Necessary Seasons: Fall

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Fall is my absolute favorite:). Crisp Autumn air, crunchy colorful leaves…all of Fall is my favorite. While some lament the end of Summer fun, I embrace Fall with all of its bright colors and bountiful harvest. Insert virtual cornucopia here! Horns of plenty, tables filled with place settings and pumpkins, and spices filling the air with intoxicating nostalgic aromas.  For instance, when I smell cinnamon, I instantly think of my mom’s pumpkin pie. If you have ever met my mom, you know she is famous for her pies and a bunch of other yummy treats too:). The tiniest waft of cinnamon in the air takes me back to a small apartment in my hometown where my mom would make pies for Thanksgiving. I remember waking up early on Thanksgiving Day to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and my mom would let me have a slice to eat for breakfast- completely covered in whipped cream. Because that my friends, is how you properly enjoy a slice of pumpkin pie:).

Fall comes with an almost immediate gravitation to change. Warm days turn into cold days. Green leaves change into shades of gold and red. Wardrobes switch out from tank tops and flip-flops to sweaters and boots. Change that happens in stages throughout the inside of our homes as well as the outside environment and we are reminded, that change is taking place and Fall is taking over.

design (7) Maybe your current season feels a lot like Fall: Ever-changing with the anticipation that something more is up ahead. I think of Fall as Earth’s holding pattern; a time when the world around us quiets and makes way for stillness.

Now, I am not one who is good at being still. But with a personal season like Fall, I think we can take note of creation’s response to change and take time to be still, and wait for guidance from Our God. During Fall, things around us are slowing down; trees embrace frost and release their colorful leaves, and the grass withers and flower petals fade. Because that is what they do. They give way to change, which eventually gives way to life again.

We can be still before Our God in the midst of an ever changing season. It will take much effort on our part, especially when we live in a world that is marketing faster, immediate, and in-a-hurry. Could this season in our lives be a time when God is asking us to draw near to Him? The changing season might be a reminder that Our God remains the same and continues to be faithful, even when everything else around us is falling and changing or maybe even fading away. We can find Him the the quiet places of our lives when we slow down and pause. We can navigate changes when we seek Him first and allow Him to guide us with His Holy Spirit. We can remain at peace when have to release dreams and deadlines to His trustworthy hands and timing. And we can praise Him in the midst of it all. We can friend.

img_3643You know, Thanksgiving comes at a beautiful time in our calendar year. Smack -dab in the Fall:). While we are preparing to gather around tables with friends and family, I challenge you to look around and notice the people in your gathering. Each one is experiencing a season all their own, or maybe even experiencing a season that you have walked through. Each member you gather with is a part of your story, and you are a part of theirs. As you notice them give thanks, I encourage you to link arms or hold hands, or even embrace them to remind them that you are near in friendship and solidarity- we do not have to walk through these seasons alone. Together, lifting up each other in prayer, encouraging each other with the truth of God’s Word, and at times shedding blood, sweat, and tears…let’s walk through these seasons to grow and mature together.

img_3639Let’s Pray:

Dear Heavenly Father, we choose to remember today that although our seasons may include lots of change, we can hold onto You because You are unchanging. You are faithful and merciful and promise to walk with us through it all. Thank You God, for holding us perfectly in Your hands. Thank You for offering us a place to come and be still in Your presence-no matter what our life looks like or what we’ve been through. No matter how fast-paced this world may be, help us to recognize when You are calling us to slow down and listen for You. You provide us the strength we need to release all that we are holding onto so that we can make room for all that You have for us up ahead. God, you desire to see us grow and develop and make way for new life. Lord, help us to choose to learn and grow through these seasons. Thank You Lord for remaining faithful in every one of our seasons. Amen.

Go The Extra Mile: Listen to the song “Times” below. This song has become a main staple in my playlist. So much so, that I even made my doctors play it while in surgery with my son:). Tenth Avenue North is one of my favorites!

