Sweet Days

10012987_10152362752693109_1585019742_nThese are sweet days of seminary life. Andrew is quite buried in homework, but continues to love everything he is studying. In addition to my administrative job, I am enjoying a few hours a week at the bookstore, checking customers and shelving books.

Over the weekend, we enjoyed time with my grandma, uncle, aunt, and cousins. My grandma had just had a round of chemo so I had the opportunity to help out with a few things around the house and just spend time with her. It was a special time.

Last night, Andrew took me to a fancy little organic bakery in Sherman Oaks. They have an amazing selection of gluten free desserts! I have been nibbling on a delicious blondie and I am saving a mouthwatering piece of salted caramel chocolate cake. Mmmmm. Afterward, we popped in on a few of our good friends and enjoyed some spontaneous fellowship.

Lord-willing, we will be moving to a smaller apartment in a cleaner neighborhood next week. It’s time I started thinking about packing, but I haven’t done a thing yet. This weekend, we are looking forward to a couple of nights at a lodge a few hours away. It is owned by a Christian couple who lets seminary students stay for two nights free! Andrew will be taking homework and I will bring a stack of good books.

I miss my family a lot, but I know that June will be here before we know it. We are making many small but sweet memories during this season, and I am so grateful that this is where God has us.

A General Update – December 2013

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Christmas Dinner 2013

Blog’s been quiet…a lot’s been happening…Christmas trip to visit loved ones, a couple of good old-fashioned flu bugs, holiday festivities, a trip to SeaWorld, and life in general. The break has been a very special time to share extra time together and catch up with friends and family! A few updates…

Follow-Up On My Good Intentions

I know you’re all on pins and needles to see if I followed through with my good intentions. ;) I scaled back my unrealistic plans and took small plates of brownies and chocolate to ten neighbors, along with a Christmas gospel message. It wasn’t as grand as I’d originally planned, but I love that even in a very simple gesture, God is sovereign and His truth is what changes hearts, not my presentation.

How Christmas Dinner Went Down

Remember my Christmas menu plans? I miraculously followed through on almost all of them. But due to our plane being canceled without warning and arriving home Christmas Eve Day at 6:00 PM instead of 10:30 AM, we didn’t have a nice supper that night, or the bacon with breakfast. The cinnamon rolls and all of Christmas dinner, however, still happened. The virgin orange strawberry mimosas were a hit; I’ll definitely be making those again! So easy, fresh, and tasty. Hooray!

A Short Break From Blogging

In keeping with my blog commitments, I am taking January off from blogging to work on getting myself back on track with consistent quiet times. This was an area of failure for me over Christmas break, with my Bible study ending until mid January and no plan in place for a replacement. I’m hoping to get an accountability partner here to help me stay consistent and I figured a 31-day blogging respite would help while I hopefully grow more disciplined. If you think of praying for me in this area, that would be wonderful! Because a dormant blog tends to attract spammers and deter readers, I have pre-written a few posts that are scheduled to automatically post over the next several weeks.

Happy New Year!

When I’m back in February, I’ll hopefully blog some of my goals, etc. for the new year and maybe some reflections on 2013. It was a wonderful, hard, good 365 days. God’s love, care, and grace were so evident in big and small ways and I am praising Him for another year of life and breath here on earth. Happy New Year, friends!

{Seminary Journal} One-Month Expectations

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Photo by Rv Sun. A hike I took with our Bible study this week.

This is the 100th post here on Anchored! We’ve been here for a month as of yesterday. Last night at a small fellowship group with fellow sem wives, my friend Tia asked everyone a few questions related to what we’d expected to encounter down here, and how those expectations have been fulfilled or turned out differently. It was a good question. I thought about it a lot more when I got home and decided to blog some of those expectations.

  1. I expected our apartment to be tiny and cramped, but it’s not. There’s far more space than I’d even hoped for and pretty much everything we brought fits, with a little wiggle room.
  2. I expected church to feel big and overwhelming, and it does. But joining a fellowship group makes a big church get small really fast. I’m surprised that we run into people we know every Sunday, in a church of thousands.
  3. I did not expect to feel lonely, but I do. It’s not the homesickness I’d anticipated, it’s different. There are moments, after my work and responsibilities are done and Andrew is still doing homework, when not having my best friend or a family member to call for coffee or a game night hits me really hard and I feel very alone.
  4. I expected there to be many young married couples without kids in seminary, but there aren’t. There are tons of young families and a lot of single guys.
  5. I expected Andrew to be swamped with homework, and he is. God prepared me to be fully ready for evenings and Saturdays to be for homework. I’m encouraging Andrew to study and not making him feel bad about being busy. This week he got 105% on his first Hebrew vocab quiz! When I texted that I was proud of him, Andrew replied, “It’s a victory for both of us ’cause the time I spent studying was time I didn’t spend with you…but it paid off!”
  6. I expected it to be hot, and it is. It’s been around 100 or more all week. As I write this, it’s 101 and supposed to reach 103 this afternoon. The apartment is stuffy and cooking is a drag. But that’s no surprise and I’m learning to get used to it.
  7. I expected it to take awhile to make close friends, and it does. But we’ve already been so blessed to meet a number of amazing people who love Jesus and have a heart for people and ministry. I know there are very special friendships in store, likely with some of the people we’ve already met but haven’t spent much time with yet.
  8. I expected to be hard to find gluten free food, and it is. Until yesterday. I discovered Sprouts on the recommendation of friends. It is like our co-op back home, maybe better! It’s in Burbank but so worth the extra jaunt! Thank You, Lord!

