Monday, June 03, 2013

Happy Anniversary from Missouri to Japan!

June 4 is a day that holds a very special place in my heart.  It is the day that God blessed me beyond what I could ask or imagine.  It is the day I had the honor and privilege of becoming Mrs. Jeremy Writebol.  Eight years ago, I was able to marry my best friend and make a covenant with him to love one another no matter what - to say we wanted Christ to be the head of our marriage and our heart's desire was to have our marriage be a reflection of Christ and His love for the church.

Today we celebrate that special day on two different continents.  Jeremy is in Japan and I am in Missouri.  I will be honest, when I first realized he was going to be out of the country on our anniversary, I was a little irritated.  How would we celebrate our anniversary if we weren't together?  No nice dinner out together?  My own little pity party.  But the more I have thought about it, the more I have realized that this is what I prayed for so many years ago when I was asking God to bring a husband into my life.  My prayer before Jeremy and I ever met was that God would bring in to my life a man who loved Him more than anything in the world.  That God would bring me a husband who loved the gospel and seeing others come to know Him more than anything else.  God honored that prayer by blessing me with Jeremy.   God gave me a husband whose heartbeat is to see the gospel advance for the sake of Christ and to see others come to know Him in a real way.

I think all too often I can get caught up in "the day" and making sure that it is a picture perfect celebration.  The reality is that everyday is a celebration of the life God has given us together.  It is in the every day moments, that we can demonstrate and reflect Christ to one another, to our children and to the world.  Jeremy and I aren't perfect and we don't have marriage all figured out, but what I do know is that Jeremy loves me, I love him, without Christ we can't do anything and Christ is continuing to grow and change us more and more.

Jeremy is my very best friend.  God knew what I needed and blessed me beyond what I could ask or imagine.  Jeremy knows my heart and challenges me to step beyond my comforts and trust the Lord with more and more in my life.  Jeremy couldn't be more perfect for me.  He gently reminds me of truth when my mind wants to focus elsewhere.  He is so patient with me and I know I can trust him.  Jeremy displays to me Christ-like love day in and day out.  Those are the moments to celebrate - those every day moments when life isn't picture perfect but you look at the person sitting across the table from you knowing God chose exactly what you needed to not just get through the moment, but make it a moment where Christ is lifted high.

Yes, I will be honest, I wish I could give Jeremy a big hug and kiss today on our anniversary and spend the day with him.  I miss him a lot and am beyond thankful for him.  I am also thankful for the life God has given us, the opportunities He has blessed us with and that He chooses to use us for the sake of the gospel, which means I am thankful we are on two different continents today.  I couldn't be more thankful to be Mrs. Jeremy Writebol and I am excited about all God has in store for us!  There is no one I would rather live this adventure with than Jeremy - he is my great thing - - I thank God for him and the treasure he is.

Not sure where eight years has gone.  My dad told me once time wouldn't slow down but only speed up and I think he was right!  But it has been an amazing eight years and I am excited about the years to come.  There is nothing like walking through life with your best friend and experiencing the measures of God's grace daily with them.  Jeremy Writebol I love you with all my heart!  You make me smile!  I am so glad I get to walk through this life with you!  You are a measure of Grace in my life!  Happy Anniversary from Missouri to Japan!  No matter where we are - every day is a celebration of the grace of God upon our lives.  Thanks for loving me!

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Grace Abounding

Have you ever had one of those moments when your heart is so very full that words on a page seem so inadequate or you feel as though you can't share it all in writing?  The clock just struck midnight and I am sitting here welcoming the New Year, 2013, completely blown away by the grace of God and how He demonstrated it time and time again over the last year.  My head has been swimming all day, reflecting on all that God has done in the life of our family and in my heart over the last twelve months. So many of you have shared and walked the journey of the last year with our family and so you too are a demonstration of God's grace in the story below.  

