Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Chloe's Graduated!

Chloe had her last day of preschool last week and as she'll gladly tell anyone who will listen, she is officially a kindergartner! 

For her last day of preschool, Chloe and her classmates sang some songs for us parents. Chloe had been practicing the songs at home for us daily, multiple times a day might I add, for weeks. Needless to say she was a bit excited to perform. 

I had been warned by her teacher that I have a little performer on my hands. And that Chloe was, well, LOUD (in a good way, of course)! Now I know my daughter can err on the loud side, but I wasn't prepared for the magnitude of exactly how loud she was compared to her peers. I think this little video clip of the class performing illustrates said loudness pretty well. My daughter is the one you can hear above all the rest. (Please excuse the quality of the video clip. I'm not quite sure why it uploaded so poorly??)

To say she isn't shy is an understatement. Chloe thrives being on stage. We had several adults suggest we take her to Hollywood immediately to begin her career as a star. Ha! 

Here are a few photos of Chloe with her class. She has had such a positive experience in preschool and made several great friends over the year.

Chloe with her friend Reagan while they're singing. It was so cute how Reagan and Chloe kept looking at each other while they were performing...

Holding their certificates of completion...

The entire preschool class... 

Chloe with her friend Ella (and bro Gavin too!)...

Chloe with her teacher, Ms. Bohr...

I can't believe my budding singer/actress is not a preschooler anymore but a young lady ready to take on elementary school. Yes, to no one's surprise who knows me at all, tears were shed. 

I love you, Chloe, and am so happy you are the outgoing, kind, joyful little lady you are! You're going to conquer kindergarten as you do everything else in life!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Chloe is 5!

My little girl turned 5 yesterday. Chloe has literally been planning her birthday since right after Christmas, so the big day has been much anticipated. Chloe had a two-part celebration. First we had a painting party at a local art studio for Chloe and seven of her friends the weekend before her actual birthday to avoid Memorial Day weekend scheduling conflicts. Then Chloe got to have her very first sleepover at our house on her actual birthday. I think it's safe to say that all of Chloe's long-built expectations for turning 5 were met!

Here's a photo of Chloe's friends party. What a lovely group of little ladies...

In birthday tradition, I interviewed my newly turned five year old to document her favorites at 5. Her answers always make me giggle. 

Color: All the colors in the world.
Cereal: Well, it's Frosted Flakes. Yup! Frosted Flakes.
Vegetable: Brocolli and Carrots with Ranch.
Drink: Juice & Orange Juice & Chocolate Milk.
TV Show/ Movie: Princesses & Barbie.
Book: I Know An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly; The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
Animal: Butterfly (Animal, Insect...apparently the same thing to my five year old.)
Game: All my Nintendo Dsi Games
Restaurants: Sonic (On a side note, our local Sonic Restaurants recently closed and are for sale. Every time we drive by their locations, Chloe remarks how sad the deserted building makes her and asks if we can just buy the Sonic and run it ourselves. ha!)
Toy: Barbies, Dsi.
Holiday: Christmas... "and summer, and fall, and all of them."

Other Questions...
If you could change your name, what would you change it to?
Well, I'd say Teresa.

What do you love most about...
Dad: He likes to play games and be silly and he put a napkin on my lip when I hurt myself. Oh, and he's silly.
Mom: You leave my door open farther than Dad does at night when you tuck me into bed and you jump really, really high on the trampoline and you do my hair pretty and you are a beautiful mom. (Awe, love my girl!)
Gabe: He always 'be's' my prince.
Cooper: He has been nice to me lately (ha!) and watches Rocky movies with me and plays with me.
Gavin: He watches Dora and I think he's cute.

Where do you want to vacation this year?
I want to go to Wisconsin Dells and Colorado and Iowa (that's an easy one!) and Disney World and Sea World.

What are your wishes?
When I grow up I want to be a princess and see all the princesses and I wish Gabe was my prince. (Can you tell Gabe is a really sweet big brother?) And I wish I was a cowgirl when I grow up. And a ballerina.

What do you love most in the whole world? 
Dad and Mom and my brothers and everyone And of course God and Jesus because they love me very much too!

What are your pet peeves? (I did have to explain what a pet peeve is.)
When people don't share. When people aren't nice or make someone feel sad. Sometimes boys are my pet peeve. (haha!)

Who are your best friends?
All my girls! (I knew this would be her answer. Everyone is Chloe's BEST friend.)

