Oct 7, 2013

New Beginnings, New Mercies, Same God

Once again, I have been absent from the blogging world for, oh....about 5 months (yes, I did just have to use my fingers to count that). So much has happened! For starters, I have a new last name! Titus & I were married on August 6th, & everything has been a whirlwind since. I have started journaling again for the first time in close to two years, & for me, blogging is a natural extension of that. My hope is that this blog will be an avenue to display God's leading & continued faithfulness in my life; a place where my family & friends (who are MUCH farther away than I would like) will be able to keep current with what is going on, & also an avenue to share the practical things that I am learning as a newly-married wife.

This weekend was absolutely crazy! Titus & I left Wednesday night after FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes. More on that ministry another time), & arrived in Indiana at about 11pm. We had the opportunity to attend a 2-day teacher's conference, which had several very helpful workshops. As soon as the last session finished on Friday afternoon, we hit the road (again!) to make the long drive to Northland.
Some of our good friends who work at the Camp year-round asked if we could come up to help with a weekend event they were hosting. Truthfully, I knew they just wanted Titus' help, but now we're a package deal =) That husband of mine is very gifted in combining his organizational skills with great leadership, so he is VERY helpful to have around!

I was so blessed to be able to spend time with several of my closest friends. It came at a great time; though I really love it here in Wixom, & I am SO excited about the opportunities God is opening up, I miss my close friends. God also worked it out so that we were able to visit my extension church the next day & see our good friends, the Coffey's, & their ministry team. Aaron Coffey spoke out of Isaiah 6, about beholding God. He made the point that when we as Christians are truly beholding God, we will cease to be overwhelmed with the circumstances of life. With so much recent change, that was just what my heart needed to hear!

All of life changes, but God remains the same. I am looking forward to continuing to learn more of His grace and mercy as I continue in this new chapter of life.

"Jesus is the same yesterday and today and forever." -Hebrews 13:8

"My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." -Psalm 73:26

May 1, 2013

Back to Blogging!

As my sister has noted recently, it has been over a year since I last blogged!
SO much has happened since I last updated, I won't even attempt to recap, but I will enter back into the blogging world relating the story that has had the biggest impact on my life over the last year =)
God is good to me, & He has recently begun to put it on my heart that I need to start recording & sharing the things He has done for me again. Thank you Amber for your encouragement; you are such a great motivator!

God has done much & brought me through much over the past year, but as I mentioned, there has been once change that has impacted me more deeply than any other, & his name is Titus. God brought us together in an amazing way as only He could! Here is Our Story:

My Side:

