Thursday, March 27, 2008

She's here...

Is it possible to fall this deep in love with someone? Someone I've never even met yet - someone that isn't even mine?

World, let me introduce you to Kaci Elizabeth - my beautiful brand new niece. She was born on Easter Sunday in Japan. Weighing in at 7lbs, she's perfect! This is my brothers baby girl - and I just can't believe she's actually here. I can't believe that my baby brother has a baby. This life just presents so many suprises.

Ashley & Josh are going to make wonderful parents. My only regret about this whole situation is that I won't see them for months... and that breaks my heart. Why is this world SO big!? I hate being so far from the ones I love.

My heart is broken for my mom and dad who are so far from their first and only grandchild...

I wonder if she knows how loved she is? This little girl brings so much joy to our family.

What a perfect miracle it is to see new life like Kaci. God has used her to restore hope to my heart - and he's using her to remind me again - to slow down and wait on Him.

"How long O Lord".

Monday, March 24, 2008

i love being an aunt

Even though we live miles and miles apart... i love these little girls.

Abby Jo and Gracie are my dear sweet nieces who live in Iowa. It seems like everytime a picture is sent out they are years older...

i love them. they make me want sweet babies of my own to cuddle and love and raise... :)

Monday, March 17, 2008's all setting in now...

I went to bed last night feeling frustrated. I tossed and turned and tried to find the "just right" position for sleeping, only to roll over a million times, sigh loudly, and roll the opposite way all over again. My mind was spinning in twenty different directions and I just felt ill. I'm frustrated about this whole experience with the Ohio church. I'm mad at the Pastor for being so emotional and unbiblical. I'm angry about the fact that there is no accountability at that place... I'm ticked at how sad my husband was... and sometimes still is. How could this have happened? I still can't believe it. I guess it's all just setting in now.

This morning I checked the churches website one more time... hoping to catch a glimpse at who the #2 choice was. And, sure enough, there was a name with an email link. They've hired him. I wonder if he knows he was #2. I wonder if Kevin has been transparent and honest with him about what happened to my husband. And I'm assuming that answer to all of my questions is no, based on what I've learned of them over the last month.

It's so easy to KNOW that God has saved/spared us. It's so easy to KNOW that he has a plan for us. It's even easier to say that we are PATIENTLY WAITING. But the truth is... I hate it. I hate doing this all over again with churches so far away from family... I hate the hunt that it's turned into. I despise how nervous Brad gets with each interview... and how deep inside he'll always have this scar tissue of a careless pastor in Ohio telling him he wasn't enough.
God, you know my heart... how sinful it is. How I hold on to hurts. God, you know our needs and more importantly our desires... (sometimes). Is there a way we could serve you, and have the benefit of being near to the ones we love?

Friday, March 14, 2008

Where oh where will HE send?

Some days I wake up and I feel like I'm king of the world... that I could do anything and go anywhere and be totally happy. Some days its just the opposite. I drag myself out of the bed and dread the future... I dread the unknown and really wonder what will I "end up" as. Funny how there's no in-between for those mindsets, at least not for me.

Bradley and I are 5 months from being done with our time here. His contract will end and I will be done with my life as Secretary Mandi. Waiting for the Lord is never easy - and we know that - but it seems to me that this kind of waiting is even more harder. :) We are letting Brad's contract end on FAITH that God will provide the next step for us. We are willingly letting go of two full time paid jobs... in order to seek what the Lord wills for us. We feel so called to serve in a local church and now its just a matter of waiting for the compass to spin and land in a direction.

Being that Brad and I are so very different... you can imagine how some of our conversations go. He would love the big city, bright lights, multi-everything kind of congregation... the BIG church right downtown would be his dream. I can't help but giggle when I think of my ultra-mid-west hubby in a downtown church position. The truth is... he'd be just fine, but I still giggle. :)

I, on the other hand, dream of the church closer to family. The smaller more intimate congregation where you are truly invested in EVERYONE's life. I want to be in the mom's morning group and know everyone by name... I dream of potlucks and Church picnics. (sigh) Thankfully God sees the desires of both our hearts and still knows exactly what we need.

