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 😜.

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!

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.

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!

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

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!

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!