Wednesday, May 25, 2011

It's More Than A Wedding

This past weekend, one of our closest Nashville friends got married! It was a true celebration and a sweet time to reflect on how we have gotten to see each stage of this relationship. From the talks we had with Martha over a year ago when she lived right down the road and would come join us for dinner and share that she really had no idea who the Lord had for her to marry - more so than that, who she would even date. Oh, and she would mention that she was tired of dating. We knew the longing of her heart was not to play the dating game - but for the Lord to bring her the ONE who she could love and cherish and grow in the Lord with. It wasn’t long after that that the Lord brought Kyle into her life. We knew from the start that Kyle was a blessed guy because we had known all along that Martha was a true catch!!
I had the true honor of being the Matron of Honor and standing by Martha as she entered into the sweet covenant of marriage with Kyle. As I stood there and listened to the vows being said right before my very eyes - I was in awe of how the God of all creation had brought two of His precious children together to be one. We have a lot of amazing friends who are in the “waiting” period right now - praying diligently for the Lord to bring them their suitable helper. Standing there as a witness of how the Lord had brought Kyle into Martha’s life and now joined them together - was a true encouragement to me and a moment of renewed hope for the dear ones in the waiting. There is nothing in the world like it when you undeniably see the Lord bringing two of His own together to honor Him, love one another, and serve others. 

This wedding celebration was a sweet time for Brandon and I to pause for a moment and reflect on the time when we did not know each other - yet we were praying for one another. When God is the one to bring you together - it is not a forced thing. It is something that happens so naturally that it’s almost hard to remember what it was like back when you did not even know each other. Celebrating Martha and Kyle’s wedding on Saturday and with all the events leading up to it was a neat time to get out our photos and replay our wedding day in our minds and give God the glory for bringing us together. We often think back on the time that a friend shared with us during our engagement to be more focused on preparing for the marriage than the wedding. When we go to a wedding now - we can testify that the wedding is simply the icing on the cake. It’s a blessing to have such an amazingly wonderful day to look back on as a “monument” of the day we became one - but it is true that the wedding and reception will quickly be over in a matter of hours - but the marriage is for a lifetime. 

There are so many fun things to notice at a wedding - from the dress to the flowers to the bridesmaids’ dresses to the beach or adorable red barn in the background. But more amazing than any of that is the testimony of seeing two of God’s children wait on each other - not settling - but waiting expectantly for God’s very best. As we all know, marriage is not always a bucket of seashells or a mason jar of yellow daisies - but it is worth every ounce of the effort to communicate, learn, and love well. We were so blessed to witness two of our dear friends commit their lives to the Lord and one another on Saturday - and look forward to seeing how God is going to continue to bless so many of our other precious friends who are waiting on their bride or groom. 

Closing statement from the man of the house: "It’s so cool when you see two people who love the Lord come together and you know that God put them together. Mark 10:9 is a verse that comes to mind right now: ‘Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.’ It’s more than worth the wait to wait on God’s very best. I remember praying the ‘single man’s prayer’ and God bringing Whit to me on the other side of that prayer. Thankful for the wedding this weekend to remind us of God’s faithfulness!”

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

No Walk Like The Faith Walk

When you simply open your eyes to the stories around you, it’s amazing how God connects you with people who are in similar “life lesson training”. {In other words, you may not be in the exact same season - but God is teaching you similar things!!} For instance, the other day one of my friends (who had just had her first baby last summer) shared with me that she and her husband are pregnant again!! They were not planning on this and this pregnancy certainly caught them off guard. Later that day we were emailing about the transitions that we were both currently in and she said, “Whoo! There is no walk like the faith walk, eh!!??” That has stuck with me. Then I have another friend that shared on Monday in the staff devotion a verse that the Lord has encouraged her with during a trying time in her life. Ephesians 6:13 from The Message says, “Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet.” Needless to say, this is going to be my memory verse for the next couple of weeks. I want this one ingrained on my heart. 

When Brandon first accepted this job and we began processing all the huge transitions before us, he said: “Babe, it’s game time all the time now!” In other words, there are going to be ups and downs all along the way but let’s hunker down and remember that we are on the same team (Team Nall!!) throughout this entire “game”. (Most life lesson analogies throughout our marriage find a way to relate back to sports!)
I have noticed that two resounding words from most people as we talk through this adventure that Brandon and I are on is “faith” and “trust”. It’s been cool to have a pen and post-it note handy to write down different peoples’ encouraging words along the way. When our pastor first heard about this big move - after he told us about how excited he was for us - he went on to mention: “Transitions and moves are not easy - but they are sure times of seeing the gospel all the more clearly. You tend to see the things of this world that you were holding on to, and see that all you need is Jesus.” Along the way, we know that all we need is Jesus - but at times like this, it becomes so real. 

It’s been a real marriage moment for Brandon and I to see that no matter what city we are in...Nashville, Birmingham, or Zimbabwe...God is with us and God has given us each other on this journey called life. At the end of the day, that has been such a blessing. Speaking of blessing, if you have not heard Laura Story’s song called, “Blessings”...check it out! I have been listening to this song on repeat all week! There are certain songs that God puts on my heart during different seasons and this song is definitely part of this current season. “...cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops, what if Your healing comes through tears...and what if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near...What if trials of this life are your mercies in disguise?”
Closing statement from the man of the house: "As we go through this move, it is a test indeed. But when you've got a buddy - it's all OK. We are a team and Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 says, "Two are better than one..." This verse is a great reminder to me that it's always better when we're a team and not trying to do this by ourselves or in our own strength. God is the head of this team!”

