Tuesday, July 29, 2008

More faces...

I stand corrected. Kind of. There has been complaint that I did not blog about the Jones family when yes, I did, in fact, practically live with them for about 6 months while working at Disney in '05.

Goodness, I can't decide which to recount- all I learned from them then, or all I've learned from them SINCE then.

Let's just say, when I'm asked to tell my testimony, it cannot be told without the mention of this family. I believe I had a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ as my LORD and Savior when I was young, but a lot of the LIFE CHANGE didn't happen until the LORD worked in my heart while at Metro Life Church from January to August of 2005. And Danny, Melodye, Lindsay, and Abbott were incredibly huge instruments in this life change. And being with them practically every day for 6 months- watching their interactions, praying with them, hearing their observations, and being blessed by their fellowship directly resulted in perspective adjustment in my eyes.

For the next year of living in Virginia, Danny regularly received emails from me asking incredibly bizarre questions about his beliefs, Scripture, and Sovereign Grace Ministries. He kindly replied to ALL of them even though his inbox undoubtedly had at least 800 OTHER emails waiting for him.

Melodye has made me feel like I just fit right in with their family and all that's going on. She's made extra for dinner MANY times asking if I'd stay (and by "extra" I mean a lot more than they would've had if I wasn't there...), she's offered godly counsel on...oh, pretty much every topic imaginable. Never afraid to tell it like it is, covered with love and grace. What a blessing.

Abbott is my adopted little brother. He picks on me, makes fun of me, and even gangs up on Lindsay with me. I'm convinced he's going to do something HUGE with music in the years to come. He's not only constantly TALKING about music, but he's always recording for other people, or has a new song up his sleeve. I have tons of memories sitting on Lindsay's bed listening to them play and goof off. Abs, your improvement with the violin has increased TREMENDOUSLY since I first met you!!!

Oh, Lindsay, where do I begin? I so value our friendship. It's such a gift. Incredibly unique. Wonderfully sanctifying. Exceptionally deep. Through you, the LORD has taught me so much about accountability, communication, relationships, forgiveness, love defined Biblically, expectations, and the immenseness of my sin. Look at that list (*shocker*- I have a list!): all eternally beautiful things- what a treasure! I think what I value MOST about our friendship is: honesty. No matter what season of life we're in, or what we're struggling with, circumstances that are going on, or sin patterns we're dealing with, the fact that we can be HONEST about where we are has served me in amazing ways over the years. I'm literally out of words. I know, you can't believe it- but I keep sitting here with long pauses thinking- there's so much to write I don't even know where to begin! Windex, Code Blue, porcupine, balloon animals (ok, that's Julie's joke...), Cirque du Solie, Bloomin' Onions, care packages and cards, hours on the phone, and oh, our many many many walks. Wonder how many calories we've burned together. Recently making the loop 3 times every time we go because the conversation lasts longer than the walk! I am so grateful for the role you play in my life. Thank you for your love for me, your investment in me, and for your readiness to forgive. I'm learning a lot from you. I love you more than you know!

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Saturday, July 26, 2008

Faces to come home to

I have lived with 4 families in the last 2 years! It hit me the other day: in Wales, there will be no more sippy cups in the dishwasher (gosh, I hope we have a dishwasher...), no more dirty diapers, no french braids to do before church, no little tiny flip flops next to mine...I will miss that.

Words cannot describe the amount of learning that has taken place as a result of amazing hospitality shown, Biblical Femininity lived out in very practical (and wonderfully different) ways, late night conversations, questions about kids, making meals, cleaning, or our Awesome King and His unfathomable ways.

In my "in between" year in Va, I continued to pray that in the next year, God would train me in being a wife and mom. I realize now, training in these areas will never be complete-- but HOW CREATIVE of our LORD to answer my requests in this way! Each living situation has been so different- each family operates in a unique way. All striving to honor and glorify God.

When I do an "overview" of what I've learned in my time with each family, certain emotions, words, conversations, and jokes stick out in my mind.