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Necessary Seasons: Summer

img_3571Summer is not my favorite season:). I’m not a fan of heat and I’m not too fond of being uncomfortable in the scorching sun, but I am a fan of the sweet things that Summer brings: Kids on Summer break, day trips to explore our new area, and sweet Palisade Peaches. This valley is known for its peaches; juicy and sweet, as big as softballs, and perfect for peach smoothies and cobblers…with ice cream of course:).

There is a sweet spot over the course of several weeks (near the end of Summer) when it is the best time to pick peaches. Their season takes time to develop their unique flavor and fragrance. Trust me, if you stand in the middle of a peach orchard, it is intoxicating, the likes of which no candle company can replicate. The Summer months full of scorching heat and sunny skies are needed to ensure a good harvest of choice fruit.

Necessary time. Necessary heat. Necessary light. All a part of Summer. If Summer only had 75 degree weather and a cool breeze everyday, I might be a bigger fan:).

You see, sometimes we find ourselves in a season that feels a lot like Summer without air-conditioning: hot and uncomfortable. These particular seasons can make us feel as if we could melt at any moment. Friend, have you encountered a season where there seemed to be no relief from the heat of life’s battles? Can you recall a time where you felt exposed to the elements, with no coverage or shade to run to?

Our seasons help to develop the uniqueness of our gifts and how we can use those aspects of our character to impact those around us. We usually don’t know how long these uncomfortable seasons or situations will last. But in the midst of them, there are lessons to be learned and, we can be sure that God is at work. He is not trying to melt us into a mess- He is trying to mold us and shape us into the image of Christ. He is actively working to develop our remembrance of His goodness and faithfulness in our lives, despite how we may feel. David speaks about this very feeling in the Psalms:

“God, you are my God; I eagerly seek you.

I thirst for you;

my body faints for you

in a land that is dry, desolate, and without water.

So I gaze on you in the sanctuary

to see your strength and your glory.

My lips will glorify you

because your faithful love is better than life.

So I will bless you as long as I live;

at your name, I will lift up my hands.” (Psalm 63:1-4 CSB)

This passage doesn’t scream “easy and comfortable season” to me. David shows us an example of deep resolve while walking through a difficult season- He states what he is experiencing and then declares what he will do.

“I eagerly seek You, I thirst for you…So I will bless You as long as I live;”

Friend, if your season feels as if no relief is in sight, let’s remember we get to choose our response. We get to determine how we will let our season affect us.

Will we choose to complain when our life feels dry? Will we melt with fear when the situations of life get uncomfortable? Will we choose to isolate ourselves from community when our season feels like it’s too much for others to handle?

Again, we get to choose. God help us to choose wisely; help me to choose wisely.

May we allow the light of Christ to shine on us (warts and all), to reveal the areas of our character that He want to refine, and may we let Him.

May we choose to eagerly seek God in the midst of our seasons and hold onto His promises while we learn the lessons that are being taught to us.

May we audibly glorify His Name for everyone to hear about of His faithful love because He is completely faithful.

May we lift up our hands in worship today, just as David did, and praise Him for sustaining us in the midst of these seasons of life.

May we choose to follow closely after God and hold onto Him through each season with our complete trust placed in Him, because Our God will use even these seasons to grow us and shape us into who we are meant to be.

He is developing us friend. You and me. We are in this together:)

Here is a truth to meditate on today:

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Let’s Pray:

Dear Heavenly Father, we take comfort today knowing that our seasons have a purpose. Just like the seasons throughout agricultural life- there is a time and place for each season. As Summer gives way to the season that follows, may our hearts give way to what you are trying to accomplish in us so that we can be prepared for the seasons ahead. We want to be molded and shaped by Your hands alone. We desire to take each season as it comes, and learn from it in order to walk steadily into the next, equipped with wisdom and joy. God, You are so kind to not just see us in the midst of our current struggles or battle, but You are also able to see the future victories won all at the same time. Help us to remember that the season we find ourselves in will not last forever- it will change. Lord help us to grow, change, and mature with it. Thank you for sustaining us and for loving us. We praise You today, Amen.

Go The Extra Mile: Check out this song today from one of my ultimate favorite voices, Audrey Assad ! This is a favorite on my worship & prayer playlist. Enjoy and be encouraged!

