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

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

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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!!!

Dream for You

Do you have dreams for your life? Or maybe for your children’s lives? I have several for our family, for Hannah, for me! I’ve been listening to Casting Crowns a lot lately and Dream for You is one of their songs. It is about David and how his shepherd sized dreams were changed into king sized dreams. And Mary’s dreams of marrying Joseph and then starting a family were not exactly what God’s plan for her life was. The chorus says, “So come on, let Me dream, let Me dream for you; I am strong when you’re weak and I’ll carry you; So let go of your plan, be caught by My hand; I’ll show you what I can do; When I dream for you; I have a dream for you.”

This song has caused me to think about David’s story a great deal lately. It is a whirlwind story that no one could have imagined happening, especially him. King Saul had lost the favor of God and Samuel went looking for who God would anoint as King. “Then Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all your sons here?” And he said, “There remains yet the youngest, but behold, he is keeping the sheep.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and get him, for we will not sit down till he comes here.” And he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy and had beautiful eyes and was handsome. And the Lord said, “Arise, anoint him, for this is he.” Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers. And the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon David from that day forward. And Samuel rose up and went to Ramah.” (1 Samuel‬ ‭16:11-13‬ ‭ESV‬‬) David is the youngest son of Jesse. He is a shepherd and wasn’t even on the radar of becoming anything great amongst his family. David probably dreamed about becoming a big time shepherd, owning a lot of animals, and maybe one day hiring young guys like himself to shepherd his flocks. But God had different plans for his life. God’s plan for our lives means that we may have to let go of our dreams and plans. I’m sure David never dreamt about becoming King and without God he never would have been king. God’s plan for David was so much bigger than being a shepherd.

David spent years as a servant of Saul’s, a soldier, and then running from Saul. David and his family knew he had been anointed by Samuel but it’s not like it was posted on Instagram for all to see. God’s plan for our lives means that we have to trust God with our dreams, and trust that He will make His plans come true in His time. “So David went up there, and his two wives also, Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail the widow of Nabal of Carmel. And David brought up his men who were with him, everyone with his household, and they lived in the towns of Hebron. And the men of Judah came, and there they anointed David king over the house of Judah.” (2 Samuel‬ ‭2:2-3ESV‬‬) “Then all the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron and said, “Behold, we are your bone and flesh. In times past, when Saul was king over us, it was you who led out and brought in Israel. And the Lord said to you, ‘You shall be shepherd of my people Israel, and you shall be prince over Israel.'” So all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron, and King David made a covenant with them at Hebron before the Lord, and they anointed David king over Israel. David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years.” (2 Samuel‬ ‭5:1-4‬ ‭ESV‬‬) David went from a young shepherd boy to a servant of the king. From a servant to a soldier and from a soldier to a man running from the king. The entire time he knew God had Samuel anoint him as king, but he wasn’t king yet. Now he is the king of Judah and Israel. God’s plan requires us to be obedient. David found out he would be King long before it happened. And I am sure along the way he was unsure how he would ever get what God had told him would happen, but David trusted God and His plan. David was obedient and did as God directed him. God took years to place David as king of Israel and many times David was faced with enemies who wanted to kill him. But David knew God would fulfill His promises and trusted God.
I am having to let go of my plans for my life, Hannah’s life, and our family so that I can trust God and His plan. I know His dreams for us are King sized dreams instead of my shepherd sized dreams. I am letting God carry me and going to be obedient to His word and let His dreams for me take root in my heart and trust that His plans are better than my own!

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! 

So many lessons

We are love abusers. We use the word love for everything. I love your outfit! I love grilled cheese sandwiches. I love my husband. Don’t you just love my daughter? Love is one word in the English language, but it has so many meanings. 

About a month ago when I was studying “love” in the Bible I came across a verse that only said the word love once, but it was assigned two different Greek words to represent that love. “Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children,” ‭Titus‬ ‭2:4‬ ‭NIV‬‬ 


This verse led to several impactful lessons for me. 

1. Philandros and philoteknos were both used in this verse. Philandros means fond or man, affectionate (as to a wife), while philoteknos means fond of one’s children. Where we used one word, there were actually two words! Before children I don’t know that I would have thought this was important or even interesting, but now…I get it! Completely! I love Kyle and Hannah in completely different ways. And I’m not quite sure how to put it into words. I love my husband and cannot image life without him. I love him more today than I did yesterday and I hope our love continues to grow as we get older. My love for Hannah was deep from the moment I held her. It didn’t take time to grow. It was a fierce love from minute one. My love has grown, but it was always there for her. It’s just different, and completely fitting that two different words represent this in the Greek.


That’s pretty cool, but I couldn’t stop there. I needed to see what was happening around this verse because it uses a pronoun (they) which I do not know who it refers to. 

“You, however, must teach what is appropriate to sound doctrine. Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance. Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God. Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled. In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.” Titus‬ ‭2:1-8‬ ‭NIV‬‬

2. This passage is directing the believers in Christ on how to live their lives. The older women should be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, or slaves to wine (vs. 3) so that they can teach the younger women how to love their husbands and children (vs. 4). This is to be done in action as well as in spoken teaching. I think about the older women who have given me advice and smile. Many of these women have spoken advice and lived it out. My mom and mother in law of course have done this for me, but so have Sarah (one of my friends who has walked me through becoming a pastor’s wife) and Carla (a sweet friend from church who sets an amazing example for my marriage). These ladies and so many more have told me how to love, but more than that they have showed me. 
3. One thing I always try to be aware of is how the teenagers watch my marriage. Because Kyle and I do ministry together the students see our marriage weekly. They observe how we respond to stress, disagreements, love, humor, and so much more. I want to be a “older woman” (you may never see me type that out again) who sets a good example for the next generation. I want to be someone that a young girl looks to for advice, but I also want to be someone who they watch working with my daughter and husband and say when I’m in that position I want to do it that way too. 
Looking into the love in this verse has taught me so much more than just the Greek word behind our English word. It has taught me about who to seek advice from and to be aware that others may be seeking advice/watching for an example from me. 

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!

2016 in 12 Sentences

In January we celebrated 5 years of marriage. February brought the shock of Baby Ruff being a GIRL! We rested in March. The baby preparations began in April. May began the baby shower celebrations! In June we welcomed Erin into our family when she married Kevin! July brought the heat, spending my days in the pool, and Kyle’s wisdom teeth being removed. The best month was August because Hannah was born!!! September was full of sleepless nights and dirty diapers. October added Tanner into our family through a fun wedding. In November we were thankful for our growing family! December reminded us how loved we are by our Savior. 

Christmas Traditions

I want to add Christmas traditions now that we are a family of three. Some traditions Kyle and I brought from our childhoods into our marriage (reading the Christmas story from the Bible on Christmas Eve, not decorating until after Thanksgiving, Christmas sweets to share, etc.) and some we have added as a couple (Christmas letters with our card and reading them all each year, 25 days of Christmas gifts and fun, etc.). 


Obviously Santa pictures will have to be a new tradition. But what else? She has Christmas pjs for tonight which I thought would be fun. Any other Christmas traditions to add with a little one?

This is supposed to be a FAMILY blog

My husband had a great lesson last night at church! I loved it! The students loved it! So logically I wanted him to share it here. When I suggested it last night he responded with changing the subject. This is one of his tactics to getting out of something. I then turned the conversation back to sharing on our FAMILY blog and he addressed it with, “I’m not good at communicating through writing.” Without any prompting from me he also confessed the only way to get better is to practice. Can I get some help from y’all? Will you encourage him to participate in our FAMILY blog?

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