Here is our Christmas newsletter for the year 2012. "Morning by Morning new mercies I see. All I have needed Thy hand hath provided, Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto Me." Our family has thought about those words a lot over the last two years. From where we started to where we ended up has been quite the wild adventure. Watching God work, giving us all we have needed daily has been such a blessing. For those of you who don't know all of the crazy details, here it is.
Two years ago God began to stir in both of our hearts to leave California. We began to pray about it and we were really being drawn to Tennessee. We would look into it but not too much. In April 2011, Matt lost his job as a Purchasing Manager and while he applied for jobs everywhere he could, he applied a lot in Tennessee. I still had my part time job at Legacy and the Lord faithfully provided for our needs. We had decided to sell our home, someone bought it and we moved the week of Thanksgiving and lived with my sister Hollie for a month. It was time to make some tough decisions. As hard as it was, we decided to move to Washington the week of Christmas. Both of our parents graciously wanted us (and of course their grandchildren!) but we felt like Matt would have a better chance getting a job closer to big cities such as Portland and Seattle.
Matt continued looking for jobs immediately. We were settling into nicely as part of the "big Elliott family". At the beginning of January, Matt fell on a slippery ramp and broke his wrist. With no health insurance, the Lord brought this extra trial into our lives. Matt ended up having to have surgery to repair his wrist. What do you do when you've lost your job, your home, your life as you knew it and you now need surgery? You depend on Jesus all the more! "All I have needed Thy hand hath provided." As of today, we have one more outstanding bill that has to be resolved and the rest is paid in full! " Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me." As summer was approaching, Matt and I were having heavy hearts. Can I give a shout out to my wonderful husband? He was faithful for 15 months to go after any job he could. It made me love him even more. We were getting ready to return to California for Hollie's wedding with no job in sight. To say we were discouraged was an understatement. We talked together of Tennessee and how we probably had to get used to the idea that we weren't ever going.
Then the next day my friend Kelli told me of a job in Tennessee. Matt applied, had a skype interview, flew to Nashville, GOT THE JOB and flew back in time to leave for Hollie's wedding. We went back to Washington and five days later we were driving across the country to Spring Hill,Tennessee (about 25 miles south of Nashville). "Morning by morning new mercies I see."
So what is Matt doing? He is a manager for Waffle House restaurants. In the south they are as common as Starbucks. He works long hours but loves it! He has never done anything like this before. All the locals love him (of course!). The girls love going to visit, eat a waffle and tell everyone that their dad is behind the counter.
What am I up to? I am a stay at home mom loving and serving my family. I meet women for lunch (I'm a Southern Lady who lunches!), I kiss Lucy all day, I am involved in a Women's bible study at church (cbcnashville.org), I help lead a group in a mentoring program for young adult women at church and I just started singing on the worship team.
Ivy (6) is getting adjusted. She started off 1st grade a little behind in some areas but she is finding her stride and is now where she needs to be. After much persuasion (on her part) we let her ride the bus to and from school, which she loves. She is making friends and loves church.
Lucy (3) has quite the social life! She goes with me to bible study and has her own class and then goes to preschool at our church on Thursdays. She has a precious friend, Alli Peterson and I can't help but crack up hearing them talk like big kids. She was a whiz at potty training, taking less than a week. It was great having my assistant Ivy help me with that.
Over the years, through many trials, I have thought about the Lord's faithfulness and love for my family. Over the last few months here in Tennessee, I can't help but thank the Lord for His kindness. We would have loved and served Him in California, Washington or Iowa, but oh how kind He was to give us Tennessee. I still often cry out of just pure happiness. Matt and I lay in bed and still say," I can't believe we live in Tennessee."
Happy Birthday to the One who proves yet again to be faithful and true.
Since Matt and I have moved to Tennessee, we are all about exploring, so imagine my excitement when I got my Tennessee Magazine in the mail and "The Best of Tennessee 2012"was in it. It lists viewers choices in different categories for West, Middle, and Eastern Tennessee. We had been wanting to drive a half hour and visit a town called Murfreesboro. We went into a couple of antique shops (we heard the antiques were cheaper there than Franklin) and then we tried a place that won Best Burger for Middle Tennessee. It. Was. Amazing.
