Saturday, October 13, 2007

I Want to Teach Little Teachers for Him

I guess I never imagined being anything other than a teacher...

Sure, there was a time, when I was 6, that I was certain that I was going to be a country music singer like the Judds and go on tours and be the best thing that ever was. Life has a way of changing things. Just like when I was asked in my senior year of high school to choose a job to shadow, and I was set on News and Broadcasting. But when it came to setting up our appointments, there were none left for me. I had to call my fourth grade teacher, Miss Melanie Morris, and ask if I could shadow her for a week, she was thrilled. I wasn't exactly...

However, throughout the week of being with her in that classroom setting things changed and my eyes opened to a bright new opportunity. It would be one of the last times I saw Miss Morris doing the thing she and I loved most before she passed away of cancer some few years later before I graduated with an Elementary Education degree, but it was then that the Lord began shaping my heart and the gift He had given me into something bigger than even I understood...

Today, things continue to change. In a classroom of 17 children, I crave something different. Something bigger. In a classroom where you are forced to teach from a set of 6 manuals and read the blue lines and NEVER share a word of Christ, my heart is LONGING for a classroom where I can teach what truly matters in this world. What this world is truly missing... the love and salvation of our Lord and SAVIOR Jesus Christ. Sure, it's important for kids to read and multiply, but Jesus taught kids those reading by and with parables and multiplication through the multiplying of His Father's kingdom. How little of that we are doing as Christians sitting back behind desks and telling others NOTHING of importance!

My heart is longing to grow up children, not just children, but men and women who FEAR God and who look after His principles and teachings. I do none of that in our school system today other than by a smile. Yes, that is good and fair, but how much more I get accomplished for my Lord when I am able to teach for 45 minutes on Sunday mornings in Sunday School to my two students of the WORD! My heart rejoices every single time I leave because I can advance HIS KINGDOM and glorify HIS NAME in those children! That's the kind of teacher I long to be. The kind that is an example that reading, writing, and arithmetic are important if all learning is based on my Savior and I give thanks to HIM for all I am able to learn and accomplish.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

January Was a Big Hole in One.

January 12, 2007 - The Pursuit of Happiness
In the pursuit for happiness, I have encountered more heartache than I care to recall. But for the sake of demonstrating why I have been feeling so downhearted, let me take you down the path I have traveled and thus understand why I think the ironic thing about happiness is that it's merely a pursuit. It's highly overrated and sometimes completely unobtainable.

Last year, 2006, started as one of the best years of my life. I had stopped drinking... I was single and NOT looking. I was happy. I spent the Eve praying in the living room of my youth minister's house, amongst the best of friends, who then decided Chubby Bunnies was in order as it usually is around that time of year. That's just how the year started... I fell for "Bump in the Road" this year. I won't say "The Bump" was easy to get over; actually, it busted a few of my tires along the way. I didn't mind it though; it was a "bump" that I didn't mind taking.

I actually believed happiness could happen for me in the fall of 2006. I guess when you aren't looking for it, you accidentally just need a rest and take the next exit. That's what he was: "The Rest Stop." I wanted something to get me out of the place I was in before. I was miserable, and I just wanted to be happy. I had forgotten what that was. So I just forgot about everything and pulled over with him. I enjoyed the simplicity of sitting still. I liked watching ball and staying up late for no reason at all, but a "rest" is just that... It can't last long... And I was driving on, and before I knew it, I was back to the "Bump in the Road."

2007 started much differently. I was not drinking, but I'll be honest in saying that the thought had crossed my mind. It's a temptation and an addiction that's always been there. But that's a totally different blog. I didn't spend this Eve praying like I should have; I spent it with one of the same friends among a much different crowd. Here's where "The Puddle" came into view... Sure, he looked good from a distance and playing in the water is always fun for a kid at heart, but after a while, "The Puddle" loses its touch and I'm left muddy and lonely. You wash yourself off, drive away, expecting something better only to find that same "Bump in the Road."

