I’ve seen and felt the judgement when we have told others we decided to pursue IVF, and I want you all to know this isn’t a decision we came to lightly. This isn’t a ‘last-ditch effort’ to have children, and we didn’t decide to take this path because we feel God is any less powerful than we know He is.

I mentioned above that in our failed adoption, I don’t feel like God’s Will was done. And I don’t. I think many times something happens, or doesn’t, and people say, “Well, I guess that was God’s Will.”

I respond, emphatically, “No!

We live in a fallen world. God’s plan is not always heeded. If it were, this would be Heaven. All of creation would be following the Will and the Word of the Father. And that is not the case.

In the case of the adoption, the ‘birth grandparents’ intervened, I feel, against the Will of God. In the case of the clinical study, the megaset medical study team went on their own protocol and procedure, without giving a thought to God’s plan for the study.

Could I be wrong? Sure.

But I don’t feel so in my heart. The Lord let Craig and I be ‘us’, and led us to the place He called us, and now He has called us to fill our Ark. In the midst of these appointments and injections and medicines and procedures, we feel peace. And it’s the same peace I have felt when I relented to God and gave Him His way.

Watching a Joyce Meyer broadcast last week, she said something that really resonated with my soul:

Sometimes a miracle involves medical science. It isn’t that God couldn’t do it Himself, but Who gave the doctors and scientists the ideas in the first place? Without God, human beings wouldn’t have the intelligence they do to perform the medical miracles that are being accomplished.

God can use anyone, anything and any situation to bring about His Will. All that is necessary are His willing followers. Can He heal people miraculously? Absolutely. Does He always? No. Sometimes He uses doctors to heal His children. Sometimes He doesn’t bring us healing on Earth at all.

And so, my friends, here we are. If you wish to follow our IVF journey up to this point, check out our YouTube channel. We began vlogging about our experience because it is such an invasive and intimidating process and in our research and anticipation, we learned so much about it from other Christian IVF vloggers that we wanted to share the wealth (of knowledge).

And one other thing – I will be blogging again, as well. That’s no empty promise. God has been on my heart to write again, to tell the world what He places on my soul, and I plan to do just that.

So pray for us. And share this page. Tell your friends. You never know who God places in your path that might need a certain Word. Really. You never know…

Ta-ta for now, folks.

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Food For Thought Friday · God's Will

Journey To Our Miracle Child: Thank You So Much For Your Prayer & Support

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Hello Faithful Friends,

Thank you so much for your outpouring of amazing love, support and prayer over this past week. We love you all! Please click on the video below for an update of the latest in our journey for a child.

Please bear with us in this time of grief and pain. Please pray for our faith to be strengthened in this storm!

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Food For Thought Friday

Coming Clean

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Swiffering. Is that a verb these days? It’s like sweeping and mopping and dusting  – all rolled into one satisfying chore. Or at least that’s what the advertisers would have us consumers believe.

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When you have 3 furry creatures roaming around your home, however, swiffering may not be ‘enough’. I learned this the hard way last night. As you can imagine, this past month of moving into our new home, unpacking the boxes and furniture from 42′ of moving truck plus several car loads, deep cleaning hasn’t been our focus as much as unpacking and getting rid of the thousands of boxes that have been invading our home. But having 3 pets kind of trumps your plans for what’s on the ‘to-do’ list and so, when I traveled into town (yes, I have to say that now) to run errands, I knew that Wet Swiffers (the lavender scented ones are my favorite) had to be added to the shopping list. The fur was beyond the limits of my Zyrtec.

So I got home, unpacked the car and began cleaning. First, the toilets (yay! all 3 of them!) had to be scrubbed down – that’s ALWAYS THE FIRST THING THAT GETS CLEANED! Yuck. And then the dishes…(Getting used to well water and not having a disposal is taking some getting used to…) And finally, the swiffering.

But as I began swiffering the kitchen floor, I noticed it was a mere smattering of seconds before my wet moppy pad thing was unusable.  It was full of fur and dust and living in the country. So, I switched it out for a new one…Repeat process. Several times.

Eventually, my kitchen floor was clean and smelled wonderful, but it dawned on me…Next time, I need to sweep first and then swiffer.

