Change is Gonna Come

10.26.2015 is a date I want to remember for various reasons, some mundane and some significant. The day was bright, and a crisp 55 degrees while visiting my sister in Connecticut. We visited an apple orchard and enjoyed the perfect Fall day. This in of itself makes my heart full but that’s not all of the goodness that came this day. While scanning Face Book, I was notified that I was tagged in a throw back picture. This particular picture was from more than 10 years ago and was owned by someone who lived on a different continent. I had a life changing opportunity to work at a rural school in Zambia, Africa one summer while I was in college and before I even knew what Face Book was. This picture connected me to students I met so long ago who I have never seen again, yet our hearts are forever etched with memories. Day made!

Yet, there’s more. Most of you have followed our health stuff and moves from the last year and we have been praying for balance and some stability as we acknowledge Cory’s health and potential health issues that could occur in the future. It’s not the plan we dreamed about when we got married, but it has been an adventure for sure! We have seen God’s faithfulness time and time again. I have had the huge blessing of working at iGo Global, investing in students who in turn impact the nations with the gospel, this was my dream job out of college and I am thrilled that I have been able to see a decade of students not only go Make Him Famous but live out their lives for God’s glory wherever they are. For the past 2 years God has been stirring my heart and letting me know that I probably wouldn’t be at iGo forever, much to my disappointment. I have honestly been horrified at the thought of leaving this ministry I love so much. But, God has been gentle and gracious with me while also growing a desire to be in an environment where I would come in contact with the community at large more often.  2 weeks ago I had a job interview, my first interview in almost 10 years! October 26th, after telling God I really would like an answer before returning home from Connecticut and resigning myself to take a nap rather than think about it anymore, my phone rang. I was offered a job. I accepted the job later in the day and was immediately filled with excitement and nervousness at the changes that would come. I have had great flexibility to work from home and mother my daughter and my new job will not have the same flexibility all the time. iGo is what I’ve known, it’s where I’ve been challenged and encouraged and my co-workers are so much more than colleagues, we’re friends, we’re co-laborers, we’ve spent way too many nights on camp bunk beds and travelling to and fro. I wouldn’t change it for anything. God has used this ministry to shape me in ways I would have never sought out and I am so grateful.

So, I start my new job as a County Extension Agent over 4-H Youth and Development on November 16. After a bit of training, this will mean another move for my little family and I hope the last one for awhile. For those of you who probably would have never guessed, I grew up heavily involved in 4-H and have always loved the way whole families got to work together and learn while working on 4-H projects. My leadership degree is actually an Agriculture Leadership degree and I have been able to learn how to develop student leaders through my years at iGo. 4-H is so much more than only agricultural projects (even though we love those), 4-H is committed to teaching, training and inspiring families to make their communities better through service and I am thrilled to begin a new adventure.

This job came at just the right time. It’s a great fit for my giftings and passions. To God be the Glory. We would love your prayers as we transition again and as we engage the community. Above all whatever we do we want to work unto the Lord.

Let the packing begin! If you know of anyone in Austin county who would love to rent out a house or apartment to our family please let us know!

A Tiny Update

I’ve attempted to write a new blog many times but words wouldn’t come. We’ve moved past a bit of our “crisis” mode and have settled into life in Waco. Cory has been substitute teaching and we are grateful God has provided a new part-time job right as the school year is coming to a close. He is feeling pretty good, we’re eating better, exercising and he’s having blood work and check ups every few weeks

Our busy summer work season is well underway and we are excited to be a part of training students through iGoGlobal as we send them out among the nations to sow seeds of the gospel. I am grateful for the opportunity to serve and be a tiny part of what God is doing through iGo.

Thank you for your continued prayers. We know fighting Cory’s cancer will most likely be a long, slow battle but we pray that whatever comes we would be faithful with the time and resources we have.

Steps

Many have asked for an update, but we really do not have much forward motion.
We made our way to lake limestone safely a little over 2 weeks ago. We have enjoyed resting and getting to see family and friends. Cory had some tests run to see if he had parasites and they came back clear. We are thankful for that and discouraged because this puts us back at square one with figuring out what is causing his pain and fatigue. The oncologist does not believe the lymphoma is causing these symptoms. So he will not be having Chemo or radiation at this time.