Yes, there are a lot of good and hard things about this new season of life. It’s stretching, and Jesus’ presence and love are becoming more dear to my heart. Despite the tearful moments and the ache in my heart that sometimes doesn’t want to fade, I am very content and completely confident that today I am exactly where God wants me to be. No second thoughts, regrets, or misgivings. God’s work in my life is an encouragement to me, and I know He has so much more in store for my spiritual growth as the weeks roll on. Thank you for your prayers…there is no doubt He is answering them!

Fervent Love: A Paul and a Timothy

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There are roses growing right outside my kitchen window. =)

You probably thought I’d forgotten all about our “current” Fervent Love series, but here’s another post. =)

Fervent love may look like discipling a brother or sister.

I remember at one of our church’s recent missions seminars, the guest speaker suggested that everyone have a Paul and a Timothy in their lives. The idea is that you always be learning from an older brother or sister, while sharing what you’ve learned and grown in with someone younger. I like this concept because it stimulates continued personal growth while encouraging giving of yourself to others.

For most of my life, my mom and I have met regularly for a mostly informal discipleship time where I can learn from her and share what I’m going through. Sometimes we go through a book, although often we talk for so long we run out of time to read together. =) So for now, she is my primary “Paul”.

A year or so ago, I added two “Timothys” to my life. I met with, discipled, and prayed for a younger sister in Christ regularly, and very informally counseled/mentored a young lady as she walked through a difficult time. Both relationships were a tremendous blessing to me, probably more than to these friends! It was exciting to be able to share what God has taught me through failures and victories in my life. Maybe He used me to spare them from making some of the mistakes I did. The Lord also used our times together to show me how much He has blessed me and to remind me of difficult seasons He carried me through and brought me out of.

Hopefully if we have younger siblings we’re all building those relationships with purpose and being an intentional, godly influence in their lives. For me, especially since I don’t have sisters, the timing seemed right to add another opportunity to invest in someone younger. Now, of course, I’ve moved, but I’ll try to stay in touch with these gals, and perhaps find a new “Timothy” in our new church.

How about you? Do you have a “Paul” you are learning from? And do you see an opportunity to turn around and give back to a “Timothy”? It’s a great way to grow and be stretched in new ways.

Cubed 08/07/13

We are into our new apartment! I’ll be posting a photo tour of it sometime in the next week or two. We absolutely love it and are thankful beyond words that God provided something so perfect for us. It far exceeded our expectations or even hopes.

In the meantime, here’s a quick look at the last week-and-a-half, cubed. So much more happened, but I’m not very consistent about photographing it.

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Last softball game.

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Welcome treats from Andrew’s mom.

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Leading the campout Olympics again.

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Snuggles with Tilly.

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A coffee/dump/errand run with Jordan.

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Morning coffee at the campout.

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Saying goodbye to our place in Bellingham.

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Crepes date in Fairhaven with my Frog.

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Visiting Jordan at his work place.

Best friends saying goodbye.

Best friends saying goodbye.

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Cousins/best friends reunited.

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Driving by the church/seminary.

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Our awesome moving team.

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Arriving at the apartment for the first time.

Cubed 07/11/13

The past week-and-a-half, cubed.

Fairhaven outing.

Fairhaven outing.

Don't take my bag.

Don’t take my bag.

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A relaxing Saturday afternoon on the water.

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A game of Wizard with friends.

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4th of July baseball

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Early morning coffee and catch-up date.

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Despicable Me 2 birthday outing. (Go see it.)

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Soaking up this  rare Pacific NW sunshine.

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Fresh plums and goat cheese for breakfast.

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Two of my favorite people.

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Stud.

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Fifth year of fireworks with my love.

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Sisters pedicure date.

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Coffee pick-up for four.

Unexpected Loss: The Gravity of Evangelism

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We have this retired next door neighbor named Debbie.

She’s from New Orleans and is in her sixties. She always wears crocks, jeans that are about three inches high-water, the same ratty blue pullover sweatshirt, and often, a large blue bathrobe. Recently, she got her mop of curly hair chopped off in a short buzz. Her normal speaking voice is a shout, so when you visit with her, the whole block can hear her side of the conversation.

We first started to get to know Debbie last fall.

We would visit with her on our way back from the mailboxes or as we left the house. I invited her to the Christmas Eve Candlelight Service, and she seriously considered coming, but in the end, decided not to because she knew how “different” her wardrobe is from most. But on Resurrection Sunday, she was sitting in church with us. Gradually an acquaintance has blossomed into what we think is for Debbie, her closest friendship. She’s started ringing the doorbell just to visit multiple times a week and sometimes more than once in a day. She is trying to sell her house and move back to New Orleans, but nothing is going right for her. Most of our “conversations” are Andrew or I listening to her complain. “I don’t got nobody,” she often says.

