Today was it

Today was it. The end of our time at ATCO. It was a regular Sunday for us, which is exactly how I wanted it to feel. Regular. I was able to be in Sunday School with my friends. I looked around the room at one point and thought if I made eye contact with anyone of the women from my small group I would burst into tears. I love these ladies who have invited me into their hearts and covered me with pray in the hardest time of my life. But I didn’t cry. It was good. 
I didn’t sing with the choir today, but if I had there would have been very little singing from me. Tears would have been my only offering to the Lord. I joined the choir so that I would make some adult friends at ATCO and friends I definitely made. These ladies and gentlemen have been a joy to worship with and laugh with. They have prayed for my family, lifted us up in hard times, laughed with and at us when we needed it, and shown us love these last four and a half years. 
The only thing I wished would have been different today was preaching. Pastor Mike didn’t share the message this morning, although God’s word was preached and the message with good and clear. I’m going to remember for a long time just how much Pastor Mike loves his flock, preaching God’s word, and a congregation shoutin’ “Preach on!”. 
I managed to get some hugs and say “see ya later” to some teenagers with zero tears, but now in the quiet of my home I miss them. I miss how loud they can be and there crazy ideas of fun. I miss how much they love my daughter, and grab snacks out of my purse or kitchen. I miss knowing that I will see them again in a couple of days. 
I found a journal entry from December last night. We knew that we were going to have to leave ATCO in order to be obedient to God’s calling at this point and, well… it says it all:
Too Many Decisions

You know how some things in life just have a chain of decisions attached to them? You decided to have a baby and all of the sudden you have thousands of decisions to make. There are fun ones like baby names, and not so fun ones like who is going to get up at 3 am when she is upset. You get a new job and you get to decide what bulletin border you want and yet have to learn to work with a whole new group of teachers (school teacher here 😁). You graduate high school or college and have to decide where to live, work, marry, … 
I find myself faced with one of those situations. One thing has a triggered a list of questions and options running through my mind and I get overwhelmed by it all. I need to make decisions, take action, make lists and check them off…but first I need to take a step back and breath.

Pray. 

Take each day for itself and only worry about what is in front of me. The chain of decisions and questions will be there tomorrow. Today I must just pray. 
And that is what we have done for months. Pray. We have prayed about how to tell our church family goodbye. We have prayed for and over our new church. We have prayed for strength to be able to follow God. We have prayed through my tears and Hannah’s giggles. We have prayed for ATCO as we leave and Trinity as we come. 
So today, I must pray again. My prayers are for the teenagers at ATCO to continue to love God and serve Him. They are for the men and women of ATCO to continue to pour into teenagers’ lives and point them, in love, back to Jesus. I pray that God will open the hearts of teenagers at Trinity to accept us and bring us into their church family. I’m praying for God to bless me with the opportunity to teach in Calhoun City Schools so we can both work in the community we serve the Lord in. 
My prayers go on and on… I’m so excited for our new chapter and what God is going to do in Gordon county. I’m so sad to leave my friends and kids behind in Bartow county…so today…I pray. 

Another Hauck

A Royal Christmas Wedding by Rachel Hauck was AAAAMMAAAAAAZZZINGGG!!! 

I know it’s after Christmas (someone should really tell people this fact though, Christmas lights on the house in March is really not cool) but this book was a Christmas gift and I adore Hauck books so of course I had to read it now! As always it was great! It makes me want to read the entire series again (which I may do). I think the best part about this one is how connected it was to the first book in the series! Loved it!

An Answer to Someone’s Prayer

Cool thing happened a few weeks ago! It was my planning period at work (teachers out there know how precious this 55 minutes truly is) and I was stopping in the principal’s office to go over some PBIS (schoolwide behavior management) details for the spring. Not a planned meeting, just a drop in conversation. I didn’t know it at the time but our principal was keeping her goddaughter (1 year old) for a portion of the week and apparently didn’t get much sleep. She happened to be sharing this information with another staff member when I walked in. As I listened to her crazy story about the ninja baby she was keeping for at least one more night I realized I had something in my car that could help. My time in her office was coming to an end and I asked, “Do you want to borrow my pack n play? I keep it in the car. I can go get it now.” The school bookkeeper, who stepped in during our conversation, immediately asked why I have one in the car. I keep it in the car just in case. You know, for emergencies with Hannah. My principal asked if I was kidding and I assured her I was not. She excitedly told me I was an answer to her prayer. She and her husband had prayed for a way to get more sleep that night and my pack n play was going to be apart of it. 

It’s not often that we get to be an answer to someone’s prayer. Or that we know we are an answer to their prayer. I could have minded my own business and left her office without even bringing up my possible solution to her problem. I could have thought oh they’ll figure it out. But instead I was able to be used by God to answer a prayer. I love it when God lets me be apart of His plan!

Brotherly Love

Brotherly love, or I guess in my case, sisterly love is a HUGE part of my life. Sisterly love for my little brother (who isn’t so little anymore), students at church (which feels more like mom lovin’ sometimes), students at school, co-workers, friends… the list could go on and on. In 1 Peter, Peter is writing to Christians who are being persecuted. He is encouraging them to be strong and love one another. 
“Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.” ‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭3:8‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Love one another. Love here is philadelphos in Greek. It means fond of brethren. AKA brotherly love. We are called as Christians to be united, love, and be humble. 

Peter goes on in verse 10 to say, “For, “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech.” ‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭3:10‬ ‭NIV‬‬

This love is agapao which means to love. This verse is almost a quote from Psalm 34:12. “Whoever of you loves life and desires to see many good days, keep your tongue from evil and your lips from telling lies.” ‭‭Psalm‬ ‭34:12 NIV‬‬

The love in Psalm 34 that is used is ahab which means to have an affection for. Peter used the Greek word while the one in the Psalm is Hebrew. Both words mean practically the same thing. 

As Christians we should be united in Christ, love other Christians, and not retaliate with evil words, but with love and affection. I actually wrote 1 Peter 3:8 on the chalk board in my kitchen to remind me daily to love my brothers and sisters in Christ! 


I want to de exactly what this verse says. Be like minded with other Christians, have sympathy, sisterly love, a tender heart, and humble mind. I pray that God will teach me to be what Peter has written. I want to love life and see many days, so I need to learn to control my tongue and not speak evil. I want to love!

My Second Kingsbury

Oh my gosh! How did I just discover her this summer? Y’all should have told me sooner. Kingsbury is amazing! I loved reading Brush of Wings by Karen Kingsbury. I don’t know how angels work or if God has a team like in this book, but I do believe angels can be around us. We may encounter one at the store, in the park, or walking past us on the street. This book drew me in and caused me to stay up many nights reading way past my bedtime. Like Rachel Hauck, you can read the books as a stand alone but they have more meaning when you read the entire series. I haven’t read the other books in this series and still LOVED it!

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

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!