We’ve Orbited the Sun Again

Where did 2018 go? I honestly feel like we were just at New Years and I was just reflecting on 2017, but here I sit thinking back and a lot has happened in 2018 (although not as much as 2017…thank goodness). My word for 2018 was GENTLE and I am not sure if I achieved what I had hoped but I am not going to dwell too long on what I cannot change now. My word for 2019 is DELIGHT.

I saw this on a friend’s Instagram feed (thanks for inspiring me Jessica) and it has stuck with me ever since. I am going to focus on DELIGHT. Being delightful, taking delight in others, sharing the delights of my life with all of you! More than any of this, I want to delight myself in the Lord and refocus my eyes onto Him!

“Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalms 37:4

Do you have focus word or resolutions? What are your thoughts entering a new year?

Advertisements

Oh Church Camp

Oh church camp…you leave my mind in a constant Tug-O- War match. Should I go to camp, or stay home? Will I be able to spend time with the teens, or will my daughter need all of my attention? Will God move, or will the Word fall on deaf ears? And the questions go on and on… But in our ministry (yes our ministry because although my husband is the youth pastor I choose to be in the ministry with him) I constantly remind myself that God will prepare me, God will give me wisdom (I do have to remember to ask for this) when I need it, God will speak, move, and show up, and God will get all of the glory!

At the beginning of my husband’s ministry we were young and fully committed to sharing our lives with teenagers. Our house was open 24/7 and my weeks off were spent with young people between the ages of 11 and 18. As our life changed and our daughter was born a lot of my ministry opportunities changed. Now my home is open, but noises have to be kept to a minimum after a certain time. My breaks are spent with teens, but a two year old is coming along for the ride as well. It has been a difficult balance to find, and by no means do I think I have it perfect, but this trip has been the best one since miss priss came along.

The girls rode in the car with us this year while the boys took over the bus. We laughed and cut up throughout our six hour journey. We watched movies and napped (well not me, but most of the others). I felt like I actually was able to continue to build relationships on the car ride instead of either A) focusing on the drive with a toddler screaming for mommy throughout the trip and wishing I had my husband to help or B) feeling like my husband was being kept away from the teens on the bus so he could drive his family to camp.

I haven’t made it to all of the small group sessions because mommy does have to put a sweet little girl to bed, but she has played quietly while we have done several bible studies. It has been incredible to get to help teach these young ladies and listen to them grasp concepts that may have alluded them before. This is the part I have missed the most in the last few years. It is so exciting to open God’s word alongside teenagers and help them take away something real.

Listening to Kyle preach is always one of my favorite parts of it being our ministry, but especially this time. He wasn’t sure he had the sermon right or made an impact, but I was in the room. My ears were listening, as little girl colored in a Dollar Tree coloring book, and I know what I heard. I heard a lesson that was relatable, real, and a little cut throat (learning about struggles and how God sometimes allows us to struggle is never easy to hear). I was able to encourage him afterward and remind him of how God uses preachers to speak into the hearts of the listeners in ways the speaker could not have possibly done.

Watching the teens love my little one and her attach to them is so encouraging. These teens will possibly be her small group leaders, teachers, coaches, and hopefully role models as she grows up. I want them to love her (because if mommy comes then baby girl comes too) and I want her to love them! These students play a HUGE part of our family’s life!

The best part of church camp winning the game of Tug-O-War in my mind is being together as a family. Spending time with our youth and serving alongside each other. Neither of us was raised as a preacher’s kid so we don’t really know what we are doing as our little one comes along but we do know that we are better together!

God is at work

This Fall will bring many Friday nights of Hannah and I snuggling alone. This may seem sad to some, but it is beyond exciting for us as a family! Kyle is serving as the chaplain to the GC Warriors football team and God is at work amongst those young men!

Two weeks ago, our church honored the GC Warriors in our morning service where Kyle was able to preach the word of God, recognize a player on the team, and serve lunch to this incredible group of young men. But Kyle’s journey with the Warriors did not begin with the Fall football season. It actually began last school year.

Kyle was approached by the head coach to come into the high school once a week and teach through a book with the football players. The book did not mention God, Jesus, or have scripture. But the book focused on culture change, becoming men, and allowed for Kyle to bond with the team long before the Friday night lights were on his back.

By summer practices, I was recieving more and more phone calls where I was greeted with a voice filled with excitement. Another young man decided to follow Jesus! They call me Brother Kyle. A player shared his entire life story with me! I’ve been invited to FCA camp. Fifteen souls were saved! So many sentences filled with JOY! So many lives changed all before the season had started.

So, Hannah and I may be missing daddy on Friday nights, but God is doing a great work that is so far beyond my Friday night plans! I cannot wait to see how God continues to move through the Warriors and I am filled with anticipation for the next phone call with more exciting news!

Baby Girl is TWO!

We celebrated Hannah Marie last weekend as she turned two! I cannot even believe I am typing that number. So much of what I have shared on this blog is about our journey to having Hannah (mostly because I have not made the time to share more) and for her to be two seems impossible.

