We Bleed Purple

For six years I have been learning how to bleed purple. When I was first hired at Cartersville Elementary I can remember many times being joked with for being a county school kid (I went to Woodland). I had a ton of navy and white clothing but very little purple. One Friday during playoffs two years ago I ran out of long-sleeved purple to wear to work and was playfully shamed for it. Needless to say I was given a ton of purple to wear that year for Christmas. Cartersville has this unique tradition of raising their kids from pre-K to twelfth grade to bleed purple! They are purple Hurricanes for life and as a person who didn’t have that, it was different at first. Then I fell in love with it! There is so much pride within Cartersville Elementary for all things Hurricane! As I began to pack, sort, and get ride of my school stuff I struggled to give away my purple, but I won’t be needing it anymore. It was even harder to pack my classroom and move it out of the building I have called home for six years. Leaving Cartetsville Elementary in May was emotional for me. To walk the halls one last time, with very few people in the building (thank goodness), remembering each classroom (I had 5 of them), student, teacher, and friend was very reflective for me. 

But as I have been able to go to my new classroom in my new school I have been able to see all of the ways God has been showing off in my life this year! He provided Kyle with a full time ministry position. Then he sent me a teaching position at the school I wanted to be in. Within hours He sold our house. Now he has sent us our dream home in Calhoun! I still can’t believe it!!! I serve an amazing God who will provide for all our needs and shower us with blessings!

So although I had learned to bleed purple with pride, I am going to learn how to be Jacket Gold at Calhoun Elementary and hopefully it won’t take as long 😜.

Wrapping My Head Around It

I’ve been trying to organize my thoughts for weeks now about moving. Maybe find the words to describe my amazement in how we accumulated so much stuff (Oh My Goodness at the STUFF!). Or wrap my head around balancing the many hats I have worn this summer (mom, wife, daughter, packer, mover, teacher, youth pastor wife, friend, etc.) The problem is that so much is moving, so many hats are being worn, too much is changing. It’s like my brain can’t decide how to process it.

This past Saturday we moved out of our home in Cartersville. Most of our stuff went to storage in Rome (because Calhoun storage units were not available). The stuff we need for the next few weeks moved to my in-laws with us (we are all here one week, hannah and I are at my parents next week while Kyle is on a mission trip, then we are all back at the in-laws for a week). I have several bags of stuff to move into my classroom. Plus we had to leave Kyle’s mission trip gear out too. It’s a lot to process.

Kyle asked me on Saturday, as we were finally laying down for bed, how I was doing. (He knows I don’t do well with change.) The amazing part is, I was excited! This temporary move gets me one step closer to my dream home. It’s one step closer to being obedient to what God has told us to do. It hasn’t been easy. I’ve cried (for many reasons) and laughed. We’ve shared stories about our home in Cartersville and sweat more than we ever thought we could while moving out.

Cartersville, it has been my pleasure to call you home for 19 years. Calhoun, watch out…cause we are coming!!!

Lord, I am Coming

I saw a beautiful picture on Instagram yesterday that said “My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk to me.” And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.”” (Psalm 27:8) 


I had to screen capture it and this morning as I looked at the image again I wanted to read Psalm 27. This Psalm is David’s and is titled The Lord is My Light and My Salvation. It is such a beautiful prayer to lift up, but verse 8…how many times do we feel the draw of the Lord and actually go to Him? I know so many times I get distracted. I’ll spend time with you when my coffee cup is empty (I want to be fully awake for Jesus). I’ll spend time with you when my daughter is napping (what if she needs me while I’m doing my quiet time). I’ll spend time with you when my favorite show is over (I don’t want to be wondering what is happening in the show). I’ll spend time with you before I go to bed (so that you’re the last thought before I sleep). So many excuses! Why can’t I respond immediately with “Lord, I am coming” ? I know I am probably not alone in this struggle, but today my prayer is to put God first, before the boxes I need to pack, before the DVR, before my caffeine fix. God is first!

