Tuesday, September 11, 2012

We Made It. Finally.

Well, it's been a little over a week since we arrived at our new home in Salt Lake City. To say that this process has been a roller coaster of emotion would a complete understatement. Over the past few weeks  (not to mention the past year and a half), I have felt incredible excitement as we look toward the future and a new adventure in our life together, incredible anxiety as we tried to figure out all the practical details of moving almost 1,000 from our home, and incredible heartache as we anticipated leaving so many friends and family behind in the Midwest.

Now that we are here, I have felt incredible peace.

Yes, that's right. Peace.

Of all the emotions I thought I would feel this first week (fear, sadness, stress, loneliness, etc.), peace was probably the last one I was expecting to feel, especially in such great measure. But leave it to God to just completely overwhelm me with this sense of contentment as we start this new phase of our lives. He has a way of knowing just what I need. That's neat.

Sure, there have been moments where I miss my family and wonder how I'm going to handle our first Thanksgiving and first Christmas away from them. I'm human. And yes, there have been moments of stress as I try to figure out something as simple as where to find a new couch for our living room. Especially one that fits in our budget. Beh. But for the past 10 days, time and time again, I have found rest in the arms of my Heavenly Father. I find comfort and rest in the One who brought us to this place and has provided everything we needed to get here, and therefore I continue to trust and believe that He will provide as we make this place our new home.

So for all those who have been curious as to how we're doing, we are settling into our apartment, slowly but surely. The laundry is slowly getting caught up, the dishes are gradually finding their way into the cupboards (very...gradually..) and pictures are, one at a time, finding their home on the previously blank white walls. Yes, this place is slowly becoming our home. And visitors are welcome :)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

A Place to Call Home

I've been feeling rather displaced lately. It's as though I'm in this limbo stage where I don't belong anywhere, really. Part of that has to do with the fact that we are still in the process of support raising, and we can't make the move to Utah until we reach our 100% mark. My heart is longing more and more, everyday, to be there and to begin the work that God has laid out for us to do. The other part of that feeling, I think, is the fact that we are currently living with my parents. Don't get me wrong, we have been extremely blessed by their generosity and willingness to let us live with them. We are so grateful to be able to save more money while we wait to make our big move. Even so, I am beginning to feel anxious and eager to have a place to call my own once again.

It's the simple things I miss. Like being able to get creative and decorate our place to make a simple house/apartment feel like belongs to us. Like having a space for Jonathan to play in and make as messy as his little heart desires. But most of all, I miss having a place to have friends over. I miss the love, life and the laughter that used to flow through our home on a regular basis. (insert dramatic sigh here)

So, the topic in the Live Dead Journal today is all about hospitality. Needless to say, it spoke directly to my heart and all these feelings I've been having lately. The author says this about hospitality...

"[it is] our faith in action. It is prayerfully preparing a meal, inviting the Holy Spirit to lead and bless the conversation and fellowship. It is giving and often sacrificing time and focused attention to those whom Christ brings into our homes and seeing each one as Jesus does - because hospitality is really all about the way we see people....our home is one of the most powerful arenas to affect a life for God." 

That last statement was good for me to read and is something I am still trying to grasp as true. Ever since Brett and I decided that I would stay home, I have struggled (and still do sometimes) with thinking that I wasn't "doing enough" or being as effective as I could be in life and in ministry. God has continued to do a work in my heart and mind to reassure me that staying home to take care of my family is and will continue to be the best thing I can do at this point in our lives, and as we get closer and closer to doing college ministry, I know this decision will only prove to be more beneficial.

Brett and I are looking forward to having our own place again soon. We are looking forward to hosting dinners and parties and having that love, life and laughter once again flow through our home. We are looking forward to giving our children room to grow and play, but most of all, we are eager to use our home as a conduit through which God's presence and love are made known to anyone who enters...to "affect a life for God".

Until then, I will try to be content with the home that I have and learn to use it as a tool for His glory, even if I can't call it my own.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Returning to my First Love...

I can remember a time not so long ago, before I possessed the title of wife or mother, that I could simply be called a woman who was in love with God. I remember being single and in love with no one except the One who had created me, and that season of my life now seems like such a distant memory. Since getting married and then giving birth to our wonderful son, I have continually strived to keep God my #1 love and I have recently been made increasingly more aware of my failure to do so successfully. 

Don't get me wrong, I am so blessed and so thankful to be Mrs. Ricley. I have grown and evolved because of my relationship with Brett, and I know that God has given him to me to challenge me, correct me, help me lighten up a bit and constantly love me despite my shortcomings. I am also so incredibly blessed and thankful to be Jonathan's mom. My heart has grown so much since he entered the world and He has taught me more about being selfless, patient and gentle than I ever thought possible. With that said, and even though it is difficult to do at times, God still tells me to love HIM more.

So, the sermon in church today was centered on this very thought, that we cannot forsake our first love. The passage referenced was from Revelation 2 and the letter to the church at Ephesus. They were told, "you have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first", and I feel like that is what God has been saying to me repeatedly over the past month. I have allowed the other loves in my life to take precedence over the One that should be first. I have been searching for my satisfaction, my value and my contentment in the wrong places and I need to return to the only place where those needs are truly satisfied.

I want to return to my First Love, my God and the One who deserves so much more than I give Him. I am daily humbled at the fact that God is revealing and teaching me these things about myself. I am thankful that even though I fail Him daily, He keeps reaching down and reminding me that I am worthy of His love. 

Monday, January 2, 2012

Live Dead Challenge

Live Dead. What a strange statement. How can two simple words, portraying two completely opposite concepts, be put together into a single statement and make sense to someone? Having been a believer nearly my entire life, I am still trying to fully understand not only what that means for me as a follower of Jesus, but also what that looks like in a tangible, practical every day way. Jesus says in Luke 9:23-24, "“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it", and while sometimes this means actually losing one's life to a physical death caused by their belief in Jesus, more often than not I hear those words and the inherent call to a daily commitment of dying to selfish thoughts, selfish ambitions and worldly desires and doing everything for the sake of Jesus and bringing Him glory.

So, our church has given us a challenge for the month of January, which is to devote ourselves to spending extravagant daily time with God. As a medium to help us do that, we are going through The Live Dead Journal which is a compilation of devotions written by missionaries all over the world and focused on what it means to truly "live dead". On the back of the journal is their explanation of what it means to live dead: "To live dead is to live life wholly for Jesus. To die to self, knowing God will do a greater work through you. To announce the life of God among those who are unreached."

I read that and my heart aches. One, because I know I still have a LONG way to go in my faith journey, and as much as I want to say I live dead every day of my life, I know I don't. Not even close. My heart also aches because I know what joy and peace can be known through a relationship with the one, true living God and I want others to know how that feels too! Many of the missionaries featured in the journal serve in areas of the world where the name of Jesus is completely foreign, but there are also some that serve here in the states. Yes, believe it or not, there are people here that don't know the true heart of Christ. Because of that often forgotten truth, Brett and I are committed to serving college age students in Salt Lake City. There are so many students, in Salt Lake City and across the nation, who don't know the name of Jesus, and we have seen so many more that have a distorted view of what it means to truly follow Him. Imagine what could happen if these students, who are beginning to explore and search for their place in the world, found the God who loves them, and who is watching, waiting and yearning for them to come home? (Insert goosebumps here...)

Needless to say, I am excited for the next 28 days and what God is going to teach me through reading and praying through this journal. I want to discover, even more intimately, His heart for His lost children and I want to be able to share and show that heart to those who need it the most. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer said "when Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die", and it is only then that we find out what it means to truly live.