Today we made First Baptist Church Murfreesboro our official church home. We’ve attended both their traditional and contemporary services several times over the past couple of months and we really felt at home. We have talked about joining but it wasn’t something we were planning to do today but God spoke to our hearts and we knew we wanted to be obedient to His calling. I am sure the people sitting in front of us thought we were being rude as we talked during the time of dedication but we were talking about being obedient and how there was no reason to wait. We met some really nice young couples today and I am excited about getting involved in their small group. I really feel like we found our home. Greyson and I were both very blessed to grow up in two amazing churches and we thought it would be hard to find anything to compare but I think we have found an amazing church home for us. The first time we attended I could imagine us bringing up our children there. We are both very excited and glad we made the decision to join today.
I know some of my wiser (hum… older) readers are thinking “really 25” but trust me this is a birthday my friends and I have been dreading. And lucky me, I am the oldest (besides one friend) in our group by a few months. Literally for the past two years, we have talked about it and fretted about it. Why 25? I don’t know. I guess because we are afraid people will start expecting more from us. Like it is the official "you're an adult birthday". And it is goodbye to our early 20s and what we can’t help but believe were some of the greatest times of our lives. Come on when else do you get to live with your best friends, have a diet that consists of frozen meals (or a box as we called it) and fast food, stress was only associated with school, and every weekend was a three day weekend. We had it MADE! So it is hard not to see 25 as an end to era, even though this era already ended on May 3, 2008 for me (my college graduation). I know that I’ve already done some great grown up things like get married and get involved in my community and that not everything after 25 will be bad. I just know it will be a different kind of good and fun. It may be an even better kind of good and fun. I know I will look at this post in a few years and laugh my butt off but I had to put it in writing. I know there is nothing I can do but embrace it, so here’s to 25. May you surprise me!!!
Last week I picked up a guilty pleasure of mine, PEOPLE Magazine. I try only to purchase it when I am on vacation but it was a special edition with Elin Woods on the cover. I had to hear her side of the story. I’ve definitely heard everyone on the Golf Channel’s side of the story thanks to G. While reading the book reviews for new releases I read about Mary Beth Chapman’s new book. She is the wife of Contemporary Christian Music Artist, Steven Curtis Chapman. In the review it told briefly about her son accidently running over their adopted daughter in their own driveway at their home. I remembered hearing about this story a few years ago so the next day I went on Amazon and there I was able to read the first 20 pages. In the dedication, she dedicates the book to her son Will Franklin and says, “You were entrusted with an incredible pain! I’m so sorry. I wish as your mom I could take it away, but I know God has a plan for you to steward this story well and minister to others through your suffering. You are my hero, as well as Maria’s… she loved you so much as do I!”
I immediately picked up the phone and called my mom and told her there was something I wanted her to get me for my birthday. I knew if a book would have a powerful dedication such as that, then I had to read it. So when I arrived in Florence for Labor Day weekend she had it waiting for me. I couldn’t put it down.
To say I am in love with this book feels like an understatement. It’s about Mary Beth’s journey through life with her own struggles. Many of her struggles reflected those of my own. Reading this book for me was like sitting down and talking to a best friend. Her issues started with self esteem issues as a child, not understanding God’s grace as a teenager, then following in love with a man whose career path didn’t follow along with her plan, her struggle with depression, the journey of adoption that again didn’t follow her plan and then the ultimate struggle of her life, losing her five year old little girl in an accident. (Side note: it was 100% an accident with Will Franklin not at fault. The little girl was excited to see her big brother pull in the driveway because she knew he would lift her up to touch the monkey bars that she was trying to reach in the yard. She darted in front of his large SUV and he never saw her, while her older sister was screaming for her to stop running towards him.) Then she takes you on a journey of her grief and her countless questions for God. Then ultimately she realizes that we have a choice to SEE God in EVERY situation because God is there in every situation. (Don’t get me wrong. I don’t believe God EVER is the cause of harm but I do believe He allows things to happen to fulfill His plan.) And even when we don’t understand, we must see and remember Romans 8: 28. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” We are not called to our own purpose or subject to our own plan. We are called for God’s purpose and His plan. That is probably one of the number one struggles as a Christian here on earth. We often think it is about ourselves when it is not. Our number one purpose is to glorify God.
I was deeply impressed by Mary Beth’s honesty with her struggles especially after losing her daughter. Some of the things she says in this book a lot of people probably think she shouldn't have said and that maybe she was too honest. But she was handed an uneasy task, and it is natural to question your beliefs when tragedy strikes. What matters is what you do after you ask the questions. Ultimately she has turned this tragedy into good but she was honest about her journey through the “shadow of death”.
Also, as a whole the Chapman family demonstrates how to turn something so bad to good and use it to glorify God and advance His kingdom. The Chapman’s have started two amazing ministries. The first is, Show Hope. Show Hope is a non-profit organization that mobilizes individuals and communities to care for orphans and provide waiting children with families by giving grants to those adopting. (Learn more at: http://www.showhope.org/AboutUs/WhoWeAre.aspx ) The second is Maria’s Big House of Hope. Maria's Big House of Hope is located in Luoyang, China and is dedicated to saving the lives of special needs orphans in China by providing surgeries and medical attention. This home will offer the highest level of care, enabling the children to thrive, and greatly increasing their chances of being adopted. (learn more at http://www.showhope.org/OrphanCare/MariasBigHouseofHope.aspx )
You are probably thinking there is no need to read the book because I just told you everything but I can promise you there are many great lessons to be learned from her story. I am planning on rereading it because there are so many powerful messages that I don’t want to miss one.
On September 1, two of our great friends, Trina and Marshall tied the knot on Key West. Unfortunately, Greyson and I were not able to attend their “cruise wedding” because of conflicts with work but Trina made me feel a part of the day by having people send me pictures all day. She even had someone send a picture to me right before she walked down the aisle. So I even got to see her before her groom did. It really meant the world to me for her to think about me right before the ceremony. While, I am so sad we could not go, I am absolutely thrilled for this couple. I love them both so much. I really don’t know any other two people that love and make the most out of life as these two. I know they have a great life together ahead of them.
On September 2, my best friend and college roommate, Ashley was proposed to on the wedding cruise in the Bahamas. She was completely surprised as were we all. Since they were in the Bahamas she couldn’t use her phone so I received a call bright and early on Saturday morning. If you know me, you know I don’t do bright and early and especially on Saturday mornings. She then sent me a picture message of the ring knowing she would get a call back from me, even if it was an early Saturday morning. I am so happy for Ashley and David. This is such an exciting time for them both. And this means two of my best friends are engaged so I have lots of fun planning ahead of me with throwing parties, showers and teas. And let’s not forget as much wedding planning as they will let me do. I am so excited!
And I guess this also means that we are growing up… which is a little bittersweet for me because I have made some lifetime memories with these girls and I like for things to stay the way they are. But I have to remind myself that there are a lot more memories to be made. I am so blessed to have such wonderful friends.