Monday, March 31, 2014

{iPhone Rewind} :: March

The last day of February was beautiful, sunny, and warm. And then March rolled in with this ridiculous weather. {If you can't read it, it says "feels like -1"}The yo-yo weather is wreaking havoc on my body aches, so I am MORE than ready for spring...

More often than not, we will look over to see Sasha stretching out on her bed like this. Sometimes she's awake, sometimes she's not. #itsadogslife #crazypuppy

The nasty Bronchitis got the best of me, and I was probably down for the count for a good 2 weeks. I am thankful for antibiotics, and I am learning to never take my healthy days for granted.

Our lovely yard...the sewer line was leaking, and the whole thing had to be replaced. It was a crazy week of back and forth (since we couldn't stay at the house), but we're thankful we're renting and didn't have to foot the bill!

I had an all-day training for Cognos at the Jack Henry offices in Allen. It actually was a good day of training, and I was thankful for the break from the routine of work. I actually walked away feeling confident in being able to apply what I learned.

 Because I was helping video Sami and Adrian's wedding, I got to be a part of their first look. I felt like an intruder on their private moment, but it was super cute to watch him nervously {and excitedly} wait for his bride.

My cute husband is working on a painting project for his office. He's so creative, and I am excited for this project to be complete {because I want to see the finished product!} He has worked so hard, and I know it's going to look awesome! 

Mike spoke at the quarterly Chick Fil A worship service again. We are so thankful for the relationships we have built with the owner and employees, grateful for the opportunity to life high the name of Jesus at a Chick Fil A on a Sunday.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Proverbs 31 Woman :: An E-Book

We took a break from women's Bible study, so I was looking for something a little different to do in the interim. I kept hearing about Good Morning Girls, so I decided to give it a try. This website is specifically designed for online study: you sign up to be a part of an online group, or sign up online with your own in-person group. They encourage accountability, with periodic check-ins with your group. There are several studies to choose from, and I chose the Proverbs 31 study.
Confession...I did the exact thing they discourage: doing the study on my own without the accountability of a group. I am all for the accountability and think it is important; but since I have my own group of accountability on a regular basis, I decided to just do a previously completed study on my own for this short interim time.
They use the SOAP method, where you take the assigned verses for the day and walk through it in the following way: 
Scripture- write out the Scripture passage for the day
Observations- write out facts about the passage, things you observe
Applications- write down ways you can apply the passage to your life
Prayer- pray over the passage and how you can apply it to your life
It's pretty simple and straightforward, which I enjoyed. I typically like more in-depth studies, with questions and further study, but I enjoyed the change of pace and the different way of studying the passages. In addition to the SOAP method, the study included a mini e-book as a supplement. While I was thankful for some additional insights into the Proverbs 31 woman, I wasn't completely sold on this one person's opinion of the verses.

Unfortunately, like too many women's Bible studies out there, this one seemed one-dimensional and incomplete. There were glaring omissions as to what the passage was actually referring. The most difficult part was how it seemed to only support one type of woman: a stay at home mom. While this is something that I think Scripture encourages as ideal {it's something my own heart longs for}, and even the role of the specific woman described in Proverbs 31, it is hardly the only type of woman who loves the Lord and seeks to be a godly woman. My hope would have been a more thorough inclusion of the godly woman in all of Scripture, not just in these verses {especially since this can be a sensitive topic for so many women}. In other words, I wish the study supplement had highlighted the character traits of a godly woman in any {Biblical} role, rather than in one specific role. 
I realize it was a study of Proverbs 31, so the specific role was the sole focus of the author. However, since the study took the reader to outside verses anyway, then I personally believe the e-book should have included a more in-depth picture {or even a mere admitted mention} of a godly woman in varying roles. I spent most of my time trying to dig deeper and see how it would relate to me personally: a working married woman. I also thought about how it would apply to all of the women in my life: the working {outside the home} mom, the single gal, the newly-married wife {with no kids}, the long-time-married wife {with no kids}, the empty-nester wife, the engaged and soon-to-be wife, and the single mom. Because I know the principles of the passage don't solely apply to one type of woman {like the e-book seems to suggest}.

