December 8, 2010

Moving Again

Well, the place we have been living has sold and we are moving yet again.

We have treasured our time in the one room "mother-in-law" apartment we have been blessed to live in for the past 9 months. We were house sitting while it was for sale, and enjoyed the 22 acres of Labrador Heaven along with our pups. Memories of playing fetch with them, exploring the acres, cooking out, and enjoying a good fire under the Texas sky will be greatly treasured from our time here.

But, it is time to move on to another adventure yet again. Tonight is our last night out there before we move to town. We look forward to cell phone service, bedroom doors, and a a fenced yard.

I am reminding myself constantly how good it is to be sad about moving. I am so thankful that our time there has been so good that it is hard to move on. I expect I will feel the same about the little house we are moving into now...someday.

November 29, 2010

A Nephew!

Geoff and I had a great Thanksgiving holiday with lots of family. We first traveled to Belton and spent a couple of days with my family, and then traveled to Abilene to be with Geoff's.

On Saturday morning we traveled to Ft. Worth for the highlight of the holiday - Stephen Parker Brantly. He was born Saturday afternoon to Geoff's sister Amber and her husband Kent. He is just ADORABLE and we were so thankful to be able to be there! I am so excited about adding a nephew to the three amazing nieces I already had!

Welcome to the world Stephen - we can't wait to get to know you!

November 8, 2010

Living Dreams

To continue the thought from my last blog, I am very proud of so many of my friends who dream big, live radically, and follow Jesus whole heartedly. I am constantly impressed by how steadfastly they keep their focus on their God-given dreams to change the world using their unique gifts and convictions in spite of what the world calls them to.

Modern design and consumer lifestyles are in stark contrast with the goodness of the original gifts God gave us. Rather than living in harmony with Creation as originally intended by God in the garden, we absorb everything in sight, always seeking more, addicted to consuming things that will never fill us. I have one friend in particular whose dreams have led him to live radically different from this.

I knew Blake in college and loved his dreams of simple living and sustainable architecture that are in harmony with the environment, not in contrast.  Blake's dream has been to take the gifts God has given us on this earth and honor Him by working with creation rather than against it; to live simply, caring for God's creation, rather than exhausting its resources through endless consumption.  I have watched him pursue this dream since 2001 and it is incredible to see him stronger than ever almost a decade later.

He owns a small plot of land south of Abilene and is living completely off the grid, with no conventional water/electric access. He uses a rain water cistern, solar heated shower, composting toilet, and a great sustainable shelter built out of recycled materials and no glue or silicones. Read the article released by Abilene's Reporter News for more info and pictures of Blake's home.

He has learned a lot and overcome who knows how many practical and social obstacles to achieve this dream that is in contrast to the "normal" american lifestyle. With his talent and education he could pick his jobs and live the "normal" comfort first lifestyle, consuming as much as he wanted, and acquiring more than most of us may ever have the option of.  He has laid this down for Jesus.  As a result, I believe (and think he may agree) that he finds and will find much greater fulfillment and contentment than in the pursuit of worldly riches and comforts that will turn out (for the those of us to continue to seek them) to be a "chasing after the wind."  Well done Blake, and well done so many of my other friends whose dreams I hope to highlight on this blog soon as an inspiration to others.

September 23, 2010

Settling Down

"Do NOT conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - His good, pleasing, and perfect will."

Geoff and I have lived very active lives since getting married almost four years ago. We have moved several times, traveled explored numerous opportunities, and everything else except...settle down. People used to ask me when I would "settle down" when I was single and looking for adventures anywhere I could find them from Europe, to Hawaii, to Israel. Once I got married I thought I would finally have to "settle down," and I'm thrilled to have been wrong. I have loved the last four years with Geoff of living in Colorado, and Texas, and traveling to places like Israel, Alaska, and Hawaii. We got very close to settling down when we bought our first house in Abilene while Geoff was completing his M. Div and I had a full time career type job. We weren't settled there long before life changed again. Change is good.

The more I contemplate "settling down" the more opposed to the very cultural principal I become. I remember countless people telling me that my passions and energies will go away as I get older. That passion for Christ and radical living in the face of a prosperous society were issues that balanced themselves out as we matured and "settled-down." I am as opposed to that concept as much or more now than I was then. I hope I NEVER lose my drive to be different in this world, to ask for more out of it, to wrestle daily with how to pursue Christ's mission of bringing the Kingdom here on earth.

I have some seriously amazing friends. My loneliness for my friends sometimes overwhelms me as they are spread all over the world as we or I have moved away. My closest friends are passionate people who are pursuing their dreams in full fashion. I was able to spend some really good quality time with a lot of them this past month, and am overwhelmed with thanksgiving for them.

Last month we were also able to attend ACU's Summit lectureship series. It was so refreshing to be there to hear good lessons and reconnect with great people. Again I was reminded that it is okay not to "settle down," but to continue to pursue God actively, crazily, and passionately in whatever way your heart most demands. Though we had to leave before the last lectures, we were able to finish strong by hearing Shane Claiborne speak. I have read his most recent book, and highly value his passion for life in Christ, and his ability to inspire others to take seriously the call of Jesus to change this world through Love.

