I'm amazed at how my Savior can take any and every circumstance around me to show me more about him. My prayer has always been that this journey of life I'm on would continually bring honor and glory to him, so by using every opportunity; my mistakes, my successes, and my day-to-day adventures, he teaches me how to use it for his glory. This life he blessed me with is ALL about him! So, these are my thoughts, my heart cries, and my lessons from his glorious Word. These are the teachable moments from my Savior!

Psalm 25:4-5 "Show me your ways, LORD, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long."

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Concluding our story...❤

Concluding our story...❤

Can you believe I am finally concluding our story today? Though our story will continue as God has many more things to pen and there is so much life to be lived, I will end this part of our story for you. You are a champ for tagging along. πŸ†

These last several years of our marriage, God seen us through some other challenges.   Especially this last year as He called us to step out in faith and into new beginnings in areas that we had been settled and comfortable for some time. It was definitely one of my hardest years taking on new adventures in a new job and seeing changes in relationships that were so dear to me. But through it all and through my many tears, God carried me. New joys, relationships, blessings, and new mercies! He is a good Father! Though it all, I gained new appreciation and awe of my husband. He loved me so well! There were many days last year that I was difficult to love but he only loved me more. He met me where I was and loved me through every part. Such a beautiful reality of what God designed marriage to be. Loving as He loves and Matt has done that so well. ❤

Through every hardship that has come up in our marriage over the years, God has been faithful. Did you get that? GOD HAS BEEN FAITHFUL! Even when we were faithless, God remained faithFUL! Praise HIM! God has been there every step of the way and continually makes something beautiful out of each hardship!

What we have discovered is that God desires us to be holy more than happy. When we seek holiness from His perfect will, there is a joy unspeakable. Times can be difficulties but peace and joy from our God can remain.

When you are down on your face and have nowhere else to look but up, you see His grace and mercy in ways that bring peace and healing. I can look back over our 25 years of marriage and, yes, I see those difficult times, but more than that now, I see the beauty that God brings from it. I see how we have fallen in love over and over again. I see the deep faith it has instilled in our marriage and family. I see the incredible strength God gave us and continues to give us. I see how our faith impacts our children and as they continue to grow, our desire is that they follow Jesus and live for HIM only. Most importantly, I see the love of a Father on His precious children and how that deep love changed our lives!

I have fallen in love with my husband deeper than I ever thought possible over these last 25 years. Our love has expanded even larger than our waistlines. πŸ˜‰ When we began our marriage, I used to love the sight of our shoes side-by-side on the floor or our toothbrushes together by the bathroom sink. Twenty-five years later the bottles of our blood pressure pills are side-by-side and I still get a touchy-feely moment of togetherness. Maybe a little different perspective. Lol! 😜  Its a reminder that we aren't so young and carefree anymore but it definitely shows we've lived a lot of life together. TOGETHER! Together is always better!

When I said, “I do”, I never thought I could love him more than at that moment but God has shown me differently. The love grew and took shape into something deeper, more meaningful, just like the love for my God. The more I know my God…truly know Him, the deeper my love for Him goes.

Throughout this week, I have shared a brief part of our married life together. This may have been more information than you cared to have heard, but there is so much more than can’t fit onto these pages. Most of these treasured moments are written on the delicate places of my heart and will remain. I love the place we are in our marriage. Through the challenges of last year, God brought such a sweetness out of it that is refreshing and full of new hope in life. Our lives are rich and full of love. Our marriage is not perfect but it is OURS! We work hard at it. We show each other grace and forgiveness and we know that through every day as our relationship with God grows, so will our relationship with each other. It’s all about HIM!

That is the secret to a great marriage….God! If you do marriage any other way you will miss out on all the benefits that God makes available to you. God designed marriage and we will continue to give HIM his rightful place in ours. I pray you will do the same in yours. We can't let our guard down. Marriage is special and needs daily protection and safeguards in place to keep it honorable before God. The enemy wants nothing more than to tear marriages apart. But we will bow low before God so we can stand strong before the enemy! It is worth it!

Thanks for taking the journey with me this week! I do wish I was sitting across the table from you at the coffee house sharing this story as we sipped our frothy lattes. But I am so grateful you joined me here. (I was sipping my coffee from my own coffee bar as I was penning these words. πŸ˜‰) Its been a joy to take this walk down memory lane with you. God is so faithful and He continues to amaze me every day! To HIM be ALL glory!

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”
‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭13:4-8‬a

“But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen you [setting you on a firm foundation] and will protect and guard you from the evil one.”
‭‭2 Thessalonians‬ ‭3:3‬ ‭(AMP‬‬)

Monday, February 6, 2017

Around the World and Back Again! Continuing Our Story!

