Wednesday, December 30, 2009

It's the Holiday Season!

With a woop dee woop, a dickery dock, a Thanksgiving week with family, a niece's ballet show in The Nutcracker, a husband's 29th birthday, a baby-sitting my adorable 1 yr old niece for a week, a visiting family in Richmond, Va, a spending a fabulous early Christmas with my sisters in North Carolina, a getting to hear my favorite preacher (Stephen, of course) speak at his home church, a lots of Christmas shopping, an amazing experience of being in 2 feet of fresh snow for the Griffin family Christmas weekend, a 3rd Christmas celebration with family in Richmond, VA, a refreshing visit with friends from SD while they visited family in DC, and a partridge in a pear tree. :)

That almost sums up our past two months! Stephen and I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to spend time with family and each other. This truly has been a unique season for us to spend every single day over the past 3 months together. :) And no, I haven't gotten sick of it yet. Stephen is my best friend, lover, and the most balanced leader I have ever known. In short...he's my hero!

Along with the good times, I've also experienced some moments of anxiety, worry, loneliness, anger giving it all to God, and then taking it all back again. God has taught me SO many lessons in this short period of time that I will never forget. There's nothing like going through a storm (big or small) and finding that God as been right in the middle of it all along. I love how the Lord desires that kind of intimacy with me! It is incredibly humbling to see how undeserving I am to take part in the many blessings AND trials that He seems fitting to bring my way. Like David, I've watched myself come full circle time and time again. I'm thankful that I can be honest and vulnerable with God, that he can rebuke and teach me, that I can learn, and in turn draw nearer to Him. ::Sigh:: He's so awesome.

Well, this is the moment Stephen and I have been waiting for! The Navy has kept us on our toes over the past month. We were not sure if Stephen was going to be attending ODS (Officer Development School in Rhode Island) in January or May. It's been nerve wrecking not knowing one way or the other. Thankfully, we just heard back from the recruiter and Stephen will be leaving this Saturday to fly to SD for commissioning and will get back on a plane that evening to go to Rhode Island! He also received orders for Norfolk, VA when he finishes the second part of his training in South Carolina. We were SO excited about this as we'll only be a few hours away from family. After Stephen has lived away from them for about 10 years...it's nice to be close again. Many things have been falling into place at the last min before training and it could only have been at God-speed. I'm so proud of Stephen for all of his hard work as I can now call him....LieutenantJG Griffin! I will miss him terrriiibllly while he's training for several weeks but I know God will see us both through.

I should probably end here... As always, thank you for your prayers and we hope they continue!! We're excited about this journey and where the next step takes us.

Pictures to come! :)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Trip to the North American Missions Board


We had a great trip to Georgia this week! It was so awesome to meet some great missionary and chaplain candidates along with their wives. The three days we spent at NAMB was incredible. They literally spoiled us and went out of their way to make us feel at “home”. We had a two hour flight to ATL and then loaded a shuttle with about 30-40 other candidates. We got to the hotel where we were all going to be staying and it was beautiful! NAMB provided for our air fare, hotel, transportation, and all of our meals. God definitely used them to make us feel loved and encouraged. :) The NAMB facilities were beautiful and the people were so friendly. Some of my favorite things about this trip were: getting to meet other chaplain’s wives and hearing their stories, learning all I could from the retired chaplains, getting to spend time with Stephen and experience this with him, and seeing how well our interview went and the peace God gave us through it. It was sad to leave the new friends that we got to know. I pray, if the Lord wills, we’ll be able to see some of them again down the road. It got even better, though. On our flight home, God had us sit next to a 1st Sergeant in the Army! He was on his way back home from being in Afghanistan. Stephen was able to share with him our story and have a great conversation with him. He gave us his contact information if we ever need anything in the future. Seeing him greet his weeping wife at the airport was SO heart wrenching! It was such a special moment.

The executive committee at NAMB is reviewing our application for endorsement today. We were told that no news from NAMB is good news. :) So hopefully, we’ll be hearing from our Navy recruiter soon that everything went through o.k. Our endorsement is the last thing that we have been waiting for in order for our application to the Navy to be complete. If all goes well, Stephen will be going before the Navy Care-board on November 17th and Officer Candidate School in January. This is all tentative, of course. ;-)


Prayer Requests! Stephen and I need prayer to continually give over our worries and concerns to God through this uncertain season of our lives. And to remember that we desperately need YOUR prayer support! THANK YOU!! This verse has been on my heart and mind lately, “You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind in stayed on You because he trusts in You.”

Here are some pictures of our trip to NAMB:

We walked into the Missionary Lounge Room and found a large "Welcome Missionaries" greeting with each of our names written out on the white board. :) Here are some of the Chaplain candidates finding their names.
Beautiful scripture design on the wall

Stephen and I on the day of our interviews



"The World at Our Doorstep"

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Pilgrims Passing Through


Wow! I can't believe that next week will mark 1 month of traveling and living as sojourners. :) I truly feel like I am a pilgrim. Good thing God knew how much I'd love to travel! We've had a fabulous time over the past 2 weeks spending time with my sister and her family, a few of Stephen's sisters and their families, and his mom and dad. On our way up to Maryland from Florida, we stopped in North Carolina to visit with my sister and brother-in-law, Shantell and John. I haven't seen them in about four years so it was a very special visit for us! Here's a few pictures of our trip in New Smyrna Beach, Fl and our visit with my sister and her family:

Me on my first scooter ride :) Such a fun time! My beginnings of becoming a "biker"
This picture turned out blurry but it was the only one I caught of the beautiful sunsets we were having!

Stephen and I standing near the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse in Daytona Beach
(the Lighthouse at the top)
Just a neat bridge we were passing as we traveled up through GA and SC
Me and my oldest sister, Shantell. Love my family!