With the Vanlues- NEW MERCY. Julie and I spoke of it regularly...well, SPEAK of it regularly; the conversation continues. How amazing it is. How much we need it. Ah, fresh every morning. Specific for my day. I was so affected by the way Julie not only opened her room to me, but her closet, her bathroom, her jewelry, her clothes (you know, ones that were too big for her)...I call her my 1/2 sister. And from Cissy, what sticks out is YOUR WALK. Always encouraging me not to look at others or compare myself with them, but to be diligent and faithful to what God is calling ME specifically to do in any given situation.

With Jeremy and Kristen- COMFORT. Their house has always felt like home-- I think it does to everyone. There's a peace that's there; its amazing. Kristen has helped me "calm down" in a lot of ways. My mom has noted that, and so loves Kristen. Her integrity is beyond commendable. Katelyn, Hallye, and McKenzie have a way of making me feel so incredibly loved when I'm with them. What a joy.

With Kyle and Taraleigh- REFUGE. They willingly took me in when they were in a very difficult season of life. Their urgency to serve me...to this day, it baffles me. I want to live my life like they live theirs. I am so excited to see what their kids will be like in 10 years. Jacob already has something so unique and mature about him- he grows like a weed. (That's a good thing- like, I mean, quickly.) Brianna is so responsive and LOVES being a girl but also knows how to serve her brothers well when playing with them. And Joey, he's just so stinkin cute.

With Meghann and Steve- PRAYER. I've lived with them for the longest period of time (almost a year!) so the list here could be very long, but because this area has affected my life so significantly, I will stick to this one. Every time I ask for counsel, they are so faithful to ask me if I've prayed about the decision first. Or else, their counsel, is to pray about it. Always. Never do they forget. This, then, releases me from my tendency to "people please". They ask first what I think, and what I feel like God is showing me, and then they answer with the wisdom they have. In the last year, I've made quite a few "bigger" kinds of decisions-- one of them being going to Wales. Because of their encouragement in this, I've begun to learn how to better listen to God's voice and make decisions- oh, this will serve me for the rest of my life!

So thank you, families of mine, for your love, care and support- for your counsel, listening ears, and encouragement. I have been so blessed by you. I trust that your observations will serve Ivy and Katherine this year. =)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Pet hates

Got an email from Dan yesterday with a list of random questions so he could put them on a GAP blog for the local church to get to know us better.

One of the questions was: If you could be an animal which one would you be? I couldn't decide. I answered a "bee" which I know isn't an animal...but after watching The Bee Movie, thought I'd like to be a crud picker.

Prior to this question was "pet hate." I said cats. I hate cats. Don't be offended if you like cats, its a family thing. (except for Katie...)

Well, here's the intro to Dan's email to all of us today. I was dying laughing.

Hey guys, thanks to you who have already replied to my list of questions! I feel like I know more already! Just a quick bit of cultural language translation. In the UK a pet hate is the same as a ‘pet peeve’ in the US – not which domestic animal you detest the most. Though if you are interested it seems that the team despises cats! Which clearly shows we have wise and discerning team members!

I expect to have many more stories like this to tell you within the year. On that note...what do you guys think are some of my pet peeves? I hate inconsistency. I don't do well when decisions are just NOT being made-- like the continued prolonging for no reason at all in a group of people. If there's a reason of "waiting" on something, that's different...

Vanessa can't stand "bad drivers" =). Joy hates when people wear brown and black or when Mommy gulps her cold coffee. Kristen Jones doesn't like her cuticles. Meghann hates sarcasm that's not balanced by encouragement. Lindsay hates opened cabinets. Ariel can't stand my tan lines. Neither can Medana. Mommy hates sand in the pop-up. What about you? What about me?

Also, here's a description of our housing situation. Rough, I know.

The girls are going to be in a modern terraced house not far from where Dave Taylor (our executive pastor) and a few other members of the church live. It is a great area with some shops close by and about a twenty minute walk into town. The house has three bedrooms on three floors. There is a downstairs toilet, a bathroom (with a shower) and a shower room on the third floor. So girls you’re going to have to draw lots to decide who gets the third floor room with the walk in wardrobe and shower room across the hall!