It is vitally important, I believe, to remember when encountering inspiring people, with inspiring messages, that we each have our own calling. Some may look a lot alike, but God works with each of us on a constant, second to second basis transforming us into His image. The most important thing I am trying to remember as I work out my own mission day by day - is to not settle down.

August 25, 2010

27 Years

I have always looked forward to being 27. Don't know why, really, but it just seemed like the ideal young adult age. Not too old, not too young - and it has a 7 in it! I am looking forward to this year, though I truly have no idea what it will bring. During my 26th year we moved residences 3 times, and jobs 4 times (at least) between us. We thought we would move to Alaska, but ended up just visiting. We finally got to go back to Hawaii where I got to show Geoff my old stomping grounds, and let him meet some more of my "family." It was a good year.

We are very thankful to be living, presently, in Early, TX. I would never have guessed we would be here at this time, but I am grateful that we are. We are surrounded by people who love us -many of whom have loved Geoff for most of his life, and continue to believe in him and encourage him in his ministry and walk with the LORD. That is something to be very thankful for.

My heart is still restlessly looking for adventure, and I think I will have some this year and am looking forward to it! We will be heading to Israel on one of Geoff's first tours to be leading with his mentor, Dr. Jim Martin. We are SO thankful for the opportunity to be mentored by this man who has led hundreds of people through the land that Geoff and I have fallen in love with. The first trip is in February/March and we will go to Israel, Egypt, and Jordan!!! I haven't been to Jordan, and Geoff hasn't seen the Pyramids so should be quite fun! Not to mention, several of my favorite people are already signed up for the trip to join in on the adventure! Also, Geoff is signing up to run in a marathon in December - and I plan to tag along and run at least a HALF marathon - which sounds like plenty to me at this point! I hope we succeed in these goals. I have also spent my entire married life trying to talk Geoff into the joys of roadbiking and have FINALLY succeeded. We are in the process of getting a bike for him now! Triathlons have peaked our interest, but most of all I look forward to riding through Texas with my husband - sounds fun! Not to mention - we also brought back a lot of beautiful Aspen from our last trip to Colorado and I am looking forward to turning that into some nice headboards, lamps, and whatever else comes to mind!

I do not know what else will come during this next year of my life but can't wait to find out. I have an amazing husband who loves me more than I deserve. I have two wonderful dogs and a funny rabbit that I love. We are living in a small, cozy apartment on a good bit of land (Labrador heaven) and I get to watch the stars every night. Ultimately I pray that I use this year to glorify my LORD in everything that I do, more than I ever have.

"Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in CHRIST JESUS."

June 21, 2010

What's Next?

Getting into the routine of regular blogging again has been more of a challenge than I expected. I remember desperately trying to narrow down the thoughts and experiences I longed to share with all who would listen when I first began this blog. My life has changed so much since those incredible days of journey and experience. I felt so alive, so ready for anything, and so near to the heart of my Jesus.

Since beginning my married life I confess to having failed to pursue some of my most passionate ambitions and dreams - to being freely ME - not only with my husband, but before my GOD. Sharing life with someone, no matter how wonderful he is (and he is) has been quite a different experience. My independent nature, my freedom to GO no matter what, have had to stop and think more often. There is now someone else whose life is directly affected by my actions, desires, plans, and dreams. Decisions that would have been EASY in my single life are now so much harder than I would have ever imagined. I often know exactly what I would do, or want to do, but making that best for both of us, for our greater plans, and goals - complicates things to say the least. Most of all my fear of getting in the way of his dreams and purpose has caused me to hide mine - when we should be pursuing them together. I admit it has been hard sometimes even to know what mine are anymore - I have hidden them so well!

Every day there are people I long for in my heart, spread across this world. Most strongly on my heart at present are my church family in England, I long for them every day. I miss the way they lived for JESUS, loving Him, each other, and everyone else, every day, no matter what. After tasting such sweet fellowship, true worship, and sacrificial community living - I have struggled in my own culture to be patient with issues that are still present and distracting the Church from Who matters. What I wouldn't give to have just a few moments with them.

My current "station" in life is not a stage I would have ever expected - but I am thankful for it. Even as I am thankful, I am longing to know what is to come of it. I pray my eyes and heart will be open and willing to seize every opportunity HE would set before me. I long to make every moment on this earth count, in the name of JESUS. For what other purpose are we here?

May 26, 2010

3 years, 8 months later...

So, apparently life has been a little different since I got married - I must have set an all time record for failure to blog by this point! I laughed when I realized the last time I posted was two weeks before Geoff and I got married! I guess life changed a little for me! So, here goes my first effort, after being married for over 3 1/2 years...of learning to blog again.

Being married has been a wonderful, incredible journey. I knew the man I was marrying was quite the catch - but everyday I discover even more just how wonderful he is for me. In recap here are some main events that we have experienced together that would have
certainly been blogged, had I remembered I had a blog...

