Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Hello again! It's been awhile!
Where I last left off, Jack and I were just moving into our new house. And after about 5 months of being here, we still absolutely LOVE it! Jack, our pup Mags, and I are so happy here. God provided us with a unique house, a big back yard, and a perfect location--everything we were looking for! In January of this year, I told Jack that I would love to be moved out of our apartment and into a house by Spring Break. We didn't really care if that meant renting or buying, but we knew we were ready to leave the college apartment life behind us. And guess when we moved into our house--which we were able to buy?! March 17, 2012--the Friday before Spring Break!! We feel EXTREMELY blessed to be able to be home-owners (doesn't that sound so grown up?). There is no way we would be here without the provision of our gracious Father. How amazing is it that He provided the very desires of our hearts--even down to the date I wanted to move out of our old home?! We are so humbled and so undeserving of the way he takes care of and provides for us. And we are forever grateful for His showers of blessings!

In other exciting news, Jack and I joined the staff of a nonprofit organization here called City of Hope Outreach (CoHO)! CoHO reaches out to the under-resourced in Conway. We definitely didn't see this step of faith coming, but it's a neat story of how we got here...

This spring, our awesome church, Second Baptist, hosted a simulcast of David Platt's 'Secret Church.' If you ever have the opportunity to attend or hear one of these sermons, you will not regret it--and your world will be ROCKED! (And while I insert this plug for David Platt, go ahead and read his book 'Radical'...and see your entire way of thinking be incredibly changed!)
So, after Secret Church, Jack and I were both convicted. Of a lot of things. But there was something that kept tugging at our hearts. It was a cool thing, because although we didn't talk about it right away, we were each convicted individually that God was wanting more from us. We didn't know what that looked like, so we started praying. 
We threw around a lot of ideas, immediately began researching long-term mission trips, and we just kept praying. Our answer came FAST. One Monday shortly after all of this heart-checking and asking God where to go, Jack and one of his co-workers decided to do a prayer walk in a trailer park called Oakwood located on the same street as his office. At the end of his walk, he stumbled upon the Hope Institute Building, used by CoHO to reach out to the people in that neighboring trailer park. Funny how he had driven that street to and from work hundreds of times and hadn't even noticed this building. The next day, he saw some college students outside playing with some of the kids from Oakwood, and he immediately came home to get me. He picked me up, turned the car right back around, and we walked through a door that would change our lives tremendously!
Upon entering we met Phil Fletcher, who started CoHO several years ago, and within minutes of talking, we were filling out volunteer forms to get involved with this ministry.

It's so neat how the Lord led us to where we are now. A few months ago, I had someone ask me, "What made you want to get involved with serving those in poverty?" The question caught me off guard. The only answer I could come up with was the typical Sunday School one: "God." It's true, though. To be honest, I don't think I necessarily have a heart for the poor...I just have a heart for the lost. I really never pictured myself reaching out to lower classes, but I am so glad that God did! I'm so thankful he led Jack and I right where He wanted us. Through this whole experience, I've learned a lot about being completely open to and for God. In our many discussions about where we should be and what we should be doing, Jack and I honestly didn't see many mission opportunities for us here in Conway. Boy, were we wrong! We're surrounded by opportunities! And we are so thankful the Lord has shown us that through CoHO. We know that we are in Conway for a reason, and we are so excited that God is using that by letting us serve alongside those less fortunate than us.

So, this summer, Jack and I both volunteered with a CoHO initiative called Summer Oakwood Learning Academy. You can learn more about it, other initiatives, and ways to get involved with volunteering here. And starting this fall (on my birthday :)), we will be kicking off another initiative for the kids called King's Club, of which we have graciously been made co-directors! King's Club is also expanding into another trailer park for the first time! Not only will we be hanging out with kiddos from Oakwood, but also from Brookside! God is doing some VERY exciting things, and we are so blessed to be a part of His big plan--which is so much better than our own!