Summer of 2012 started out fantastically.
I was at the Disneyland of the Midwest; Aka, Northland Camp and Conference Center. This is the place where God has done an overhaul on my life, in more ways than one. Northland has had a huge impact on me spiritually since I first arrived as a camper when I was 16 years old. Little did I know that this summer would so drastically change my life.
As a teen counselor, things got busy…I mean, so busy that sleep is a rarity! But the dependence on God that was cultivated those 8 weeks deepened my spiritual walk like nothing I had ever experienced. I saw campers I had labeled as “hopeless” be overcome by the gospel & set aside the sins & the weights that had littered their lives. I saw my fellow staff members transformed by Hebrews 12, the passage of focus we were studying that summer. I also saw the Lord change me & give me a desire & thirst for Him like never before.
In the midst of all of these incredible blessings, there was yet another layer of change that the Lord was orchestrating. Enter Mr. Titus Scott. Fellow camp worker. Program guy. Former Team Lead. And little did I know…my future husband.
I was a girl who had never had dreams of wedding bells, or finding prince charming, but had been praying for several years that if God saw fit to bring a man into my life, that it would be a guy who loved God more than he would ever love me. A man who consistently put others above himself, served with humility, showed confidence & knowledge in the scripture, and lived in a way that demonstrated a passion for the gospel….pretty high orders, yes? Exactly...
God had brought me to a place through different trials & disappointments in which I was quite content with being single, & I had in fact already made plans of exactly what I would do after graduation, & it seemed to me that God was blessing the decisions I was beginning to make for the future.
Then, about half way through the summer the Lord began shifting some things in my life…he brought various trials, and through each one, He brought growth. But it had begun to challenge some of what I had begun to plan for life after college. In one particular situation, I was still grappling with what the Lord was doing in my life. So I began to pray, “Lord, I don’t understand…can you please just make things in my life go back to how they were?” But then God convicted me…I wasn’t praying according to His will, I was praying according to mine.
Here’s where the story gets odd, & I see the fingerprints of God all over it.
The very last week of camp, I prayed that prayer, & God convicted me of praying according to what I wanted, so I prayed instead (admittedly, somewhat hesitantly), “Lord, please change me through this trial, & reveal to me what you want me to see & learn through it.”
It was that very day that God brought Titus to my mind…it’s not like I was set on getting in a relationship that summer, so the fact that all of the sudden there was this guy on my mind that I barely knew was a little odd. So I thought back on all I knew about this program guy named Titus.
I hadn’t really taken a special interest in him until this point, but he had always stuck out in my mind as very dependable, humble, kind, and as a guy who did the jobs that no one else really wanted to.
I also began thinking through the characteristics I had hoped for if ever I were to be married, and with the little I knew about Titus, from what I could tell he fit a good deal of them.
So, I did what any girl would have done; I texted my mom & told her that when she came up to get me from camp she would also get to meet her future-son-in law! No kidding, this part of the story may have actually been a little creepy if nothing had worked out, but since Titus & I will be married, I feel a little less awkward about it.
I had such a strong, unexplainable feeling that this was the man God wanted me to marry, I was surprised at myself!
One problem---we had 4 days left of the summer & then I wouldn’t see him again for at least a year.
God was so good though, because I had such a strong confidence that it was His will for us to be together, I felt perfectly at peace about waiting, and felt no need to try to manipulate the situation in the few days we had left.
So as I saw Titus around those last few days, I had absolutely no idea if he was interested or not!
It wasn’t until Friday, when I had a short interaction with him by the Liquidator (the big water slide for those of you who are not fluent in the Northland camp dialect) that I began to pick up that Titus might, just might be interested…but again, it was the last day, so I really tried not to read too much into it.
Finally, it was the last Saturday and I was getting all packed up & loading up the car to come home. As I had promised, I pointed out Titus to my mom, (referring to him once more as her future son-in-law. Haha!) As she and I pulled out of the parking lot, I saw Titus and Aaron Coffey talking near the sidewalk, they waved goodbye, I waved back, as I said to my mom “I’ll bet you anything they are talking about me.” Yes, very narcissistic looking back on it, but I just had this weird feeling (and I was right, so it’s not that weird, right? ).
In my mind, leaving Northland sealed the deal, that God really did have a plan for Titus & I, but it wasn’t going to begin unfolding until the following summer. I had begun writing prayer requests on note-cards, and so that Sunday night I wrote a prayer card for Titus, & for myself regarding Titus. I prayed that God would allow me the peace & confidence to wait on the Lord & not grow discontent over the next year as I waited, & I also prayed for Titus, that God would continue deepening his relationship with the Lord.
I got up, turned off my light, turned down my covers, & had just laid my head on my pillow when I heard my message indicator go off on my ipod (literally less than two minutes after I finished praying for Titus,) and I looked, & all I saw was the name “Titus Scott,”& I knew why he contacted me!
Titus tells this better than I do, but basically, he had contacted me to ask if we could keep in touch & get to know each other better, & see how the Lord leads.
I was SO excited! I saw this as directly from God, but of course I didn’t want to seem too anxious, so I read the message, & went to sleep, & it was just after camp, so I slept in quite a bit the next day. I talked to my mom about it, prayed about it, & then responded to Titus & told him I would love to keep in touch.
The very next day, I was in 2 Corinthians 7 & 8 as part of the devotional study I had started the previous week…this is where I just see God’s sense of humor. Take a look at some of the verses I read as part of my devotions just a day after Titus & I began communication:
• “But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, and not only by his coming but also by the comfort with which he was comforted by you.” (2 Corinthians 7:6-7)
• Therefore we are comforted. And besides our own comfort, we rejoiced still more at the joy of Titus, because his spirit has been refreshed by you. (2 Corinthians 7:13)
• “But thanks be to God, who put into the heart of Titus the same earnest care I have for you.” (2 Corinthians 8:16)
• “As for Titus, he is my partner and fellow worker for your benefit.” -2 Corinthians 8:23)
That made me laugh! I had to share it with my mom & sisters
In the months Titus & I have been deepening our relationship, God has just blessed us in a very special way. It has been difficult to deal with “the distance.” But the long-distance has actually served to deepen our communication skills & also learn to trust the Lord better to help the other person when we can’t be together. As I got to know Titus, I was continually thankful for all those things I was first attracted to him for, but my thankfulness has grown as I’ve gotten to know him in a much deeper way. He really seeks to serve me & those around him in a way that I really respect & admire. He often challenges me with the truth of God’s word. And we just have a great time together! In the first several weeks I spoke to several mentors & spiritual leaders in my life that I really trust, many of whom have known Titus for longer than I have, and their confirmation of Titus’ character & their approval of our relationship gave me even more confidence that it was God’s will we marry.
December 27th was the awesome day of our engagement! We had just returned to his grandparent’s farm after spending Christmas with the Scott family in South Carolina. It was a beautiful day, with fresh snow on a really amazing landscape. Titus had been pretty quiet all day, & he had completely convinced me that we would not be getting engaged over Christmas break. So I just assumed that he was tired, or maybe he was grumpy. Haha! So finally he asked me if I would like to go for a walk out in the woods, which of course I did!

