Friday, December 23, 2016
Merry Christmas! Thanks for stopping by. We hope you and your family are doing well and feel God's peace and joy this Christmas season.
What an eventful year this has been. Full of change, challenges, and blessings for our family.
First of all, just a quick update on all the kiddos...
Julia is now in 7th grade at Providence Academy. She has moved to the "Upper Campus" and enjoys switching classes, taking some interesting electives, such as Creative Writing and Drama, and has joined the Pom team this year. She loves getting to cheer for the Junior High basketball games with her friends and the social outlet that it brings.
Alyson is in 4th grade. Some of her favorite hobbies are drawing in her sketch pad (she has quite the imagination!), playing the piano, and spending time with our family kitty. She was excited to be in the school Musical Theater Christmas program, "Back to the Manger" as one of the 1950's girls in a poodle skirt. The main character, "Jackson", a bit of a rebellious kid, travels in a time machine to past decades and goes all the way back to when Jesus was born in a manger. His heart was then changed as he realized what Christmas is all about. Truly a powerful message!
Josiah, now in 2nd grade, loves any chance he can get to throw, kick, hit, or shoot a ball.. He has a bit of a competitive streak and much energy and determination for the game! This is his first season to play basketball with some second grade friends. It is fun to watch these little guys learn the game and become aggressive on the quart.
Elijah started Kindergarten this year.. Yes, the BABY! He is learning how to read, write, and add numbers. He enjoys sports as well, but especially building and creating new inventions and contraptions here at home. He loves being outside digging in the dirt and hunting for deer, too. He is pretty much fearless.. Once in awhile we will still say, "Where's Elijah??", just to find him halfway down our long driveway, heading to go check on Uncle Chad hunting in the woods. He keeps us on our toes!
As I said earlier, our family has been through a lot of change over the past year. Last fall, the Lord put on our hearts a calling for a future ministry (you can read my previous post for more of those details). Just a brief background.. Over the last few years, Brandon and I had developed a passion for the women's and men's ministries at our church and enjoyed getting to be a part of planning/coordinating retreats. It was then that the Lord placed in us a dream to one day open up our own retreat place.. A place where groups could come to "get away" and reconnect with the Lord. So the calling came about when we stumbled upon some property not too far from home. There were three barn-style rock buildings on acres of rolling hills and wooded land. The buildings seemed perfect for lodging and even had a large, open space for the conference room where groups could gather. The dream we had just a few years before resurfaced and pulled at our hearts. We took that tough step of faith, trusting God had a greater purpose for us, and put our home on the market. It sold this past May and the Lord continued to open each door as He prepared the way (Amber, our wonderful sister and realtor, can share with you some of the amazing stories of how God worked throughout the process!). As hard as it was to leave and give up our home place we loved, we knew we had to move forward in obedience with the shield of faith.
We are now here at the property where God gave us the vision a year ago. For now we are living in one of the buildings until time to build a more permanent home when the Lord gives us direction to begin the ministry. Ever since we moved here at the beginning of June, we have had all kinds of projects and work that needed to be done. We are so thankful for our loving family for all the help with the seemingly unending projects! It has been a slow but sure process and it's good to finally be settled in.
With the promise God gave us from the very beginning, He also gave us the name of our new home place/future retreat...
Grace Haven Ranch.
None of us deserve anything we have been given, but by His grace and the blood Jesus shed on the cross, we have been saved through faith and freed from the sin debt that must be paid.
We want this to be a safe place.. A haven.. A place of rest. A place where people can truly feel the Lord's presence and hear His voice.
And the rolling pastures will one day (Lord willing) have sheep, so ranch seemed fitting.
We humbly share our story with you as we also ask for your prayers. The enemy sure loves to get in the middle of a good thing and see what all he can do to stop God's plans from coming to fruition. Your prayers are much appreciated as we continue to seek wisdom and direction for the years ahead. We want to do this parenting thing well and not miss any opportunity with our children, too. It is a busy season of life with activities and school, so waiting a few years to begin may be ideal.
Thank you to all who have shown us your support and prayed for us over this past year. Prayer is powerful and God can do big things when we humble ourselves before Him, praying in faith, and believing that "He is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us."
We love all of you and pray you will be blessed as the new year rolls around!