Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sweet Surrender

Just got back from church and thought I'd take a few minutes to type out some thoughts whirling around in my head. Boy, thank goodness for pastor Marty Baker. Let me rephrase that - Thank goodness for an amazing God who speaks through pastor Marty Baker. We've been traveling so much lately that today was the first time in almost two months i've been back for service at our beloved church in Burke, VA. God has such a way of speaking to me through our pastor's preaching of the word. Today we studied how God called Paul to some of the craziest places, such as Corinth. And in those times, Corinth was to the Roman Empire what Las Vegas is to the U.S....the kind of "sin city." So God called Paul to places that most people wouldn't have any desire to live, let alone preach the gospel. Places where there didn't seem to be a single believing Christian in sight. Yet, God called Paul to those places and he went....willingly....and didn't complain about it.

It got me thinking about the time we've spent here in the DC/VA area. Pastor Marty asked our congregation how many of us had moved to the area within the past 10 years. I'd say about 325 out of 450 people raised their hands (we're quite the military crowd at our church-which we love of course!) Then he asked how many of us were excited to move to this area when the opportunity presented itself. Sadly, only about 25 raised their hand! Needless to say, I was not one of those 25 people. And the truth is that when I moved here, I was just excited to be with the man I love! The idea of DC sounds great - and in some ways, it is - but it's one of those places that's easier to visit than live. But don't worry, I won't spend any more time complaining in this blog (there is a point to all of this.) One thing that our pastor really drove home was that God doesn't make mistakes. He sends us to a place and allows us to walk through certain experiences in life for a great purpose. Every person we meet....every friend we make....every job we have....there is an eternal purpose.

And then he talked about how God works in such amazing ways. He asked us if we could think of one person or one couple who we just knew God had miraculously brought into our lives. I immediately thought of our good friends, Jeremy and Leah. Leah and I met when we both attended a volunteer seminar for the pregnancy centers. I like to say that I knew as soon as I saw the cute shoes she was wearing that we'd be friends for life! But I know it was more that God ordained our time and place of meeting. And thanks to today's sermon, I now know that God has a plan in bringing such incredible people into your life just when you think there isn't anyone there. And the purpose of this is to help encourage each other to serve God and His people for the glory of the kingdom. I couldn't possibly write into words just what friendships like these mean. And in Paul's case, God brought him Titius Justus, who "just so happened" to live next door to a synagogue that Paul had been kicked out of after trying to preach the gospel there. God had such an eternal purpose in bringing Paul and Titius together! He still made a way.

And like I said, I really started to think about our time here in VA. At times i've been on the edge of bitter by how certain things have turned out since moving here two years ago (time FLIES.) But God is slowly working in my heart and i'm actually feeling the change. I was convicted today to remind myself that we are in this town for a purpose. I am already singing in my head,

"Greater things have yet to come, greater things are still to be done in this city." And the truth is, I really believe it! And i'm falling more and more in love with where we're at because of it. If you've never heard the song, listen to it here.

There is NO ONE like our GOD. HE is God alone, and I am not. And I stand in the belief that for as prepared as we were to move - Selling our house, saying goodbye to friends, etc. - He alone must have a wonderful purpose for Aaron and I in this place. It's actually pretty exciting. I don't know it yet, but I just know in my heart that God's plan is marvelous.

I'm in what feels like a "desert" in my job search. I can accept the fact that I may just need to take what's available to me, but my heart can't shake the desire to do something more with my gifts. What an incredible year 2009 has been since beginning my volunteer work at the Alexandria Pregnancy Center. How I wish I could work there, but i'm honored none-the-less that I clould be freed up enough to volunteer my time. I have such a heart for people, but definitely for women who are faced with challenging circumstances. It may not be God's timing to do something like this as a full-time job, but I know God had me do this for a reason! Hopefully all my millions of readers out there (ha!) are seeing a common theme here: PURPOSE.

In the mean-time, I can honestly say that if it isn't God's will for me right now, i'm ready to work hard in a different capacity. So as I search, I know that God already knows. That's where I seek and then wait. I've thought to myself, "maybe it's because we will only be here until next summer." But i'm done making those types of assumptions. Life changes so fast and drastically! We can't live in a state of "on-hold." Do you know what I mean??

I remember when Aaron was deployed, he used to write to me and tell me that the song "Blessed Be Your Name" had such a new meaning to him. It's an easy song to sing when your life reflects the first verse: "Blessed be your name, in the land that is plentiful, when your streams of abundance flow, blessed be your name." But then we get to the moments in life when our song is finding us in the desert place, in the wilderness and when darkness seems to be closing in. Aaron can recount the many times that he sang that song in church in the states and it rolled off his tongue. But in that real desert place, he was learning what it meant to bless the name of God there, too.

