Sunday, July 28, 2013

Who Dat Surprise!

We got a really fantastic surprise this week . . .

Chad's surgeon, Dr. Reichman, called on Monday wanting to know if we had plans on August 9th.  No, but we do now . . . we'll be at the Saints first pre-season game!!

Ochsner is one of the biggest sponsors for the Saints and evidently they take time during one game each season to highlight the transplant program by honoring one of the donors as a local hero.  

I'm married to this year's hero. :)

Chad told Dr. Reichman that it feels really weird because seriously, all he did was sleep on the operating table . . . Dr. Reichman is the real hero!  But Chad said he would be happy to be part of it if it helped highlight the program {and if we could have two tickets so I could go to!}.

Chad doesn't get to say anything when they do the presentation before the game, but he did ask them to include in the script that he is the pastor of Edgewater.  This isn't an open mic to preach the Gospel, but we pray that the mention that he is a pastor will be used by God to draw many to Himself.

We are so excited and have just been laughing about it in unbelief all week.  We could have never imagined all the opportunities to share that have come from this transplant . . . a Baptist Message article, a Times Picayune article, Chad getting to talk and pray with people considering donation, a chance for Chad to preach at FBC Lafayette {Chad's parent's church}, and now a presentation at a Saints game! 

We don't really know what God is up to, but to Him be the glory!


Saturday, July 20, 2013

Daddy/Daughter & Mommy/Son Date Night

Date night with the kiddos made it on the summer fun list and has been a much anticipated event in the Gilbert house!  Every time Ava has gone somewhere with Chad, she has been quick to remind us that this isn't their "big" date. :)  She picked out her dress earlier this week, but then also had some strong opinions about what Daddy should wear {the jeans and nice shirt didn't satisfy so she picked out the pants, dress shirt, jacket, and tie!}.

Grayson, on the other hand, I almost couldn't get out the door for our "big" date because he just wanted to keep playing with his cars.  Boys. :)

Chad wanted to get Ava some flowers, but decided that might be too expensive.  A little later our friend Adrian called because his wife, Leah, had gotten a beautiful bouquet of flowers for her last day at work, but they were going out of town and hated to just let the flowers die in their apartment.  He knew it was random, but just wondered if Chad would want them.  How amazing is our God?!

Chad rang the doorbell and surprised Ava with her flowers!  We're starting early teaching our precious girl what it looks like for a man to value and love her!

Chad surprised Ava with dinner at her favorite restaurant, East of Italy.  My tiny girl will demolish a bowl of their alfredo pasta!  Chad's favorite quote from dinner {as he was asking Ava questions} . . . "Dad, instead of all this talking, can you just tell me stories from when you were a little boy?"  Evidently her dates are more about entertainment and less about getting to know each other. :)

After dinner they went to the lakefront to look at the water and then to walk along the levee.  They also went to see the Milneburg Lighthouse that was built in 1855.  We love living in NOLA for so many reasons, but lots of fun things to do and see for free is definitely a perk!

 Grayson was having a tougher time catching on to the idea of our date night, but once I drug him away from his cars and got him in the van, we were good to go!  Oh I love this little man!  He is growing up so much and now that he can really talk, his compassionate, joyful, and rambunctious personality is coming out in full force!

 Since Grayson doesn't get excited about restaurants as much as he does about just eating, I decided just to go to McD's!  This pic was taken right before he dropped his {first} cheeseburger on the floor without even taking one bite.  :)  While we were eating, I told Grayson that Psalm 138 is the one that I pray for him.  He said, "Say it to me Mama?"  Melt. My. Heart.  I spoke that Word over my little man as we munched on fries and treasured the moment in my heart.

After dinner we headed to City Park to feed the geese.  These geese were hungry and aggressive!  That part of our date only took about 30 seconds because we were trying to get the bread out of our hands before the crazy things attacked!  Grayson thought it was hilarious and then spent a few minutes chasing geese and squirrels.  This was certainly adding up to be a dream date for my boy!

I catch my breath when I look at this sweet face and get overcome with gratitude that God has blessed me with such a gift.  He is pure joy!

After the geese episode, we walked down Carrollton to look at a fire truck . . . every little boy's dream!  {I, however, stepped in ants so it was a little more like a nightmare for me!}

Our last stop was Lakeview Grocery where we just so happened to run into Daddy and Ava!  This neighborhood grocery store has kid sized ice cream cones that are self serve and only a quarter!  Perfect dessert choice!

We ended the night by walking over to another fire station where a kind fireman let the kids see inside the truck and stand on the front.  They were in awe and just kept thanking him over and over!

