Friday, June 25, 2010

Favorite Photo(s) Friday!

We can't wait to see the faces in these pictures!!!

My Uncle J & Aunt J (minus Cousin A)

My Uncle P & Aunt A

The Panda Family

Panda Girl

Mi Padre

Big brother B

The greatest Mom and Dad in-laws on the planet

Mi Madre

(And yes, half of these pictures have been ganked from those in them :) The top two are courtesy of *FayCeB00ke* and the two below that are courtesy of Panda Mom)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

From Frankfort to Franklin

In January of 2008, just three weeks after saying "I do," my husband and I walked through the door of the small church we would eventually call our church home. After six months of wondering whether or not we should leave our previous church, wondering whether or not my husband should begin applying for local church positions, we were drawn to attend and eventually join Grace Church. We have grown to love this small congregation, and although the length of our time here remains uncertain, the love and fellowship continues to grow.


Not long after being members at Grace, my husband and I discovered a potential dilemma--this young church only had so much room to grow. Since the original church plant in 2007, Grace has been renting a church building just off of Frankfort Avenue. While it has served its purpose thus far, awareness of our limits has increased. Renting comes with significant limitations: only being given access on Sundays, limited classroom space, a sanctuary that would bust at the seams if we were to experience significant growth, and the minor setback of an air conditioner that occasionally goes out when the lights are turned on... Setbacks indeed. Grace is filled, almost overwhelmingly so, with individuals and groups who earnestly want to serve and expand our church's ministry to the community. There are so many wonderful giftings within our small body, and yet we have limited resources given our current situation. Even making the most of the church building we do have provides little room for additional growth and ministry.


Hence mine and my husband's eagerness when we received word a few months ago that another local congregation has sought our church out. This particular church, nestled in the old downtown area referred to as Butchertown, contacted our elders in the early spring to discuss a potential merger. This would involve the two coming together as one church, and our current congregation finally moving from our small rental to their three-story building in Butchertown. When the pastor who leads our small group brought up the idea for discussion one evening, I think he was somewhat overwhelmed at our enthusiastic response! Here we are a young church, antsy to be so much more effective and consistently involved in a variety of ministries, eager to have our church congregation consist of more than predominantly seminary-affiliated students and families, and the idea of finally having our own building alone is enough to stir up some excitement. Since the talks began a few months ago, we have since invited their congregation to our church for a Sunday worship service, our preaching pastor has been there once, and we also joined them for a good ol' Baptist potluck a few weeks ago. Our church is set to officially vote on moving forward with the merger this Sunday, and their congregation will be doing the same in the near future. If all goes according to the tentative plan, we could be one church called by our new name (something still in the works) by the fall!


With such a merger comes change, some readily accepted and some of which will require a measure of grace and patience from both churches. We are a young church, strong in reformed theology, strong in certain practices, and we have been given the opportunity to do something wonderful for putting doctrine into practice! When this merger takes place, there will be two church cultures coming together trying to make things work as one unified body. This is a time when I am thankful for my more traditional Baptist background as it has enabled me to be more sensitive and discerning of the potential issues and questions that may arise. I am also thankful for churches such as this who have such a rich history, a history marked by perseverance and strong commitment to their community (One of the older women I spoke to during the potluck, Erma, told me the story of when her father built their house down the street more than 70 years ago, and how she has been a faithful member of this church ever since.)


When I look at an older Baptist congregation, one with whom I have brief glimpses of my childhood at either my home church or my grandparents' country church, I am reminded that there will be times when discussing the differences in tradition and doctrine will be crucial to our separate churches coming together as one:

  • Why does our church take part in Communion every Sunday rather than once a quarter?
  • Why don't we sing straight from the Baptist hymnal?
  • Should women be allowed to serve as deacons and/or teachers?
  • What is the purpose of a membership class prior to someone joining the church?

I am thinking of hypothetical questions on an almost daily basis, and each time I do I am also praying for grace. While some churches seem to have things together, all the kinks worked out with the whole church coming together as one unified body, we are all still sinners saved by and in need of grace. Even some of the most well-intentioned people can approach questions and differing views without displaying care or concern for the other party. So not only do we have a great opportunity to finally be even more involved in ministry to our local community, but we have an opportunity to come together with a church very different from our own and lavish love and grace on them. My husband and I are praying fervently for this merger, praying that elders and congregation alike will practice humility first when dealing with crucial matters, as well as those which may seem secondary to us. I've never prayed for our elders as much as I have in recent weeks and months, and I have been praying for the young men as well who are eager and willing to roll up their sleeves and dive into whatever ministry the Lord may have in store.

"Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for 'God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.'" ~1 Peter 5:5
"So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others." ~Philippians 2:1-4

Thursday, June 03, 2010

~ June 1, 2005 ~

This week marks five years since I loaded my 18-month-old dog into my '98 Malibu, with my dad in a truck behind me pulling a horse trailer loaded with all my belongings. We set out on a bright Texas morning and headed north. My then-boyfriend and his parents were just a couple of hours ahead of us on the same stretch of highway. It was a 700-mile journey made in faith. I knew where we were headed, but clueless as to what was beyond our destination.
I find myself asking at random moments this week, "How did we get here?" Whether sitting at my desk at work, feeding my dog (now accompanied by another smaller version of herself), driving my '05 Malibu around the city, walking around the neighborhood on a warm summer evening with my then-boyfriend-now-husband, drinking my ritual morning coffee--whatever the instance may be, I've asked myself that very question and reflected on the answer: God's goodness.
This week has been a real struggle for me in some ways. While remembering all of the good, I have also fought seemingly moreso than ever for contentment with where we are in life. As we walked around our quiet neighborhood last night, I became overwhelmed with frustration and anger as the weight of waiting hit me hard. As quickly as the frustration and anger overcame me, the truth of my husband's encouraging words hit faster and deeper. What I am needing right now is a heart of gratitude. I don't know when this season will end, I don't know the what or the where at the end of this season, but I do know one thing: there is overwhelming reason to be grateful! While reflecting on these past five years in Louisville, my soul is filled with praise to the Lord for all He has done and so richly given:
  • A wonderful and stable job
  • Two dogs that bring daily joy and laughter
  • A church filled with loving brothers and sisters
  • My health and the Lord's nearness with every doctor's visit and test result since my diagnosis
  • Financial means to slowly but surely pay off debt
  • Family and friends near and far who have been a constant source of support
  • A husband who continually speaks truth, reflects Christ's unceasing love, and encourages when I should be the one encouraging him
I want to cry as I think of the very particular ways in which God has provided. And not only could I weep in response to such overwhelming gratitude, but I could continue writing the ways for hours. His provision is an undeserved promise, His nearness such a grace. I pray desperately for a heart of gratitude, and that this waiting season will not be a time when a root of bitterness grows. My God is good even when the day ahead is unknown. We don't know what the future holds, but He does and has assured us that we can rest in that! I want to look back on this season, after the next five years have quickly passed, and see that this was a time of great and much needed growth for both me and my husband. And not only do I want to look back in five years, but I want a heart that is grateful and experiences the joy of knowing Him today.