I don't know where this road is headed. I continue down the same one. But I'm determined to move on... Happiness is not found in someone else, and I know this, but it's so hard when you allow yourself to trust others. I'm learning, I really am, about how to trust my instincts and know that the only happiness in life is found in the Lord, but I wanted everyone to know that it's hard to understand and that happiness isn't easy.

January 18, 2007 - Don't Take Offense...

Please don't take offense if I haven't answered or don't answer your phone calls in the next few days. Seems I've finally caught my first sickness in my first year of teaching, and I missed my first day of school today. STINK. I'm really tired or I'd write more, and the glands in my neck are swollen up like oranges, plus I'm freezing and burning all at the same time. So, pray for me that this is no big deal and it will go away...

January 20,2007 - Never Was Much of a Fan of Golf... Now I Know Why.

I've had this ache in my neck for days. The best way to describe it is that I have two golfball-sized lumps on the side of my neck where my glands should be, which of course has been some cause for concern. I've been to the doctor twice, and it wasn't until yesterday that one of them was able to tell me what is wrong with me. Seems that the lymph nodes in my neck are incredibly swollen (inflamed, whatever that means) and I've been put on penicilin for the next 7 days. If you've never taken penicilin, it's vomit in a bottle. Literally. It's powers are beyond any drug I've ever been handed by a pharmicist only because I can't say that I'm feeling better, but the overwhelming feeling in the pit of my stomach reminding me that I may get sick from this stupid pill is pretty AMAZING. That's a tough drug. I mean it. Dr. Erin hopes that the swelling is being caused by a bacterial infection, hopefully, and if so, the penicilin, as awful as it is, will knock the infection out. However, if the golfballs remain, it could mean that the infection is indeed viral and I have the beginning phases of strep or mono. Stupid. Luckily, I'm not contagious. No fever came with the swelling, just the inability to swallow and the need to sleep A LOT. I'm praying that the penicilin, as terribly dreadful as it is, is going to heal this and I'm going to be good by Monday for MY 24th and so I can return to see my kids!

January 27, 2007 - You Move Me (aka - The Lord gave me Brian)

Words come easily to me. They seem to be the one thing I can depend on when everything else fails. That is, until now.

I have been so moved by the Lord in the past week that I have been unable to speak. He has shown me how to truly "be still." It's an amazing thing, to be humbled in His presence, to be living in His light, and to know that He is the center of my world.

In time, the Lord will help me to speak this blessing more eloquently like I'm known for, but at this point in time, I am silenced by His grace, strength, and plan.

Jeremiah 29:11-12 - "For I know the plans I have for you," says the Lord. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen."

March 10, 2007, Realizations in Life, Few and Far Between

The life you've been living, the days that you've been given were made for something beautiful.

Life, don't let it pass you by, because you were created for something beautiful.

The realization that I am a part of something bigger than just myself has hit me. It's taken about a month and a little over a week for it to settle in that God has showed me who He created for me. I didn't exactly have to search like I thought I needed to and did for years, but when I had all but given up on believing in it, there he was, knowing that we were made for one another. God didn't just give us this idea that we're a good team or we really like one another; He orchestrated a major work in which He took us all the way to Jamaica on a mission trip to meet one another. We learned to serve the Lord together before we ever learned to serve each other anything. It's an awesome thing, knowing that my life has God as its author. It's amazing that my relationship was not something I made happen but that God put together in a mighty way. Even more so, it's absolutely beautiful knowing that every step we take together, there's always another with us...

Monday, August 13, 2007

What a Weekend This Has Been! God, Your Timing is Perfect.

In what seemed to be the quickest decisions we have ever made, life changed even quicker for us when we received some heart breaking news this past Thursday night. I didn't have time to call anyone, so I sent out emails between my 2 hours of sleep and packing my bag and loading the car and heading to the airport... These are the emails to show you what's happened.

