Chick-Fil-A & Ayse

Do these two subjects go together, you may ask? Well, they don't. But I wanted to post a few more pictures of special people/places/things in our lives. For almost a year, Greg & I joined our former next-door-neighbors, Elliot & Jessie Fay and their two foster boys Robert & Ryan for Tuesday nights at Chick-Fil-A. A combination of yummy chicken, half-price meals, and a day off from cooking, and we were there about every Tuesday! We cherish the time we spend with these friends. I've posted pictures from Ryan's birthday party a while back, but here's a picture of the boys and "Uncle Chris," a good friend of the Fays whom we've come to know through our Tuesday night get-togethers. (I hope to post some exciting news concerning Robert & Ryan by the beginning of next month!!!)Another part of Chick-Fil-A night has been their famous Icedream® cones. From their website: "Enjoy Your Dessert, Too! Our creamy and delicious Icedream® is a great lower-fat treat at just 160 calories and 4g of fat for a small cone. So you can eat your meal and enjoy dessert, too! " Let's just say that we know how to enjoy our dessert on Tuesday nights!
Now, in case you are wondering what our little Ayse is up to during these sweltering summer months...

Don't be deceived by these cute pictures. She's an absolute terror!
The remains of another plant she's killed...
Who me?

2nd Anniversary Weekend

Two weekends ago, Greg and I took Friday and Monday off and headed to Erie, PA to see Drew & Carrie (my sis). We'd planned to meet in New York and camp for two days, but plans changed, and we got to relax with them at their home! Well, I relaxed, but Greg had too much fun doing yardwork! LOL! I stole all these pictures from Drew & Carrie's blog, but I figured she wouldn't care. :)
Carrie and me drinking frappaccinos before shopping

Drew & Greg working hard outside

Greg & I had planned to go to Six Flags on Monday for our 2nd anniversary (we're crazy like that), but the weather didn't cooperate. So we spent an extra day with the Shaffers in Erie and came home thankful for great time with family!


Our Deliverer

"The salvation of the righteous comes from the LORD; He is their stronghold in time of trouble. The LORD helps them and delivers them; He delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they take refuge in Him." -Psalm 37:39-40

Greg has been praying for me much the past two years, that I would hope in the Lord and find myself in Him again. I'm sure that when he reads what I write this afternoon, he will rejoice greatly, as the Lord rejoices now. Something happened to me when I returned from my life in Istanbul and began planning our wedding two years ago. I'm sure it was a mixture of many things - how familiar life in America was, how busy & exciting wedding-planning became, how lonely I felt away from my fiance and dear friends in Turkey, and how excited and fearful I was about the life ahead for us... But somewhere in those weeks and months I lost my deepest thirst in life; rather I misplaced it and covered it over with other priorities. My thirst for God's Word. My times with Him began to dwindle, and eventually I didn't know how to study anymore. I've had times in the past two years where I tried to uncover the thirst, but other things always pushed in. And eventually, my hope began to fade. It seemed hopeless that I'd ever find the daughter of the King I used to be, loving to spend hours in God’s Word, hiding it in my heart, and speaking it to His Church. I felt destined to a sporadic relationship, YET still knowing God was present with me, still hearing His voice, sensing His Spirit's guidance, meeting Him in His Word when I found it or He brought it to mind, connecting with Him in song... I truly believe Greg's prayers for me, his insistence that I hold on to hope, and his trust in God's faithfulness carried me through the last couple of years. He tried so hard to help me find the hope and joy in Life again. (Thanks, Love!)

A few weeks ago before joining Greg in front of church to lead in worshipping the Lord through song, I felt God urging me to find Psalm 139 and stay there for a while. I read this familiar passage a few times and found great comfort and connection in the simple words from God, "I know you." He's brought me back to Psalm 139 three or four times in the last few weeks until finally Friday night, my friend Jessie was praying for me. I was at a low point after treating Greg disrespectfully. It's the last thing I want to do to the person I respect the most in this world, but yet, in my sinful self-dependence, I have found myself doing this frequently. As Jessie prayed for me, God gave her words from Psalm 139 to speak over my life. And I got the feeling that He wanted me to stay with those words this weekend.

Living in a growing self-dependence the past couple of years, I've slowly lost my sense of identity in Christ. Thankfully, His ownership and lordship over my life will never end, and Greg has spoken words conveying this Truth to me daily. Today I wrote a long list of all the areas in my life I feel as if I'm failing, big and small. It was pretty miserable. I cried out to God that I simply can't do it. I don't know how to change. Everything I try seems to fall short eventually. And I don't know who I am anymore. Two years of this, Lord? How can I keep doing this? And He let me stay there for a while, feel the "sentence of death," so that I'd be sure that I can't do this alone. But then He started to speak words of hope into my soul, asking me to fight hard for the abundant life He promises, reminding me that He will take care of my list of things if I will seek Him and His righteousness before all else, promising to deliver me from a life of death to Life in Christ, moving my heart to long for the Fruit of the Spirit, reminding me that His yoke is easy and burden light, and breathing Life into my soul so tired of failing my husband and friends.

I am posting my journey because I know that though today is truly a monumental place in time for me, an altar of God’s faithfulness, the battle will be strong going forward. The enemy does not want me to give up my self-reliant ways, and I believe the flaming arrows will be frequent in the days ahead. I covet your prayers and your community. And I also need your grace. I know that a few of you have been personally hurt by my inability to stay in touch with you over the last couple of years. I need your forgiveness. I can’t promise a great change, but I hope you’ll fight with me as I seek to put the Lord first in my life again. A passage which has been a favorite of mine since 2000 truly speaks the words of my heart right now – 2 Corinthians 1:9-11.

“Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might no rely on ourselves but on God, Who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and He will deliver us. On Him we have set our hope that He will continue to deliver us, as You help us by your prayers.”