Drained

Several years ago Gary Harris asked me to learn a new song for church. Where Joy and Sorrow Meet is a beautiful song that talks about how the heart can be torn between joy and sorrow. I haven’t sung this song since a church member lost their son suddenly but today I am reminded of that song as I feel that torn heart. I am joyful in my husband’s calling to a new church, his obedience to follow God, and the exciting new journey at Trinity. However I can’t help but feel sorrow over the goodbye we must say to ATCO. ATCO has loved me during the hardest time in my life. Although not everyone knew of our walk through infertility, many people at ATCO prayed for us, picked us up and carried us to the throne room of God daily in prayer. They praised God when we learned of Hannah and showered us with blessings as she arrived! Will another church ever love us like ATCO? This was the question I posed to my husband this afternoon. His response was perfect. No one can love us like ATCO. Each church is different. Each church loves differently. God placed us here for a time in our lives that was full of love, prayer, growth, and dependence on Him. I cannot say it better than Kyle, so I’ll leave his words with you for now. 

Dear Atco Baptist Family,

    It is with a saddened but grateful heart that I write this letter to you all in order to submit my resignation as pastor of youth ministry at Atco Baptist church. During my 4 years serving as the youth pastor here at ATCO Baptist I have come to know and love each and every child, teenager and adult at the church. The wonderful people of ATCO Baptist have become my family and the church is home to me; therefore I am extremely sad to be moving on to the next chapter of my life. 

“The steps of a righteous man are ordered of the Lord.” When I read this passage from Psalm 37:23, I’m reminded that my life is not my own. I belong to God. Danielle belongs to God. We’ve committed both our individual lives, our marriage, and our family to His calling and purpose. We’ve resolved to travel together down the path that He has set before us. We’ve entrusted our steps to Him.

    Through many months of prayer and Godly counsel we are convinced that God is calling us down a new path, a path that will lead us away from our ATCO family. This decision is one of the most difficult decisions we’ve had to make up to this point in our ministry and in our family. The difficulty comes not in saying yes to the Lord, but in saying goodbye to all of you.

    Today, January 29 2017, I am officially resigning as your youth pastor. Our last Sunday will be February 19. Danielle and I will be moving to Calhoun, where I will be the Youth Pastor at Trinity Baptist Church. We are stepping out on faith believing God to do a great work like we have felt He has used us to do here. It is my desire to continue to see youth come to Christ and be discipled to walk with Him for a lifetime. God has given me a new challenge in doing that and we have the honor to say yes to His call.

    Please hear these words from the bottom of our hearts. Though my relationship as your youth pastor will change, our love for all of you will not. That’s why this is so difficult. We’ve become family over the past few years and we’re moving away. As hard as it is to say goodbye the fact is we’re still family. As a matter of fact, maybe goodbye is the wrong word. The phrase “see you later” seems more appropriate.

    God directs our steps and promises not to leave us nor forsake us. I’m confident that if God is leading us on to something new and wonderful then the same is true for all of you. God will not take from one at the expense of another. If God is preparing to bless Danielle and I with a new work, then He’s preparing to bless all of you with a new youth pastor. We really believe that your best days are yet ahead, and though I will not always be your youth pastor, we will always be family.

Respectfully submitted with love for all of you,

Kyle Ruff

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I Can Still Wear Cute Shoes

You Can Still Wear Cute Shoes by Lisa McKay was AMAZING!!! This pastor’s wife has 15 years of experience supporting her husband in ministry, an awesome testimony of how God can use the most unlikely people to impact His kingdom, and great advice for all things church and life. I would highly recommend this book to all women, not just pastors’ wives. Hear me out! She talks about raising your kids in church…and yes some of it is specifically to PKs BUT I think it is important that laypeople understand what ministry families go through. She talks about how being a Christian doesn’t mean you need to dress like your grandma. Modest is hottest, but don’t go buying a embroidered cat sweater. Consider adding this book to your must read list. She is funny and shares many stories including her testimony!