Around the world and back again! 🌎 Continuing our story……

So now we are about 11 years into our marriage and I was thoroughly enjoying my time as a stay-at-home mom. But when Callie was two and Ben entered school at WCA, I began work at our church preschool to help out with expenses. What a blessing that was! I fell in love with all those sweet students and my coworkers. Callie was in preschool with me and Ben was in 1st grade. It really seemed as though things were smoothly moving along. But as a couple of years went by, Matt’s company was struggling to keep the doors open and we knew he needed to find work. We put our house up for sale, Matt began searching, and within 3 weeks our house sold and Matt began a new job. Wow! Things don’t usually work that quickly for us! Lol! Matt’s new job would take him to Lakeland, FL, for about a year and then from there we didn’t know where it would lead. There again, we found ourselves at a crossroads of what God would have us to do. We made plans to stay put here in Wilmington and see Matt on the weekends but after flying down there to help him find an apartment, things became a little unsettled. I boarded the plane home from Florida and cried the entire flight. I know the man beside me was ready to get off that plane and away from this lady who snubbed and snotted the entire flight to ILM. I called Matt when I landed, both of us crying, because God made it clear that we should not live apart for those long months. So, when God speaks, we listen and obey! I loaded up Ben and Callie when school was out in May and headed to Lakeland, FL, into a 650 square foot, one-bedroom apartment and began homeschooling. Oh mylanta! That was not in the plans just a few months before. 

That was an intense but beautiful time for us as a family. Ben and Callie had their own little beds and shared the one bedroom. Matt and I would blow up an air mattress every night, roll the couch out of the way, and sleep on the living room floor. Because of our cramped quarters, me early morning quiet time had to be taken in the bathroom. Thank God he met me there! But when you need alone time with Him, you'll find a way! 😬 It wasn’t exactly glamorous, but it was home because we were all under one roof. Just as God intended! One of the perks of living in Lakeland, FL, was our close proximity to Orlando. We had season tickets to Disney World and got to visit quite often. We loved that! It was a huge help being away from all our family and friends. We found a great church that just so happened to be in an old mall. It was actually called First Baptist Church at the Mall. I had told Matt many times that you could worship and praise God at the mall, well here was proof! Lol! The first Sunday we visited they sang one of my favorite songs, the preaching was straight from the Word, and as we met the pastor, we knew we had found our place to worship  and plug in during this interim. 

So, there we were in a one-bedroom apartment enjoying life as a family of four and then God began to move…..again….

It was during that time that God began working on our hearts about adoption. Nothing about that made sense at the time. It was expensive, we were comfortable with our two children, and we didn’t even know where we would end up after Florida. Matt wasn't on board. So I just committed it to prayer and let God handle the rest.  And He sure did! 

When God calls you to something, He will see you through it. God had already begun putting the details together and this was a true test of our faith and trust in him.  Matt’s job moved us back to Wilmington in December of 2005. The kids and I arrived a few weeks before Matt and got the house set up. When Matt arrived on December 21, he tossed the adoption paperwork across the bed and said he filled out his part now it was my turn. So as we pushed send on the computer to submit the initial application, we looked at each other scared to death and wondered what we were getting ourselves in to. Lol! But the adoption process began! We were in and trusting God BIG!

I was able to go back to work at the preschool in January and we were enjoying the total dependence on God through it all. The next year and a half we were deep into our "paper pregnancy". I think I gained more weight during this paper pregnancy than the other two biological pregnancies. Mountain upon mountain of paperwork, fingerprints, home studies, and all manner of international adoption details with a hefty price tag. But God put a love in our hearts for a child we didn’t even know yet and it was clear we had to move forward to bring our child home. We took a huge step of faith in obedience to God and He put all the details in place!

(I will not go into all the details of our adoption here, but stay tuned in May for our adoption journey as we celebrate Caleb being home for 10 years!)

We boarded a big jet plane, all four of us, on May 3, 2007 and were China bound! All the way around the world in the town of Guangzhou, China, we welcomed our precious Caleb into our hearts on May 9, 2007! It was absolutely beautiful and God continues to amaze us with his love and grace today through that experience! Our little family of four wasn't quite complete without our Caleb. Our lives were changed forever! God was continuing to write our story and we all know that He is the Great Author! God is so good and faithful and we give Him all praise and glory!

Tomorrow I'll conclude our story and share how God has, yet again, taken us through more giant steps of faith this last year. We've reached many milestones in our family over this year and we remain completely surrendered to God and His will! That doesn't guarantee a comfortable life. Sometimes it is downright hard. But it does guarantee a life of growing and drawing closer to His heart. It means realizing the blessings through the hard and seeing God chisel away the rough edges in order to display His masterpiece. A masterpiece that He adores and will be used to further His Kingdom's work.  That's where we want to be! He is worth it!! 

So join me tomorrow as we wrap it up! Thanks for following along! ❤

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭3:5-6‬ 

“I am convinced and confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will [continue to] perfect and complete it until the day of Christ Jesus [the time of His return].”
‭‭PHILIPPIANS‬ ‭1:6‬ ‭(AMP‬‬)

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Not Done Yet..The Story Continues!