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

I Will Follow Him

There is a song from the Sister Act movies that most of us know by heart that says, "I will follow Him...Follow Him wherever He may go...And near Him, I always will be...For nothing can keep me away...." This song has been in my head the past couple of weeks since we have known for sure that Brandon has accepted a new job opportunity in Birmingham and we are picking up our Nashville life and moving to Birmingham!! It's no easy thing to say goodbye to precious friends, workplaces that have become like home, neighbors that you can call at any hour, and church family that is part of you. However, when the Lord leads you - you go!! 

There is a post that we posted at the beginning of April called "Our Plan Is In His Hands" and it's now so amazing to go back and read the words that God put on our hearts just a little over a month ago now. It's so true that things around us may change, but God is going to stay the same - no matter what!! Wow! What an amazing promise. 

We are so excited about what the Lord has in store for us in this new chapter. It's certainly bittersweet to see this amazing chapter come to a close - but with God as the author of the story of our lives - we know that this next chapter will be just as amazing. We are blessed knowing that this move is going to bring us three hours closer to Brandon's family, put us in the same city as some dear friends, and be the means that God has provided for Brandon to provide for our family long-term. 

In the meantime, we are taking one day at a time! The following three pictures sum up what the past couple of days have been like around our house!! Designing a flyer to sell our home (that is a huge prayer request and we thank you in advance for keeping your eyes and ears open for a buyer), getting a real estate sign made to put out in our front yard, and getting B fitted for some new suits! We have had some great talks about how this transition is going to bring us closer to the Lord and to each other - and we have already seen that firsthand. We have also had some good laughs knowing that a big move like this will provide for some great marriage moments and future blog stay tuned! 

Closing statement from the man of the house: "Life is moving fast right now. I can't say enough how much it means to me that Whit fears the Lord. Because she fears the Lord, she is willing to follow me wherever I lead. And don't hear this as a power trip that she has to follow where I lead because I'm her husband - I am blessed because she trusts me, believes in me, supports me, and respects me to the point where she will follow me wherever I lead our family. This would not be possible unless she fears God!!"

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Knowing When We Need To Be There

It’s been a long time coming - but I definitely feel like it’s safe to say - that Brandon and I have gotten in a good routine of knowing when we need each other at different work events. For example, Brandon worked at The Refuge, a sports ministry, when we were first married. There were different events at night and different events on the weekend. We were the young married couple that had the most flexibility with our schedule - so we were called upon at odd hours. This could include a call to open the gate for an early Saturday morning group meeting, starting a bonfire for a group of kids coming out to the campsite, or staying late to make sure all the kids got picked up by their parents. Then there were the days where Brandon was the coach for a little league team and had practice on a lot of weekday nights and some tournaments were every day of the weekend. For those of you that know us well, it does not come as a surprise that I wanted to be with my buddy!! If we was going to be at the ballpark from Thursday to Sunday, I was going to be right there with him in my Coach’s Wife shirt. (Well, the printer actually messed up the spelling and put: Coaches Wife!!!) 

As much as we liked being there to support each other, there were also times when I knew that it would be better for me to call up a friend and go have a fun "girl" afternoon instead of watching more little league games. We started realizing that there were times when it meant a lot for me to be there and then there were times that I knew of ahead of time that I really didn't need to come. In the long run, it would be better for me to go get a pedicure!!

On the other hand, there have been the work events that I have had that Brandon has been a champ to attend! The running joke when I first started working at Mercy Ministries was that Brandon was the all-star husband that was so supportive of all the events we had. From the 5K to the Christmas Benefit to the Christmas Party to the various other events here, there and everywhere - Brandon was there. What we started realizing was there were times when he needed to be there and times when he really didn't need to attend. All in all, these were working times for me and having him there at some events was helpful and at some I would realize that he really should have stayed home. Here's the thing, if an event was going to be 8 hours from start to finish, that is a full work day. So he would have worked a whole week, then come and "helped" me (he really was the biggest help with loading and unloading the car with all the event supplies!) but he would be burnt out since this was his weekend, too. 

Now that we have learned to speak up about the things to come to and the things that just aren't necessary - this has been revolutionary! Part of it, I'm sure, is that we have been married going on three years and we understand that a little time apart is not the end of the world - and in fact - it's a good thing. This past weekend was the Country Music Marathon and we had a team of 65 people Run for Mercy!! Brandon knew ahead of time that this was going to be one of his Saturdays to work at Hertz - and then give a baseball pitching lesson that afternoon. That was the non-verbal cue for me to catch on to that it would be the worst idea ever to invite him to wake up with me at 5:30am and go and set up the Mercy booth at the event. Instead, I was supportive of him going to work and doing his thing and accepting the fact that it would be officially too much for him to try to cram in one more thing to his Saturday. Sure enough, I had some other family helpers there (sweet Mom, Dad and Major!!) and we had a great time cheering on all the runners. Knowing B was happily working and not feeling stressed about being in too many places at one time - made my heart happy. It also meant a lot to him that I did not expect him to bend over backwards and be there, when in the past I may have really "strongly encouraged" that he try and make it. Here is a pic from the weekend!!

Closing statement from the man of the house: Whit and I have really grown in this area. She knows I'm supportive of her work and I know she's supportive of mine. We've learned that there is a time to be there - and when that time comes - be all there. BUT...not every time is the right time, if you know what I mean!! Work is not meant to be quality time."