Friday, October 2, 2015

Dad

This has been a whirlwind of a couple of weeks. Many of you have kept us in your constant prayers and for that I am thankful!
We found out about 2 1/2 weeks ago that my Dad has kidney cancer. I think it's fairly safe to say that most everyone understands the weight and devastation that is associated with the word cancer.
We also found out that my Dad was only born with 1 kidney. So, not only had cancer completely taken over his 1 healthy kidney, he didn't have another one to take up the slack. There was no way to save any part of his other kidney as three quarters of it had been taken over by the cancerous tumor. The tumor had also spread into the vessel. The only option he had was to have the entire kidney removed and to then start dialysis immediately after surgery.
I cannot begin to express the deep sadness and fear that crept into my heart. Fear of the unknown. Fear can completely take over if one is not careful.
This past week, I left my husband and children to travel to where my parents live so that I could be there for my Dad's surgery. We have been inundated with prayers and offers for kidneys. I'm not even kidding about that! It seems like every time we turn around, someone else is offering a kidney! Dad will not be eligible for a transplant until he remains cancer free for 2-5 years. So, while kidney transplant is an option, we have a little while before that will be on the horizon.
I am thankful to report that his surgery went even better than expected. The surgeons removed the entire kidney plus all of the tissue and fat around it. They were able to easily removed the tumor from the vessel. It was a successful surgery.
The hard road has just begun for my Dad, however. He has about a six week recovery ahead of him just from the surgery. He also has to be on dialysis for the rest of his life or at least until he gets a transplant...if that even becomes a possibility.
My Dad had not retired yet, so this medical situation has forced him into retirement. While, he will admit that he does indeed want to retire...he certainly didn't want to retire like this. My parents have some major adjustments to make and a pretty large learning curve ahead of them as they try to figure out the diet that he must be on as a dialysis patient.
As for me...I couldn't stay as long as I would have liked to stay. My children need me too.
I am so thankful that the surgery went well, but I am sad that I can't be of greater help to them as the walk this hard road.
I'll end with my favorite thing that my Dad said after surgery this week.
"I'm just glad I woke up!"


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Journey to Decision - Part 2

If this is your first time hearing about our move to Virginia to plant a church, you may want to check out previous posts:
Changes Ahead
Journey Interrupted
Journey to Decision - Part 1

The Journey to Decision - Part 2
Rich and I were on the same page. Our yes was on the table. We were both spending time praying about whether or not we should actually go to Martinsville. We didn't want to just be the warm bodies that went and joined the mission there just because we could. We wanted to be certain that God was calling us to that specific mission.
It was an ongoing discussion in our family. We talked about it numerous times each day. Our discussion each night as we ate supper was always centered around whether or not we should go. The more we talked about it - the more our hearts began to be drawn to the church plant in Martinsville. Our hearts were changing and growing to love the people in Martinsville and to be burdened for those whom we had not yet met.
Decision time was at hand. We were coming upon a time when we really needed to give our answer. We told the children to keep praying about it and that we would have one final meeting where each one in our family would have a vote. We were given instructions to be ready to vote and give a reason for our vote. Rich and I had been praying for quite some time that God would speak to us through our children and that He would unite our hearts together.
The final meeting day came and Rich gave everyone the opportunity to share their thoughts and then we would make our final decision.
Rosalie said that her vote was - yes - but that she really loved her bed. (We were able to inform her at that point that we would actually be taking her bed with us and all of her stuff - she was very relieved!)
Martin said the same thing he had been saying all along. Yes, we should go - its our job to take the gospel to Martinsville!
Aaron - the one who had remained quiet about it during most of our conversations, had expressed sadness over saying goodbye to friends said, You will probably be surprised to know that my vote is also Yes. We should go. It will be hard, but I think it is what God is calling us to do.
Jonathan - Look, this is the kid that asked to be duct taped to the wall and sold with the house. While we were praying for a unified family vote - we were willing to let his vote slide.
When it was Jonathan's turn to speak - he said - I'm all mixed up in my mind. One part says that yes we should go - but the other part says that we should stay. (I promptly let him in on the secret that the parts of my mind were telling me the same thing! Its so hard to leave what you know and love!)
Rich and I also gave our votes and shared our hearts with the children. We know that this is a hard thing to do - but God has given us a heart to love the people of Martinsville and we need to go and take the gospel!
At that point, Rich called for the vote. Jonathan, without missing a beat, said "Why are we taking a vote we already know the vote is 6 to 1!!!"
I said, "Buddy, there are only 6 of us, what do you mean?"
He said, "I already told you I had two votes!"
We all had a good laugh over that one! I am convinced that it is God's great kindness that unified our hearts - even down to the most stubborn one of us.
This decision was not easy for us. We are mourning what we are going to leave behind. However, we rejoice in knowing that there is work to be done in Martinsville and that we get to be a part of that.