Not done yet πŸ˜‰...continuing the story.....

Well, we did tie the knot on that cold Saturday evening in February and spent the night celebrating with all our family and friends. We left our reception and traveled to our honeymoon in Myrtle Beach. As we checked in the hotel, we were easily spotted as newlyweds when Matt started to sign us in at the check in desk and rice fell out of his hair all over the counter. Lol! 

I was so happy to be Mrs. Matt Jordan and begin our lives together! A couple of days later on February 10th, Matt's birthday, we received a call that my grandfather had passed away suddenly of a heart attack. The news hit me like a ton of bricks. We packed up early on Tuesday morning and headed home to be with our family. After the visitation in Wilmington, we traveled to Virginia for the funeral and burial in the town I was born in. In an instant we went from celebrating together as a family over a new relationship to grieving together in the loss of life.

As you can see, Matt and I faced many difficulties very early into our marriage. Four months later I received a call from the hospital at 5:30 in the morning that my husband had been in a car accident. Matt had been leaving early in the mornings traveling out of town to work and returning late at night. That particular morning it was raining heavily and his truck lost control and landed in a ditch. Praise the Lord his injuries were minor but walking into the ER seeing your new husband strapped to a backboard covered in mud and blood can do a number on your nerves.

After that incident, life did calm down a bit and we could really begin to settle into married life. I loved everything about it! I was finishing college and working at the mall. I loved being at the door when Matt would come home from work (which I still do today) and having supper on the table. I loved waking up in the morning and rolling over to see that he was there beside me. I loved how he would open the Bible at night and share devotions with me. I loved hearing my name, Mrs. Jordan, called whenever I was out. I loved going on a date with him only to realize that I would not have to say "goodbye" to him at the end of the date. Everything about married life made me smile and I loved doing life with him. ❤

Now I know what you are thinking. Did we ever argue? Well, the answer is, "YES"! Of course we did! We were newlyweds. We were two people all the sudden living together bringing our own traditions, selfishness, and habits under one roof so, yes, we had arguments, or "intense moments of fellowship", as I prefer to call them. πŸ˜‰

Throughout our first five years of marriage, I believe God used the many difficulties and challenges we faced to shape and strengthen our marriage. When we were ready to begin our family but things took a bit longer than anticipated, our marriage was extremely tested. I was still living my dream, and that, in no way, included infertility. But as we all know, God has a plan and His ways are not my ways.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.“ As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
Isaiah 55:8-9

Anyone that has walked the road of infertility understands the extreme sadness and difficulty that loom around every corner.  It wasn’t supposed to be that hard. Doctor visits and medication month after month and still being heartbroken all over again at the sign of another negative pregnancy test. After a couple of years of walking that road, I finally became pregnant! We were beyond excited! I believe I walked on a cloud everywhere I went. That "glow" everyone says you get with pregnancy was a neon fluorescent light around me and I couldn't wait to become a family of three. Unfortunately, that was not meant to happen as a month later I began to show signs of miscarriage and through ultrasound, discovered that our baby's heartbeat had stopped. Matt and I were heartbroken over the loss of our child and facing every day was difficult. The next several months were filled with pain and heartache. Seeing other pregnant bellies and newborn babies were like a punch in the gut and the darkness was almost more than I could bear at times.

As summer approached, Matt got news that he would be transferring to his office in Garner, NC. This news actually made me very happy. I was ready to move away, begin again, and leave all this heartache behind. That move for us, although temporary, ended up being a time of healing in our marriage and ourselves. Matt and I worked in the same office building and we were together pretty much 24 hours a day. That was an absolute blessing! We were settling into our “new normal” and getting actively involved in a new church. God was working and healing!

Right before Christmas that year, I discovered I was pregnant again!  We were shocked and excited!  Once we had moved to Garner, I kept rescheduling my doctor’s appointments with the specialist because emotionally I wasn’t quite ready to begin the infertility battleground again. But God sent us some amazing news! It was hard to get too excited as my initial blood tests weren’t as great as they hoped but with God’s divine providence and some really incredible doctors, I was able to sustain my pregnancy. My sister, Stephanie was also pregnant and it was fun sharing those pregnancy moments together. But in April of 1996 my sister's sweet baby girl Hannah was born but not with breath in her little lungs and she was ushered to the arms of Jesus. Our family grieved such tremendous loss and the reality that all the love we had for my sweet niece would never be showered on her on this earth. Those were heartbreaking days. Small little white caskets should not even exist. It's too much to bear. 