The boys are also close by in a big early 1900s house – which is fully furnished! It’s old school but the house has loads of character! And a great garden with access to a park at the back – at the top of the hill at the back are great views over Newport and other hills and valleys! This will be our base house – any studenty type activities that we need a house for will be done here. Be prepared to have to look after the house and garden though boys! Gardening gloves at the ready!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

24 days and running

Wow. I can't believe it. Only 24 days left in Orlando for the next year. That's so sad...

So, let's not think about it. Instead, let's think-- only 24 days left of me being like I am now! Once my Waling adventure begins, I'm sure to be changed for life!

Immense grace continues to cover every day as I prepare- grace when I sin, grace in struggles, grace in fears, and grace for HOPE in future grace. It's amazing! The LORD, in His kindness, continues to use even this "transition" season to grow my awareness of my DESPERATION for Him. My recognition of my dependence upon Him. I simply cannot do this without His help. He's tangibly showing me how true this is.

I went for a run today. Shocked? Ya, so was I. (After CRUSHING Emily, Lindsay, and Jordan at Ultimate Frisbee on Saturday with Elizabeth and David, I began to realize how incredibly out of shape I truly am. It took me probably an hour to recover and breathe normally. LAME-O.)

On my run today (in the frizz-creating weather), I listened to Hillsong United. I highly recommend them as audio for your next work out session. Especially the song, "My Redeemer Lives"...I was so pumped and fired up, I think I ran faster every time the chorus came on. He lives!

The next song was "All I need is You." Oh wow. How wonderful to repeat over and over and over again. Looking at the pavement, seeing the winding path ahead of me, working hard, out of breath, yet feeling SO EMPOWERED to continue on...because all I need is HIM! He has given me ALL I need for life and godliness. HE is all I need. My Portion. My Cup. My Everything. I'd love to take you all with me- my friends, my family, my pastors, my local church...and there are ways that I desperately need you. Your examples, your encouragement, your observations and correction...

But my Savior has fulfilled my greatest need by paying my debt for my sin so I can have relationship with the Father! And in this adventure to Wales, HE is all I need. His constancy. His steadfast love. His promises. His mercy NEW every morning! (right, Jules?)

So as I leave you in 24 days to go to Virginia, my faith is fixed on future grace. My King will take care of me. He has gone before me. And He will go with me. His truth never changes, and His Word is perfect. The most important things will always be the same. How comforting.

So as you go about your day and are humbled by the numerous things that you need (food, sleep, relationships, etc.) be ENCOURAGED that these merely point you to Jesus Christ; He is all you need. He's more than enough for you. And His grace, is more than enough for today.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Full of Randomness!

Last week I went and got my finger prints checked, sent in my visa application to the British Consulate, registered for an absentee ballot for the primary's in Nov., got all my tax stuff together with how much I've made this year and all my deductibles, and have begun the very general "brainstorm" of packing. Whew.

What else can you think of that will be important to take care of before leaving the States? I need to do something with my phone; I think that's the only "big thing" left that I'm aware of...

Your ideas?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Flight updates! (and help?)

The LORD is so kind. I was completely fine with traveling to another country by myself. Thought it'd be a great time to read, rest, and pray. BUT God's plans are way better than mine.

I'm driving my car to VA because my parents have purchased it (yay!) and planned to fly out of D.C.

As it turns out, four others from my trip (none of whom actually LIVE in the D.C. area) are 'randomly' flying out of D.C.- so that means FIVE of us on ONE plane to go half way across the world together. Isn't that cool?!

Two of them are guys-- you think they'll carry my bags for me??? =)

SPEAKING of bags. Does anyone have (or know of anyone else who has) a LARGE suitcase (or two...or three) that they won't be using for the next year that I could borrow???

