Sunday, September 30, 2012

{iPhone Rewind} :: September

September was a BUSY month- lots going on! :)

First Pumpkin Spice Latte of the season...3 days before it was officially on the menu ;)

Sasha really wanted to snuggle (she's actually sleeping in my lap...she doesn't know she is 80 lbs)

Mike and I took a trip to Sprinkles so I could satisfy my cupcake craving (and to get a mix for our home church)

We had a pumpkin carving party with our home church (more pics coming soon)...these are the McCullough pumpkins :)

I think we're pretty talented pumpkin carvers! ;)

These stacks of work won't shrink...for every 2 things I finish, 5 more are added. Busy season at work!

I started taking the antibiotics for H. Pylori. It has been a long 7 days, and I still have 7 more. Lots of prayers appreciate- this stuff is strong and comes with a lot of side effects.


Welcome Baby Boy Lilley!

Our sweet friends recently welcomed their new baby boy, David Stone. This is baby #2 for the Lilley family, and it's crazy to think that it has been almost 2 years since his older sister Evie was born! Love them ALL.

{picture stolen from Sara :) }

I was really excited when I found this pattern. It was a fairly simple stitch, and I thought it would be great for a sweet baby boy!


Friday, September 28, 2012

Forever Reign

Mike is preparing to preach on Sunday, and in preparation has suggested that we listen to the song "Forever Reign" on repeat. So that's what I did this morning. And in the stillness of the morning, the Lord reminded me of His incredible grace. The riches of His love will always be enough. And He is more than I can every say...

I actually listened to this cover by Hannah Ramos. I went to high school with this beautiful girl, and she is using her gift of music to praise Jesus and bless others. She has a really cool story. I remember when she got sick and didn't think she would sing again. It is so encouraging and such a a blessing to see old friends love, pursue, and be used by Jesus. Thank you Hannah for leading me in worship to our Savior.

You are good You are good
When there's nothing good in me
You are love You are love
On display for all to see
You are light You are light
When the darkness closes in
You are hope You are hope
You have covered all my sin

You are peace You are peace
When my fear is crippling
You are true You are true
Even in my wandering
You are joy You are joy
You're the reason that I sing
You are life You are life
In You death has lost it's sting

Oh I'm running to Your arms
I'm running to Your arms
The riches of Your love
Will always be enough
Nothing compares to Your embrace
Light of the world forever reign

You are more You are more
Than my words will ever say
You are Lord You are Lord
All creation will proclaim
You are here You are here
In Your presence I'm made whole
You are God You are God
Of all else I'm letting go

Oh I'm running to Your arms
I'm running to Your arms
The riches of Your love
Will always be enough
Nothing compares to Your embrace
Light of the world forever reign

My heart will sing
No other Name


Saturday, September 22, 2012

...Hello Fall!

Fall arrived at the McCullough house this weekend. Ok, so maybe not the cooler weather, but certainly the decor and the smells ;)

Excuse the sidewalk chalk...we have some cute kiddos that come hang out and play ;)

Isn't he cute? He was on sale for $12! And I decorated the pumpkin- a super easy DIY!

Thank you pinterest.

Those pinecones smell like fall :)

Another simple DIY...scrapbook paper and ribbon. 

Mike came home from work and said the fall decorations looked great...but did I realize that they weren't on the porch anymore? Apparently my scarecrow was taking a nap and my pumpkin had rolled away. So they had to come inside for a new home.

Welcome Fall! :)


Friday, September 21, 2012

Goodbye Summer...

The summer heat just had to hang on for a little bit longer. But I'm not complaining; while everyone else is wishing the heat away, I am trying to soak up the last bit of warmth before the cooler temperatures set in. They are predicting a long and wet winter (which means ICE in this area), so I have to enjoy the heat while i have it!  :)

It has certainly been a busy summer...full of weddings, family, anniversaries, church planting interviews/prep, vacation, and Bible studies. But it has been a GOOD summer. We have seen the Lord's provision and care in countless ways, and we are just so thankful for His faithfulness.

At the actual change of seasons, we find ourselves looking ahead to our own change of season in life. The church planting residency is in full swing, and we are getting ready to face a new and busy season. Mike is putting the finishing touches on the sermon he will be preaching at the end of the month {come here him in person or watch it online!//end proud wife plug}. We are having a "family talk" with our home group to talk as a family about what our future will look like. And we are starting the support raising process, which includes the creation of a support/vision video (thanks to Mike's wonderfully talented and generous brother), the planning of multiple dessert nights, and the development of a new informational site.