It may seem like I am overly critical of this study, and I want to be sure I highlight the positive aspects of it. While I may not have loved every aspect of this study, and I believe that parts of it were Biblically incomplete, it was not necessarily Biblically inaccurate. I liked the encouragement of group accountability/discussion {probably the piece I was missing by doing the study solo}. I liked the simple SOAP method and how it led you to look at the verses each day. The reader was pointed to many other passages that related to the verses of Proverbs 31, which added to the understanding of the passage.
Because I lead women's Bible studies, it's important to me that I don't just take things at face value; not all women's Bible studies are created equal. My heart's desire is for women to learn how to study the Word for themselves, and to fall in love with studying and meditating on the Scripture. I don't think we do women any favors by sugar-coating, omitting the hard/uncomfortable passages, or playing into the emotional aspects of our natures. So as much as I can, I will {unapologetically} go Berean on a women's Bible study :)

Sunday, March 23, 2014

{Tying the Knot} :: Adrian & Sami

Our sweet friends Adrian and Sami got married this weekend! It has been fun to walk this journey with them, from dating through engagement, and we are so excited for them to start their new life as a married couple!

I wasn't able to get many photos of the actual ceremony or role was videographer {and impromptu cake cutter} for the night! But I was able to snag a few photos of the decor before the ceremony...

Mike getting ready for the ceremony

Each table was labeled with one of their favorite bands/artists

Sami's mom made the cake, which was absolutely beautiful. 

Groom's cake :)

Bride and groom's table

The bride made this herself!

I got to take a {little} breather during the reception and enjoy some time with our Redeemer family. It was strange not being at church this week, but we were thankful for the time to just hang out!

Dannie and Grace

Sam and Rachel :)

Kylee and Sophia

Hunter and Eric

Kit and Kelly

With my love :)

At the very end of the night, I had my chance to snap a photo with the beautiful bride! 

Congrats Sami and Adrian!! We love you guys :)

Friday, March 21, 2014

High Five for Friday!

{one} I have been s.l.o.w.l.y. recovering from being sick. It is taking WAY longer than I expected; being sick is such a drag! I still have this nasty cough that is hanging on, but otherwise I think I am at least heading in the right direction. I just need to make it through these last few cold days, and hopefully the weather will stabilize soon to help with the healing process.

{two} Wednesday we had dinner with some new friends we met through the Acts 29 Network. It was a good time to talk ministry and life, and we are thankful for the encouragement of these new friends. 

{three} Thursday I spent the day at an off-site training for our new Cognos software {because that's the exciting life of a banker!} The only reason I mention it is because it brought back memories of working at Wortham...right before I left, I had started training on a more complicated version of Cognos. I never thought I would have to work in it again...or be involved in insurance, for that matter. But my responsibilities at the bank have brought BOTH back into my repertoire. Who knew?

{four} Our sweet friends Adrian and Sami are getting married this weekend! Thursday was their rehearsal and dinner, and we both get to help be a part of their special day {Mike as officiant, me as videographer. Prayers please.} We couldn't be more excited for these two, and we cannot wait to celebrate with them!

LOVE this pic :)

{five} Today Mike and I had a fun lunch/fingerprinting date. Explanation: some friends of ours are fostering to adopt; we were asked to be official babysitters, so we have to submit our fingerprints to the state. We made our appointments for this afternoon and just decided to make it a lunch date. Because that's how we roll ;)

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

10,000 Reasons

This is a few years old, but I have had it running through my head for the past couple of days. It's just a good song, full of truths that I need to affirm right now.
Whatever may pass, and whatever lies before me...let me be singing when the evening comes.
No matter what happens- good or bad, planned or unplanned- I want to still be singing His praises at the end of it all. I want this to be true every day of my life. Despite how uncertain and overwhelming things are right now, I want to be able to sing His praises.
Sing like never before, O my soul...I'll worship Your holy name.
I have to confess that my heart doesn't necessarily feel like praising Him right now. My heart is filled more with anxiety and frustration than thanksgiving. It's too easy to take my eyes off Jesus and focus on the here and now. But He is worthy of my praise, regardless of the storms of life. He is still holy and good.
You're rich in love, and You're slow to anger...Your name is great, and Your heart is kind.
When I can look past my circumstances, the darkness clears and I know these truths to be real. His love is extravagant, and He is incredibly patient with my wandering heart. His name is great, and it's incredibly comforting to know that His heart is kind. He hasn't forgotten me, and He loves me more than I will probably ever know this side of eternity.
For all Your goodness I will keep on singing...ten thousand reasons for my heart to find.
There are probably more than ten thousand reasons that I could find to praise Him. I have only just skimmed the surface of counting 1000 gifts in a year. Those are only things He has given to me {and only the ones I can think of that particular day}. It doesn't count the innumerable things I take for granted or the depths of His character.
And so in spite of all my fears and struggles, I place the song on repeat and affirm the praise due His name....
The sun comes up, it's a new day dawning
It's time to sing Your song again
Whatever may pass, and whatever lies before me
Let me be singing when the evening comes
:: {chorus} ::
Bless the Lord, O my soul, O my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before, O my soul
I'll worship Your holy name
You're rich in love, and You're slow to anger
Your name is great, and Your heart is kind
For all Your goodness I will keep on singing
Ten thousand reasons for my heart to find
And on that day when my strength is failing
The end draws near and my time has come
Still my soul will sing Your praise unending
Ten thousand years and then forevermore

