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."

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Still continuing the story........

Still continuing the story........

Well, we did tie the knot on that cold Saturday evening in February and spent our honeymoon in Myrtle Beach. 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 the next 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.

So as you can see, Matt and I faced 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 married life! I loved being at the door when Matt would come home from work 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!

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 and habits under one roof so, yes, we had arguments, or "intense moments of fellowship", as I prefer to call them. Lol!

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 (NIV84)

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 fertility 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. In August of 1996 I give 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. 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. Haha! 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 ;). Our home was filled with a rambunctious toddler boy and lots of pink with a baby girl. We were blessed indeed! God had transitioned 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. God had a different plan in mind! Lol!

Join me tomorrow as I conclude the story!

Friday, February 5, 2016

Continuing the Story...the BIG Day!

And still continuing the story…….

(Part 3)

Three weeks before our wedding, I gave up my title as WCA’s Homecoming Queen but on February 8, 1992, I received a new title….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. Haha!

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 getting our very large wedding party ready and rehearsed.  After our dinner, Matt had me at home by 11:00 (my curfew was still in effect right up until I moved out. Haha!) I remember waking up the morning of my wedding day and 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. Lol!

The time was here!!!! I could not believe I was getting ready to be 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 prince 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 eyes were on him, 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. Matt’s pastor, Rev. Wall, just recently went home to be with the Lord but he was a precious man of God. Pastor Herchenhahn was my pastor and did such a beautiful ceremony as he led us in the scripture of uniting in holy matrimony. 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 and then turned to face our family and friends in the presence of God as we were officially announced as Mr. and Mrs. Matthew Jordan. What an amazing time that was!

 "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; a reminder of the fallen world we live in and that none of us are immune to sinful and selfish desires. 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 amazing 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 for more of the the story......

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Continuing the Story...

If you are just joining in on our walk through the first 24 years of our marriage, let me encourage you to read my last two blog posts first. This might help clue you in on our journey and why I would even be writing about it anyway. Lol!

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, along 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 suffering with a kidney infection 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! Proposals today are like theatrical performances. Lol! They are televised and sometimes can cost the same as it would to fund a Hollywood premiere. Ha! 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. And to think, I almost missed that because of a silly old kidney infection! Haha! 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 24 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! ;)

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! Haha! 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 knew I had surrendered my life to Christ when I was six years old but why did I feel so empty? 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 honor our Lord.

“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 of the Jordan home. Looking back now, that year before the wedding was almost a whirlwind!

But the day finally came! 

(Tune in tomorrow as I share about our BIG DAY!)

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

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Once Upon a Time....

Today, I begin our story. If you didn’t read my post from yesterday this makes no sense to you. Ha! But if you are just joining, in honor of my upcoming 24th wedding anniversary, I am going to share our story. A love story that spans 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. Lol! This is our journey of 24 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. 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. Haha!

Well, my dream did come true and I am happy to say that I am still living my dream with my Prince Charming! 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. So the summer after my sophomore year I got a job at a wonderful Christian company that was very good to young people by working around school and sports schedules and just so happened to be closed on Sunday. It was a perfect job! On July 21, 1989, I began working for a little company you may have heard of....Chick-fil-A. Lol! Two of my sisters had previously worked there and it just became a family thing. (We are so proud that our 19-year-old son is walking in our footsteps at his first job at Chick-fil-A!) 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, my handsome prince 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. Lol! He was just a nice guy cooking chicken who so happened to be my new crew 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. Haha!

One of my close friends (Shelly) noticed the spark Matt and I had for each other and 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. Hahaha! I guess that did the trick because he did ask me out! Lol! I had only dated a couple of guys before Matt but I had a standard that I always stuck to. I would never 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. Qualities such as, is he a born again believer in Jesus Christ? Is he active in his church? Does he respect and honor his parents? Does he respect authority? Does he drink or smoke? Is he respectful of other people? I know it is 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.

