Thursday, June 30, 2011

Waiting... to kiss

Another powerful lesson I learned in the beginnings of my relationship with Andy was through our physical relationship. I shared before that we waited to even kiss until we were married. I want to say we were pure throughout our lives and the wedding day was a huge first for us, but that's simply not true. We made different poor choices at varying degrees in past relationships.

We came into our relationship wounded from our past sin, desiring to this time honor God fully, and a little unsure where to begin. It was here that I learned how very true it is that God makes all things new through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for our sin. As we had a conversation confessing to one another and offering each other forgiveness, God broke into my heart to see a glimpse of His grace. I felt a physical burden lifted as we forgave each other. I felt a confidence in God as Andy bowed his head and humbly prayed for God to show us what boundaries to place in our relationship and a joyful hope that He really would enable us to keep the boundaries He called us to set.

And HE did! There is no more exciting and joyous memory for me than my wedding day. Kissing Andy was an instant reminder that God redeems all that our sin destroys (Psalm 130)! I remember beaming in church the next morning telling all my friends who prayed for us how wonderful our first night together was (Sorry Mom and Gigi for that detail!) It was so pure and natural and exactly as I dreamed of since I was young. God kept us pure and then rewarded us with His abundance. Truly beautiful.

I'm not proud of either of our sin, but elated by the lavishness of God's forgiveness and grace as He made all things new in us.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Waiting...

I've been sharing lately about how God brought Andy and I together. There just isn't room in one post series to share all the incredible things I've learned about God's love through that experience, but I'd like to highlight a few here...

God delights in my sincerity. I'm so thankful that God was my true refuge when Andy wounded me. God knew that my heart was fully for Andy and his "I think you like me more than I like you." was a painful blow. That summer, my dad lost his job, gained a new job, and moved my mom (and all my things) to Kentucky. It was a hard summer for me over all because I really felt so alone. I was confused by my feeling for Andy and embarrassed by the rejection. But God never tired of journal entries, hearing my cries on the beach, or my quick prayers each morning as I'd leave the house unsure whether I'd run into Andy or whether or not I wanted to run into him.

When we come sincerely,we will see God. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God."
I've learned that the greek word for "pure" used in that verse is "sincere".  Jesus is saying that sincere people see God. He was not saying that my heart had to be free of my desire to be loved by Andy, but that my openness with God in it was His desire.
As I begged God to take away my feelings or change Andy, I knew He heard. There were times I'd open my Bible right to a Psalm of David crying out to God or over to Job confidently saying in the midst of grief that it was God Himself who gave him his family and who took them away or Hannah crying in the temple and trusting God for a child. I could relate to them and yet I was floored each time by God's nearness and the truth of His Sovereignty in each of their lives. I'd go to our weekly meeting and we'd sing "More Than Enough" and I'd bawl like a baby because I was learning that God truly was my supply and breath of life and all of Him was more than enough for me!

So often, I hear "guard your heart" as a way to encourage women to avoid the guys they like so they won't manipulate them and can keep their hearts pure for God. Though I see the wisdom in being careful not to look for in a guy what only God can give, I'm not sure I agree with that advice. I battled against my desire to prove my worth to Andy. But in my struggle, I learned as I faced that desire to see who God is and how deep His love and grace were in my life. I remained friends with Andy as I grappled through. Many girls in my life knew where I was in my struggle and I valued having them pray with me. But truly, the "guarding of my heart" wasn't away from Andy, but towards God. He fulfilled fully and He eventually chose to change Andy's heart and fill it with a pursuing love for me. But that skill of guarding my heart by filling it with more and more of God was invaluable. I'm so thankful for the sweet lessons I learned as I waited for God to heal my heart or change Andy. It was hard, but God is so very good.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Andy and Ginny: Part 3, Two Become One

I shared in Post 1 how Andy and I met and in Post 2 how we began dating, so today I’ll share how God lead us to be married!

We started our dating relationship by setting some pretty steep boundaries. We had both been in unhealthy relationships that had not honored God and we really wanted Him to be the Rock and foundation of our relationship. We decided to wait to kiss until our wedding day. We also decided to set one day a week when we were intentional to meet with accountability (separately) who would ask us how we were doing. We both applied to join staff with Campus Crusade. We went to a prayer group in our student union. We lead the mens and womens ministry on campus as well as individual bible studies. We had SO much fun going on adventures, hiking, cliff jumping, driving all over the country to visit family and friends, and even just hanging out and ordering Chinese food and watching Gilmore Girls. God was growing us in Him and knitting our hearts to each other in such a sweet way.
seeing 2 of "my girls" get baptized!
Then, September 11th, 2001 happened. We spent much of the day unsure of Andy’s parents whereabouts and safety. They worked for the government in DC/Arlington, Virginia. Once we heard they were ok (and serving others in the aftermath), we grieved for so many who did not get the same sweet news we did. And then, God called a group of us from WVU to go to New York City (and join hundreds of other Crusade college students). We prayed with people whose loved ones were still missing. We passed out a book of pictures that shared hope through Jesus written by people who knew suffering (like Darryl Scott, whose daughter had been killed in the Columbine shooting). God used us so clearly together as a team. It was exhausting, humbling, and thrilling. 