That might seem obvious to many of you, but understand I am new to 2 things:

  • Being a ‘stay-at-home’ (mostly) wife
  • Having ALL hard surface flooring

Cleaning can’t be done with a quick fix to be done right. Cleaning is a process.

And so it is with allowing Christ to change us from the inside out.

We don’t become perfect people overnight. As a matter of fact, we don’t reach that state of grace until we go to live with Jesus at the end of our earthly lives. On earth, He is constantly molding and shaping us into the Christians – the Christ followers – He has planned for us to be.

I was brought up in a Christian home. I grew up knowing the Lord. But somewhere along the way, I lost sight of Him. He was no longer at the forefront of my decision-making. He became like a long-lost friend: I knew Him…but we hadn’t talked in forever and even though He was making the effort to keep in touch, I wasn’t responding to His texts.

I remember rekindling our relationship.

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It didn’t happen overnight. I didn’t go from the party-scene to youth ministry in a moment.

First, God grabbed the broom. Then, He showed me the dustpan…and we began. He started with one room and eventually swept the entire house. Next, He dusted. Room by room…And the swiffering has only just begun.

He is the Potter. We don’t become a beautiful piece of art overnight.It is the process of sanctification which molds us into that which He has destined for our lives.

Don’t seek out the ‘quick-fix’. Cherish the process with Him.

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Thirsty For Christ Thursday

Redeeming Love

Thursday

Have you ever read a book that just CHANGED YOUR LIFE?!?! Getting to know the Lord more fully through Scripture is utterly life-changing, and certainly has proven so for my life, but in the past several months, I read another book that really got to me.

So much so that I began recommending it to every person God put on my heart. You may know how much I LOVE Goodwill shopping and I began praying before all of my shopping expeditions for the Lord to place a copy of this book on the shelf so that I could share it with more people. (And He provided!!)

I talked about my LOVE of the Book of Hosea yesterday, and this book is actually a version of that piece of Scripture, rewritten in a more modern setting.

You may, or may not, know this, but Hosea is a short book in the Old Testament about a prophet, by the same name, who God asks to marry a prostitute…and to continue loving and pursuing the prostitute – his wife – no matter what she does or how unfaithful she is…no matter that she has (at least) one child while they are married by another man…no matter that he ends up having to pay to purchase her out of slavery…no matter what.

And as you may have drawn by your own conclusions, the account of Hosea and his unending pursuit and relentless love for his unfaithful wife, is ALSO a picture of the way God loves us.

Think about that.

How many times have I run in the opposite direction at full-speed away from God? How many times have I prayed for forgiveness, only to make the same mistakes over and over and over again? How utterly LOST have I been that I couldn’t find my way back to Him, and yet, He purchased me out of slavery when no one else would have?

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Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers

That is amazing grace. His truly redeeming love does not ask us to be the finished product to win Him over. No. He pursues us just as we are, and molds us into His creation.

Read this book. Read Hosea in the Bible. Discover the unrelenting love He has for each one of us, no matter how far we have strayed or how unfaithful we have been.

God is sheer mercy and grace; not easily angered, he’s rich in love. He doesn’t endlessly nag and scold, nor hold grudges forever. He doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve, nor pay us back in full for our wrongs (Psalm 103:8-10 TM).

I — yes, I alone — will blot out your sins for my own sake and will never think of them again (Isaiah 43:25 NIV)

For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son… (John 3:16)

His love, my friends, is so unsurpassing we cannot even begin to wrap our little minds around it.

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God's Will · Thirsty For Christ Thursday

The Nomadic Not-So Newlywed Lefebvres

Thursday

I can’t believe it. Tomorrow evening we begin our drive to Maine. Time flies much too quickly, and the past six months of discernment for us has not proven to be any different. Before we knew it, summer had arrived – and with it, our big move up to Maine.

I know it took me quite some time to allow God to soften my heart to the idea of moving back. Don’t get me wrong – Maine is a gorgeous place, and I can think of SO MANY PEOPLE we connected with in 2014-2015 who are amazing, life-changing, life-long relationships. But being so far away from home was hard. Being ‘alone’ with 10 feet of snow outside your front door and a sedan (Read: No AWD vehicle) in the driveway was hard. Feeling as if you weren’t being spiritually fed was really hard. And so, even though we knew we probably shouldn’t have, we left.

There were just so many easy ways to justify our move back to Georgia…and it didn’t take long before we were able to justify it for our own hearts.