For the Love of Money

 “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”‭‭1 Timothy‬ ‭6:10‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Can I get an AMEN? Loving money can be so dangerous! Money doesn’t lead to happiness, although many people think so. Money doesn’t make life easier. Look at Ted Turner…tons of money…very unhappy and still has problems. 

“Love” in this verse means love of money, which is philaguris in Greek. The translation essentially put the definition of the Greek word into scripture. Doesn’t seem like anything cool to study until I read a little further in the chapter. 


“But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”

‭‭1 Timothy‬ ‭6:11-12‬ ‭NIV‬‬

The “love” here is agape, which is to love, have affection for, benevolence. So here is the cool part… Paul is writing to Timothy and warning him of the evil that comes from loving money and telling him to flee the love of money and a whole list of other things (look at verses 1-10). Instead Timothy should pursue loving with affection, and righteousness, godliness, faith,…He encourages Timothy to fight the good fight of faith! God doesn’t promise us happiness or earthly wealth when we accept salvation. But He does give us so many other promises (always be with us- Hebrews 13:5, direction- Proverbs 3:5-6, etc.). Today pursue loving with affection and flee the love of money!

The Wedding Shop

I enjoy reading Christian fiction. Something with a little bit of a love story, but it is good and clean. I want books that describe scenes that I can play out in my mind. Rachel Hauck is one of my favorite authors for many reasons. The first book I read by Rachel Hauck was titled The Wedding Dress. This book hooked me and I have read all of her other books since discovering her. A great thing about Hauck is she writes books that you can read as a stand alone, but if you happened to have read her other books you may find ties back to them. The Wedding Shop by Rachel Hauck tied into the previous two books in the series briefly as well as having a few nods to other Hauck books. The Wedding Shop also follows many characters and jumps from different years in history as well. This adds some interest and keeps me guessing what is about to come. In the end she ties everything up into a beautiful package! If you like Christian fiction try Rachel Hauck. You won’t be disappointed!

Love!!!

I am so excited to begin sharing what God is teaching me!!!! Literally giddy right now! I have been diving in to God’s word with a focus on LOVE but I am learning so much more with each word! Eeeekkk!!!

Okay, focus…deep breath…

I started with Psalm 18:1

“I love you, Lord, my strength.”

‭‭Psalm‬ ‭18:1‬ ‭NIV‬‬

The word “love” is translated from the Hebrew word racham which means to fondle, to love, to compassion, have passion for, love, mercy.

When looking at Psalm 18 as a whole it makes a little more sense. 

“I love you, Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and I have been saved from my enemies. The cords of death entangled me; the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me. The cords of the grave coiled around me; the snares of death confronted me. In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears. The earth trembled and quaked, and the foundations of the mountains shook; they trembled because he was angry. Smoke rose from his nostrils; consuming fire came from his mouth, burning coals blazed out of it. He parted the heavens and came down; dark clouds were under his feet. He mounted the cherubim and flew; he soared on the wings of the wind. He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him— the dark rain clouds of the sky. Out of the brightness of his presence clouds advanced, with hailstones and bolts of lightning. The Lord thundered from heaven; the voice of the Most High resounded. He shot his arrows and scattered the enemy, with great bolts of lightning he routed them. The valleys of the sea were exposed and the foundations of the earth laid bare at your rebuke, Lord, at the blast of breath from your nostrils. He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me. They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the Lord was my support. He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me. The Lord has dealt with me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands he has rewarded me. For I have kept the ways of the Lord; I am not guilty of turning from my God. All his laws are before me; I have not turned away from his decrees. I have been blameless before him and have kept myself from sin. The Lord has rewarded me according to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands in his sight. To the faithful you show yourself faithful, to the blameless you show yourself blameless, to the pure you show yourself pure, but to the devious you show yourself shrewd. You save the humble but bring low those whose eyes are haughty. You, Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light. With your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall. As for God, his way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him. For who is God besides the Lord? And who is the Rock except our God? It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he causes me to stand on the heights. He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You make your saving help my shield, and your right hand sustains me; your help has made me great. You provide a broad path for my feet, so that my ankles do not give way. I pursued my enemies and overtook them; I did not turn back till they were destroyed. I crushed them so that they could not rise; they fell beneath my feet. You armed me with strength for battle; you humbled my adversaries before me. You made my enemies turn their backs in flight, and I destroyed my foes. They cried for help, but there was no one to save them— to the Lord, but he did not answer. I beat them as fine as windblown dust; I trampled them like mud in the streets. You have delivered me from the attacks of the people; you have made me the head of nations. People I did not know now serve me, foreigners cower before me; as soon as they hear of me, they obey me. They all lose heart; they come trembling from their strongholds. The Lord lives! Praise be to my Rock! Exalted be God my Savior! He is the God who avenges me, who subdues nations under me, who saves me from my enemies. You exalted me above my foes; from a violent man you rescued me. Therefore I will praise you, Lord, among the nations; I will sing the praises of your name. He gives his king great victories; he shows unfailing love to his anointed, to David and to his descendants forever.”

