Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Week in Review

~Tuesday night~~Wednesday morning~

~Friday night~

~Saturday morning~

All I will say for now in my exhausted yet thankful state is that the Lord has shown us much over the course of almost four days with no power. Now off to bed in our heated home to read by the light from the lamp~

Friday, January 30, 2009

Day Three of Seeing by Candlelight

This was taken from my cell phone on the way home from work yesterday at a stoplight. We would normally go straight, but we clearly had to take a detour. This is just one example of the warzone this particular area of Louisville currently resembles.

So here we are well into day three without power, along with the other 170,000 Louisville residents. The official total in the city yesterday was around 205,000 with the state total at 607,000 which surpassed the original record set by the windstorm back in September. While we have obviously not enjoyed the task of warming ourselves at night with temps in the 20s, there are plenty of things for which we are still thankful. There are still counties in Kentucky without power and heat and water, something I am thankful we have not had to endure. We are thankful for the amount of businesses that are still open, as it has allowed us to eat out and purchase any necessary items that come to mind. A few things I have learned over the past three days (and I'm sure I will continue learning as the days wear on, however many we may have left!):

1. When you don't have power, but still have hot water, be thankful! The heat and steam or not only calming (and cleaning!), but also help warm the upstairs temporarily.

2. When you don't have power and the ability to cook a hot meal, get creative! My husband purchased a little camping stove that can be used outdoors with these cute little propane things (yes, I did refer to them as "cute."). We also searched around for any remaining gift cards, and happened to still have one, so last night treated ourselves to some Outback specials!

3. Dogs make for great space heaters, and they are glad to be of assistance.

4. Blankets, blankets, blankets. You would be surprised at what layering can do to warm up the body, so pile them up when you get ready to climb into bed.

5. Thermals, thermals, thermals. I have been wearing mine at home under pajamas and sweatshirts, and I have been amazed at how well insulated they are.

6. Just because your house is freezing cold doesn't necessarily mean that the fridge is going to keep. Thankfully I didn't go on a shopping spree the day before, so we are not having to throw away a huge amount!

7. Hand warmers make for great space heaters (second to dogs, of course). The ones we found at the sporting goods store were only $1 for a pack of two, and each pack lasts up to 10 hours. If you stick them under the blankets, rather than wasting the heat by only warming your hands, they will eventually warm up the bed.

8. This one may sound silly, but it's true (or you may already know this and be shaking your head at my ignorance!): When your nose is freezing and running, it's tempting and easy to mouth breathe. However, you will keep your body heat better by breathing through your nose rather than the mouth breathing (and you won't sound like a moron).

9. The combined scents of pumpkin spice, cinnamon spice, apple pie, honeysuckle, vanilla, and some other pink one make for an interesting assortment. Beware if you have already have a sensitivity to strong smells as this might take you over the edge.

10. There is ALWAYS room to be thankful regardless of your current predicament (though somedays you might honestly not feel so thankful).

10. I already knew this but the realization has only increased: my husband is a genius. He knows and has thought of so many things that I would never have crossed my mind. I feel all the more cared for and safe under his concern, wisdom, and thought. I'm certainly glad one of us thinks through things rather than being reactionary... This "adventure" has deepened my love and trust for him all the more.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Power Outage Take Two

These were taken with my cell phone on Tuesday morning. At that time, enough snow and ice had fallen to cause us all to hold our breath in anticipation for what was in store in the hours and days to come. On Tuesday I went to work as usual, and by the time we all left to go home, our cars had over an inch of ice encapsulating them, and the freezing rain pouring down was seemingly relentless.

Since Tuesday afternoon, we have hunkered down in our homes to endure 20 hours of freezing rain and up to five more inches of snow. The radio reports have estimated a quarter of a million in our area without power, not including the rest of Kentucky and southern Indiana. This makes for the second largest power outage in the state's history...just five months after the state's largest.


If you think to, please pray for all of the individuals and families who are without power this week. The temperature is not expected to climb above freezing until the weekend, so that poses even greater difficulty for all of the workers trying to get the state functioning again. Though the outage in September was larger, the temperatures that time of year were more bearable. Residents now are faced with trying to heat their homes without the capability of doing so, and some are even without hot water. Pray that those who need the help will seek and receive, and may the Lord bless those who give freely of their own resources.