A year ago tonight, J, the kids and I were in Missouri celebrating the New Year with my family.  It was a night filled with good food, laughs, games, and family.  It was also a night filled with new beginnings as it was a year ago tonight that J found out that Journey the Way was seeking a pastor and he began the application process for a pastoral job in Wichita, KS.  Who would have thought that a year later, we would be celebrating New Year's Eve as residents of Kansas and J would be leading a mission team from Journey the Way to India, traveling there tonight.  

Here is a small glimpse of the measures of grace we have seen over the last year:

  • God answering our prayer to live closer to family and opening the door for us to serve Him in Wichita, KS
  • God allowing me to stay at home with my children and continually providing even when we in our own human minds questioned "how is this all going to work out?"
  • God's perfect timing in our landlord in CA deciding to sell the house we were living in a week before we found out that we were going to be moving to KS (this meant we wouldn't be breaking our lease - he broke it for us :) ) and then the house not selling until we were ready move out.
  • God providing a home for us to buy in Wichita and then he even sent a massive hail storm to take care of our siding and roof for us!  
  • God providing a second car for us in a way we couldn't have imagined!
  • God continuing to meet our needs by allowing me to do contract work for a market research company which allows me to still be home with the kids.
  • God very graciously giving us people in Wichita who love us, encourage us and are making us part of their families!
  • God allowing us time with our extended family - yay for living closer!  I am loving getting more Auntie Steph time!
  • God providing a way for my sweet daughter and I to go back to the fair in CA and then J and I to go back and visit family friends in CA for his birthday.
  • God giving me snow - sounds crazy I know and some wouldn't call that a measure of grace, but I do!
  • God providing a way for our kids to have a swing set since we had to sell theirs in CA.
  • God providing my kiddos with lots of time with grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins!
  • God placing us in a church that has welcomed us and loved us with open arms! 
  • God giving us community groups to get plugged in with and press the gospel into our lives.
  • God opening doors to share Christ with those around us in new ways!
  • God putting people in my life to pray with me and encourage me on those days where transition and/or life was just plain hard.
Like I said, this is a small glimpse of the measures of grace we have seen over the past year - this list could be much longer.  These were all examples of God's grace we have seen over the last year, but one thing I am learning about the grace of God - it is really something that can't be measured!  It is abounding.  It also hit me over the last year that God is Grace - talk about getting what we don't deserve, there is nothing about me, a quite unlovely sinner that deserves a relationship with a holy God - and yet he chose me anyway.  That blows me away!  

Ephesians 2:4 - 9 says, "But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast."  How does one even measure that?  Grace, a gift of God that He would save a sinner like me (and you)!  Let that blow you away - 

I say that night a year ago was a night of new beginnings because God has used the last year to grow our family in so many ways and to help me to see how God truly cares for our hearts.  I am learning more and more every day that God's grace abounds in our lives - if I am willing to live eyes wide open to see all He has for me.  I have to be honest with you also and say that 2012 wasn't a "perfect" year.  It was filled with struggles, transitions, tears and fears.  (Some of you have been blessed beyond measure to get to talk to me on those days - and I am thankful for you!)  But I have been reminded and encouraged so many times of 2 Corinthians 12:9, "But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly in my weakness, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me."  I am thankful His grace is sufficient at all times. 

My prayer for 2013 - that we would be blown away by His grace more and more.  He is Grace.  As we are blown away by His grace, we are blown away by Him.  I also pray that we live life with eyes wide open to see all God has for us.  He uses all things for His glory and our good.  As we see what He has for us, we see more of Him.  I don't know about you, but I don't want to miss something because I wasn't ready to see it.  

Sitting here listening to the clock tick, the house is quiet and my husband is on a plane headed to India. Probably not how I had envisioned celebrating the New Year, but God's plans are best and I couldn't think of a better way to celebrate it than thinking on His goodness in our lives, J doing what he loves - being on mission for Christ and praying God would do great things in and through us in 2013.  I am praying for each of you as well - praying that God's grace would blow you away this year. 

And I couldn't help but post this picture - because these three people are definite measures of grace in my life.   