Here are some of my pictures from this summer with the sweet kids from Oakwood:

Sunday, February 12, 2012

New House Sneak Peek!

Last Monday, Jack and I made a life-changing decision... We bought a house here in Conway! We are so excited for this next stage of life and can't wait to get out of apartment living. :) 
Here is a little glimpse of what we will be calling home starting next month!! 

We've still got to get through all the final details and are praying and trusting in Him for a an easy move!

In other news, I quit my GA position at the Child Study Center. I am so sad not to be around those precious kiddos anymore, but it had to be done for school. I felt like I couldn't do my best this semester while also working 20 hours a week, and thankfully my wonderful husband was VERY supportive of this decision.

I guess I'll be spending my extra time not only studying, but also packing!! Eeeee! I can't wait to move!

Happy Sunday everybody!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

"In everything, give thanks..." 1 Thess. 5:18

Reasons I am thankful today:

  • Jack is finished with his most recent project at work (which kept him at the office ALL weekend)!
  • My friend, Julie, surprised me and visited yesterday, right when I was missing NWA family and friends. God's timing is perfect.

  • A new study in home group, the college bible study Jack and I help lead. Tonight we will begin our semester's study with Philippians--one of my favorite books!
  • Thinking I had a neuro quiz, but then not really having one :)
  • Getting to have a quick lunch date with my husband in between classes
  • The rain
  • Getting ready to celebrate Jack's birthday on Friday!
  • That the hogs won the Cotton Bowl (Yes, it's old news...but we're still excited in the Branscum household. Plus, I wanted to post some pictures from our trip!)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

25 Prayers for My Husband

1. That he continues to grow spiritually through the disciplines of Bible study, prayer, and quiet times. (Proverbs 4:23)
2. That his relationship with God will bear much fruit in his life, and that he will be a man who seeks wisdom and understanding. (Proverbs 3:7, Psalm 112:1)
3. That he would walk humbly with God, and would always be convicted quickly about any sin in his life. (Micah 6:8)
4. That he will continue to grow as the leader of our family, and that God would be glorified in our marriage. (Ephesians 5:25-29)
5. That he would have a teachable spirit and a servant’s heart, and that he will listen to God and desire to do His will. (Proverbs 15:33)
6. That he would always look to the way of escape from any kind of temptation, and that he would rely on God to remain faithful to our marriage and to God. (1 Corinthians 10:13)
7. That he would safeguard his heart against inappropriate relationships with the opposite sex, and that his heart would be pure and undivided in his commitment to me and to our marriage. (Proverbs 6:23-25)
8. That he would continue to be able to provide for our family, and that he will not become discouraged by doing work he does not enjoy.
9. That money would never become a source of discord in our family, and that we would be wise in handling finances and in stewardship. (Luke 16:13)
10. That the words he speaks will build our family and reflect a heart of love. (Proverbs 18:21)
11. That our physical intimacy would be a positive reflection of selfless love. (Song of Solomon 7:10)
12. That the men in his life would encourage his accountability before God, and that he would be a godly influence on his friends and coworkers. (Proverbs 13:20, 27:17)
13. That he would choose healthy foods and activities and honor God by taking the best possible care of his body as the tabernacle of God. (1 Corinthians 6:19)
14. For his strength physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. (Ephesians 3:16)
15. For him to have wisdom and discernment in training/disciplining our children, and that the Lord would enable him to love them unconditionally. (Ephesians 6:4)
16. That he would always have an eternal perspective, and make the most of however much time he has in this life. (Ephesians 5:16)
17. That he would always be a man of peace, who allows the Holy Spirit to lead his responses in all situations. (Romans 14:19)
18. That he would have a balanced life in regards to work and play, and that he would submit his schedule to God. (Proverbs 16:9)
19. For him to find favor with the Lord, but also with people he knows and interacts with. (Luke 2:52)
20. That he would enjoy peace and refreshment in his relationship with the Lord. (Psalm 16:11)
21. That he would always be courageous in his stand against evil and injustice, and that he will protect our family from Satan’s attacks. (Ephesians 6:13)
22. That he would be a man of prayer, seeking God in purposeful ways. (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
23. That he will serve God and others with pure motives, and that God would be glorified in everything he does. (Colossians 3:23-24)
24. That he would offer all this dreams to the Lord, and pursue only those that bring God glory, and that count for eternity. (Jeremiah 29:11)
25. That he will recognize the lies of the enemy in his life, and that he will always be guided by the Truth. (2 Corinthians 10:4-5)

