We have had one of those rare jobs where work and life are weaved together. Where does one end and the other begin?
|Fourth summer leading a project in Jackson Hole, Wyoming|
|Yellowstone trip with students|
|Southern Miss staff team 2012|
Andrew and I don't know marriage without it. We don't know parenthood without it. I barely know what work life is outside of it.
|Fall Retreat at Dauphin Island|
|Precious students at Auburn in 2008, all of them graduating and being a part of some ministry|
|Met with these girls all of their four years at Auburn, now some of my dearest friends|
I'm grateful that for our whole nine years of marriage, Andrew and I have quite literally worked side by side. We've gone to staff meetings together, shared office space, grieved over students, rejoiced in gospel transformation, held one another's hands as we walked into a greek house to bring good news. For our first four years of marriage, we had the privilege of sitting under Bill Boldt, our campus director at Auburn, who cared about our marriage and our relationship with Jesus more than our ministry... and who can really say that about their boss? We are indebted to him.
|At Cru's biannual staff conference in Fort Collins, CO|
I'm grateful for the 21 people we have been on staff with over the course of Auburn and Southern Miss. It's almost not enough to say, "We worked together," because we lived together. We wept together and rejoiced together and prayed together and dreamed together. We laughed over failures and celebrated in our homes. We were at each other's weddings and birthdays and in the hospital when babies were born. And when, inevitably, we have had to part ways... real tears and heart break. We all joke about starting a church together, but in the end it is not a joke. We long for our lives to be put back together again.
|Auburn staff team 2009|
|The Cunninghams are one of the biggest gifts Crusade has given to us. Love them so.|
|Precious staff friends, Nathan was with Andrew in East Asia and Kim was on our team in Auburn|
|Met with Claire as a student in Auburn and then she joined our staff team in Hattiesburg!|
|Anna, one of the friends I would move our whole life around for if we could just live in the same city again|
|Summer Project in East Asia, 2008|
Grateful for sitting on a campus in South Africa with one of our American students, across the table from two South African girls who heard the real gospel for the first time. They both grasped with white knuckles onto the hope of a Jesus who fulfilled the law for them... one with tears rolling down her face saying, "I had a dream last night that someone would come tell me of spiritual freedom like this." God always working and preparing the roads before us.
|Summer Project in South Africa, 2009|
|Working at an AIDS hospice in South Africa was one of the most humbling experiences of my entire life|
Grateful for the thousands of times Andrew has brought fraternity guys into our home, rough and weary from their world on campus. Andrew looking them square in the eye and telling them that eternity matters, and that right now matters for eternity. For the times he has left our house early to walk into the doors of those dark houses, to pray with and for the men who live there... to beseech our God on their behalf to remove the veil and give them hope. I'm grateful for the fruit of those prayers and that God allowed us to watch behind the curtain of his saving mercies-- for all the phone calls Andrew has gotten, some in the middle of the night, of fraternity guys... y'all, FRATERNITY GUYS... sharing the gospel with their brothers. So many new mercies every day.
|After Andrew and I led a Relationship Panel in a sorority chapter room|
|Ministry planning with students is always a highlight|
|Annual Cru Christmas party at our house|
For being able to take students to Chicago, Boston, New York, and across the oceans to show them a God who lives outside of their known worlds. Who is working and moving in so many ways and for the grace He offers us that we get to be a part of His great works of redemption.
|Spring Break to NYC, 2014|
|Spring Break trip to Boston, 2010|
|Students in South Africa|
I'm grateful for all the times we've had the greatest privilege of teaching the Word to others. For Ephesians over coffee in a bagel shop in Auburn. For Psalms on our couches. For James being taught by Andrew in our big group weekly meeting. For Genesis with a girl who is struggling to believe in a God who is trustworthy.
|Will, one of the first students Andrew met with at Auburn|
|Auburn students in Jackson Hole, 2010|
Grateful for this season of our life when our boys can come alongside of us in ministry. For students who love on our children like family, who have become stand-in aunts and uncles when theirs are far-away. Wilson calls them all his "big friends." Although I don't think we've ever taken a true "just-us" family vacation since we've had children-- the boys have been on many a cross-country trip to our summer assignment in Wyoming, to conferences in Atlanta and Orlando. What an incredible gift for them! I remember being very pregnant with Wilson, standing at the back of a weekly meeting at Auburn, singing "How He loves us" with a chorus of a hundred students... and I was thinking, "Wilson, you cannot even fathom how He loves you. What love to grow up with His gospel being proclaimed in front of you and behind, on every side."
|Fall Retreat in Gulf Shoes, 2014|
|Sam packing Charlie for me in Jackson Hole!|
|Students in Jackson Hole, 2013|
I'm grateful that our home can be a refuge, imperfect though it may be. For seeing students sigh a relief when they walk in the door to sit on couches and eat dessert and be in the midst of a family who is looking to Jesus. They've seen us fail and I'm hopeful that they've seen us run to Jesus when we do- but I'm grateful that our job has caused us to open up the doors of our lives and let young adults be a part of the real workings of the gospel in a family's life.
Grateful to watch our students get married and start families and to know that their lives of following Jesus in college will have ripple effects throughout eternity. That our time investing in them in two, three, four short years will bear fruit in their children's and grandchildren's lives. It's simply incredible.
|Watching Emily get married was one of the best moments of my life|
And are we ever grateful for our ministry partners! For those who have seen eternal significance in bringing the hope of Jesus to college students. For the ones who have provided the means for us to wake up every day to work zealously to get light into dark places. For the ones who have not only been financial support, but emotional support--calling us to encourage us. Who have provided books to give to our students. Who have sent us notes of affirmation and love. Who have hosted dinners and desserts for students in their homes. Who have sincerely asked how to pray for us and have done great battle for us at the throne of God. We are humbly grateful for such loyal friends, holding the rope on our behalf.
|Andrew's parents came to almost every Fall Retreat to help us with meals, so grateful for them!|
|A precious friend from church hosted a senior dinner in her home for the past three years|
|Andrew has spent eight of his nine birthdays in Atlanta for Christmas Conference|
When I said yes to Andrew's marriage proposal, I knew I was saying "yes" to college ministry and it was all really foreign to me. I remember telling him that I felt like Abraham, when God called him to leave his home and he obeyed, not knowing where he was going. I couldn't fathom the land of milk and honey waiting for us.
And here we are again... only this time we are staring into a year of full-time seminary, a season of education and growth. And in May, after graduation, there is another great unknown. We are in the process of being assessed for church-planting with the PCA, but even that carries so much fog. Where will we be in a year? In what capacity will the Lord be using us to bring His gospel to dark places? We don't know, but we know that we are following a Good Shepherd who has led us to green pastures and will not forsake the sheep of His pasture.