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. http://crosschurch.com/blog/?p=301
Though his family is strong in Christ, grief is also a tough thing to overcome and they need prayers.