As you can tell, it was not fancy and it was very crowded. If you have ever been to Steam Boat in Waterloo, Iowa, that is what it reminded me of. (or what I remember of Steam Boat). The burgers were amazing! (Did I already say that?)
I thought the Cokes were cheap until they just brought us out a cold can.
Christmas decorating was a little different this year. I had 4 bins and I took two and a half back to storage. Things fill up in a little 2 bedroom apartment. I missed decorating so much last year. We moved to Matt's parents the week before Christmas so I never got to get anything out. I put lights up. I didn't want to have them be in a perfect row so that it kind of look like a tree branch. I have LOVED having them on at night. It's so pretty when you walk into the room.
The girls have a mini tree ( for those ornaments...you know the ones.)
The living room.
I love my collection of wooden candy canes.
I didn't have anywhere to put my stockings and Christmas books ( we have to have "The Holly and the Ivy") so I hung them on my hutch.
I tried not to have everything be too crowded but I think it looks cozy. :)
I couldn't let this day go by without talking about what I am thankful for. I keep thinking about what life was like a year ago. We had just moved from our home and was living with Hollie. We were pretty sad. Preparing to leave for Washington and not knowing where we would end up. I remember reflecting on all of our years in California and how they had changed my life. How I loved California and all that it brought for 17 years of my life. I was, however, ready for a new start. I look where I am now and I would do it all again to be here in Tennessee.
I never knew that you could love the place you live so much. Matt and I talk about it all the time. The girls are sick of me saying it. I will be driving home, turn a corner and the beauty hits me. I yell out how much I love where we live and Ivy rolls her eyes. I say it all the time. It is so beautiful! It reinforces that God has brought us here. It is a sweet spot to be in when God has granted the desires of your heart and you just rest in contentment.
There are so many things that I took for granted, so I am thankful for my TINY apartment and living on our own. I love my little family and being together. I love to clean, love my dishes, bedspread, couch,etc. That might seem superficial but to me they are luxuries that not everyone gets to have. My neighbor came into my apartment and started laughing. She said that I had decorated so much! I told her I had went a little crazy because I had missed decorating a house. I am thankful for decorating!
I am so thankful for my new church and my pastor. We went to church last night and as people were talking about what they were thankful for, it hit me like a ton of bricks. I had prayed for so long to be part of this particular church. When Matt and I were really hurting, we listened to a sermon by our pastor on suffering. I must have listened to this sermon 6 times. I remember once listening to it at 1am because I couldn't sleep and I needed to hear someone tell me what was true. The biggest quote, "The only way out of a trial is through it." At that time I was going "through it". Last night as I was sitting there with my family I remembered that the year before I was listening to Byron on podcast and this year I am going to Community Bible Church and sitting under his teaching every Sunday. Matt and I both shed a couple tears. God is so kind in our life!
It is also not just about Byron. Actually, the biggest blessing might be the women's bible study I go to on Tuesdays. I love my group and the Lord has used the study of 2 Corinthians to work on my heart. (More on that in a future post.) Again...the kindness and love of the Lord.
I'm thankful that my mom and dad are closer to me. They got to visit last month and it is so much fun to know that we are only a days drive away from each other. I will get to go to Iowa more. The girls will see their Iowa cousins more. Hollie even lives on the East coast. This is exciting!
I'm thankful for Matt's parents and sister and for the sacrifice they made to open their home to us for 8 months. It was a fun time. I have new recipes that I learned from Diane and my girls miss climbing up on Grandpa to use his IPad. They miss their cousins and going into Esther's house to sit with her and watch a cartoon. Boy Esther, do I miss Goodwill Outlet and shopping with you! We met some great friends at church there and I am thankful for the way they let us in their group and prayed so faithfully for our family. I'm thankful that my brother in law, Ray, took time off work to help us drive across the country. He sacrificed time with his own family to help us with ours. Thank you Ray!
I am thankful that I am a stay at home mom. I went a little stir crazy at first but the Lord has shown me how to fill my time. It made me thankful for my years at Legacy (Man, I miss that place!) but to be more available for Ivy and to enjoy Lucy is such a blessing.
I am thankful for Matt. I love him so much. He is the type of guy that I needed. I'm thankful for how hard he works and how it is a joy to him to provide for our family.