Friday, March 14, 2014

One of Those Weeks

Man, what a week! Sickness, discouragements, spewing poop holes, and's been one of those weeks at the McCullough Casa. One of those weeks where you are just so exhausted at the end of it, not really sure what all just happened, and thankful that His mercies are new every morning.

We're all ok over here; probably better than ok. But this week has truly tested both of us: physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. We're thankful to Jesus for His presence and loving care. He has walked with us every step of this hard week, and we know that He is still good despite it all...

Discouragement is part of life, part of ministry. Sometimes it all seems to pile up at once, and it leaves you wondering if you are doing the right thing. People and circumstances disappoint. You do your best to walk in obedience and faithfulness, only for things to not work out how you had planned. You find yourself wondering if God is still moving and if He even hears your prayers anymore {He is and He does!}.

Weeks like this one are the ones we were warned about; it would be easy to give in to the discouragement and just give up. And we wanted to at more than one point this week haha. But we're making it through, and we have the promises of God's faithfulness to us. So we press on :)

I have been in and out of work all week, so my days have completely run together; I feel like I have lost an entire week. That cold/cough from last week hung on and turned into bronchitis {boo!} and I have spent the week trying to recover. I went to the doctor on Sunday morning and was able to get some antibiotics. I'm still not 100% {even 5 days on meds}, so I am trying to monitor my symptoms to make sure it doesn't worsen. There's always the risk of pneumonia, so I would appreciate your prayers!

I have been extremely lucky to have not been sick up to this point, but I always knew it was an inevitability. Since I take Humira for Crohn's, I am at an increased risk of illness because the medication is an immunosuppressant. Thankfully, it is targeted {meaning, it doesn't suppress my entire immune system}, but it still means that my body just can't fight sickness like it's supposed to. And that's incredibly frustrating to me. One of those things that just makes me hate Crohn's that much more. I am just thankful for doctors and medicine and understanding bosses.

And just to add some laughter to the ridiculous the midst of the craziness, we discovered a spewing poop hole in our backyard {sorry for the gross picture...just keepin' it real}. Basically, the sewage pipe that runs the length of our yard out to the city line is leaking and has to be replaced. They think the tree in the yard has hijacked the pipe, so they have to replace the whole thing. So that means no access to water and a mini-vacation with Mike's parents for a couple of days. We're definitely thankful we're renting and can just let the landlord mess with all of this, and we're thankful we can stay with family.

When it rains, it pours, right? :)

Friday, March 7, 2014

High Five for Friday!

{one} Texas weather is CrAzY. More crazy than usual. It was sunny and 75 on Saturday, then it dropped to 20 and ice on Sunday. We're going to see some more yo-yo temperatures for the next couple of weeks, but I am hoping it stabilizes soon. My poor aching body can't take much more of it! Come on, Spring!!  Today is one of the warmer days, so I plan to enjoy it! {and who remembered that daylight savings begins this weekend??}
{two} Speaking of poor aching body...I have been battling a bad cold and cough this week, which has completely zapped my energy. I am definitely glad it's Friday and the end of the work week. I'm feeling better today, but the lingering cough wears me out. The Lord has protected me the entire winter season from all of the varying illnesses floating around...but it finally caught me in the remaining days of the winter weather. I am hoping my body can fight it off on its own and that it won't turn into anything worse. I would appreciate your prayers! {I'm sure my hubby would too...the coughing fits and man-voice are less than attractive}.
{three} I had dinner with Laura last night, which was so great. We're both so busy, so we don't get to hang out every week like we would like to. But I am so grateful when we get to sneak in a little hang out time here and there! A warm cup of soup {or mac & cheese} and a conversation with my best friend makes a lot of things much better.
{four} I recently finished 2 books: The Antelope in the Living Room by Melanie Shankle and The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. These books couldn't be more opposite, but I enjoyed them both! Antelope was lighthearted and funny; I love how the author shares her story, and it's a light-hearted look at marriage. I laughed out loud on more than one occasion while reading this book. The Book Thief was more somber; it is the story of a young German girl during World War II, and it is narrated by Death {see, complete opposite: no laughing in this book}. But I really enjoy historical fiction, and it was a well-written book. What to read next?? :)
{five} I am thankful for a mom who is a preschool teacher. Ya'll, I am not a teacher, but {like everyone else at Redeemer}, I am in the rotation for kids ministry. Our current curriculum is a little tough, but still manageable for the elementary-aged kids. For the little ones, though? Well, again...I am thankful for a mom who is a preschool teacher :) While I stare at the lesson, completely drawing a blank on how to teach it to little ones, my mom rattles off countless ideas on how to engage their little minds. I always knew my mom was good with little ones, but I have an even greater appreciation for all the years of experience and expertise she has.
Happy Friday!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