Camp Daddy

I debated whether or not to come to camp this year. I’ve never been away from Hannah at night, so I wasn’t about to go without her. We were not sure if we could get a room for us as a family, so why go? Kyle wouldn’t get to see us much. Hannah sleeps from 8 pm to 6:30 am. She naps twice a day for two hours each. So he would see us at meals…maybe at free time…and the start of service. 

The week I was debating backing out of camp, I ran into a sweet lady whose husband had been Kyle’s youth pastor. I can remember trips with them, and their kids were always there. I asked her if it was worth it? Her response was quick and easy, “Yes.” She went on to explain that seeing the kids at meals made her husband’s week better. He would slip away for bedtime prayers and play a little during free time. My conversation with her made it clear, Hannah and I would go to camp.

As the week drew nearer, I was nervous about sleeping for Hannah. I was anxious about when I would get to shower (cleanliness is next to godliness after all 😉). I was trying to drop all expectations for Kyle. I wanted to be happy with whatever time, energy, and help he could give me. I wanted to be grateful for the amount of worship I did get to attend. I wanted to be present and participating with the kids but know that Hannah’s needs were first!

Now I am here, at camp, sitting in the room while Hannah plays with an empty bottle (we brought toys, but some things are more interesting than toys 😕). We have had all of the meals with the kids. We have visited during games and free time. We have sung in worship and heard some preaching. But the amazing part, the blessing, is my Camp Daddy! Kyle has been the best daddy and youth pastor at the same time! His balance of family and students is beyond impressive!

Kyle has taken care of us. He has visited with us. He has loved us with acts of service. Kyle has been with the students during games, free time, service, devotions, meals! He is leading this group and bonding with them each moment of the day. I have been so impressed with his ability to be both Daddy and Pastor. God has blessed me with an amazing man. 
(BTW I didn’t get to finish this in one sitting because bottles, meals, and Daddy time is more important. Hannah is napping while I finish this now. 😜)

A Life Unrecognizable 

Last night driving home from my parents’ home Kyle said, “I don’t even recognize our life compared to this time last year.” And oh how true that statement is. We have always known that God could lead us anywhere (just like he can everyone…not just ministry families), but the whirlwind we have been in for the past year makes our lives completely different. Unrecognizable. Bare with me. 

In June 2016, I was pregnant. I worked at Cartersville Elementary. Kyle worked part time at ATCO Baptist. We had no clue how we were going to afford a baby. We were living in a 900 square foot home with two dogs trying to make space for a baby in all of our stuff. We were overwhelmed!

Fast forward a year to June 2017. We have a healthy, beautiful 10 month old daughter who is crawling all over the house. I work for Calhoun Elementary. Kyle works full time for Trinity Baptist. We are packing our tiny home and moving to our dream home/mini-farm. We are overwhelmed!

Two different kinds of overwhelmed. I feel a bit like Jabez. Praying for guidance, blessings, provisions, ministry opportunities, protection, peace…
 “Jabez called upon the God of Israel, saying, “Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my border, and that your hand might be with me, and that you would keep me from harm so that it might not bring me pain!” And God granted what he asked.” (1 Chronicles‬ ‭4:10‬ ‭ESV‬‬) I know Jabez didn’t use all of the words I did, but God has blessed Kyle and me in ways we didn’t even know how to pray for a year ago. Our border has been enlarged to encompass Calhoun now! We have prayed for God’s blessing and He has more than provided! God has protected us from harm. God is Good!

Years of praying brought us a healthy, happy baby girl! God is good!


Opening our eyes to where God may take our ministry led us to Trinity Baptist Church. This provided financially, spiritually, and has grown us closer together as a family. God is good!

I didn’t want to leave my job and had planned on staying unless God moved mountains. I received a phone call in April from a principal who didn’t even have a job listed as open on the website. I interviewed the next day and knew I was going to their school. They offered me a job 24 hours later. God decided to heave a mountain out of the way! God is good!

We decided to list our house even though it had little repairs that still needed to be done. We had a contract on it within 24 hours. God is good!

We had been looking for months at homes in Calhoun and nothing made us excited! Until a tiny farm came up for sale. Lots of people were looking at the home and we just knew we would never get it. Until 2 days later we got a call that said otherwise. God is good!

