**I asked my amazing husband, Nick, to write a guest post for me today describing the exciting new season our family is stepping into this week. So, without futher adieu, here he is…**
Recently, I made the decision to transition from working a secular IT job to full time ministry. For the past four years, I have served as the worship pastor of our church while working a full time job as a DBA. Thanks to the Destiny Church staff who worked tirelessly behind the scenes, I was able to do ministry bi-vocationally. When I was in my twenties and had no kids, this was feasible. But, now I’m in the thirties and we have 2 kids! My margins had disappeared and it became obvious earlier this year that a change had to occur sooner than later.
In the past few months, Amy and I have been through a process of reassessing our ‘ministry.’ First and foremost, our primary ministry is to our family, specifically our children and to each other. This is something that Pastor Carl Lentz from Hillsong New York City tweeted a few months ago, that really resonated with me. In this last season, we had been overextending ourselves and not giving ourselves the margin we needed to be the parents we knew God wanted us to be. This involved some serious soul-searching. We had reached a fork in the road. Something had to give.
Next, it was important for us to ask ourselves if we were answering the ‘call’ of God on our lives. We are all called to something. We are called to do, called to sow, called to help, called to bless, called to minister, called to be the Hands and Feet, called by Christ Jesus Himself. Part of this transition was revisiting what we felt we were called to do, and to seek God for where we were called to be planted. Our family believes that there is life to be found in the body of a local church, and it was important for us to recognize that Destiny Church is the place that God has called us to be planted during this next season of our lives.
Many times, we get busy with the where, hows, and whens of our call. Jobs, titles, and roles may come and go, but the call of God on your life will stay with you forever. Knowing who you are in Christ and what He has called You to do is an integral step to discovering Your purpose on the Earth. As a family, we had to get back to basics. Come back to our First Love – Jesus, and obeying the next step which He had put in front of us. I’m finding a major piece of faith is simply asking God what’s next and obeying that. Trusting God with your next step is many times much harder than trusting Him with your eternity.
This journey has helped us bring clarity to our purpose and we couldn’t be more happy (or full of joy) for what has been placed before us. We know that there will be challenges, but like Pastor Mike spoke about at church this weekend – there’s a difference between God’s word, and God’s word for MY life, and today, I will choose to live according to His word for MY life.
The concept of a new season is a theme that has been a part of Amy and I’s relationship from the very beginning. It was the theme of our wedding! That theme continues to ring true as we turn the page and look forward to a new chapter of HIStory – God writing His story through us.
Honestly, I don’t really remember when he started doing it, but something Nick does on a very regular basis has helped me to maintain so much peace and clarity. A few times a week, usually when we’ve collapsed into the bed after a long day, Nick will start into a list of questions:
- Do you feel safe?
- Do you feel loved?
- Do you feel cared for?
- Do you feel happy?
- Do you feel provided for?
This process of questioning is something that Nick has gleaned from a variety of spiritual leaders who surround him. I’m so thankful he decided to take their lead and bring this same series of questions into our relationship. It helps me to pause and really think about my answer. The truth is, my answer is always yes to each of the questions. There’s something about answering each of these questions with a confident and resounding “yes” that helps me to gain some perspective. If I feel safe, loved, cared for, happy, and provided for that’s really all that matters…not the dirty dishes in the sink, the floor that needs vacuuming, the bed that didn’t get made, the pounds that weren’t lost, the to-do list that wasn’t fully conquered, the stitches that weren’t sewn perfectly straight, and the list goes on… As a stay at home mom, it is easy for me to get wrapped up in the cycle of perfection. Because this is a standard I set for myself, I often project those expectations onto myself on the behalf of those around me. This leads me to feel frustrated, overwhelmed, and sometimes ashamed when I don’t accomplish what I intended or with the level of excellence I expected. But when I collapse into bed feeling beat down because I didn’t meet my unachievable goals and am met with a loving husband that genuinely cares to know and make sure that I’m safe, loved, cared for, happy, and provided for, it instantly melts the pressure I had been putting on myself to perform.
