Six months…

It seems unreal.

We had our last Sunday at our old church exactly six months ago.

It’s been six months since I’ve been a worship pastor’s wife.*

It’s been six months since I had to help unload a trailer at 6:30 in the morning on a Sunday.  It’s been six months since DH had a restless night of sleep because the responsibility of leading worship in the morning weighed so heavily on his heart.  It’s been six months since he was working 50-60 hours a week to make each Sunday morning service happen.

It’s also been six months since I got to worship with some of my good friends.  It’s been six months since I’ve even seen some people I care deeply about and who were a huge part of my life for years.  It’s been six months since I’ve last seen the smiles on kids’ faces that made getting up early on a Sunday totally worth it.

The last six months have been some of the most challenging in my life, and though I don’t like to speak for DH I’m pretty (or totally) sure it’s the same for him.  We’ve experience higher highs and lower lows than we thought possible.  We’ve laughed together and cried together (sometimes at the same time!).  We’ve had to disappoint friends and family by not making trips home because we couldn’t afford for DH to miss a gig.  We have explored our city and found tons of cheap (and free!) things to do for our weekly Date Day.  We’ve had weeks where we drove as little as possible because we needed to conserve gasoline until another check came in the mail.  We’ve both celebrated birthdays and our wedding anniversary.  We’ve watched some of our friendships fade because things can be just plain awkward sometimes.  We have been given opportunities to do the things we love and actually make money at the same time, which is something we certainly don’t take for granted.

Through it all, we have seen God’s faithfulness carrying us through each step of the way.  I am daily reminded of His love and His mercy even though I am so undeserving.  I’m ashamed at my unworthiness yet He continues to bless us, and I’ll never understand it though I am so grateful for it.

Six months.  Holy cow.  They’ve been utterly exhausting, but I wouldn’t trade them for anything.

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.” Hebrews 10:23


*There is a remarkable difference in the reaction I get when I tell people my husband is a musician vs. a worship pastor.  When I told people he was a worship pastor, it inspired a conversation about the church he worked for.  Now when I tell people he’s a musician, I get an “Ohhh,” a pitying glance, and a change of subject. HA. ;)

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Providence…

We have less than $10 in our checking account.

An awkward confession?  Probably.

A sign of God’s faithfulness?  Absolutely.

Even though we have less than $10, our bills are paid.  We have food in our house.  Our mortgage is current.  We know that paychecks will be coming in the mail and direct deposits will be showing up in our account by the end of the week.

In a few days, it will be exactly six months since DH left his job in November.  Six months.  It’s absolutely unreal.  It has been six months since we have had a regular, full time income in our household, and even though there are things that I want to buy, there is nothing I need to buy.

We are so well provided for that it’s overwhelming.

We stress, of course.  We worry and fret and sometimes have to tell the power company that they’ll get their money a week late.  We have to turn down opportunities to have dinner with friends because the fanciest thing we can afford right now if Chick-fil-A, and even that is only for special occasions like Date Day.  Thankfully, we rarely worry at the same time, which we believe is God’s way of making marriage work.  The calm one can always talk sense into the stressed one. :)

God has blessed us with work.  We both have been given opportunities to make money by doing the things we love, whether it’s playing music (DH) or teaching and caring for children (me).  We are still living free of any credit card debt.  Money doesn’t fall from the sky, but sometimes the chance to make money seems to.  I was given the opportunity to do some typing for a friend’s business and the amount I made added up to enough for me to buy shoes and get my hair done for a wedding that I’m a bridesmaid for in a few weeks.

I know that we probably won’t always live the kind of life where I’m happy to have only $10.  I may even be able to one day get my haircut without budgeting tightly or buy dog food without checking the bank account.  I think, though, that when that day comes, I will miss having to rely on God as much, as strange as that sounds.  On a daily basis we see God’s faithfulness in providing exactly what we need, even if we selfishly think that we need more.  We are reminded that our sustenance comes from God and God alone.  For some reason He has seen fit to bless us beyond our wildest imagination, and we are thankful beyond words.  As much as we turn to Him in the desert now, I hope that we turn to Him even more in the harvest that is to come one day in the future.