What are you looking forward to?
Going to kindergarten and making even more friends!


Oh my sweet girl, what can I say about you that the above answers don't already illustrate. You are so very kind and thoughtful. You are sweet to the core and always happy. I don't think there's a more joyful little girl than you and I pray you never lose that joy. You bring so much happiness to our family. You are such a good friend to everyone. And you shine the light of Jesus wherever you go. I couldn't ask for a better little girl. We love you so very much, Chloe, and can't wait to see what the Lord has in store for your bright future. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Moved by God

I know this is a very long post. But I really could not explain our circumstances in any less words. I pray our heart to follow the Lord wherever He leads is apparent in what you are about to read.

Jason and I know that God is always working in our life. We know this because His word says just that.  "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." 

What a promise! Even when we don't feel Him right in the moment. Even when we're too busy or too concerned with worries that should not be worries. He is there. He is working. 

And then, there are those times when you know, without a shadow of a doubt, that He has been intricately orchestrating event after event to bring you to the point where you are. Yes, we should always know that He  is leading us through the events of our life. But how often are we too consumed to see it. And when you come to the 'ah-ha' moment when you can look back and see the trail of His handiwork, how much peace and awe and utter amazement can come of it. That is where I am at right now in this journey called life.

To give you a bit of background, as most of you know, my husband is a youth pastor at our church. Fresh out of college he accepted a job as pastor to youth at a church in the community where we both graduated from high school, where both our parents live. That was over 11 years ago. 

For probably the past five years, we have been restless. We have long felt the quiet call in our hearts that maybe the Lord was preparing us for something different. Perhaps calling us to serve in long-term foreign missions, as that is something that has always been dear to us. Maybe calling us away to seminary so that Jason could further his education. Or, just simply calling us to step out of our comfort zones. To really trust Him with our whole life. To trust Him with the lives of our children. To not worry about the details, for this is not our permanent home (Hebrews 13:14.) To know that He has a perfect plan, in His perfect time, and it will be revealed if we are faithful. 

So, for the past five years, we have been praying for that big reveal. We've stepped out in faith and knocked on doors by sending out resumes applying for different ministry opportunities, only to have those doors remain closed. We've visited seminaries wondering if that is perhaps the path the Lord would lead us on, only to have sure confirmation that our path would not lead us to more schooling. And finally, in utter frustration that all of our searching for a revelation was leading us to dead end after dead end, we waited. We gave all control over to the Lord and simply prayed, "Lord, we will go wherever you want us to go. We will do whatever you want us to do. We know it is in your perfect timing. We will wait on you." 

So we waited. 

And then earlier this year, Jason had gotten an idea for a ministry opportunity he would love to pursue. He shared the idea with me, his 'sounding board' as he likes to call me. I've been Jason's sounding board for ideas many times throughout our marriage. Anyone who knows my husband knows that he's always thinking, always getting ideas of things he would like to pursue. Sometimes they're crazy and off-the-wall and I'm left thinking, "Is he for real?" Sometimes the ideas are quite practical and I think, "Yes, we need to do this!" And sometimes, his ideas are crazy and off-the-wall, yet I'm still left thinking, "Yes, we need to do this!"That's when I know it's a God-thing. 

So what was the crazy, off-the-wall idea Jason shared with me? He told me that he felt God was leading him to start a brand new college ministry on the campus of Weber State University in Ogden, Utah, and to plant a new church there as well. 

Now to be clear, the idea of starting a college ministry isn't that crazy for us. We had talked about our desire to minister on a college campus many times. As much as Jason loves high schoolers, he also has a passion for college-age kids for that's the age where he really grew in the Lord and placed His faith in Him while at Iowa State University. We had long talked about maybe being led to college ministry someday. And, Jason has taken the youth group on mission trips to Utah before through an organization called Utah Partnerships for Christ (UPFC) and is not only now a board member for UPFC, but also has become friends with UPFC founder Russ East. 

Of course, the off-the-wall crazy part comes in when we consider moving our family across the country, away from all they've know all their lives. Away from both sets of grandparents who live within minutes of us. Away from our house project (which still isn't completed) that we've been working on for years. 

But as Jason told me the idea, I didn't think of all of these things that could ring as doubts in my mind. I only thought, "Yes, we NEED to do this!" I felt an overwhelming peace that the Lord was at work, that He had prepared my heart for this news just as He had given Jason the prompting to consider it. 

