Wednesday, October 2, 2013

When Harry met Sally

Alright, so I've never seen the movie When Harry met Sally

or, maybe I have, but I don't remember a thing about it if so. It's one of those movies that I assume you are disappointed that I haven't seen yet. There's a long list of those. Movies aren't my thing apparently. 

Now, onto the real topic of this post. When Alex met Jessica. 
...what a great day! ;) It was November 2nd, 2012, and the only reason I know that is because I was able to look back on our church website to see the event posting for that night. I remember saying, "See you Sunday?" and he replied, "yeah." That's all. I honestly don't know if that really is the first time we met. It could have been before that when he visited. It could have been after that when we actually introduced ourselves. Obviously our first meeting is a little fuzzy, but whenever it was... I'm thankful that it happened. 

Alex moved here in November of last year to be a part of our church. He lived in Alabama where he was raised, and God so sovereignly lined up a job at Chick-fil-A Corporate at the very most perfect time, and wah-la!...10 interviews later and Al McCloud is a Georgian. 

Neither of us had marriage in mind at the time, but God quickly put it there. Around December, Al told his brother that he thought he might like me, and they wrote out a game plan with every intention to keep me free from hurt. In January, I told my friend Kaitlin (who lives in Virginia) that I was an awful sinner who had found herself liking a guy and to pray that the Holy Spirit would cleanse me from this heinous sin. (I, honestly, was this dramatic about it all.) In February, when I knew that these thoughts weren't going away, even though I was praying against them, I told Maggie and Courtlynd. I told them that I was an awful sinner who liked a guy and to pray that I would be cleansed from this heinous sin. They both died in laughter and thought I was the most ridiculous human on the planet. They spent the next 3 months convincing me that I was being ridiculous and these feelings were good. You call me overly hesitant, I call me careful. The whole time I had no idea that Alex was praying that God's will would be done with our friendship. We didn't have each other's phone numbers, and saw each other 2-3 times a week. Once on Sunday, once at discipleship, and maybe one more time at a group event. I was oblivious for quite a while.

Alex's brother (Adam) disciples him, and Alex's sister-in-law (Jen) disciples me. I was nervous as alllll get out to tell Jen that I liked that Alex and I were friends. It was one of the funniest conversations that I think we've had yet. I couldn't spit it out, and she kept looking at the chair that Alex sits in at dinner time imagining that he was sitting there hearing all that I was saying. It was comical, and I am so thankful for all of the McCloud's secret plans to make sure that this relationship would be started with Christ at it's foundation. 

Around May, Alex and I had to work on something together for SovHope that required that I have his phone number. That started the occasional text conversation, that turned to the everyday text. Our church has list of people that we are praying will be drawn to salvation. Alex consistently encouraged me to share Jesus with the girl that I put on the list. I started to wonder why he was texting me, but i told myself that it was nothing. It was just a really easy friendship. 

At the end of June, Adam and Jen went to the beach. They asked Alex to water the plants and get the mail while they were gone. Alex asked me to help him water the plants one night. dun dun dun. PUKE! I've never been so nervous for two days in my entire life. I watched him water the plants, we ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, drank grapico soda, and talked for an hour or so before he finally told me that he invited me to water plants to tell me that he liked me and was interested in pursuing a relationship with me. It was such a relief and so exciting to know, yet so scary as we both agreed to intentionally pray about it. He also gave me a list of rules that he wanted us to follow (i like to call it rules. it's really just boundaries that he put in place.) It was such a wonderful start!

I went to Uganda, we talked more, prayed more, and then a little over a month later, he told me that I was his girlfriend. Here we are two months later, and we still pray everyday that God would be at the center of our friendship. I'm still, often, blown away by the timing of everything. I didn't want a boyfriend until after nursing school. I wanted whoever was interested in being my husband to pray about it for at least three months (not that they had to, i just think it's a pretty important thing to pray about). The list goes on and on, and I'm so thankful! So we pray everyday that God would continue to lead us. I love praying, serving, learning about Jesus, pursuing holiness, and spending time with him. Alex is one of my favorite men on the planet, and I'm still so giddy over the fact that he chose me to be his girl!

So there is some of the story about when A met J.
It's one of my favorite stories of all, and I can't wait to continue it as the Lord sees fit.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Uganda: part one

This post is only a month late, which I consider to be early. My time in Africa was too short. Our whole group agreed. I listened more than I spoke, and I learned more than I taught. I truly treasure the time that I was given with Innocent and Dorothy, and I don't know how to use my words to thank God for providing me with the opportunity to go to Seeta. There isn't a day that goes by now that I don't think about it. I can see it, and sometimes, unfortunately, I can smell it. I crave rice and beans, and every now and then I look for a Novida Pineapple in the grocery store. I miss not having technology, and some days all I think about is the simple life that they live. I miss it, and I'm jealous for it. While I want more than anything for life to be "easier" for them, I can't help but desire the joy that they have. I see my selfishness and covetous more everyday now that I've been there. So, when I say that my time was too short there, I mean that my sanctification was too great to want to come back yet. When I'm not comfortable, the Spirit is able to strip me of myself. And, I wouldn't be honest if I didn't say that most of the changing really did happen when I got back, but it was a result of Uganda. I'm not the same Jessica, and I praise the Lord for that. With every experience of being out of here, we are stripped of a little more of ourselves. It happened in me in Idaho, in Brazil, in Brazil again, at Snowbird, and now in Uganda. I came back a little less Jessica every time. and it hurts. and it's good. The Lord is good. 