Date Night was a success!  We are so blessed to have these two little treasures and had a blast surprising them with special dates!

What are some of your cheap ideas of stuff to do with your kiddos?

Friday, July 12, 2013

10 Years {and the giveaway winner}

It's my anniversary, but I'm gonna be nice and announce the giveaway winner before I go on and on about how much I love my husband!  

Thank you to everyone who entered . . . I loved seeing pieces of the Word that y'all are hiding in your hearts!  If this blog does anything, I want it to be used to spur others on in the faith and I feel like that has happened because of such a great response to this giveaway!  

But alas, there can only be one . . . and Keri Taylor is the big winner!

{I used to pick the winner.  Ava was with me to verify and she couldn't sit still she was so excited to see who won!  She loves surprises just like her mama!}

For those of you who didn't win, I can't encourage you enough to go get the supplies to create your own box.  I got it all at Office Depot because they have the dividers that are sturdy plastic . . . it costs a bit more {you'll need two packages of dividers to get all 36 tabs that you will write on the back of}, but it is a worthy investment and is still under $20!

Some other positives about this system that I didn't mention before . . .

When traveling, you can easily grab the note cards for the days you will be gone, throw them in a ziploc bag, and not miss any of your memorization.

This system allows you to use the translation you like best for each passage you choose.  Instead of only memorizing out of the translation you normally read, you are free to write whichever translation you prefer on your notecard since you will be learning and reviewing it from there.

This is a great gift idea!  I gave my mom and Chad's mom each a box for Mother's Day . . . what prize could be better than one that leads people into greater knowledge of the Word?!

You can use this system with kids.  I got Ava a smaller box {3x5} to use as we work on memorization for her.  Some kids might hate it, but my firstborn loves her some structure so I think it is going to work well!

I'll encourage you with the verse from Colossians 3 that is my hope and is what I wrote on the top of my box ...

Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly!

Now I can gush about my hubby!

Seriously though . . . I am so blessed and there just aren't sufficient words to express it.  These 10 years have been an adventure in faith.  I couldn't have imagined as I put on my dress, walked down the aisle, wiped a tear from Chad's eye, and danced the night away all that the next ten years would hold . . .
  • a crazy first year at Doulos that taught us of God's provision & sustaining power
  • A master's degree for Chad
  • falling in love with the city we vowed to leave after graduation and begging God to plant us here
  • Hurricane Katrina . . . the loss and grief, but also the hope and restoration
  • Post Katrina New Orleans . . . you had to have experienced it to fully understand . . . those were some hard times, but also filled with some great memories with friends
  • The loss of our first baby Ashton
  • Chad becoming pastor of Edgewater . . . definitely a gift from God that we never dreamed would happen
  • Ava's birth . . . that month alone was crazy . . . heart condition for my baby girl, evacuating for Gustav, her birth in Shreveport, and the miraculous healing of her heart!
  • Learning {mostly by mistakes} what it means to be a pastor and a pastor's wife . . . thankfully with a faith family who is gracious and loves us so well
  • Our first mission trip together to East Asia . . . there is nothing greater than making disciples in all nations with your best friend
  • Grayson . . . what a joy this boy is to our family!
  • Obeying God's call to adopt our HIV + son from Africa. . . two years later we are still waiting to see Easton's face and bring him home from Ethiopia
  • A revival in our hearts and a deepened love for the Word . . . there is nothing I am more thankful for than God's grace in continuing to draw us to Himself.
  • Pouring into young couples through For Better, For Worse, For the Gospel and watching God refine us and take our marriage to new depths in the process
  • Chad donating part of his liver to his mom, which included a 4 week recovery.
And that just skims the surface!  It hasn't always been easy.  In fact, there has been plenty of hard. But God is Faithful and has not only sustained our marriage, but has made it into something stronger and more beautiful than we could have ever hoped!  

I can't wait to see what God has for us in the next 10!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Anniversary Giveaway!

July 3rd made one year for us officially on the waitlist for Easton.  

It also means we began this whole crazy adoption process two years ago . . . it seems to have flown by and crawled by at the same time!

These milestones are just that . . . not the end, just stops on the way.  Rather than lamenting how long the journey has been, we have the chance to look back at two years in process and one year on the waitlist and give thanks.  

If you look at any of the tabs above that give details about our adoption story, one thing becomes crystal clear . . . God has been and is at work for our good and for His glory.  