I could bore you with a million details that give me chills because I know they were from God. His hand has moved what feels like a mountain chain to bring us where we are. Trusting Him is one of the hardest things to practice, but has huge rewards! We are still walking through the changes, stumbling on details, and ironing out wrinkles, but God is so GOOD!

My Word Should have been Change

So much change has happened in our lives this year. My word for the year should have been CHANGE.

Kyle has CHANGED jobs.

I am CHANGING jobs.

We have CHANGED churches.

We are about to CHANGE houses.

But the amazing part is how God has orchestrated all of it! Don’t get me wrong…I have struggled with the changing. Look at this journal entry from earlier this year:

It happens every time. Every time we start over I spend hours, days, weeks, maybe even months crying. Crying because I miss people. Crying because I don’t have my friends. Crying because I hate change. Crying because I am confused on whether we did the right thing or not. When we left CFBC I cried for all of those reasons and some. It took time to adjust to ATCO. Then I fell in love with ATCO, made new friends, and found my new way of life. It was different than First Baptist, but it became my normal. Now at Trinity I don’t have a normal. I don’t have a routine. I don’t have friends yet. (I hope yet is right) It’s hard.

But God has already started to give me a peace about that struggle. The constant list of questions running through my mind these last few months has started to dwindle.

Will I get a new job? Change. Will I get a new grade level? Change. Will I move homes? Change. Will we buy a different car? Change. It’s so much to think about and handle. I dislike change so much.

But you know what is constant? My husband. Kyle is a trooper and knows my struggle with change and is supporting me the best he can right now. My daughter. She doesn’t recognize anything as being different. She just loves her mommy and daddy. Most importantly, my God. He does not change. He is a constant in my life. If I don’t feel Him it is not because He isn’t there. He is always there. My God has saved me, loves me, never leaves me, provides for me, goes before me. He is my rock, redeemer, friend. He shelters me, carries me, comforts me. He is king of my life, Lord of everything.

Today I know that He is counting the tears I cry. I know He is preparing the way for me, whatever way that may be. I know He has a plan for my family and even though I cannot see it now I know He is working it out for our good. Today I may not like the feelings of change, but I know God is requiring me to trust Him in the change.

I don’t know all of the answers to my list of questions, but I do know that where I ended up in that journal entry is still true. God is my constant. He does not change.

Temptation

I was remembering a time about 12 years ago where I was tempted, fell into temptation, and reaped the punishment when I was caught. I was a junior in high school taking honors British literature. My parents had a rule; we could exempt finals if we had an A in the class. When I asked the teacher what my grade was she informed me it was an 89.5. Oh the temptation… take the final or not? The teacher told me if I bombed the final she wouldn’t put it in and I would keep my current grade. I don’t know what I thought would happen…maybe that the teacher would have a heart and round my grade up, but I decided to lie to my mom and tell her I had an A, not take the final, and wait to see what the report card said three weeks later. Temptation means a desire to do something, especially wrong or unwise. It was so wrong to lie to my mom. It was wrong to not take the final. Everything about this situation was wrong.

Jesus was tempted. He withstood temptation. “Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ” Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “ ‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’ ” Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’ ” Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.” (Matthew 4:1-11)

WWJD…did you have a bracelet with those four letters? I did. What Would Jesus Do? When Jesus was tempted he quoted scripture and clung to God’s word in order to withstand temptation. It may be hard to believe, but the Bible has scripture for everything. In my situation I probably should have considered, “You shall not give false testimony…” (Exodus 20:16) or “Honor your father and your mother…” (Exodus 20:12), and definitely “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters,” (Colossians 3:23).

temptation

Whatever you do, gah that’s a lot of stuff…brushing my teeth, writing a blog post, teaching children, taking a test, playing a sport…WHATEVER YOU DO. Work at it with all your heart. I did not work at Brit. Lit. with all my heart. I just wanted to get out of that class. So many times we do things half way. God’s word calls us to do things with our whole heart. As working for the Lord. For the adults here…when your boss is around do you work harder? Imagine if God was in the room with you…😳 I would want to do my very best!