Stephen and I with our cute little nieces and nephew: Sarah, J.R., Jasmine, and little Julie ;-)Me with J.R. He was making me laugh SO hard! Gotta love little boys

Jasmine, little Julie, and Sarah

After spending the night at my sisters, we drove up to Virginia and got to have lunch with my sister-in-law and her family before the last leg of our journey up to Maryland. It was awesome! Our dog Mac Mac, did very well and we made it to Stephen's parents house in good time. I wish I would have gotten a picture of our room after we unloaded our car! There were piles knee high covering the entire floor with our "stuff". I have no idea how we got all of that into our car! It took us several days to get settled in but we finally did. :)

The question I feel we are getting asked the most is, "What do you guys do everyday?!" Ha! Well, let me tell you, it's been very different for us to not have something on the schedule everyday and every night. Since the day we got married, Stephen and I have been on the go 24/7 with work, school, ministry, and events...never was there a dull moment. Our lives have been changed dramatically and now we are just enjoying this free time with each other! As we move closer and closer to going into the military, I know there will be plenty of times when I will be far away from Stephen...so I'm soaking up all I can now. He's such an amazing, fun, and lovable man! We've been able to take care of "loose ends", do some eeeearly Christmas shopping (it's just us and the senior citizens at the mall during the day), got to go to my very first football game to see the Redskins vs the Eagles, a Pearl Party with my mom-in-law, a Candle Party with my sis-in-law, a Golf Tournament/Memorial for a family friend, Nick, who was killed while fighting in Iraq, visited Arlington Cemetery and Nick's grave, visited Natural History Museum, and I've been able to cook for my in-laws throughout the week (which I love to do!). Here are a few pictures that I've taken while we've been here:

Stephen has been wearing a "Freedom Isn't Free" wrist band in memory of his friend, Nick, for the past few years. He wanted to visit Nick's grave and leave the band on his tomb. It was so moving to watch and so heart wrenching to see new graves being dug for those who are still giving their lives for our country.


Redskins vs Eagles football game!

Just a little bit of Fall over here in Maryland!

I know it's time to end this post, but before I do I wanted to ask for prayer. Stephen and I leave for Duluth, GA this Monday for a three day conference/interview with the North American Missions Board. If they decided to endorse us then Stephen's next interview will be with the Navy on November 17th. We're very excited about this trip and pray that God's will be done.

"Lord, thank You for Your provision for us and Your protection. I pray that You would forgive me for my heart that is prone to wonder far from You and the shelter of Your wings. Thank You for Your continual mercy and grace. We would be lost without You. Please remove any fear, anxiety, or worry from us and grant us peace that passes all understanding. We love You and are SO grateful for the intimacy we are able to share with You through Your Son, Jesus! Amen"

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Reflection

This is the view from our resort room on the beach here in New Smyrna, Fl. It has been absolutely amazing being able to wake up and go to sleep to this sight for the past few days! We feel blessed to have the opportunity to spend this time together before (Lord willing) Stephen goes into the Chaplaincy in Jan. We were just sharing with each other last night that moments like we've been able to experience with each other this week are the ones that will be hardest to go without while in the Military. Needless to say, we are soaking it all up now!
We leave here early Saturday morning and will pick up our puppy from the VIP Pet Resort. :) Then we'll begin to make our way to my sister and brother-in-law's house in North Carolina for the evening. Next stop will be Richmond, VA to spend time with Stephen's sister and brother-in-law and then we will finally head "home" to Maryland. Thank you all for your continued prayer for us! We ran into some complications with getting our dog's immunization shots so he could stay at his puppy resort. We thought he had all of his shots current but evidently one of them expired a couple months ago. So we had to locate a PetSmart, wait to get the shot, only to find out that ALL of the pet hotels had closed for the night by the time we were finished! SO after lots of frustration and getting worked up about "my" plans not falling completely into place...I was reminded quickly that GOD is the one that is in control and nothing comes as a surprise to Him. :) Everything worked out perfectly in the end, I just thought it was crazy how quickly I took my eyes off of God and focused in on what was "rocking my boat". Stephen and I can look back and laugh at ourselves now but I don't think I'll forget the lesson.
We were sitting on the beach and we saw lots of these little birds trying to find food in the sand. They were so cute so I had to take a picture of one. It reminds me of Matthew 6:26 "Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?" Just thought I'd share. :)
Until next time,


Friday, October 9, 2009

Journey Mercies

I've heard that phrase used often in prayer but never desired it so much like I had today! Our drive from Houston Tx, through Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, to land in Pensacola, Florida was quite an adventure. We woke up from our fabulous night of rest to find rain with strong winds blowing outside our window. We are traveling with our dog and he has had his "suite" set up in the back seat of our car. Along with our bike, we had our suitcases strapped down to our trailer. However, with the strong wind and rain we had to put the suitcases in the back seat and our puppy's new home was in the passengers seat with me. :) I wasn't sure how I would handle having our 40 lb puppy on my lap for 8 hours but we didn't have any other options. "It's all apart of the adventure," I reassured myself.

As Stephen drove, we came across 8 hours of almost non-stop heavy duty rain. We've become very acclimated to the blissfulness of San Diego weather...so needless to say...we received a big wake up call! With motorcycle and trailer in tow, Stephen had his eyes intensely fixed on the road through thick traffic and tough weather. There were many times I thought we were going to hydroplane or our trailer was going to flip over. I had to close my eyes, step on my imaginary break petals ;) and just pray for safety and protection! We saw God's graciousness to us as we passed many car accidents that could have been us.

With great thankfulness I can say that we've made it safely to our hotel in Pensacola, Fl! Thank you again for your prayers!

Good night all~

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Journey Begins

On Monday of this week, we finished loading our container with the help of friends and began our journey back east. I cried for a while as the realization of leaving "home" settled in. I will miss the privilege I had to live so closely to some amazing family and friends. The idea of being on this adventure with Stephen brought encouragement and excitement for what was up ahead.

