Wednesday, January 23, 2013

What is God saying to you?  by Gretchen Blomstrom

Spending three years at a school in Portland, Oregon was such a wonderful experience. I enjoyed and loved so many things about Portland; there are coffee shops on every corner, lots and lots of trees and beautiful mountains, you can walk practically anywhere because everything is so close together, there are all kinds of crazy people with bikes higher than buildings, strange and unknowingly facial hair, eclectic styles, food carts open until 2am, and an appreciation for all kinds of music. I also loved the small community I had within the college I attended.
At this point in my life I had one year left of school before I graduated with my Bachelors in Worship Arts. My plan after school was to stay in Portland, live in an apartment with a few friends, find a job, and drink cups and cups of coffee. I loved the independence I had in Portland. I loved that people accepted me for who I was today, they didn’t know my past or where I came from. I loved my friends, my professors, and my ministry.
I came home to Texas the summer before my last year of school. The Crosspoint singles ministry was something I was involved in. I played volleyball on Sunday nights, met Drew there and continued to see him at other singles activities. At that time I honestly didn’t see anything in Drew and one of the girls in the singles group actually told me he was prideful. Prideful was something I was definitely not attracted to so I crossed Drew off the list of guys I might be interested in.
 Drew worked with my brother for a couple years at Sweet Leaf and my Dad was his prayer partner. Drew asked to come over and cook for my family. I didn’t see any harm in getting a free cooked meal and him hanging out with my family, nothing serious. We had known each other for about three weeks at this point and Drew decided to tell me we were going to get married. I think I almost laughed in his face because I thought it was ridiculous. Drew didn’t know me, how could he say we were going to get married? Besides I had other plans and they didn’t involve getting married.
I went back to school that August to finish up my last year of school. Drew and I would talk on the phone and Skype, but I could only manage to say that I liked Drew. We weren’t dating and definitely NOT getting married. Drew came to visit me in October and my friend convinced me to admit we were dating, because we practically were. When Drew came it was honestly somewhat of a disaster when we were alone. Drew was great when we were with my friends, but when we were alone all he could muster up to say was “I think about you all the time.” That’s great and all but if he wanted to marry me he had better come up with something better than that.
 After that trip we sought out God separately and prayed about our relationship. After that things started to slowly change. God revealed things about Drew that I didn’t acknowledge or notice before. I saw how big of a heart Drew had for God, sharing the gospel, children and youth, and even for me. Drew opened up to me more and we had real and meaningful conversations. By that Christmas I knew that Drew was the man I was going to marry. All my previous plans were thrown out into the water. I decided I was going to move back to Texas after school to be with the man I had been praying for since I was a young girl. Some of my mentors tried to talk me out of it or questioned my rationality, but I had complete peace about my decision.
I am so thankful that God gave me a man that waited for me. He waited for me even in my stubbornness and selfishness. I am so blessed to now be married to this great man. God amazes me with His perfect planning and patience. I followed God’s plan for my life and he has done so many incredible things through my relationship with Drew and even outside of it. I have grown so much in my faith and trust in the Lord. I hope you to do the same in any area of life that God is directing you in. God’s plans are exceedingly better than my plans.
 “Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track.” Proverbs 3:5-6

Monday, January 7, 2013

Hearing God, Trusting God and Resting in God by Jodi Shippey

Hi there! I am so honored to have been asked to contribute to the Crosspoint Women’s blog. My name is Jodi Shippey. I am married to an honorable man, Bryan Shippey, and have been blessed with 3 amazing children: Scarlett (5), Carter (2), and Kirby (18 months). We also have a baby on the way that will be here in late April. Before I jump into sharing my story with you, I feel like you need to get to know me first! My likes: farmer’s markets, flea markets, crafty things, Pinterest, home cooked meals, country music, Texas A&M,  Dove chocolate, garage sales, good deals, sushi, horses, Diet Dr. Pepper, football, and going on date nights with the hubs. Don’t you worry- I have dislikes too: scary movies, unloading the dishwasher, cleaning the bathrooms, hair (yuck), laundry…folding it and putting it away, and having too many things to do on my to do list! Can any girl out there relate?!
Now on to my story. About a year ago I felt the “God nudge”. Do you know what I’m talking about? That feeling you get (and you know it’s not from your own thoughts) telling you gently to do or say something that you normally wouldn’t? Well, I felt it. And felt it. And felt it. Finally I decided to talk to Bryan about it. I was nervous, because to be honest this conversation had already been had in the past and it didn’t turn out so well.  So with my guts gathered, I said to Bryan “I think I’m supposed to be a stay at home mom” and then a couple of months later “I think I feel God calling us to homeschool”. All the while my patient husband had listened to my requests, dried away my tears, prayed with me, and supported the nudges God had placed on my heart. We crunched numbers, we saved money ahead of time, and we prepared ourselves by staying in God’s word for the changes that we were going to face.
Fastforward to present day. I stay at home, homeschool our oldest daughter, and love where God has placed me right now. It’s a new season! A new chapter! A new beginning! I am a sponge right now- soaking up all of these new experiences that I have never had before. The joy of raising my own children, the patience being instilled in me as a person through raising my children, the quiet moments I spend in God’s word getting filled up for the day. Sharing Christ with my children, and emulating Christ to my husband and others. My ministry is my family, my home, the people God has placed before me on a daily basis. What joy I have!
                  God nudged, and I obeyed. I hope my story can encourage you to obey, in whatever season you are in. His plans bring pure joy, not ups and downs that come and go. His plans are sure, steadfast, and can be trusted. He is the Rock on which we stand- not shifting sand that causes us to lose our balance. Throughout my new journey there have been several resources and mentors that I have pulled close to for advice.  The first, Jesus. In my quiet time one day He led me to my “season verse” “Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from Him. He alone is my Rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will not be shaken.” Psalm 62:5. Do you have a “season verse”? One that you cling to in this season that you are in? I like to write mine down in a spiral so I can look back and remember the journey.
                  But we all know that when things are going great usually that’s when Satan likes to plan his sneak attacks. Oh, how I am a victim of them. You see, I have struggled with anxiety since the age of 23. Fearing things that haven’t happened just so I can have control over the situation. I thought “If I let go of worrying, then I lose control of the situation. And I just can’t let that happen”. I have battled this demon for almost 10 years. And I still struggle daily. BUT- God is my Rock, my fortress, and nothing can take me from the palm of His hand or separate me from His love. Yes- I think it’s safe to say that I have something in common with Paul in that this thorn is in my side for a reason and through it all God just asks that I allow Him to speak to me and that I obey. He can make me strong and lead me through this life- thorns and all! Really, I am grateful for this thorn, for it has kept me at the feet of Jesus all this time. Without it, I think I would have gone astray.
                  Moms, Grandparents, Aunts, Friends, Caretakers…never hesitate to share God’s love with the those around you; especially children. They need to hear Bible stories, they need you to pray with them and for them. You are the Jesus they see when they are around you. God calls us to talk about Him day and night to our children (Deut. 6: 5-9). Let’s listen to Him and obey what he nudges us to do. It’s NEVER too late to be Jesus to our children, to our neighbors, or to our family and friends (Colossians 4:5-6). God certainly blesses us when we follow his lead, I know first hand about that!