Monday, January 2, 2012

2011 Through the Lens

Through the eyes of my camera, here are some highlights of a wonderful year!

Surprise birthday party for Jacky [January]
Sugar Bowl in New Orleans [January]
NYC [March]

Bachelorette party [April]

Graduation [May]
Hawaiian Honeymoon [May]
First camping trip together [June]
Maggie added to the family [July]
New home, new friends in Conway [August]
Razorback football in Fayetteville [October]
New, priceless Chinese friendships [October]
Pinnacle Mountain hike [November]

Home Group [December]
Holidays as Mr. & Mrs. [December]

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Dropping the ball

I feel like I sort of dropped the ball this Christmas. I preach it to myself and others every year-- "Jesus is the reason for the season." I didn't feel like it'd be a struggle for me as I get older. I'm no longer counting down the days to open my presents or comparing whether my sister and I got the same amount. After some research and some tough questions from friends who do not celebrate Christmas, Jack and I even decided to do away with all of our Santa memorabilia. Surely with not getting caught up in gifts and Santa Claus, I'd done away with the distractions from Christ this Christmas... Right?


A new challenge presented itself. Every newlywed must go through it. It's the most wonderful time of the year, yet it can also be the most stressful thanks to an ever-growing family now that we are married. Don't get me wrong, both of our families have been great in understanding our new situation of living farther away and still figuring out how to do holidays as a married couple. They've been quick to express that they have no expectations for us to meet, and we couldn't be more thankful for that. The problem was me. My horrible attitude. How can I be a 23-year-old who is still just as selfish as the same 7-year-old who counted numbers of presents? I let all the driving, all the packing and unpacking, all the laundry, and all the hustling around just get to me. I completely lost sight of why we celebrate. I wasn't focused on Jesus at all. I was too concerned with MY feelings, MY hardships, and ME, ME, ME. The worst part is that I took it out on my family. I wasn't prepared for all that this Christmas would bring, and I didn't look at my current situation with a Christ-like attitude.

I've known it all along, but how quickly I forget that HE is there to get me through anything. It could've been as simple as praying away my stresses, diving into His word a little bit deeper, even asking my brothers and sisters in Christ for encouragement and prayer. But I decided I could get through my stressful situation (the holidays) on my own.

Wrong again.

Praise the Lord for His faithfulness! He taught me so much at our church service here in Conway on Christmas morning. He revealed the ugly selfishness that had been in my heart throughout the holiday season and brought me back to the basics of Christmas. Who cares if we have to drive a little extra now? What difference does it make if I have to get up a little early to pack or do an extra load of laundry? Jesus gave up his life-- HIS LIFE-- by coming here to us on that miraculous first Christmas day. Can't I give up my own self-centered feelings to reflect on His goodness?

I dropped the ball, but thankfully, my Savior picked it up for me and got it rolling again. Not just this season, but EVERYTHING is about celebrating Him and what He's done for us. The hustle and bustle of holidays or of life itself should not rid us of experiencing His joy and praising Him daily.

Now, as we await another ball drop (Hello, 2012!), I don't want to lose sight of my Father and Best Friend. It's not a New Year's resolution, it's a life revelation. I'm finally ready and willing to put aside myself and focus on my Lord in ALL areas of my life. I'll drop the ball again, but He'll be standing right there to pick it up for me. And with His help, I'll be more open to let Him do it right away this time.