  • Sept. 30, 2006 - Wedding was Amazing - more than we dreamed. I did actually post briefly about it on our other blog!

  • Oct. 2006 - moved to Poncha Springs, Colorado where Geoff preached for a wonderful, intimate congregation tucked in the beautiful (cold) mountains.

  • January 2007 - we adopted a pup who has turned out to be the most gorgeous, loving, brilliant, black lab on earth

  • September 29, 2007 - My brother Jason married Katie Roseberry!
  • January 2008 - We moved back to Abilene, TX for Geoff to complete work on his Masters of Divinity degree, and I began working full time to support the habit. :) His parents were gracious to let us live in their garage apartment while we saved for a down payment.
  • February 2008 - rescued a wonderful, big, white new zealand rabbit from the side of the road (found him running down S. 14th in Abilene...not ideal rabbit territory) and "Doc" has become a great addition to the family.

  • March 2008 - Geoff began working as the interim youth and worship minister in Early, TX and thus the great commute from Abilene to Early each Sunday began!

  • September 9, 2008 - bought our first house and enjoyed spending any free time working on it!

  • September 2008 - our precious black lab was not so thrilled with both of us at work and/or school all day - so we gave in and bought him a dog of his very own. Our Chocolate Lab is the perfect companion for him - we love our pets!

  • March 2009 - Geoff and I became Uncle and Aunt three times in 6 days! My brother and his wife had twin girls born March 12, 2009: Kinley Kate and Ansley Grace Pittenger. Six days later on March 18, 2009 Geoff's sister had her baby - Ruby Grace Brantley! We have LOVED watching our siblings become incredible parents, and enjoy getting to see our beautiful nieces grow!

  • May 2009 - After a lot of hard work and dedication - Geoff graduated with his Masters of Divinity from ACU. He hasn't quite finished up the Masters degree in Israel - but I'm thrilled that after ALL those grad hours he has at least one degree to show! My sister Jana also graduated at the same time, with her undergraduate degree from ACU.

  • August 1, 2009- Jana married Justin Schofield and moved to Dallas to begin graduate school! She will graduate with her Master's in Communication Disorders (I think that's what the title is...) to become a Speech Pathologist next May 2011. Overachiever...:) I'm constantly amazed at how incredible my little sis is. I'm also sometimes jealous of her ability to know exactly what she wants to do and her ability to make it happen! I'm still stuck on that initial question of what I want to do...

  • August 2009 - Geoff's parents moved to Hendrick Home for Children in Abilene to become full time house parents (perfect vocation for them I think!) and our family played "musical houses." We moved into their house to house sit and my brother and his family moved into our house after rent house nightmares (August + broken water pipe + broken a/c + babies = time to move out!)

  • October 2009 - Wonderful trip to visit a church family in Alaska - huge blessing for us. In spite of the fact that I'm the coldest natured person I know, we have felt a strong urge to look into the ministry opportunities in Alaska, and are constantly keeping that on our radar as a possibility for our future. We hope to make it there again soon!

  • November 2009 - Went to Oklahoma to visit my grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins - so many I love SOOO much and had one of, if not THE best Thanksgiving ever.

  • December 2009 - had a wonderful early Christmas with my family in Belton. Had a great turn out for the "Cookies and Cocoa with Santa" which has replaced the extravagant "Breakfast with Santa" my family used to do. This one took place in my folks yard, still with Santa, full size sleigh, and more Christmas decor than you usually find in an entire neighborhood - and of course we all dressed up for the occasion. Who knew the North Pole was located in central Texas?!?

  • December 2009 - We spend the Christmas holiday in Abilene, with Geoff's family and enjoyed a VERY white Christmas. It snowed so much we launched a rescue mission at one point to go find my brother and his family who were stranded on a closed down interstate en route to Ft. Worth - but we couldn't get there either! Thankfuly the nearby small town helped them find shelter in a church building where they spent the rest of an unforgettable Christmas Eve!
  • We had a great time in the snow on Christmas day - no better gift for Geoff on Christmas, I'm sure! I even woke up EARLY to play in it with him! Got the dogs dressed up for the occasion, built the best snowman on the block, and then headed to his folks house where even MORE fun awaited!

  • February 2010 - After almost 4 YEARS of being away I FINALLY got to take Geoff to visit Hawaii and all the people I love so much there - quite the refresher.

  • March 2010 - After MUCH wrestling in prayer with different options that were presented, we decided to move to Early, TX to continue working with the church here on a full time basis. Geoff is the "Young Adult and Worship Minister" and the best teacher I've ever had day in and day out.

  • We are so blessed to be here in Early and even in our short three months we have been amazed at how truly GOOD it is to be here. Unable to find a place to live on time, we are housesitting for a gracious family who have moved to another town while their house remains for sale. The house is perfectly situated on a hill overlooking 22 acres of gorgeous Texas. We are living in the seperate mother-in-law apartment and GREATLY enjoying our simple life. Our two labs and white rabbit are quite at home here and we are doing the best to enjoy every minute!