We arrived in El Paso, TX early Tuesday morning and enjoyed a fabulous visit with Stephen's extended family. I brought a stomach flu bug with me from San Diego and it decided to raise its ugly head on our second day in El Paso. Other than being bed-ridden while visiting family, we both had a great time! This morning we started our 11 hour drive to Houston, TX and have finally reached our hotel. Our puppy, Mac Mac or Maximus :) is already nestled into his doggy bed fast asleep. Stephen has driven the ENTIRE way so far. We have a trailer hitched to our car with his motorcycle balanced on it. That may be one reason he has decided to take the reigns so far. ;)

Tomorrow we begin another drive to somewhere around Pensacola, FL. It's been so much fun taking this long road trip with my hubby! I love how we both enjoy just "being" together whether it's singing songs, talking, planning, praying, studying, or being silent. I'm so blessed to be married to him! However, we both are anxious to get to our destination in NSB, FL where we will stay for a week before traveling up north.

I'm going to log off now, but I just wanted to post an update with where we are at right now. Thank you for your prayers as we have been blessed with safety this far! I hope you all have a good nights rest and I'll post more as soon as I'm able to.

God Bless!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Boxes, Empty Rooms, and Paper Plates

It's been one week since we started "Operation: Move" and it has been going very well! Thank you for your prayers. We still have several more boxes from our list that need to be checked-off and with 6 days left...I know everything will continue to fall into place. Friends came over last night to help me pack, tape, and bubble wrap all of my "breakables". The rooms are beginning to look empty and I can almost get an echo out of them (that was my favorite part about moving when I was little). :) Our garage sale on Saturday was amazing! We tore apart our house and put out everything that we no longer needed and by 5:00pm almost EVERYTHING was gone! We only ended up throwing away a few items. That was a huge blessing!

Along with moving, our days and evenings have been full of meeting with friends and family for final farewells. Our friends put together a small good bye party for us on Sunday. Everyone signed a book with memories or thoughts they had for Stephen and I! We both wanted to cry when we got to read through them. I feel SO blessed to have genuine, life-long friends. I know the big "Good Bye" is coming up soon...but I'd like to save all those tears until the veeeerrryy last min. I'll probably cry my eyes out for the first 500 miles of our journey!

Tomorrow is our last night with the young adult ministry where Stephen has been serving as one of the pastors for several years. He is going to preach his last message and we will have our final farewell with all of the amazing people whose lives we've been able to be apart of. This is going to be extremely tough! We both have come to love these people like they are part of our own family. An authentic, genuine, and real Christian community has been shared and cultivated in this ministry and we are going to miss this immensely! With sadness, we also have great joy for the future of this group...we know God's going to continue to bless it.

Well, I'm going to get back to routing our map across the country, boxing up our house, and trying to decided what clothes go in suitcases, boxes, or bags! :)

I read this passage this morning and it was very encouraging to me. Just a reminder that all of this "daily grind" kind of work is for a purpose! We have a mission and it's already begun:

"So roll up your sleeves, put your mind in gear, be totally ready to receive the gift that's coming when Jesus arrives. Don't lazily slip back into those old grooves of evil, doing just what you feel like doing. You didn't know any better then; you do now. As obedient children, let yourselves be pulled into a way of life shaped by God's life, a life energetic and blazing with holiness. God said, "I am holy; you be holy." 1 Peter 1:13-16 Message


"Father, please help us to keep our hearts and minds focus on you. I'm tempted to become fearful and scared of all the unknowns that are up ahead. We desperately need you! Thank you for your grace and for being our "very present help" I love you!-Julie"

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Stephen's Ordination~The Journey Continues



Sunday, September 13th, was a very special moment for Stephen and I. As you can see above, Stephen was officially ordained as a pastor. Some of our pastors and deacons prayed over Stephen as they sent him out to become a Chaplain...a missionary to the Military. I snapped this picture really quick and was SO thankful that I decided to do so....I think it is priceless. I couldn't have been more proud of my husband for constantly following God's direction as the leader of our family. I have an incredible amount of respect for Stephen. He is a harder worker, diligent, has integrity, compassion, graciousness, patience, zeal, masculinity, and truly is the most balanced man I've ever met. :) If you haven't noticed I could go on and on about him! God continues to show me how blessed I am through Stephen. I am so honored to serve along side this man!
We have been watching God work on our behalf and are eager to see what's next! We will begin packing and moving all our "household goods" into a POD. Our official last day in San Diego, Ca will be October 5th. We will then begin our trek across America and will park in Maryland for a little while before Stephen goes to boot camp in Jan (Lord willing). There are many little boxes that need to be "checked" on our list of To Do's but I know that we only are promised one day at a time. I'm trying to remember this!
Today was my last day at work. It was hard as I randomly would tear up in my little cubical thinking about the great friends and women that I've been able to know over the past few years! I have so many fabulous memories there and will miss these ladies tremendously. If any of you are reading my blog... I LOVE YOU AND ALREADY MISS YOU!! :) You all will be in my prayers!
Much Love,
Julie "G"

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Providence

Definition of Providence:
1. Care or preparation in advance; foresight.
2. The care, guardianship, and control exercised by a deity; divine direction
3. Providence God.

I couldn't think of any other fitting title to describe what I'm about to share! God has opened up so many doors recently and given us "divine direction." For those of you who have been following along with my blog, you know that my husband, Stephen, received his Masters of Divinity this year. Right before we left for vacation last month, we turned in our application to the North American Missions Board to see if they would endorse us as missionaries to the Military. We also received news about potential budget cuts so my husband volunteered to be "laid off" so no other positions would have to be terminated. He plans on (Lord willing) going to boot camp in January so he would just stop working for the church a few months early. However, This was not approved of before we left for vacation...we would have to wait a week to find out! While waiting we decided to call our realitor and put our house on the market just to see if there would be any potential buyers. Within the first week, we had many serious offers on our home! That alone is just not normal in our housing market today. We could not believe it! Shortly after receiving that news, we found out that Stephen's last day of "official" work would be September 15th. All of this was coming together while we were thousands of miles away from home on vacation! We were just sitting back--watching God put pieces together and work on our behalf...amazing. When we got home the following day, we signed an offer on our house and are now waiting for it to be approved.

