Thursday, December 29, 2011

What A Year!

As we think back on this past year, one word that immediately comes to mind is BLESSED. There are many other words that could also describe the year: transition, growth, trust, faith, and the list goes on. Thinking back on this time last year, we were in a cabin in West Virginia putting together a list of "Goals for 2011" and one of them was to start a blog with some of the "marriage moments" that we experience and grow closer to the Lord and each other through. We want to thank YOU for being so encouraging and supportive of us during our first blogging year! It's neat how the Lord takes something that started off as a simple thought and turns it into a story that He is using in more ways than we even know. From some of the texts, emails, Facebook messages we get when we post -- to the sweet friend that I met at a Christian camp growing up and had not seen in 5+ years who pulled over in her car when she spotted us at the Auburn vs. Alabama game this year to tell us what a blessing the blog is to her, God has used your encouraging words as just the right time to remind us that this blog is the Lord's...we are simply His vessels. 

Our hearts are full of JOY as we look forward to what the Lord has in store in us and through us in 2012. One of my pastors from growing up in Chattanooga was at the Christmas Eve dinner we attended the other night and he prayed that we could each experience "peace with God and the confidence that comes from knowing we will be spending eternal life with Him"...not merely just having a "Happy New Year". I loved that word picture. We pray that you, too, would have a year full of confidence knowing that you will be spending eternal life with Jesus matter what your 2012 looks like. 

May we always remember that Psalm 46:1-3 says: "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging." 

Blessings to you as you reflect what the Lord has done in 2011 and as you anticipate what He is going to do in 2012! Thankful for you!!! In His Grip, Whitney & Brandon

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Rejoice, Rejoice!

No words can do it justice to try and describe to you how blessed we have been by the teaching of the WORD at our new church, Church at Brook Hills. As you know if you have moved, leaving your church is one of the hardest things. You've built a community, a trust, a common bond with people who are like family -- and then to leave them does not feel natural. So don't get me wrong, we will always miss our dear family at our church in Nashville...but it has been a real answer to prayer to see how the Lord has provided a new church family for us in our new city. 

This past Sunday we were singing, "O Come O Come Emmanuel" and I just lost it when we got to the part at the end that says: Christ has come, Christ has died, Christ has risen. We are studying Matthew right now and were in Chapter 2 this past week. Verses 10 and 11 have stuck with me all week: "When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him" WOW! First off, our pastor pointed out that rejoicing "exceedingly with great joy" is A LOT of joy! The same kind of joy that I want to celebrate His birth this Christmas! Then the next thing he pointed out was that these "high up officials" (known to us as the "wise men") fell down and worshiped this baby! When you kneel before someone, you are saying that I am low and you are high. That's what they were saying to a baby! Not just any baby...the King of KINGS! 

Our pastor closed by challenging us to "Joyfully offer your life as a worshiper" and "Passionately spend your life as a witness". There is nothing more that my heart desires this Christmas than these two things. I have not been able to get this off my mind all week. What a blessing to be reminded of the true reason we are celebrating Christmas in the first place. As you read the words to this song, I pray that it will calm your spirit in the same way it did mine as we sang at the top of our lungs on Sunday!!! It has been a blessing to our marriage to be at this church for this time in our lives AND to chew on the teaching from Sunday throughout the week. This week especially, we want to stop and take a moment to publicly thank the Lord for answering our prayers for a church home in Birmingham. We are so very thankful and blessed!

O Come O Come Emmanuel

by Henry Sloane Coffin, John Mason Neale, Thomas Helmore; Arrangement by Codie Gibbons

O come O come Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear

Rejoice Rejoice Emmanuel 
Shall come to thee O Israel

O come Thou Rod of Jesse free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny
From depths of hell Thy people save
And give them victory over the grave

O come Desire of nations bind
In one the hearts of all mankind
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease
And be Thyself our King of Peace

Rejoice Rejoice
Christ has come
Christ has died 
Christ has risen
Rejoice Rejoice
Christ has come 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Relaxation Is Possible, Even Two Weeks Before Christmas

"Lord Jesus, Master of both light and darkness, send your Holy Spirit upon our preparations for Christmas. We who have so much to do seek quiet spaces to hear your voice each day. We who are anxious over many things look forward to Your coming among us. We who are blessed in so many ways long for the complete joy of your kingdom. We whose hearts are heavy seek the joy of your presence. We are your people, walking in darkness, yet seeking the light. To you we say, COME, Lord Jesus!" -Henri Nouwen

December 2008, our first married Christmas, I remember receiving an email from my home church with the Henri Nouwen quote featured above. It spoke to me so personally that I printed it out and put it on my desk at work and it stays there year round. No matter what is going on at the point I read it, I always feel encouraged and at peace when I take the words to heart. Specifically during this wonderful time of year, there are so many "preparations for Christmas" that our culture has put on us. For example, putting up the Christmas tree, sending out Christmas cards, attending Christmas parties, Christmas shopping and wrapping, and so on and so forth. Where in that list does it mention SLOWING DOWN and focusing on the true reason for the season in the first place, Jesus Christ. 

