Monday, February 28, 2011

Melts My Heart

With our first anniversary soon approaching, Blake and I have been reminiscing about the days and weeks just before we met and began dating. This time last year, I was just recovering (quite miraculously, I must add) from a 100.5 degree fever and a short bout with my favorite winter-time illness, bronchitis. My car literally died less than half a mile from my house in the midst of said fever/bronchitis. And, I was single.

For a while, I had been praying a particularly risky prayer. Dating was getting on my nerves because I had big plans ahead. My plan was to hightail it to North Carolina after graduation and start the new chapter of my life there. I was not disinterested in dating, but I was also not focused on it. My prayer was that God would make it "abundantly clear" when I had found "the one." Now, this doesn't seem like a risky prayer, but it was. People laughed when I told them this is what I was praying for. It was kind-of like praying for a big flashing neon sign, but the Lord told me to pray it, and I was convinced that He would deliver. Several friends told me I wasn't giving guys enough of a chance to see if they were "the one," but I knew God had something powerful in store.

I had also thought God had been trying to make things "abundantly clear" with a certain guy, but I still had my doubts. I was very confused. And, on March 11, 2010, I wrote in my journal:

"I hope and pray that I find someone 10,000x better than [that guy]."

And, on March 12, 2010, I met someone 10,000x better than - not just [that guy] - but better than any guy I had ever met. His name was Blake. :)

I'll save some of the sappy details of what happened between March 12 and March 30. But, on March 30, after a conversation about marriage, I wrote:

"Blake said it best tonight, 'Is this what it feels like to meet your wife? ... I think it is.'

I have been wondering the same thing. Is this what it feels like to meet your husband?

I think so."

The Lord delivered on His promise in what I believe is a mighty, mighty way. It makes my heart so happy to know that God planned every beautiful and intricate detail of our relationship long before we ever met. My prayers continue as we approach marriage, and it is my earnest prayer that God is glorified greatly in our story, in our life, and in our marriage.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

A Forgotten Commandment

Last Sunday, the lesson I taught to the 1st-5th graders at Vineyard was about the parable of the sower (Matthew 13). I struggled in my attempt to clarify this metaphorical passage for the kids, but I knew that their little hearts would understand in time. Afterward, Blake and I started talking about the parable in adult terms.

Is the Bible saying not to share the gospel with certain people? The passage refers to four types of soil/people, three of them being unable to fully understand, appreciate, and live out the gospel. In the parable, only the seed that fell on good soil came to any fruition. Does that mean the other seed was wasted, or is some of it a part of a person's growing process? There are many times the gospel was shared with me, and I ignored it, or got hyped up and lost it, or was deterred by the "worries of this life" (v. 22). But, all of those moments led me to where and who I am now in Christ. All of those times when people's words seem to have gone to waste, God used them for good.

Then, Blake reminded me of a commandment that I have forgotten, and disobeyed. Matthew 7:6, "Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces."

A few years ago, I had a prophetic dream regarding a loved one. The dream was a response to many prayers and came during a very tumultuous time in this person's life. I sat with the dream for a couple of weeks, trying to decide whether or not I needed to share it with him. The message in the dream was a very encouraging one, basically a scene of 2 Corinthians 5:17, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come; The old has gone, the new is here!". I thought the message was uplifting, and ultimately decided to pour out my heart in a letter and mail it. I did my best to communicate my heart, to show that I was for him and not against him, to show that I loved him and supported him.

It didn't take long for me to find out that this was probably the worst thing I could have done. I was so upset, so angry, and so disappointed at what happened after he received the letter. What I thought was a prompting to overcome fear, was actually God pulling at me, declaring Matthew 7:6 over me. It wasn't time. In the end, I got reprimanded from another family member for "daring" to do such a thing. This person has since called me many names to his family and mine, and has barely spoken to me since. It has caused a rift not only in our relationship, but also in the relationships I have with some of my other family members. How could I have been so blind? How could I have ignored one of God's most blatant warnings?

What I did not know at the time was that the good news I attempted to share with him was eaten up by the hatefulness of Satan. The good seed of encouragement I was spreading was stolen from the person I was trying to share it with. The good news I wanted so desperately to communicate was seen through the eyes of a person whose heart was not yet prepared. He wasn't ready for what I had to say.

By throwing out this beautiful dream and powerful message at the wrong time, the message lost its value. To throw a string of pearls into a pigpen is degrading to the value of the pearls. Pigs don't understand what pearls are; they have no concept of jewelry or precious stones. Instead of being a message of hope and God's sovereignty, the word I shared was seen as garbage. A delusion, a word of condemnation. Jesus spoke in parables (often very confusing), and responded to "Why?" with this: "Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand." (Matthew 13:12) He goes on to say that those who do not understand are the fulfillment of Isaiah 6:9-10.

Is this to say that the message God gave me will go to waste? Absolutely not. It may not have the effect on the person as I feel God originally intended, but the experience has already been a great lesson in my life. Maybe in time, this person will see how much the Lord cares for Him and how much He has promised. This experience has taught me that there are times to wait. There are times to hold back, and let God work for a time. There are times to risk it all, and times to be cautious. There are times to fight, and times to be at peace. There is a time for everything. Ecclesiastes 3:7, "...a time to be silent and a time to speak."

God is cautiously steering me through this journey of reestablishing what has been lost. I don't know if what was broken will ever be reconciled, and my heart still hurts deeply when I think about what I have done. I know that God is working on behalf of His kingdom and that He can plow through my mistakes. Romans 8:28 offers the promise, "In all things, God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose." God is not going to let the message He gave me go to waste.

