Changes.

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Growing up, one of my all time favorite book/movie series was Anne of Green Gables. I remember my mom introducing me  to this beloved series in the first grade when I was stuck at home with the chicken pox. Recently, while Mr. E and I were at a flea market we came across the entire movie series on DVD for only $4! Of course we snatched it up!

And Mr. E, being the wonderful husband that he is, watched the entire series with me a couple of weeks ago when I wasn’t feeling well. It had been a year or two since I had watched the series all the way through, but it was just as enjoyable as I remembered! I’m looking forward to watching it again, but Mr. E said he can only handle watching it every few years. Ha, ha.

One of the things I love most about this series are the characters. As a young girl, I was a lot like Anne Shirley…my poor parents! I was quite imaginative, dramatic, passionate, overly-talkative, sassy, strong-willed (stubborn) and fairly independent as a girl. Throughout the movie Mr. E kept mentioning how strange and somewhat annoying he thought Anne was. It’s a good thing Mr. E and I met later in life…I sometimes wonder if we would have been friends as kids. Ha, ha.

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While I have grown-up a bit, there are still some things Anne and I hold in common. One thing being our dislike of changes happening outside our control; maybe you’re someone who can relate to this as well. There’s a scene in the sequel where Anne is talking to her romantic interest and old chum, Gilbert Blythe. In this scene Anne expresses her dislike of the changes that are taking place in her own life and the lives of those around her. As Anne and Gil reminisce their childhood she sorrowfully says, “I don’t want any of it to change. I wish I could just hold on to those days forever. I have a feeling things will never be the same again, will they?” Gilbert goes onto express to Anne how he promises to never change. Of course both Gilbert and Anne go onto change in many great ways.

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The reason I share this snippet from Anne’s story is because I’ve been struggling with some of those same feelings. As I mentioned in my last post, Mr. E and I have been facing many changes. Not only are we expecting a little one, but there are a number of other areas God has has asked for us to surrender to Him as He shifts things around. For example, work and ministry. Two years ago this past July Mr. E and I were approached about the possibility of coming to work/serve as the Dean of Men and Women at a small one year residential Bible school up here in WA state.  While there were a great many things that attracted us to the opportunity, one of the primary ones was the opportunity we’d have to establish a strong foundation for our young marriage and ministry together. After much prayer, thought and counsel we decided to move forward by faith and accept the offer. There were so many “unknowns” at the time, but God has been incredibly faithful to us!

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While the last couple of years haven’t always been easy, they have been a great blessing! We’ve grown and learned so much about God, each other and what it looks like to serve the world around us together. When we originally accepted these positions we had no idea what the future held, but we figured we’d be here for two to three years. This upcoming school year will be our third, and with the thoughts of the arrival of Baby E we find ourselves at another “crossroads” with a whole new set of “unknowns” before us.

The school year is about to begin for us (Oct. 5th). However, would you believe that we don’t have a single female student registered for this coming year? Despite the faithful efforts of our staff to recruit more ladies, God has another plan and purpose for Adelphia this year. While we knew there was a high probability that this might happen, we received final confirmation a couple of days ago that we are no longer pursuing any prospective female students or leads for this coming year. As a team, the decision has been made to respond by following the direction God is leading us this year. At least for this year, we will be an all men’s school.

Thankfully, Mr. E will continue to serve as the Dean of Men. I’m excited for him and the opportunities he’ll have to share the love of Christ and grow with this band of brothers. As for me, I will continue to support our team and serve our student community…it will just look a little different. While I’m disappointed to not have the privilege of journeying with group of young ladies this coming year, I’m trying to trust in God’s Sovereignty and that He has a better plan for Adelphia and for me. It has been, and may continue to be a process for me because I dearly love growing with and shepherding the hearts of women. However, keeping in theme with what God’s been doing in my life recently, it’s one less area for me to be tempted to find my worth and value in.

God may choose to use me, but He doesn’t need me. Ministry is a gift God invites us into, but it’s not God. And nothing compares to Himself! Amen?