But God in His great love and grace brought days of joy again. On August 6, 1996, I gave birth to the most beautiful, BIG, baby boy! Ben came into this world at a whopping 10 lbs. and 1 oz. and honestly, the world began to look wonderful again. Skies were bluer; the grass was greener, the sun shined brighter and every detail to life gained more color. Then six months later, new life again when my sister Leslie gave birth to her first son and then again five months after that as my sister, Stephanie, held her new baby boy in her arms. What was once such times of grief, God turned to times of joy in those sweet little lives. 

God brought so much healing in my life through that difficult time and the birth of our first child. I was wife to Matt and now, mom to Ben and nothing could have made me happier. God blessed us immensely and through that time of healing, I began to draw even closer to him.

“Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him.”
Psalm 127:3

Over the next eight years of our marriage, lots of things were going on. God was shaping us into a family totally dependent on him. Matt and I faced some financial hardships in Garner and moved back to Wilmington soon after Ben was born. We settled back here and into our new church home and really began focusing on God’s will in the midst of all the challenges we had faced so far. Ben kept us on our toes, as he was a very active toddler. There were many days, through his toddler years, that I really thought I wouldn’t make it through, or he wouldn’t. One or the other of us. Lol! But we both grew during that time. I enjoyed my time as a stay at home mom and wife. In 2000, we were blessed with our beautiful baby girl, Callie! We praise the Lord that we didn’t have to endure the pain and suffering of infertility again and through her birth God gave us hope that not everything we encountered would be so difficult. She brought us so much joy and her big brother was quite protective of her (and still is πŸ˜‰). Our home was filled with a rambunctious toddler boy and lots of fills and pink with a baby girl. We were blessed indeed! God had transition ioned us from a couple to a family and that brought a whole new set of blessings and challenges.

“But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.”
Joshua 24:15b

After Callie was born, we decided that we were complete in our family and we were going to enjoy life as a family of four!

Well…that was our plan. But God had a different plan for us...πŸ˜‰

Join me tomorrow as God takes our family on a new journey all the way across the globe!

Saturday, February 4, 2017

The BIG Day!

And still continuing the story….Our BIG day!

The countdown was on to the wedding! There were bridal showers and bridesmaids luncheons and all manner of bridal activity in high gear. Three weeks before our wedding, Matt moved into our new home. What?!?? Our home! It has such a nice ring to it! I also gave up my title as WCA’s Homecoming Queen but was more than excited to replace it with a new title on February 8, 1992….Mrs. Matt Jordan! 

Our BIG day arrived and I was getting married to my Prince Charming! All those childhood memories of playing “wedding” on the playground were about come to life. This time it was with my real groom and not some elementary boy I suckered into giving up his recess to play pretend groom. Ha! Oh bless them! 

We enjoyed a wonderful rehearsal and dinner! The same teacher that made such an impact on my life through my senior year was our wedding coordinator and she did a beautiful job of corralling our very large wedding party into a organized rehearsal. Then we joined our party for dinner by the water and were sung to by Matt's Uncle Ray. We are so blessed with an amazing family! After our dinner, Matt had me at home by 11:00 (my curfew was still in effect right up until I moved out. πŸ˜‰) We talked about our excitement and couldn't believe we had made it to THE day. I remember as we stood in my driveway, hand in hand, reaffirming to each other that divorce was not an option once we were married. We both reiterated that we were in it for the long haul. The good, the bad, and everything in between. Matt gripped my hands that night before we said our vows and said to me, 

"Right now we decide. It's either going to be forever or forget it."

Forever it is!

We prayed together and as we hugged our "goodbye" that night, it was surreal knowing that would be the last time he would walk me to my door and then turn to go to his own home. The next night he would carry me over the threshold to "from this day forward...."

Waking up the morning of my wedding day I  was “cool as a cucumber”. I lounged around in my cozies because it was going to be a long wait to see my groom. Our wedding wasn’t until 6:00 so I took my time getting ready. We headed to the church that afternoon and the excitement was building. My “cool as a cucumber” attitude was quickly replaced by the butterflies in my stomach eating away at those cucumbers. 😜 There were pictures being taken, and details getting finished, and I was just ready to get this show on the road. My groom was waiting! 

Finally...the moment arrived! The chimes began signaling it was 6:00! I could not believe I was getting ready to become Mrs. Matt Jordan!

Our wedding was beautiful! It was exactly as I had dreamed! The wedding party was huge and full of those most precious to us! My bridesmaids dressed in stunning purple dresses and the men so dasher in their tuxes. But nothing compared to standing in the back of the church as I heard the bridal march begin, the doors opened, and there he was! My groom was standing at the altar, so handsome in his tux, smiling in anticipation with tears of joy in his eyes, and at that moment nothing else mattered. My dad escorted me down the aisle but I don't remember much of anything because my focus was on getting to Matt, saying, "I do", and beginning our lives together as one in Christ! Our family and friends surrounded us in love and it was an honor to have both of our childhood pastors unite us in marriage that day. Rev. Wall and Pastor Herchenhahn orchestrated a beautiful ceremony. We had my brother and sister-in-law and some dear friends sing during our ceremony and then as Pastor Herchenhahn announced us as husband and wife, my heart was full.  We sealed our vows with a kiss! The first kiss as husband and wife! In the presence of God, we turned to face our family and friends as we were officially announced, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Matthew Jordan. To God be the glory!

