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Testing…testing…one…two…three

After a two-month (plus) “sabbatical”, I wonder…is it worth trying to start again? This blog and I…our relationship is anything but consistent. Yet it sticks around. Thanks, DRRF, thanks for providing a blank page for me even when I forget to write.  I’d promise to be more faithful, but we both know it would be pie-crust (easy to make, easy to crumble).  I’d try to fill in the gaps of time, but where would I even begin.  I know you’ll forgive me.  And if even if you don’t…that’s the beauty of this relationship, it continues anyway.

So, here we go.  I promise to post more pictures, funny stories, and antics soon, but first I need to set the stage a bit for a big change you’ll see on this little piece of the web.

Exactly one week after my last post, I had an awesome weekend at the beach with some lovely ladies.  Sadly, I carried my camera everywhere and took exactly zero pictures.  You’ll have to believe me that it was a perfect 3 1/2 days, celebrating one of my favorite people in the whole world and her upcoming marriage.  There was lots of laying around at the spa, laying around on the beach, laying around by the pool…mixed with some shopping, a couple of great runs, and too much good food.  I thoroughly enjoyed getting to meet and visit with different pieces of the bride-to-be’s world(s).  It was a wonderful way to learn more about someone I already dearly loved.  I came home thoroughly rested and rejuvenated. 

And its a good thing, because the day after I came home, life around our house changed drastically.  Monday was a normal MMM (more later about the “National Pi Day” that we celebrated) and the kids went down for great naps.  Over the course of the next few hours, something RRL and I could not have foreseen began unfolding in a miraculous way.  Here is a little piece of the email I sent the next day…

While the events of the last 24 hours were not even on our radar screen, we know that all along the Lord has been paving a path for these events. RRL and I have felt very strongly over the last couple of months that the Lord was “preparing” us. While that was just as ambiguous to us as it sounds and left more questions than answers, the result was that we have been in a season of growing closer to each other and closer to the Lord. We have confided this in a few close friends and as a result, know that others have been praying for us…even before we really knew what they were praying for.  Yesterday the “what we were preparing for” fell in our laps in the form of three adorable siblings, the children of RRL’s stepsister. A, age 3 (three weeks older than Cbug), C, age 2 (6months older than Lou) and baby B (10 months).

We don’t really know how long our family will include our sweet nephews and niece, but for awhile at least it will change the photos and stories you see here quite a bit (obviously).  Our daily family tasks take on a whole new adventure-like-quality when handling them with six small children.  Its really hilarious, actually.  Can’t wait to give you a glimpse.  For now, though, here’s a picture to fool you into thinking we’ve got it all together (after all, it is my blog).

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I mean, really, how adorable are they?

Life with six kids is anything but easy.  Its full of blessings in the form of tons of sticky kisses and lots of dog-pile-like hugs, but there have definitely been times it when it has been completely exhausting.  We continue, though, to experience that same sense that I wrote about in those very first days.  We still believe that He prepared us for this path.  He’s asking us to walk through something we didn’t choose, but He’s walking ahead of us, behind us, and right beside us.  Sometimes His presence is in the stillness of naptime, the peace of children playing together, or the sweet conversations I get to have with my husband after all 6 kids are in bed.  But sometimes its more tangible.  Many times, He’s walking with us in the form of His people.  People that are meeting so many of our needs, before we even know how to ask.

Here’s another email excerpt
“I am not exaggerating when I say that every single time we get to the point of being at our wits end, help arrives. There was one point this week that help was walking in our door with arm loads of groceries, at the same moment that help was walking out of our door after dropping off 3 of the children. We feel so loved. So blessed. Not alone.
I keep thinking about the following verses in Nehemiah, chapter 4. The building of the wall is well underway, yet threat of the enemy seems imminent. In order to complete the work they were called to, the people couldn’t just huddle together waiting for an attack. Instead they had a plan…
19 Then I said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, “The work is extensive and spread out, and we are widely separated from each other along the wall. 20 Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, join us there. Our God will fight for us!”
Thank you for being the kind of friends that, no matter how spread out we are, no matter how many different paths of service He may lead us to, we know we can be JOINED at the sounding of a trumpet (or email or blog). We’ve seen this first hand as we’ve felt surrounded in presence and in prayer and as we watch what God is doing.”

We know He is at work and feel privileged to have a front-row-seat.

I know this is long, just wanted to document a small piece of our current lives.  And it seemed a bit abrupt to just show up in Deep Rolling Right Field, and not at least explain why the pictures include six children instead of three.  So there you have it.  Hope to be back soon…but no promises.

ABL

Running to Community

I thrive in community. No really. Like breath or water or a roof over my head, I need to live with people. I find I am my best me when I’m surrounded by people encouraging me to be just that.running_on_empty

Which is why when we had lived in our hometown for several years, attending the church where RRL was on staff, I was incredibly discouraged that we still felt like we were swimming alone. We had people, mentors, who took such good care of us during that time. Seriously, we were spoiled rotten. But it didn’t equate to people we were really doing life with. I can’t quite explain it. I just know that like a huger pain, there was something deep within me crying out for COMMUNITY.