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With God’s help…

First of all, I have to admit that I am not a very disciplined person when it comes to making myself have a “quiet time.”  I am easily distracted and before I know it, my allotted time has run out and I have to go get ready for work or teaching lessons or something.

It’s always something.

I’ve been making an effort lately to carve out time in my morning to get into scripture.  I’ll get out my ESV Study Bible (which is too enormous to take anywhere, by the way, but I still love it) or I’ll get out my computer and use the online version.  I really like using the online version because it lets you highlight passages and add notes in the sidebar and you can log on from anywhere to access your account.  There are a lot of really useful features and I think they were really smart with how they configured things.

Ok, commercial over. :)

Let me also say that I understand that the reason we read our Bibles is not to feel better.  It is not to walk away feeling encouraged, and it is not help ourselves in any way.

Not that those things can’t happen, but it’s not the primary reason.

I know I should spend time in the Bible because I want to deepen my relationship with God.  If He loves me and He wants to know everything about me, why wouldn’t I do the same for Him?  Why wouldn’t I want to get to know Him on a deeper level?  And how do I do that?  I spend time in the Bible.

Which brings me to this morning…

I decided to spend some time in 1 John today. 1 John 1:5-10 :

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

[Is anyone else singing a little DC Talk right now? I wanna be in the light, as You are in the light, I wanna shine like that stars in the heavens… Just me?  Okay, never mind. :) ]

I don’t often choose to live in the light.  In fact, sometimes I think I enjoy living in the darkness too much.  I don’t mean with the big, tangible sins that are easy to spot.  I’m not doing drugs or cheating on my husband or contemplating leaving the faith.

But I don’t always think pure, holy thoughts.  I don’t pray for those who I feel have wronged me.  I don’t always want to forgive people (I blame that on my rule-follower self who gets irritated when other people break the rules with no consequences…but that’s another blog for another day).  I don’t want to let things go that I’ve tried to let go of a million times but for some reason I still reach out and grab on to them.

I’m discouraged after reading 1 John today.  Maybe I shouldn’t be, but I am.  I’m ashamed of myself that I don’t make enough of an effort to pursue living in the light rather than darkness.  I’m frustrated with myself that after I work so hard for so long to let go of things that it’s so easy to fall right back into carrying around animosity.

I want to live in the light.

So now, I want to take that discouragement and turn it into determination.  I want to pursue holy thoughts.  I want to be so focused on God that I have no time to focus on the things of this world.  I want to love Jesus so much that the love naturally spills over into my earthly relationships.

At church this past weekend, Todd talked about marriage and how impossible it is for two people to make marriage work without God helping them.  He said repeatedly that God’s message for marriages was “You can do this, with My help.”

I’m stealing that tagline for this blog, even if it’s not about marriage.  I know I can change my thought patterns to be more focused on God.  I know that my heart can be changed to be more like God’s.  I know it won’t happen overnight, and I know I can’t do it alone.  I can do it with God’s help.

Praise God for His help.  Praise Him that His help never runs out.

Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy,  to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. (Jude 24-25)

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Change of seasons…

I love how excited little kids get about the seasons changing.  When the little boy that I nanny for was two (he’s five now), he woke up from his nap one day yelling for me (which is rarely a good sign!).

“Tay-tay! (his cute name for me) Come here!  Hurry!”

“What’s up, buddy?”

“The leaves. On the tree. Are orange. It’s FALL TIME!”

Holy cuteness.  He was so excited about “fall time” that for the next couple of weeks he analyzed every tree on the way to school to see if it had turned orange or red.  He loved looking for signs of the new season.

His sister (who is three) has been excited the past couple of days about spring.  She’s loving looking for the first signs of flowers blooming and her current reply to anyone who tells her hello is “Hi! Spring is coming!”  After we picked her brother up from school they talked animatedly the whole way home about the flowers they had seen that day.

Spring is coming.  I think spring is the most optimistic of all the seasons.  Things that have been dormant are coming back to life.  Color is returning to the landscape.  Trees are starting to sprout buds.  The sky is more blue than gray these days.

This past season has been hard.  Life has been hard for DH and me.  There was a lot of heaviness in our lives for the past few months as several doors shut for us.  Some of the doors we had known for awhile were going to close and we were just waiting for the final click of the latch.  Some of the doors had just opened when they slammed in our faces without warning.  It was a rough season for us.

