Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Test the Waters

So I had the most amazing thing happen to me recently, I just have to share. In previous posts I've mentioned my desire to dig deeper with God and how I've struggled with my faith in the past. In 2010 I poured my heart out to God and gave him a shot... My Aunt Prudie always says, "God does not disappoint".

I've learned that my time isn't his time and my view isn't his. Anyways, in late 2010 when Dajuan and I were in a car accident the bills pilled up $1,105 to be exact. It seemed like one thing after another. I worked double shifts at Zehnders on top of working full time to cover those extra payments. I made just over $1,000 coaching volleyball and all in one day that money was gone (to other bills too). At the time, I tried to convince myself that God had me prepared for this mess by giving me a coaching job and allowing me to waitress on the weekends. It was a rough and dark fall but we managed and my journey only strengthened. After reading a book about being a lukewarm Christian, I realized I wasn't doing enough and wasn't being the person I needed to be, so I decided to make some changes.

When I wasn't working Sundays and could make church I would put double in than I normally would. I've always wanted to be that person who put their 10% tithe in each week but never fully trusted God enough with my money. The more I learn and read the more I understand that this really isn't my money... it's His. I remember walking out of the grocery store and putting a handful of cash in the bell ringer's pot and thinking "Okay God, that was my money for the week but here You go." It was a good feeling though, I felt peaceful about it and happy.

As Christmas came and went so did my paycheck... I'm sure you can relate! Sunday, I picked up the mail that had piled up while my family was here and filed through the envelopes. I noticed one in particular, Med Billing was the return address. My heart sunk to my stomach because I was just SURE it was another bill. To my surprise.. it wasn't.

I had received a letter from Birch Run Township regarding our car accident and the $500 we owed for fire and rescue. The letter informed me that my account had been paid in full and my remaining balance of $300 was written off. They also included my check and returned it in full.

I started to sob. I felt God. I knew He was the only reason this happened. This doesn't just happen. There was NO reason for this to just happen. God is GOOD. I tested His waters and He answered. I didn't expect Him to repay me in any way but I knew that if I was faithful He would be too. I am so thankful and blessed. His Grace and Favor is bigger than anything I've ever experienced.

Test Him. Know Him. Love Him.

Abby Marie

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas!

I'm sorry it's been a couple weeks since I've blogged; my life has just been busy at home and at work. I will start the new year with an abundance of posts, I promise!
I just wanted to take a few minutes and say Merry Merry Merry CHRISTmas to you all! I'm so thankful for all of you! This has truly been a great year for my family and I. I feel that God is drawing us closer and closer to him. I am so moved by Him and how He has worked in our lives that past couple of years. It's obvious how challenging and tough they were, both physically and mentally. I've come to the realization it has molded each and every one of us, in our own ways.

I have to constantly remind myself (by the minute) that this is God's plan not mine, that I'm His and that my life belongs to Him and Him only. This is a process that I've only come to understand by taking this long journey that has had the lowest of the lows and the highest of the highs.

Thank-you to everyone who has stood by our family's side in these past few years. I am grateful for friends that have held my hand in those long dark days and continue to today. God is amazing... while I write this my eyes are full of tears because I am so at peace. I've never felt this before; I encourage you all. I push for you. I want for you. If you are in despair, if you feel neglected, if you are feeling beat down... pursue, He's right there.

During these past few weeks I've been reflecting on my life. I have moments where I cannot wrap my mind around all that has happened to our family and in that same moment I totally get it. Although it has been a long dark season, we have turned the page to a new chapter in our family's book! YES!

May you Christmas and New Year be blessed. Keep your faith, the storm will pass.


Abby Marie

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Forgiveness starts from Within

So, as I've touched on before my life now is nothing of what it was in college. I've struggled with my past and the decisions I made while at college and in general. Random thoughts pop into my head that take me back to a particular scenario or day that make my stomach knot up and my heart yearn for forgiveness.. from God and from myself. I hate to paint the picture over and over that Central was a mistake or that my being at college 'ruined' me. Mainly, my point is that while I was attending Central, my life was in shambles and at in given second I made one bad decision after another to momentarily erase the pain.

As time has moved on, so have I. My life that was once in a million pieces has steadily put itself back together. I could point my finger at several situations that propelled my actions but in all reality I was an adult and had a mind of my own. It makes me sad to think that my actions in college haunt me. People who knew me at Central, in reality didn't really know me at all... I didn't know me. When I look back at the person I portayed myself to be, my face immediately makes a look of disgust, eww.