Turning around and choosing to follow God’s plan was a pride-buster. God had His plan for us in that too! It isn’t easy to admit you were wrong and do a complete 180° turn with your life, changing all of your plans and returning to a place you ran away from.

People (who aren’t in ministry) always ask me, “Is youth ministry all you’re going to do? Isn’t that more of a part-time thing? Is that really the reason you’re moving back up?”

And the answer is that youth ministry – ministry of any sort – is more of a full-time job than any 40-hour per week career on the planet. Youth ministry is LIVING your life for Christ, as a role model for teenagers with keen eyes and ears and their finger on the tip of every social media site you could possibly ever be a part of.  Youth ministry is waking up with your coffee in the morning to read scripture and study the Bible for hours. Youth ministry is always having your phone on so that anyone in your youth group can call or text at any time of the day or night. Youth ministry is planning a calendar full of events, studies, snacks, and trips a year in advance, to mesh with every possible school system. It’s praying constantly for yourself and others. It’s being a counselor and an encourager and a rule-reminder. It’s draining. No more leaving work ‘at work’. It’s all the time. The pay is awful (Read: Zilch). The health benefits are non-existent – there’s no overtime either.

But it’s the most wonderfully fulfilling “job” I can fathom.

Following the Lord is the most incredible journey…It’s literally beyond anything you could ever imagine.

We have been riddled with sneers about our ‘moving so much’, but literally, are you where you are called to be?? Or are you just settling for what’s less complicated?

Paul tells us, “As far as you’re concerned, we’re homeless, shiftless wanderers like our ancestors, our lives mere shadows, hardly anything to us.” 1 Chronicles 29:15 (MSG) 

Peter says, “”Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.” 1 Peter 2:11-12

As Christians, we are called to be like nomads. Jesus tells a rich man in the gospels that in order to follow Him, the man must give up everything he has and leave it behind to follow the Lord. Is our faith that important to us? Or are we so concerned about remaining in the same house, close to our friends and family, in the best school district for our kids and close to our jobs, that we give God a deaf ear when He calls us out?

Think about it. It’s of utmost importance… WHO are you living for?

You or the Lord?

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God's Will

The Way Life SHOULD Be.

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If only we all kept that verse written on our hearts…Take heart, JESUS has overcome!! We have no reason to fear, if we only follow His Word and His Leading.

If only we had more carefully heeded this Scripture last May…

Check out the video below to find out how God redirected everything and is bringing us full circle: {click or tap on the image below and the video will play}

2 Corinthians 3:17 says, “Now the Lord is Spirit and where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom.”

I cannot express to you how immeasurably that verse fits into our impending move and new journey for His Kingdom! The Lord has made this next step an increasingly joyful one for us! Gone are the fears about money and creature comforts and being tasked with a hugely important endeavor – for we have the freedom of knowing we are in the will of God. We know without a shadow of a doubt He has provided and will continue to! We walk in His freedom as His children, joint heirs with Christ!!

What a weight off our backs to allow Him to guide us and carry our heavy loads of worry! What a joy to serve our Sovereign Lord and King! What a privilege to be entrusted with such vital ministry!

Please continue praying for us and please pray especially for this grassroots youth ministry!

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I promise to do a better job of keeping you all posted on God’s work in our lives and through us. As soon as this move is complete…and our house is painted…and unpacked…I think I’ll have a little more time on my hands… #wishfulthinking Well, at the very least, I won’t have a 29 mile = 2 hour commute. Each. Way. #bethankful

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Asheville, NC this weekend!

We love you all and hope you’ll all pay us a visit!!

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Food For Thought Friday

It’s More ‘Good’ Than We Acknowledge

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I often wondered why such a seemingly unimaginably awful Friday as this is called “Good Friday.” Translation certainly has something to do with this naming, as the word ‘good’ in Old English is better translated to our modern day ‘holy’. And it is certainly a HOLY Friday. Today is the day we commemorate God sacrificing His one and only Son, Jesus, on the cross. Killing Him in a horribly painful way to save us all.

All of us.

So if you are thinking you are too ‘bad’, too old, too tainted, too far gone, not good enough…that this sacrifice was not for you because you don’t need the Blood of Jesus Christ to save you… Well, however, crazily un-PC this may be…

YOU’RE WRONG.

