Serving Open Arms

I’ve got so much I want to record about Caleb and our sweet Seggie. It’s been an eventful couple of months this summer and we made lots of memories I don’t want to forget!

But in the meantime, I’d like to share about an opportunity to support the pro-life cause in a tangible way. I have a more personal connection this year to the clinic we are raising money for. When I was six weeks along with Baby Seggie, we went to Open Arms Pregnancy Clinic to have my first ultrasound. I got to meet a number of the staff, see what their welcome “interview” is like, and benefit from the medical expertise and kindness of their ultrasound technician. I also personally know one of the women who is full-time there, as she is in our fellowship group at church. This is a wonderful nonprofit!

Although we gave Open Arms a donation to thank them for serving us, it was all we could do to convince them to accept it. There is absolutely NO pressure to donate, which from many testimonies I’ve read, is not true of Planned Parenthood, though they advertise their services as free. Open Arms is truly all about ministering to women by showing them the value of their babies’ lives, supporting them emotionally, practically, and spiritually throughout their pregnancy and beyond, and giving them the hope of the gospel.

It sounds cliche, but $5, $10, or $50, no amount is too small. Together, our family is raising money for the Walk for Life on October 15, which, due to a schedule conflict, only Andrew will actually be walking in. We appreciate any gifts toward this vital ministry!

Our Fundraising Page

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19ish Weeks :)

Same T-Shirt, Different World

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On Sunday, after Doulos, I went to the Special Ministries service at 10:30 AM. I had a little trouble finding the room, but when I did step into it, there was no doubt I’d come to the right place. There were people of a wide spread of ages (but almost entirely adults) with varying disabilities, levels of responsiveness, and personalities.

Almost immediately, I spotted a young man in the middle of the group of about 20 people. He caught my eye because he was wearing a bright blue striped shirt, the same one I’d bought for Andrew at Target a few months earlier. He looked to be in his early twenties and he had a very handsome face. At first I thought he might be a volunteer…but when he opened his mouth or moved his arms, it became clear that he was a participant in the disabilities ministry.

For the whole class period, I was drawn to him. He was very much in tune with the teaching time, sitting on the edge of his seat to listen, and answering questions about the gospel correctly (though his speech was difficult to decipher). There was something oddly sobering about such a normal-looking guy in a t-shirt my husband often wears. So similar in some ways, yet so vastly different in others.

God’s sovereignty and providence are really all that lie between blessing Andrew with a typical, robust life and creating him with the severe disabilities I observed in the young man in the bright blue t-shirt. It was a powerful challenge to thank the Lord for knitting Andrew together from conception in a way that provided him with a strong body and healthy mental capacity. God could have created him with special needs and thus taken him down a very different path. He would still be fearfully and wonderfully made, just as this young man was, but Andrew’s life would have many difficulties that he doesn’t have to face. I was also reminded that a bad car accident could change our lives forever if Andrew (or I) were to sustain serious brain damage.

Basically, God used a t-shirt to fill me with a renewed sense of gratitude for the blessings in my life, not the smallest of which is a healthy, intelligent husband. It’s not a gift he bestows on everyone, but for whatever reason, in His good pleasure, He did that for us.

Never take your life and luxuries for granted…there are so many who know nothing of them.

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thes. 5:16-18

{Seminary Journal} All I Have Is Christ

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At Grace Community Church (GCC), there are two (identical) 90-minute worship services at 8:30 and 10:30 AM. During each one, there are various Fellowhship Groups happening elsewhere on campus. These groups are also 90 minutes long and are basically full-blown worship services, with a singing time and a sermon. Add the 90-minute evening service, and you’ve got a packed but oh-so-rewarding Sunday. Since moving to LA, we’ve spent each Sunday visiting different Fellowship Groups in the mornings to figure out which one to join. It’s been hard to attend a group or two and then have to wait an entire week to go to another, when we both want so much to jump in and start connecting with people and getting involved. We appreciated things about each of the four groups we’ve visited, but were excited this week to decide where we will land, for many reasons–Doulos (the Greek word for “slave”).

During the worship portion (which we absolutely loved) of Doulos we sang All I Have is Christ. To me, that song embodies our church family back in Bellingham, since it has become a favorite staple there in recent years. I couldn’t help but cry as we sang the chorus together in Doulos and I pictured our church at home, worshiping God at the same time. As I pondered the profound lyrics, I was reminded again of what a precious thing it is that no matter where I go, I have my Savior there with me. “Hallelujiah, all I have is Christ.” I had Him back in Bellingham, surrounded by familiar faces, and I have Him here in LA, where everyone and everything is new and different. I am still His, and He is still mine…and no matter what the future holds, that truth will never change. Amazing!

Andrew and I are both 100% excited about joining Doulos and growing under the solid teaching of Pastor Travis, who we know through mutual friends. It’s great to finally feel like we “belong” somewhere, instead of floundering. I can’t wait to share more of how we learn to love this group as it becomes home for us.

Stay tuned for a guest post from a very special individual!

{Seminary Journal} New State, New Routine, New Goals

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Andrew and Dr. Steve Lawson, who is teaching his Expository Preaching class this week.