New Series: Necessary Seasons

img_3559Life has an interesting way of changing seasons before we feel ready for the change itself. We live in a really hot area (super warm in Summer), and the warmth of Summer had me yearning for the colors and crispness of Fall. I just wanted to wear a sweater and cozy up with a blanket on the couch. Ok, for real- I just wanted to take a nap.

However, when the first frosty morning arrived this Fall, I felt unprepared.
Much like most of my days.
Much like most of my life.

If you’ve been following my posts for any amount of time, you’ll know that I am not a big fan of being out of control or feeling unprepared. Sudden change doesn’t always bring a smile to my face. I like timelines and order; routine and schedules. I like knowing what’s ahead.

With all the leaves changing, and the chill of the wind whipping briskly, I’m reminded that some seasons in our lives change quickly, while some linger on. Our hearts may beg for our season to be over with, just like I was begging for Summer to end (cut me some slack- this was our first Summer here on the Western Slope and it was a hot one!). Our present circumstances or challenges ahead could even be the season we are fretting over. We may be begging God to just take it all away; to end the season of struggle or uncertainty so we can have our own personal “Spring”, of things starting brand new and fresh like, the vibrant and fragrant flowers we see beautifully burst open in Springtime.

Friend, I want to tell you that even in the middle of your season, God sees you and will use those times of struggle, strain, refining fiery times, even the joyous seasons, to prepare you for the next season, and the next season, and all the seasons there after.

In this new series, we are going to discuss the seasons we walk through and how we can draw truth from God’s Word, as we place our hope in Him and in His promises. So whether you are currently begging for the season you are in to end, feeling unprepared for the season at hand or up ahead, or maybe even celebrating all the goodness you are experiencing within your season, I hope you’ll join me in this series. My hope is that we will remember this truth throughout our time together:

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Let’s Pray as we begin this journey together:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for being a constant source of hope and love in our lives, even when our current season tries to hide Your goodness and faithfulness . Let us not forget the lessons we’ve learned or the strength we’ve gained while walking through the process of each seasons in this life. Lord, help us not to hold so tightly to the season we are in, that we lose the desire to grow through the other seasons up ahead of us. We choose to remember today that You are in control of our days, and our best efforts to try and control our own seasons will only leave us frustrated. You are God, and we know that You are good, and You have our best interest in mind as You shape and mold us through each experience that we encounter. Lord, help our attitudes to reflect the hope we have in You. Help our hearts to be drawn closer to You as we embrace the seasons we are in. You are doing a work behind the scenes and we trust You with every detail-because You were there before the beginning of time, You are here with us now, and You promise to never leave us or forsake us in the future. Thank You God for Your kindness towards us in every season of our lives. Amen.

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Go The Extra Mile: Check out this very real and encouraging song from Blanca! I hope it brighten’s up your day like it did mine!

Transitions: Wrap-up & Bonus Material

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We started this journey of Transitions just 6-7 weeks ago (give or take), and it has been an absolute joy to hear stories of transitions from near and far! Thank you to all of our viewers in India, UK, Ukraine, Croatia, Romania, and the USA! We appreciate you taking the time to read each post and we love when comments and questions come through.

Over the past few weeks you’ve heard from me and from some of my tribe, my people, who have walked through and who are still walking through transition. They shared their best advice and encouragement for navigating the seasons that we find ourselves in. I’ve learned so much from the messages shared and I hope you have too! A huge shout out to our contributors this month: Melissa Atencio-Colmenero & Nina Aguirre (check out Nina’s blog! https://mountainstomakai.com)  

Before we wrap up this series, I just have one more BONUS piece to share with you. These two authors joined forces to give you a little encouragement and let you know their personal experience from the inside:)

A while back, I asked my daughters to share a bit of encouragement to those who might find themselves in the midst of transition. I didn’t give them an outline to follow- I just asked them to share from their own experience. Here is what they had to say:

“Eight months into this transition and there’s a lot that has happened and a lot has been learned. If you are someone who is going into or through a transition remember this: Be patient as things continue to happen, if you leave everything in God’s hands, he will do the impossible in your life. “For with God nothing will be impossible.” [Luke 1:37, NKJV] You see, when we put our faith and trust in the Lord and are patient, everything in our lives will happen in his perfect plan and his timing. If my family and I did not put our faith and trust in God we would not be where we are today. If we didn’t move eight months ago, we wouldn’t not be with the friends we have made or in the season we are in. We may not have known all the answers during our transition out of Denver, but we were patient and the Lord blessed us beyond our imaginations with people and plans that helped us with our big move. Transition and changes are no joke, but sometimes they give you the most extraordinary experiences and unforgettable lessons you will ever learn. Eight months is a big deal:)”-Lianna

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Lianna

“Transitions. Where to start? We all go through a time in our lives where we have to go somewhere else because of a job, college, or we just have to leave because we feel a calling somewhere. For me this transition had its challenges, but it also was one of the best things that happened to me. I will always remember that no matter what, God has great things in store. Even if you are going through a rough time, trust in God and he will provide.”-Talia

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Talia

Wise words from such wise young ladies:). I’m so glad they are mine:).

Friends, transition is no respecter of age. In fact, the older we get, the more transitions we face. The good news is, we don’t have to face transitions alone. We can link arms with those around us and suit ourselves up with the truth of God’s Word, from the messages we received, reminding us:

Week 1: We can live in thankfulness for the support we receive from our friends and family while we walk through transitions, giving thanks for each one. “I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.” (Ephesians 1:16 NIV)

Week 2: We can allow God to transform us through the process of transition, learning from the example of Christ, who walked through transition to become Emmanuel- God With Us. We can choose to say and live out the same words, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42 NIV)

Week 3: We can experience the greatest adventure with God even if our transition does not feel perfect. Because after all, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:” (Ecclesiastes 3:1 NIV)

Week 4: We can choose to walk in obedience and experience blessing as we follow God through our transitions. We can learn to trust God and demonstrate our faith to those around us as we move from from belief into action. “Blessed are all who fear The Lord, who walk in obedience to Him.” (Psalm 128:1 NIV)

What a wonderful time we have had through this series; learning and growing together and embracing the seasons we find ourselves in. Just like these lovely little ladies:).

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Sisters make the best pals on adventures

Stay tuned as we embark on another new series! Comment below on how this series of Transitions has been an encouragement to you!

Go the extra mile: Check out this song from Steffany Gretzinger. Confident is a favorite tune for both of my girls (ok, and me too), and they picked it out just for you!

 

*A very special thanks to Libby Neder Photography based out of Denver, CO. We have been so blessed to have her capture our family photos and she does an outstanding job on wedding photos and so much more. Seriously, she’s the real deal! Find Libby at http://libbyneder.com

O is for Obedience

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This past December was not the only time I’ve moved with children in tow. I have moved with little ones before:). In May of 2006, my then family of 4 loaded up a massive U-Haul in South Carolina and drove all the way back to our home state of Colorado. My two daughters were 4 years old and almost 6 months, so the adventure we discussed with them involved making sure we let them know where we were going and reassuring them that we had enough snacks to get there.

My oldest daughter knew we were moving closer to our families, and asked regularly about people we had left behind. One weekend after having been in our new location for just over a week, she began to wail and cry as we drove onto the highway. We were headed to a wedding over the weekend, but she thought we were moving again because she saw bags full of belongings in the trunk. Then it hit us…she was feeling the weight of the move we just made. Her little heart couldn’t bear to say goodbye again and she couldn’t hold in all of the emotions, hence, the wailing and crying.

Days turned into weeks, weeks turned into months, and months turned into years before we would ever have to cross the bridge of discussing a move with our now family of 5.

From experience, when it’s just two individuals, it’s easy to make a move across the country or across the sea. Throw in some babies or a toddler and it is still relatively smooth. But the older the children are, the more questions they will have. If they are teenagers or approaching those years, it also comes with many tears, long hugs, words of reassurance and lots of prayers from both parents and kiddos.

Why so many prayers?
For us as parents making the final decisions, we felt the weight of what would happen once we said, “yes” again. We knew the ache we would feel leaving loved ones behind, and also the joy of building new friendships in a new place. We knew that beginning a new adventure in a new location meant leading by demonstration – how to walk in obedience.