We are so grateful for our church families. Immanuel Baptist in Odessa not only provided a moving truck, they also helped us fill it! We miss them fiercely. While we know moving was best for our family, we grieve the fact that it took us away from our Immanuel family. We’ve wept more than once over this. It was the first church we found together as a married couple, the first place we made “couple friends” and the first place that felt like home in Odessa. We know that God uses the church to declare his glory and Immanuel is a beautiful picture of this.
Our Centerpoint church family has continually poured out love, financial support and friendship. They are a true gift of grace and we are looking forward to reconnecting soon.
Many friends and family have checked on us and offered well wishes and we are blessed by them.
We are often told, “let me know if there’s anything I can do for y’all.” We appreciate everyone’s willingness to help and find this statement difficult at the same time. I’ll be honest I’m prideful and struggle to ask for help of any kind. Sometimes I can’t even think of things we need help with. I often think there are others in more dire circumstances that have very little help, it is very humbling to be in a position of need. So, in an effort to be transparent and grow here are a few answers to questions we’ve been asked:
1. What can we pray for specifically?
Besides healing, our greatest prayer need is for our hearts. Every closed door in regards to Cory’s health stirs up frustration and anxiety. We want to be found faithful and not resist what God is doing in all this. Pray that we would rest in HIM and be content to live each day moment by moment.
2. What do you need financially?
Right now, we have what we need. We are waiting for some hospital bills to come in over the next few weeks. And will have a better picture of that.
3. What else can we do for y’all?
One of the most encouraging things for us right now is having friends & family visit. We have no tv or internet access and cell coverage is spotty so our communication is limited to taking trips in to Waco and while there we’re trying to get as much business done as possible.
4. How are you guys?
We have good and bad days. Cory is tired of feeling unwell, especially getting exhausted after playing with Rylie for only 10min, but grateful to be able to be with his family more. I’ve had some rough days after being up in the night with Rylie and feeling overwhelmed with taking care of everything, thankfully those days are not often and have eased a bit as we’ve adjusted to living at the lake. Rylie loves getting to play outside in this beautiful place! She is becoming quite vocal and busy and her love for people continues to grow, she especially loves babies and college kids right now.
5. What’s the next step? We’re calling everyday to see if his primary care doctor has an opening because his first available appointment is a month from now. Ideally it would be great if we could move to Waco proper, but in order for that to happen we have to find an extremely cost efficient place to rent, so we will be working towards that. Also, the ministry I work for, iGo Global will be having their annual fundraising banquet in Dallas so we plan to attend if at all possible.

This is getting a bit long, so I’ll wrap it up. This week we’ve been reminding ourselves of Proverbs 16:1- “A man plans his way but The Lord determines his steps.” This has been so true for us and we trust that God will continue to be faithful as we walk this road.

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Birth of a Mother

The last time we published a blog was about 2 weeks before baby girl made her debut. Now she’s 4 1/2 months old and I’m finally ready to share the story of her arrival and how I became a mother.

Before we became 3

Before we became 3

As with most births, the process begins long before the baby is actually delivered, they call this labor. For me, labor was completely different than I expected. I  went in for my 38 week appointment and I felt terrible: exhausted and woozy and I was already dilated pretty well. For the first time ever, my blood pressure was high so they sent me over to the hospital for observation, my blood pressure was up, down, up and all around so my OB decided it would be best to admit me and see if we could  get things going as natural as possible. Even though I wasn’t really prepared to stay at the hospital, we were excited that the process had started.

I was hooked up to all kinds of monitors, and Cory had his couch bed all ready to go as we tried to rest for the work we knew would be coming soon. I didn’t sleep at all that night and by the next morning they checked me and  said, you’re progressing fast! I naively thought to myself, we’re going to have this baby by lunch time. Our amazing, kind, generous, faithful, hardworking, irreplaceable Doula, Becky joined us at the hospital and we began the walking, rocking and encouraging labor to really kick in. So here’s the part that most women will want to punch me in the face for, my contractions weren’t bad at all, I don’t think the nurses believed me. Maybe it’s that I was singing along to All Sons & Daughters  and Jourdan Johnson (this is seriously my favorite)  the whole time and that kept me in the zone, who knows. So after 24 hrs of labor, I was still stuck at the same place I had been when they told me I was progressing fast :/.  By this time they figured out that our sweet daughter that had been head down, face down every. single. ultrasound. was now face up and hadn’t moved down at all. So, we began pitocin and all kinds of  positions to get her to turn and move down. It was a no go and I was exhausted, even through all the pitocin and blood pressure monitoring the contractions were manageable but I was sooooo tired. So, holding on to hope that I could still have our girl without surgery, we got an epidural and I rested for about 30 minutes.

Love

Love

I can not go any further without stopping to say, my husband is amazing. Most people that know him well know that he is tender hearted and we were both unsure how he would do seeing me in pain. Cory was so awesome not only just holding my hand, but breathing with me, applying counter pressure, affirming me and looking at me with love filled eyes. He was perfect.

They came back to check me and at this point we had been laboring for 36 hours, and they were very concerned about my blood pressure that was rising. The last option to get our daughter here safely was to have a c-section. A c-section was the last thing I wanted but there was nothing else left to do. I was at peace until right before they took me back to surgery and I had to just trust the Lord’s sovereignty & rest that whatever happened would be in his hands, like it always is.