‭‭Psalm‬ ‭18:1-33‬ ‭NIV‬‬

This Psalm is written by David. It is a song of praise for delivering him. My study bible notes informed me that Psalm 18 was almost identical to 2 Samuel 22. So of course I flipped over to this part of the old testiment and it truly was almost word-for-word EXCEPT verse 1. Chapter 22 of 2 Samuel begins like this:

“David sang to the Lord the words of this song when the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul. He said: “The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;”

‭‭2 Samuel‬ ‭22:1-2‬ ‭NIV‬‬

As you can see, the verse I am focusing in on (because of love) is not in 2 Samuel. I can’t help but wonder why???? Hmmmm… Research for another day.

I feel like in Psalm 18:1 the word “love” is expressing a deep love or passion for God. David is praising God for His continual deliverance. Just reading 2 Samuel 21 will enlighten you to some of David’s enemies trying to kill him, but there are more than what is listed there. 

So how does this have me so excited? Why am I pumped to be studying this? It’s simple…we should be praising God the way David does! We should be singing our love for the Lord, thanking Him for all He has done for us. I should be shouting from the rooftop about God providing for my every need, sending me a happy, healthy baby girl after years of infertility, loving me enough to save my life at the expensive of His only son!!! “I LOVE YOU, LORD, MY STRENGTH. THE LORD IS MY ROCK, MY FORTRESS AND MY DELIVERER; MY GOD IS MY ROCK, IN WHOM I TAKE REFUGE, MY SHIELD AND THE HORN OF MY SALVATION, MY STRONGHOLD.” Psalm 18:1-2


Today, praise God for all that He has done for you. No matter ow big or small. Praise Him! 

Godly Friends, Godly Advice

I have a friend who talked me off of a cliff this week. Not an actual cliff, but a figurative one for sure. I’ve been worried about the cost of formula…not that Hannah eats any now…but whenever we do stop breastfeeding formula is expensive. Breastfeeding is free. I hate breastfeeding! I can hear all the moms out there. They are either raising their hands saying Amen! or they are gasping saying It’s the best time of day with my baby. No matter which mom you are,or if you are somewhere in between, I still have an amazing friend who gave me great godly advice. 

When I called to seek her mommy-advice she not only encouraged me, she poured truth into my heart. I don’t know if she had her bible out or just had it memorized but she reminded me that God took care of the birds and surely He would take care of my daughter who He made in His image. 

“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?”

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭6:26‬ ‭NIV‬‬


She spoke truth at a time when I needed to be reminded not to worry about money, food, clothing…but to trust that God would provide for us. I am so thankful to have friends like her who can listen when I need to talk, advise when I need help, share when I am in need, and speak truth when I need to hear from God. Thank you for being an amazing prayer warrior, friend, councilor, teacher, and sister in Christ! 