There is one single way to Heaven: Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. John 14:16

You cannot be good enough. You cannot give enough or go to church enough or meditate enough. The only thing that is enough is Jesus.

On today, Good Friday, God is asking you to do one thing: Acknowledge He gave His only Son a death sentence to save you. Believe that Jesus is the Son of the Living God and that He loves you – beyond ANY type of love you have ever experienced, beyond any type of love you could imagine. Nothing on this earth gets remotely close.

Once you acknowledge this fact, you simply have to believe, thank God for the ULTIMATE SACRIFICE and allow Him to be your Savior, by asking Him to forgive you and turning away from your past.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”               John 3:16-18

This is a reason today is a ‘good day’… without the death of Christ on the cross, there could be no resurrection, no Easter Sunday. He died for YOU and for ME, and in doing so overcame death completely. His resurrection on the third day means that the day I die, I can say with confidence that I will be with Jesus in Heaven.

 “One of the criminals hanging there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” The other one, however, rebuked him, saying, “Don’t you fear God? You received the same sentence he did. Ours, however, is only right, because we are getting what we deserve for what we did; but he has done no wrong.” And he said to Jesus, “Remember me, Jesus, when you come as King!” Jesus said to him, “I promise you that today you will be in Paradise with me.” Luke 23:39-43

With death being the great uncertainty in life, knowing my destination is an amazing comfort that allows me to live for Jesus, able to follow Him no matter what the consequences are – not that any of us are ever 100% successful in this. We all sin, no matter how much we try not to. As much as I strive to listen to God, satan tempts me too.

I do not understand what I do; for I don’t do what I would like to do, but instead I do what I hate. Since what I do is what I don’t want to do, this shows that I agree that the Law is right. So I am not really the one who does this thing; rather it is the sin that lives in me. I know that good does not live in me—that is, in my human nature. For even though the desire to do good is in me, I am not able to do it. I don’t do the good I want to do; instead, I do the evil that I do not want to do.If I do what I don’t want to do, this means that I am no longer the one who does it; instead, it is the sin that lives in me.” Romans 7:15-20

Craig and I are about to embark on a new adventure for Christ – the details will be ‘spilled’ soon – and so many people have asked, “How can you just follow like that – no questions asked?”

And I have 2 answers:

  1. Plenty of questions were asked – whether they should have been or not. We are not experts, by any stretch of the imagination, in trusting God, but we are trying. He asked us; we pleaded with Him; we questioned Him; we questioned each other; we relented; we followed.
  2. Faith in the outcome. God the Father sent His Son to die for our salvation. Jesus, flesh on earth, asked for there to be ‘another way’…He was frightened. He was both totally human and totally God. But He followed His Father’s Will – and while it was painful for Him…more painful that I could ever fathom, His Father knew the outcome…and aren’t we all glad He obeyed?

Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.” Psalm 100:3

You may have seen on Facebook or Instagram that someone recently made some pretty rude comments toward Craig and me regarding our infertility. I am trying to believe that they misinterpreted our faith for complacency. Just as I ask the Lord to ‘help my unbelief’ for my Christian faith, I ask Him the same mercy for our lack of children.

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‘Though [the Lord] brings grief, He will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love.’ Lamentations 3:32

‘There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.’ Ecclesiastes 3:1

“Through the Lord’s mercies, we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I hope in Him!’” Lamentations 3:21-24

He loved us so much He sent His only Son to die for us even though we did nothing to deserve this. If He loves me this much, He will provide for our every single need. How could I possibly doubt that? How can I worry about food, bills, a mortgage, children…when He provided even His only Son for me.

Can you fathom that?

Think of the person on this Earth you love most – your child, your spouse, your parent. Now imagine the entire world is sick. A disease is killing every person on earth and it is spreading like wildfire. The only cure is the blood of your loved one. That’s it. To save the world, you have to hand over your husband, your son, your daughter, your mother, your father, to be killed. And not in some pretty way. And not to a group of people who are grateful. No, you are handing over the one you love most to pain and torture so unbearable you don’t dare imagine it. And to a group of people who hate and despise the one you love most.

Could you do that? Could you sentence the love of your life to death to save people who don’t deserve it, even remotely???

I couldn’t. I don’t possess that much love.

So how in the world can I turn away from the only One who could, and did – Just for you and me?