1:08 AM, Friday, August 10th - Needing Prayers of Our Friends

Friends and Family,

As you may or may not know, my husband, Brian's grandfather has been ill for quite some time, but the Lord chose to ease his pain and take him home this evening. This is a wonderful thing because as the illness had overtaken Granddaddy's fragile body, he was unable to walk the way he once could, but we can now rejoice, as he is walking the streets of Heaven tonight.

I write you not because we are saddened but because we need the Lord's help in times like these. Brian left today for a mission trip to Alaska, knowing it was the Lord's will. Brian loved this man who encouraged him and taught him the Word of God, and at this moment in time (12:25 a.m. on Friday, August 10) Brian has not received word of Granddaddy's passing. Pray for comfort at the time of his hearing.

Also, arrangements have not yet been made. Brian wanted dearly to preach his grandfather's funeral, as to Brian, it would be and is a celebration. However, with Brian in Alaska, things may be difficult in planning. Please pray for the Lord's hand in the arrangements, in getting Brian home if HE wills it, and in safe travels.

Nonetheless, my greatest joy in writing each of you is knowing that one day I will see both Granddaddy and my Nana again. When we visited Granddaddy just a few weeks ago in the hospital on July 25 and after Brian had read Romans 8 and Granddaddy quoted almost every scripture, I heard him say one of the most wonderful things I've ever heard. As we got ready to leave, Brian leaned over and said, "I don't know if I'll get to see you again, but if I don't, I'll see you on the other side." Granddaddy grinned and replied, "We have a great hope, don't we, son?!" I pray that you have that same hope today.

Please pray for our family in the upcoming days...

"Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning." Psalm 30:5

In His Love,

11:38 AM, Friday, August 10th - Update on Brian and Our Family

Friends and Family,

Please continue to keep us in your prayers.

Brian received word in Alaska last night around 1 a.m. Central Time. He then was able to change his flight for next Tuesday to this morning at approximately 2 a.m. Brian will be arriving in Nashville today at noon after having had no sleep since Wednesday night. Please pray for his being able to catch up on sleep considering the weekend he is about to have.

We will be heading to West Tennessee when I pick him up at the airport in just a few minutes. As of now, the arrangements for Brian's grandfather are as follows:

Dr. Bennie L. Johnson
Chase Funeral Home
Highway 70
Huntingdon, TNSaturday Visitation 2:00 - 8:00
Sunday Funeral 3:00

Off I-40 W, take exit 108. Turn right until you see exit sign towards Camden, veer right.
Get to first 4 way stop, turn left on Buena Vista Road. Funeral Home is on the right, but you are behind the funeral home in the parking lot.

Thank you for your calls, emails, and prayers. If you have any trouble finding us, call me at 615-300-7055.

Love and Blessings,
Jenna Johnson

I will let you know how blessed I feel and about God's timing tomorrow, rest is in order for now. We are home. Thank you for your prayers, and Lord, you are SO good.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

I Probably Wouldn't Be This Way...

It seems like an eternity ago that I was walking down the aisle saying "I do" to the rest of my life, and not one moment goes by that I don't think about that day and the commitment we made. It's strange how life now gets in the way and tries to distort your views and get into the center of your marriage where God should be. I've learned that things are always easier when you stay in His will, and we've found that the first year is much more of a blessing when you leave Him do His work.

But, times get hard. It's not always easy. It feels like ages ago that I held him. I remember about three weeks ago when he told me the burden that he had. I really didn't think it would hit me the way it has. Being as independent as I always have been, it couldn't be that big of deal if God had given him the burden to go on a mission trip. Besides, in February, right after we were engaged, he had gone on a 10-day mission trip to Jamaica, and though it was hard being away from him, it wasn't that difficult. God lightened the load.

This time is different... As the day of his departure approached, the heaviness inside of me grew, and I could tell it wasn't going to be easy this time. The separation was going to be harder than I could imagine. I read "The two shall be as one..." over and over in the Bible, and each time I read it, it cut even deeper. I have a deeper understanding and appreciation for my marriage now and for what God has put together. It is nothing good in me; it's what He has done in us.