Then there are little things like Tennessee BBQ, my Aerolatte that I make cappuccinos with every morning, a running car, my bible,Instagram , my new hobby of sewing,etc. that make me smile everyday. AND YOU, friends that I still can talk to and communicate with! Happy Thanksgiving ya'll!
One thing that I have always wanted to do was sew. It was in the same category as playing the guitar. It's things like that, I sometimes think that my time has passed to learn and I'm just going to be the girl that can't sew. Well that's until my little one needed her "nigh-nie" fixed. It's her little blankie that she chews on the corner to go to sleep. How can you explain to Lucy that her mom's creativity only goes so far? So, in the name of my love for Lulu, I got out the machine, LITERALLY wiped the dust off and looked up on the internet how to thread and wind a bobbin. I broke countless needles, had a foot come undone, etc. Those little problems actually made me figure out my machine a little better. I told Ivy that I should name her so I could talk to it kindly and she suggested the name "Emie". So I called her Emie and would rubbed her little back when I thought a problem was arising.
Here I was at the beginning. Not dramatic at all! I was almost in tears but I pressed on!
I had a plan!
I did run into a problem when the "foot" came off and I just couldn't put it on! Then my new, fab friend Whitney came to the rescue! She had me over, put the foot back on (I was putting it on backwards!) and encouraged me to finish it. It just so happens that Whitney has a sewing blog post up on her blog Elm Street Life today! Check out her fabulous etsy shops called Brighter Day and Brighter Day Baby. (you can get to her shops through her blog)
Here is Nighnie all sewn. That gave me the courage to try more. Stay tuned for more adventures in sewing!
Wow! I downloaded a lot of pictures off of my phone and realized I have many things to blog about. I need to at least blog about Halloween before Thanksgiving gets here! I had a Minnie Mouse and Dorothy for Halloween. I thought Ivy would be a perfect Dorothy with her braids and Lucy sure is Minnie. I was so thankful that their Mammo got them costumes this year so they were so excited to finally get to wear them as they had been waiting for months. We had to wear undergarments as it is much colder trick or treating in Tennessee than it is in California. I was really homesick for California that day. I was craving the tradition of going to the Kostjuk's for our annual potluck and I was missing Ashley and Wendy bad! Ivy even said that she wished she got to see Katie and Lexi that day. However, the Lord has been so faithful to let me move close to one of my best friends. I have LOVED living close to Kelli I. I never thought we would live by each other again and I have loved it. She is such a great friend. So...off to Kelli and Jon's house and trick or treating Tennessee style!
The Peterson cousins joined us!
Jon gets in the mood and Matt got to join us a while before going back to work.
Our trailer transportation for the night. (Which was good because the houses are spread further apart than in California and little Lucy couldn't keep up. Ivy was so sweet to take her bucket to get candy after she was done for and Lucy wanted to carry on a conversation with people at every house. It was hilarious. God sure has a sense of humor to give me a daughter that is so shy and then one that could star in her own sitcom on tv.)
Lucy and her self proclaimed best friend, Karli.
The ONE picture Kelli has let me take of her since I moved here this summer. I think she let me do it before she knew what was happening! She's beautiful!
Brandy and Neil. Brandy...fast becoming a good friend. She was so gracious to take some Christmas pictures of my family before trick or treating. So if you get one and my girls have coats on, it's because there were Halloween costumes on under their coats!
Matt....my love....enough said!
1st Tennessee Halloween memory down! Many more Lord willing to come!
I have been thinking a while about this post. There are so many titles that I was going to name it. Like, "Why are those Gorsh kids always so good?" or " I knew that Kelli was religious " or "Kelli just keeps on ticking away when bad things happen to her". I have loved Facebook and reconnecting with people. Meeting new people and reconnecting with people I grew up with. I have loved the encouragement I have received and the prayers that have been lifted up on our behalf. When I think back to adopting Lucy and how hard that was, it was so nice to be able to send out a prayer request and know that people were praying for me and my family.
I also know there are a number of people who totally respect me, my religion, etc. and think I am a nice person but also kind of just don't get it. You think it is fine for me but it's not for you. Even if we have been friends since childhood, in all honesty, you don't know what I believe and are curious or you really don't care.