This past weekend, our sweet marriage moment occurred when we headed out of town to sunny California! Brandon's company is based out of San Diego -- so we got to fly out there for his company's Christmas party! {Ya don't have to twist my arm to go!!!} It was the most relaxing, wonderful time and we kept saying how it reminded us of a Honeymoon Part 2. The resort we stayed in was delightful and the quality time we spent together was such a blessing. I had to pinch myself to see if this was really real! It's not everyday you see Christmas trees and the ocean at the same time. We spent the day by the Pacific Ocean, two weeks before Christmas. It was truly a gift from God to have that time to be still in the midst of the comings and goings of this time of year and seek true joy, peace, and rest from the LORD. His blessings are all around us...we just have to open our eyes to see them! Brandon and I certainly saw His hand of blessings all around us this past weekend, and our prayer now is to take that restful mindset into these next couple of weeks as so many distractions beckon for our attention. Don't get me wrong, wonderful distractions...yet still distractions. Wanting to keep our focus on the KING of KINGS. May this be a reminder to all of us to not get caught up in the chaotic scurrying around {even though I'm sure we mean well}, but be the one that speaks peace into the storm! May we truly focus our own hearts, marriages, families on the one that gives us LIFE...Jesus!

**Thought you'd enjoy a few pics from our getaway! 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

What We REALLY Think About The Red Crocs

Steadman Nall here, brother and sister-in-law of B and Whit ANDI am the guest blogger for this week's post!  Just to give you a brief background: I am Brandon's older brother by 13 months. We have been best friends since birth and I am very fortunate to have both B and Whit in my life.  For the past 3 1/2 years I have been the road manager for Reach Records going around the world with the biggest Christian Hip Hop artists in the country… and that is where this week's blog begins for me...halfway around the world in Zimbabwe, Africa.

Steadman in Africa!!!

Thanksgiving is a special holiday for many people. Traditions, family and food. So many fun and memorable moments are made during this special time. This year I had the incredible opportunity to travel the continent of Africa for 16 days doing shows and spreading the Gospel of Jesus to 8 different nations. Unfortunately I had to miss the traditional Thanksgiving our family does together. This was a bit disappointing, but thankfully via the internet, iPhone and Facebook I was able to keep up with my family and their festivities. When I did a check in Saturday, with the limited internet access we had, one particular photo of my brother and sister-in-law stuck out at me. The moment I saw it a swirl of emotions and feelings hit me like no other. It's hard to describe and certainly unrepeatable. It was a picture of Brandon and Whitney at the Iron Bowl (a football matchup between Auburn and Alabama). In this picture, the two of them were posing on a beautiful Autumn day right in front of Samford Hall in the heart of the Auburn campus. Whitney was dressed in her game day finest - an Auburn colored dress with her cowboy boots - a wonderful football outfit.  B on the other-hand was in an LSU shirt (mad props for that GEAUX TIGERS) but to go along with that awesome shirt he had on...sweatpants and RED CROCS!! They were hideous!!  That's all I could think and I could not wait to travel 12,000 to tell him my thoughts on his outfit!

B & Whit at the Iron Bowl - November 2011
So I get back to Atlanta last week and stay with my cousin for a few days. She and I are catching up on life and football when she proceeds to tell me a story that I couldn't help but share with you! One of her friends was at the Iron Bowl and posted a picture on Facebook entitled 'typical LSU Fan' and low and behold the picture was of Brandon!! This girl snuck up and took a picture of Brandon when he wasn't looking. Just like me, she was appalled at his sweatpants and RED CROCS. Needless to say, I had plenty to say about Brandon's 'Wardrobe Malfunction' whenever I saw him in Birmingham.

After a looonnnnng lengthy discussion about this with Team Nall back at the casa, this is what we came up with:  Whitney has learned to choose her battles and she said that football attire is not one she wants to fight for.  B - first off - doesn't care what anyone thinks about his wardrobe during is free time and secondly, he says he wears a suit 40+ hours a week and won't be caught in one on the weekend. He wants to be 'comfortable'. To which I say...bologna!!! The biggest football game AND social event of the year deserves a husband to dress appropriately to support his wife.

Up close & personal of the red crocs...B's absolute fav!!!

In closing:  Ladies, do learn from Whit - choose your battles. You can't fight for everything and have a healthy relationship. Choose what is most important to you and certainly go to bat on those. Men - you have to remember every time you go out in public is NOT just a reflection on you, but on your spouse. Oftentimes your lady is sacrificing to even come to the football game (!!) so at least look presentable. Yeah it's really nice to feel comfortable in your "Sunday lounge around the house clothes", but jeans and boat shoes can be just as nice. So guys, next time you want to go out in your pajamas...think AGAIN!