7.25.2015

Adventures of Grace, Continued!




FINALLY, I can share this!! I've been bursting at the seams. :)

Three years ago this weekend, we officially made the move to Grace Baptist Lavaca. It was a hard, hard decision to leave our beloved Oak Cliff, but God was so clearly leading that we had to obey. And while leaving Oak Cliff was hard, becoming part of Grace wasn't, as we already loved Bro. Gary and Becky and what was then our little mission church.

God has done a LOT in the intervening 3 years. We had no idea what He had in store for us, and there have certainly been a lot of unexpected twists and turns along the way. Our Grace family has gone through a LOT of hard stuff together in those three years. But...we've shared some huge joys as well, including constituting as an official church, four baptisms (the first of which was our Ammah Grace!), and new families joining us.

Today, our Grace Baptist family starts a new chapter in our church history. We are no longer Grace Lavaca; we are now Grace Barling. I love that in God's perfect timing this new chapter begins three years to the weekend from our initial move to Grace Lavaca. :)

The story behind the move is a long one, but again, it has been so evident that it is God's hand, and there are a multitude of reasons why it is a good and wonderful thing. (And while it wasn't a reason for the move, a fabulous by-product of the move is that the new location is MUCH closer to our home...15 minutes as opposed to 40+. I can't TELL you what a wonderful thing that is, although some of us are going to miss the picturesque drive and the cows looking in the window in Lavaca. :))

God is doing exciting things at Grace Lavaca. Someday perhaps I'll tell the whole story of today's move and the obvious and intense attacks of the enemy it involved. For now, I'll just say, the attacks of the enemy were great, but we serve a God who is far greater, and His grace was sufficient!

So thankful for so many things today...for all those who have worked so hard today and in days and weeks prior to make this move happen, for my kids (and their friend Joshua) who have put in some serious hard labor this week with good attitudes, for our friends Kathy and Kaitlyn, who may have saved our lives today by bringing a bunch of exhausted, hot, starving people pizza for lunch, for protection for our Bay, who fell and hit her head last night and had to sit and watch today (and those who know Bay know that was pure torture for her!), for answered prayer for our pastor, who was unable to get out of bed for a good part of the morning, but who was able to come later (and work hard!), for people who have prayed fervent prayers for all of us in all of this, and most of all, that God's power is made perfect in our weakness, always!

And thankful for the anticipation of our first worship service tomorrow at Grace Baptist Barling!

Is God doing something exciting in your life right now? Or perhaps leading you to something a little scary? I'd love to hear in the comments!

More of the Story:

As Promised ~ The Story Behind Our New Adventure

I Press On Toward the Goal (A Not-By-Chance Encounter)

Saying Good-Bye

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Welcome to Ponderings of an Elect Exile!  Whether you are new here or a faithful friend and regular reader, I'm glad you're here!  If you aren't already following, I'd love to have you join us for the 2015 Ponderings.  It's easy to do, in a variety of ways!  You can follow via  Facebook, Twitter, and/or Pinterest, or  find me on Instagram as Jenbh68. You can also sign up in the sidebar to receive new posts by email. 
 
 
 

7.21.2015

When We Reach the End of Our Hoarded Resources...

Today's reminder...


From Annie Johnson Flint's beautiful hymn, "He Giveth  More Grace".

As I said in yesterday's post, His giving is not for our selfish pursuits or desires, but so that we can fulfill His plan for us. Some days, that plan may be for us to be able to be kind and loving as we serve our families in the midst of exhaustion. Some days it may be seemingly "bigger", "more exciting" things. Whatever it is, He continues to remind me that He has given and continues to give exactly what we need to do what He has for us to do.

What an encouragement!

What has encouraged you today? I'd love to hear about it in the comments here or on Facebook.  Or perhaps you are struggling and in need of prayer. Send me a message through the sidebar widget or the Facebook page linked above.