But spring is coming.

While we never, ever doubted that God was walking along with us and we never, ever questioned His greatness, we still struggled.  We struggled with hurt feelings, friendships that were no more, and very final endings.  We struggled with starting a new chapter when we weren’t sure we really wanted to leave the old one behind.  There were days when I was exhausted by the evening because I had emotionally wrestled with God all day.

We don’t feel that way anymore.

Every day we see signs of the new season.  DH and I look at each other and talk about the hope we have.  We are hoping again.  We are dreaming again.  We are ready to get back to living again.  We are not stuck in our own wallowing anymore.  We’ve always known that God is good and that He has provided for us, but now we feel it.

The sky is more blue than gray these days.

Praise Him.

Soli Deo Gloria.

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I have a confession…

My confession is that I am a consumer Christian.  That term thrown around in church world for a person who comes and sits in a seat for worship and does nothing volunteer-wise.  You know, the people that the good and faithful church volunteers get frustrated with.

Yep, that’s me.  That’s never been me, but now is a weird time.

I’ve gone to church for probably eleven or twelve years.  I started going because my church needed an accompanist and I stayed for seven years, rarely missing a Sunday playing.  I think I attended two or three times in those seven years without accompanying services.

Then I fell in love with a musician passing through town (true story) and after eight months of long-distancing I moved to Lynchburg, Virginia to be with him.  He was still touring on the weekends but recommended a church to me, Brentwood Church.  I loved it there, and attended services regularly.  A few months after that, I got married, the hubby was playing in the band, and I started volunteering with the preschool class during the second service.

In August 2006 we moved to Charlotte to help plant a church.  The five months that we were here before the church started were spent visiting lots of area churches and getting ideas for our own program.  I spoke with lots of children’s directors and observed security setups and got curriculum ideas.  When the church finally started, I taught the K-5 class every Sunday.  Eventually some parents took over for me one week a month but other than that I was back there nearly constantly until a children’s director was hired.

Two months ago we left, and I am now a consumer Christian.

My husband has been playing at a couple of different churches on Sunday mornings, and if he’s nearby I’ll just go wherever he’s playing.  This morning, however, he was at a church an hour away.  He had to be there way too early for me to ride with him and it’s too far away to drive up there separately, so I went to our friend’s church Next Level Church.  I got there just as worship was starting, listened to the (super fun, by the way) country music they were playing to go with their “Gone Country” series, and listened to Todd preach a great sermon.  After the service I said hey to Todd, got in my car, and left.

It was glorious.

A small part of me felt guilty.  I saw people passing out series cards and people running media and lights and people opening the doors and greeting people.  I walked past them and sat down in a seat.  I knew people were teaching kids’ classes but I didn’t even see them.  I’m sure someone walked through the auditorium to collect trash but I didn’t have to worry about it.

I attended church.  And that’s it.  And even though I felt a teensy bit guilty, I realize that this is a healing time for us.  The husband is playing keyboards every Sunday and that’s healing for him.  Music is therapeutic and he doesn’t have the added stress of leading worship.  For now, my healing is to just be there.  I’m allowed to go to church and worship and absorb and not do anything.  In fact, I’m pretty sure that all of my doing of the past eleven years has gotten in the way of my worshiping and absorbing on Sunday mornings.

That’s not to say that I’ll never volunteer at a church again.  Right now it’s hard to commit anywhere with us attending a couple of different “home” churches, but I know in the future I’ll be involved again.  For now, though, I will sing and choke back tears during worship (which happens every.single.week, regardless of the setlist) and listen to sermons from pastors I trust and respect and be a little sad every now and then, all things that would not be happening if I was too busy doing and not spending time being present.  I will worship God and process my feelings and mourn the loss of seeing our church family on a Sunday morning, sometimes all at the same time.  And I will be thankful that I’m allowed to be still without feeling guilty.

I am a consumer Christian, and I think that’s okay as long as it’s a temporary season.  I think it’s just what I need right now.

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God is good…

I’m at home today.

This may not seem earth-shattering to you.  In fact, it probably seems rather mundane and not even worth mentioning.

It’s weird because it’s Sunday.  I’m at home on a Sunday.  I slept in today, drank coffee, and read my Bible.  Now as I’m typing this I’m listening to David Crowder Band’s Church Music album and watching my pups look out the window waiting for my husband to get home.