Having him leave this morning changed something in me... Something about him not being here hurts more than I can put into words. The tears come without discussing it, the pain overcomes me at any given moment, and the emptiness I feel is so overwhelming. I know the Lord has called him to be in Alaska, telling the people of that beautiful state about his calling to do the Lord's work, and I firmly believe that should anything happen to him that I know I will see him again one day because he and I have a great hope in Jesus Christ as we both have a time and a place where we met Him. However, what I'm going through now is something I can't explain... I'm not certain if the Lord has something for me to do, other than pray, or if He is telling me something, or if this is just the heart of a woman...

My prayer is that I learn to be dependent on the Lord for strength, because though I am, this feeling of loss or emptiness is what the devil does to make me doubt what my Lord can do. Jesus is all I need. He is my everything, and though He has blessed me with an amazing husband, my thoughts should remain upward. Please help me pray for strength this week, until next Tuesday the 14th when Brian comes home. Also pray for Brian, for a safe and blessed trip, for the Lord's will to be done, and for his divine purpose in all of our lives to be fulfilled.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

It's Time to Take Time...

I've honestly learned that time is something I don't have much of.

I have taken time forgranted all of these years, and it has so vividly proven itself to me in the past few months and weeks. God has graciously given me this awesome gift of time. I see the many places and situations He has allowed me to go through and to, whether they be as outstanding and humbling as the mission trip to Jamaica where I met my now husband or as disgusting and humiliating as my college years in which I drug His holy name through the streets of Bowling Green. Time is the one thing God has granted me. It's an amazing thing to look back on it now, to see where He's lead me, and to realize the decisions I made for myself without once calling on His name. Those are the times that I greatly struggled, and I find myself now going through times that appear as if I'm on mountain tops. All the same, the time itself is what I have taken thought of today.

As I was given the opportunity to visit an assisted living home for Alzheimer's patients last week, I walked up and down the halls noticing how vicariously I was living my life... I live so task-oriently. I must get one thing done and move right on to the next. I frustrate easily. I forget to love whole-heartedly and show the joy and peace that a child of God should be illuminating each day, but as my husband and I spoke with a preacher of God's word who now is stricken with this terrible illness, I realized how God is longing for my time. This man of God lived and is still living his life, though he might not understand it, for the Lord. He seemed confused or distraught as he walked the halls with us, but as we started to leave, Brian asked him to pray for us, and just like I'm sure he did all those years past as he lived for God, he bowed his head, and prayed the most simple yet elegant prayer I've ever heard. The time it took for him to say those childlike words was maybe 30 seconds, but it impacted me to take the time to start living and longing to spend my time with God.

I've always heard to live everyday as if it is my last,
but seeing that old man live like that;
hearing my husband tell me he is going to love me like everyday is his last and then see him actually DO it;
and then witnessing my nana sick with Alzheimer's, knowing she is declining, and leaving her home thinking as if it may be my last time with her...
All of these things are enough to make one STOP and take time with God. I've learned to be thankful for the time I've had not just for my own sake but with others. I'm so blessed.

TO EVERYTHING there is a season, and a time for every matter or purpose under heaven:
A time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to pluck up what is planted,
A time to kill and a time to heal, a time to break down and a time to build up,
A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,
A time to cast away stones and a time to gather stones together, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
A time to get and a time to lose, a time to keep and a time to cast away,
A time to rend and a time to sew, a time to keep silence and a time to speak,
A time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.

What profit remains for the worker from his toil?
I have seen the painful labor and exertion and miserable business which God has given to the sons of men with which to exercise and busy themselves.

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He also has planted eternity in men's hearts and minds [a divinely implanted sense of a purpose working through the ages which nothing under the sun but God alone can satisfy], yet so that men cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.

I know that there is nothing better for them than to be glad and to get and do good as long as they live;

And also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor--it is the gift of God.