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Welcome to Ponderings of an Elect Exile!  Whether you are new here or a faithful friend and regular reader, I'm glad you're here!  If you aren't already following, I'd love to have you join us for the 2015 Ponderings.  It's easy to do, in a variety of ways!  You can follow via  Facebook, Twitter, and/or Pinterest, or  find me on Instagram as Jenbh68. You can also sign up in the sidebar to receive new posts by email.

7.20.2015

So What's Your Excuse? {Pondered Pages}



What a fabulous thought for a Monday morning...or any time of any day! Bro. Gary's sermons from Ephesians lately have been excellent, and just what I've needed, and I'm journaling my way through Ephesians and my notes very slowly.

This one I just had to do quickly in my art journal today, though. I need to be focused on this this week. We're coming off a wonderful weekend...time spent with family we hadn't seen in many years (and some we'd never met!), which was such a huge blessing! But...it's been a crazy, stressful, busy few weeks and we are all exhausted, with no real break in sight.

There are challenges on every side...physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. Health, finances, schedules, parenting, schooling, church...stuff going on, some really good, and some not-quite-so good, in every area.

It's so easy during times like these to get distracted, tired, stressed, and not keep our eyes where they belong...on Him. It's easy to make excuses for not being loving, kind, diligent, etc. But He reminds us that we have within us, through the Holy Spirit, the same power that brought Jesus from the grave! (We have this power in us IF we are true Christ-followers. If that doesn't apply to you, and you'd like to know more, please contact me through the sidebar link or via the Facebook page, or see more here.)

So as Bro. Gary said yesterday morning...what is our excuse? As 2 Peter 1:3 says, He has given us everything we need for life and Godliness. Everything we need. That just sends chills down my spine every time I read it! It fills me with excitement and conviction. Because as Bro. Gary reminded us yesterday...it's not our power, it's His, and it isn't for our selfish pursuits, but for the work He has for us.

How are we living in that power today? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments, either here or on the Facebook page.

(Scripture Journaling notes: Pilot G-2 .07 pen and generic watercolors. :))

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Welcome to Ponderings of an Elect Exile!  Whether you are new here or a faithful friend and regular reader, I'm glad you're here!  If you aren't already following, I'd love to have you join us for the 2015 Ponderings.  It's easy to do, in a variety of ways!  You can follow via  Facebook, Twitter, and/or Pinterest, or  find me on Instagram as Jenbh68. You can also sign up in the sidebar to receive new posts by email.

7.15.2015

His Eye is On the Sparrow!


I am utterly and completely overwhelmed today. As I said in a post a couple of weeks ago,

The last couple of days have been rough. We're all okay, and no big, bad major event has happened (in fact, there's been some good, happy stuff in the mix!:)), just a whole lot of general life yuck and then Satan hurling some fiery darts into the whole mess. 


Again...no big, bad major event, and some good, happy stuff going on, but the life yuck in various areas continues and Satan is attacking with a vengeance.

Part of the overwhelm is the degree to which many of those close to us are experiencing trials right now. Just yesterday, three friends who were already going through hardship were hit hard with additional difficulty. As I prayed for them yesterday, the song, "His Eye is On the Sparrow" kept playing through my head. 

I actually got to sit in the back yard and take some bird pictures yesterday for the first time in ages and ages. Our super-rainy spring brought mass quantities of bugs and then the heat hit and...you get the picture. Not much that was terribly conducive to enjoying time relaxing in the yard. :)

Yesterday, though, I went out for a few minutes early in the day when a friend called on the phone. Our house is small and limited on privacy, so the back porch is a good escape when I need to talk uninterrupted. I realized while I was out there that at that time, it was cooler outside than it was in the part of the house I'd been in, so I decided to take my camera and stay for a bit. :)

I haven't had time to edit those photos yet, but I took a number of sparrow pictures. Sparrows are not the most exciting birds to photograph, mostly because they are so incredibly common. There are sparrows everywhere. 

I've always loved that sparrows are specifically named in the Bible as a picture of God's care for us. That God would use this mundane little bird to remind us how much He cares for us just overwhelms me in a totally different way. 

Over the years, I've taken hundreds of photos of sparrows. I've published several of them on this blog and on my photo blog. I thought I'd share a few today to remind myself  of God's faithfulness and are even in the midst of the yuck and overwhelm. Perhaps you need those reminders, too? 





