Archive for the ‘faith, hope, & love’ Category

sometimes i let myself get anxious.  and then the anxiety seems to seep into everything until i’m kind of useless with frustration.  my husband will read this and say “um yeah, that’s an understatement.”

i’d say most of the time, what i allow myself to get anxious over has to do with two main topics, or variations of these two:

– money

– time (mainly lack thereof)

and i just figured i needed to a) speak these out loud in order to be honest and transparent about what’s going on in my life and b) speak truth to myself that neither of these things are things God doesn’t already have absolute control of.  something i easily forget since i’m a planner by nature and want to have everything work out very nicely and be tied into a pretty bow.

but i’m not promised a pretty bow – in fact, i should probably question the priorities in my life if everything did end up in a neat and tidy bow.

so back to my two main anxiety issues.

1. money.   money is such a complicated beast.  for a young couple not too far out of college, ross and i make a modestly decent sum of money when combined.  we have money for a mortgage (a huge blessing – i mean i got to be a 23-year-old homeowner – not common, and I realize that), some fun luxuries every now and then, the ability to tithe and give to those in ministry, and pay all of our bills.  on the flip side though, is the realization that it takes every bit of what ross and i make combined to pull this off.

but when you’re a planner, you want money to do all those things and then have lots of money leftover in which to put into savings.  you have lofty goals of what your savings account should be amounting to and even loftier goals of what you’re actually saving for. and if you ever-ever-ever happen to need to take some of that money out of savings, say, to pay a large annual bill or just to make ends meet on a particularly busy month, you totally. freak. out.

this is my life – we pay more than the required amount of our mortgage, have no other debt, and pay off our credit cards each month, yet because i can’t seem to reach X amount of dollars in savings, i have panic attacks about our savings slowly draining down to nothing, until we live paycheck to paycheck and can’t make ends meet.  as i write this i realize that it isn’t the most rational thought and yet, as i write this, my stomach is clenched tightly in a knot just thinking about it.

and i won’t even go into the details about how in just a few short months we may be disrupting this scenario altogether with the possibility of me working part-time (once the baby comes), needing to pay for part-time childcare, paying all my insurance out of pocket, and not having any retirement benefits.  this puts the anxiety level to a whole new high.

2. time.  this probably comes down to time management more than anything, but i have moments when the to-do lists at work and the to-do lists at home experience a head-on collision to the point where i can’t dissociate one from another and i convince myself that really none of it can be accomplished on time and therefore none of it does.  this goes back to the me being useless once i let things get too overwhelming.  the doctors, lawyers,  CEO’s of this world:  i give them props because in no uncertain terms could i ever pull off a 60-80 work week and then hope to have a remote possibility of being a functioning human being with outside interests, a family, a life.

i don’t put this out there because i have a solution – well – i  know the solution, i just am not living it out in my life.  i know that jesus tells us he has every hair on our head numbered (luke 12.6-7) and that he gives even the  animals all their essential needs (matthew 6.25-27), and that he will not give us anything beyond what we can bear (i cor 10.13).  i  know all those things – and i “preach” some version of this righteous abandonment of worry to my youth group kids, but i can’t always grasp the reality of it in my life.  and that’s sad, because i know full well that my life is a bowl of cherries compared to many others.

i think we could all use a little unburdening around christmas time to focus on first things first, so i just put this out there because i think its helpful to call sin what it is – and excessive worry is sin.  wanting to be the controller of my own universe is sin.  not trusting in God’s provision is sin – and to maybe get a few “amens” from others going through the same thing.


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spilling your guts

about a year or so ago, ross and i instituted what is known to the youth group as Last Tuesdays.

a pretty simple concept:  on the last tuesday of every month, we take a momentary break from whatever deep and theological study (it’s ok, you can laugh) we were going through and have a night of fun.  in theory, this is also a time where they can invite friends who may not normally come to a “church thing.”  we’re still working on that part.

generally our last tuesdays are always different from month to month and around this time of year, they’re usually themed.  and this year:  pumpkin carving!

it had been several years since we’d carved pumpkins together, so all the newer kids to youth group were excited.

is it normal to find germinated pumpkin seeds inside the pumpkins?? creepy!

everyone set out to make different designs and got to work gutting and drawing

here’s the product of some of the guts

not exactly sure why seth was making this face about his superman pumpkin – it was really good!

ross and i attempted to save all the seeds to roast later

“hi. we’re boys. we may try to look tough and aloof, but we just had the coooolest time carving pumpkins”

the carnage!

here’s the group, displaying all their hard work

and here’s what the jack o’ lanterns look like in action – some pretty sweet designs!