Friday, January 23, 2009

"Decisions, Decisions" Update

I want to first begin by thanking those of you who have been mindful of my predicament and either called on the phone or simply stopped me in passing to ask me how things have been going. Thinking through the school decision has not been an easy one; your words of encouragement have been received and your prayers felt. The Lord never ceases to amaze me in how He so particularly ordains certain people to cross our paths at the most opportune moments.
After what seems like hours spent talking with my husband, as well as time spent praying, reading and writing, I have decided to withdraw from school for the semester. The best course of action for us at this point both practically and for my own rest and reflection is to wait and complete my counseling internship during the fall semester and graduate with my husband in December. This will not only allow me personal time to really think things through, but will also allow us to tackle other items of debt faster than we had originally anticipated.
Although I am withdrawing from school for the semester, I am still going to audit a class that meets on Monday nights. The course is available in the counseling department, but is not required for my specific degree program. I have never taken a class from this particular professor before, and I think that auditing the course will aid all the more as I think through those things pertaining to my future as a counselor. The course focuses on different counseling models, providing an overview of the more common approaches to counseling from a Christian perspective, with the end goal of each student developing his or her own philosophy of counseling. I find that such a course will be particularly helpful since my holdup with whether or not to pursue state licensure has to do with my own approach to counseling.
I have always wanted to primarily counsel in the church. I echo many of those whom I respect as biblical counselors that counseling should occur in the church. Churches should raise up and hire men who are ready to truly pastor their flocks, addressing the heart issues behind particular sins and our desperate need for repentance. I have always wanted to be an active participant in sharing the message of true hope with others, speaking the Gospel truth and its application to the daily struggles we face. I have within me a deep yearning to minister to my fellow sisters, walking alongside them as they face root issues and examine their own hearts in whatever struggle with which they are faced. At the root of who we are as believers resides two life-transforming truths: we were created by a sovereign God, and He has redeemed us from death and enslavement to our own sin!
While I do not discount psychology and the ways in which advancements in this field have aided in learning more about the mind and body, I am not completely convinced that I want to go on and receive further education for a professional state license. I know that in my previous post I made note of the fact that I think further education would be worthwhile, but that is dependent upon whether or not I think a license in and of itself is going to be worth the time and effort. If I am called to minister to others out in the community, open to the possibility of this taking place in a secular setting, then yes, state licensure is necessary. I will also have to consider that with state licensure comes a secular, highly-psychologized education. However, if when we are finished with school and my heart's cry is still to counsel women and families in the context of the church, then a state license is not needed. There are also numerous practical issues to consider if one is licensed by the state and counseling formally in the church; liability issues, ethical matters, and other potential problems create a minefield of red tape.
All that to say that I am still not fully convinced that I am going to pursue state licensure. If I do make that choice, I desire that such a choice be made with as much knowledge and as much certainty before diving in to all that is required. I will be perfectly content if I complete my seminary degree and the certificate in biblical counseling is what I am intended to receive rather than state licensure.
"The ground of our hope is the grace of God. Our renewal is a sign of his gracious sanctifying work or it is nothing. For the Christian, self-assessment is an assessment of the victory of grace in his life." (J. Piper)
To read more about the two organizations through which I would pursue a certificate in biblical counseling, visit CCEF and NANC (or just select from the links on my sidebar).

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Fervent Prayer for the Chief