This is all coming together much quicker than we anticipated and can totally see God's hand in it all. Yesterday, Stephen and I went before a board of 18 pastors, deacons, and professors at our church for an Ordination interview/meeting that lasted 3 1/2 hours! I was SO nervous going into this meeting and I think I asked everyone I knew to pray for us beforehand. :) After the butterflies settled down, I realized that it was a special expierence to sit next to my husband and for him to know that I'm on his team as his cheerleader. They went through Stephen's Doctrinal Statement and asked him so many questions that I had a headache by the time it was over! ;-)Stephen did a fantastic job and we both were honored to have these great men give us advice and exhortation. I went to the back of the room to "get some water" and snuck a few pictures my camera phone. Sorry they are blurry.....
Above: A few different shots of the Board
Above: My Hubby waiting for the Board to vote.
Which by the way, the Board voted "Yes!" to Stephen's Ordination as Pastor/Chaplain and the service (prayer) will be held this Sunday night. We were so excited to pass through this step on our journey.
If this was not enough, today Stephen received an email from the North American Mission Board that they have reviewed our application and want to fly us out to GA to be interviewed further! We were thrilled to get this news. At times this whole process makes me anxious, scared, excited, and joyous all at once. But God is just constantly reminding me all things are to be done His way, by His plan, with His knowledge, and in His timing. I am being humbled by His many provisions made for us daily. Sure, there are SO many more steps that need to be taken, decisions to be made, and bridges to that need to be crossed, but I'm confident that God is in control....and He will carry us through!
I appreciate your continued prayer support for us. We are so honored and humbled by this opportunity to serve in this capacity.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Vacation

I can not believe it has already been almost 1 month since I’ve had the opportunity to blog! Over the past few weeks, Stephen and I have been able to sit back and watch God do incredible works on our behalf. He takes care of even the most insignificant of our needs. I just wanted to brag about Him a little. :)

VaCaTiOn!
Destination: Washington D.C., Richmond V.A., & Myrtle Beach SC
Operation: R-E-L-A-X-A-T-I-O-N

I only will post a few pictures because there are 2,000 (I’m not kidding) to go through. In the Griffin family, they refer to people who take a million pictures of anything and everything as a, “Camera Nazi.” :) Stephen’s mom graciously takes all of our memory sticks at the end of every vacation and burns DVDs for everyone. This year she collected 9 cameras and that’s how we ended up with 2,000 photos! It’s awesome…I love it.

We had a wonderful time visiting with Stephen’s family! Spending a full 2 weeks there was such a special treat. Traditionally, we got play many games of family poker, tromped through a lusciously green forest where Stephen picked up poison ivy (Ouch!), toured the Pentagon with Stephen’s sister (amazing), were treated to one too many beautiful dinners at National Harbor, became “beach potatoes” for a whole week in SC, played in the warm ocean, read books, got burnt for the first time! :), enjoyed the Jacuzzi, played in the pools, spent many nights talking into the wee morning hours, spent time with our adorable nieces and nephews, got stung by a jelly fish (Stephen’s sting was worse than mine…poor guy!), and one of my favorite moments was the family sharing time with all of us in one room. I love getting to hear how I can pray for everyone individually and also hear what God’s been doing in their lives specifically. It was SO relaxing and we could not have had a better time!

The photo above is a view of our resort from the pier. It was Beautiful! I must say that it had been YEARS since I last actually got into the ocean up until this trip. There wasn't any seaweed, it was warm, and the waves weren't too big...just right! :)


This photo is (above) is of Stephen, his four sisters, and his mum and dad. The book that is being displayed is a 35th Anniversary photo album that was put together for Bruce and Linda's celebration.
Baking in the sun! Our resort in the background

Isn't this beautiful?! This was in Myrtle Beach, SC


Family Photo: Just Us! :)




Sorry you have to turn your head...but it's worth it!









Friday, August 7, 2009

More Rest!

This is too good to not share! If you haven't had my previous post yet....than you should read it before you start this one. So...later on after I finished my post on Rest in Solitude, I went to church with my good friend, Amanda. Stephen was in Texas visiting family that weekend so I had lots of girl time to catch up on. The visiting preacher was talking about how trials will most definitely come our way but there is a purpose for them. As he was finishing up his sermon he said, "God invites us to lay our burdens down as it says in Matthew 11:28 Come to me all of you who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest." I was SO shocked! I felt like God was speaking directly to me through this visiting pastor. Even though I was sitting in a church full of people, my heart jumped because I knew that was for me. God was reminding me to rest and giving me confirmation of his talk with me earlier that day. To humble myself and sit at His feet.

It doesn't end there! Monday morning at work, a co-worker of mine sends out a "Verse of the Day" to all in our department. You will not believe what verse she sent. Yes! Matthew 11:28 "Come to me all of you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest". She had no idea what my personal connection to this verse was, but I believe that God was reminding once again to...Rest, Julie, humble yourself and cast your burdens on me. My eyes got watery and my heart melted as I thought about the God of the entire universe taking interest in me! Seeing my needs and offering his strong and loving arms to carry my load.

Folks, I'm not kidding, there is one more story. :) Yesterday, while reading a book I started recently called, Deeper-Living in the Reality of God's Love, I came across a story that the author was sharing. She said that she had been wrapped up in the daily grind of Christian life...like a hampster running on his wheel and his eyes pointed straight ahead. She was saying that God gripped her heart one morning (much like my experience) and she was convicted that she was "Talking like everything depended on God but living like everything depended on her!" Ouch. That was convicting. I could totally relate. I think it's probably one of the hardest things in the world for women to just "be still". The author said that as she was laying in bed the verse came to her mind, "Come to me all of you who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest." God knew exactly what she needed to hear to stop performing and start living in and rely on God's love for her. She said, "Perfection is the lie, performance is the lifestyle, and fear, depression, anxiety are the out come." Once again, I was met with the whisper in my ear to REST.