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As far as where God plans to lead our little family at the end of the school year, we don’t know. We have some ideas we’re praying through, but nothing concrete. It’s a shared value for Mr. E and me that I’m able to stay at home with our little one(s). So as Mr. E puts it, “I’m retiring this year.” I’m open to working in the future and hope to one day participate in a more formal counseling ministry, but for now we trust this is where God’s leading our family. I still plan to support Mr. E in whatever he’s doing and hope to be involved in ministry to women in some form or fashion…even if it’s to our neighbors and other young mamas. If there were an opportunity for Mr.E  to stay here with a salary that could support a young family we’re open to staying. However, that may or may not be the case. So we are trying to be faithful where we’re at and beginning to pray through our options, hopes and desires for the future.

So, not only are there daily changes taking place in my body, but change in general seems to be a theme in my life right now. Like Anne Shirley, there have been a number of days in the last few weeks when I’ve expressed to God how I don’t want any of it to change, and I wish I could just hold on to those days forever. And even today, I feel things will never be the same again. But unlike Gilbert Blythe, when God responds that He will never change I know that’s a promise I can hold onto forever!

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Currently, I have the following quote by Corrie Ten Boom hanging above the stove in our kitchen:

“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.”

This quote has served as a special reminder for me the past month. Change will happen, and there will be a lot of unknowns that pop up in our lives…but knowing God provides us with a peace and constant security nothing in this world can offer!

Won’t you trust Him with me today?

Mrs. E

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Living on the Vine

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Ah, autumn has arrived! Contrary to the popular Christmas tune, I personally feel THIS is the most “wonderful time of the year.” Don’t get me wrong, I like Christmas, but what makes my heart skip a beat are the colors of red, yellow and orange lighting the trees, sweet and spicy fragrances permeating the kitchen and breathing in that refreshingly crisp autumn air! Mr. E and I had an incredibly blessed summer filled with family, friends, rest and much growth. However, I’m definitely in my “happy place” as I sit here sipping my warm chai. All I need is for this weather to cool down a bit so I can break out those warm cozy sweaters; that is if they still fit. You see, Mr. E and I have been facing many changes recently. We’re excited to announce that “Tea for 2 Elzingas” is now officially “Tea for 3 Elzingas!” Baby E. is due to arrive in March!

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While we’re both thankful to God for the great blessing of a little one, the first trimester has been a challenging season for me. I know I’m not alone. Many women experience the difficult symptoms that come with pregnancy. And I know other precious ladies who pray for the day when they might experience these very same symptoms (as evidence of the miracle of life developing inside their womb). As I share my experience I desire to be sensitive to both sets of ladies. My hope is simply to share my struggles openly and how God has been using them to teach me some much needed lessons over the past couple of months. It is my sincere desire that God’s work of refinement and redemption in my life will bring encouragement to your hearts.

Mr. E and I found out we were expecting on the 18th of July. However, call it “motherly intuition” or something else, it wasn’t a great surprise to us. You see, I had been experiencing pregnancy-like symptoms for a couple of weeks (nausea, headaches, fatigue, etc.), but we had decided to give it some time to see if my body would naturally indicate otherwise. The reason we decided to take a test was because that coming Sunday we were preparing to leave for a Junior High camp with a local church up here in WA. Mr. E and I had the privilege of teaching for the week and I was concerned that an “unknown pregnancy” may serve as a distraction for me. I really wanted to focus on the opportunities we had to share the love of God with the students and staff through the teaching of God’s Word and relationship.

Needless to say, we were both excited to discover that my intuition was correct. However, it all still seemed a little surreal!

Despite the continued pregnancy symptoms (with the addition of vomiting), our week at camp was a blessed one. Mr. E and I learned a lot, and I trust that God was able to use us. We studied and taught on “Faith in the Life of Joseph.” It was amazing how God orchestrated this because faith and trusting Him was the very area God was working out in the two of us. And the journey of God developing our faith and trust in Him continued…

As the weeks continued so did my nausea, frequent vomiting, headaches and fatigue. Early on, it sometimes took all I had to get up, keep my breakfast down and spend some quiet time with Jesus. A “productive day” was when I was able to complete my morning routine with the addition of a walk and a shower.