Book after Book

I love to read, but last year I just couldn’t read. I was so nauseous for the first few months and would get worse when I tried to read. Then I had a few months that I could read without getting sick. After Hannah came I had way better things to do than read, like shower, eat, SLEEP, feed her, stare at her, be with her… the list goes on. But this year I want to read book after book. I love to read and have a goal to read at least 2 books a month. I finished 2016 by reading For Married Women Only by Tony Evans. It is an awesome, easy read. This short booklet has a match for your husband and can be read in one sitting (if the baby doesn’t start crying, husband doesn’t need dinner immediately, or dog don’t knocks a bottle of Gatorade off of the end table). It is a look at what the Bible says our roles are as a wife. My favorite quote from the book is, “Submission has to do with function, not being. It does not signify that a wife is inferior to her husband in terms of her worth before God.” How beautiful is that? Just because I submit to my husband doesn’t mean God values me less than my spouse. We are the same in the eyes of God as long as we are saved by Christ because when God looks at me he sees Jesus! This book reminded me of my job as Kyle’s wife. I am his helpmate. I am his number one fan. I am to respect him and submit to his leading of our home. 

Setting Up to Love

With my focus being on love this year, I wanted to do a word study on “love”. So this week I have looked specifically at two forms of love and already learned a bunch. I will write more on them later. Today I want to share how I have approached this study. So leading up to 2017 I went through my concordance and found the word “love”, wrote down all of the scripture references, and which Hebrew or Greek word it was (I used Strong’s for this even though my husband has a fancy software that will do it). I then made an index card for each Hebrew or Greek word that is translated as “love” to help me have a quick reference as I study. I was shocked at how many different words were translated as “love”…how could I approach this?       

  • Go in order through scripture starting in Genesis
  • Look at all of the ones Jesus said first
  • Focus on the most used versions 

Because I couldn’t decide how to best attack this word study I asked my sweet hubby how he would approach it. He has way more experience with this sort of thing. He suggested starting with the least used forms of “love” (because there are a ton of versions of love in Hebrew and Greek) and working my way up to the most used forms of love. I decided to put my index cards in order of how I would study them. So far this is working out great! I have my NIV study bible and ESV church bible next to my notebook and pen on the kitchen table to help me get started and focused more quickly. I can’t wait to share what I am learning!

Six

Six Easters, Thanksgivings, and Christmases. Six birthdays each. Six Springs, Summers, Autumns, and Winters. Six years of waking up beside you. Six years of kissing you good night. Six years of praying together, laughing together, and holding each other. Happy Anniversary!!!

I love you so much more now than then. I adore the way you look at our daughter. I feel safe when you’re with me. I know you will provide for and protect our family. The butterflies still take off in my tummy when you’re around. The giddiness of a date night still brightens my day. I chose to say yes a long time ago to my best friend becoming my husband. I would do again today if you asked. I love you Kyle!

New Year, New Love

Love is something God has been teaching me about since Hannah arrived. This year my word is going to be Love. Love for my daughter, husband, family, Lord, church. Love! 
I want to focus on how I love people and whether they receive love that way (5 love languages has helped me in the past…just need to refocus). Kyle bought the love language books for kids and teenagers a few weeks ago. I want to apply them to my students and youth at church. I have recognized that some family members receive love in the total opposite way of how I give it…so I need to adjust to better show my love for them. 

I also want to learn so much more about how to love my husband. I have been gifted several books on loving Kyle and strengthening our marriage (I asked for them). I can’t wait to read them. Our love should only grow with each day!

The Bible has so much to say about love, God’s love for us, and how we are to love others and Him. I want to focus my quiet time on love. I want to surround myself with scripture teaching me how to love. 

So here is my disclaimer: my posts this year may get repetitive, seem mushy-gushy, and slightly obsessive with love. You have been warned! BUT I think we can all learn how to love others, ourselves, and God better. So this year I am choosing to LOVE!