We have so many reasons to give thanks.  He {the God of the Universe} has spoken to us {an incredible thing that we often take for granted} in amazing ways to guide our steps, strengthen our faith, stretch our faith, test our obedience, and reveal more of Himself to a family who doesn't deserve to know Him at all.  He has provided every penny we've needed and blessings upon blessings that have gone above and beyond our needs.  He's been so close by the Spirit, through the Word, and through the Body as we've struggled in the wait, always gently reminding of His perfect plans that cannot be thwarted.

So we give thanks to the only One worthy and we continue to wait with much anticipation for the revealing of our precious son!

But that's not all!  We've got another major milestone happening this week . . .

July 12 is our 10 year anniversary!

I can't believe it has been 10 years.  I couldn't be more grateful for the man God chose for me, undeserving as I am for such a blessing.  I loved him when we got married, but I couldn't have anticipated the depth to which our love would grow in a decade.  Maturity, times of loss, times of great joy, kids, ministry, and most importantly, growth in our intimacy with Christ has created a love between us that is far greater, deeper, solid, selfless, and joyful than I could have ever imagined.

So to celebrate these two anniversaries, I'm doing a giveaway!

The prize is something that puts the focus on the root of why we have a thriving marriage 10 years later and why we have joy in the {long} wait for Easton . . . the Word of God.

There is absolutely nothing that has strengthen my intimacy with God and therefore strengthened every other area of my life like consistent, daily, worshipful time in the Word.  God has spoken, delighting to reveal Himself to us.  The Word transforms hearts and lives.  It is living and active, absolutely relevant to what we face in this broken world each day.  Through the Word we are equipped for every good work God has prepared in advance for us to do.  In the Word we are sharpened and refined, humbled and astonished by grace, strengthened in faith and convinced of Truth.  The Gospel is clearly proclaimed and this is a Gospel we need to preach to ourselves each day.

So I am obviously really thankful for the Bible, but my depth of love and gratitude has increased over the last few months because of one thing . . . memorizing Scripture.   

Having your daily bread in the morning is so good, but memorizing the Word is like having a constant feast before you all day.  

I can't even tell you how blessed I have been since I started memorizing in April.  Knowing the Word has protected me and sustained me, but has also readied me to be willing and able to share the Truth at a moment's notice.

I wrote a few months ago about the giveaway that I won with all the materials for a Scripture memory system.  It might not be for everyone, but I have loved it! 
{I'll give a basic explanation, but if you want more details you can go to my friend Shauna's blog which has a video with all the details.}

You have a box with a Daily tab, Monday through Friday tabs, and a tab for each day of the month {1-30}.  You write a verse {or verses, chapter, whatever you choose} on a notecard and it first goes behind the Daily tab.  You work on it each day until you've got it.  Then you move the notecard to one of the Weekly tabs where you'll review it once a week.  Once you feel like it is down deep, you move it to one of the Monthly tabs where you will review it once a month . . . forever!

So here's how it will look each day . . .

On the morning of my anniversary {Friday the 12th}, I'll work on each notecard that is in the Daily tab.  Then I'll review each notecard behind the Friday tab.  Then finish by reviewing all the notecards behind the 12 tab.

Make sense?  It is a simple system, but has been so good for me.  I need structure and routine, but enough flexibility to make me not get overwhelmed.  I usually have one longer passage and one or two shorter ones that I'm learning daily and I don't add another daily until I move one of those to a weekly tab.  I try to push myself, but not get so piled up that I'm jumbled and frustrated!

A big thanks to my friend, Mandi Eastwood!  She read my blog in April and not only got the materials for herself, but also got an extra of everything so I could do a giveaway!

So here's how the giveaway will work . . . Just comment on the blog or on my facebook with one of your favorite verses that you've memorized.  Easy as that!  I'll keep a list of everyone who comments and use to choose the winner.  

I'll announce the winner on Friday . . . what a great way to start my anniversary! :)

Monday, July 1, 2013

Praying for your Pastor

Confession:  I never prayed faithfully for my Pastor . . . until I was married to him. :)

{This is the spot where my Pastor proposed 10 years ago!}

I wasn't that I didn't appreciate my former pastors or realize to some extent that the ministry is intense.  I just didn't think about it.

But now I live with it.  And let me tell you . . . until you do, you can't fully appreciate just how intense it is and just how much intercession matters.  

So I'm just gonna throw it out there . . . an encouragement and challenge to be on your knees {faithfully and frequently} for your Pastor.

The life of a Pastor is a constant battle ground.  His heart, his mind, his faith, his marriage, his relationship with his kids, his time engaging with his flock, his time in the Word and prayer,  his time in sermon prep {especially Saturday nights and Sunday mornings} . . . a war rages all week.