Anyone who knows Hannah will tell you she is the happiest child you will ever meet. She smiles constantly! Her laugh is infectous! We are completely in love with her and feel beyond blessed to be entrusted with the sweetest gift from God.

Happy Birthday Hannah!

New Blog Signature

Oh My Soul

It is the end of National Infertility Awareness week and I have been thinking about if I would even address it this year. This time last year I was able to celebrate my miracle baby and how her story has affected me and so many others around me, but this year it feels different. Not that she isn’t my miracle any more, because I assure you she is exactly what I prayed for. But this year my heart is crying this song, Oh My Soul.

Two weeks ago we found out that we were not pregnant, again. This would not have come as a surprise if we had not been doing an IUI treatment. As I have mourned and grieved, this song has been beyond true. I worry daily that we may never have another child. I am weary from losing control of my body and whether I can concieve another baby. I did not see a failed IUI coming at me. Our first IUI resulted in Hannah and what a blessing she is. I know my friends and family would not blame me if I cried because so many of them can relate to this hurt or hurt with me. I try to hide the hurt because part of me doesn’t want to burden anyone else with my problems. There were moments two weeks ago when I did stop believeing that I would have another baby.
But God has shown me that He is right here and I am not alone. My fear has had to face my God, and God has proven before that He is so much bigger than my fear, my infertility, and my disbelief. I know God will make a way for our family to grow. I don’t know what that looks like or when that will happen, but I know that God is faithful and He wouldn’t give me this desire if He didn’t plan on teaching me something and granting me the desires of my heart or changing that desire. My prayers are that I grow more dependent on God during this time. My prayer is that I drop my fears at the alter and let God carry me through this valley. My prayer is that God breathes on my dry bones and helps me to dance through this time in my life. My prayer is that God uses my story to make something beautiful from the ash and stone of this time.
So for today I must lay down my fear, worry, anxiety, disbelief…all of it. I know God will make a way for our family to grow. I may not be strong enough each day. I may feel like I cannot take any more medicine, do anymore blood work, have anymore procedures, but God will find me at His feet laying it all down. He will keep me from going under the waves of fear.
If you are struggling with infertility today, know that you are not alone. One in eight couples struggle with infertility. Look through the bible and see women sprinkled throughout who struggled with exactly what you are right now. Sarah, Hannah, Rachel, Samson’s mother, Elizabeth…all of them have stories like yours! God heard their cries and blessed them with precious children. Maybe your story will be like theirs and God will send you a sweet little one. Maybe your story will be different though. Maybe you will adopt in order to grow your family. Either way, know that you are not alone.

If you know someone struggling with infertility today, love on them, pray for them, and have a listening ear for when they are ready to talk about it. So many times couples struggling to concieve or maintain a pregnancy are scared to share about it, but pray for them anyway. When they do open up about their struggles, listen and continue to pray. Reassure them that they are not alone because you are praying alongside them.
“He (God) has made everything beautiful in its time.” Ecclesiastes 3:11a
New Blog Signature

Waiting

Do you find yourself waiting a lot? Waiting for a table at a restaurant. Waiting in a doctor’s office. Waiting for test results. Waiting for a pay check. Waiting on love or marriage. Waiting on a baby. That’s mine. I find myself waiting to be pregnant.

People insisted that we needed to be careful after our first arrived, because we may get a surprise sooner than we wanted. My thoughts? That would be AWESOME! I would have praised God for that gift. Time has passed and surprises were not given and now I find myself waiting. Waiting again for a baby to come from heaven, created by the only one who can create life, as a gift to our family.

Waiting is hard. Waiting is emotional (at least for me). Waiting teaches us so much. Because in the waiting we have to lean on God. In the waiting we have to rely on God. In the waiting we have to hope in God.

The Bible says in Psalm 130:5, “I wait for the Lord; I wait and hope in his word.” I know this scripture isn’t actually referring to waiting for a baby, but at the same time it is. The writer of this psalm is waiting for a redeemer, someone to correct his relationship with God. The writer is waiting on a baby who would come, a baby named Jesus.

I am so blessed to have a redeemer in Christ Jesus today. I am not waiting on someone to save me because I have a savior. But I love how this verse assures me that I can wait for the Lord and have hope in his word. I can lean on the promises of God and know they are true. I will cling to the cross, my redeemer and wait.

Waiting still isn’t easy, especially when people ask if there are plans for a second, or if we are pregnant, or trying,

but with hope in God’s word we will wait.

Inward Struggle

Have you ever struggled with what to focus your time and attention on? I do…all the time.

As a teacher, I want to be the best teacher out there. I want to be the Ron Clark of my school. I want to show my students I care, not just about their learning, but about them. I want to engage students in rigorous tasks that they will remember.

