Chapter 49: Pieces

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

Ephesians 2: 10


You ever feel like your life is in pieces?  Do you ever feel as if your life is shattered into so many parts it can’t be patched back together?  Do you ever feel broken?  I do.  There are times in my life when I feel that I have my life together, propped up, and ready to display for all to see.  But lately, I have felt broken.

It is so easy to feel this way when we neglect the time we need to spend with our Father.  I listened to some really great music preformed by Steffany Gretzinger.  In a song called Pieces, she sings of how God does not share His love in pieces.  I started to think about how much He loves me (us) and how I have not shown that same unrelenting love back.  How I share my love with God, and towards others, in pieces.

How incomplete.

How broken!

But God, who brings strength through our weakness still loves us.  My heart is filled.  My gaze turns to Him.  And I seek Him.  God uses us despite our brokenness, because of His grace.  I am relearning that many times this begins with forgiveness.  Whether for myself or others, forgiveness leads us towards another depth of Love (for ourselves and others).

I am on the rise and on the mend, and you can be too!  Always remember that you are not alone.  If you ever feel alone and need someone to talk to, Michelle and I are here…6-9 hours ahead of you.  Message us and let us plan a time to talk and pray.

We just enjoyed a time of thanksgiving.  We missed out on our first Thanksgiving celebration this year due to illness and work.  Man it’s been a busy season for us…and that’s an understatement.  Even with this craziness we are in the midst of our Birthday Run!  That is the season from November to February where our family celebrates my (Nov 10th), Jack (Nov 16th), Michelle (Dec 19th), Loralie (Jan 7th), and Dottie’s (Feb 11th) Birthdays…..not to mention Thanksgiving, Christmas, Our 10th Anniversary (Jan 6th…the day before Lolo’s Bday), and 4 other immediate family member birthdays!  Instead of focusing on stress, money, craziness, etc.  We turn to celebration and thanks!  Praise God that our lives are so full during this season.  God has really blessed our family with such an adventure!  He is so good.

We are in a season of Advent.  Christmas is right around the corner.  Can you believe it?!  As we are quickly swept up in Christmas Caroling and music, decorations, presents, and gifts, remember the true reason for the season.  The birth of a baby, our Lord and Savior.  Fully Man, Fully God, Full of Love.  Christ came to this world to pursue His creation in active relationships.  CRAZY AWESOME!

Change.  It is never easy, usually comes with pain, but tends to end with Joy.  In these last two months we have experienced a lot of change.  Loralie has made a really strong friendship with one of the girls in her class and we have started to connect with this family.  Life is so much easier when you have friends by your side!  Though she is still learning to express herself.  She is full of love and opens herself up to others quickly.  This can present some awesome moments of joy, and some of deep pain.

Dottie is now extremely mobile!  She has gone from backwards movement to full steam ahead.  She is pulling herself up and is starting to take those daring steps out from the safety of the nearest couch or table.  Her personality is starting to really develop, she is full of so much joy.  Her smile can melt a day from troublesome to peaceful.

Jack is extremely creative and imaginative.  He finds himself fully immersed in his own world, only to surface when the need arises.  He is having difficulties being in the middle.  It is not easy to find the right balance with three kids, and Jack seems to be getting the short end of the stick.  We are learning how to speak to his love language while still focusing on Loralie and Dottie.

I (Brad) am trying to work smarter not just more.  This year has been extremely long and hard, never short of difficulties.  Spending the right amount of time between work and family is a never ending challenge.  I am trying to figure out how to better prioritize my time at work with the never ending to-do lists and demands, the need to work as a Barista, and the desire to please everyone.  I forget the desire to please everyone means that I won’t please anyone (not all the time, but for the most part).

Michelle is spending large amounts of time with the kids.  It is a rewarding challenge that brings much joy.  I am so thankful for such a loving and caring wife to help raise our kids.  She provides a beautiful example as a strong parent, a faithful child of God, and a devoted spouse.  I see great examples of what Love is all about by watching her in action!

We know this year has been a trying season; no matter what country we live in, what language we speak, or what culture we are attempting to identify with.  Adjusting to a family of five is difficult.  Adjusting to owning and operating a new business (with 3 spoken languages, cultures, and nationalities represented) is not easy.  Putting these two together is even more so!  But we remember this:  “We are God’s Masterpiece.”

Please continue to keep us in your prayers:

-Pray for Sweet Life: God’s will, presence and movement would be clear and evident and that we would follow it.

-Pray for our kids with regards to schooling, friends, and development.

-Pray for health as we enter 2017. We are already making changes in our lifestyles in order to make our lives more focused on health both spiritually/soul deep and physically. We are God’s temple!

-The Women’s prayer group Michelle is involved in. Building women up, speaking prophetic encouragement and loving those involved through relationship with our Father God.

-For Brad as he is balancing work, home life, and ministry.  I would identify with my current role, better manage my time, and be a better father and husband.

-For Michelle and I’s 10th Anniversary (January 6th, though we probably will celebrate later).  We would love to do something nice.  I’m not talking about just spending lots of money, I am talking about the ability to have quality time with each other.  Having a three kids and constricted income isn’t the most conducive to quality time.  We attempt to make each other a priority and want to make this anniversary a special one.  That requires having people available to watch the kids and the ability to get out of town (or the house) to focus on each other.  Our dream has been to go to Ireland (Republic or North…or both), which would require some additional finances (albeit significantly less since we live in Europe!).