I know that whatever God does, it endures forever; nothing can be added to it nor anything taken from it. And God does it so that men will [reverently] fear Him [revere and worship Him, knowing that He is].

Monday, April 23, 2007

Everything and In Between...

I guess it's been a month or two since I blogged last, actually it could have been days, weeks, or years, and I wouldn't have noticed. There's this little thing called marriage I've been engulfed in recently, and my life has been tossed to and fro. I don't say that to sound as if it's a bad thing; I say that because God has been in complete control of us every single step of the way. In just three short months, my newlywed husband and I experienced more than most people do in lifetimes. From becoming an item on January 23, to getting engaged just 8 days later on the 31st, having our first kiss that very night, getting married a mere 2 months after that on March 31st, traveling to the Grand Canyon and experiencing God's GLORY in a HUGE way, going to Texas for a best friend's A-mazing wedding, coming home to have one of our biggest trials yet... Not to mention the little things we've learned along the way... like how to tell the other no, when to leave the room, how to end a movie, when it's time for "bed," managing time and money, making room for friends, learning to cook and clean and everything in between...

Life is good, though. It's hard at times. It's oftentimes overwhelming, but at those times when I think it is, he's right there beside me, holding my hand. And even when he's not, my Lord is, which is even better. I've learned that writing my experiences is too difficult. They are something I'm taking in and completely loving every second of. Wait on the Lord, for His grace is sufficient and His plans are too great to not wait for. I'm living proof of that.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

When God Made You...

He must have been thinking about me...

It's unreal to me that the next to last time I wrote, I was single and completely okay with that. I had just told my friends not 5 days before on my birthday that though I was content with being single, I was ready to meet "him." I wanted to know who he was, what he was doing, and had he prayed for me the way I had for him. Only 2 months ago was I in this frame of mind...

Little did I know but that someone I was ready to meet was thinking the same things. He had been praying for his future wife for years... It wasn't until January 14th of this year that the Lord showed him who he should be praying for. It came as quite a surprise to him, as he already knew who she was; he knew her better than most anyone. They were close friends, and they had been pushed by others to try to be something more... But it wasn't time for God had such a bigger plan. On January 22nd, he knew that he needed to call her and tell her how he felt, but when he called, he knew she had had an overwhelming day, so he was silent and waited...

Until the following day... Because the day before had been her birthday, and it wasn't in God's time to reveal that the two would become one in only two months. We met that afternoon at Starbucks and talked for hours about nothing, until his elbows were both on the table and his hands folded together, I didn't realize that this conversation was anything more than just two friends being just that. Then I heard, "What is going on with us? Is there an us?" At that very moment, as I looked into his eyes, the Holy Spirit filled me, and I knew that this was the one that I had been asking and praying for... He was the one that had been made for me. Perfectly and divinely designed for me. But how do you tell someone that when you're not certain they feel that same way?! I replied, "I don't know, is there?!" I soon realized there was in fact an "us." Not just the "us-es" I have had before, this was the one God had intended for me to be with all along. This is the one I was to expect...

In four days, I will walk down the aisle to meet my best friend and pledge our life to the Lord as one. I know, it sounds strange, not saying that I'm pledging my life to him, but the way I see it, I'm not. I'm giving my life, my marriage, and everything I have to the Lord. If it's in my Maker's hands, it can never be harmed, destroyed, or hurt. There will be hard times, but I know that if he and I will take it to the Lord in prayer, He will see them and us through. I am asking now for your prayers... Please pray for my marriage, that it will be one that uplifts and glorifies God in every way possible. It means so much to me. Remember us this Saturday, March 31st, at 2:00, as we start our life together...

Thursday, February 1, 2007

And Now My Lifesong Sings...

Lord, it's amazing how just over eight days ago, You had made me completely content in loving You. I realized that being single wasn't the worst thing in my life, that maybe it was the best because I could focus more of me on You. I wasn't always sure I liked that idea. You and I both know how stubborn I was, and that everywhere I went I was hoping to find the right one.