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the price of ministry

last night ross and i sat on metal bleachers – a black plastic trashbag blocking the water but not the cold –  huddled under an umbrella (ok, so ross wasn’t actually under the umbrella) for two hours in the pouring rain while we watched one of our youthlings play a lacrosse game in which they were destroyed by the opposing team.  we sat with two other youthlings (which is why ross didn’t get a spot under the umbrella, what a gentleman) – another trashbag acting as a “blanket” across our legs.

we looked ridiculous.

we were freezing.

we had a fantastic time.  although i wasn’t the one not covered by the umbrella, so i’ll just speak for myself.

three years ago i don’t think i would have ever predicted that moment.  sacrificing a relaxing night at home (where it was dry and warm!) to watch a highschooler play a game in the pouring rain.  and wanting to be there.  i remember my younglife friends in college spending what i thought was an inordinate amount of time with their highschoolers and wondering where they got the motivation.  but now (ironically) that i’m older, i totally get it.

the price of ministry (being wet and cold for two hours) is hardly even comparable to the reward of ministry (talking/giggling with our kids, listening to what’s going on in their lives, cheering on the team despite the abysmal score, them knowing that we care enough to support them by being there).  what a testament to God’s work in our lives:  me, the girl who thought highschool ministry would put a damper on her social life (um, hello? these kids kind of ARE my social life) and ross, the introvert who used to be morbidly intimidated by groups of 5 or more (especially if they happened to be extroverts. aaaggh!) and now we have kids at our house until all hours on work nights, cooking dinner, playing video games, and spontaneously wrestling in my kitchen.  who are we!?

crazy youth leaders, duh.

we may not be youth leaders to a group of 40, but we’re being given an incredible chance to bond with the small group we have and spend some quality, kingdom oriented time with them.  i can’t speak for how each of them will look back on this time, but i know that when I look back on my memories of past youth leaders, they’re such strong, positive, priceless memories in my life.  and now that God has put it on my heart to take that full circle, and to be the hands and feet of Christ to these kids – well to me that’s not a sacrifice at all.

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it’s bound to happen

when you’re the judge of the gingerbread house making with highschoolers…

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this past weekend, our church had a pastoral candidate in town to visit/interview.  after over a year of searching and waiting – this might just be the right guy.  he’s originally from pittsburgh, living currently in durham, nc, is married and has 5 kids – 4 under the age of 12.

he seemed very passionate about us (a first) and our leadership team felt very passionate about him.  he mentioned something several times over the weekend that had never hit me before:  God must have really had a plan for the River for it to be this young and have survived so long without a pastor.  looking at it from that perspective, the fact that we’ve actually seen growth these past few months is truly a miracle – which means that our little church is being preserved for a reason – praise God!  now i’m just waiting to see if the last few pieces fall into place, and we could finally (finally!) have a new pastor at the River.

11.20.08 UPDATE:  We officially have a new pastor!  We asked, and he said yes!  Jonathan Tagg will preach his first sermon as pastor of the River on Sunday, December 7th.  woo hoooooo!

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she’s coming!


As of 11:30 last night, I’m slowly becoming an aunt 🙂  Tom and Julia are now at the hospital and in the midst of labor.  As of right now she’s about halfway there, so I’m just praying for a safe and healthy delivery.  They’re keeping everyone updated right here

Here’s a verse Ross and I prayed for them last night:

Psalm 66.1-5

Shout with joy to God, all the earth!

 Sing the glory of his name;
       make his praise glorious!

 Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds!
       So great is your power
       that your enemies cringe before you.

All the earth bows down to you;
       they sing praise to you,
       they sing praise to your name.” 

Come and see what God has done,
       how awesome his works in man’s behalf!

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lots of things going on lately.

we are still without a niece, but she could be with us any day now. (!)

fall is sloowly creeping into the valley.  no real leaf color changes yet, but our nights have been cooling off more and more (one of my favorite things about fall) and the days are getting shorter (my least favorite part)

ross and i attended our first Hokie football game of the season (:: huge sigh of nostalgia::) – and what a game it was.  tailgating with fam and friends, the stadium crammed with 69,000 orange-clad fans, screaming till i’m hoarse on defense and screaming silently in my head on offense.

attempting a fall garden this year.  the seeds are in, now we just need to get ourselves in gear and plant them.

puppy #2 growing bigger all the time.  he’s so snuggly and mellow i almost forget he’s only 13 weeks old.

a great trip last week to the Farmer’s Market.  another thing I’ll miss once it gets really cold.  :: tomatoes, potatoes, squash, basil, greens, dill, a beautiful bouquet of flowers, and the last of sweet summer corn::

reading the Great Prayer Adventure by David Jeremiah.  prayer is such a powerful thing – i know because i’ve seen it work – and yet i don’t get excited about it like i should.

our small youth group is still hanging in there.  although i love structure, we let go of it last week and spent the whole time playing a hilarious game of “Psychiatrist.”  My defense is that fellowship is a crucial part of the faith.  🙂  Did Jesus not laugh sometimes with his disciples?  I’d like to think He did.

happy monday everyone.

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