Our Father, Lord of all creation, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ: We pray today with a sense of special urgency and responsibility. We come before you to pray for our new President, Barack Obama, and for all those in this new administration who now assume roles of such high responsibility.
We know that you and you alone are sovereign; that you rule over all, and that you alone are able to keep and defend us. We know that our times are in your hands, and that "the king's heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord" [Proverbs 21:1].
Our confidence is in you and in you alone. We come before you as a people who acknowledge our constant need for your provision, wisdom, and protection.
Father, we pray today for Barack Obama as he takes office as President of the United States. We pray that you will show the glory of your name in our times and in these days, confounding the wisdom of the wise, thwarting the plans of the arrogant, and vindicating those who do justice and practice righteousness.
Father, we pray with thanksgiving for the gift of government and the grace of civic order. Thank you for giving us rulers and for knowing our need for laws and ordered life together. Thank you for this nation and the blessings we know as its citizens. Thank you for freedoms unprecedented in human history. We understand that these freedoms come with unprecedented opportunities.
Lord, we pray with thanksgiving for the joy and celebration reflected on millions of faces who never expected to look to the President of the United States and see a person who looks like themselves. Father, thank you for preserving this nation to the moment when an African-American citizen will take the oath of office and become our President. Thank you for the hope this has given to so many, the pride emerging in hearts that had known no such hope, and the pride that comes to a people who have experienced such pain at the hands of fellow citizens, simply because of the color of their skin. Father, we rejoice in every elderly face that reflects such long-sought satisfaction and in every young face that expresses such unrestrained joy. May this become an open door for a vision of race and human dignity that reflects your glory in our differences, and not our corruption of your gift.
Father, protect this president, we pray. We pray that you will surround this president and his family, along with all our leaders, with your protection and sustenance. May he be protected from evil acts and evil intentions, and may his family be protected from all evil and harm.
We pray that the Obama family will be drawn together as they move into the White House, and that they will know great joy in their family life. We are thankful for the example Barack and Michelle Obama have set as parents. Father, protect those precious girls in every way -- including the protection of their hearts as they see their father often criticized and as he is away from them on business of state. May their years in the White House bring them all even closer together.
Father, we pray for the safety and security of this nation, even as our new president settles into his role as Commander in Chief. We know that you and you alone can be our defense. We do not place our trust in horses or chariots, and we pray that you will give this president wisdom as he fulfills this vital responsibility.
Father, grant him wisdom in every dimension of his vast responsibility. Grant him wisdom to deal with a global financial crisis and with the swirling complex of vexing problems and challenges at home and abroad. May he inspire this nation to a higher vision for our common life together, to a higher standard of justice, righteousness, unity, and the tasks of citizenship.
Father, we pray that you will change this president's heart and mind on issues of urgent concern. We are so thankful for his gifts and talents, for his intellect and power of influence. Father, bend his heart to see the dignity and sanctity of every single human life, from the moment of conception until natural death. Father, lead him to see abortion, not as a matter of misconstrued rights, but as a murderous violation of the right to life. May he come to see every aborted life as a violation of human dignity and every abortion as an abhorrent blight upon this nation's moral witness. May he pledge himself to protect every human life at every stage of development. He has declared himself as an energetic defender of abortion rights, and we fear that his election will lead directly to the deaths of countless unborn human beings. Protect us from this unspeakable evil, we pray. Most urgently, we pray that you will bring the reign of abortion to an end, even as you are the defender of the defenseless.
Father, may this new president see that human dignity is undermined when human embryos are destroyed in the name of medical progress, and may he see marriage as an institution that is vital to the very survival of civilization. May he protect all that is right and good. Father, change his heart where it must be changed, and give him resolve where his heart is right before you.

Father, when we face hard days ahead -- when we find ourselves required by conscience to oppose this president within the bounds of our roles as citizens -- may we be granted your guidance to do so with a proper spirit, with a proper demeanor, and with persuasive arguments. May we learn anew how to confront without demonizing, and to oppose without abandoning hope.
Father, we are aware that our future is in your hands, and we are fully aware that you and you alone will judge the nations. Much responsibility is now invested in President Barack Obama, and much will be required. May we, as Christian citizens, also fulfill what you would require of us. Even as we pray for you to protect this president and change his heart, we also pray that your church will be protected and that you will conform our hearts to your perfect will.
Father, we pray these things in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, the ever-reigning once and future King, the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. He and he alone can save, and his kingdom is forever. Above all, may your great name be praised.

(Courtesy of R. Albert Mohler)