All those years ago- nearly 10 now- I prayed and prayed and prayed that The Lord would direct us into a group of friends. I won’t lie, I tried desperately to try to answer my own prayer. You know, just in case the King of the Universe was a little too busy or something. And let me tell you- my plans were top notch.

Like the time I walked up to a family I’d never met (but always sat behind in church) and asked them if they’d consider volunteering with us in the Youth Group. Just because I thought they looked young and fun. Yep. Good one.

But not nearly as good as the one where I tried to find community in a singing group. Which isn’t nearly as hilarious if you haven’t heard me sing. Or if you don’t know I just went because a sweet older gentleman mentioned the word “community” when he invited me. Or if I left out the part about it being a weekly visit to a nursing home. The cool thing is, I did actually meet some people there, but shockingly I didn’t last long. Fish out of water.

And then. Then. When I least expected it and when I was just going about what I already loved doing, it happened. Community came to me.photo 1 (2)

At a youth retreat, a sweet friend mentioned that she was training for a half marathon. Sounded liked fun, I invited a college roomie to join us and a running group was born. I loved those Saturday mornings. Running followed by CFA chicken biscuits. And community. Mostly with people from the singles group (I’ll omit the part of the story where happily married RRL and I actually tried to infiltrate the singles group because we loved hanging out with these people so much).photo 1

And then when I was pregnant with KJ, bemoaning that I couldn’t continue marathon training with those friends, I decided to give water aerobics a try. And an awesome mentor nearly forced me to invite a girl I knew from ACU. I knew her, but we were about as different as could be. I was super hesitant, knowing she’d be way too cool for me (I’m not exaggerating, she really was/is), but shockingly she said yes. And somehow, despite my insecurities it worked. We worked. We had our first two babies each within weeks of each other both times, and then a third each just six months apart. My how The Lord knew I’d need her.

And over the years all of these friends became people I love to run with but more importantly that I’d run to the ends of the earth for. They’ve not only done life with us, but on occasion they’ve done life for us, holding us up when we couldn’t go alone. They were some of the primary answers to our trumpet call.photo 3 (2)

And years later when I think back to my feeble attempts to create something on my own, I can almost see Him with a grin and a whisper. “Wait for it. Wait for it… Just be patient. When you are ready to release it to me, you’ll be amazed to see what I’ve already done. What thrills I have. For you. Like breath and water and a roof over your head. I have for you a community.”

In a way only someone who made me could know- The Lord knew my deepest needs.  He knew I woulf find him when I was exercising. He knew that I would open my heart most when I was moving and testing and strengthening what my body could do. When I run, I find Him. I hear Him.

photo 3

And today, ya’ll. Years later. That community and exercise are one. A group of women meeting together once every week. We meet to exercise, but more always happens. The chatter and laughter and prayers and encouragement that fill the halls and parking lot each week says so much. Not just “I love to run” but “I do not run alone”.

In this post are pictures of some of those sweet ones from that group.  The one I’ve run literal races with for more than 10 years and life for many more.  Who challenges me on the clock, but way more in my heart.  And the one who is always my “wingman”, taking my most hare-brained ideas and encouraging me to not give up.  She supports me in ways that want me to be that for others.  She runs WITH me.  And the ones who grew up in our youth group and into beautiful women who bless me and encourage me (and help raise my children).  And the one I want to “be like when I grow up” because of how she lives her “my kids are grown” years.  And the amazing home-from-the-field-but-still-a-missionary missionary.  And a couple of my very favorite hero single moms.  And the ones leaving soon to minister in another part of the world. And the awesome minister. And. And.And.  They are “mine” in community.  And they make me better.  So.Much.Better.

photo 2 (2)

 

We call the group “Running on Empty” because we know that sometimes you do. Just like sometimes you don’t want to run, but know you’ll feel better after; sometime in life you come weary and empty, having poured out everything you have.  Some days you just don’t feel like going forward ANOTHER STEP. But when you step into a community, hopefully you’ll find someone to encourage you to run anyway. Pressing forward, knowing you’ll be filled. That you’ll meet Him. And hear Him.

 So maybe now, when I blow up your Facebook feed each week with invitations to join us. Or when you see pictures like the ones in this post- from races completed together- maybe you’ll understand. You’ll know why exercising in a group is more than just fitness to me. It’s a passion. Because it is community.

There’s nothing about His promises that say “walk with me and I’ll make it easy.” But this was that time when The Lord said “would you quit trying so hard and just do what you love- what I created you to love”. And I took off running.

Running to community.

ABL

If you are looking for a place in our area to join a group of women in exercise and community, I hope you’ll consider joining “Running on Empty”.  We have a variety of exercise experiences and stages in life- everyone is welcome!  This Thursday night would be a PERFECT first-time opportunity. We are having a “summer kick-off” complete with prizes, snacks, and an amazing trainer teaching us about summer exercise!  Send me a message to get more info.

And, if you don’t live in my area, considering following our lead.  Let me know if you’d like help getting started. Pick a night of the week, invite some friends to join you and start exercising together.  More importantly, start living together.

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