 "And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him."
Genesis 2:18 (KJV)

We made a covenant together before God that day and, still today, take that covenant very seriously. We've seen marriages crumble all around us. It is a stark reminder of the fallen world we live in and that none of us are immune to sinful and selfish desires. None of us! 

We know that our individual focus and attention has to be on Almighty God! It is only then that two people, who have their own selfish ways, can be totally committed to the covenant of marriage. Do we argue and fall short at times? Absolutely! Do we get on each other’s nerves and act selfishly? You bet! But you see, when we focus our attention on God, we are both looking in the same direction and God can unite our hearts in a way that only HE can. He can take these two selfish people and make something incredible out of them. God's design for marriage is beautiful and holy! Through the good times and the bad times it is a blessing to behold.  

I am truly honored to be united in holy matrimony with my best friend and love of my life. Many days I feel so unworthy of this incredible blessing. I am blessed that Matt chose me! I am blessed that God crossed our paths that hot summer day in Chick-fil-A! I am continually blessed that God allows us to live this gift of marriage everyday! Our vows were precious then and are still today.

What we vowed on February 8, 1992, we will continue as we honor each other and our God....to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part!

"So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate."
Matthew 19:6 (NASB)

Join me tomorrow as we go from the wedding to "happily ever after"...

Friday, February 3, 2017

The BIG Question!!

So back to the story.....

My senior year in high school was such a momentous year in a lot of different ways. It was definitely a turning point in my life and a year I will always cherish. Matt and I had been seriously dating now for over eight months and as my senior year was beginning, Matt was completing his last few months at UNCW. We were madly in love and both of us knew that we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together. A week into my senior year, Matt and I celebrated the one year anniversary of our first date. Matt, with the help of his parents, made me a romantic candlelit dinner down in his family room. I wasn't feeling the greatest that night because I was getting over an illness but I did not want to miss our anniversary celebration. After our dinner, Matt wanted to serve me dessert but I politely declined because I wasn't feeling well. The look on his face showed that he was disappointed so I quickly changed my mind and told him I would love some of his dessert. As he came down the stairs with a tray of delicious looking cheesecake (my favorite!!), I also noticed a small black box intricately arranged between our desserts. Matt got down on his knee and with tears in his eyes expressed his love for me. He slipped that beautiful diamond ring on my finger and asked me to marry him! πŸ’

Marriage proposals today have become likened to a Hollywood premiere. I've seen my fair share of all mannner of proposals and, shew, they get pretty creative! Each one setting the bar pretty high for the next endearing fella popping the question. But that night, there was no grand setup with a photographer hiding to snap pictures or a flash mob waiting to step out and sing and dance to a love song. It was just a perfect proposal from the most amazing man who was pledging his love for me. It was full of love and romance just between us and our God. As stunned as I was, I immediately said, "yes", knowing that he was the one God had chosen or me! My heart was full and I couldn’t wait to spend my life with him!❤

We continued our celebration as his parents waited in their back bedroom for us to emerge with the news! Then we rushed to my house to share the news with my family. We were so excited and also very blessed that we had wonderful parents that understood our commitment to each other and supported us every step of the way. And, yes, Matt did ask my dad for my hand in marriage and had the blessing of both sets of our parents before asking me. What a wonderful time that was!

I'm not going to lie, going to school the next week as a 17-year-old senior and engaged to be married did not receive many warm fuzzies from my teachers. 😳 And, although my classmates were happy for me, they also did not think we would stay together till our wedding much less 25 years of marriage. Lol! I can’t blame them. Nothing about our situation screamed “happily ever after”. It wasn’t the “norm”. Nonetheless, we were happy and focused on getting our diplomas and THEN beginning our lives together. All things in their proper order! πŸ˜‰

As I said before, my senior year was a turning point in my life. Not just because I was engaged to be married. But because God was doing a work in my life as He was molding and shaping me more into the woman He wanted me to be.  I was blessed to grow up at a Christian school where the Bible was not only taught but also urged to live out and prayer was openly practiced. I had decided not to cheer my senior year so I could really focus on my studies. Matt was such a good student whose study habits were rubbing off on me and I really wanted to finish high school with great grades. 