The words God gives us are not always meant for us to share immediately, and we have to be so in touch with His Spirit to know when and where to scatter the seed. Not to say that we shouldn't share the gospel in fear of persecution, but we must be guided first and foremost by the Spirit, not looking for any self-inflicted persecution. To know Christ is to suffer (Phil. 3:10), but even Christ lived out periods of waiting. Sometimes the Spirit says "go," and sometimes He says "wait." It takes a great deal of faith to wait, a great deal of faith to listen, and a great deal of faith to hold on to His promises in the midst of the feelings of failure.

Matthew 7:13-14, "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it."

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Mid-Semester Check

The spring semester is F-L-Y-I-N-G by. I mean FLYING. Next Friday, I'll leave first grade at Maxwell and head to 5th grade at Moundville. I can't believe it! I love teaching first grade. I really didn't think I'd like it, but it's growing on me! They are so energetic and full of life... sometimes it wears me out, but it's always worth it. Today, my students rocked the house. They followed directions, participated, used their vocabulary words in context, built a clock, followed directions, taste tested toothpaste, followed directions... did I mention they followed directions!? :)

Being nearly halfway through the semester also means we're closer to GRADUATION! Today, I got to pick out the diploma frame that mom is buying me for a present. It wasn't a hard choice, but it was definitely exciting to know that I'll have a diploma VERY soon!

Being nearly halfway through the semester also means we're closer to WEDDING DAY! I am so stinking excited. I look at my gorgeous ring everyday and the little butterflies start all over again. Blake & I have been together for a few weeks shy of a year, and we are on edge waiting for the wedding day to roll around.

I keep thinking I should write in more detail and try to be more profound, but... I spent my day with first graders. Have I mentioned that I believe I'm turning into a first grader?? Where is my bubble machine!? ;)

Saturday, February 12, 2011

One-hundred thirty-three.


That's how many days are left until the wedding. I am terribly excited, but also excruciatingly overwhelmed. When I get stressed, I just think about what a beautiful picture of God's provision, grace, and love our wedding will be.

Nearly four and a half years ago, I walked the aisle of Hargrove UMC with my mother and sister in a ceremony. We wore black and we cried tears of grief. At the end of the aisle was my father's casket. It is a walk I will never, ever forget.

In 133 days, I will walk down the same aisle with my mother and sister beside me. This time, I will be wearing white and any tears I cry will be from joy. At the end of the aisle will be my husband. It is a walk I will never, ever forget.

Getting married at Hargrove means the world to me. I was Christened there, baptized there, confirmed there. My parents were married there. Many of my relatives have been married there. It was the place of my father's funeral, as well as my uncle's, and my granddaddy's. Now it will also be the place where I get married, and what a day that will be. :)

Saturday, February 5, 2011

I'm a believer...

If I had written about this topic two months ago, this post would read much differently. But, I have since converted in my beliefs and am now a full-fledged promoter and believer. Frequently ridiculed and riddled with hype brought on by celebrities and the cast of Jersylicious, this fashion-meets-comfort invention will live no longer in my book of HECK NO's. Instead, I will wear them proudly and with confidence... Yes, I am talking about...


Don't hate. I'm serious. And let's just make it clear that I am NOT referring to the jeggings as modeled by Conan O'Brien:I still do not believe in the cotton yoga-type pants painted to look like jeans. Those are still ugly and I vow to protest them until my dying day. Some jeggings are actually made of blue jean material mixed with heavy dose of Spandex. Those are the kind I'm talking about.

Now that we've got that straight... I thought jeggins were the dumbest thing ever until I saw my cousins Holly and Sescily wearing them. They looked and felt like blue jeans.... just more form-fitting. So, after weeks of debating, I got a pair....

And - OH - MY - GOSH! I have never worn maternity pants, but I assume these jeggings are the non-preggers girls' answer to maternity pants. Can we say: ELASTIC WAISTBAND!? Seriously! They look like jeans, feel like jeans, and wear like jeans... but they are as comfortable as yoga pants! I'm a believer. At least, for the time being. I am sure that in about two years, I will renounce jeggings. But, until then, I will wear them proudly and confidently... and comfortably.

In other news:

1. I am FINALLY ordering my wedding veil today! It has been the ONLY thing I have been extremely particular about and I finally found one that has the look AND price that fits me best.

2. We put a bell on Elaine's collar in hopes that the poor birds will hear her coming and be able to fly away quickly! So far, she's not killed any birds since adding the bell. I am hoping the bell is doing the trick, not the yucky weather! I did find a dead mouse in the hall this morning, but... I can handle a mouse or two. It's the live birds in my house that I cannot tolerate! Elaine has also been much more cuddly lately... sleeping in my bed, letting me hold her more, and just generally being sweeter. Maybe she read my blog post...

3. Teaching first grade is wiping me out! I went to sleep at 7:30 one day this week. But, I have to say that first grade is growing on me. I still think I like teaching fractions and decimals and all that stuff more, but... first grade is definitely not as bad as I imagined. Plus, the kids are so stinking cute! This week had some bumps in the road, but everything worked out for the best. And Blake saved the day on Tuesday by surprising me with a GIANT arrangement of flowers. I'm talking lilies, snapdragons, peach roses, and a big giant hydrangea right in the middle. He rocks.

4. I saved the best for last. Tonight, we are going to see BILL freaking COSBY!!! Can you believe it!?! Barring any bad weather, Blake & I will be in the presence of Bill Cosby in less than twelve hours. Blake is SO excited - Bill is one of his absolute favorite comedians. Can't wait!!