1000 Gifts #919-1002

919. Running errands and eating cupcakes with Laura.
920. Serving in the Redeemer Kidz ministry, seeing Jesus through the eyes of elementary-aged boys.
921. Our second pre-launch service...almost ready!
922. A husband who will go to the grocery store for me.
923. Not having to leave the house on a cold day.
924. Super bowl party with our neighbors.
925. Cookie of the year break and bake cookies.
926. Getting everything crossed off my to-do list.
927. Leftovers.
928. BSF connections.
929. A warm coat.
930. Our first missional community meeting.
931. The prayers that were stitched into the quilt we were gifted for our wedding.
932. Warm chocolate chip cookies.
933. Talking marriage with sweet friends.
934. Birthday lunch with co-workers.
935. 4-day work weeks.
936. Birthday cards
937. My 29th birthday.
938. Lunch with my parents.
939. Dinner and cake with family.
940. Early morning coffee and conversation with my mom.
941. Redeemer Launch Day!!
942. Celebrating God's grace and provision with our church family.
943. Savoring the last minutes with my family.
944. Lunch with extended family.
945. An evening to relax with my hubby.
946. A husband who is funny and always makes me laugh.
947. Fun and laughter with colleagues.
948. Visiting friends and getting to meet their twins.
949. Strawberry shortcake to celebrate our CEO's birthday.
950. Starting new craft projects.
951. Humira shot day.
952. Finally making it through my stack of things to do at work.
953. Talking wedding details with sweet friends.
954. Free Starbucks drinks.
955. The sun! It finally came out after several dreary days.
956. Fun and laughter at the MEF spelling bee.
957. Finally finished reading the book 1000 Gifts! :)
958. Starting a new book!
959. A hand-delivered Sonic drink from my Valentine.
960. He is jealous for me, loves like a hurricane...oh how He loves.
961. Our core team who works so hard each Saturday.
962. Catching up with my sister-in-law.
963. Dinner with our church family.
964. Lunch with family- always good times and laughter.
965. Playing on the floor with my niece.
966. Working on craft projects with my hubby.
967. Another bank holiday.
968. Learning how to fold a fitted sheet :)
969. An afternoon movie with my love.
970. B-12 shots.
971. Laughing with my hubby.
972. Gelato and talking life with a young woman in our church.
973. Thankful the Lord didn't let me find Mike in college, like I had wanted.
974. Thankful the Lord didn't let me have a career in event planning, like I had wanted.
975. Dinner with our missional community group.
976. Truths from the Word that impact my heart and soul.
977. Hearing God's voice, whispering comfort and reassurance.
978. Catching up with my mom.
979. The gorgeous and {warm} weather over the weekend!
980. The promise of Spring.
981. Puppy snuggles.
982. My mom, who will take my panicked phone calls and calm me down.
983. Thankful for my mom's expertise with preschoolers.
984. Thankful I didn't have to teach last minute after all.
985. Lunch with my in-laws.
986. Hearing stories of my hubby's childhood :)
987. A bridal shower for a sweet friend.
988. Strength and endurance to make it through a difficult morning.
989. Warm {decaf} coffee.
990. The reassurance of God's faithfulness.
991. Knowing the Lord meets us and carries us when we are worn out.
992. Starting to grow something pretty.
993. Thankful for reminders of God's care and provision.
994. Thankful for peace above all understanding.
995. Thankful for when God sees our tears.
996. Thankful for when God sees our heartaches.
997. God's provision of finances in the past, helps me trust His provision for the future.
998. God's provision of health in the past, helps me trust His provision for the future.
999. Thankful for the Ebenezer Stones as reminders of His faithfulness.
1000. Thankful I have a hope and a future.
1001. Pay day.
1002. A clean house.