Oh, change of plans.  Now they’re racing around the house beating the tar out of each other.  Lovely. :)

Life has changed fairly dramatically for us these past couple of weeks, but we are constantly reminded of the goodness and provision of God.  Every day we are reminded that we are blessed and completely taken care of.  Our schedules are definitely crazier with me still working during the day but DH having gigs mostly at night.  We still try to keep Fridays open to make sure we leave that time for us to reconnect as a couple.  We also get Saturday mornings to sleep in and be lazy together.

God is good.

There’s a lot less stress in our house.  DH goes to services on Sundays without certain tasks hanging over his head (i.e. setting up the sound equipment, hauling the trailer to the school, worrying about media issues) and because he’s mostly just playing keys rather than leading his stress level has all but evaporated.

God is good.

We worry about finances, but this is the first pay period that we haven’t received a check from the church and enough money showed up this week (from gigs, rental property, and piano lessons) that it pretty much covers the paycheck we would have received.

God is good.

We have to make tough decisions sometimes now that things are a little tighter financially, like not being able to visit either of our families for Thanksgiving this week.  We went back and forth for weeks before finally deciding it would not be financially responsible for us to make the trip to Indiana that we were planning, and we were so sad about it.  Instead, we spent our weekly grocery budget and worked together to make a fabulous dinner with enough leftovers to last us a week.  We spent two days planning, shopping, and cooking together and had so much fun.  I introduced him to scalloped corn and he introduced me to pinto bean pie (which I had for breakfast with coffee, by the way).  We didn’t just make a dinner — we made memories.

God is good.

I could go on and on.  We have seen His faithfulness so often through this whole journey.  Yes, we get stressed, and yes, we freak out about the uncertainty sometimes.  Then we remember that we’ve never not been provided for.  How can we worry when we’ve always been taken care of?

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Blessed…

This past week was rough.

Yesterday was the hubby’s last day at church.  There were tears and laughter  and lots of prayer.

Leaving was probably one of the hardest things we’ve ever done, if not the hardest.  We left a home, friends, a family.  We left a place we had poured over three years of work into. We left the reason that had brought us to this city.

We got up early Sunday morning.  5 am early.  We went through set up for the last time trying not to think about the fact it was the last time.  We joked around about how we wouldn’t miss some of the crappy parts, like unloading the trailer or putting the big awkward screen up or setting the lights up in the wrong order (which of course I did on my last day).

The service was just like any other.  Worship went smoothly and people sang their hearts out.  In the middle of the sermon our friend who was running sound accidentally bumped a power button with his knee and the microphone cut out.  Oops.  Ha.

After the service was over we hugged people goodbye and told them not to make us cry and gave final high fives to some kiddos.  And then we tore down the stage, just like every other Sunday except that it was the last time.  No more trying to cram every last music stand into the case or rolling dozens of cables or hitting our heads on the trailer while we load up.  No more giggling about something that happened during the set that no one else noticed or hearing DH jokingly give someone a hard time about something random they did or said or making plans for Sunday afternoon lunch after everything is packed away.

We were, needless to say, emotionally and physically exhausted.  We came home and laid down and didn’t wake up until 6 pm.  Even though we were supposed to be at dinner at 6:30.  Oops.

We walked in at 6:32.  I’m still impressed.

After a series of unfortunate events where the restaurant lost the confirmed reservation we had and couldn’t seat us all fourteen of us headed over to another restaurant down the street where we could have the patio area to ourselves.  We giggled during the prayer for some reason that I can’t remember now and ate yummy Italian food and enjoyed being together.  They gave us cards with some messages that made us tear up and some that made us laugh out loud.  We didn’t leave until it was clear we were being rude by staying because the staff were trying to clean up.

DH and I came home and processed.  It was a sad, pensive, hopeful, exhausting, affirming, awesome day.  Even now, one day later, I’m sad because I can’t remember some of the details (what were we laughing about during the prayer?).  We have such amazing friends that I can’t even put into words what they mean to us.  We are confident that these relationships will continue.  We refuse to have it any other way.  We are blessed beyond belief.

And now the adventure begins.  We cannot wait to see where God takes us next.

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