Though I had many teachers who had strong influences on my life, I had one particular teacher who impacted my life in such a tremendous way. Every morning I would enter Ms. Buick's Algebra class and she would spend the first few minutes in a time of devotion in God's Word and prayer. Times were scary as we were right in the midst of the Gulf War. So, being in the Word was the best place she could take her students first thing in the morning. Ms. Buick was bold in teaching the Word! She could really preach a sermon before we opened our books! Kind of made it easier to stomach Algebra! 😜
She didn't sugar coat things or water them down. She told it like it was! She shared with us that surrendering to God and walking in him was the ONLY way that we could live the abundant life that God had promised us in His Word. 

This one particular day I felt the Holy Spirit gripping my heart in such a way that I could not focus on a thing she taught that day. All I could do was pray that this class would hurry up and get over or I was going to bust. After class, I approached Ms. Buick with tears streaming down my face and asked to talk to her. She quickly took me into an unoccupied classroom and I shared with her that something wasn't quite right in my life. I had surrendered my life to Christ when I was six years old but something was off. As she shared with me through God's Word, I realized what I was missing was that intimate relationship with Christ. Yes, He was my Savior but I was too busy "serving" Him instead of really getting to know Him. I went to church every time the doors were open, I attended a Christian school, I worked in children's church, and I lived in a Christian home but I was taking for granted my personal relationship with Christ. My sins were forgiven and I was covered but I was missing out on really getting to know the heart of my Savior. Any relationship needs nurturing and getting to know each other, but I severely lacked in getting to know my Savior and that relationship was strained. Ms. Buick prayed with me that day and I remember her telling me that this day would be one that I would never forget, a day that would be a spiritual marker in my life. She was right! December 3, 1990, I recommitted my life to Christ and began a journey to know Him more. What a beautiful day!

“He must increase, but I must decrease.”
John 3:30

I could hardly wait for the dismissal bell to ring at school that day! I had to share this amazing news with the two most important people in my life, my mom and Matt! I drove to Chick-fil-A and explained my day to Matt and he rejoiced with me and committed that we would grow in Christ together. I cannot tell you what a blessing that was! Then I drove home and shared the news with my mom! She was already in tears as she sat watching old home movies of my granddaddy who had gone to be with Jesus just the year before. My mom hugged me tight and told me she was so proud of me. One of the greatest days of my life and I will never forget it!

That was the day my true love affair with Jesus really began! As my love for Matt continued to grow, so did our love for God. Our desire was to begin our lives as husband and wife and know Him more, love Him more, and serve Him more!

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”
Matthew 6:33 (NKJV)

“Lord, You are my portion and my cup of blessing; You hold my future.”
Psalm 16:5 (HCSB)

Over the next year and a half, we were very busy! Matt graduated from UNCW, left Chick-fil-A and entered the “rat race”. I was finishing my senior year with the best grades I had ever had, was honored by being crowned the 1991 WCA Homecoming Queen, graduated from high school and began pursuing an accounting degree at Miller-Motte Business College. Through it all, we were planning our wedding. Wow! There was a lot going on! But the date was set and the countdown began to the day we would become husband and wife! Our engagement was precious as we went through our premarital counseling and began putting together the foundation that would become the Jordan home. Looking back now, that year before the wedding was a whirlwind of activity! 

But the day finally came! ❤

“I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine.”
Song of Solomon 6:3

To be continued....πŸ˜‰

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Once Upon A Time....

Today, I begin our story. If you didn’t read my post from yesterday this makes absolutely no sense to you. You can go back and catch up if you like. But if you want to just jump right in...come on!

In honor of our upcoming 25th wedding anniversary, I am going to share our story. A love story that spans over a quarter of a century and shares all the growing and learning in our marriage. Some things will be boring for you, some things will sound vaguely familiar, and some things, I pray, will inspire you to know that marriage is a huge blessing in spite of our human selves. This is our journey of 25 years of walking this blessing, making mistakes along the way, but praising God that we get to walk it together.

So, if you’re ready, grab your cup of coffee and join me for a walk down memory lane!

Once upon a time.......JUST KIDDING!

Seriously, here is how it all began....

From the time I was a young girl I couldn't wait to grow up, meet Prince Charming, get married, have kids, and live happily ever after. You know, the whole Cinderella fairy tale right? I guess I wasn't a whole lot different from other girls my age. That was the dream! My friends and I used to play wedding on the playground in elementary school and would find some poor little boys in our class to stand in as our grooms. Oh, those crazy elementary years and poor unsuspecting souls. Bless!

Well, my dream did come true and I am happy to say that I am still living my dream with my Prince Charming complete with a castle in Pender County. Okay, it's really just a regular old house but it's our "castle" nonetheless. πŸ˜‰Though things weren't always a storybook tale, they were indeed part of our story so I guess I will start at the beginning. That hot summer day at Independence Mall when I met my prince!