I talked to my counselor about this and she said that one of the ways women represent God's image is through rest and beauty. We bring a calm and peace to tense situations and we always look to beautify what we come in contact with.

I'm leaving for vacation today but thought I would share this before I go. We'll be visiting Stephen's family in D.C. and South Carolina. This is a much needed time of REST for us and I pray that we would also be a source of encouragement to our family we go to visit.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Rest in Solitude

A few years ago, Stephen found this short message by SM Lockridge called, That's My King. It was so encouraging for me to revist the message this morning! The summer has flown by SO quickly. God is continuing to guide and direct us one step at a time into what He'd have us do and where He'd have us go within the next few months. Just last night at our Bible study, our group was talking about why each of us individually try to carry around our burdens and refuse to give them over to God. What makes us dread "solitude" and that alone time? Or why do we busy ourselves in order to avoid that one on one face time with the One who created us? I am so guilty of this. It's easy to do the "good works" but quieting my heart, getting alone, and being honest with God is a challenge at times. It's been great to minister along side my husband this summer, but over the past two weeks I've been playing this avoidance "game" with God. We have been so incredibly busy and I've been trying to do everything on my own...in my own strength. Taking time out of my already busy schedule to quiet my mind (that is running 100mph) as been really hard. Ironically, over the past two weeks our small group has been studying solitude and how even Jesus would go up into a mountain to be alone. God knew exactly what I needed to hear and has provided times for me to get in a quiet place to just have a "date" with Him. I still am amazed at how much lighter I feel without the load of worries and concerns that I thought I had to take care of on my own. God is so good! "Come unto me all who are heavy laden and I will give you REST..." What a loving Father I have in him. I don't have to stress about the upcoming plans because it's already been taken care of...all I have to do is, "Trust in the Lord with all my heart...not lean on my own understanding, but in all my ways acknowledge him and He will direct my paths." Yes, "easier said than done", but is it really?



This brings me to the message by SM Lockridge, I listened to it again this morning and was so encouraged because Lockridge reminded me of who my God really is! You can read it (below) or listen to it...I reccomend listening at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yX_7j32zgNw


THAT'S MY KING

The Bible says my King is a seven-way king
He's the King of the Jews; that's a racial king
He's the King of Israel; that's a national King
He's the King of Righteousness
He's the King of the Ages
He's the King of Heaven
He's the King of Glory
He's the King of kings, and He's the Lord of lords.
That's my King. Well....I wonder, do you know Him?

David said, "The Heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament shows His handiwork.
My King is a sovereign King.
No means of measure can define His limitless love.
No far seeing telescope can bring into visibility the coastline of His shoreless supply.
No barrier can hinder Him from pouring out His blessings.
He's enduringly strong...He's entirely sincere
He's eternally steadfast....He's immortally graceful
He's imperially powerful....He's impartially merciful
Do you know Him?

He's the greatest phenomenon that ever crossed the horizon of this world.
He's God's Son....He's a sinner's Saviour....
He's the centerpiece of civilization....He stands in the solitude of Himself...
He's august....He's unique....He's unparalleled....He's unprecedented....
He's the loftiest idea in literature
He's the highest personality in philosophy
He's the supreme problem in higher criticism
He's the fundamental doctrine of true theology
He's the cardinal necessity for spiritual religion
He's the miracle of the age
He's the superlative of everything good that you choose to call Him
He's the only one qualified to be an all sufficient Saviour
I wonder if you know Him today?

He supplies strength for the weak
He's available for the tempted and the tried
He sympathizes and He saves
He strengthens and sustains
He guards and He guides
He heals the sick....He cleanses lepers....
He forgives sinners....He discharges debtors....
He delivers captives....He defends the feeble....
He blesses the young....He serves the unfortunate....
He regards the aged....He rewards the diligent....and He beautifies the meek.......
I wonder if you know Him?

Well, my King....is the King....He's the key to knowledge....
He's the wellspring to wisdom....He's the doorway of deliverance....
He's the pathway of peace....He's the roadway of righteousness ....
He's the highway of holiness....He's the gateway of glory.......
Do you know Him?


Well....His office is manifold....His promise is sure....
His light is matchless....His goodness is limitless....
His mercy is everlasting....His love never changes....
His word is enough....His grace is sufficient....
His reign is righteous....and His yoke is easy, and his burden is light.
I wish I could describe Him to you,

but He's indescribable....He's incomprehensible....He's invincible....He's irresistible.
Well, you can't get Him out of your mind....You can't get Him off of your hand....
You can't out live Him, and you can't live without Him....
The Pharisees couldn't stand Him, but they found out they couldn't stop Him....
Pilate couldn't find any fault in Him....
The witnesses couldn't get their testimonies to agree....Herod couldn't kill Him....
Death couldn't handle Him, and the grave couldn't hold Him.
Yea!!!, that's my King, that's my King.
Father..."Thine is the Kingdom....and the Power....and the Glory....Forever"....and ever, and ever, and ever, and ever. How long is that? And ever...and ever...and when you get through with all the forevers, then.... AMEN!....AMEN!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Quotes of the Day

“Let me say I am here,
(1) By God’s appointment
(2) In His keeping
(3) Under His training
(4) For His time.” -A.Murray


“God’s Word influences my perspective. My perspective influences how I respond. My response influences the outcome of the situation 100% of the time." -Dr. Nichols

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Moses and His Walkie-Talkie


On Sunday, Stephen and I got to go sailing with our friends, David and Kayla. It was perfect and beautiful Southern California day...not too hot...not too cold. There is something very relaxing about drifting in a boat. My husband's dream is to someday get a sail boat and sail around the world. I'm not sure if my up for that, but I definitely would not mind another day like the one we had.