Friday, January 16, 2009

Decisions, Decisions

Confession time - I hate making decisions.
When it comes to choices that will largely affect me down the road (job, school, etc.) I actually have a physical reaction when it comes down to the final minute when the decision needs to be made. I wouldn't call it a panic attack ncessarily, but when my brain is going 100mph through all of the pros and cons to whatever choice I make, I tend to sweat and my heart rate increases. I find myself in the middle of such a decision. I am nearing the point when the decision absolutely needs to be made, and whatever I decide will greatly affect any employment or education opportunities in the future (and of course ultimately affecting me and my husband).
For those of you who aren't completely familiar with the degree program I am in, I am one class away from completing a Master of Arts in Biblical Counseling. After almost four years of attending seminary, I am one semester away from being completely done and walking the stage adorned in cap and gown. What you also may not know about the program is that the degree is designed for a very narrow field - counseling within your local church. The biblical counseling program has only been at Southern for four years, and is intended to replace the program that used to prepare students for state licensure in counseling. The classes I am taking now and the degree I will receive in just four short months will not count toward licensure, only a particular certification for counseling in the church. I of course knew this as I was applying and preparing to enter the program in 2005, but as I near the end I am faced with important questions about the future.
I have wanted to be in the field of counseling for as long as I can remember. I have always been particularly convicted about counseling families, and I have primarily wanted to do so in the church. With this comes the realization that I may or may not be paid for that type of counseling: it would all depend on the church and their ability or willingness to provide monetarily for such ministry. Money is not priority, but thinking through such matters led me to ponder another important question. Do I want to be available to counsel in any given capacity, not just in the church?
As I near the end of my degree, I struggle with thought of having not only my undergraduate degree but now also my graduate degree feeling somewhat useless. On a very practical level, neither of my degrees say very much nor do they spark much interest on a resume. That does not mean that I regret devoting years to either one, but I do wonder what the point was for investing so much time and money and energy into two degrees that have very little weight when it comes to employment prospects. I was fortunate to obtain both degrees, I am not ungrateful, just wondering what kind of value they hold.
I am at a point wherein I am debating on further schooling... Do I really want to go to yet another school for another masters degree? Not exactly. Do I see the long-term value of doing so? Yes. There is a school here in Louisville that offers a masters degree in marriage and family therapy, preparing students specifically for licensure in that field. The program is not only attractive due to being the exact degree I would want to pursue, but also because the courses are offered both online and at night. For such a practical degree for what I am wanting to pursue, there are also very practical matters holding me back from applying: 1) I am still in seminary, not quite done, 2) my husband and I have no idea where we are going to be come December. Aside from those two items, I would apply in a heartbeat and get this show on the road. No, I don't want to go through school all over again, but the more I think about it the more I think it would be well worth the time.
There are so many issues and questions up in the air, and any of the related factors could change at any given point. I try not to consume my thoughts with my predicament, but some days it is a real struggle. My husband continually encourages me to pursue my goals wholeheartedly, and he knows my struggle in decision-making. The answer is not going to just fall into my lap necessarily; I am going to have to make actual choices that are actually going to directly affect the future. Very little moves me to anxiety like matters such as this.
Immaturity in my ability to confidently make decisions? Yes.
Great at ideals and goals but weak in the day-to-day choices that will affect such dreams? Yes.
Guided by fear that often leads to inaction rather than action? Yes.
This is why I have found myself imploring the Lord for wisdom more this week than I have in some time. If I know what I need to do, I want the courage to simply take that step and make the decision! I do not want to be driven by fear, but rather by trust in our Sovereign Lord and confidence in the ministry for which He has prepared for both me and my husband.
"You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you." ~Isaiah 26:3

Friday, January 09, 2009

Favorite Photo(s) Friday

My husband knows what makes me smile - roses, a handwritten letter, and Chinese food for our first anniversary on Monday. What more could I have asked for??