Soon after I turned 16, it was time to find my first job. On July 21, 1989, I began working for a little company you may have heard of....Chick-fil-A. Lol! It was perfect for me. No Sundays and very flexible with my school and cheerleading activities. Two of my sisters had previously worked there and it just became a family thing. I remember walking in that first day nervous that I was entering the workforce. The owner, Mr. Skelton, introduced me to the other employees and I remember, like it was yesterday, this handsome guy standing over the fryer putting in a fresh batch of chicken nuggets. As romantic as this all sounds, I hate to bust the "Cupid bubble" and admit that it was not love at first sight. He was just a nice guy cooking chicken who so happened to be my new manager.

I loved working at Chick-fil-A! The majority of the staff were teens or college students and a couple of them went to school with me. We had a great time working! Even those long open to close Saturdays were a lot of fun in spite of the crazy lunch hour mall crowd. After working a couple of weeks, Matt and I became pretty good friends. But dating did not really enter our minds because, well, he was six years older than me. Yes, that's correct! I was 16 and he was 22. Now, once you pick your chin up off the floor, I will finish this beautiful story. πŸ˜‚

One of my close friends (Shelly) noticed how great Matt and I got along and enjoyed being together. She decided to take matters into her own hands by convincing Matt to ask me out. He, of course, was concerned about our age difference but she, so slyly, reminded him that when he was old and gray, I would still be young and beautiful. Ha! I guess that did the trick because he did ask me out! I had dated a couple of guys before Matt but neither fit the standard I had set for dating. Maybe that sounds crazy to you but I didn't want to date a guy that I couldn't see myself married to one day. By that, what I mean is, I looked for certain qualities in a guy before I would date him. First and foremost, was he a believer and follower of Jesus? Yes, I had a long list but those things were important to me and the more I got to know Matt, the more it became evident that he possessed all those qualities. Did I expect perfection? Of course not. I am nowhere near perfect myself. But I looked for someone who was seeking the same things that I was. 

So now came the tough part.....asking my dad if this 22-year-old man could take his 16-year-old daughter out on a date. But I did what any girl scared to ask her daddy would do…. I asked my mom first. 😬 I came home from work all excited to tell my mom about this guy at work who asked me out and she was sharing in my excitement. I told her that he was so nice, funny, good looking, a Christian, with godly parents, and that he even went to a Baptist church. She was smiling cheerily and then I lowered the BOOM. I said,

"Oh, by the way, he is 22 and will you ask dad for me?"

The look on my mom's face was priceless! Lol! She, in her “always-calm manner”, said that she would ask him but was probably about to pass out. 

After work that Friday night, my dad agreed to meet Matt and invited him over to the house. So, we enter my home in our greasy uniforms reeking of fried chicken and the house is full of people. My sisters, my brother and their spouses just so happened to be there that night. Huh! Big coincidence? I don't think so. My mom and dad introduced themselves and then took us into the living room. The LIVING ROOM! We never went in there! That place was formal with fancy furniture and just shouted "INTIMIDATION". Anyway, for an hour my dad asked Matt questions as my mom and I sat quietly listening to Matt answer with perfect ease. He was well spoken and confident about what he was going to do with his life and assured my dad that he would be a perfect gentleman to his daughter. Okay, it was finally over and I was waiting for my dad to say "no", but my dad shook Matt's hand and told us to have a good time on our date.

What?!?!?!? He said, "YES"?

I think I heard thumps coming from the other room that occupied all my siblings with their ears, I'm sure, stuck to the walls as they eavesdropped. Lol! We were all in shock that my dad was allowing this date.

As a side note....my dad told me years later (after we were married) that he never intended to allow me to go out with Matt. I mean the age difference was not something that made good sense. He said he invited him over that night so he could see what kind of 22-year-old man wanted to date his 16-year-old daughter. Lol! Yikes!😳
But after he spent time with Matt, he could tell that Matt's intentions were pure and he was so impressed with him and his character! I am so thankful my parents trusted my judgment! 

Well, the next Saturday, August 26, 1989, was our big date! I was so excited! I bought a new outfit (my favorite color…purple) and made sure that my hair was done just right. Now, remember, this was the 80s so “just right” hair was big and full of hairspray. Don’t judge! Now that you have that visual in your mind let me continue….

I was so nervous as I waited for Matt's little red Ford Festiva to pull into the driveway. I think my heart was beating through my brand new purple and black polka dotted shirt. He arrived right on time and escorted me to his car. He opened the car door for me and was such the perfect gentleman. We had a wonderful time over dinner at Rock-ola CafΓ©. He was so easy to talk to and always carried the conversation.  After dinner, we went back to my house to play a game of pool on our family pool table. It was the perfect date! We laughed, talked, and enjoyed a fun evening. Of course, I could hardly go to sleep that night. I was totally smitten and knew deep in my heart that he was the one for me.

Unfortunately, we didn't have a second date anytime soon after. Though we remained close friends, it was a few months of Matt soul searching and me patiently waiting. You see, Matt was about to graduate from college and I was still a junior high school. Everything about our situation seemed as though we should go separate ways and we almost headed that way. But both of us knew deep down that God had plans for us beyond what we expected. 

