Friday, November 30, 2012

Grace flows down..

Yet again, here I am saying.. "Wow!.. I haven't blogged in forever!".
I guess I got pretty wrapped up in getting married... honeymooning.. enjoying my summer... decorating a house.. and starting a new school year.  Oops..
I've been quite the busy bee lately.. The Lord has provided me with QUITE a few Christmas orders for door hangers, canvases etc., and I am so thankful!  Ben may feel differently because our living room and dining room have looked like Santa's workshop the past few weeks!
I of course, couldn't wait any longer and ended up decorating our house for Christmas THREE weeks ago.. Oops again!
I am so excited to spend this Christmas as a married woman!! I can't wait to fill my husband's stocking with lots of love and goodies.  I am so thankful this Christmas that through the grace and mercy that flowed from the cross and through Christ's resurrection, that the Lord has blessed me with a man who I am certain was created just for me.  Ben and I aren't really the "mushy" type, but we are learning every single day how to make our marriage work.. and the only way that is possible is through Christ.
We have been fortunate the past two months to get to share our lives and stories with a few other couples after joining a young married couples small group.  What a blessing it is to sit with other couples every Sunday who are going through some of the same joys and challenges as we are.

We are having my family stay the weekend with us the Friday and Saturday before Christmas!! Cannot wait!!!
Ben's family has lots of birthdays to celebrate in the month of December.... I know the Lord likes to laugh at us when we make plans--seeing as He is the ultimate plan maker--but I surely hope we do not have a child in December :).  Ben will be 31 this year.. .he has finally started admitting that he has gray hair, but he says he's just thankful to have hair :)!

Now that I'm caught up on life.. on to the reason I decided to blog today..
Ben had the opportunity (blessing actually) of growing up in a Christ centered home.  After moving to NWA when he was in 2nd grade his parents searched for a school for their three children.  After searching for a while they decided to home school Ben, Brooke, and Zach... The decision was made when Ben was in 10th grade for them to start school at Shiloh.  As I've met many of the people that Ben became close to at Shiloh and at Cross Church Springdale (formerly First Baptist Springdale) the past three years I have met many Christ-loving people.  However, I didn't have the chance to meet the amazing man whose life we celebrated yesterday.  When Ben found out last week of the passing of Andrew Pray, I could tell he was devastated.  I had heard him speak of Andrew---how he led chapel in worship at Shiloh, and I knew his dad, Buster was the pastor at Cross Church at Pinnacle Hills.  Ben spoke about how awesome it would be if Andrew were our worship leader.  As I read articles, posts, and blogs about Andrew I quickly realized that I was truly missing out by not knowing him.  He sounded like one of those people I wish I could be friends with just because of the light of Christ that radiated from him.  He seemed to be an encourager and truly the hands, feet, and lips of Christ here on earth.  I couldn't help but think of how awfully devastated his high school sweetheart and children must have been.  Ben began to reminisce about how awesome Andrew was and how he remembered him singing "I Can Only Imagine" during chapel.  He immediately searched for the chapel CD Andrew had made.

Yesterday, I was able to accompany Ben to Andrew's funeral.  What a celebration it was.  I will say this.. there is a definite difference in the funerals of a non-believer and a Christ follower.  Everything I had built in my head to be true about Andrew was reiterated by the speakers at his funeral.  They talked about how he did everything whole-heartedly, encouraged everyone he met, thrived off of singing and worshiping the Lord, and how his constant joy for life influenced so many people.  WOW... Ben and I talked on the way home and he said something that really opened my eyes... "You know it's tragic that the world lost Andrew Pray.  The world seems so much worse off."  This reminded me of a sermon Nick (our pastor at Cross Church Fay) preached.  He said we were put here to fulfill a purpose.  Jamie Willard was placed here to do a specific thing to further the kingdom.  If we don't do it--there is no one else who can. No one else can fulfill that purpose.
Andrew's life celebration made me open my eyes to the things I've been living for.  I am a Christian and I rejoice in that every day.  However, there are so many times I sit back and wonder if that is evident to others.  I must find my purpose--- I know that involves serving, worshiping, and giving praise to the Lord, but there is so much more.  My life should be a living testimony to the grace that flows down from our Lord and from the cross.  His grace continues to flow down so abundantly.   Over and over again I'm reminded of how much He loves me and the ultimate sacrifice that was made to pardon my sins.  "My name is graven on His hands.. My name is written on His heart.."