I was googling for some pictures of churches today... church buildings are some of the prettiest structures. This is what I imagine...

Brad would be here - only, picture this HUGE building in the middle of Chicago or NYC.

And I would be.... here, and loving it. The trees, nature, no street lights...

Thankfully the Lord already has our plans all figured out. Now the test is to see how patiently we wait and how earnestly we seek Him.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

For the Beauty of the Earth

"Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is FULL of His Glory!" Isaiah 6:3

One of my favorite songs of all times... "For the Beauty of the Earth" was on my mind today. Not because PA is looking especially handsome this time of year - quite the opposite with its dead brown branches littering the road, black snow crusted on phone poles, etc. But, though all of the ordeals of my life right now I still maintain this strange peace when I see things like a sunset, fresh snow or even a new leaf budding on my bushes out front. The whole earth is full of the GLORY of God. Be encouraged today by the words of this fantastic hymn by Folliot S. Pierpoint. I hope to meet this man in heaven someday... as he should know how many times this song has brought joy to my gloomy days and given me hope to remember what's yet to come!

For the Beauty of the Earth

For the glory of the skies,

For the love which from our birth
Over and around us lies.

Lord all , to Thee we raise,
This our hymn of grateful praise.

For the beauty of each hour,

Of the day and of the night,

Hill and Vale, and tree and flower,

Sun and Moon, and stars of light.


For the joy of ear and eye,

For the Heart and mind's delight,
For the mystic harmony
Linking sense to sound and sight.

Lord of all, to Thee we raise

This our hymn of grateful praise.

And there's so many more verses to the song...but I'll end with this one...

For each perfect gift of Thine,
To our race so freely given,
Graces human and divine,
Flowers of earth and buds of Heaven...

Lord of all to thee we raise, this our hymn of grateful praise.

words by: Folliot S. Pierpoint

Monday, March 10, 2008

when you're a jumble of emotions...

This morning in chapel President Jeffery shared with us from Genesis 22. We looked at the story of Abraham being asked to sacrifice his son - a story we've (I've) heard a zillion times. He began and ended his lesson with the quote "worship involves sacrifice".... sacrifice? Now, I'm not living in a third world country. I don't have to choose between food and safety. I worship freely any way I choose. So, for him to say that "worship involves sacrifice" - made sense for Abraham's day...and wouldn't you know it...clicked in my heart and mind this morning.

"God will bring us to a point where our most loved and most valuable will need to be placed on the altar". I'm sure I messed up that quote - but that's another piece of wisdom I heard in chapel today. The idea to follow was that... well, to be honest I was too blinded by my hurt this morning to hear much else. I felt numb as the other people around me sang and agreed with their grunts during PJ's message. But what the Lord wanted me to hear is that my worship, Brad's worship... involves sacrifice. And while I don't have all of that put together yet - it's getting there.

Last week was a very hard week for Brad and I. In the matter of 24 hours our future changed not once, but twice. On Wednesday Bradley was offered a pastoral position at a church in Ohio that we had started to fall head over heels in love with... We were so excited! God had opened a door and looked like he was clearly leading. We asked for a day to pray about it, but were so thrilled to give the big YES and move on with life. Could it really be this easy? I couldn't help but wonder. God had been so good to us! We found a place that would honor Brad's contract, had a preschool and was only 40 minutes from my family!!! I felt like there was nothing better.