August was a really difficult month because Mr. E and I did a lot of traveling…and this pregnant lady and long car rides don’t mix well! While it was nice to spend time with family and friends who we rarely get to see, the instability of where we were staying each week and unpredictability of how I would feel each day was difficult. During these weeks I tried every natural remedy I could find…staying hydrated (H2O), crackers, small frequent meals, dried ginger, ginger beer, preggy pop drops, Sea Bands, etc. Since then, things have progressively gotten better. I’m still more tired than usual and have my “good” and “bad” days. But the “bad days” typically only come 2-3 times a week.

Something I’m incredibly thankful for is just how understanding, patient and encouraging Mr. E has been to me through it all! I know that God has blessed me with such an incredible, godly, kind and loving husband. I’d be blind to say our relationship hasn’t changed. But thankfully, we have faced these changes together as a team! In some ways we’re more unified than ever… while in other ways I’m honestly discouraged. I’m discouraged about how I’m unable to serve and love Mr. E in the same ways I was able to before.

So what has God been teaching me through all of this? Well, a lot actually! So much that I plan to share these lessons over a few posts in the coming weeks.

Today I’ll begin with one of the most significant lessons God has been teaching me: “I need Him.” It seems like such a simple lesson…one I thought I had learned long ago. However, this seems to be something I need to be frequently reminded of. Physically I’ve been unable to do some of the things I once did. My days don’t seem to be as productive as they were a few months ago (but loved ones keep reminding me that I’m “growing a baby” and that’s quite the productive task). Instead of helping others, I’m needing to accept and even ask for help (which is quite difficult for this girl). For a girl who is often tempted to find her worth and value in how she “performs” or what she can “accomplish” and “do” it is extremely difficult to just “be.” That’s exactly what God has been calling me to though. He’s calling me to “be,” to “rest” and to “abide.” My ever-weakening physical state has reminded me of need to depend on God to be my everything…physically, mentally and spiritually. While I know that God has called me to and created me for a life of complete dependance on Him, my heart has the tendency to want to prove my love for and please God by “doing” things for Him and others “on my own.” Straight up PRIDE is what that is! It’s ugly to see, but I’m thankful that God has been using my present physical weaknesses to reveal to me my inward brokeness.

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As Jesus teaches in John chapter 15, the only way God is able to make me more like Himself and use me to reflect Christ’s love to others is when I’m living on the vine:

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit;apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.”

(John 15:1-17)

I’m being reminded that living out of my need for Him is the only way I can truly love and please Him. He wants me…not what I can do. He desires for me to live in His love. That is both my sincere desire and a source conflict today. So would you please pray for this broken mama as I continue to learn this beautiful, but difficult lesson?

For now, I’m allowing myself the freedom to let those lunch dishes sit in the sink, the clean laundry remains unfolded in the dryer and we’re having leftovers for dinner. My priorities today are spending time with Jesus and depending on Him to help me love my family well by spending some quality time with Mr. E on our “date day” and giving myself permission to go to bed early if I need to…because He has chosen my womb as the special place to create this precious new life and it can sure tucker a girl out!

Blessings to you all,

Mrs. E

What are you waiting for?

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If we all are willing to admit it, most of us probably have something in our lives that we feel is right around the corner and we are just waiting for it to come. It may be a number of different things (a job, a move, a possession, a friendship, a relationship, a child, an answered prayer, Heaven etc). Our hope is often that what we are waiting on is just around the next bend in the road, but the reality often is that it is farther off than we desire it to be….and we are not fans of that. While we may not like the times of waiting, God is more than okay with it. We may see it as being stuck, but God sees waiting through the lens of something deeply active and transformational. As you may know, God is not restricted by time or space….therefore, he sees things through an eternal lens. Knowing this, could it be that God has designed us to wait for very specific reasons? I sure am beginning to think so! But don’t just take my word for it…. Scripture is packed full with story after story of waiting and amazing transformations that came as a result. Why? Because they trusted God in the waiting. Think about it…. Noah waiting for the flood to be over, Daniel waiting in a den of lions to be rescued, Joseph waiting in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, Abraham and Sarah waiting for their child, Mary waiting for nine months with the Son of God in her womb, Mary and Martha waiting for Jesus to come and raise Lazauras from the dead, Christ himself waiting for the cross and the disciples and followers of Christ waiting in Jerusalem for the Spirit of God. The book of Revelation even leaves all of us in a position of waiting for the second and final coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