We're flying out August 24th. I can't believe this is all really happening...I'll be flying out of the country for 11 1/2 months in five and a half weeks. So encouraged with the Truth that the LORD hems me in both behind and before!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Anticipating Friendships

Meet Ivy. She is such a sweetheart. I think she's the listener in the bunch of us and I anticipate learning MUCH from her humility and compassion this year. Look at her face-- doesn't she just look like a servant?!

Meet Kat. She's 22, blond, tall...and I'm quite excited about the possibility of sharing clothes! =) I have been so blessed by her pursuit of me and heart to serve our team. Her display of Biblical Femininity will be such a great encouragement and challenge to me this year. It seems we would be similar in our passion and wills-- which I know will produce very sharp iron!!! What a blessing. How kind of the LORD.

At this time next year, I will be able to tell you story upon story of how the LORD has used these two instruments of grace in my life. We will have innumerable inside jokes and memories- know each other better than we know ourselves, and have seen God's gracious and active work on our hearts and lives for a whole year. We will have spent HOURS talking, counseling, witnessing, crying, and laughing together. But for now, I tell you all that I know-- and all I know, is I am STOKED about getting to know these girls and eagerly anticipate what our King has in store!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Preparing with Hope

Ah. I, with hope, anticipate being a mom someday. Meghann and I took pictures of the girls yesterday. It is so weird to think that Jordyn will be over a year old when I return.

As I take lots of mental "snap shots" in these next several weeks- wanting to remember how things are now, so that I can be amazed at all God did in just one year, there is much HOPE. Excitement for change. Gratefulness for what God WILL do. Paul exhorts us to REJOICE IN Hope. Sure, there is sadness that I won't be here to watch it all take place- but SO neat that I will be able to see how God has changed others and what He's done in a way others won't be able to see to because they lived through it. Different perspectives are such a blessing, aren't they?

I am one who likes to be REALLY prepared for big changes like this. As prepared as I'm able. Like Maxwell House coffee...I want to enjoy everything till the LAST DROP. I want to mentally note every last meeting, being aware of how many more Sundays left I have here, counting down days so I ENJOY them and USE them.

It is in both preparation and hope that I find myself now.

Preparing to leave, yes. Preparing to go, also a yes. And both, because of the Father's abundant grace, are FULL of HOPE. I love that He's unlimited. What will He do? How will He work? Who will He save? How will we change? Oh, its so exciting!!!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Choosing Blessing

I don't have to choose between the blessings of Orlando and Wales. I get both. That's who my Master is! Never lacking in His gifts to me. Always giving more than I could expect, nevermind what I deserve.

Just got home from another Starbees outing (that would be Starbucks for those who don't know Ariel) with some of the dearest friends on earth. So enjoying fellowship. Laughter that makes my cheeks hurt...and as I sat there I thought to myself, "Enjoy. Enjoy these last 5 1/2 weeks. Enjoy these people. Enjoy these blessings." So I did. And I am. And I plan to continue. Not with fear of change (ok, who am I kidding? still battling that...)-- but change is inevitable...and necessary. And oh, I hope when I return I am changed. But enjoying who the King is in the midst of these relationships. Seeing His grace and His glory in these faces- His redemption in these lives and the testimonies represented; feeling a teeny portion of His love for His children, my friends, in my heart.

I hope to learn in this season to "pause" more. To soak in blessing. To wonder at God in amazement with joy and thanksgiving. Growing in love for His perfect character.

Oh how I hate to leave, and yet, can't wait to go.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Welcome to Wales!

No, I'm not there yet...but this is where we will be having our TEAM BUILDING RETREAT! Wow. Is this so "me" or what? They've asked us to be open with each other right away. HULLO. Not a problem.

I know you are praying, and the LORD is faithfully answering your requests! I have been SO excited about this new adventure in the last two days; thank you so much for serving me.

I've been able to talk to Ivy and Katherine-- my two new soon-to-be-great friends from Charlotte, NC. (hopefully Danielle will join us too!) I anticipate some seriously amazing accountability and fellowship with these girls. (Not "expect"...but "anticipate"...which means "hope". Right, Mrs. Phillips?)