Andrew and I were both able to share the gospel with Debbie on separate occasions.

The last time, I sent her home with a New Testament and encouraged her to read it. But her frequent visits are sometimes annoying, especially since we work from home, and it usually means (for me) pausing my timer for 15-30 minutes in the middle of the day and chatting. Andrew noticed that she only comes when the blinds are open, so I have started working with the blinds closed some days to avoid the distraction.

Yesterday, it dawned on Andrew and I that we hadn’t seen Debbie over the last week, which is very unusual. Last night around 11:30 PM, we noticed two police officers walking in and out of her house. We got really concerned. Was she doing drugs? Had she died? Finally, Andrew walked over and asked the officers if everything was okay, mentioning that we hadn’t seen Debbie for a few days. “Everything’s fine, there’s no threat,” he responded. “She actually passed away.”

Over the next hour, we waited in shock as a coroner arrived with a body bag and gurney, and Debbie left the house next door for the last time.

I cried and cried and cried.

I had no idea I cared that much about this homely woman from the south. All I could think was, I should have kept the blinds open more. I should have been a better friend. Besides a niece in New Orleans, Debbie didn’t have any family that I know of. She had no job and no church. I could have loved her better. I shouldn’t have let her visits annoy me. I didn’t have to close the blinds as often as I did.

You never know.

I’ve often maintained that we should all be quick to share the gospel in our relationships, and not just rely on “friendship evangelism” to save our acquaintances, because you never know when it will be their last day. Here’s my first real example of that truth. We couldn’t be more relieved and thankful that God gave us both opportunities to witness to Debbie. We are confident that she died knowing what it meant to be saved. Perhaps God rescued her in her last days…we’ll never know.

I guess the moral of this heartbreaking story is, seize chances to share Jesus with the people around you, and love them like He does.  Love them in your actions and in your prayers. Love them so much that you don’t have any regrets if they pass away. I have regrets with Debbie. But thank the Lord one of them is not a failure to share the Good News with her.

“But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things?  For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.” (2 Cor. 2:14-17)

Fervent Love: Benefit of the Doubt

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I’m convinced that just one way we can show fervent love to our brothers and sisters is by giving them the benefit of the doubt. Don’t you appreciate it when others do the same for you? It’s a simple concept that simply means not jumping to the wrong conclusions about another’s behavior and instead, choosing to think the best about them since you don’t know the situation. Here are some hypothetical scenarios. (By the way, most of these cases are really none of your business, but since as fallen people, we often stick our noses where they don’t belong, I’m using these examples anyway.)

Situation: You run into someone who you’ve heard complain about financial problems eating dinner at the nicest restaurant in town.
Benefit of the doubt: Assume they were given a gift certificate for their birthday.

Situation: You spot a movie containing explicit sexual content sitting on your friend’s entertainment set.
Benefit of the doubt: Assume that someone lent it to them and they aren’t planning on watching it, or they’ll be fast forwarding the inappropriate scenes.

Situation: Someone makes a doctrinal/theological statement that could be taken one of two ways.
Benefit of the doubt: Assume they meant it the correct way.

Situation: Someone says something rude or insensitive and doesn’t apologize.
Benefit of the doubt: Assume they have a lot on their plate and accidentally took their stress out on you.

Situation: A child is throwing a temper tantrum while his parent tries to calm him at the church softball game.
Benefit of the doubt: Assume that the parents faithfully discipline at home, and recognize that even well-trained children still disobey and act willfully.

Situation: A friend is holding a book that you know to contains heresy or false doctrine.
Benefit of the doubt: Assume they are reading it for the purpose of having an educated conversation with a weaker brother.

Situation: A sister in Christ is dressed provocatively at church.
Benefit of the doubt: Assume that her heart is right, but she has not been taught on the subject of modesty and does not realize she may be causing issues for men round her.

Situation: Someone tells you they’ll come to your recital, show, or game, but they don’t show up.
Benefit of the doubt: Assume that unavoidable circumstances prevented them from making it.

You get the idea…when you don’t know a situation, choose not to jump to conclusions and assume the worst about your brother or sister. Give them the benefit of the doubt, recognizing that you would appreciate it if the same were done for you. It’s a small thing, but it can have a big impact on your attitude and thoughts about others. Fervent love comes in all shapes and sizes!

Just For Fun Friday 04/12/13

Well after my last post I’m glad for an excuse to write something fluffy. This week, Andrew and I spontaneously decided to head to a Mariner’s game the day-of and we invited our brothers. Four were able to make it! A mini-road trip full of laughter and music ensued. Although the game was pathetic, we had a blast being together and also enjoyed some quality entertainment in the form watching of a fan catch a foul ball in his beer, cheering for a guy who broke out some c-r-a-z-y hilarious dance moves for over two minutes on camera in the third deck, and seeing Pete Carroll, who was also in the stadium, on the big screen. I really love the game of baseball, even when the Mariners play terribly, so getting to share this excursion with some of my favorite people made for an all-around perfect night out. =)

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