My first peek!

My first peek!

The moment our daughter entered  the outside world I calmed down. Our darling girl had been stuck sideways and face up! The first thing I heard was the doctor exclaim with a surprised tone, “Oh she’s beautiful!” followed by her cry, but she only cried until they got her warmed and wrapped up. Cory brought her over to me and I said, “Hi Rylie” and she looked at me with her big soulful eyes, put her head on my cheek and sighed.

I thought my heart would burst. This was THE  moment I became a mother and I hope I never, ever forget her content sigh. She knew me, knew the sound of my voice and the beat of my heart, never have I experienced someone knowing me so intimately immediately upon meeting. From that moment on, I have been profoundly changed.

Connection

Connection

So much of  our experience becoming parents has driven Cory & I closer to each other and the feet of Jesus. Being a mother is wonderful, scary, exciting, exhausting, joy-filled and refining.  God gave us the best gift in our daughter, she is better than I ever could have dreamed up and because of her Father is shinning a bright light on the corners of my selfish, prideful heart. The only things more transformative for me than becoming a mother has been becoming a wife and follower of Jesus. We had some intense, scary moments in the hours, days and weeks following Rylie’s birth with my health and in every moment I am certain that we were being held by the Holy Spirit and prayers from dear friends & family.

Dr. Pevitoe

Dr. Pevitoe

What I want our daughter to know about her birth is that she is worth every minute of labor, delivery and postpartum, and we love her more than our own breaths, but we will never love her as much as Jesus does. “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”- 1 John 4:9-10

Very first cupcake!

Very first cupcake!

Daddy's in Love

Daddy’s in Love

1st "official" family pic

1st “official” family pic

Sleepy Newborn

Sleepy Newborn

Living Out Psalm 13

For most of my life, I’ve been pretty good at almost everything I have done. In my high school anatomy class, I got a 100. For the class. To prove it was not just a fluke, when I took the class again in college I got a 98 for the class. In UIL Music Memory, I got a perfect score 2 years in a row. I am by no means perfect, but I’ve always been really good at most things I do.

One thing I am definitely not good at is waiting. I have a tendency to show up to events ridiculously early. One reason for this is I hate being late and so I always arrive at least 5 minutes early. The other reason is once I am ready to go, I hate waiting so much I decide to go ahead and leave rather than wait to leave when I need to leave. I just am not good at waiting. Thanks to this negative trait of mine, the last several months have been some of the hardest of my life. In February I made the decision to step down from my job for the good of my family. I have never once regretted the decision because I know that my family and I are better off because of it. However, each week I look at my dwindling bank account and begin adding and subtracting bills and income, it sure makes me want to question what I was thinking back in February.

It is funny. We are always told to seek the Lord’s will. To follow the Lord, and everything else falls into place. No one ever speaks about how following the Lord’s will isn’t always so easy. How sometimes when we are operating directly in the center of His will, we feel abandoned. We feel forsaken. We feel like no one could possibly understand how alone we feel. We feel like God has completely left us alone to flail about in our own insignificance.

As Christians, we know we trust the Lord. I feel it in my heart and soul. I know I am supposed to trust Him, because he sustains me when nothing else can do so. We know all of those things, yet in the midst of our despair, He feels so distant. So hidden. Even though scripture tells us God is not far from us, for “in him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:27).

Yet we echo the Psalmist’s words from chapter 13.

How long, O Lord ? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? Consider and answer me, O Lord my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death, lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,” lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken. (Psalm 13: 1-4)

Yes, I know I should trust the Lord and I know He is sufficient for me and my family’s needs. Yet when I get yet another rejection email or letter, and we day by day get closer to our baby girl’s arrival, I cannot help but get more and more anxious about where these provisions are going to come from. It is super hard not to be discouraged as things continue to pile up (I’m pretty sure the job rejections now total over 100).

Funny thing is, for all the pain and heartbreak this 6 months has caused, Crystal and I constantly tell each other we would not trade any of this time for anything. During the last 6 months, I have gotten to spend almost every single moment with my wife. I have gotten to be at every OB appointment, every sonogram, every baby shower. I have not had to miss a single moment of my wife’s pregnancy, and she and I are closer than couples who have been married for many more years than we have. We are experiencing what the scripture writers said about finding the joy in the trials. How the trials we face produce endurance, which leads to a hope which doesn’t disappoint.

At the end of the day, we truly do echo the words of the Psalmist, but not merely the words of abandonment and frustration, but more importantly those of hope and assuredness, which are echoed in Shane & Shane’s song “Psalm 13”

“For I will trust in Your unfailing love
My heart rejoices in Your salvation
I will sing to the Lord
For He has been good to me”

Coco