You see, obedience is a lesson we are learning alongside our children. Obedience is also a lesson we can choose to live out in front of them, whether they are 3 years old or 30. In the seemingly little assignments we feel we ought to do, and in the weightier assignments that require more of us.

Friend, I don’t know what transition you might be stepping into. You may feel like you are going at it alone, or maybe you have kiddos and are walking into a new season with big decisions ahead. Perhaps as you read this, you are literally packing boxes of a life you no longer have, or just pulling into a new town to begin with a clean slate. Maybe your transition is a little more simple; maybe you are feeling the nudge to apply for a new position at your current job. You may even be at the very beginning stages of feeling a transition approaching- it’s ok. Whatever the case, you get to choose obedience.

Our generous and loving God offers us this beautiful reminder:

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Walking is something we either do or we don’t. We can choose to walk in obedience, or we can choose to be paralyzed by fear and freeze under the weight of the great unknown.

Here’s a glimpse of how we shared this moment with our kiddos: “We get this opportunity to say “yes” to God as a family and “yes” to what He is asking of us in this moment…we can choose to go begrudgingly or with resistance or, we can choose to go obediently – full of gratitude that He would choose us to be a part of His plan.”

And so, our 3 kiddos chose to walk with us:).

I wanted to send a reminder to you friend, that all the unknown details of your life do not have to be figured out before you choose to walk in obedience. Walking through times of transition comes with both moments of clarity and moments with just enough light for the next right step. Friend, when you know that you have heard Him calling you to a time of transition, go- and do not delay. Trust in God and in His timing. Remember, you are not alone. Others prepared the ground you are now walking through, and others still, will follow in your footsteps of obedience. Let’s hold tight to God’s promises and lift each other up in prayer as we continue to walk through transitions together.

Let’s Pray: Father God, our words today are simple- we pray that our hearts’ first response to Your call would always be obedience. We want to follow You and we choose today to trust in Your ways and in Your timing, no matter the transition at hand. Help us Lord as we lead by example, to remember that others are searching for answers and observing our faith. God, we pray that our faith in You would go beyond belief and move into action. Lord, we desire to serve You and follow You through every season of our lives- even in transition. In Your Name, Amen.

Peace-liz

*Side note: We are still walking through parenting in the midst transition:) We are by no means perfect. We are just a little under 8 months into our new location. Still a lot of news stuff to learn and enjoy, still many new adventures to have and memories to make. And still plenty of new rhythms of life to discover:). We are NEWBIES…straight newbies:).

Go The Extra Mile:

Check out this song by Hillsong. I hope it lifts you up today and reminds you of the hope we have in the midst of our changing seasons:)

Wednesday Recap 2

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How awesome was it to have Melissa on the blog this past Friday?! It was COMPLETELY AWESOME! If you didn’t know this, Melissa has been a dear friend of mine for almost 19 years (#MCforlife), and she is definitely one of the women in my life that I can depend on to give me solid perspective and truth-filled insight, and a really good laugh. She can also be a great source for adventurous stories. For instance, we were once on a road trip and narrowly escaped a purple and green circular cloud filled with lightening and rain while driving through Nebraska. True story-for another time of course:).

Melissa was able to put into words how many of us feel while walking through transition: excited, scared, adventurous…and all the emotions in between. She shared seamlessly about how transitions can come with a bundle of circumstances and emotions at the same time. We can all relate to that fact for sure. This message stood out to me: everyone’s transition will look different and though circumstances may be difficult, our transitions do not have feel perfect. Such a beautiful reminder that God does things in His own way, in His own time, for our own good and our growth. What a relieving truth to know deep down that our transitions will not all look the same, and we don’t have to try and measure ourselves up against anyone else’s season.

Why? Because there is a season for everything.

“There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:” (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

Can you imagine if every crop in the world looked the same, grew the same, ripened at the same time, was harvested at the same time, or tasted the same? It wouldn’t give much room for variety, or for uniqueness. We’d be stuck with a whole lot of the same stuff everywhere. Thankfully, we don’t live with identical crops…or identical transitions.