Andrew Pray was a life well lived for Jesus.  His life was such a testimony.  I encourage you to view the celebration of his life on the Cross Church website.
 Though his family is strong in Christ, grief is also a tough thing to overcome and they need prayers.

Friday, April 13, 2012

ONE Month!

Happy Friday!!
Ahh! I honestly couldn't believe it when I realized yesterday was ONE month until we get married! When we first set the date I kept thinking it was wayyyy too far away, but our engagement has FLOWN by!
Only a few tiny catastrophes have occurred.. my dress not fitting being the WORST!.. but it fits now :)
I haven't blogged in so long so I can't even remember where I left off!
I have learned so many things throughout this whole experience.  I believe the most important is that I learned how truly blessed I am--especially with all of the wonderful people I have surrounding me.
In efforts to try to keep my head on straight as the wedding gets closer, Mrs. Tinka gave me the best advice anyone has so far-- as we were working on wedding plans and I expressed how I hoped everything turned out just like I have planned in my peon of a brain she said something that really caught my attention along the lines of "People may not remember every detail of your wedding, but I'll tell you one thing--they will remember the way you acted the day of your wedding"...she probably said it much better, but that's what I remember of it... and I believe that is very true.  I don't want to be "bridezilla", I don't want to make all the wonderful people who are giving their time and love to help me to think I am a brat, and I want everyone to know how thankful we are to have them sharing in and helping make our day possible.  Blessed does not even begin to explain it well enough.

Ben and I have slowly been getting his bachelor pad ready to become the Willard home, and it has been SOoooOOOooo fun!  I cannot wait to be moved in, and share it with him!  Pictures soon to come (ha it may be a few months but they'll be here)

EmJay is still alive and well (as of last weekend, she is well).  We had a little scare with her!  She got out of the fence in Ben's backyard a few weekends ago, and she was in the brush near the creek behind his house (which is basically all woods).  She came back COVERED in ticks (and when I say covered I mean they were EVERYWHERE--you couldn't touch her without feeling tons of them--even around her eyes :().  It was SO sad because we could tell she was miserable!  We finally got her to the vet, shampooed her numerous times and put drops on her.  She is now tick free :)).  Hopefully she stays that way all summer! She wasn't allowed in the house for so long which was almost as sad as her being covered in disgusting blood suckers.

We have already had two wonderful showers--one hosted by a group of wonderful girls at the Springdale campus of our church and a couple's shower given by some of our friends at Brock & Emily's.
We have another this weekend in Helena hosted by my sister a few friends and a great group of women who I've known since I was little.  I am SO excited for the shower, of course, but also to see everyone because I haven't seen many of these wonderful people in years!!!
Can't wait to see Pete and Brody Speer either!!--

Ben finally decided on our honeymoon location! We will be going to Antigua (no, no, not ARGENTINA as my mother often confuses it).  It looks sooooooo wonderful! I cannot wait.  We will not be going until June 10 (to avoid conflict with my school schedule), but I know it will be fabulous!

We just finished Benchmark testing this week, and I am SO proud of my kiddos & SO happy to have that behind us!

The past few months have been SUPER busy, but I have had some great people helping me out!  I absolutely cannot wait to be Mrs. Willard and to have things slow down a bit for a while!  Summer break will be a great chance for me to catch up on life I've missed planning this wedding!

The Lord has been so good to me.  I thank Him daily for Ben Willard.  I have really taken time each day this week to think of all the reasons I am thankful to have him in my life & to know that I get to share the rest of my life with him! That is evident in my life.  My life hasn't turned out ANYTHING like the plans I had in my head, but it is so much better thanks to my Deliverer.  :)  I pray that I will be the wife that this man deserves.  He is everything I never knew I always wanted!!
 I was reading my devotional Tuesday night, & couldn't help but think of how the Lord truly does have a plan for each of our lives.  A great friend of mine (and bridesmaid), Emily Mayfield, text me as I was reading to share some saddening news that her mom had just found out she has breast cancer.  However, her text was so uplifting as she told me her family trusted that the Lord has greater plans for our lives than we can ever imagine.  Their family is so faithful, and it amazes me that they are able to see the hope they have by trusting in our Lord.  Prayers for them and her sweet sweet mother, please!

Countdown begins................29 days!