I'd love to hear your thoughts! It makes my day to hear from you, in the comments here or on the Facebook page, or by private message either place. 

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Welcome to Ponderings of an Elect Exile!  Whether you are new here or a faithful friend and regular reader, I'm glad you're here!  If you aren't already following, I'd love to have you join us for the 2015 Ponderings.  It's easy to do, in a variety of ways!  You can follow via  Facebook, Twitter, and/or Pinterest, or  find me on Instagram as Jenbh68. You can also sign up in the sidebar to receive new posts by email.

7.02.2015

Celebrating GRACE {On This Day}




The last couple of days have been rough. We're all okay, and no big, bad major event has happened (in fact, there's been some good, happy stuff in the mix!:)), just a whole lot of general life yuck and then Satan hurling some fiery darts into the whole mess. Yesterday was the worst for me. I fought a lot of tears and lapsed into extreme survival mode.

Between those struggles and a busy schedule this week, I hadn't even really thought about the date itself...until I clicked over to my TimeHop early this morning and saw this status from two years ago:

Nine years ago today was the worst day of my life. As the status above says, our world shattered into a million pieces.

The intervening years have been hard. There were times during the first few years especially that I wasn't sure any of us were going to make it. Trauma issues in our children and in ourselves, concern for the safety of our family, life-altering decisions we weren't really prepared to make, and countless sleepless nights were just a few of the issues with which we struggled during those years.

The last few years have been a bit like the calm in the eye of the storm. God has worked much, much healing and growth in our lives. We have seen His glory in ways we could never have dreamed. In those very early days nine years ago, we began to pray, "Please just make the path so totally crystal clear that there is no question possible about the right direction." We have seen Him do exactly that over and over and over again.

As I shared here,we've dreaded 2015 for a long time. And yet, as we enter the second half of this year, we have already seen God answer prayers we didn't even know how to pray, and provide for needs in ways we would never have imagined.

My TimeHop this morning is full of reminders of God's faithfulness from this date in years past. I love that! I love that those "standing stones" are there to remind us how far He has brought us and how much He has shown us of Himself even in the darkest of days.

I'm also reminded today how blessed we've been in the people God has provided over the years to support and encourage and pray for us. Out of necessity, only a handful of people were aware of the situation in our lives 9 years ago. Those people spent much time in the trenches with us...and unlike us, they made a choice to be there, because they loved us and were fulfilling God's call to help bear our burdens. That is true friendship, and I can't imagine these last nine years without them.

Others had no idea what was going on, but God called them to pray for and encourage us anyway. How thankful I am for those people, who listened to the still, small voice and obeyed, and who impacted our lives in ways they will never completely realize. And how thankful I am for those who have since heard our story and supported and prayed and encouraged. We have an amazing array of friends who have invested in and loved and prayed for and encouraged all of us in so many ways, and that blessing is tremendous (to use a favorite word of a certain music minister *grin*)

Psalm 40:1-5 have long been favorite verses of mine, and this morning I cried all over again when I got to verse 5:

Many, O Lord my God,
    are the wonders You have done,
    the things You planned for us.
None can compare with You;
    were I to speak and tell of Your deeds,
    they would be too many to declare.

He has shown that verse to be true in our lives over and over again. He has done many wonders, and His deeds have truly been too many to declare. Through that He has shown us beyond a shadow of a doubt that none can compare with Him. It has certainly not always been easy, it has certainly not always been the way we would have chosen, and we know that there is more difficulty and uncertainty ahead as we move closer and closer to this fall. But this is as true today as it was two years ago:

Nothing but His grace could explain the fact that on this day, I can rejoice in His sovereignty, have peace in His plan, and be more sure than ever of His goodness.


How have you seen His grace at work in your life? I'd love to hear in the comments! Are you struggling right now, or facing a dark situation? I'd love to pray for you. You can message me via the "contact me" box in the sidebar, or leave a comment below.