Lord, it's indescribable, this feeling I have knowing that You have saw fit for me to share my life with this man. You've humbled my every being and hushed my every word. My nerves have overtaken me at times, God, but You are always there to reassure me that You are in control, and this is, in fact, the rest of my life.

Lord, it's moving, having my future by my side. Praying with him, and knowing that everyday for the rest of our lives we are dedicated to serving You because YOU have brought us together in eight days. Eight days, and I KNOW that he is the one. The one that You designed for me, the one You had in mind, the one that is the reason I understand You so well right now... You are so good, God.

Lord, it's weird. I'll be completely honest. I never imagined You could do this, but it's because I doubted that You moved in the way You did to PROVE Your power to me. Thank you, Lord. Thank you that You are more powerful and amazing than even I can comprehend. Thank you for sending me a fiance who loves You more than life itself. Thank you, God, for the most amazing eight days of my life because now, my lifesong sings...

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Sunday, January 28, 2007

What Are You Waiting For?

Oh, I see now... It was me; You were waiting for me to get my heart and mind set on You, on things above, not on the thing that I thought mattered more than anything. You kept asking me to fall in love with You, and it was when I did that You handed him to me.

Your plans never fail, and I never can explain why I haven't chose you from the beginning. Your story for us is beautiful. It is perfectly planned, elegantly designed, and creatively orchestrated, to become this amazing pair that will always uplift and glorify You. I always knew that when I knew, it would be for a man that loved God as much if not more than I did. Thank You for that.

Thank You that despite every other area and aspect in my life, You gave me patience to wait for him. Thank You for giving me the grace to KNOW that he is the one, and thank You that he knew it too. Thank You for allowing me to build such an amazing friendship with him that was solely based on You. Thank You that we always have put You first in every one of our conversations, decisions, and adventures together, and thank You that I firmly believe it will be that way for the rest of our lives. Thank You for helping me, most of all, to wait for You to SHOW ME.

"Every good and perfect gift comes from above..." James 1:17

Saturday, January 27, 2007

You Move Me...

Words come easily to me. They seem to be the one thing I can depend on when everything else fails. That is, until now.

I have been so moved by the Lord in the past week that I have been unable to speak. He has shown me how to truly "be still." It's an amazing thing, to be humbled in His presence, to be living in His light, and to know that He is the center of my world.

In time, the Lord will help me to speak this blessing more eloquently like I'm known for, but at this point in time, I am silenced by His grace, strength, and plan.

Jeremiah 29:11-12 - "For I know the plans I have for you," says the Lord. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen."

Monday, January 22, 2007

Instead of Birthday Bliss...

I've been incredibly humbled by the events of today. It's not what I would have expected if I would have been asked years ago what my 24th would be like... Instead, it's been extremely bittersweet. There were two blogs months ago that kept running through my mind today, and though none of you probably remember them, I cannot stop thinking about the words I wrote. They are more true today than they have ever been...

On Sunday, May 28, 2006, I wrote:

And Now, There's A Hole In My Heart
I lost my uncle today.

It was unexpected, but really, when is death ever truly expected...

I know God has a plan for all of our lives, and as we sat with family and friends, I realized how fortunate we all are to have God in charge. So many things happen that we cannot explain or even begin to comprehend, but God knows what He is doing. My uncle had lived a short 47 year, but wonderful life. He had a beautiful family, amazing friends, and a sense of pride that none of us will ever understand. He was a farmer, and he worked everyday in the fields, as his father had, just as his children will do. I have never been as proud to be in a farming family as I was today. I realized how precious and important they are to one another...

My uncle Gerald and I shared a birthday... As I was telling a friend this piece of information and how my birthday would never be the same, he said this:

That, in itself, is a representation of what life is: beautiful, tragic, and timed by a clock we can't read. Your birthday is something more than it was: a reflection of life now.