When my report card made it to my parents I had a B in Brit. Lit. and I was grounded. Not for the B but for lying to my parents and not doing my best. I guess the teacher had a heart change at some point though because on my transcripts I have an A in the class. Temptation is a tricky thing. Every time we meet temptation we should WWJD and use God’s word to help us fight it.

Happy Mother’s Day

This day used to hurt so much. This was a day that I wanted to stay in bed, pull the covers over my head, and weep. I didn’t. I got up, put on a smile, wished all the mothers a happy day at church, and prayed harder than ever for a baby. 

I have a wonderful mother who I have always loved to celebrate! My mom is amazing and sacrificed so much for me and my brother. She put her career on hold so she could stay home and care for us! Mother’s Day is one day in the year that we set aside to celebrate mommies like mine. 


But knowing that I didn’t have the desire of my heart, a baby, made this day so hard. This year my heart is so full! Having my sweet girl here with me to hold, kiss, and love makes my mommy heart happier than ever! 


Happy Mother’s Day to all of the mom’s out there! Happy Mother’s Day to all the women who want to be mom’s! My prayers are with you today.

More Than a Teacher

Have you ever walked in to a place and felt at home? Somewhere you’ve never been or seen until then and just known that it’s the place your supposed to be? I’ve had it happen a few times in my life and a month ago I had another one of those experiences. I walked into Calhoun Elementary School and immediately felt at home. It was welcoming and almost screamed “You belong here!” The three administrators I met with were inviting and pleasant. I could picture myself working for them and alongside them. I didn’t get the sense that I shouldn’t mention my husband, daughter, or faith. I believe that it was welcomed to mention things about who I am away from school. 

So many times teachers are asked to come to work and be just a teacher. When we are at school we are not a wife, mom, Christian, or republican. We are a teacher and only that. I don’t know about anyone else, but I don’t work that way. I am always a Christian. It doesn’t matter where I am. I am praying while I teach. I am shining my light for Jesus everywhere I go and I cannot put it away when I walk into work. AND… the only reason people call me Mrs. Ruff is because I am married. I cannot pretend that my husband doesn’t exist for 8 hours a day 190 days a year. I should be able to talk about him while I am at work and not be sorry for it. To top it off, I finally became a mother last year and I will not avoid any conversation about my sweet girl. I am a Christian first, wife and mother next, and teacher last. I have been able to be all of those things and so much more at Cartersville Elementary School for the past 6 years and I felt that I could be the same way when I stepped inside of Calhoun Elementary School last month. It was so nice to know that other schools allow their teachers to be so much more than just a teacher!

Infertility Week

One out of eight people struggle with infertility. I am a 1 in 8 and understand the struggle all to well. I have the extra label of “unexplained infertility”. For years I kept this struggle a secret. People would joke about not knowing how to make a baby. They would ask when we were going to have kids not knowing that another month had gone by with a negative pregnancy test. Not even my family knew the hardship we were having to conceive. I don’t know why I didn’t share. Maybe because I was scared they would think badly of me. Maybe because I was ashamed. Maybe because I thought that my burdens didn’t need to be anyone else’s problem. I regret not telling people sooner. Without a support system, I found myself crumbling into a pile of tears constantly with no one to turn to. Sadly I didn’t even keep my husband fully in the know. After two years of hiding our inability to get pregnant I began to tell people publicly about my hope to have a biological baby. I would share with people in my prayer circle, family, friends, Facebook, ANYONE! It made the walk bearable. Now I look back and know that every tear, pill, needle, test, ultrasound, doctor’s appointment, sleepless night, and prayer was worth it. God heard my prayers and granted me the desires of my heart. 
If you are a 1 in 8 like me, know that you are not alone. People everywhere are walking through infertility too. Don’t be scared to talk about it. It helps to say your fears, frustrations, hopes, and heartaches.

If you have a friend or family member who is walking this path, support them in whatever decisions they make. It is not up to you how they choose to approach having a family. Listen, pray, hangout…just be there for them. 

Infertility was the path God placed me on for a reason. I may never know what that reason was but this baby girl was worth it!