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. If any of you reading this know my dad, you are probably wondering how we ever got together, or better yet, how Matt is still alive today. ;) But I did what any girl scared of her daddy would do…. I asked my mom first. Haha! 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.

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? NOT! My mom and dad introduced themselves and then take 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. He said he invited him over that night so he could see what kind of pervert 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 had trust in my judgment!)

Well, the next Saturday, on 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! Ha! 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 CafĂ©. 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 beautiful 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 and that he couldn’t wait to see me. He invited me over to his house after church that Sunday 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 26 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 enjoyed the peace of 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, grace, and lots of 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, if you’re not totally bored, join me tomorrow morning for more of the story! 

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Our Love Story...A Walk Down Memory Lane!

On Monday, Matt and I will celebrate 24 years of marriage! Praise the Lord! I can truly say that every day is sweeter than the last and we treasure growing old together! 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 the love of my life!

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 24 years towards "happily ever after", I am going to post blogs this week based on our marriage. Last year I took a walk down memory lane and shared our love story with you and apparently there were a few of you that enjoyed it so much and asked me if I was going to share it again. Haha! So, for those few of you…I hope you enjoy! ;)

God has given me a strong desire to encourage other marriages. Though ours is definitely not perfect, 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 24 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 with you our marital journey this week. Taking a walk down memory lane can be so exciting! Being reminded of how we met, how we fell in love, and how we continue to do "life" everyday with 2 busy jobs, 3 active kiddos, homeschooling, ministries 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. Marriage is a blessing! In a day and age where marriage is seen as a easily dissolvable 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!

I hope you will join me this week as I count down the days to my 24th wedding anniversary by sharing our memories. 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 24 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.

I'm excited to take you on our journey again this year! 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)

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Be Strong and Courageous!

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” 
Joshua 1:9 (NIV84)

This passage of scripture jumps off the pages into my core this morning! You see, when you get to that place of total abandon in your life to do the will of the Father, every day is a walk of faith (sometimes a huge leap of faith) and requires strength and courage. That is where I am, that is where I've been for some time now. Walking with God can sometimes take us to places that are out of our comfort zones, places that go against what our flesh wants to do and many times that call us to go alone. But He promises to be with us every step of the way. It is a time to be strong and courageous.

I woke up this morning feeling as though God was drawing me to this passage. A little history, Moses has just passed away and now God is calling Joshua to take over and lead the Israelites on to the Promised Land. First up, crossing the Jordan River. Now, I have to just ponder here for a minute on what Joshua was probably mulling around in his head. I mean, these were pretty big shoes to fill. I imagine there was some fear he was battling and probably some feelings of unworthiness, but I love what God says to him here in verse 5,

"No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you."
Joshua 1:5 (NIV84)

What assurance from our Lord! He called Joshua to this huge task but also promised that He would never leave him and also protect him. That is just like our God! No matter what the task He calls us to, He will be there every step of the way and protect us through it all. The next four verses really grabbed my attention this morning.

“Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
Joshua 1:6-9 (NIV84)

In these four verses, God tells Joshua three times to be strong and courageous. The first time, "be strong and courageous", then he says "be strong and VERY courageous", and finally, "have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous."
Ok, it's just my opinion here, but I have found that if God repeats something in scripture, He REALLY wants us to get it. Here, He repeats himself three times. Joshua, are you getting this? He is commanding you to be strong and courageous!
Now, here is where I come in.

When God is calling me to go, wherever it is He leads, He commands me to do the same thing.

"Be strong and courageous, Allison." Wow!

You know, He doesn't just leave Joshua there. He tells him to follow his guide map that He has given to him. Verses 7 & 8 He tells Joshua to obey the Law and not turn from it. Do not let it depart from his mouth. Meditate on it day and night. If he does that, then he will be prosperous and successful.