On Wednesday, May 31, 2006, I wrote these words:

And The Hole Just Gets Deeper...
...I remember every year around Christmas time, Gerald would remind me that his birthday was coming up, and that I wasn't to forget to send him a card. He'd pinch me until a bruise would come up and I'd yell and knock on him until he'd let me go. Usually, I'd be laughing so hard I couldn't do anything, but he'd make certain I'd be sending him a check with his name on it for his birthday on January 22. It would be then, I'd laugh and elbow him in his side, reminding him to send me a card, as my birthday was on the same day. He'd say, "I know, I know. Don't forget my card." I'd tell him that I prefer cash. Of all of those years, I never once sent a card. Funny enough, he didn't either. But I'd receive a call that night asking for his money... Every year.

I can't imagine my life without him in it. I didn't see him all the time because I knew he was always there. I could always count on Gerald if I wasn't able to get a hold of my dad. When I needed help this past Christmas buying gifts for other family members, I called Gerald. Of course, he said they'd all enjoy a box of rocks, but then he gave me ideas as his wife gave them to him. There's just a part of me that seems to be missing without him. You know that life doesn't go on forever, but I sure wish I could have told him how much I loved him. I know he knew because we weren't the loving kind, he and I; we were the picking, poking, and joking kind. That was our kind of loving. I know the last time I saw him, he gave me his fair share of loving. I had the bruise to prove it for a week after seeing him. It's hard letting go of someone you weren't ready to. It's even harder knowing you're saying goodbye for the final time.

I can't imagine my birthday ever feeling the same because Gerald is not here to share it with me. We never once were together on our birthday, but somehow I knew we were thinking of one another and it truly meant something.

Today my birthday meant so much more to me than it ever has before. I couldn't NOT spend my birthday without him. I couldn't explain this to anyone; it was just something I needed to do. I drove to Lamont to his gravesite to share our birthday together for the first time, and although he wasn't "there," something told me that he knew I was. It was freezing outside, and somehow I was comforted as soon as I walked over to the headstone and kneeled down. Those words hurt more than any ever have before, but he knew. He understood.

I drove away, feeling like it was the best birthday I'd ever had, when the snow started to lightly fall, and the tears wouldn't stop. Every year it snows, and finally, much to my surprise, tonight was the night I saw the first few flakes of snow. I called Jan, my aunt and Gerald's wife, to tell her I had thought of her all day, because I had. It was such a strange day, to be your birthday but thinking the whole time of someone else, praying for them all day long, and hoping you both could have one more day with the someone we love. It's just a new kind of birthday feeling... one that I wasn't expecting. She and I shared a moment of memories about him, and I told her how much I loved him and her... It was very emotional, but God must have known what He was doing because I didn't cry at all. We both must have needed me to say what I did.

Birthdays are blessings, and I mean that now in the most meaningful way. This birthday has taught me to cherish each birthday and day more because I don't know what the Lord has in store. I miss my uncle more than words could ever express, and today I realized that in a deeper way. My birthday will always mean more to me because I know that I share it with him.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Go... Expecting a Blessing.

I'm learning very quickly that God is doing some amazing things in my life. He's opening doors for me that would have never been possible, but I can't explain why and I'm not exactly sure how He puts these people in my path to help me understand where I'm supposed to be... It's not about these people though. It's all about leading me down a path that will take me closer to Him, and though I've tried to make my own way, God's expecting me, asking me, pleading with me to follow Him, and in doing so, I've been blessed far more than I deserve.

Friday night, I came home with the anticipation of sitting on the couch and doing a lot of nothing. I didn't feel like doing anything; I was tired from the day, and I did not want to be interrupted. That was until God moved, and He moved in a big way. He had moved in the heart of my precious friend, Daniel. Daniel called, and I knew as soon as he called that we needed to talk. God said, "Go... and expect a blessing." I knew that God had a hand in the two of us meeting up that night. God has had a hand in both of our lives in an extremely similar way. I believe D calls it hitting a "spiritual wall," but we've both hit them at the same times in our lives, and we've always known that the other was in the same position. It's not until now that the Lord has taken a firm hold over the both of us and directed our paths to cross in a HUGE way. Dinner and a movie have never gone this way for me before... They were solely based on the will of God, expressing our thoughts on the past, for the future, and sharing scriptures. I left feeling stronger than I ever had, excited to study and pray, and anxious about how God was going to WORK... I cannot explain this now, simply because I don't know what the future holds when God is in control, but He has a plan in which D and I seem to be walking side by side and creating a major force for Him...