Saying goodbye to summer is more than just saying goodbye to the warmer weather. We're also saying goodbye to life before a church plant. Because now things are real, and we are rolling forward, full steam ahead. All the anticipation of the church plant is quickly changing into the reality of the church plant. Life will never be the same. If I think too much about it, I can get easily overwhelmed and that amount of change can terrify me. But the Lord knows me better than I even know myself, providing the exact right encouragement when I need it. I am reminded of these verses in Daniel:

"Blessed be the name of God forever and ever,
to whom belong wisdom and might.
He changes times and seasons;
He removes kings and sets up kings;
He gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to those who have understanding;
He reveals deep and hidden things;
He knows what is in the darkness,
and the light dwells with Him."
~Daniel 2:20-22

I'm not asking for the Lord to interpret a dream (like Daniel), but what an incredible picture of the sovereignty and wisdom of God. Everything is under His command, nothing is outside of His knowledge. New seasons don't terrify Him; He creates them. And I know He has been whispering to my heart all along...comforting, molding, preparing. So while it is scary to step away from what I have known into the new season ahead, I can take comfort in knowing that He knows what is ahead and has been faithfully preparing me for the season He has created.

And so I say goodbye to summer and the season of life that the Lord has used to prepare me for the next one...


Saturday, September 15, 2012

On Health & Doctors

First, I have to say that I am extremely thankful for my health. It's something that I all too often take for granted. But I am reminded every now and then how frail and broken our bodies really are/can be. I get sick or have some medical issue come up that reminds me that a) I am getting older haha and b) every day of good health is a blessing from the Lord.

Second, I am also very thankful for health insurance. I realize that is something that my American upbringing certainly takes for granted; I have known no different. I may not have always had the best health insurance...but I have always been covered in some way. And the Lord has always provided.

Last Wednesday I finally saw a doctor regarding the stomach/intestinal pains I have been having. With a family history of gallbladder disease, I knew I needed to stop googling my symptoms and actually go see a a doctor of internal medicine. Or rather, my sweet husband told me to stop googling my symptoms and actually go see someone :)

But of course, it was only step 1 of the process, so I had to go back yesterday for some tests. They first did a sonogram to check for gall stones. And then they did an Upper GI (which basically means I drank this nasty white goop that made my intestines glow). The good news is that it's not my gallbladder. This is actually fantastic news; all of the women in my family have had their gallbladders removed, and I am just so thankful that I am not facing surgery. The second piece of good news is that we think we have figured it out, and it seems to have a simple solution.

As it turns out, I tested positive for something called H. Pylori. Never heard of it? Me either. But apparently it is a bacteria that can cause ulcers and in some cases, stomach cancer. 50% of the world's population has this bacteria, but most never experience any symptoms. I guess I am one of the lucky few ;) If the bacteria causes infection, like in my case, it can cause gastritis symptoms, i.e. the stomach/intestinal pain I have been experiencing.

The thing that is really interesting to me (and was fascinating to my doctor haha) is that it is something that is usually seen in developing countries and can be contracted through contaminated food or water. Remember Nicaragua? As crazy as this sounds, this diagnosis makes perfect sense to me. I have said over and over that my insides have never been the same since returning from Managua. While we can't know for sure, it is very likely that I got the bacteria while on my trip.

I am just so thankful that we finally have answers and that it's {hopefully} only going to take a heavy dose of antibiotics to fix. And I am thankful that I have access to doctors and tests and medicines to get better. But there is a part of my heart that breaks, thinking that the sweet babies that I met in Nicaragua could experience these symptoms and not have the same benefits. And I don't really know what to do with that. So for now, I praise Jesus for His blessings and pray that He will show me how my new knowledge can help others later. No wasted circumstances, right?


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Are You Ready for This?

Last night Mike received a couple of texts from people asking for prayer. Thankfully we didn't have any plans and received the texts at the time they were sent, so we were able to stop and pray right then for our friends.

My sweet husband asked me the question, "Are you ready for this?" to which I responded "Ready or not..."  :)

But I have been thinking about that question a lot today. Am I ready for this? Because last night was no big deal- just a few simple requests for prayer. Looking ahead to our lives in ministry, those texts will inevitably turn into phone calls and requests to meet and talk in person. Possibly in the middle of the night. Possibly in the middle of something we have planned. Am I ready to stop what I am doing for the sake of others? Am I ready to give up what I know will become a coveted evening with my husband so that someone else's needs can be met?

My honest prayer right now is "I hope so."

Because the likelihood of these sacrifices will certainly increase as we step forward into planting and leading a church. It is just part of the demands of ministry. But the question that the Spirit keeps bringing to mind is this: "How much of this will be because you are in ministry? Shouldn't you be ready for "this" a pastor's wife or not?"

Ready to drop everything to pray for someone. Ready to stop what I am doing for the sake of others. Ready to give up my plans so that someone else's needs can be met. Shouldn't we be a part of a community of faith that operates this way on a regular basis? So it's not solely the responsibility of the pastor and his wife, but rather the responsibility of an entire community of believers who desire to love God and the people around them.