Then Thursday came. Thursday evening the pastor called to withdrawal his offer from Brad. We sat in a bedroom completely blindsided by this decision. We had done no wrong. We had prayed, we had sought wisdom... before the call we were sharing our vision with dear friends - telling them our exciting news! And while I can't yet say anything postive about this man who has hurt my husband so deeply - I do know in the back of my mind that GOD IS WORKING OUT HIS PLAN. He has to be... that's the only sense of this past horrible year and all of the hardships we have gone through. We'll never know what caused this man to sit at home by himself, crying, and call my husband to take back his offer only a few days later - but we did learn a few things.
-we choose to take this before the Lord, and asked for days to pray together before we said a sure OK.
-we choose to seek wise counsel from family, friends and those in the ministry leading us now.
-we depend on the Lord's strength.

All that to say - we have to TRUST that God knows. He knows we did everything right. We have to trust that he is saving us from something we would all too soon regret being apart of. But all of this "knowledge" doesn't change a human wife's pain for her spouse. As I sat and watched my husband 'take' this bad news - my stomach hurt. He was being tormented inside... he was frustrated, angry and felt horrible. Still today...days later, he's still questioning "did I do something wrong?", "was it wrong for me to ask questions?", "was it wrong for me to want a day to pray about the most important decision of my life?". And the answer is an obvious NO.

Almighty God - what have you saved us from that we don't understand or see?

How in your grace and mercy did you choose to scoop us up out of a situation that was lying before us? What is your plan? Why for over a year now does our worship involve so much sacrifice? What do you have for us? We have to trust that its BIG! We have to believe that you are working out your plan in our lives... "Hosanna, Hosanna, Hossana in the highest".

Now today, I'll go home and wear my heart on my sleeve for my husband. He's been wounded in this battle... how do I help him mend? How do I encourage? How do I help the healing? How do I convince my godly husband that he is in the palm of your hand and this is all part of your master plan?

Monday, March 3, 2008

A weird fact of life

Troy, Ohio. Home of many people I'm sure...
Place of happiness, lots of schools, churches, community events...

As I drove around the town with my husband, I commented that it was just a homey place to be. People were outside walking the sidewalks, they had a goodwill store, it was a typical "welcome to America" town. Brad got nostalgic as we drove around his old block - we took pictures of the street signs and his old house, school, etc. He showed me the house he got saved at one summer, and the hill his dad took him down on his bike when he was a little guy, too scared to go alone - a memory he treasures.

Then we rounded the hill and came upon a huge grave yard. My heart sunk. We CAN'T be going in there! Since childhood I've struggled with facing and being around death. I've only just lost my great - grandparents, and besides the loss of my child, I don't experience death often. I'm uncomfortable with mourning... I'm shy around those who lose loved ones... and I'm not proud of that - but I'm so immature when it comes to this stuff. My heart goes into overdrive, I lose my breath and feel all shaky.

We follow a path through this grave yard, and there are assorted grave stones all different shapes and sizes and colors - some were beautiful, outlandish designs of angels and Mary figurines, while others were simple stones with a name and date. My eyes went from name to name, date to date, some were children - others middle aged, and many lived long lives. I tried to picture each person in my mind. What did they look like? What was their life story? Then out of the corner of my eye... I see why we are here. Pausley. Two Pausleys. Brad parks the car and I sat frozen in the passenger seat - I can't move. I'm starring at the graves with my last name on them. I wanted so badly to hop out and support my husband as he spent a few minutes paying respect to his grandparents, people I never met, but hear so much about. He arranged the silk flowers someone had placed on their stone, then he patted away the snow and made the spot look more tidy and cared for. He knelt down and put his hand on the top of the grave - I saw him mouth something then turn back to me and smile. He's so strong. I want to be like him.

As we pulled away, I'm trying so hard to hold back the tears - my throat hurts as I try. I end up weeping and apologizing that I couldn't be out there with him, he understands...always understands me. We have a quiet moment then follow the path to the exit. As we are leaving we drive past an elderly woman who is sitting in her car looking out the window at a grave. Was this her husband recently buried? A son lost years ago much too early? A sister? Parent? I couldn't help but watch her as she layed her head on her hand and just watched the grave.... she seemed so at peace, so calm and accepting of her situation. I tucked this picture into my brain and hope to never forget it. Death...