I too am waiting. What for? Well, that is constantly changing. I could list a whole slew of things today, the biggest one at the moment being the answer to the questions: “What’s next? And how do I prepare for what’s next when I’m not certain of what that is?”

When I was young I couldn’t wait to grow up. I was constantly waiting for each little change and step I would have to take to get there: solid foods, crawling, walking, running, learning to read and write, 1st day of school, 6thgrade graduation, jr. high, first job, high school, drivers license, 18thBirthday, high school graduation, college, falling in love, marriage, 1sthome, starting a family, raising a family, grandkids, etc. Can you relate with this?

Little did I know, there never comes a point in this life when you arrive at this fully mature grown-up state; we are all constantly changing, growing, maturing and yes…WAITING. The LORD has continued to show me over the past number of years that it doesn’t matter if you are eighteen, twenty-seven or ninety-eight, poor or rich, unintelligent or brilliant, single, married or widowed….we are all waiting for something. He has also reminded me that he never calls us to wait without making a promise or having a purpose in the waiting. Jeremiah 29:11 reminds us of this truth: “‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.’” But we often forget to take a good look at the verse previous to this, it says: “For thus says the LORD, ‘When seventy years have been completed for Babylon, I will visit you and fulfill My good word to you, to bring you back to this place.’” Verse 10 speaks of the seventy year transformational plan. Something active and something transformational takes place within us during the waiting. The waiting is not the focus here. God is a God that is filled with promise and purpose…this is the true focus.

It is easy to proclaim this truth. However, it is SO hard for me to live it out. In fact, it is impossible apart from God.

To be completely transparent with you, the last couple of months have been a little bit of a challenge for me in this particular area of waiting. In fact, the past month has been particularly difficult. There were moments where I wanted to take all control and other times I just wanted to give up, break down and wallow in the worry that can sometimes fill my mind and overtake my heart. Thankfully, the LORD helped me resist my flesh and turn instead to him and his promises.  Clinging to God’s promises is a daily, moment by moment practice. I know that tomorrow morning I will wake up with my greatest obstacle in this whole struggle…myself. That is why it is so important that with each new day I need to choose to be renewed in God’s truth. I absolutely need to be in the Word and in constant prayer with my Heavenly Father. I know that apart from God I would be completely and utterly lost!

My circumstances have not changed. However,  I can tell you that by the grace and power of God my heart is slowly being transformed into something beautiful, something holy. And that is worth waiting for!

As we comb the Scriptures waiting is found to be a theme all throughout God’s plan. So, what are you waiting for? Do you happen to be waiting for God to make a radical transformation in your life? Cause I’ll tell you what, God is always ready to transform lives and hearts and waiting is one of the tools he has chosen to use to do this. Waiting is not an obstacle, it is a divine tool. The world claims that instant gratification is what is best, most rewarding and only way to go. And there have been times when I’ve even tricked myself into thinking this garbage is truth. However, quick and easy is NOT what God has planned. “A microwave Spirituality” is NOT the reality. I mean really, are T.V. dinners more satisfying than the home cooked meals that take all day to prepare? That is a no brainer. If we wouldn’t choose a “Hungry Man” microwave dinner over a warm homemade spread of delectable delights, why will we choose temporary satisfaction over waiting for God’s eternal will? This too should be a no brainer. Wait, be still and let God be God.

In Psalm 46:10 God commands, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Remember God’s purposes continue to unfold as we live. Transformations come only when we go the long way round!

Peace be with you today,

Mrs. E