Our Story continued

I left off our story here, where we met for the first time.  I’m now going to skip ahead a little to the bit of time before our getting engaged:

My second year at college began differently than I had imagined.  I was enrolled as a full time student but shortly before the drop out deadline I turned in my papers to get a refund for that semester. I began instead to look forward to spending a month in Haiti working at an orphanage.  The month taught me a lot about the wrong ways to do ministry in Haiti, and a couple of the right ways.  I did however find myself completely excited for mission work and for serving God. I scheduled a dinner with Abigail at Pei Wei when we she was back in Kansas City for Christmas break. I don’t remember what she ordered, but I had Kung Pao beef with brown rice :-). I remember that Abigail was dating someone else at the time, and they had actually been together for quite some time. We talked about all sorts of mission related things and I was really able to share my excitement and love for God with her. I vividly remember looking at her during the meal and praying to God, “If she ever becomes single again I would marry her”.  I think this is when I really began to fall in love with her.  It was the first time I was able to see her fully for who she is, I was able to see this woman who was kind, gentle, intelligent, beautiful, compassionate, and so much more! Unfortunately for me she was leaving in a few weeks to study abroad in Ecuador, and it wasn’t until a bit later that we started dating, but I like to look back on this and think that it was the beginning of me seeing her for who she really is.

Check back soon for the next installment and find out about our time as a dating couple!

Sunday Confessional

I confess that we just said good by to my parents after their visit to our community in Northern Ireland. I loved seeing my parents, and attempting to squeeze all of the beauty of this wonderful country into a visit but I also realize that it’s good to just hunker down and be an immediate family again.

The last full day with my parents we went to a site called Glendalough, which has a special place for myself and Abigail.  A little over nine years ago we visited that site with our choir trip, and it was here that we had our first picture taken together.  We found the exact spot, and retook the picture.  It is amazing how much God has changed us in such a short time.  We have now been married five years and have two kids!

I confess that I love the Millbrook community.  I feel more at home here than I have anywhere else in my life.  I have friends here who are interested in pursuing intentional and Godly relationships which has been a wonderful blessing.  I also have been able to make some friends who are not part of the church, which has also proved to be a blessing.  I love the continuation of living into God’s mission, and getting the honor of experiencing his providence.

I confess Jesus as my provider.

I’ve made my confession, now go and make yours.

Lenten Devo 15: Forgive Us Our Debts

**We were tasked with writing some devotionals alongside Ruth for the Lenten season. Our theme for these 40 days is The Lord’s Prayer. This is about the phrase “Forgive us or debts, as we forgive our debtors”. It fell on Day 29 of this series.**

Reading: Matthew 6:14-15

Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.

Easier said than done, am I right? Jesus knew what he was talking about when he said, “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” Evidently forgiveness has more positive impacts than spiritual.  There is scientific proof that forgiveness is good for the body as well as the soul.

Forgiveness is good for your health. It’s a fact. It turns out that revenge or “getting even” is not nearly as good for you as you might have been led to believe. The evidence from the research studies is compelling about the benefits that forgiveness brings. Those who forgive have better physical health and better mental health too. They have better outcomes from diseases like cancer. Even their blood pressure is lower. To put it simply, their response to stress is less distressed and so they report higher levels of subjective happiness.

I remember I was once struggling with holding onto some hurt and anger against another person.  I asked my good friend if I needed to forgive right away, or if it would be possible to gradually forgive. I’ll never forget what he said, “The funny thing about forgiveness is that it comes from the Holy Spirit. The mark of a Christian, the thing that makes us different is that the Holy Spirit gives us the power to forgive right away.” That was a hard thing for me to hear, but the Lord has given me a great gift in the Holy Spirit. Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

Today, let’s pray, and meditate on each word of the Lord’s Prayer.

Peace

Comfort Zones

When we tell people where we’ve been and where we want to go we almost ALWAYS get this question: “So what do you have against the U.S.?”

Sometimes I give a snarky response but generally I’m feeling kind and I say something sweet like, “Oh we just really like to travel and see other parts of the world.”

But the real answer is more complex. First of all, we have nothing against the U.S. We may not love certain aspects of life there, but we both grew up there and our family lives there. In daily conversations, it is “home”. We are so grateful for the freedoms given to us just because we can call ourselves “American”. Most of all, we love it because God chose to have us be born and grow up there! If we hate our country of origin, we doubt God’s plan for us.

The real answer is that I like to get out of my comfort zone. Being an introvert, this is hard for me to admit. The truth is that I feel God’s presence when I’m forced to rely on His guidance. When I wonder if I’m getting on the right bus or jumping in the right taxi? When I’m trying to find my way in a city that is not my home? When I wonder if I’ll get a warm shower this week? When I wonder if anyone will understand my American accent in their native tongue? When I see people who literally have to trust in Him for their daily bread? When I see brokenness all around me and then feel it for myself? In those times of struggle, I feel His presence more clearly than ever. And I love it.

I need to feel His presence or I start thinking, “What am I living for?”

When we get farther away from ourselves, we get closer to Him.

Change, and the uprooting that often occurs in our lives is a blessing. It allows us to rely on God and realize that WE are really not the ones in charge. What a relief!

I see God constantly in the newness of life. New jobs, new cities, a new country, new roles, new babies.

Have you ever said, “I have never heard God speak to me.” Or do you feel like God doesn’t show Himself to you? Maybe, like me, God is asking you to get out of your comfort zone a little and take a step away from yourself. I’m willing to bet He’s inviting you to see Him more clearly.

 

Kansas City airport, January 2015. Heading to Northern Ireland!

Kansas City airport, January 2015. Heading to Northern Ireland!

Our life, packed into these bags (turns out we brought way more than necessary anyway!)

Our life, packed into these bags (turns out we brought way more than necessary anyway!)

 

Seeking to Serve

Tomorrow will mark our 38th week of pregnancy. We wait with excitement as the Lord continues to grow our baby boy, and entrust us with one of His children. We are just enjoying life right now, and leaning on the providence of God.

I am constantly amazed at how much God provides for us. He has given us a place to stay, food to eat, and a family! What incredible gifts. There is not much more that we can ask for. We are currently just trying to follow after His will, so if that means moving our young family abroad, then we absolutely yearn to do that. On the other hand, if it means staying in the states for awhile, then with joyful hearts we would do that as well.

Pray for clear vision, and a boldness to walk through doors that God has opened.

Yours in the Battle,
The Carrs