[Scripture Journaling notes: Superquick entry (as shown by the super-messy lettering...ACK!...but I wanted to get it finished this morning and didn't have much time) on Psalm 40:5 using Anita's Acrylic Craft paint, Pilot G-2 pens, and washi tape and stickers from various sources.]

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Welcome to Ponderings of an Elect Exile!  Whether you are new here or a faithful friend and regular reader, I'm glad you're here!  If you aren't already following, I'd love to have you join us for the 2015 Ponderings.  It's easy to do, in a variety of ways!  You can follow via  Facebook, Twitter, and/or Pinterest, or  find me on Instagram as Jenbh68. You can also sign up in the sidebar to receive new posts by email.

6.30.2015

Done. (Really Done.)


I. Am. Done. As the old saying goes..."stick a fork in me..." Yep.

It's the last day of June, which means the last day of Blogathon. I've managed to post every day, but it's been hard, and I haven't been terribly happy with the quality of my posts.

I'm glad I participated, but I'm thankful it's over for the year. I'm also glad to say good-bye to June. It's been a rough month in a lot of ways. There have been some really good parts, but there have also been a lot of struggles, for me personally, for our family, and for lots of people we love.

Today has been, as Billy would say, "a stinker of a day". Again, there have been some bright spots, but the shadows have mostly won out today.

I am so thankful for the promise of these verses. No matter how I feel, no matter what is going on around me, His Love never ceases. His mercies never come to an end. His mercies are new every morning. His faithfulness is great.

On that note, I close out this day, this month, and 2015 Blogathon. 


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  Welcome to Ponderings of an Elect Exile!   Whether you are new here or a faithful friend and regular reader, I'm glad you're here!   If you aren't already following, I'd love to have you join us for the 2015 Ponderings.  It's easy to do, in a variety of ways!   You can follow via  Facebook, Twitter, and/or Pinterest, or  find me on Instagram as Jenbh68. You can also sign up in the sidebar to receive new posts by email.

6.29.2015

Set My Soul Afire! {Or What's More Important Than Last Week's Supreme Court Decision}

The words of this hymn have gripped my heart this week as I've been preparing an arrangement for Sunday's offertory. Bro. Gary's sermon yesterday was on "Knowing the God of Glory", from Ephesians 1:16-17. He talked about the fact that when we truly see God's glory, it cannot help but change our lives completely, and that once we get a taste of His glory, we can never get enough, and we will pursue it more and more. 

There are so many things clamoring for our attention these days that seem quite important, and in some ways they are. But we risk, as Christians, getting so caught up in the "day of strife" and all the stuff  swirling around us that we lose sight of what is most important: His glory, the plight of the lost, living every moment for Him. 

Things like the recent Supreme Court decision on marriage are important, and we do need to take a stand, in a loving, gracious way. I still plan to blog on the decision. We've been talking to our kids about it. But we (I!) can get way too caught up in the whole thing and give it more space in our heads and hearts and lives than it deserves. 

The world is going to be the world. We are to expect that. We are to stand, lovingly and graciously, for truth. That's a given. But we can't let any of the world's issues take center stage in our hearts and souls. 

I want my children to know the truth and be able to defend it, but more than that, I want their souls to be on fire for God and His Word. I want them to be overwhelmed and amazed by His glory. I want them to be burdened for the needs of their brothers and sisters in Christ and passionate about the lost. And I want them to see those things in me.   I want to be those things for and through Him. 

Help me not to falter, never let me fail,
Fill me with Thy Spirit, let Thy will prevail.
Set my soul afire, Lord, in my daily life,
Far too long I've wandered in this day of strife;
Nothing else will matter but to live for Thee.
I will be Your witness as You live in me.
 

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  Welcome to Ponderings of an Elect Exile!   Whether you are new here or a faithful friend and regular reader, I'm glad you're here!   If you aren't already following, I'd love to have you join us for the 2015 Ponderings.  It's easy to do, in a variety of ways!   You can follow via  Facebook, Twitter, and/or Pinterest, or  find me on Instagram as Jenbh68. You can also sign up in the sidebar to receive new posts by email.