So we bundled up & he showed me around the farm, he was talking a bit more by this point so I no longer thought he was grumpy, just a little reserved
Then when we began to head out towards the woods, he got quiet once more, so I just enjoyed the scenery. It really was beautiful!
We got to a small pond out in the woods, & I turned around to say something to Titus, & he was down on one knee with a ring (which was even more beautiful than the scenery!), and asked me to be his wife! Of course I said yes!
We called our families, & also the Coffey’s, another family that has been very influential in both of our lives. It was such a happy moment to share with loved ones!
Since then, we have been continuing to learn more about each other & more about what a Christ-centered relationship truly looks like. God has certainly given us very specific & almost identical burdens for future ministry, & we are looking forward to taking that next step in the future. But right now, I am just so deeply thankful for how God has so clearly worked in our lives to bring us together, & I cannot WAIT to marry my best friend. August 6th: be there!

His Side:
Summer 2012 at Northland Camp, a summer that God would use to change most everything in my life.  I have the privilege of teaching during the school year and then spending my summer working at Northland Camp.  I always look forward to how God changes me as I study through the theme passage set aside for each summer!  Little did I know how God would change my life, summer of 2012!
During the first week and a half, we spend quite a bit of time under great preaching and teaching of God’s Word.  This summer one of the sessions that had the most impact on my life was when Aaron Coffey shared from Philippians 4:6-7.  He challenged us regarding fear and worry, which tends to cloud our minds and hearts.  God used His words to challenge me when he pointed out that if I prayed every time that I started to worry, two things would happen.  My prayer life would be increased and the amount of fear in my life would greatly decreased.  God was teaching me this lesson early in the summer because I was going to need it over the course of the summer.
As the summer began, I did not think that I would developing an interest and relationship with Alicia Ball.  I knew a little bit about Alicia from the previous summer when she was a lifeguard and I was a team leader.  She also had been my sister’s roommate during the previous school year at NIU.  I think that before I was willing to admit it to myself, God was beginning to point my heart towards Alicia.  I began to notice many characteristics of her life that I was very attracted to.  As the summer continued to progress, I began to realize how much I was being drawn to get to know Alicia better.  Through the summer, I was able to see her heart and desire to serve God and those around her.  The more I saw the joy that she consistently exhibited while serving campers through the grueling schedule of camp solidified the desire to get to know Alicia better!  This is where the lessons God had been teaching me really became evident.  As I attempted to determine how I should pursue the possibility of a relationship with Alicia, I came to a point where I realized that I was beginning to worry about whether I would “stand a chance”!  As these worries began to take hold, I was reminded of the challenge from Aaron.  I came to the point where I recognized those worries actually were being shown in a lack of trust in God!  As I came to this realization, I decided that I would take Aaron’s challenge and pray every time I started to feel worried about this situation.  This was exactly the point God wanted me to come to!  The more I started to trust in God, the more I was at peace with waiting on the possibility of a relationship for as long as I needed!
Throughout this whole time, I continued to learn more about and become more attracted to Alicia and her servant spirit.  At this point, she was still not interested in me, and looking back on it, I believe that is why God brought me to the point of being willing to wait.  It was the very beginning of the last week of camp that all of a sudden I noticed a slight change in Alicia and her interaction with me.  As I continued to pray about the possibility of a relationship, I again found myself at the place where I decided that in order for me to truly trust God, I needed to wait until He made in completely clear that I was to pursue a relationship with Alicia.  The last day of camp was probably one of the hardest of the summer for me.  I was spending a lot of time praying just putting my faith in God and knowing that even if it were not until the next summer, Alicia would be worth the wait! I was speaking to Aaron Coffey as Alicia was preparing to leave and I asked him to pray for me to trust God and that I would clearly understand God’s timing regarding a relationship.
It’s amazing to me how quickly God works sometimes.  It was the following Sunday that I felt a complete peace about moving forward with a relationship.  Well, I had peace that it was time for me to approach Alicia! I did not have any peace about what her response might be! I spent several hours putting together a message to her explaining my desire to pursue a relationship!  After sending it, I was able to see that she had received the message, but then had to wait until the following afternoon to hear back from her.  From that point on it has seemed like such a whirlwind!  God has done such a work in both of our lives bringing us together and growing us as individuals and as a couple.  Buying the ring and planning the proposal was such a fun event in my life!  I made a goal to surprise her, even though it was going to be obvious where our relationship was heading!  I spent a lot of time trying to convince her that I would not be able to get engaged during the Christmas break, only to successfully surprise her on December 27 while at my grandparents farm, a place that now holds a doubly special place in my heart!  Getting to know Alicia has brought so much joy and fun into my life.  I am so thankful for how God has worked and I am so excited to see what God will continue to do in our lives.