Eucharisteo

It is so hard to believe that we have finally made it to the end of the year.

The scripture verse that comes to mind to describe this past year is Job 1:21b:
“The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.”

It has been a year of up’s and down’s, of good times and hard times alike. Never before has there been a year where I feel like I have lived a lifetime, when in reality, it was a mere 365 days. Each month, each day, each hour- even each milli-second…God was Sovereign.

He was Sovereign even before the world came to be.

Even as hard as some parts of this year has been, He has been there. He has counted our every tear. He knew our joys and our sorrows, even before we knew them ourselves.

As I look back over the year, I am thankful.

-I’m thankful to be saved by God’s wondrous grace- for Him choosing me to be His own- a child of the Lord Most High. <3 -I am thankful for the strength God gave us when it seemed we couldn't go on. The strength He provided when our own had long failed us. -I am thankful for God's mercies. They are truly new each morning. Some of the days this year were so hard...I'll never forget the day we found out my grandmother had been diagnosed with terminal cancer, or the night she passed away after struggling for so many weeks. I'll also never forget the many ways the Lord showed us His hand at work during that time and afterwards, even to now. I'll never forget how our church family, and our friends from near and far came to be with us. They were a strong shoulder to cry on, they provided meals, house cleaning, babysitting... they anticipated many of our needs and took care of them before we knew they were needed. -I am so very thankful for my dear family. It seems that we have grown closer as a family this year more than any other year. I love each one of you very much, and I am so blessed to call you my family. As we have cried, laughed, and worked together this year, I know the Lord is giving us very special memories to look back on as we grow older. May we always grow closer as a family while we diligently seek where the Lord is leading us next. -I am so thankful for all of my special sisters in Christ, who have been listening ears as I have worked past some things I've been struggling with during this year. You have sent me back to scripture, and diligently prayed for me as I have shared different concerns and thoughts. You know who you are, and you have blessed me more than you will ever know. <3 -I am thankful for our home. The Lord brought it into our lives at the perfect time. I feel so thankful we were here and settled before my grandmother got sick, as we were able to move her in and she was able to have her own space. It was such a blessing to have the room for her to live with us, and I know that we will forever treasure that special time. -I am thankful for the Lord's allowing us to travel quite a bit this year. We've visited many new states and have met quite a few new friends along the way. -I am thankful for the Lord pushing me out of my comfort zone in many ways this year. I've become a regular interstate traveler (finally! =]), taken quite a few college classes, started piano lessons again, did my first official photography shoots, went on two road trips with Josh, sang in front of folks who are not my family, went to and danced at a ball, helped some family friends with chicken processing, played master plumber/electrician by repairing and installing our washer and dryers....it has definitely been a year of growth- of learning new things each and every day. -I am thankful for the way God's word has felt so ALIVE this year. Even just merely glancing down a page of my Bible, it seemed as if things would literally pop off the page. I'm so thankful for the way God speaks to us through His word. -I am thankful for fresh starts. I have messed up so many things over this past year from my own sinfulness. I am thankful for the Lord, who offers ready forgiveness, and for my family, who has loved me when I've been at my most unlovable. I am thankful for this new year. I am thankful that the Lord will be faithful, loving, teaching and forgiving. He will be our Abba Father, and we who are in Him will be His children. I'm looking forward to seeing where He leads, whom He will have us meet, where we will go, and what we will do, for I know Whom I have believèd, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I’ve committed, unto Him against that day.

Why the post title, Eucharisteo? Because my prayer is that the Lord will continue to bring Eucharisteo into my life.

Eucharisteo: to be grateful, feel thankful; give thanks.

My prayer for the coming year is for the Lord to enable me to give thanks, even when I am in the most dire of circumstances.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 – “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

I look forward to seeing where Christ will lead in this new year of our Lord, 2014. Many blessings to you as you each continue the journey Christ has set forth just for you!

With much love,
Courtney

Beach Trip

In an effort to update the blog, I’ve been going back through pictures I’ve taken over the past few months. The first set of pictures that I have been working through were from a trip to the beach that Josh and I took back in October (we went October 18th-19th). =]

This was our second-ever road trip to take by ourselves, and the first where we actually stayed overnight. We had so much fun!

We drove down to Gulf Shores, Al, on a beautiful Friday afternoon, just as the sun was setting over the beautiful farmland area we call home:


heading down I-65…SOUTHWARD BOUND!

After a fairly uneventful drive, we found our hotel and settled in for the night. We knew we wanted to be able to get up and see the sunrise on the beach the next morning, so after finishing a few projects I still had lingering for my job, we went right to bed. Early to bed, early to rise, ya know! =]

It was well worth it. Despite the rainy weather, it was absolutely beautiful, and the extra winds blowing through due to the impending storm made the ocean look even more incredible as the waves crashed their way to shore.

After we watched the sunrise, we headed back to the hotel to grab some breakfast and pack our things, as we would be coming home after we finished sight-seeing in the afternoon.

Once we were packed up and ready to go, we decided to go and visit Fort Morgan. We had visited there when we were much younger, but it was definitely a “must-do” for this trip.

We passed this sign on the way:


LOL!

It was amazing to go through the fort and really observe and learn about it’s history. We did pick an interesting day to go, however. There was a photography school out of Birmingham that sent several of their students to go and have a photography workshop at the fort, so around every corner, there was a photographer (or two!) hiding, working away on their perfect shot! That was a lot of fun and made for some funny moments with the other tourists there. =]

The curators at Fort Morgan let you explore through anything that hasn’t been chained off, which is a lot of fun.

After we explored the actual fort, we went inside the Fort Morgan museum, which has been built just outside of the fort itself. They have tons of really neat exhibits in there:

When we had looked through the museum, we decided it would be fun to do some letter boxing. I remembered there being a letter box hidden at Fort Morgan back in 2004, so I thought it would be interesting to see if it was still there. I went to the letter boxing website and found the clues, and PRESTO! It WAS still there!

We had a lot of fun with that letterbox, so we thought it would be fun to do another one. This one was supposed to be hidden in a local park, around a nature center picnic area. We had to pay to get into the park, so we figured we would go ahead and visit the nature center that was included with the park admission. (We never did find the box. =[)

After we looked around the nature exhibit, we went out to see the lake there:

After we were finished observing the lake, it was time to go back to the beach. We wanted to spend a couple of hours there that afternoon just enjoying the ocean.


the storm was really starting to come in now…


our “spot”. Nice set-up, eh? =]


a sand fort that Josh made


bottling up some sand and ocean water to take home

After spending some time on the beach, it was time to start making our way home. We made a stop for a quick photo op:


The big shark at Souvenir City. You have to have your picture made there if you visit Gulf Shores!

The last stop of the day before heading home was Lambert’s Cafe in Foley, AL:

We love the place, for obvious reasons. =D

All in all, it was a wonderful trip. Josh and I enjoyed some really wonderful conversations and just enjoyed the time. We are trying to decide where to go next, and this time, we’ll take a few siblings in tow. Nashville, anyone? =]