It was New Year's Eve 1989 (after the big snow storm of ’89), as Matt returned from a scuba diving trip down in the Florida Keys with a friend, that we realized that we were meant to be together. It was a Sunday afternoon and I was heading to the mall to do a little retail therapy since I had not heard anything from Matt returning from his trip. As I got out of my car, I spotted Matt and his friend coming toward me through the parking lot. (Key the swelling romantic music and picture in slow motion as we walked towards each other…just kidding!) 
Matt walked right up to me, hugged me tightly, and told me he had missed me. He invited me over to his family's house after church that night for New Year’s Eve and from that point on, we were inseparable. We knew that God had plans for us and we decided to give this relationship a try. He told me that during that trip away, he felt as though God was doing a work in his heart about us.

Saying "yes" to our relationship when it didn't make a lot of sense to others was the beginning of a lifetime together of saying "yes" to God in whatever he called us to do. Over our 27 total years together, we have boldly said, "yes" to God's calling many times, yet feeling alone in our endeavor of obedience to Him. From the outside, things didn't always make sense and we didn't have all the answers but, together, we trusted the ONE who did and had faith that He would direct our path. We have had our share of ups and downs. We have weathered many storms and celebrated many victories. We have experienced the struggle of being disobedient to God and we have found comfort and peace being in the center of his will. Through it all, we have grown closer together and closer to our God. We have recognized that challenges are inevitable but that joy can remain. A relationship with God at the center is so much sweeter and not a day goes by that I don't praise my Heavenly Father for navigating our paths and granting us this most beautiful blessing of marriage! 

Though our marriage is not perfect, as we are not, our marriage is a continual work-in-progress that is grounded in faith, trust, forgiveness, lots of grace, and abounding love. Every day is an adventure through God's will and I am so incredibly blessed to be able to journey on with my love!

"Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love. "
1 Corinthians 13:4-7, 13 (NLT)

So, there it is. The beginning of our story. Long... I know. But wanting to remember every part because, well, though not the greatest love story ever told, ours is definitely my favorite. πŸ˜‰
If you’re up for more, join me tomorrow morning for part 2! 

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Happy February! Love is in the air!

Happy February! The shortest month of the year but, to me, the GREATEST month!

Next Wednesday Matt and I will celebrate 25 years of marriage! What?!?!? 25 YEARS! The silver anniversary! Praise the Lord! 

I can truly say that every day is sweeter and we treasure growing old together! I'm so blessed to grow old with him...my best friend. Though no one wants to grow old, that is part of this life here on earth and I have the honor of doing just that with him! Anyone that knows us very well understands how important our marriage is to us. It is something we cherish and we work hard at. So, in honor of our silver anniversary, I am going to post blogs this next week based on our marriage journey. I took that walk down memory lane and shared our love story with you a couple years ago and apparently there were a few of you that enjoyed it and asked if I was going to share it again. So, for those few of you…I hope you enjoy! πŸ˜‰

God has given me a strong desire to encourage other marriages. Though ours is not perfect (believe me😬) we do take it seriously and enjoy the beautiful covenant we took in the presence of our God. I have been married to Matt for over half of my life and it would be fitting to say that God has given me some pretty incredible "teachable moments" during these last 25 years. It has not always been romance and roses (although the majority has❤️🌹) and at some points has been down right hard. But God has been so faithful and, through Him, our marriage has endured some pretty rough terrain. Terrain that has tested us and our commitment to each other but brought us to the place in which the covenant we took before God on February 8, 1992, has become even more special... more treasured... more sacred!

I look forward to sharing our journey this week. There is something exhilarating in taking that nostalgic walk down memory lane! Being reminded of how we met, how we fell in love, and how we continue to do "life" everyday with 2 busy jobs, 3 kiddos, and many other things thrown in the mix, can only make us stronger and I look forward to sharing that with you. I often share these memories with our kids and, believe it or not, they seem to enjoy hearing them. Or maybe they just amuse us but anyway....Lol! 
Marriage is a blessing! In a day and age where marriage is seen as a contract between two people instead of a covenant before Almighty God, I count it an honor to share with the world the secret to a long and lasting marriage. That secret........is God front and center! It doesn't work any other way for us!

I hope you will join me this week as I count down the days to our silver anniversary. My purpose is to reflect on where we’ve been so we can continue moving forward and hopefully encourage some of you in the process. We haven't always gotten it right in our 25 years but our mistakes have been used to learn and grow so that our marriage can remain strong. We will make more mistakes through our years together, of this I'm sure, but we will use them to better ourselves and let God work in us. 

The journey begins tomorrow! So, my friend, grab a cup of coffee in the morning and join me for my walk down memory lane!

"But from the beginning of the creation, God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh; so then they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”
Mark 10:6-9 (NKJV)