So, there we were, thinking about moving across the country for a job prospect that doesn't yet exist. Feeling an overwhelming amount of excitement, a bit of fear of the unknown, but most of all a sense of peace that God would show us if this was indeed His idea or our own. And because He is always faithful, the Lord did soon show us His will through a series of events.

First there was UPFC founder Russ East, which I mentioned above, writing in a newsletter he put out for the organization that his prayer was for someone to be called to start a college ministry at Weber State University, a campus where only one Christian ministry currently exists ministering to only about 100 students out of the 25,000 undergrads that attend. Yes, that's right, a prayer request for the exact need that we'd been led to consider fulfilling! And Jason and Russ had not communicated since we had been praying about moving to Utah, so this was indeed a very clear sign to us that God is indeed leading. 

Then there was the fact that it had been laid on Jason's heart that we would need another couple to partner with us in ministry and head out to Utah with us to fulfill some facets of the skill set that Jason lacks...musical ability. Jason had a strong desire to have someone who would lead worship and was also led to step out in faith and perhaps come along side us to start this new ministry. As he prayed that God would raise up someone who might fulfill this role, a former youth member was laid on his heart. Justin was one of our very first youth group members after Jason became youth pastor at our church fresh out of college. Justin got to witness many of what Jason calls his 'fumblings' as a young inexperienced youth pastor, and we really feel like we grew in the Lord right along with those first students as we were so new to ministry at the time. Those students from the early years still keep in touch and we call many of them our good friends, so when Jason called Justin it wasn't a huge surprise to him. But not only was it not a surprise, we quickly learned that God had been preparing the hearts of Justin and his wife, Sarah, for just this very purpose.

After the phone call, we met in person with Justin and Sarah and discovered through talking with them that they had planned to sell their house after the first of the year. That they had not only been praying about the possibility of going out on the mission field or entering full time ministry, but also that Justin had been praying that he might be used as a full-time worship leader (he has currently been filling in leading worship at a new church plant.) It was all too perfect, and as we brainstormed ideas of how this new ministry might look, the excitement grew in Jason and I. 

After praying with Justin and Sarah, we left for home with the understanding that they would pray over the idea and get back to us within a few days and let us know their thoughts. Jason and I had decided that if they were 'in', then this is it! We'd move to Utah. And not more than an hour into our trip home from Justin and Sarah's house the cell phone rang with Justin letting us know that they were indeed 'in'. 

And with that, our minds were made up. God is moving us to Utah!

It's all still so very surreal. It's exciting and a bit scary and a tad overwhelming. But most of all, we have such a strong sense of peace to finally know where God is leading and a feeling of security that this is in fact His perfect will for our lives. We have so many details to work out, both with the new ministry and with the logistics of moving across the country. Yet we know that with God's perfect will comes His perfect timing, and He will not leave us or forsake us through this journey. 

We will use the next year to plan for the ministry, work out logistics, finish up our house, etc., so we will not be moving until the Summer of 2013. The kids will have one more school year here, which we think will also serve as a nice period of time to get used to the idea of moving. Although even Gabe, our oldest who we thought would have a real problem with leaving his friends, is already warming to the idea of living so close to the Utah mountain ski slopes.

And so it begins. A new chapter of our lives. And although there will be sadness that comes with leaving our family and friends that are so dear to us, God's peace will trump it all. Knowing that this is not our home, that this is only a temporary dwelling place proceeding a much more permanent eternity with Him, trumps it all. And knowing that God's will is the only place to be is enough. 

If you could please lift us up in prayer and pray for this new ministry, we would love that. We are so excited to venture out in faith and can't wait to see the ways in which God will be glorified through it all. Our prayer is of course that we would allow the Lord to make us use-able by Him and allow Him to work through us to accomplish His will on the campus of Weber State and in the community we will live. We know that this ministry will be successful, not by our own strength, but only by the Lord's guidance, direction and favor. It is so incredibly humbling to think that God chose us for this task of making Himself more readily known in a state where His truth is not prevalent. Us, in spite of our shortcomings and inadequacies. A favorite verse I've been meditating on and a prayer for this future ministy...   "The Lord's hand was with them, and a large number who believed turned to the Lord. God's message flourished and multiplied." (Acts 11:21, 12:24.)

Here's a family photo of our soon-to-be Utah clan...