Don't misunderstand me. I'm certainly not trying to shift responsibility or somehow get out of what my part will be as a pastor's wife. I answered the Lord's calling and made the decision to become a church planter and pastor's wife, knowing that this was part of the deal. So while there are certainly a unique set of expectations for that role, should those expectations be that much different from the calling to be a faithful and obedient Christ-follower? The calling to sacrificially love the people the Lord has placed in my life?
"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. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross." ~Philippians 2:3-8 

I will be honest and say that there is a part of me that fears this part of ministry. Mostly because I know it will not always be easy to do. I won't always feel loving or sacrificial or selfless. But the reality is that this idea shouldn't be that foreign or new to me. I should be more than ready for this kind of sacrificial and selfless life, simply because I call myself a Christ-follower. It really is a matter of dying to myself daily.

I love the part of the verse in Philippians that says that we should have this mind, "which is ours in Christ Jesus." I don't have to somehow muster the strength to be selfless on my own. Because left on my own, I am pretty selfish. But I can be ready for this life because of Jesus. It's certainly a challenge, one I will be working on every day.


Monday, September 3, 2012

Wind River Ranch

Mike and I had the opportunity to spend the week in Colorado. This vacation was a HUGE blessing for us, as it was a chance for us to enjoy some time away before the craziness of the church plant begins :)

We left early (3am folks) on Sunday and drove the 14 hours to Estes Park. It was a good drive, but we were ready to make it to our destination: Wind River Ranch.

Looking pretty weary after our long sweet husband forgot to tell me that we would be greeted by the entire staff and a required photo. Oh well. We were glad to be there!

Mike had worked at WRR in the summer during college, so it was fun for him to be back and fun for me to see the place he has talked so much about. We got to stay in the Cottonwood cabin for the week:

Yep, that's a Keurig you see in the mirror. It was fantastic.

Just some pictures of the ranch...

We really just loved being in the mountains, enjoying the beauty of God's creation...

Every morning, we had an adult Bible study out on the deck of the Ranch House. It was a great way to start the morning, opening the Word with other believers from all over the U.S.

How can you not worship Jesus with a view like this?

Waiting for Bible study to start...

Since WRR is a family camp, there was no lack of fun activities all week. From horse rides and rodeos to square dancing and a hootenanny, we thoroughly enjoyed all elements of the dude ranch  :)  We were blessed to meet so many sweet families during the week, and we definitely had a lot of goofy fun. But we both admitted that our time at WRR would be that much more fun with a family of our own. But as a couple, we made the best of it! :)

Horse Orientation...

The Wranglers getting the horses ready for us...

Waiting for our turn on the horses...

Mike and his horse "Rip"- I rode behind them on the trail, and let's just say that the horse was appropriately named...

Me and my horse "Mitzy" - she was a sweet horse, even if she did try to nip my leg...

Olympic egg races :)

We participated in a lot of the activities, but also allowed time for just the two of us on our own adventures. On Wednesday, we headed up into Rocky Mountain National Park. We had great weather, and we enjoyed driving through the park and walking through the Alpine Tundra.


Marmot. The only picture of wildlife I managed to get a picture of...I saw elk and even a bear (sic 'em!), but wasn't quick enough to snap a photo. Oh well. This guy was cute.

On Thursday, we got up really early to hike up Twin Sisters. We started out while it was still dark outside and made our way through the WRR property to find the trail up the mountain. This was my first hike up a mountain; it was incredibly hard, but I am so glad I did it!

Still too dark outside to get any good pictures, but we made it about half way up to Gorilla Rock about the time the sun was coming up over the mountains.

My mountain man ;)

With the altitude and my severe lack of being in shape, I was certainly feeling every muscle in my body. My knees took a beating, especially on the descent. But reaching the top was definitely worth it :)

We didn't do much the rest of the day, since I could barely walk haha. But it worked out great, because a storm rolled in so we ended up having a lazy rainy afternoon playing board games in the cabin.

We had a great week in the mountains, and we are just so thankful for the blessing of having a vacation! We were sad to leave the beautiful setting, but we are thankful for the time the Lord allowed us to have at Wind River.

With my honey :)

Of course, no road trip would be complete without a little road adventure. Poor Peabody suffered a flat tire about 25 miles north of Amarillo. 

But even as inconvenient as that was, the Lord was still taking care of us. We were able to pull off the road safely, got some help from a friendly Texas State Trooper, and made it to the Discount Tire in Amarillo 30 minutes before they closed (and wouldn't reopen until after Labor Day!)

The Lord is good, and is always taking care of us.   :)