On another note, I had a pretty good day at work today! I especially enjoyed this cute article that I found in one of the publications that our organization sends out each month. The title was:
Moses and His Walkie-Talkie
Nine year old Kyle was asked by his mother what he had learned at Sunday school.

"Well, Mom, our teacher told us how God sent Moses behind enemy lines on a rescue mission to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. When he got to the Red Sea, he and his engineers build a pontoon bridge and the people walked across safely. Then he used his walkie-talkie to radio headquarters for reinforcements. They sent bombers to blow up the bridge and all the Israelites were saved."

"Now, Kyle, is that really what your teacher taught you?" his mother asked.

"Well, no. But if I told it the way the teacher did, you'd never believe it!"

I thought that story was so cute! I used to love being a nanny to just listen to the things little kids would come up with.
I'm tempted to just end this blog post now, but I have a prayer request that is on my mind. I guess it wouldn't hurt to write it out. Well, Stephen submitted his mission board application today! This is a pretty huge leap of faith for us. We're both very excited about it and are eager to see what God will do next. Please pray that we put our trust firmly in the Lord and not give in to the whims and worries of our individual "what ifs?" I believe God specifically pointed out this verse for me today. It's from the paraphrase, The Message, in Matthew 6:30:
If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don't you think he'll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I'm trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God's giving. People who don't know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don't worry about missing out. You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.
Thank you!












Saturday, July 11, 2009

Day by Day

...and with each passing moment, Strength I find, to meet my trials here; Trusting in my Father’s wise bestowment, I’ve no cause for worry or for fear. He Whose heart is kind beyond all measure Gives unto each day what He deems best—Lovingly, its part of pain and pleasure, Mingling toil with peace and rest..."

This old hymn just came to mind as I began to blog. It actually is bringing back memories of our home being filled with the music as my sister, Serena, used to play it out on the piano. There is so much truth in that stanza and it applies directly to where I'm at right now. "He Whose heart is kind beyond all measure Gives unto each day what He deems best," that's an awesome reminder. God has been teaching me through the book, Loving God with All Your Mind, that He already foreknew everything that was going to happen to me today and that NOTHING is a mistake or accident. I used to scoff at the verse in Romans 8:28, "All things work together for good to those that love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." Much like the hymn above, I had heard this verse a thousand times and it had no true meaning for me personally. Well, one day recently something popped up that I did not plan for and did not see coming. I was hurt, frustrated, and angry and finally got a chance to plop open my book and lo and behold...Rom 8:28 was the topic of the next chapter I was going to read. The author began to say that we can actually use this verse to pray over different circumstances that come up throughout our days. Circumstance that my bring disappointment like I received, or a job loss, relational conflict, feelings of loneliness or whatever that unpleasant thing in our lives may be. I learned that I can take this verse and pray, "God, your Word says that all things work together for good -even this difficult situation________(fill in the blank)-, to those that love you -which I do!-, and to those who are called according to your purpose -which I am!-" This encouraged me and reminded me that everything that happens to me throughout each day has a divine purpose. The choice is then left up to me to deal with it all in my own strength or like the song says...to trust in my Father's wise bestowment where there is no cause for worry or fear. There are many uncertainties coming up in our near future, but I feel like God is prepping my heart and teaching me valuable lessons now. I wonder how much different I would be if I lived like every person I "run into", every conversation I have, and every step I take was not an accident but rather God-designed. God, continue to work in my life on this issue...humble my heart and remove my self-centeredness and pride-I need you!

Thanks for letting me share! I've been pretty excited about that. ALSO...I wanted to share some July 4th pictures. Above is a picture of Stephen and I at our church's God and Country Celebration. It had been 3 years since I got to see my man in his dress blues. He was so handsome and I was proud to just be near him! It's been about 5 years since he's been out of the Marine Corps and it was an excitement for him to know that the uniform still fit. :) Hee hee. He's so adorable...I love that man with all of my heart. Ok back to July 4th weekend...I was pleasantly surprised to know that I had Friday, July 3rd off work! It had been a pretty intense week at work as it is the end of our fiscal year and just a busy time. I was exhausted and drained Thursday after work and when I got home, Stephen told me to go in the room to see what he had planned for the evening. So I walked down the hall and peeked into our bedroom and saw an empty suitcase on the bed! Woo Hoo! I LOVE getting away overnight. We stayed at a hotel near the harbor and it was so refreshing.

The next day we had our Bible Study and then on the 4th we had a BBQ with friends. The God and Country celebration makes me cry every time. Our church brings forward all active duty military men and women, the veterans, and the spouses of those whose loved ones are currently deployed, and honors them with a standing ovation while the song "You Raise Me Up" is sung to them. Tears! I always think about the sacrifice that they made and are making. They are my hero's! Stephen and I are excited about the idea of serving these men and women together. We are beginning the application process with the Navy and Mission Board and just ask prayer that God will continue to direct our steps into HIS will.

Here's a few more photos of Stephen and I at our BBQ, Me with Paisley, and Stephen and our friend David at the God and Country Celebration:


I can not believe how quickly this year is flying by! Stephen and I are really looking forward to a great summer vacation visiting his family in D.C. and S.C. We leave in August for 2 whole weeks! I'm so excited. :) Fall semester will begin again for me when we return. Stephen is ecstatic that he no longer has to register for any more classes. I have no idea what that feels like, maybe in 7 years I too will know that joy. :) The title of this blog was Day by Day though, right? One step at a time, Julie, one step at a time.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Niece~Paisley Mae Vire-Bowling


This blog dedicated to our adorable niece, Paisley. She is called everything from, Princess, PB, Paize, Paisley Button, to Rolly Polly. Paisley was born Feb 4th of this year. Her mommy is my older sister, Serena. She is the cutest 21lb ,4 month old, ball of love that I've ever seen! Ha! Paisley was named after the town that my mother is from in Paisley, Scotland. My sister wanted to add some "heritage" (as we call it in my family) to her daughters name. Paisley captured every one's heart the day she was born.
I pray that she'll grow into a beautiful woman inside and out. That she will also grow to learn about the Creator of the world and how just how much He loves her. I pray that she would know that she can do all things through Christ and learn to put her faith and trust in Him.
And now begins the Auntie bragging photo shoot:


Mommy and Paisley (below)


Jesus Wept

I want share a little bit about something I was struggling with this week. On Monday, I had received a mass email to pray for a boy named, Victor, who was only 13 months old. He was in the hospital with a serious heart condition. I realized that I actually knew his parents! I used to work as Stephen's Admin Assistant while he pastored a college group called, Shelter. We worked in the same building with the Brazilian Church Pastor, Pierre. It was Pierre's son who was in the hospital! Pierre and Denise are such a beautiful and kind-hearted couple and my heart broke for them. I know how much Stephen and I were devastated over our miscarriage in December and we couldn't imagine being able to cuddle, love, and enjoy a child for 13 months...only to have to let him go. It didn't seem "fair" to me! "Couldn't you have thought of a better plan, God?" Anger was filling my heart, and it finally exploded the day that we received the last email that Victor had gone home to be with Jesus. "Are you kidding me? If anyone deserved to have a beautiful boy to love and cherish...it was Denise and Pierre." I was not satisfied with that decision. Not at all!

That same day, I read the newspaper after I got home from work and noticed an article about a "Slaying in Riverside County" which is about an hour north of where we live. There was a Marine named Jan, who was from Brooklyn, NY, and was stationed in Camp Pendleton, CA. He was only 24 years old and his beautiful wife was only 26. There were four men (only 18-22 years old) who worked under Jan's command. They didn't like Jan so one night they decided to stop by his house, torture Jan, rape his wife, destroy their home, and then shoot them each three times in the head! What sick, evil, maddness! My stomach churned and I felt so heavy as I read this. Jan's mother said, "I was prepared to hear news that my son had died at war serving his country, but nothing could prepare me to hear that he was killed in the privacy of his own home." How sad! "Oh God! Why?" My heart was again stirred with anger. I told this story to my husband and he too was burdened for them. He reminded me that God is always the first one we choose to blame. He was right...even so, I went to sleep wrestling in my mind.

The next day, Friday, was the day of Victor's Memorial service. I knew that I needed to talk to God, so on my break at work I began to journal. I thought that I would put some excerpts of my thoughts from my journal into this post. Please know this was just my conversation with God and I wrote as the thoughts were coming (very "unedited" and through many tears):

"God I'm so angry at You and have been too prideful to admit it. I know that I need to write this down because I keep trying to justify my thoughts. I know that You are a sovereign God and could change any heart...You could have protected that innocent military man and his wife...You could have changed the hearts of those military guys (boys!) from committing that awful crime and ruining their lives at such a young age. Oh God! How come You weren't there for them? Why did you have to take Victor Rose early? Why did you have to let him die and break Denise and Pierre's heart? I am so so angry, confused, frustrated, and hurt...and my thoughts are violently arrogant! On one hand, I know "You are God in Heaven and I am here on earth" so I should "let my words be few" as the song says. But Oh God! This is bursts from soul and I am in agony for them. I wish there wasn't ever any evil or sorrow in the world. .....Father, I am so sorry for getting angry at You...You ARE always the first Person we blame when bad things happen. I think of Mary and Martha when they were in tears over their brother Lazarus when he died. They too, were angry that you didn't come to get there in time to save him. However, that was also the time, Jesus, that You wept. I need to stop and read John 11 right now. Wow! This is so comforting! Your Word says, "When Jesus heard that, He said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it. Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus...so....he stayed." This death was going to bring You glory and THAT is our whole purpose for being on earth...THAT is what we're created for. Whether our finest hour of bringing you glory is completed after 13 months of life or 99 years, when we have fulfilled our mission on this temporal earth...Father, You call us to our eternal home! What a fabulous thought! I also noticed that you said that "You loved them...so...you stayed." You didn't rush to their side right away to heal Lazarus and comfort Mary and Martha...You waited until he had been dead for 4 days and then did what was best for them even though they were angry and couldn't understand. Help me to trust and learn to depend on You and Your plan...to know and remember that You have a purpose for the things that I can not understand. I love you."

God, totally took my heart full circle and brought me back to his Word to find truth. A few hours after I journaled this, I left work early to attend the Memorial Service for Victor. It was a beautiful time of mourning and watching the brothers and sisters in Christ come together to encourage this family. May God continue to comfort the Rosa family and bless their work in taking care of their 13 month "loan" as they called him.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Updates!

I have been debating on how to posts the different updates that I have swimming through my mind. The way that I think is very much like spaghetti...everything connects and the sauce gets all over the place! However, I am going to try to think like a waffle through this post for clarification. I'll break it apart into different little sections or squares. :)


SMALL GROUP~BIBLE STUDY
Last night was our second meeting for our summer group. I still am very excited about the new people I am getting to know, and also the "old" people that are continuing to join us. In our study on Spiritual Disciplines, we talked about Memorizing Scripture and Meditation. Journaling is such a great way for me to talk to God and listen to what He may be trying to speak to me about as well. Stephen asked us a thought provoking question last night when he said..."What is True?" There were many great answers and good debates over this question; however, I drew more to the answer that true is....Real-Reality. God's word, the Bible, is truth and if we are constantly allowing scriptures to fill our mind and our heart, then ultimately we will be filling ourselves with truth. When times are discouraging or difficult, it's so awesome to have verses "hidden in our hearts" for the Spirit to bring to mind....especially when the last thing we feel like doing is picking up the Bible to read it. I have SO been there many many times! Stephen reiterated again that we do NOT do spiritual disciplines to be good Christians. These should be done with the right motive...to lead us into a deeper relationship with Christ and not into a deeper religion.

