I love it. I love it because it's us, it's real, and it's the perfect chance to even more embrace and boast of our weaknesses because in those, His power is made perfect. Because our behind the scenes failures are surrounded by the Lord's grace and affection.
We are learning. We are growing. We are transitioning.
I blog because I love to look back and see the past to the present and how HIS MIGHTY hand has been with us every single step of they way!
The first paragraphs I read back in September 2012 from a college friend of mine's blog... she is an amazing writer and communicator and her words were exactly what I was feeling!
I will never forget running to Starbucks early one morning to get us coffee and breakfast because everything was packed in the house and when I turned our street corner in Chandler, I saw this moving truck! My breath was completely taken away.... I just gasped and I held back every bit of emotion and I thought to myself, "Let's do this!"
Brendon drove our car to NJ... we stayed behind a few days to give him some time to get there.... our family including Aaron and Leigh Anne took us to the airport..... there wasn't a picture to show it (THANK GOD!) but as I took my babies by the hand and got in the security line, the emotion came rushing to me and I sobbed! Oh.... don't get me wrong... not sobs of regret but sobs that I clearly knew the sacrifice and I knew it was going to be worth it! It was going to be worth every bit of sacrifice! I know my God well enough to know that if He calls you to lay it all down AND you obey, He will do above and beyond what you could ever imagine..... as long as you stay humble and don't take an ounce of the glory and continue to be a vessel that is empty of self and full of HIM!
And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.
My precious babies on that long flight from AZ to NJ - they had no idea how quickly their life was going to change!
Our first service - I remember our truck took longer to get to NJ than anticipated and I really had nothing to wear to the first service:) This was it... the elders laying their hands on us, blessing us and releasing us into this ministry. Wow! Our 1st Sunday there was 161 in attendance to welcome us!
School started exactly 1 month from when we arrived. I had Daniel enrolled in a wonderful Christian school in Phoenix as he was scheduled to start Kindergarten. I remember researching Christian schools in the area and finding Atlantic Christian School and calling and I almost passed out when I heard what their tuition was... it was ridiculously expensive. So, my plan was to check out the public school to see what I thought or homeschool. However, within 24 hours of us arriving, I heard that there was a scholarship available and Daniel received it to Atlantic Christian School!
Then at the end of October, Hurricane Sandy hit and hit hard! We were evacuated from our home and really thought we had lost it all. We saw pictures like this on the internet and this was EXTREMELY close to where we lived.
Meanwhile, the Velez's invited us to their home and we made memories! Like loosing all electricity for a couple of days!
Who knew it was our first test? My husband boldy and courageously decided to lead this small church to reach into this community and serve and somehow lots of people from around the country decided to partner with us. It was A VERY BUSY time but very rewarding!
Our entire family decided to spend Christmas in Florida as we knew my grandfather was not doing well... the visible symptoms of Alzheimer's was fastly appearing and we wanted some memories stored in the memory bank.
Gateway sent Pastor Ed and Pastor Troy in January to check everything out as they were financially supporting us in BIG ways. It was an amazing time and they were blown away... we were pushing the 200 mark in attendance and their advice was "focus on health not on growth because this church will explode."
Easter - March 2013
We decided to do something CRAZY - bring in an illusionist for our Easter Services! He was there for Good Friday, and our 1st time ever to do 2 services! 550 showed up!
April we went back to Phoenix for the first time since leaving.... my mom planned 2 amazing 3rd birthday parties for Katelyn so I could also see all of my friends! If I could say if there was one thing I missed about Phoenix, it would be our friends and family! I don't have very many pics from this trip because we took a red eye back to NJ and I was so exhausted that I left my phone on the plane with ALL of my pics:(
You know I wasn't sure how I would feel going back for the first time.... like would I have to deal with mind games, etc but I have to tell you there was NONE of that. It was an amazing trip.... I knew we had made the right decision, we were right in the middle of God's will.... we weren't crazy..... we had really heard God's voice.... and going back to Phoenix was full of the most amazing memories of my life! Everywhere I would drive, every place I visited, every person I saw brought so much laughter, smiles and joy to my heart. It was one of the most amazing moments in my life.
Guess what May meant? Get ready to go to 2 services! So.... we started training our leaders and volunteers on what this would mean.
Gateway also asked us to attend their Connect Conference and they set up some one on one appointments with us for counseling and church strategy for where we were at, where we had come from and where we were headed.
June brought around for us the greatest summer we have ever had as a family. We lived in Ocean City and we loved and soaked in every moment of living the beach life!
However, I felt myself almost 1 year into this journey feeling like we were heading into another faith step. As much as I was so completely thankful for the wonderful little house we had in Ocean City, I started having this itch that we just needed more space! We weren't able to have anyone over because it was so small and as pastors, you have people over all of the time. I just had some desires like a yard, etc. I gave it to the Lord and waited on Him.... we had a down payment in the bank and one night during a women's Bible study, I felt the Lord speak to me and say we were to give the down payment of our next house to the church. I went home and told Brendon and he agreed. Now a year later, we were exactly in the same place as waiting for God to come through and open an impossible door for us
We had Daniel's 6th birthday party here in NJ - it was the first of our kids birthdays to be celebrated in NJ - a year ago, Daniel's 5th birthday was his going away party as well.... and I couldn't believe a year had already passed!
Brendon led the church on its first missions trip to Haiti and the first day after he got back, we got approached by somebody who asked us about our housing situation and which we were very honest and this person said that we were to go look for a house and not worry about the details. Yes! That crazy and that miraculous!
It was our kiddos 2nd year back to school..... they got to attend ACS again because they offered me a part time job which gave me incredible tuition benefits.
We also got invited to spend a few days with Joe and Lori Champion in Austin, TX and 10 other pastors and their wives.... it was an INCREDIBLE, AMAZING, WEEKEND!
God ordained friendships were formed!
Then the last night we all went to the Champion's house where we had worship then they prayed prophetically over each couple. Ours was recorded and we listen to it often!
I took this picture of the map they have of Texas over their fireplace mantle - I want one of New Jersey over our mantle!
I haven't downloaded any more pics from then off my phone because quite frankly the past 10 month have been nuts! We spent Oct, Nov and half of December moving and getting settled in.... December was Christmas!
Easter we went to 3 services!
We are looking to add a 4th service sooner than what we expected.
Father's Day we announced that we will have a baby joining our family in January!
And.... if you haven't caught on to the pattern yet... it is August and this seems to be the time that God calls us to step out in faith in MAJOR, very scary ways.... however, I am not paralyzed with fear anymore, I am actually having fun! This time around in the areas that we are about to take some crazy faith jumps, I AM SO EXCITED! You see, God and I have a really amazing track record over the past 2 years and I am starting to LOVE THIS FAITH life. As a matter of fact, any other life I would be absolutely bored out of my mind! I HATE BEING BORED! I don't want this life to be some leisurely drive through the woods, I want to go on the wildest, craziest ride of my life and I don't want to drive.... I want to be in the passenger seat with my Savior as the driver and I want to let my hair down, throw my head out the window with my hands in the air and screaming to the top of the lungs!