This process of walking through transition comes with many opportunities to grow and see things differently. For real; a huge chunk of walking through transition is leaning into Jesus and praying through tears of both joy and heartache, but growth happens when lean into Jesus in prayer and put one foot in front of the other, living out our faith in Him day by day. We’ve got to walk it out, no matter the season.

Friend, your transition may feel exciting, or scary, or somewhere in between, but let’s remember Melissa’s reminder to us:

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It may not feel perfect or look perfect in the process, but do not lose hope friend- this adventure that you are walking though has beautiful lessons and blessings in store for you and for those journeying with you. Keep getting up, and keep moving forward friend!

As we close out our second recap in this series, let’s be challenged and encouraged by this verse in Proverbs:

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Let’s commit to trusting in Our Almighty God, and keep trusting in His perfect plans for our lives. He is beyond faithful and is working things out even when we can’t feel it or see it.

Again, a huge thank you to Melissa Colmenero for sharing her thoughtful words with us on the blog!!! I can’t wait to have her back! I can’t wait to have fro-yo with her again! It was kind of our thing:)

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P.S.- Melissa and her hubby are now in their new home! Congrats to the Colmeneros and may God continue to bless them as they continue their transition!

Here’s a song for ya: This particular message from Melissa has me in the mood for a little U2, so be encouraged by this favorite of mine. Walk On!

Transitions: A Season for Everyone

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Why is it that when I think of transition, The Byrds melody “to everything (turn, turn, turn), there is a season (turn, turn, turn)” plays in my head? Actually, I have this quirky habit of associating a song or movie quote to nearly every situation in my life.

Transition can be fun, adventurous, scary, difficult, and all of the above all at once.  Let me tell you, I have experienced all of these feelings at any given moment since October 2015. That is when I agreed to a crazy idea to take out equity from my home to finish the basement. Since then, there was not a single day where change did not occur. Sounds of power tools filled the home for several months and then abruptly stopped as the contractor bailed on the job. Deadlines were pressing and money was dwindling when the man who would soon become my husband came to the rescue (along with my brother) and finished my basement. Literally the day after the city gave the final stamp of approval for the completed basement, I began planning a wedding. The venue was a popular place so I had one date to work with in 2017. I became very resourceful putting a wedding together in about 3 months with pennies in my pocket. There was a new basement, a new husband, two new children, and a rearranged house to accommodate us all. I told God and my husband, please no more change for at least a year; I need a break…. and then we were presented with an unexpected opportunity to move to a small town two hours south of our home in the Denver Metro area.  Thus began the journey of prepping our house for sale. That journey also included my husband unexpectedly having to quit his job, find a new one, and a basement flood and remodel yet again.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 states:design (7)

I imagine if Solomon were alive today, he would be writing these words in a blog wrestling with all of the feelings that transition can bring. Take a moment to continue reading the verses in this chapter as he elaborates through his troubled heart about transition.

I think we have that feeling whether we want to admit it or not, that if things are going to change and if it is not going to be fun we want it done quickly, smoothly and right now so that our lives are not disrupted any more than they need to be. Other times we expect our transition to be the same as someone else’s transition. For example, my friend Liz’s family moved around the same time we did; she got a house the day she arrived in her new town but as I type this, I still sit on my parents’ couch where I have been staying the last 4 months (my husband and I are now a week away from moving into our new home!).

It is often said that we need to pray that God will open doors that need to be opened and will close doors that need to be closed. But many times we misinterpret the waiting, the frustrations, and the uncertainties as not being “God’s will” and we back away from the transition. But God does not cookie-cut our lives. He uniquely chooses our individual situations to grow us and grow others around us. And that alone should give us comfort during both the good and hard times in transition. So be encouraged! Transition does not have to feel perfect for God to take us on one of the greatest adventures of our lives.

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Go The Extra Mile: Check out this song pick from Melissa (and me too-hehe). This song is faith-strengthening and this video…a beautiful reminder of adventuring with God (and filmed in my favorite city on earth, nonetheless!).