If you haven't already, we would love for you to join us in praying for the church plant in Martinsville. You can click here to sign up to partner with us to pray!

Monday, January 19, 2015

The Journey to Decision - Part 1


Rob asked Rich and our family to go to Martinsville in November of 2013. I have already mentioned that our immediate thought concerning a move to Martinsville was, "No! We live here!"
At first, we were unable to even wrap our heads around a move to Virginia. We are settled here. We are so content with all areas of our lives. I have fallen into a fantastic routine homeschooling the children. I am teaching choir again and loving it. The older two children are in the homeschool band. All of the children have good friends, love our church, and love our small group. They have community here too! Why would we mess that up? What in the world could possess us to leave all of that behind to go to a part of Virginia that we have no association with whatsoever and start over?
For about six months after Rob asked us to go, we didn't give it much thought. Rich still met with Rob occasionally and discussed the possibility, but I had already pushed the thought aside and moved on. Rich started meeting with Rob more regularly the following summer and I could see a change begin to happen in Rich's heart. I could see his heart starting to love this mission. It terrified me! In many ways, I fought it. I fought against my heart changing in the same way.
Our pastor put out a challenge asking the congregation if our "yes" was on the table no matter what. He asked, "Are you willing to say yes, even before you know in advance what you are saying yes to." When the challenge was given, my first response was, "NO! My yes is absolutely not on the table because if I put my yes on the table, then God is going to make me move!"
I really did think that. I even avoided praying about going to Martinsville because I was so afraid of being yanked out of my very happy and comfortable life.
I couldn't go on like that forever, though. I had a difficult discussion with Rich one evening and realized that avoiding dealing with it wasn't going to make it go away. So, the next morning I got down on my knees and cried. I cried out to the Lord and told him how devastated and sad that I was that I might have to leave the church and community that I love. I cried to him for an hour. I admitted that I was fearful of the unknown and rather enjoyed the safety of where I was.
I cried, I repented, and I submitted. God gave me the courage and peace that I needed to put my yes on the table before I knew what the implications of saying yes would be.
A couple of days of processing later, I told Rich that my yes was on the table.
At that point, we brought the children into the conversation. We both prayed that God would speak to us through our children. God did just that.
Each night when we would gather for our family meal we would discuss the possibility of moving to Martinsville. Martin almost immediately said, "God told the church to go into all the world and preach the gospel - well, we are the church - so we should go!"
Aaron struggled a lot with the idea of going.
Jonathan told us that we could duct tape him to the wall and sell him with the house because he wasn't going to go.
Rosalie didn't say a whole lot about it, but God used her to give us a message at a time when we needed it most. We were worried about the financial burden of moving, selling our house, and especially moving to an economically depressed area. At just the right time, Rosalie spoke up. She said, "I think we should go. God will take care of us in Martinsville too."
Rich and I both teared up at that point. In God's kindness to us, he answered our prayers to speak to us through our children and gave us just the message that we needed to hear!
If you haven't signed up to pray for the church plant - you can still sign up to partner with us to pray. You will get regular updates on how you can be praying! Click the link below!
Uptown Church

The Journey to Decision - Part 2 coming later this week!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Journey Interrupted