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

O Christmas Tree

Expectations.  We all have them, especially during the holiday season.  We have expectations of what activities we will be doing, who we will spend time with, what gifts we will receive and purchase, what food we will be enjoying, what our decorations wil look like in our house and the list goes on and on.  In our minds we have things "all planned out."  At least I know I did.

We are spending our first Christmas in our new house - the first house we have owned.  Oh, I had grand plans, you know the ones where you have picked out all the great Pinterest ideas you are going to do to be crafty, thrifty and make your house and holiday experience amazing!  It is also my first Christmas as a stay at home mom, so of course I had "all the time in the world" to do these great things and was going to have a wonderful "advent" season with my children, complete with activities, crafts, etc.  In my mind I had planned where decorations would go and picked the perfect spot for the tree.

So what does a person do when life takes a turn and plans and expectations aren't met?  Well, if you are like me, my initial response tends to be to pout and be quite sad.  Our family wasn't going to be able to do our usual Saturday after Thanksgiving tree cutting which had become a tradition for us because we were celebrating Thanksgiving with our family in Missouri.  That was ok though - we could get a tree the week after Thanksgiving, right?  Well, we ended up with a stomach virus that cycled through each one of us the entire week.  By the following Saturday we were all on the mend and off on our trip to CA to celebrate J's birthday, with plan B being:  we will put up a tree when we get back.  But guess what, plans changed.  Sparing you all the specifics, our travel plans for the holidays changed and the short version - - putting up a tree for less than a week wasn't going to be worth the time or the money.

Every "plan" that I had built up as an expectation for Christmas wasn't happening.  Today is December 12 and we don't have a Christmas tree up, no cute Pinterest things made and we just got out the advent calendars yesterday.  My sweet little girl even asked, "why do we start with number 11?"  We can suffice to say that on Monday when all of these realizations hit, I was, yes, just as you might guess, pouting and sad.

However, on Sunday, God's word spoke to give me exactly what I would need to reflect on Monday while the pouting and sadness were going on.  The passage was Luke 1:46-56 - Mary's Song.  What God really showed me on Monday as I reflected (and pouted along the way) was that God's holiness and who He is (strong, merciful, caring, Holy) doesn't depend on if all of my "Christmas expectations" are met - He is who He is no matter what and God's actions towards us flow out of who He is - not based on anything I have done.

Throughout this song, Mary rightly identifies who she is, a humble servant.  In recognizing this, she humbles herself so that Christ may be made much of.  I think many times my identity and joy get warped.  I think that my identity as a good mom and wife wrongly get tied to things like having the house perfectly decorated, doing all the cute crafts and of course making sure we did all the "just right" advent activities with our children.  I fall into making much of myself when in reality, I am just like Mary, I am a lowly servant, who comes to Christ with empty hands, poor and in need of Him.  Mary's song doesn't make much of her and what she has done, it makes much of Christ and the mercy He freely gives.  Mary's song is a song that echoes that the gospel is for each of us and that each one of us is in need of the gospel.

God is sovereign and He knows my heart.  He knew that my heart was heading into advent season anticipating the wrong things - I was anticipating that my expectations and plans be met and that if they were, I would be joyful.  In reflecting on all of this, I think God knew that I needed to not have that tree so that I could have a heart ready to be blown away by his mercy and grace.

Don't get me wrong, all of those things mentioned above can be fun and good, but they can't replace a Holy God who calls me to worship Him above all things.  Am I completely over this "tree thing" - probably not, but God is working on my heart and my prayer is that over the course of the next few weeks I would be blown away in worship - that as Mary sang, "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant . . . for he who is mighty has done great things for me and Holy is his name," this would be my heart cry.  Because in thinking about it, life in Christ is much better than a Christmas tree or any Pinterest craft I could ever do.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Thanksgiving in August!