For the past couple years or so, I've been digging deep. I've been beating myself up day in and day out. I've relentlessly made it impossible to forgive myself and because of that I'm not allowing God to forgive me either. The truth is, God's grace and mercy have covered me from day one. God erased my slate, he cleared my name, he doesn't even remember what I've done. Why do I constantly dwell on the past? I've shared tidbits with my sister, Emily, on how I am ashamed. On how I wish I could have been a better student. On how I wished I wouldn't of attended that party, drank that much alcohol and dated that guy. We all have regret, we all have a past. She reminds me over and over that God has already heard my cry and knows my heart... and most importantly he has already forgiven me, so why can't I?

I believe the main reason I can't let go is because I'm embarrassed and want people to know who I am. I don't want to be an imposter, I don't want to put up a front. Here I am raw, and open. I'm a human and I've made mistakes... some worse than others. My past is a past for a reason, whatever that might be. There is a complete laundry list of reasons why my life was a mess in college... my parents divorce, my dad's addiction, my low self esteem and my faith being challenged... to name a few.

I in no way blame one situation more than the other. When you add that combination together and mix in me being and living on my own with people my age the result is tragic. It's amazing how God has gone about his business though. He has done it in such a profound way that my life is forever changed.As I lay in bed and read Bittersweet By Shauna Niequist my heart feels whole again. In a season where her life was chaotic and unsettling she gained wisdom and speaks on the importance of growth in hard times.

"I used to think that the ability to turn back time would be the greatest possible gift, so that I could undo all the things I wish I hadn't done. But grace is an even better gift, because it allows me to do more than just erase; it allows me to become more than I was when I did those things. It's forgiveness without forgetting, which is much sweeter than amnesia."

With this one paragraph, my life changed. I'll let you read this and re-read this, soak it in, and apply it to your life. We all have regret!

What a statement, amen.

xO. Abby

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Pure Michigan.

How ironic, the first snowfall was December 1st, perfect timing! Lately, I've realized how much I love the state of Michigan (and everything that goes with it, YES, I said everything)... Definitely not something I thought I'd ever hear myself mutter.

I've lived here all my life, but that doesn't mean much. Most everyone I know has lived here all their years.. what matters is how my attitude towards this beautiful state is transforming. Growing up in 'Mid Michigan' I didn't have easy access to the abundance of lakes scattered across the mitten, I didn't live in the city and I wasn't exposed to an excessive amount of diversity; however, Birch Run was my home, my world, my everything. My life over the past five years has shaped my old way of thinking (and living) into a fresher more explosive outlook on this great state.

After graduating high school, I headed to Mount Pleasant to attend Central Michigan University. From what I can remember, I was exposed to an abundance of EVERYTHING, too much if you ask me. I attended my first of many parties,the economy dropped, our country was (still is) at war, GM declared bankruptcy and I was on my own. This little bubble (Birch Run) of a world I had been living in for the past 18 years had suddenly burst and I was left gasping for air.

I thought to myself, this is a dream, the world really isn't this cruel and demanding... is it? I learned very quickly that life doesn't wait for anyone; I was scared and losing confidence in our country and especially Michigan. Our fragile state was losing steam and going under. Here I am, fresh out of college, ready and roaring to go. Bring it on life, bring it on world, I'm ready for you. The truth is, life really isn't fair. Small town America was getting hit and hit hard. General Motors workers were left with a penny in their pocket and a mortgage payment that they couldn't make. These were my friend's parents, people I knew and loved. I was angry and confused. I wanted out of Michigan more than ever.

My husband and I found out we were expecting in the fall of 2008. We were college graduates with no real path, and a baby on the way. We were stuck.. I was stuck. I couldn't believe I was going to be moving to Birch Run and not Chicago. My dreams, the city life, my expensive taste seemed to have taken the first flight out... next stop, mommy hood. I quickly realized we were going nowhere fast and I had to accept our situation and make the best of it. My husband, Dajuan, took a job at a hospital in Saginaw and before you knew it, baby Braylon was here.

So here we are, still! Nearly two years later and my love for this state is in full bloom. I've discovered a sense of pride throughout this long but rewarding journey and feel shameful for having such a pessimestic attitude. I wasn't happy where God had placed me; I kicked and screamed the whole time. My attitude didn't help the situation at all, in reality it distracted me from blooming where I was planted. Today, I'm happy. I love living in Michigan. I love the fact that the economy is on the upswing and our new governor elect has great ambition and plans for this state. I love that I can enjoy all four seasons without having to drive an enormous amount of hours. I love that I can witness God through the colors of the leaves in the fall and the depths of the breathtaking water on Lake Michigan in the summer. I love the friendly rivalry between UofM and MSU... I seriously love it all.

As Braylon has grown so has my love for Michigan. I want to raise my family here. I want to bloom where I am planted and enjoy every second of it. Yes, there have been hard times with more to come but what's a good story without a dark scene? I'm thankful to live here and blessed. Michigan has humbled me in more ways than one, again, I'm thankful.

Abby Marie