Aaron and I both know that our story is nothing new. This is not a call for Pity. Many have come before us with the same fears, questions, confusion, uncertainty and frustration. But I know that the story didn't end there for them. God was faithful to them...back then....and we trust that He will be faithful to us now.

Of course, we would ask that fellow christ-followers would be in prayer to God on our behalf. I ask for prayer for Aaron as he settles into a brand new job (that currently has him traveling quite a bit...but only for the time being.) And pray for his sanity during my emotional tears - haha! I know he is under pressure, yet excited about this amazing new opportunity. Aaron is a man of such incredible character. I love that he is truly a gentle spirit. He may not be the first to share his struggles, but I know he would appreciate your prayers.

Please be in prayer for me as I continue a job search and tackle the task of moving all of our things into our new place while Aaron is traveling. The biggest thing is that I would find/make time to be alone with God. I've had bouts of loneliness lately. Don't worry...Aaron isn't necessarily neglecting me! I'm discovering that my need for time with God (when i'm lacking) seems to manifest itself in a feeling of loneliness. It's such a terrible feeling! Makes sense though, right? So I know I need that time. Sometimes I'm just too stubborn to slow down.

And on a final note, I just wanted to share a praise. My dear friend, Mari, whome I had various classes with at Azusa, has just welcomed home her husband Gabe after spending 15 long challenging months in Iraq. Though Mari and I were not particularly close when we attended Azusa, we've created an internet/email bond over the past year and a half that has been truly special (God had such a purpose in that, too!) Aaron and I have spent much time in prayer for Gabe and for her as she was home to be a mommy to two beautiful little girls. Mari has been such an inspiration to me and I treasure the fact that she gifted so many people with the example of her commitment to Gabe and her girls. I know it was one of the most difficult experiences they've had in their life up to this point, but they made it through....praise God! So just a little shout out to her: Mari, girl! You're amazing! Words never seem good enough, but I just have to say that i'm so, so proud of you! And we are forever grateful to Gabe for the huge sacrafice he made during the past 15 months. Please come visit us in VA so we can be real face friends...not just facebook! Haha :)

Alright, until next time!

Friday, September 4, 2009

All Around the World in...a Few Months!

Seriously folks - Here's the run-down. We've now successfully visited all of these places in the past few months:

West Virginia, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, New York, Georgia, South Carolina (my fav!), North Carolina, California, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Alaska (I had to write that again since we went there twice this summer!), Texas, Germany, Czech Republic, Austria, Italy, Switzerland and France.

Wow!! I'm surprising myself just by typing that! We’ve traveled a whopping amount in the past few months and let me tell you, it's been a BLAST! But realty is starting to hit - Mostly for Aaron really. He just started his new job and we've been in San Antonio for his training at Randolph AFB. I say WE because I decided to fly out here with him just two days after returning from our time out in Washington and Alaska. We found out last week that he'd have about 3 weeks of training and we found out just as last minute that our condo is not ready for us to move in. The former tenant of our place decided not to clean ANYTHING, so we asked our landlord to have a professional cleaning crew come in and do it. Ugh. Yuck! I had a free ticket on Southwest air, so I booked the flight and off we were! Thankfully, our friends Brian and Megan live here. We met them when we were stationed at Andrews AFB together. He also separated from the military and is now working for a big engineering firm here in San Antonio.

So we've been having a great time with friends and enjoying all that San A has to offer. We visited the River Walk last night and loved it. It's actually quite lovely here. Aaron's company is based here since they have a huge contract working on the bases in this area, so it's likely we would be relocated to Texas next summer when Aaron's DC contract is up. But, of course, all of that is up in the air still! We're just along for the ride, shall we say ;)

To back up a bit, we had a wonderful time on our WA/AK trip! Time with family is always so precious. Our niece, Addison is growing more everyday and learning new things. She just started rolling over! Big girl! She's almost 6 months old and full of chubby-love! We just adore her.

Out in Alaska we joined in the excitement as Aaron's brother Jesse and his new wife Jen got married. The wedding was incredible! We danced the night away at the Alpenglow ski lodge and had the most incredible scenery all around us. I also got to reunite with some old friends from college. So fun!

Now we're getting back to reality and definitely ready to settle into our new place for the next year. Hopefully it won't take me very long to find a new job!

I find it unreal that it's already September! Hope everyone had an enjoyable summer!

Fun night out at the River Walk, San Antonio with Brian and Megan

We celebrated grandma and grandpa Dupar's 60th wedding anniversary the day after Jesse and Jen's wedding. These two are so cute!

Toasting our steins at Jesse and Jen's reception. Jesse is getting his PhD in German history AND who doesn't love German beer? We love their creativity!

Finally....another girl in the Meredith family!

Addie in her "yellow polka-dot bikini" and SO CUTE!