I was thinking today just how much I have to be thankful for and how sometimes, in all honesty I can be a complete grump.  I read a definition of thankfulness which said, "Thankfulness is an attitude of heart from which you are aware of your blessings. Thankfulness flows from the knowledge of how loved, valued and precious you are to God."  Last Sunday my pastor preached from John 19 and challenged us to think about the "Double Cure" Christ has given us:  we are saved from wrath and made pure.  That knowledge should move us to thankfulness - it should move us to be so compelled by love that we live lives that are thankful and ready to act on behalf of the gospel.  

Honestly, I don't want to be a grump.  I want to live each day choosing to be thankful, even when it isn't Thanksgiving day!  Every day should be Thanksgiving.  I am thankful for God's grace - apart from Him, I would always be a grump, and I need him daily to choose thankfulness.  I needed this reminder!  So in honor of Thanksgiving in August I thought I would share some things today that I am thankful for today:

  • Rain and thunderstorms
  • A hail storm in May that provided me with new siding for my house
  • Hearing my kids laugh and play together
  • A husband who loves me and makes me feel treasured
  • Finger prints on the table I just washed
  • A refrigerator covered with reminders from our friends in CA that they love us
  • My family and God planting me so close to so many of them
  • My new church family and how God is using them in my life already
  • Music and hearing my kids sing with joy
  • The Double Cure from Christ - he has saved me from wrath and is day by day making me pure.
Here are a few pics of just a few things from the list that will serve as reminders to me of how blessed I am!

A handprint that I am thankful for - thankful for who those fingers belong to!

Reminders of how much we are loved!  

This warms my heart - seeing them together and hearing them talking and laughing together!  

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

60 Things I Love About My Dad

Fun times with Grandpa!
Today we have the privilege of celebrating my dad's 60th birthday with him!  There are so many things to love about my dad and so I wanted to take a moment to share 60 things that I love about him.  Believe me, there are definitely more than 60, but 60 is the magic number today.
  1. He loves Christ above all things.
  2. His smile and laugh.
  3. He loves to be with his family.
  4. He listens to the Statler Brothers at Christmas and drives us around to look at Christmas lights.
  5. He takes me out each year for our annual Christmas dinner date and shopping for my mom's Christmas present.  This has to be one of the highlights of my year!
  6. He is humble.
  7. He is a hard worker and gives his all to whatever he is doing.
  8. He is a fabulous Grandpa who gives great horsey rides, rides on the mower, gives great hugs and thinks that donuts and ice cream are a must!
  9. He has come to my rescue more than once - the snow storm and scar on his hand is a reminder of that.  I know I could call him any time for anything.
  10. He listens well.
  11. He cares for his family well.
  12. He can laugh with us.
  13. He is a learner - always reading, studying God's word, participating in classes, Bible studies, etc.
  14. He likes Twizzlers.
  15. He loves my mom so much - love that his ring tone for her is "My Girl."  I love how he shows Christ-like love to her.
  16. He is smart and knows how to fix things - always willing to help with a project I might have.
  17. He is wise and gives thoughtful advice.
  18. He makes awesome deep fried chicken - speaking of which I need to have him make sometime since he hasn't done that in forever!
  19. When I call him crying, which has happened a time or two (or more), he listens and then is such an encourager always pointing me to Christ.
  20. He has shown love for his family in the way he cares for his mother - he always goes up and visits, does projects for her, fixes things, etc.
  21. He can make my daughter and son's faces light up!
  22. He drove my things all the way to CA when Jeremy and I got married - that was a long haul!
  23. He doesn't use a debit card - yes I do love this about him.
  24. He is great at Nerts!  He is competitive, so now I know where I get it!
  25. He gave me a love for Nascar.
  26. He has taught me what it means to sacrifice and give all you have for your family.
  27. He enjoys reading.
  28. He has shown me how to love as Christ by putting the needs of others above my own.
  29. He gets up early each morning to spend time in the Word and prayer.
  30. He loves a good BBQ pork steak!
  31. He looks for the good in others.
  32. He let me tutor him in Algebra - thankful for that time we had together!  See - he is a learner!
  33. He can still stand on his head!  Does it each year on his birthday!
  34. He is genuine - I know when dad says something it is something he means and believes.  
  35. He has a servants heart!
  36. He is honest and trustworthy.
  37. He likes things neat and clean - - he does a great job on windows :)
  38. He taught me how to fish and camp (don't tell him that I love this but I do!) ;)
  39. He took me to Bennett Springs growing up.
  40. He made trips to California to be there after both of my children were born.  I know that being away from work isn't easy for him.
  41. Seeing him at the airport many times picking us up when we would visit.  I have to mention here that I am thankful we now can drive up in our car to his house!  :)  But the funny part - I do miss seeing that smile and getting that hug as I came through security.
  42. Sitting, talking and laughing with him about most anything.
  43. Watching him enjoy time with his grandkids!
  44. Hearing him preach and share the Word of God - what a blessing and answer to prayer.
  45. While he doesn't love talking on the phone, he talks to me almost every day or every other day on the phone :)
  46. He has welcomed Jeremy into our family from the moment we were dating!
  47. He would take me to Godfather's Pizza each year on his birthday.
  48. He is a strong and healthy man who takes good care of himself.
  49. He is disciplined - - I greatly admire this in him!
  50. He prays for us - I know when I ask Dad to pray - he does!  And he does even when I have not asked.  
  51. He is just fun to be with - makes me smile and I simply enjoy time with him.
  52. In spite of not liking circular motion, he is willing to go on the carousel at the mall with his grandkids!  
  53. He doesn't need "things" to make him happy.
  54. He is a creature of habit - - and I love this about him!  (Just glad I have the blue robe now - oh and the blue sweatpants!)
  55. He likes to have a plan.
  56. His confidence is in Christ.
  57. He loves his children.  He has shown me what it means to love your children unconditionally, even through some hard spots.
  58. He loves the church and is actively serving Christ in the local body.  
  59. He chose to take his family to Chuck E. Cheese on his 60th birthday!
  60. Knowing he is always there for me - showing me Christ in his daily life.