We all read this passage together from Psalms 1:1-3, you may have read it before: "Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers." Then Stephen asked another series of very good questions, "Do you really believe what this scripture just said?" "Do we really believe that whatever we do will prosper?" If so, "then why aren't we doing it?" "Why aren't we taking scripture memory and meditation this seriously?" That was really thought provoking for me, and I was convicted that for a very long time this really has not been a priority in my life. So needless to stay, I'm excited about the topics to come! Stephen has been a big encouragement to stay consistent with memorizing scripture and it's been neat to hold each other accountable as we take these steps together. :)

COLLEGE
HOORAY! AHHH! I just thought I would get that out before I go on. I finished all my finals for this semester and I am thoroughly enjoying the beginning of summer. BIG sigh of relief! I passed all my classes which was a HUGE answer to prayer! I have a long ways to go before I get my degree, but I'm not going to let that stop me from celebrating each semester's accomplishment. :) Since I was working full time, wife-ing (I made it up) full-time, taking a full load of online classes, trying to keep food in the fridge and a clean house, and also trying to keep some kind of relationship with family and friends...I was definitely pushed beyond my limits in every aspect. God constantly gave me encouraging verses like: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. and Do not be weary in doing well, for in do season you will reap if you do not faint. Verses like these, gave me the jump start that I needed to continue on when I felt like quitting. Stephen suffered many weekends and late nights trying to occupy himself while I worked feverishly to finish "that one last assignment." He would never bring that up (he's too sweet) but I want to thank him for his encouragement and constant support. Also, those who prayed for me-thank you as well! Plans for the summer...REST, REJUVENATE, RELAX, and REPLENISH.


Mom's Birthday!
June 4th was me mum's birthday. She's the cutest little Scottish woman you'll ever meet! She has the red hair, freckles, personality, accent, and hospitality to prove it too. I know I don't look it (thanks to my dad's contribution to the gene pool) but I am 1/2 Scottish because of this wee lassy! We all went to The Old Spaghetti Factory downtown since Italian is my mum's favorite food. We had a fun time laughing and taking pictures of our time together. My mom has been through a lot in her lifetime and has never stopped loving others during the process. She suffered through having cancer and by God's grace has been cancer-free for many years now! I'm so thankful to have my mom. It's because of her that I like to keep my house clean, to cook and bake, shop on the sale racks, entertain friends, keep my husband a priority, lock all the doors and windows (and check them all again), and remember to remain flexible. She has taught me so much. Here are some photos of our night. My lovely sister-Serena, and her daughter/my niece-Paisley, my mum-Jackie, my brother-Jared, and of course Stephen:


BOOK: Loving God with All Your Mind-Elizabeth George
I highly recommend it! It's been sitting on my shelf for almost 3 years. Do you have any of those? God knew just the right time that I would need to break open this book, though. His sovereignty completely amazes me.

Something that popped out to me was this excerpt, "Many times your work is half done or done poorly. Why? Because of poor physical health...which means less energy...and even less performance. The same thing happens in the spiritual realm! Like a virus, your thoughts can drain your energy and cripple your usefulness. But, praise God, the opposite is true...Every time you hold your thoughts up against God's standards of what is true and what is real...and then choose to "think on these things," you are loving God with all your mind. With His help, His Word, and His Spirit, you can triumph over negative emotions, damaging thoughts, and destructive attitudes." Isn't that SO good! The entire book has been like that. I have a crazy imagination and tend to over think everything so it's been awesome to read statements like, "The future is not real...today is!" I don't have to worry about tomorrow and all that could go wrong in the future because I am only promised today! After reading that, I had one of those "Ah-Hah!" moments and felt like I had permission to NOT worry about what's head but to focus on one day at a time.

I am not saying that I have become Mrs. Wonderwoman who never worries about anything anymore. I feel like now that I know this truth, it's become more apparent and obvious when I am giving in to wrong thinking and have to correct it! Please pray for me in this area that I would consecrate my future, past and present to God. I'm still learning and have a long way to go!


Future-Mission
This word "mission" has been coming up a lot all around me. My counselor mentioned that I need to find what my mission in my family and relationships is. That following Sunday, the preacher said that we each need to ask ourselves and God what our mission for still being on this earth is. Once in a meeting at work, my manager said that we each are at our job for a specific purpose. And through reading the Bible, I notice how Paul says that he would much rather be in Heaven but it was needful for him to on earth for the people he was sent to minister to. This brought my mind to start thinking about how I have a purpose for being alive today! There's a mission for me within my family, throughout this day, at my job, in my marriage, and in the future.

As Stephen draws closer and closer to his last class in summer school, the idea of being a Chaplain is becoming more and more of a reality. I remember in the winter of last year, my sister-in-law and brother-in-law invited us to come with them to visit their cousin's grave who died while serving our country in Iraq. I honestly was not prepared for what I was about to experience that morning as we all stepped out of the van at Arlington Cemetery in D.C. We were automatically approached by an older couple who offered us cookies and treats to express their appreciation for those who have been lost in battle. We all walked towards the grave site and I began taking pictures not really noticing what was going on around me. It wasn't until I saw young men weeping over a grave that looked like it had just been added to the sea of white tombstones, and the young mother holding her child's hand as they sat near their loved ones grave....it wasn't until I allowed myself to "be" in that moment that I became so overwhelmed with emotion. I remembered how my daddy was a Marine for 17 years and the many men and women I grew up with in my parent's military ministry. I remembered how they were like brothers and sisters to me and most of them under the age of 25 going to risk their lives for my freedom. I looked at Stephen's face which was also wet from tears as he remembers even more personally those that he called "brothers" in the Marine Corps and the many men who never knew anything about salvation through Christ Jesus. Our hearts were broken, and since then we've been seeking God to give us further direction as to what His will would be. We are taking steps of faith and ask that you would pray for us as there many "what ifs?" that can not be known at this time. Father, you are the God of our past, present and future. Help us as we plan for the future, but remind us to then leave those plans in your hands.