When I was little I remember trying to obey my parents. I was trying to be a good kid but I always failed. We all do, don't we? None of us are perfect. The more my parents gave me rules, the more I saw myself breaking those rules. I look back on that now and I am so thankful. Without those rules, I would never see myself as a rule breaker. I have been studying lately and see that is why God gave us laws in the Old Testament of the bible. He did it because without giving us those laws, we wouldn't even know that we were sinning. He did that (the 10 commandments) so we would measure our life up against them and realize that we can't live up to them. Sure, we might not all be murderers but we have all told a lie. The bible says that we break one law it is like we broke them all. We are all sinners, we broke our relationship with God. The bible says that no one is righteous, not one of us. (Romans 3:10) It says we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23) So all of you that think that I am a good person or that you are, the bible says that we are sinners. Sounds harsh doesn't it? Well I think that I am being harsh towards God. He gives me life and I sin against Him. When we sin, we have a broken relationship. Just like you would with any friend or family member. You do wrong against them, you need to make it right to reconcile that relationship. The same needs to happen in our relationship with God!
I know that most of us would say that we are good people going to heaven but since nothing sinful is in heaven, anyone who sins cannot go there unless a price is paid for that sin. The bible says" For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith- and this is not from yourselves, it is a gift of God, not by works so that no one can boast. "( Ephesians 2 :8-9) We can't get to heaven by being a good person or we would say we got there all because of what we did and we wouldn't need God or Jesus!
Well...that news stinks huh? Ha ha Well that is some depressing news. But wait! God is a loving God and He would not leave me or you hanging like that. He says that since there is not one person who can get to heaven on their own because we are all sinners, He would provide the payment for our sins. He would do it. How about that as a loving God? I sin against Him and He offers to pay for that sin. This would only work if there was someone taking care of it who never sinned. So God sent His Son to do it. (1John 4:14 "..the Father has sent His Son to be the Savior of the world.") We needed saving and He sent His own Son,Jesus, to do it. That is called grace. It's God's attitude toward the lawbreaker, giving us what we don't deserve (heaven) and showing us mercy, NOT giving us what we Do deserve (hell)
So...OK. So we sin, we needed someone to pay for that sin, God sent Jesus to do it, that's great so now we all go to heaven? No. That is not it. There is one thing that God requires of us. You must believe in Jesus by faith. (Acts 16:31 "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.") It is harder for some than you think. The bible says that Jesus had earthly brothers and while He was living, they didn't believe in Him that He was to save us from our sins. (John 7:5) You must believe that the only way to heaven is through Jesus Christ dying on the cross and rising from the dead to make the payment for your sins. There is no other way to get to heaven. You cannot be a good person to get there, go to church to get there, raise good kids to get there, love your country and obey all the laws (because we don't obey them all anyway) , do philanthropy work, be a pastor, anything to get to heaven except believe this news and accept it by faith.
When you see yourself as God sees you, you know you need a Savior and you need Him. I'm so thankful for this news. Some might say, Kelli, you have gone crazy! This is not a popular topic, telling people that they are on a road to hell unless they believe what I believe. I don't like saying that either. But let me ask you something. If what I am saying is true. ( You can look it up yourself because I gave you a lot of bible verses) then what kind of friend would I be if you never heard it and we had been friends for "x" many years? You can believe me or not but I think there will come a time when you will remember what I said. That's why I wrote this post.
So why have I been religious? (I'm really not, a lot of people have more "religion" than me) Why do I or my family or some of my friends seem different when those hard times have come? It's because now that I have believed everything that I told you, I am not separated from God. We have a relationship. He is my Father. I can go to Him. How can Matt lose countless jobs, I lose a baby during foster care, have infertility issues, etc and not be bitter? It's because I have a God who loves me, I can trust Him. I have heaven to look forward to and believe me, as life gets hard, I look forward to being there more and more.
Some might be totally appalled at what I said, some might have questions, some might think that it is great for me, but we all die and then what happens next? What if I am right? But it's too late to go back? I don't want to be morbid but isn't it something we should all think about? Choose to believe me or not but if something is true, it doesn't matter if you believe it or not, it is still true. I choose to believe by faith, what Jesus said. You can email me if you want. My email address is my Facebook but better yet read the bible, start with the book of John and read it for yourself, don't take my word for it. I'm just a girl, thinking about her friends, never wanting to think about what I should have said. Love to you all.