{Mommy/Life/Wife Journal} A Few March & April Highlights

I know I’ve been so quiet here on the blog! I hope nobody has jumped to the conclusion that motherhood has swallowed up my life or that I’m fighting with Andrew and don’t have anything happy to share or that I’ve died. ;) None of the above are true. But, life is very busy these days and I’ve purposely allowed blogging to take a back burner. Here are a few quick highlights from the past month or so…

– Caleb is growing and changing so quickly and I can’t get enough of it! He’s had his first few tastes of solids (avocado and applesauce). He’s scooting around now…on the verge of legitimate crawling! I’m thinking I’ll be able to say he’s crawling before his 5 month mark, but we’ll see. I’m trying not to be the stereotypical first-time mom who thinks her child does everything six weeks before he actually does. ;) Trust me, it’s easy to do. My child is amazing. ;)

– Andrew helped me get back on track with regular, substantial quiet times by printing a Bible reading schedule for us to follow together. We still read separately but then it’s great to have been in the same place and discuss it! It’s a Bible-in-a-year plan but it’s chronological. I have two chapters left in Genesis and I’m finished with Job. Exodus is next!

– Spring break has been such a welcome respite from Andrew’s regular class schedule. We had a wonderful visit from two of my brothers and then from two cousins over Easter. Tomorrow, Andrew’s brother rolls into town to finish off the break with us. And in between, Andrew, Caleb, and I have gotten some quality time. I’m very thankful for each one of these precious memories.

– Backing up further, my mom came and stayed with us for five days last month. I ended up sick for most of the trip, and felt terrible that we mostly stayed home all week, but it was a huge blessing to have her help out around the house while I didn’t feel well, and we still got lots of sweet conversations in. We love Caleb’s grandmas! =)

– God was so gracious in helping us to pre-rent the vacancy we had in March, which meant no tours or open houses!!! We have two apartments vacating at the beginning of May. I’d really appreciate prayer that we’d get those filled quickly, as well. Vacancies can be a ton of work and stress, something we’ve yet to try with Caleb here.

– God’s mercies are new every morning. I feel like I’m in a constant battle with fear and anxiety these days, and needing to speak God’s truth to myself 24/7 to keep my heart focused on the right place. It’s crazy how quickly worry can take over, and I’ve got so much more that I can fret over now that I’m a mom. It’s an opportunity to continue growing in trusting the Lord and truly believing that He is sovereign and good in every situation.

– I’ve got a couple of maternity and newborn photo sessions coming up that I’m very excited about, and in the meantime I keep photographing my favorite little guy! =)

I guess that’s all for now…happy April, dear readers! =)

{Seminary Journal} One Year DOWN!

10342448_10152463688788109_3686387471429485253_nTwo semesters. One (school) year. Done. It’s crazy! I can hardly believe how quickly that FLEW by. One moment I was crying ten gallon buckets of tears as we hugged our families goodbye, and the next, Andrew is finishing his second semester and we’re getting ready to watch dear friends graduate…friends we didn’t even know nine months ago. Three years sounded really long when we first made plans to move, but now I feel like if I blink, it will be Andrew’s turn to graduate. That’s not to say that some of the days didn’t feel long; they did. But overall, the weeks and months sailed by.

There is much to be grateful for as I reflect on these past two semesters. Andrew has certainly grown, not only in his Bible knowledge, but in his passion for it. How could you not, when you spend hours and hours immersed in it each week? I love to get a window into his experiences when he gets home from class and spills over highlights from his day. I love when he is so excited about what he learned, that he can’t tell me sitting down. I love when I get a mini off-the-cuff sermon and a tiny taste of what it might be like someday to sit under his preaching. I love to meet in person the guys he raves about to me at home. I love to hear about the conversations he is having with fellow students who love Christ. There is so much to love, I could go on and on!

Andrew has been not only an exemplary student thus far, but also an A+ husband. While somehow pulling off amazing grades, he has not neglected to care for me and see that my “emotional cup” is full. Sure, there is give and take. I have to be content with homework-filled weekends and evenings, and days when we don’t get to really connect the way we’d like to. But overall, despite a ton of homework, work, and other ministry responsibilities, Andrew chooses to make time for the two of us, usually at the cost of sleep or some extra studying. Not only does he spend time with me, he serves me in so many ways. Today when I got home from work, for example, he’d taken a break from his last homework assignment to wash the dishes, clean out the fridge, make the bed, and start two loads of laundry. With my current state, he’s a better housewife than I am! ;)

I don’t say this to brag, I say it to build up my husband and “publicly” thank him for being such a servant-hearted guy. I am immeasurably blessed to call him mine.