Sunday was exactly the same. I woke up not feeling anxious to get to church but actually nervous about teaching my 7 and 8 year olds their lesson that morning. I was struggling over how to make it "real" for them. Teaching stories from the Bible isn't ever easy for me as it was never that simplistic and fun for me as a child. I walked into our little classroom, and the Lord said, "Stop. Review what I have taught you." We had been studying, "We Worship God because He is Powerful" for six weeks. Take in mind that when I first started with these kids, they did not know who Mary and Joseph were, and Adam and Eve were foreign characters to them. I questioned God for all of two seconds but asked the children to take a tally of every question they answered aloud and the child with the most would receive a prize next week. It didn't take long for me to see how POWERFUL God truly is. These kids were fighting for questions, and their answers could not be better if I would have answered them myself. I was in awe. "Go... expecting a blessing." I was so humbled by God's movement in the room, our class of 3 children and me, their inexperienced teacher who is learning WITH them. It was so amazing.

I knew God wasn't finished. Sunday night, Alicia, my best friend, and I drove to see my sweet friend and pastor, Brian, preach in the church where he preached his first sermon three years ago. This time, I went EXPECTING A BLESSING, but what I received was so much more. We drove to Brian's hometown, two hours west, to Clarksburg, Tennessee, in a town where the new Dollar General was quite the excitement until the newspaper recently printed that there is talk of a 10-screen movie theater may possibly be in the works. We heard an amazing sermon, straight from the throne of God, and I know that it was directed toward everyone sitting in that small church building. "What will you leave behind?" I thought of his words as I drove home tonight, and I contemplated the ideas others might have of me if I were to leave this world sooner than later. Have I truly lived the life God expected of me? That's easy because I haven't. Am I living it right now? Of course not. I can't be leaving behind the true meaning of my life.

In a week from today, I will be celebrating my 24th birthday, and in those 24 years, I have made some amazing memories. The friendships I have made and lost over the years have shaped me into and out of the person I have become in some ways. My family has been more wonderful than anything I could have ever deserved, and they have pushed me to strive for nothing short of the very best in me in most ways. So, I guess, most people would look back on my life and see the memories in photographs of the friends and family that fill my rooms. But, to me, that's not what has made my life worth living, and though I haven't always said so, it's something that can't be seen in a picture.

I was 10 years old, kneeling at a church bench, when my life changed, and I received the true meaning of life. Not an hour before I ran to that bench, I had walked around in a handshake, and I realized that I didn't know if I was going to Heaven. God gently tapped on my heart, but I was scared. I ran to the bathroom, sat in the floor of the back stall, when my best friend, Amanda, and her mom, came and asked me if I needed to pray. It was like God was telling me to, "Go... expect a blessing." I didn't just walk to pray; I ran. I had to KNOW that I was going to Heaven, and I had to make it right with God that day. It couldn't wait. I cried out to Him for what seemed like forever; I heard others in the church praying for me too, but it was ultimately up to me to make it right with God. When I let go, and let God have control, it was then I received the greatest blessing and my purpose for living. The burden was gone, and I knew I was going to Heaven.

I guess what I am trying to say by all of this is that I can try to live my life the way I want to, but it will never be enough to satisfy me the way that God can. He gives me everything I need when I don't even realize that He can and will. He proves Himself to me time and time again. It's when I'm at my lowest that He picks me up and takes me back to the place where my life REALLY began, and that's the time when I found the truest blessing.