So, it has been officially announced that we are leaving NC to plant a church. I am going to use my blog to journal some of what we have been going through and how we came to this decision. The following are just some of my thoughts about packing up and moving after being here for almost 12 years! About 11 years and 9 months ago we moved to Wake Forest, North Carolina so that Rich could acquire a PhD in Philosophy of Religion. We had an almost 1 year old son and had to sell our home and sell or get rid of about half of what we owned, so that we could fit into about half of the square footage of the home that we sold. We left vocational church ministry so that Rich could pursue the PhD, which would lead him on a different, but excellent path. We added 3 more children to our family. After about 5 1/2 years, Rich graduated and he began teaching for several institutions on line and also had several opportunities to teach in the classroom. About a year and a half after that, we made the decision to stay in Wake Forest. We bought a house and after living in this area for 7 years, I finally felt like I lived here! We found a church that we love. In many ways, we feel that this is the church for which we had been looking for more than 15 years. We fully committed, dug our heels in, and saw biblical fellowship being lived out. We were finally "home".
We felt completely content and grateful for how the Lord was working in our lives and the lives of our children.
Then one day in November of 2013, our world was rocked.
Rob Connelly pulled Rich aside at church one Sunday evening and asked Rich if our family would go to Martinsville, VA to plant a church.
My first reaction was…"well, no! We live here!"
However, over the course of a year, lots of meetings between Rob and Rich, God completely changed our hearts.
So, we are doing the unthinkable.
We are selling our home, moving to a part of Virginia that is completely unfamiliar to us, to be the church in Martinsville, VA.
Why?
Because the church needs to take the gospel to the ends of the earth. We are the church.
Because God has made it very clear to us that He wants us to go.
We prayed that He would put up barriers or road blocks if we should not go.
We prayed that He would unite the hearts of our family.
God did not put up barriers.
God completely united our hearts.

Please pray for us. This is not at all what we expected to be doing. Our journey…the one we thought we were on…has been interrupted. Our course has changed from what we expected! We are excited about what God is going to do in Martinsville. We are sad about having to say goodbye to friends that have become our family.

I would like to invite you all to find out more about the church plant and how you can be praying for us! Click on the link below:
Mission Martinsville

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Changes Ahead!

There are big changes in store for us this year and we are excited to share the details of the huge decision we made. After a year of praying and seeking counsel we finally made the decision to pack up our home and move to Martinsville, VA to help plant a new church. This wasn’t exactly on our radar screen when we started 2014 … We have come to love our community, friends, church family, small group and life here in NC; we are quite comfortable here; and in many ways we thought we’d live here forever. While we were in the midst of praying about the opportunity in Martinsville, our pastor put out a challenge asking the congregation if our “Yes” was on the table. He challenged us to trust God and follow his leading in our lives, and be willing to follow, even if it might make us uncomfortable. “Is your ‘yes’ on the table, before you know exactly what you are saying ‘yes’ to?” So, all 6 of us in our family decided to accept this challenge (one night we even wrote “yes” on white index cards and laid them on the dining room table), and the result was a firm conviction that God was leading us to go to Martinsville.
There are so many unknowns that we face as we prepare to sell our house, and move to a place we’ve only ever just visited. We need your prayers for this mission! By the way, you can visit www.missionmartinsville.com and sign up to receive updates and partner with us in prayer. As you can imagine, we are endeavoring to fully rely on God even though we are nervous about the unknowns of moving to a new community. We are walking in faith and would love for you to pray for us as we go on this journey!
We are certain that we are yielding to God’s will for our family even though we know that moving and planting a new church will be full of challenges. We are expecting God’s grace and mercy to cover us through the challenges. We are certain that as you partner with us to pray – that your prayers will make a difference. The reason that we are selling our house, uprooting our family, and moving (to a place I never even knew existed before 2014) is because we believe God is calling us to be missionaries in Martinsville. We are going because God has called us to go and we are relying on him as we enter the unknown.
Rich will continue to serve in his various teaching positions, including Assistant Professor of Apologetics and Theology at Liberty University Baptist Theological Seminary while also serving as one of the Pastors / Elders of the church in Martinsville. 
I will be sharing more with you about this mission as we begin preparations to move to Martinsville. We have a lot to do in the next few months to get ready!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Birthday Take 2

We made a last minute decision to take a day trip to VA to so that we could be with GraceAnn for her birthday celebration. Since GraceAnn and Jonathan were born within days of each other we made it a double birthday party. 


The cousin twins


Minecraft cake!! 

And we have more legos! What else would you get an 8 year old boy?
Fun times!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Hillridge Farms

This was my 11th year in a row going to Hillridge Farms. The first year we came Martin was only 2! 

Fun at the duck races. Aaron won every time.

I insisted that Martin play like he's never played before. He's starting to pull back from playing because he's getting older. I understand it, but at the same time…I want him to still be a kid! He had a great day! (until he lost his leatherman tool…but that's another story - no worries, though - there is a happy ending)



What can be more fun than playing in a house of corn?







We had another fantastic day at Hillridge Farms! I am one blessed Mom!