As a wife, I want my husband to have no doubt in his mind that I love him more than any human walking planet earth right now. I want him to know I care by how I serve him, care for him, listen to him, spend time with him. I want to speak his love language so that his love tank is full.

As a mom, I want my daughter to know how much I love her and care about her. I want to teach her and support her dreams. I want to show her the way to live as a godly woman (one day). I want to spend time with her, showering her in attention and words of affirmation.

As a christian, I want to devote my every thought, attitude, and action to loving God and loving others. I want to spend time in my bible reading, studying, and applying His truths. I want to pray for others, myself, and praise God continually.

But my inward struggle is over which of these four will win. These are the big four in my life. I still want to be the best daughter, sister, in-law, designer, blogger, etc. too, BUT the four titles above are where my deepest desires are rooted. And I struggle. I struggle to put the phone down and focus on my daughter and husband. I struggle to pray continually. I struggle to engage all of my students. I struggle all the time.

As 2017 closes out and we are looking forward to a new year, new beginning I am struggling. All of the people I follow on Instagram have these amazing classrooms with fun songs and flashing lights, or beautifully put together homes with nothing out of place, or a million pictures of their families on these amazing trips…and here I am comparing myself to them. The exact thing I tell the teenagers at church not to do.

So today, as I have been reflecting on 2017, struggling with comparing myself to the Instagram world, and looking forward to 2018 I have realized where my focus must be. On HIM. On the Creator of the universe. If I focus on my relationship with GOD, He will pour into me and I will begin to overflow. These excess will only grow and benefit my marriage, my motherhood, and my teaching. I want to ooze Jesus when I am squeezed by the world.

Who cares if I don’t most ten pictures of Hannah each day? Most of you would probably be silently thanking me for not oversharing. Who cares if my classroom isn’t the most matchy-matchy? Who cares if dinner isn’t on the table at 6 and all of the laundry folded before bed?

No ONE!

2018, I’m ready. I’m ready to spend more and more time with King Jesus. Focusing on HIM so that my overflow will cover all of the other areas of me!

Beyond Proud

We have another college graduate living under our roof!!! To say I am proud would truly be an understatement. Kyle has worked tirelessly for years to finish his Bachelors degree in Christian Ministry and this past weekend he graduated!!! We didn’t drive to New Orleans for commencement, but we have marveled all weekend at how good God is to have provided for his tuition, energy requirements , and motivation to do well.

This man has gone from hating school and reading to completing his degree with all As and Bs. He enjoys reading now and often buys himself books (if you knew him in high school this may sound unbelievable). He has accomplished all of this while being a husband, pastor, dad, and so much more!

I am so impressed by you and will always be your number one cheerleader! Way to go Kyle! Congratulations graduate!!!!

Dear Family and Friends,

Dear family and friends,

God has used 2017 to guide us into places we never imagined, bless us in more ways than we can count, and teach us to lean on Him and each other more than ever.

We began our year celebrating six years of marriage and praying about where God was leading our family. By the end of January, we were being called to Trinity Baptist Church in Calhoun, Georgia. We obediently left Atco Baptist Church after four and half years of ministry.

We continued to pray about a new teaching job, home, and babysitter as March came and went. In April, Danielle accepted a teaching job at Calhoun Elementary School and we began the house hunting process. After six years of teaching at Cartersville Elementary School, we moved Danielle’s classroom to a fifth grade math, science, and social studies class in Calhoun.

Our home in Cartersville sold in June and we found our dream home soon after. With the help of our families, we made a slow transition to our new home (living three weeks between parents’ homes) and began to find a new normal. We were blessed to find another amazing babysitter in Calhoun and she has helped us adjust to life in the ‘houn by caring for our sweet girl.

Hannah made her first trip to youth camp in June and turned one in August. She is growing like a weed and loves to walk (finally), read books, and pretend to cook and eat food. Kyle made another trip to St. Vincent in July for his 6th mission trip to the island. He has diligently worked through his final semester of college and will graduate from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary’s Leavell College on December 15th! Kyle has guided our family and been a rock for us as we have walked through each change God has sent our way. Danielle continues to do ministry alongside Kyle and is currently teaching high school Sunday school.

2017 has brought so much change! We could not have done it without the blessing of God’s hand guiding us each step of the way. We know that God has big plans for us in Calhoun. We hope that 2017 has been full of blessings for you and your family.

Merry Christmas!

With love,

Kyle, Danielle, and Hannah

HannahCotton20172 edited

“Blessed are the people whose God is the Lord!” Psalms 144:15

25 Days of Christmas

For the past seven years I have celebrated Christmas by showering my hubby with sweet notes, little gifts, and set aside time for each other in this crazy month we call December. I have twenty-five envelops, with notes inside. Some have presents that go with them. Others have food. Some have nothing at all. But I LOVE getting this ready to show him extra love during the month of December.

With Hannah here and old enough to understand this year, I have added some things into the mix for her as well. I still have to finish wrapping everything for this month’s fun, but I cannot wait to start our 25 days together on Friday!!!