In this way, Nick has been a beautiful example of my relationship with the Father. Because of Him, I am always safe, loved, cared for, happy, and provided for regardless if the wonderful people I’m surrounded by on this earth help me to feel this way. It’s become a quick mental checklist for me to scroll through when my life feels chaotic, overwhelming, frustrating, or just “blah.” When I can pull back and focus on the reality of the wonderful place that I am in, the “big” things around me quickly become meaningless.
Maybe you don’t have someone in your life who will ask you these questions and work their hardest to make sure your answer is “yes.” But you do have a Father who cares for you. As His child, your answer can always be “yes.”
Do you feel safe?
1 Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 This I declare about the Lord:
He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
he is my God, and I trust him.
3 For he will rescue you from every trap
and protect you from deadly disease.
4 He will cover you with his feathers.
He will shelter you with his wings.
His faithful promises are your armor and protection.
5 Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night,
nor the arrow that flies in the day.
6 Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness,
nor the disaster that strikes at midday.
7 Though a thousand fall at your side,
though ten thousand are dying around you,
these evils will not touch you.
8 Just open your eyes,
and see how the wicked are punished.
9 If you make the Lord your refuge,
if you make the Most High your shelter,
10 no evil will conquer you;
no plague will come near your home.
11 For he will order his angels
to protect you wherever you go.
12 They will hold you up with their hands
so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.
13 You will trample upon lions and cobras;
you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet!
14 The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me.
I will protect those who trust in my name.
15 When they call on me, I will answer;
I will be with them in trouble.
I will rescue and honor them.
16 I will reward them with a long life
and give them my salvation.
Psalm 91 (New Living Translation)
Do you feel loved?
38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.
39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:38-39 (New Living Translation)
Do you feel cared for?
29 What is the price of two sparrows—one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it.
30 And the very hairs on your head are all numbered.
31 So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.
Matthew 10:29-31 (New Living Translation)
Do you feel happy?
…All who seek the Lord will praise him.
Their hearts will rejoice with everlasting joy.
Psalm 22:26 (New Living Translation)
7 The Lord is my strength and my shield;
my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.
My heart leaps for joy,
and with my song I praise him.
Psalm 28:7 (New International Version)
21 He will once again fill your mouth with laughter
and your lips with shouts of joy.
Job 8:21 (New Living Translation)
Do you feel provided for?
19 And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:19 (New Living Translation)
Now…REST…because you are His child, you are safe, loved, cared for, happy, and provided for…
I apologize for my absence from the blogging world the last several days! I’ve been busy with a new business venture! After many years of talking and dreaming about it, I finally took the plunge and decided to begin making and selling some things through my small business, Ella Reu Designs. My mom, sisters, and I have always enjoyed going to craft shows and making crafts of our own. I don’t know how many times we’ve said over the last 10+ years…”We could SO do this!” I finally decided that there’s no better time than the present to take the leap.
I posed the challenge to my Facebook friends to come up with the business name for me. My friend, Caney, came up with Ella Reu Designs (Ella for Gabriella and Reu for Reuben) and I absolutely LOVE it. It’s cute, has a ring to it, and represents the reason I’m doing all of this…for my two little blessings.
My friend from church, Devin, did the amazing logo design. He was a pleasure to work with and put up with lots of emails and nitpicking from me. I definitely recommend him for any of your design needs!
I’m still in the VERY beginning stages…mostly just selling to my Facebook friends…and trying to get a feel for what people are excited about and what I enjoy making. So far, I’m having SO much fun and feel like I have opened up a whole new pathway to JOY and FUN for myself. I’ve been spending nap times and late evenings busy sewing, planning, shipping, organizing, etc and am thoroughly enjoying myself!! So…we’ll see where it goes from here! I’m eventually planning to open an online shop, but for now, I’m solely on Facebook. Stop on by, take a look around, and let me know what you think!!
I’m almost a week late on this post! Gabriella is 13 months old and has experienced quite a few changes recently! She finally started crawling one week after her first birthday. We baited her with Cheerios and she finally did it! Ever since that day she has not looked back. She is BUSY and into everything. She’s loving her new found freedom and independence. She loves to sample every tiny little speck she finds on the floor. She’s very curious and wants to play with whatever toy Reuben is playing with. This has been a season for him to learn patience and self-control 😉 Gabriella is a charmer and a talker. She loves to talk to those around her and be involved in what is going on. Her latest fascination is pulling on eyelashes and eyebrows. While it shows great hand eye coordination, it can be painful and annoying at times. Now that Gabriella is on the move, she’s not quite as laid back as she has been, but she is still very easy going. She’s ALMOST sleeping through the night again (7 months later!!) which is a BLESSING.
