Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 Blessings and Heartaches

As 2012 comes to an end, I realize just how much has happened over the last year....

The year brought many blessings. My marriage has grown deeper and I am more in love with my husband than I've ever been before. God revealed himself as provider over and over again in our lives as we trusted him for our financial support as missionaries, as well as provided a wonderful replacement car after an ugly hit and run that totaled our car. We were able to visit new places and experience fun events. For the first time in 9 years, I have a relationship with my daddy and I couldn't be happier about it! Tyler and I are now living outside of Florida (in New Jersey) for the first time -- and loving it! We began serving on campus at Rutgers with Athletes in Action! I have made new friendships that I am so very grateful for and enjoyed growing deeper in old friendships. We were also blessed with many fun moments that are now fun memories with family over this past year and I am so thankful!

On the flip side, 2012 had some heartaches and some moments I'd love to erase from my mind forever. The moments I chose silence rather than conversation with my husband. The days I chose to watch a TV show rather than dig deep into the Word of God. Days I spent sick on the couch. Hearing that Tyler had been in a car accident, resulting in the total loss of our only vehicle. Tears I shed because I was unhappy. Being deeply hurt, resulting in the severing of relationships, which truly saddens me. Having to choose the Truth over the lies whispered to me. Even getting a phone call letting me know that there was a mistake in the amount taken out for taxes all year and owing an unexpected chunk of money (never fun!) before the end of the year.

Looking back on 2012 brings a smile to my face as well as pangs my heart. It was a such an emotional roller coaster of a year! But through it all, I had the Lord, who is forever unchanging. And I had my loving husband by my side.

I am prayerfully hoping that 2013 brings unexpected reconciliation, new relationships, growth, love, and a deeper understanding of who God is. What are you hoping for in 2013? Lay it before the God of the universe. What pleases God and is his very best for you, he will fulfill. Happy New Year!

"May he grant you your heart's desire and fulfill all your plans!" - Psalm 20:4

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

For Us, Why AIA?

During the my time as a student at the University of South Florida, I was introduced to the athletic ministry (Athletes in Action) of the campus ministry (Campus Crusade for Christ, now Cru) I was heavily involved with. I want to share with you about these missional organizations and why my husband, Tyler, and I chose to serve full time with Athletes in Action as campus staff.

Tyler grew up playing multiple sports and wrapped up his official athletic career as a wide receiver at USF. I, on the other hand, dabbled in sports here and there growing up but preferred to scream sideline. However, we share the passion for athletics. We also share a deep passion for Jesus Christ and the furtherance of the Gospel message. As we sought God, individually prior to marriage, we both felt God's calling to serve in full time ministry. And almost immediately after deciphering our calling, we knew God wanted us with Athletes in Action.

Here is Cru's Statement of Faith and some information about Athletes in Action. We are in complete agreement with their beliefs, that was number one for us. As we got to know the leadership, it was evident that they were in close relationship with the Lord and their humility was undeniable. I vividly remember Tyler telling me that trusting and submitting would not be a problem because of the humility displayed by our leadership. Hearing such confidence from my husband, spoke volumes to my heart. We have already felt warm and welcomed by fellow staff and we haven't been a part of this organization family for very long. Aside from how much we appreciate the people, we have seen God use the ministry of AIA to bring people into a new and deeper relationship with Christ. On our first week here at Rutgers, Tyler sat in on a meeting with our director, John, and a football player. During the meeting, the football player prayed to receive Christ! On a separate day, I sat in on a discipleship appointment with John's wife, Missy, and two volleyball girls. One of the volleyball girls shared that over Thanksgiving break she invited Jesus into her life for the first time! Now, these student athletes are being trained in the basics of the Christian faith. These are just two examples of how God uses the ministry of AIA to bring people to Himself.

As much as we love and support the organization of AIA, we are not claiming it to be perfect or above another [athletic] ministry. I stumbled upon these three articles not long ago and can say that measuring AIA against the bullet points, it is a solid (not perfect) organization with a long history of Christ centered service.

"...if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God." 
- Acts 20:24 

Our personal beginning with AIA: I served as an intern with AIA from Nov 2010 - Dec 2011 at USF while Tyler finished school and was involved with AIA at USF as a student. During 2011, we applied for full time staff positions. This would require us to undergo two years of on-campus training by senior AIA staff. We were accepted and began our initial training in January 2012 with all of Cru's ministries at New Staff Training in Daytona Beach, Florida. While we were there, we found out our initial on-campus training placement -- Rutgers University in New Jersey! Beginning in February of this year, we began to trust God for our financial needs. By November, God had raised up all of our initial financial needs and we were packing for our big move! The day after Thanksgiving, we were headed north! We've now begun serving at Rutgers and are enjoying being part of a movement on campus that is centered around the Gospel.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Christmas Time in the City

As the semester closes at Rutgers and student athletes are bombarded with finals and prepare to spend their winter break at home, us staff took some time to bond and experience New York City! We hopped on a train in Jersey, and were in the city in about 45 minutes!!

I hadn't been in ten years or so, and Tyler had never been -- needless to say, we were pretty excited! John and Missy played tour guide for us, since they have been many times. We first toured Bryant Park where Christmas music fills the air, ice skating is center stage, and fun little shops line the outer edge.