We’ve only been here two weeks, but it honestly feels like it’s been a month or two…in a good way. Our apartment is really home and I am settling into a new routine. If I stop and think about back home, specifically my brothers, I start tearing up pretty quickly. So I’m choosing not to dwell on everyone I’m missing so much and throwing myself into everything we have here instead.

The out-of-state move feels like a totally fresh start in many ways. I have goals and new habits I want to form.

I want to put myself through a “seminary” of sorts while Andrew is in school. I have a lot of books I want to read and now seems like a good time to establish a reading routine. I love reading, but I struggle with sitting down and making it happen, because there’s always something else to be done. I have one more chapter to finish When I Don’t Desire God. Then I’m going to start through two books with dear ones back home: Creative Counterpart : Becoming the Woman, Wife, and Mother You Have Longed To Be (with my mom) and What Did You Expect?: Redeeming the Realities of Marriage (with Brittney). One with a Shepherd: The Tears and Triumphs of a Ministry Marriage is also high on my reading list. And somewhere in there, I’ll finish the other three books I’m partway through. =)

So far, keeping the house spic and span has been a cinch. (I’ve always struggled with consistent housekeeping maintenance.) Something must have just clicked in my brain. I spend about 15 minutes a day straightening things, wiping down the bathroom, etc. and that’s really all it takes to maintain a tidy place. (Not counting dishes and kitchen cleanup.) It does help that we got rid of so much stuff and that we’re in a small space. I hardly have a choice but to keep it organized, or we’d go crazy!

And of course, I’m really excited to find the right ministry niches here at Grace Community. I’ve already had opportunity to help a fellow sem wife with her kids and there’s plenty more where that came from. I have some ideas of the church ministries I’d love to be involved in, but I’m waiting first to see what Andrew will choose to plug into so I can help him and then add from there as schedule allows.

Tonight is a dessert for seminary students and their wives. I’ve so been looking forward to it!

Fervent Love: A Paul and a Timothy

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There are roses growing right outside my kitchen window. =)

You probably thought I’d forgotten all about our “current” Fervent Love series, but here’s another post. =)

Fervent love may look like discipling a brother or sister.

I remember at one of our church’s recent missions seminars, the guest speaker suggested that everyone have a Paul and a Timothy in their lives. The idea is that you always be learning from an older brother or sister, while sharing what you’ve learned and grown in with someone younger. I like this concept because it stimulates continued personal growth while encouraging giving of yourself to others.

For most of my life, my mom and I have met regularly for a mostly informal discipleship time where I can learn from her and share what I’m going through. Sometimes we go through a book, although often we talk for so long we run out of time to read together. =) So for now, she is my primary “Paul”.

A year or so ago, I added two “Timothys” to my life. I met with, discipled, and prayed for a younger sister in Christ regularly, and very informally counseled/mentored a young lady as she walked through a difficult time. Both relationships were a tremendous blessing to me, probably more than to these friends! It was exciting to be able to share what God has taught me through failures and victories in my life. Maybe He used me to spare them from making some of the mistakes I did. The Lord also used our times together to show me how much He has blessed me and to remind me of difficult seasons He carried me through and brought me out of.

Hopefully if we have younger siblings we’re all building those relationships with purpose and being an intentional, godly influence in their lives. For me, especially since I don’t have sisters, the timing seemed right to add another opportunity to invest in someone younger. Now, of course, I’ve moved, but I’ll try to stay in touch with these gals, and perhaps find a new “Timothy” in our new church.

How about you? Do you have a “Paul” you are learning from? And do you see an opportunity to turn around and give back to a “Timothy”? It’s a great way to grow and be stretched in new ways.

Brand New Niches

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Last Sunday School class after 2.5 years of teaching precious 3rd &4th graders.

As the move draws ever nearer, I’m starting to transition a little bit from thinking only of all that we have to do before we go to considering what life is going to be like once we start settling into our new home. That might sound pathetic, but I’ve let myself get so busy with everything we have going on now that I haven’t paused a whole lot to think of what lies ahead.

Today I learned that the church we’ll be plugging into in SoCal has a robust special needs ministry!

I cannot begin to communicate how thrilled I am about this. I have long felt a tug on my heart toward working with mentally and physically disabled people, specifically adults. A summer or two ago I did a fair bit of online research to find a local ministry I might be able to jump into, but came up short. Grace Community’s program sounds absolutely ideal. They provide general support at church functions as well as specific, tailored activities for special needs adults, with a strong emphasis on the gospel and quality Christian fellowship. It’s yet to be seen how their volunteer needs will fit into my schedule, but at this point I am dancing for joy at the thought of any small ways I can get involved in this beautiful work!

For several years now I’ve looked forward to the weekly seminary wives meetings.

It will be such a blessing to gather with other ladies who love Jesus and are excited about supporting their husbands through each semester. I anticipate Wednesday nights as one of the most effective ways I can get to know like-minded gals on a deeper level, and I hope to pick up some volunteer babysitting opportunities for sem wives who have children! I’m excited for this as an opportunity to learn from the experiences sisters in Christ, a swell as share how God is growing and stretching me through the experience of seminary.

These are just two things I’m eager to begin with our fresh start. I’ll trade in Sunday School teacher and IT helper hats for new ones. It will be stretching and fun to watch God direct me to the niches He’s specifically fashioned me for. When I think about it that way, I can hardly wait!