The next two years will be more challenging than the first, as we juggle this apartment manager thing with harder classes and a baby. But God’s grace is truly sufficient for all things, and I am confident that it will be another sweet season to treasure Christ and each other as we grow in new ways. Praise the Lord for His many undeserved blessings in our lives!

{Seminary Journal} Our First Shepherds’ Conference

    1972323_10152333440573109_40077871_n Life has been bouncing along down here in LA. Last week was our first Shepherds’ Conference at Grace Community Church. Thousands of pastors from around the world flocked to the campus for fellowship with one another and refreshment, encouragement, and exhortation from God’s Word. It was a tremendously joyous week for many of us involved in various capacities. I already can’t wait for next year!

photo

The conference kicked off with the seminary student body singing O For A Thousand Tongues and Lift High the Cross. I proudly watched my dashing hubby from the conference bookstore, where I enjoyed working most of Wednesday.

10001412_10152331097773109_1745146131_n

The event’s highlight for us was having my parents fly down. My dad attended all three days of the conference with Andrew, which was a blast to observe, and my mom and I spent hours cooking, laughing, eating, and talking books, marriage, and ministry. Both my parents were able to meet most of our close seminary and church friends throughout the week. It is always a huge treat for me to introduce my family to my friends, and vice versa. I also had the privilege of taking in one of Al Mohler’s sessions online, and John MacArthur’s closing session in an overflow room. Andrew and my dad came home every day overflowing with all the excellent teaching they had taken in and spilled it over to my mom and me. It was a joy to see them so encouraged and built up in the Word.

Andrew and I came home with stacks of new books, many of which I’m excited to dive into and hopefully review here in future months. The biblical resources available to us were endless!

1656076_10152333293288109_190458847_n

There’s no way we could have planned the events of the week to work out better. It was a special gift from start to finish. My parents spoiled us rotten with a couple of delicious meals out, and my mom and I squeezed in an IKEA field trip as well. That store is a lot more fun with her than by myself! All-in-all, last week was one we’ll look back on with fondness for years to come. I miss my parents, but my heart is overflowing with the precious memories we shared.

{Marriage Journal} The Best 15 Minutes of My Day

1-thessalonians-5-018

Here we are almost halfway through the semester and I haven’t written anything but book reviews! I thought I’d share a brief post about my favorite thing about this semester.

I haven’t been able to join Andrew for his prayer class, but I’ve reaped some of the benefits nonetheless. His main assignment is to pray for an hour every day, seven days a week. He is allowed to pray with me for part of that time.

Every evening, probably six out of the seven nights, we spend 15 minutes praising and thanking our Savior together, and then offering supplication for one another, family, and friends. I can’t tell you how incredibly sweet and rewarding this time has been. And we don’t run out of things to pray about, we run out of time! I’ve requested a few times recently that he save 30 minutes for us instead of 15. It’s humbling to admit, but we have never had a regular, scheduled time of prayer together. We usually prayed before going to sleep, and of course before meals, or when specific situations came up, but it’s been a tremendous blessing to devote special time almost daily to come before the throne of grace as a couple. It’s my favorite thing about this semester and my favorite 15 minutes of every day.

It’s also grown my individual prayer life as I recognize how little time I intentionally give to praying. I “talk to God” throughout my day, but there is such a sweetness to setting aside everything else and just zeroing in on communion with Him.

I am praying (no really, I am) that we would continue to make regular prayer time together a priority going forward, after it is no longer “homework”. This has to be the most rewarding and wonderful assignment ever! And it complements my study of Hebrews perfectly as I am reminded of what a privilege it is to come straight to God through Jesus Christ, instead of through priests. What a loving and gracious Heavenly Father we serve!

Christmas Letter 2013

If you have a church mailbox in Washington, or I saw you in person while here, hopefully you received a Christmas letter and picture. If not, you can read it here! =) With all the busyness of visiting friends and family, addressing and mailing everyone on our normal list just didn’t make it into the schedule this season. {You can click on the letter to view a larger version. The original hard our contact information on the bottom left; if you need that, feel free to let me know in the comments section.}

ChristmasLetter2013

{Seminary Journal} Update Letter October 2013

For those of you who don’t attend our home church in Washington, this letter went in the church mailboxes last week. =) I loved that Andrew thought of and made time for doing this…it was a fun way to feel connected with everyone back home. If the text is too small, you can click on the letter to enlarge it.

Letter

Cubed 09/13/2013

Here’s a quick photographic glimpse into just a few pieces of the past month.