This list could go on and on.  I love my dad so much and rejoice and thank God for giving him to me as my Dad!  It is a joy and blessing to be his daughter.  

Happy Birthday Dad!  You bring great joy to our lives!  Thanks for loving us and showing us Christ.
Thankful for that smile!
Always willing to help!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

My Little "E" is Two!

Two years ago today, I was preparing to go in to be induced.  My little Ethan was snug as a bug and a week late.  I remember waking up about this time (3:15 a.m.) a little nervous about what the day would hold.  I was nervous about so many things.  I was unsure of the whole "induction" and how that would go but I was also nervous at the thought of how life was going to change.  I was also nervous thinking about the enormous responsibility that comes in training and teaching a child.  It was also quite an emotional time because my grandfather had just passed away.  I had wanted so much to be back in MO with my family during the time of his going home to be with the Lord but because I was due any day, flying wasn't an option.  I had so hoped that Papa (my grandfather) could meet the little man that was on the way.  But God's plans were different and He used it to teach me and grow me so very much.

I remember the day of Ethan's birth thinking much about my grandfather and the lessons he had taught us growing up.  I had lots of time to think - it took quite a while for the medicine to kick in.  I remember the love that Papa showed each of us throughout our lives.  I remember how he sacrificed for his family.  I remember how he loved being with each of us and the fun adventures we had together.  I remember the smile he had when he would laugh and his large hands holding mine.  I remember he would do anything for us - even eating corn flake and mayonaise cookies I made especially for him (I was young ok - lol).  I was flooded with all of these thoughts and realized that I wanted to be like that with my children - Papa had such an impact on my life and I was being given once again the opportunity to impact the lives of my children.  I remember thinking - never did I have to question that Papa loved me - it was so clearly shown to me in how he lived.  I want my children to never have to question that I love them.  I want it to be clearly demonstrated to them.

The song that I couldn't get out of my head that day was In Christ Alone (the version done by Page CXVI).  The lyrics that kept ringing in my head was, "No guilt in life, no fear in death from life's first cry to final breath."  We had been through my grandfather's final breath and were about to experience life's first cry.  And I just kept thinking about how in Christ - can truly have no fear in life or death.  I am thankful that my grandfather knew that and pray daily that it becomes a truth for my little man, Ethan David!