He has given me the same guide map. Do I just go blindly? No! He has given me His Book and I am to obey it, meditate on it day and night, and not turn from it. That is the only way I will be prosperous and successful. If I follow the "gospel according to Allison Jordan", I am going to fall flat on my face. But if I go with strength and courage armed with God's Word that I have immersed myself in, then I can be successful for the glory of God!

Oh, what I need today.... strength and courage for the journey!

Am I still willing to go where He calls me to go? I have to stay in the Word and trust my God, even when that journey is alone...me and God. I have to daily remember that if He calls me to it, He will see me through it. And, YES, I will go where He wants me to go!

So, I grab hold of His hand and go...wherever He leads! The journey with my God...

Joshua told the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.”
Joshua 3:5 (NIV)

This journey is yours, Lord. Wherever you lead, I will follow. I will meditate on your Word. I will be strong and courageous and I will find comfort that you will never leave me nor forsake me! I am ready, Lord! It's all about YOU!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Cleaning Our Messy Pots!

One of the things I treasure as a busy mom is my crock-pot. Many of you moms out there probably shouted, “Amen” on that and we high-five each other every time we share a new crock-pot recipe. I mean, does it really need explaining? You put your ingredients in this big pot in the morning and set it for 6-8 hours on low and later that evening when you’re ready to eat dinner, it is done! All in one pot! The recipes are endless. Some are 5 ingredient, some are several more and, one of my favorites is just 2 ingredients…yes you read that correctly…just TWO ingredients and then throw some rice on later and you have a quite satisfying meal. It really is an essential appliance in a kitchen.

Okay, if you’re wondering, No, I am not selling crock-pots or getting commission for advertising for the crock-pot people or anything like that. Lol! I just tend to get very excited when I speak about something I am passionate about.

But here is the draw back (if there is one!)

When you’re finished with your meal there is the one headache that is left…. cleaning the crock-pot. Now in our home, our kids all have their designated chores aside from the usual cleaning their room and bathroom. Ben is on trash and lawn, Callie is on kitchen and Caleb is on all laundry folding and distributing. There are the other chores like dusting, vacuuming, mopping and such but they are equally distributed when the need arises. Mom and dad help out too but these are their designated chores.

After a crock-pot meal, my sweet daughter likes to soak the pot. Good idea, right? Well, sometimes this pot can soak for a few days before it gets tended too. Otherwise known as…”I procrastinated as long as I can but now I have to face it.” She says it is heavy and all that stuff you have to scrape off that stuck to the sides is just nasty. Well, I have to agree with her on that! I’ve had to jump in there and help her at times and when it’s all done, you have a squeaky-clean pot ready for its next use!

(Yes, they make crock-pot liners and we have used them but more than not, we don’t. Old fashioned, I guess.)

I thought about our crock-pot scenario as I was praying over a situation I needed to deal with. I had been in soaking mode for several days not wanting to deal with it. After a few days of praying over it, I knew what I needed to do but still just let it sit there and soak. You know, hoping it would magically clean itself like the crock-pot?

Well, I finally decided to grab my scrub brush and deal with it. What beauty it produced! Not only did the situation get resolved but afterwards my “pot” was clean and grime-free. All that stuff stuck to the sides was removed as I allowed God to clean away all the messiness through obedience to His Word and trusting His plan.

So many times in life we will face situations that leave mess and grime stuck all over the sides of our pot; the mess that only obedience to the Word of God and trusting His plan can scrape off. Sure we can soak it a few days as we spend time in prayer and many times we need to do that. But we eventually have to face the situation and allow God to scrub away the unpleasantries as we submit to His will. What beauty results in that process! A pot cleansed and ready to produce another satisfying product. All for the glory of God!

So, today, on this wintery cold day, as you reach for your crock-pot, remember the beauty that God can bring out of cleansing the messy, sticky places of our lives. We don’t want to soak in the mess; we want to shine for HIM!

“Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.”
Psalm 51:7 (NIV)

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.”

aPsalms 51:10 (NKJV)