Within hours of her starting to crawl, it was apparent that I need to start baby proofing again.
Gabriella has a great time playing while Reuben is in his Little Gym class every Monday. She looked too cute this day…like she was ready to hit the gym herself.
While Reuben is at school, Gabriella is my shopping buddy. She is obviously just as relaxed by shopping at Target as I am 🙂
She’s been enjoying experiencing all the new toys that have been out of her reach or too big for her. She thought it was hilarious to sit on the trampoline while Reuben jumped.
Such a pretty girl 🙂
Gabriella’s having the time of her life in Reuben’s room while he’s having to exercise much restraint.
She LOVES her blankie. It is an instant calm for her.
My cute little shopping buddy peeking through the fabrics. I love this age when even the simplest things are fun.
Nick and I started dating officially in March of 2001. A few months later, I moved to Glorieta, New Mexico to work for the summer as a Day Camp Counselor at the Lifeway Conference Center. Our relationship was still new and fresh, but I knew Nick was something special. We wrote a lot of letters back and forth that summer. Those letters are a keepsake I will treasure forever.
Anyway, as a Day Camp Counselor, we were always making crafts. One particular day, I decided to use some craft supplies to make a 3D model of this boyfriend I had been describing to everyone. This is what I came up with…brown skin, dashing smile, spiky hair, a beautiful flower in one hand, and a ping pong paddle in the other (in Trinidadian colors, of course). Looks just like Nick, doesn’t it?? We referred to the little guy as “The Brown Mr. Right.” He hung on the wall in my dorm room the whole summer and I’ve kept him ever since. Now he hangs on the wall in my craft corner of the office.
ANYWAY…five years later, I married The Brown Mr. Right and today is his birthday!! I’m so thankful for the man I married and this whole day that is set aside to celebrate his birth. He is Godly, steady, supportive, loving, funny, caring, easy going, anointed, and so darn HANDSOME. He’s the best husband and daddy. He has taken each new season/challenge/opportunity on with passion and excellence. I feel 100% confident in him leading our family (if you know how much of a control freak I tend to be, you realize how big of a deal this is). I’m proud of the daddy he is to our kids and the husband he is to me.
He is absolutely The Brown Mr. Right.
Happy birthday, Nick!!! I love you!!!
So, when I started my cardigan onesie making process, I committed to make one for four different families that are expecting boys in the next few months. The first one was tough, but I chalked that up to a learning curve. The second one was still tedious, but much easier. And the third and fourth ones were a nightmare. I posted about my frustration on Facebook and a friend pointed me in the direction of THIS tutorial that took the original idea and simplified it. OH. EM. GEE. I went from spending almost 3 hours on one cardigan to whipping them out in 30 minutes or less.
Instead of using jersey knit (the BANE of my existence!!) for the lining, I used bias tape. SO MUCH EASIER. Also, I used buttons instead of snaps. I just sewed the two sides together while sewing the button on so they’re not technically functional, but what baby needs functioning buttons on his cardigan?? I haven’t decided if I like the look of the buttons or snaps better…
So…what do you think?? Do you like one version better than the other? Do you prefer buttons or snaps?
As I’ve mentioned several times before, we have the most AMAZING group of friends. We all met through our church, and we’ve been part of a small group for almost four years now. Our group has changed a bit over the years…one family moved to Texas (waaahhhh!), two families joined in, and several kids have been added along the way. This group is such a blessing to our family. We are able to support each other and be supported, pray for each other and be prayed for, and celebrate with each other all along life’s journey. Great friends are so hard to come by so I KNOW that we are abundantly blessed to be a part of this group. We had pictures taken in 2010 and loved them, so we jumped at the chance to take them again. Our amazing photographers were Danny and Mandi Ammann of Ammann Photography. They did a great job corralling our wild bunch and making us all look great!