Ethan arrived safe and sound that night at 9:25 p.m.  And he truly captured my heart immediately.  I mentioned earlier about being nervous about how life would change.  Life did change in big ways, ways that grew our hearts and made us more of the family God desired for us to be.  I can't imagine life without the smiles of my little "E!"  It was one of the best changes ever!!!!!!!!

Ethan David you are a blessing to each of us!  Your energy, personality and heart make each day brighter!  Nothing makes me smile more than to walk in your room in the morning and hear, "Hi baby, I wuffffff you!"  You are teaching me a lot and God is using you in my life.  Your mommy loves you so very much and I know that Papa Love would have been tickled by you.  Sometimes I see him in your BIG smiles and those little ornery glints you get in your eye.  (Pretty sure that is why God made you so very cute!)

I love watching you with your Daddy and sister!  They love you so much!

Ethan my prayer is that you come to love the Lord with all of your heart, soul, mind and strength.  I pray that you come to know Christ and that in Him alone your hope is found.  That song that God gave me that day so clearly has become my prayer for you - that Christ would be your light, strength, and song.  I know there will be (and have been) times, as much as we love you, that we will fail you - but always know that Christ will not.  He is "firm through the fiercest drought ands storm."  He loves you more than anything.

I rejoice and am incredibly humbled that God entrusted you to us.  You light up my days!  I love being with you and being your mommy!

Happy 2nd Birthday Ethan David!  You are a blessing from the Lord!  And you are just stinkin' cute!!!!!!  Those big smiles are contagious!  

Monday, July 09, 2012

Top Ten Things about being at Grandma's House!

From the previous post, which will be continued at some point soon, you can tell that things have been a little oh let's say "all over the place" for the Writebol's since about mid-March.  It felt like things were a little crazy when Jeremy moved to Wichita before the kids and I did (a month and half), accreditation for the school was in the final count down stages and I was packing a house and caring for the kiddos!  Oh and silly me - forgot we were also having to keep the house ready to show at all times for the landlord who was selling the house.  No biggie though - lets all just imagine that it was smooth sailing!

Needless to say, I was in need of a break and didn't realize how much I needed it until today.  Today I woke up and realized, "I don't have to do anything today."  My parents came to visit over the 4th of July (another post in and of itself) and so the kids and I decided we were taking a little vacation to Grandma's house.  I am not sure who was more excited - me or them!  We came home with them yesterday and are here for as Allie puts it, "A whole long week!"  Excitement abounds!  So I was thinking about the joys and blessings of being at Grandma's house (and there are definitely more than 10) but for a short post today here goes (in no particular order):

  1. Having lunches with my grandma, you know the ones she just "throws together" but are better than my dinners that I make :)  She is the best - today we had Swiss steak, mashed potatoes, broccoli with cheese sauce, corn, macaroni and cheese (because the kids love it) and strawberry shortcake - you know - she just threw it together - nothing much - :)  
  2. Taking walks with my family down the gravel roads for the kids to explore - looking for blackberries, deer, flowers, watching the sunset, seeing the neighbors on the road! 
  3. Getting to just sit and talk with my parents in person.
  4. Watching my kids love on Grandma and Grandpa and watching Grandma and Grandpa love on them.
  5. Ethan getting Grandma to rock him at night.
  6. Not having to worry about what I should be doing "around the house."
  7. Fun shopping trips with my mom and grandma.
  8. Getting to spend time with the kids that isn't interrupted by the "have to's" :)
  9. That feeling you have - the one that says in your heart, "welcome home, relax and know you are loved."
  10. Knowing that we are now close enough to do this when we want to - - now that is a BIG one!  
Fun times at Grandma's house and this list could go on and on - - - Ethan said it best this morning while running around the living room, "I like Grandma's house, I like Grandma's house, I like Grandma's house!"