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Thirsty For Christ Thursday

Thirsty Thursday with Craig: Mighty Last Words

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When my  wife approached me, asking if I were willing to write a blog entry for the day, my first initial thought, as always, is more along the lines of ‘ARGH!’, instead of what it should be – which is,”YAY!”  I am not a writer at all! It takes a lot of time and effort to write out what I feel others could write out better in a mere 5 minutes. In situations like this, I turn to God and really try to see what He places on my heart to share – After all, it is Him who I want everyone to see through our blog.

What I could clearly hear Him telling me to write about was something that has been on my heart the past 3-4 weeks, in a stronger than usual way – the yearning to share Him and His word with others. This is not an exactly easy thing for me, though, as I am someone who does not always like to go against the crowd or cause feathers to be ruffled.  But God has said, reassuringly, that not only are you going to share My Word, but you are going to do it in writing. Well, then, let’s take a look at what the Bible has to offer on the subject of sharing God’s word!

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When reading through the different passages relating to this, one thing I found very interesting was the timing of when Jesus gave ‘The Great Commission’ to His Apostles. In Matthew 28:19 He states:

     “Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father,   and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” Matthew 28:19

At the time He was saying this, He was just about to be taken up into Heaven to be seated at God’s right hand. Do you recall a time a loved one spoke their last words to you before they went to be with our Lord? Chances are, you can remember very clearly how these words were said, the emotion that they were said with, how you felt at the time… These words quoted from the book of Matthew are Jesus’ last words to us before He leaves this earth to be with our Father in Heaven.When someone we love leaves a last word of instruction, it seems to really strike a chord with us! We want to carry out their last desire with a different kind of motivation.

How many times has someone given an instruction and you really found no motivation in doing it? I am sure many times. In the movie ‘Risen‘, it plays out this last moment before Jesus leaves and in the end, we see the apostles filled with motivation to carry out Jesus’ last instruction on earth!

Nowadays, people have wills to see that their instructions are carried out. They divide up their earthly belongings, which are useless in heaven, to whom they desire. Some might say that Jesus was talking to only the 11 that were there or think to themselves, “He is not talking to me because I don’t know how to speak in public.” But I don’t think that’s the case at all. In Luke 10:1-2, it says:

            The Lord now chose seventy- two other disciples and sent them ahead in pairs to all the towns and places he planned to visit. These were his instructions to them – “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask Him to send more workers into his fields.”  Luke 10:1-2

Jesus instructed many more than just the 11! Here, He instructs 72 and is still asking them to pray for more! When He says the harvest is great He means that everyone has the ability to believe but He needs the workers (us) to share Him with the world so that the harvest can be taken in before it withers.

You have many skills that can help to share Jesus. It does not have to be only speaking or writing. Maybe it is that you enjoy cooking. You could simply cook for someone and when you share the meal with them you simply thank God for the food before sharing it with them.  Maybe you’re more of the ‘work with your hands’ type. You can build something for someone and upon completion, ask the Lord for a blessing on the contents or thank Him for the material to construct it.

Just with these simple act it places God at the center and acknowledges the fact He provided the food or the materials being used or given. Thanking Him recognizes the fact that without Him, it would not be possible. You would be amazed at how this simple act could open people’s searching hearts to Jesus! He tells us plainly that we are to plant His seed…The Holy Spirit does the rest!! No one has to wrestle another to follow Jesus. They only need to set a spark…

Jesus says in Luke 12:8-9:

            “I tell you the truth, everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, The Son of Man will also acknowledge in the presence of God’s angels. But anyone who denies me here on earth will be denied before God’s angels.” Luke 12:8-9

That is such a reaffirming statement from the mouth of Jesus Christ himself! Just as a living will is in effect until it is carried out in full, Jesus’ living will is in effect until it is carried out in full by His followers! He instructs us to use our God-Given skills to make disciples of all nations everywhere in any way that we can.  As believers, saved by His sacrificial death on the cross, we must remember that we are the ones to bring Jesus to others who are searching. Just seeking is not enough. People must find Him. If no believer is to show an unbeliever, how will they find Him?

