"I had always felt life first as a story: and if there is a story there is a story-teller."
I titled this a new chapter, because that is just where we are right now. We are not only beginning a new year, but a year bringing lots of changes for our family, a new chapter in our story, or should I say God's Story........
Our annual family photo at this year's staff fellowship back in August 2011--was a little windy that day!
For the past 7 years of marriage I've known one thing-life of full-time ministry. It's not always been so easy, really in all honesty it's been lots of sweat, blood & tears. As I look back on this season in particular (or any season for that matter), this chapter of the story God is writing--His story that is--- it's now that I have a greater insight/appreciation for how God has been at work in my life.
Summer project 2011---our family with all of the fraternity guys that Casey has been discipling since our move to UK back in 2009.
I remember going to our church that day back in October 2003, and seeing Casey in that Sunday school class. I asked the friend I was with--who are "those" guys? She said "oh they just moved here. They are on staff with campus outreach." Hmmmm, campus outreach? What is Campus Outreach?
Married CO staff couples out for a evening out fun & ice cream during staff fellowship August 2010
Those of you who know me, well you know I grew up catholic, had some early spiritual exposure in high school & early college with young life. But it wasn't really was until my junior year of college that I felt God really did a work in my heart and opened my eyes to who He was and my deep need for Him! For the first time I saw my sin, not just those bad things I did, but really that my heart was sinful in my nature; I was born a sinful being! I was broken, and knew I needed to be saved!! It was then I truly repented & understood it was nothing I did or didn't do, but rather that I was a broken & a helpless sinner in need of being rescued! I needed His righteousness, nothing in my own strength or ability could save me! So all that to say--it was then I was lead to a ministry called RUF. They are the college ministry of the PCA church. For the first time I truly felt I heard God's truths being explained to me. That God is holy, he is sovereign over all, only he is worthy of our praise! So during my next 3 years finishing my undergraduate work & beginning of graduate school, I sought out & soaked up all I could to grow deeper in my understanding of who God was! It was there during this time I made some sweet, lifelong friendships! One being the friend who years later I was visiting in 2003 when I saw Casey in that Sunday school class! Isn't it amazing to look back & see God's hand and plan be woven into being!
Sweet friends having fun during Staff Fellowship August 2011
The Duncan & Willis Kids who spent the first half of their summer at project in June 2011
So fast forward to December 2004.....Casey and I were married. 7 years ago, I married this man who I was in awe that God brought into my life. He was everything I was not! He was extroverted, zealous, passionate, and ultimately had such passion & desire to not just know God more but to make Him known (and on the college campus specifically!) I was scared and so insecure, walking into this ministry I really knew nothing about.
Some of Casey's guys---always loving on our children---excited to come out to celebrate Reed's 4th birthday!
In the past 7 years I've had the privilege of seeing ministry first hand. I've watched God orchestrate bringing His people to Himself time and time again. I know in these 7 years there is something I know I didn't have before, and really in the past couple of years I know God was working to grow me in this area. Intentionality. I have so easily been consumed with myself, that I am realizing I didn't have much vision for giving of myself, to want to reproduce what's been given to me! To long to be intentional and think how can I share this Jesus who has revealed Himself to me?!! And yet over the past 7 years I've watched these college students catch that vision. I know there are some ministries that maybe people feel forced or pressured to "lead a Bible study" or "share their faith" etc. That is not at all what I've watched my husband, or any other staff apart of CO do. In fact, I would say it's the exact opposite. They are very cautious and thought through in who they ask to be a room leader on a project, or team leader for the project. They want to know these students are mature and the spirit is leading them and cultivating in them a heart to desire to love and help those who don't know Jesus!
Lots of fun times with staff children.....we sure have watched them grow and expand over the past 7 years!
I write all of this because as of the close of 2011, we officially closed this chapter/season in our family. Casey felt back in October after much sought prayer and counsel that the Lord was leading him into a new phase of life/direction/work/ministry. Initially, we had no idea what that was.....so yes, we took this HUGE step of faith in leaving CO. We were trusting that in this step of faith God would reveal/lead/guide him where he wanted him to be. And it was amazingly swift....in a matter of days the Lord opened up an opportunity for Casey to use some of his gifts for a local business man. We were in awe at how once again the Lord is so faithful, and had His hand upon us, leading us in this new path.
Our entire Lexington CO team at staff fellowship August 2011
As I prayed and cried out to the Lord so many nights, days, years for a godly man to come into my life---to be my best friend, to do life together---I never in a million years envisioned him to be a man in full-time ministry. I was scared and fearful of so many things being in full-time ministry; and now 7 years later I'm so in awe of all God has done! It truly has been a honor and privilege to watch first hand the Lord draw His people to Himself! My prayer is now that in this new chapter that our family will continue to be "intentional"......and with my very evangelistic husband I have no doubt we will be! My heart desires to befriend, love, serve those around us--friends, neighbors, family---but ultimately I long for those who don't know Jesus to know Him! And that as a family we would together minister and share our Redeeming God with those who don't yet know Him!
"The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field." Matt. 9:37-38
"I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God's grace given me through the working of his power. Although I am less than the least of all God's people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things." Eph. 3:7-9
I love this picture from this summer's staff fellowship women's time. We had just had a sweet day of fellowship and discussion on hospitality. All such practical discussion, but yet so stirring for me in growing in desiring our family to serve together. I'm thankful for these ladies. Several of them are new and have become apart of our team within the last 2-3 years. There are about 4 of them who have been here since when I first met & married Casey back in 2004. I'm so blessed to have known them and had them as my friends! When I knew no one and was scared and insecure they loved me and encouraged me! We have definitely bonded and grown together in the past 7 years as we've shared in this season of understanding one another. Lifelong friends indeed!