Then we headed to Radio City Music Hall and were treated to the 85th Anniversary Special of the Christmas Spectacular show! My eyes literally filled with tears while the Rockette's danced in perfect unison. (Many of you probably don't know this fun fact about me -- but I wanted to be a Rockette so badly when I was growing up!) And the Christmas story was highlighted at the end with a live nativity! What an encouragement to see the story of Jesus told in the middle of NYC!

After the show, we had lunch and cheesecake at a traditional NY deli. We then walked and saw many different sights including the Rockefeller Center, St. Patrick's Cathedral, and Times Square. It was the perfect way to end out the semester together and bond as a staff team.

"...whoever refreshes others will be refreshed." - Proverbs 11:25

Thursday, December 13, 2012

When The World Whispers

When the world tells you that you are -- worth nothing, everyone hates you, you're unloved, you aren't beautiful, and/or you deserve what you've got coming... what do you do?

When I hear those lies from the enemy either in my mind or from the mouths of people, I am faced with two options. I can dwell on the evil and my own hurt and quickly spiral into a depression and self-focused pity. Or, I can recall all of the things that I know are true of me because of Christ!

In Christ, by the grace of God...

  • I am forever free from condemnation (Romans 8:1)
  • I have been given the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16)
  • I have been made righteous (2 Corinthians 5:21)
  • I stand perfect in God's eyes (Hebrews 10:14)
  • I am a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17)
  • I am in an intimate and personal family relationship with the Lord (John 1:12-13)

And the Word of God tells me that...

  • I am loved by God (John 15:12)
  • I am beautiful and flawless (Song of Solomon 4:7)
  • God rejoices over me with singing (Zephaniah 3:17)
  • I am chosen (John 15:16)

Because of who God is, I can confidently stand on who He says I am. The hurtful words people slam at me or that the enemy whispers in my head cannot compete with the Truth! I am who I am because of Christ and for that, I praise God!!

I hope that you, too, can choose to stand on the Rock when you hear lies - even when they penetrate deep. God is always good, trust that. I know I have to =)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Two Years Strong... & Young

Today marks two years of wedded bliss to the most handsome, Godly, loving, and admirable man I know!! I cannot believe that it's already been two years.

When Tyler and I got engaged in August 2010, we began planning for our wedding... for that December. That's right, a four month engagement. Many people responded with questions, wanting to know why we were getting married so young (as Tyler hadn't even graduated yet). I thought I'd share this post by Trip Lee's wife. I completely agree and praise God for blessing me with a husband to grow with! 

Happy Anniversary to the love of my life. Trusting God for many more <3 

"My beloved is mine, and I am his." 
- Song of Solomon 2:16

Monday, December 10, 2012

Nights to Forget

Many of us have had those nights that, in the morning, we would love to forget. Maybe for you those nights involve alcohol, sex, gossip, unleashed emotions, aggressive behavior, or time with the wrong people. But do you struggle with making those nights more common than not? Are you finding yourself constantly in situations that do not leave you feeling satisfied? Do you ever wish your choices were better, leaving you feeling better about yourself?

You're not alone. And there is hope for you. Hope in Jesus!

As Christmas is approaching, many will celebrate with gifts, Santa, and eggnog. But Christmas is so much more than that! Christmas is the beginning of God's redemptive plan for the world. Christmas is the celebration and remembrance of Jesus Christ's birth. And Jesus came into this world to rescue us! The Bible says, For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. -- John 3:17 How awesome is that? Jesus didn't come to condemn us -- even though we are wretched sinners. His purpose was to save us!

Now, you may be thinking .... Jesus couldn't have come to save me. You don't know what all I've done. It's unforgivable and I am totally not worthy of being rescued by anyone, let alone by Jesus. Well, I'm here to tell you [kindly] that you're wrong. The Bible tells us that Jesus did not come to save the righteous, but the sinners! And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” -- Matthew 9:11-13

If all of this is hitting home for you, then I would challenge you to consider trusting Jesus and turning to Him for hope! This Christmas, receive the best gift of all... the gift of forgiveness and life in Christ! And begin having moments you'll never regret to replace the nights you'd love to forget.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Christmas Music

The other night, I attended a group event where we were led in song to worship the Lord! We sang "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" and then discussed the meaningful lyrics. Then, today I put on a Music Choice channel and noticed that the Christmas music plays from the channel called "Sounds of the Season." This got me thinking how politically correct the world attempts to be with (all things but especially) Christmas.

Most store clerks wish us "Happy Holidays!" and signs spread "Season's Greetings" but the meaning of Christmas cannot be lost by all the cover up. I mean, just listen to the lyrics of the Christmas music on every radio station! Songs that used to be freely sung at every elementary school Christmas concert have deep, meaningful, and ministering lyrics. Songs like Joy to the World, O Come All Ye Faithful, O Holy Night, Away in a Manger, and First Noel are all popular, classic, and clearly depict the true meaning of Christmas. Faith Hill has a Christmas song that brings tears to my eyes almost every time I hear it; A Baby Changes Everything::

I hope that this December, the meaning of Christmas and the message of Christ reaches people's hearts in a new way or maybe for the first time. And I believe God can use even old classic Christmas carols to do just that! 

Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! - Psalm 95:2