We have several assignments in the next 6 weeks- listening to a 9-message series, "In it to Win it"...In the World to win the world, and we need to read 4 books. (Anybody have ones I can borrow? 'Questioning Evangelism', 'Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God', 'The Gospel and Personal Evangelism', 'Watching the English')

I continue to be amazed by how The Church is responding to an opportunity to send the gospel forth-- I am regularly receiving more money...its very humbling. It will hopefully be enough to help for the trip home to meet my new nephew around Christmas time! Yay Jack Jack! (Katie, how you feelin'?)

Sunday, July 6, 2008


"The Kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field." Matthew 13:45

Jesus Christ is the true Treasure; He is the ABUNDANCE of all that that is rich and useful. If we desire, He can be our own.

The GOSPEL is the field. It is not hidden, but in an open field. Whatever royal mines we find, they are all our own.

This treasure has unspeakable value. The richest mines are often in grounds that appear most barren. Eternal life is our treasure and it is infinitely valuable.

Above is paraphrased from Matthew Henry's commentary.

All I can hear in my head is, "I've got the joy, joy, joy, joy; Down in my heart. Where? Down in my heart. Where? Down in my heart to stay! And I'm so happy, so very happy! I've got the love of Jesus in my heart!"

I've been asked to post about what I need prayer for. Here it is: Please PRAY FOR JOY. Joy in WHO the Treasure is, not dwelling on what this trip costs me. HE is my Treasure. My Savior. My Love. I need my focus off of myself. Onto my Creator.

I've got the Wonderful Love of my Blessed Redeemer Way down in the depths of my heart! Where?

Saturday, July 5, 2008


Oh, this is dangerous. You mean I just get to talk to whoever wants to listen? For as long as I want? However often I want? About anything? Yikes. In an effort to serve you, these are the reasons I have NOT had a blog.

For those of you who don't know, I have the opportunity and DELIGHT to go to Newport, Wales from August to July of next year. I will be on a team with 7 others immersed in Christchurch (part of Sovereign Grace Ministries) and witnessing to the surrounding communities. We'll be going into schools to do assembly's and skits, building relationships with the kids and preaching the gospel.

So, also in an effort to serve you, I realize with this upcoming season, having a blog can be a means of grace for keeping in touch. Especially with a 6 hr time difference and a big puddle in between the continents. So that is my desire. That is the purpose of this blog. To inform you of what is going on in my Waling adventure and hopefully, to BE INFORMED of what is going on in your lives as well.

Allura Lightfoot referenced the Valley of Vision prayer below (God's Cause) in one of her recent emails about witnessing at the abortion clinic. (She is so faithful!) Oh, it has so encouraged me to get my eyes off of myself. I hope to pray it regularly throughout this year that the words of it might sink into my heart and become a deep part of my longings- not only words and hopes. I pray that you, too, are encouraged.

Sovereign God,

Thy cause, not my own, engages my heart, and I appeal to thee with greatest freedom to set up THY KINGDOM in every place where Satan reigns; Glorify thyself and I shall rejoice, for to bring honour to thy name is my sole desire. I adore thee that thou art God, and long that others would know it, feel it, and rejoice in it. O that men might love and praise thee, that thou mightest have all glory from the intelligent world! Let sinners be brought to thee for thy dear name! To the eye of reason everything respecting the conversion of others is as dark as midnight. But thou canst accomplish great things; the cause is thine, and it is to thy glory that men should be saved. Lord, use me as thou wilt, do with me what thou wilt, but, O, promote thy cause, let thy Kingdom come, let thy blessed interest be advanced in this world! O do thou bring in great numbers to Jesus! Let me see that glorious day, and give me to grasp for multitudes of souls; let me be willing to die to that end; and while I live let me labour for thee to the utmost of my strength, spending time profitably in this work, both in health and in weakness. It is thy cause and Kingdom I long for, not my own. O, answer thou my request!