Our homemade bows for Bow Tie Sunday.

Our homemade bows for Bow Tie Sunday.

California driver's license came!

California driver’s license came!

Homework by the sea.

Homework by the sea.

The beautiful Grace Church courtyard.

The beautiful Grace Church courtyard.

A good book and iced coffee, poolside.

A good book and iced coffee, poolside.

Bringing lunch to my favorite student.

Bringing lunch to my favorite student.

In-N-Out shake date!

In-N-Out shake date!

My work spot in the TMS library.

My work spot in the TMS library.

Boogie boarding is our new favorite.

Boogie boarding is our new favorite.

Cooking meatloaf on a cooler day - 83 degrees!

Cooking meatloaf on a cooler day – 83 degrees!

{Seminary Journal} One-Month Expectations

1243545_10151914598274369_187157159_o

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!

{My Husband Blogs} Expository Preaching

DSC_1305

I am thrilled today to introduce my husband’s first-ever post here on Anchored! We have so many great discussions about life and ministry, and I often say, “You should write about that!” Well, he finally did. Without further ado…here’s Andrew.

The Focus of Expository Preaching

In an effort to keep this short, I am narrowing down several amazing lectures by Dr. Lawson and Dr. MacArthur into one point of many that could be made about expository preaching. (Expository preaching is, in short, the verse-by-verse reading, explanation, and application of Scripture.)

During this one-week class, I was reminded again of the soul-gripping power of expository preaching; not because of the persuasiveness of the preacher, but because of the power of God at work through His written Word. Expository preaching leads us directly to the source of the help we so desperately need: the life changing truth found only in Scripture.

2 Corinthians 2 hits at the heart of the expositor. What did the Corinthians expect from Paul when he came to them? They were used to the orators of that age who were able to skillfully move crowds with the rhetoric of the day, bringing them to tears and laughter, and entertaining them with words. Corinth was heavily impacted by Athens, the hub of philosophy and rhetoric. The Corinthians expected Paul to persuade them using skillful words and moving orations.

What did Paul do? We find out in the first verse of 2 Cor. 2 when he says, “And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom.” What?! Paul, come on! You’re going to lose your audience! They’ll become disinterested, dissatisfied.

In verse two Paul explains what he preached. “For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” The answer is Christ. The Bible is about Christ, and salvation is in no other except Him. What should the focus of preaching be? Should it be “plausible words of wisdom” (v 4) and cultural relevancy, or simply the “power of God” (v 5)? Only the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation (Rom 1:16). Therefore, our focus in preaching should always be the exposition of Scripture.

God does not need our “help” to make His Word appealing to our audience. (In fact, if we think we can make the Bible more attractive, we have far too low a view of it.) Expository preaching creates boundaries around the preacher, helping him to remember that he is nothing more than a herald of God’s message.

{Seminary Journal} All I Have Is Christ

1277099_10151896064448109_1898942272_o

At Grace Community Church (GCC), there are two (identical) 90-minute worship services at 8:30 and 10:30 AM. During each one, there are various Fellowhship Groups happening elsewhere on campus. These groups are also 90 minutes long and are basically full-blown worship services, with a singing time and a sermon. Add the 90-minute evening service, and you’ve got a packed but oh-so-rewarding Sunday. Since moving to LA, we’ve spent each Sunday visiting different Fellowship Groups in the mornings to figure out which one to join. It’s been hard to attend a group or two and then have to wait an entire week to go to another, when we both want so much to jump in and start connecting with people and getting involved. We appreciated things about each of the four groups we’ve visited, but were excited this week to decide where we will land, for many reasons–Doulos (the Greek word for “slave”).

During the worship portion (which we absolutely loved) of Doulos we sang All I Have is Christ. To me, that song embodies our church family back in Bellingham, since it has become a favorite staple there in recent years. I couldn’t help but cry as we sang the chorus together in Doulos and I pictured our church at home, worshiping God at the same time. As I pondered the profound lyrics, I was reminded again of what a precious thing it is that no matter where I go, I have my Savior there with me. “Hallelujiah, all I have is Christ.” I had Him back in Bellingham, surrounded by familiar faces, and I have Him here in LA, where everyone and everything is new and different. I am still His, and He is still mine…and no matter what the future holds, that truth will never change. Amazing!

Andrew and I are both 100% excited about joining Doulos and growing under the solid teaching of Pastor Travis, who we know through mutual friends. It’s great to finally feel like we “belong” somewhere, instead of floundering. I can’t wait to share more of how we learn to love this group as it becomes home for us.

Stay tuned for a guest post from a very special individual!