Why?  Because the faithful and bold proclamation of the Word of God has the power to transform lives.  People are born again as the Gospel is preached.  Followers of Christ are continually transformed as they grow in intimacy with Jesus.  Sin is revealed as we hold our lives up to the Word.  Grace is overwhelming as we hear of what Jesus has done on our behalf.  Lives are radically changed as we are yielded to God's purpose for His people . . . to glorify Him by making disciples of all nations.

There is great potential for transformation through the Spirit when the local Body gathers together to worship Christ and hear the Word preached.

Understandably, the enemy doesn't like this at all.  If a Pastor is faithfully feeding the sheep, the wolves will come.  I've only been the wife of a pastor for 5 years, but I can tell you that the evil one hasn't eased up on his attacks yet and I don't expect that he will.  The life of a Pastor is a constant battle ground.  If Satan can entangle him in sin and self, he will have with one swoop affected the whole flock. 

Here are just a few of the temptations Pastors can face . . . Every. Single. Week.
    1. exaltation of self
    {This is tough because we literally put Pastors up on a platform, give them a microphone, and put all eyes on them, but don't want them to be exalted instead of Christ.  What a weekly battle they face!  I pray for Chad this quote by Robert Murray McCheyne, "I see a man cannot be a faithful minister, until he preaches Christ for Christ's sake, until he gives up striving to attract people to himself, and seeks only to attract them to Christ."}
      2. the desire to please man instead of God
       {Paul says in 2 Timothy that a time is coming "when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth."  I doubt you want your Pastor to be one of those kind of teachers, but know that there are some who want just that.  A Pastor has to fight to measure success by his faithfulness and obedience to God instead of by how pleased people are with him.}
       3. balancing his time . . . engaging with his people during the week, administrative work, sermon prep, prayer . . . discerning how to best spend each moment is a weekly battle
      4. the weight of standing before the flock {and before God} with a message from God
      {I saw David Platt put on facebook yesterday this quote from John Knox, "I have never once feared the devil, but I tremble every time I enter the pulpit."  Preaching is intense, y'all!}
      5. the temptation to go through the motions without growing in his own personal intimacy with God, without continual transformation, without submitting his own heart to the Word he will preach 
       6. the temptation to isolate
      {We can forget that the Pastor isn't the Head of the Body . . . that is Jesus' role.  The Pastor has a specific role WITHIN the Body.  As part of the Body, he needs the same things that we all do . . . sharpening, encouragement, accountability, friendship.  If people expect their Pastor to somehow not struggle with sin and are shocked when he tries to confess sin and be held accountable, then a Pastor {and his family} can easily be resigned to just walk their faith journey in isolation, which is a dangerous road where sin can end up reigning in their lives.}
      7. insecurity and the fear of man 
      {Chances are a Pastor is not living up to someone's expectations in pretty much every area of his ministry.  If his eyes are focused on this reality, he can be insecure in all aspects of his ministry.} 

      Like I said . . . a war is raging in the life of your Pastor and the enemy is not letting up!  Let's commit to being those who intercede, who take up arms and fight right beside the men who faithfully proclaim Christ each week!

      I've been memorizing Psalm 138 to pray for Grayson, but on Saturday night I felt a strong leading to pray it for Chad as he prepared his heart to preach.  I'm not saying you have to, but if you are looking for something specific to pray for your Pastor, maybe you could start with this!

      I give you thanks, O LORD, with my whole heart;
      before the gods I sing your praise;
      I bow down toward your holy temple
      and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and faithfulness,
      for you have exalted above all things
      your name and your word.

      Pray that your Pastor will be overwhelmed with God's grace in his own life.  Pray that from his humbled heart, full of gratitude for his salvation, praise will flow and that he will worship in Spirit and in Truth.  Pray that his mind will be focused on the character of God revealed in the Word and in Christ.  Pray that the motive of his heart and the aim of his preaching will be that the name of Christ and the Word of God be exalted.

      I'll just say one more thing from personal experience . . . if when you do pray for your Pastor, tell him!  It is so encouraging for him {and his family} to be reminded that he is not alone in this battle.  Especially when God gives you something specific to pray on his behalf, let him know how you are interceding . . . it is probably an answer to prayer or exactly the temptation he is facing.  Hearing from you will strengthen his faith in knowing how God sees and provides for him in the battle!

      What do you pray for your Pastor?  How do you remain faithful in interceding for him?  Pastors and Pastor's wives . . . what are other areas of the battle that can be lifted up?