“…but how can they call on Him to save them unless they believe in Him? And how can they believe in Him if they have never heard about Him? And how can they hear about Him unless someone tells them? And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent?” Romans 10:14-15

I challenge you today to share the Good News with someone is some way – no matter how small. It could be a simple act of kindness to a complete stranger in passing. The Scriptures say ‘how beautiful on the mountains are the feet of messengers who bring good news, the good news of peace and salvation, the good news that the God of Israel reigns.’ (Isaiah 52:7)

Think about that for a moment… The Lord of all creation, who gave the meaning to the word “beautiful”, says Himself that beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring His good news! Let’s share God’s word with a different kind of motivation – The kind a Man’s last words on earth bring – through our thoughts, actions and words!

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Thirsty For Christ Thursday

I Believe…

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As you may have seen via Facebook, Instagram or Twitter last night, I’ve embarked on a challenge – A challenge specifically dealing with drinking more water every day – One Gallon, to be precise.

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At first, it was incredibly daunting – especially since I was literally starting at square one (aka I drank zero water per day)… but I’ve been following this health and fitness guru who swears by drinking a gallon per day. The health and detox benefits are phenomenal – I mean, I can already (on Day 4) feel a difference! It’s crazy how one ‘little’ change can seem so impossible, and yet make such a huge difference!

Mere water isn’t the only little change with big results.

True conversion to becoming a Christ Follower makes an even BIGGER and EVERLASTING change in your life, both now and for eternity. But that conversion is just what the word means – CHANGE. One cannot be a true Christian and live life in the same old way he (or she) did in the past. There must be a conversion, a change, a turning away from the past, a new life. This is what is means to be reborn.

Just as I’m adding a gallon of water to my daily intake, as a believer (and I’ll get to that tricky little word in a moment) I’ve added Bible reading, prayer, avoidance of certain activities, attending church services, and a daily strife for the strength to do all of these things (through He who strengthens me!) to my lifestyle. No one is perfect. No one gets it right all of the time! Just as there may be a day when I just can’t fit ALL of that water into my diet…but I don’t give up! “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:14

Belief is a tricky little term – one I believe (no pun intended) satan has tricked a multitude of people out of salvation with. You see, “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that–and shudder.” James 2:19 True Christianity is more than just “I believe in God and Jesus…”

No ma’am. That’s missing the mark.

Billy Graham has this to say about the word BELIEVE and how it is used in the Bible and in reference to our salvation – vs the sneaky way satan has encouraged it to be translated in society:

The word “believe” in the Bible means more than simply agreeing in our minds that something might be true. It means “trust”—that we believe so strongly in God that we are willing to commit our lives to Him and live the way we know He wants us to live.

Suppose you were walking along a path and you came to a bridge which crossed a deep canyon. You might look at it and believe that it would hold you, and you might even see other people walking across it so you know it would hold your weight. But so far, your “belief” in the bridge is only in your head. When do you really believe the bridge will hold you? You only really believe it when you are willing to commit your life to it and actually walk across it.

It is the same way with Christ. Yes, we can believe that God exists, but God wants us to come to know Him personally. And He has bridged the gap between us by sending His Son to remove the barrier of sin and become that “bridge.” To believe in Christ is to commit our lives by faith to Christ—to trust Him personally as our Lord and Savior.

“They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” Acts 16:31 The Greek word translated here as ‘believe’ is ‘pisteuson‘, which means “to entrust, to place complete confidence in”.

This is different that society’s definition of the word: “Belief is the state of mind in which a person thinks something to be the case, with or without there being empirical evidence to prove that something is the case with factual certainty. In other words, belief is when someone thinks something is reality, true, when they have no absolute verified foundation for their certainty of the truth or realness of something…”

Obviously, these two types of belief of vastly dissimilar, as Dr. Graham points out in the previous passage. Being a Christian is more than  just ‘believing that God is real and thinking there is no factual evidence to prove this’.

Being a Christian means placing your complete confidence in Christ, which involves making real and significant change in your lifestyle and routine.

If you want to truly experience the abundant life that a relationship with the Lord Jesus provides, totally entrust your life to Him. Peace With God will show you step-by-step how to do just that – it’s a website with a beautiful purpose, and there are even counselors there to speak to you, free of charge, about your decision for Christ and how to make the change.

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The Christian life isn’t easy. You can’t sit back with your feet up, as satan would love for you to believe…but the RESULTS (eternity with God in Heaven!?!?!) are well worth the effort!!

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