Monday, January 05, 2009

Looking Back, Looking Forward on This Our First Anniversary

"I have come with one purpose to capture for myself a bride
By my life she is lovely, by my death she's justified..."
I woke up this morning in almost complete disbelief that an entire year has passed since we exchanged our vows. As I was getting out of bed, as I was sharing the breakfast with my husband that he so sweetly prepared, as we were opening the Precious Moments gift from his parents, and on my drive to work, my mind has been flooded with memories. Memories from that life-changing day and memories from this past year... Was I anticipating a marriage filled with laughter, tears, growth, and happiness? Absolutely. Did I I anticipate that it was going to be THIS overwhelmingly good? Not at all.
There is a singular reason why we chose Steven Curtis Chapman's "What I Really Want To Say" as the song for our first dance as husband and wife - my husband so often leaves me completely speechless. And not because of anything he has done in his own strength, but because of how much the Lord has done in and through him to impact my life. Anyone who knows me knows that I enjoy writing, reading, anything that has to do with communicating via the written word, but when it comes to my husband, I often struggle to narrow all of my thoughts and feelings into something clear and concise. For this reason, Chapman's words resound deep within:
What I really want to say is what the sun would say to the sky
For giving it a place to come alive
But my words get in the way of what I really want to say
When I say that my husband is truly perfect for me that's not a statement made from some idealistic perspective on life. When I say that my husband is truly perfect for me, I make such a statement within the frame of the Lord's ordaining of all events. In the hand of a sovereign God there is no "what might have been." My husband was ordained for me, and I for him, for the greater purpose of drawing us into deeper relationship with His Son. He saw fit for us to complement one another, living each day together with the hope and aim of bringing glory to His magnificent name. What an amazing God we serve, and He's not good because of the gifts He gives. He is good because He is the sovereign God, and only by His mercy and grace are we so fortunate to receive such undeserved blessing...
I still remember seemingly insignificant details of our wedding day, including some of the day before as we prepared for the ceremony. I remember the sheer relief that flooded my body as two of my dearest of friends arrived at my aunt's doorstep with Schlotsky's in their hands. I remember arriving at the hotel Friday evening only to find that our names weren't on the list, and then to have my friends calm me before I had a complete nervous breakdown. I remember my best friend making me take a Tylenol PM at 10:30pm on the dot to ensure that I had a full night's sleep. I remember McD's breakfast the next morning, and going to the beauty salon to the same stylist with the same friends I went with for senior prom (heehee). I remember my best friend taking my cell phone and informing me that I was not allowed to answer it for the rest of the day. I remember us requesting that my dad bring snacks for us to the church and him bringing a feast instead. I remember my friend Sarah ghetto-rigging a bustle on my dress with a single safety pin. I remember my face hurting from all of the smiling in pictures. I remember standing outside the doors of the sanctuary with tears streaming down my face as I heard the musicians begin "Wonderful Merciful Savior." I remember not being in a rush walking down the aisle as I took in the sound of "Amazing Grace" filling the sanctuary while not taking my eyes off of my groom's face. I remember the vows, and particularly choking up when we promised to be together in sickness and in health. I remember us walking down the aisle and hugging for what seemed like an eternity in the foyer. These are just a few of the highlights; there are countless, vivid sights and sounds from that wonderful day.
As I think of how far we have come, I can't help but simultaneously think of whatever might still be in store. I anticipate the coming years with great excitement as I wonder how the Lord is going to continue moving and working in us as we continue on this journey together. So much of what has changed in me, changes for the better, are direct results of how the Lord has used my husband in my life. No other person seeks my good, the good that comes from seeking and knowing Christ more, more than my husband. No other person challenges and teaches me more than my husband, and no other person is more patient with me in my weaknesses and shortcomings. I have much to be grateful for as I fully acknowledge that I have done nothing to deserve this man.
So here's to wishing my groom a happy first anniversary! I am beyond blessed to be called your wife, and I look forward to whatever is in store for us with eager anticipation. From my heart to yours, I love you~

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Ringing in the New Year with Fun, Fellowship, and Monopoly Money

We rang in the New Year with a Casino Night at the beloved Party Palace. It was such a creative idea - everyone there was given toy money to play with, there were several options of tables to play at, and we were all instructed to bring an unopened gift. At the end of the night, we got to pick out a gift to take home in order of who ended up with the most money. All I have to say is that my husband and I are exhausted, but it was all worth it for the great fun and fellowship we had!!

~ Ringing in the New Year with the friends from church for whom we are so thankful - This was such a great way to celebrate, closing out what has been a precious first year with my husband~

O Lord,
Length of days does not profit me
except the days are passed
in Thy presence, in Thy service, to Thy glory.
Give me a grace that precedes, follows, guides,
sustains, sanctifies, aids every hour,
that I may not be one moment apart from Thee,
but may rely on Thy Spirit
to supply every thought,
speak in every word,
direct every step,
prosper every work,
build up every mote of faith,
and give me a desire to show forth Thy praise;
testify Thy love, advance Thy kingdom.
I launch my bark on the unknown waters of this year,
with Thee, O Father as my harbour,
Thee, O Son, at my helm,
Thee O Holy Spirit, filling my sails. . .
(taken from Valley of Vision, cited at