Melissa, Luke, and I were able to be a part of Grace for Education with Chris. It was so so sweet to meet the people that Chris has been investing in the past six years. Grace for Education and Snowbird are the ministries that my local church body support the most. I count it a great great honor that I now know them both personally. God is doing GOOD things through the people involved with these ministries. Innocent and Dorothy were an absolute joy and I can't tell you how wonderful it is to call them friends now. Melissa, Dorothy, and I went through "God's high calling for Women" by John MacArthur. Please pray for Dorothy as the Lord continues to teach her about biblical womanhood. She stretched us with her questions, and the Lord was faithful to give me, Melissa, and Chris the same answers, with the same scriptures, to answer the questions that she had for us. Women in Uganda are being encouraged to be bold, independent women who lead their families and their churches. Pray for the men of Uganda to rise up so the women do not feel the need to fulfill roles that we were not meant to fill. 

"Mac" was no longer living in the house when we arrived. She made some decisions that led her away from the house. I'm praying that she will turn to the Lord and return to Dorothy for discipleship. I'm sorry that I did not get to meet her like planned, but I know that my God is sovereign over every situation. 

We were able to hear Innocent and Dorothy's life stories. They are remarkable. I'll share more about these hopefully in another post. Dorothy, like other girls, was tempted to sell her body to pay for school fees. The Lord graciously protected her from this situation, and she now has a college degree. He preserved both of their lives, and now they are about to live in a house with around 15 college-aged men for the purpose of furthering the gospel. It's an incredible story. 

I'm still trying to figure out what the Lord would have for Grace for Education and I in the future. I don't know what it's going to be, but I know that the Lord has me here for now. He has me at Sovereign Hope Church where I want to serve faithfully, because the gospel should flow out of me no matter where I am. He didn't say share the gospel ONLY at the ends of the earth. I'm praying for a nursing job that will give me opportunities to share the love and grace of Jesus everyday. I'm praying that I would continue to pray for Dorothy and the work that God is doing through her in Uganda. I'm praying for her as she will soon join in a marriage covenant with God and Innocent. I'm thankful that I know her personally. She encouraged me and she blessed me. I taught her doctrine, and she taught me faith, grace, and perseverance. 

This is the best I can do to start posting about the two weeks that I was able to enjoy in Africa. I promise other posts will include pictures and fun stories and more details about the conversations that I got to have with people. But for now, this'll do, blog, this'll do. 

Friday, June 28, 2013

It is finished!

It was just four years ago when I started this journey called college. I knew I wanted to be a nurse, and I was dangerously naive to what I had to do to make that dream become true. It was a blessing because I wouldn't have done it if I knew how much of "my" precious time that it would require. Praise God for his continuous blessing and hand that he has had over me during these years. Telling the story about all that he has sovereignly done in my life would take me too long because sadly, I don't know how to say anything in less than 1000 characters. But, to say that I have seen clearly his direction and guidance is an understatement. 

While nursing school got easier after that semester of torture, it was still a struggle to manage my time the way that i needed to instead of the way that I wanted. I still had many moments of doubt and had to be reminded of God's faithfulness one too many times. I'll say it again, nursing school was the most humbling experience that I have had in this life so far. I stink at tests, y'all. The Lord is gracious and kind, though, and I leaned on him when I thought my life was over. (maybe I'm being a little dramatic... yes, yes i am.)

I LOVED my last semester. I LOVED my preceptor. Her name is Marilyn. She was such a blessing. I was on night shift. That part was awful. I survived 216 hours of clinical and Dr. Purvis' class. I made an  'A' and a 'B'. I was "pinned" on May 10th, took my NCLEX on June 11th (and let me just tell you: it is NOT FUN taking a 265 question test for FIVE hours... I was just sure that I had failed. But nope, i'm that girl that may get all of the questions, but i'm gonna pass this mess!), found out that I passed on June  13th, and just got my license number (FINALLY) on June 26th. Now, I am a registered nurse; I don't have a job yet; I haven't put any applications in anywhere; I don't even know where all I want to apply, and I'm not going to do it until July 22nd. I've got my whole life, right?

In the mean time, I think I'll just GO TO AFRICA! I can't believe it's only five days from our departure. (I also can't believe how many capital letters I am using today. I'm drinking coffee, can you tell?) All of my friends left this week. Okay, not all of them, but a lot of them. Of course, Kaitlin is always a million miles away in that awful state that we call Virginia. Courtlynd went to the beach with the Brewer's. Meaning that Rachel is gone too. Maggie is nannying this summer in Soperton (I just picture sweat and gnats because it's in South GA.) Jen and Lauren are on their family vacay as well. That's six (6) best friends you guys! NO ONE TO HANG OUT WITH! So, I went to lunch with my sweet, precious, darlin' Momma (praise God she didn't go on vacation, too) three times this week and I have read almost two books and ordered one more. I've vacuumed the house, sorta cleaned my room, and I've slept in entirely too much and stayed up way past my normal bedtime. It's been a pretty restful week, and I'm thankful for that seeing as how the next two weeks, and the rest of my life, are probably going to be a tad bit busier. Thankful for every moment. I've re-read "God's high calling for women" to go through with Melissa and Dorothy. I'm reading (EXTREMELY SLOW) "Christian Beliefs" just as a good refresher, and I received "Theology for women" today. But, that one is probably going to be my plane ride book, so my last one to finish is "When Helping Hurts." (If you know me well, you'll know that i have a ridiculously hard time finishing a book. I just trust that the last chapter of every book on the planet is phenomenal and don't feel the need to actually read them to know that.) I'm praying that God will use these books to help me share the gospel well and teach simple truths to the ladies that he is going to put in my path. I just want to be prepared to be used by the Spirit. I'm still praying that the gospel will speed ahead of us! 

Alright, that's it for now. I'm sure in five years when I come back to read this, I'll be wishing that I was a woman of fewer words. 

PS. I watered plants on Tuesday.