On the way home, Andy asked me to consider marrying him. I had no clue he was serious. A month later, Andy proposed. The proposal was not exactly how I’d always dreamed it. (He hung the ring from his Jeep with dental floss! Yikes!) I said yes anyway, but we still laugh about what an awful job he did planning that.
Newly Engaged!
We spent the rest of the year preparing for marriage and planning a wedding. But I had mono and we were both graduating. It was very busy! And then, on May 18th, 2002, God joined Andy and I together as one. It was the most beautiful and perfect day. We enjoyed our first kiss at the altar and have often been reminded through that memory of how God really makes all things new.


I’m so blessed and pleased to be Mrs. Andy Jacobson and thankful for the fun and unique way He brought us together. We’ve had so many more adventures, trials, and memories since then. Hope you’ve enjoyed this glimpse into our sweet beginning! I'll share next week a few lessons God taught me through some of the harder times I've mentioned in our story.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Revelation is About Jesus, Not Numbers...

I have never understood the book of Revelation well and have often been discouraged as I study it. The hardest part of using guides and sermons is that people often make it about numbers/signs/end time prophecy and not about Jesus. It's the revelation of Jesus Christ! I wanted a guide that showed the centrality of Christ throughout all of Scripture and here in the book of Revelation from a trustworthy teacher. 

Check out my favorite sermon series showing how this book is truly the revelation of JESUS Christ. It’s amazing!!!! Thank you Art Azurdia. It's a lot of sermons, but if you want a quick overview, just listen to the first 4. You'll experience God's Word in incredible ways. 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Andy and Ginny: Part 2, The Next Step

In my last post I shared that Andy and I were friends throughout our college years, but the friendship grew pretty deep our junior year and the boundaries became fuzzy to me.

As summer drew near, I was placed on the same summer missions project that Andy was going to attend. It was then that I realized I really liked him and that would be a major challenge. He also realized I liked him. So, our first week on the project, he sat me down and said, “I think you like me more than I like you.” Um…. Ouch!
Our friends came to visit- notice Andy's mohawk!
 I spent much of that summer grieving and trying not to manipulate and place myself in his path. I did an awkward-at-best job, but God really so sweetly gave me new friendships and both of us grew so much more in love with Jesus over the summer. Part way through the summer, I sensed a clear call from God to join staff with Campus Crusade and “give back” some of the amazing teaching, discipleship, and love God had been lavishing on me through the Crusade staff while I was a student. Later that summer, Andy also began to sense a call to join staff. Our project directors watched us and encouraged us to consider that the feelings we had for each other seemed to go beyond friendship and that God was leading and growing us very similarly. I was still very hurt from Andy’s brush off, so I waited to see what God might do to change Andy’s heart.

At the end of the summer, God nailed Andy with his feelings for me. The first was when we all went hiking one day. My friend Molly and I stayed at the top after the group started down. When we climbed down, we accidently climbed down the wrong side of the mountain! This put us in Vermont (we started in New Hampshire). It was a looong climb down and we were very lost. We didn’t make it down until dark. This was pre-cell phones, so no one knew where we were. We took a very expensive taxi ride back to the New Hampshire side of the mountain and Andy was there waiting anxiously. He barely even acknowledged Molly and quickly swept me into his car to take me home.

The second moment for Andy was when he asked me to go to Boston with him for the day. I wasn’t sure if it was going to be a date (it turned out to be!) He tells the story that on our way, he remembered when a pastor we like had shared how to find your mate. He said, “Run as hard and fast towards God as you can and then look to your left and see who is running with you.” Andy says he literally looked over and realized how I was right there spiritually running towards God, too. He later shared that with me as we walked on the beach and he asked to date me. It was a sweet God moment and we enjoyed taking the next step together!

I’ll share our dating, engagement, and wedding in my next post…

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

God doesn't tally up my sin

I've been planted in Psalm 130 as God reminds me again and again of His gracious love for me. Here are some particular gems I've gleaned in chunks:

"Out of the depths I cry to you, O LordO Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleas for mercy!"- The Psalmist is SO aware of his own sin. That's how I've been feeling. I'm so aware and yet unable to pull out of it.

"If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared."- It's true. None of us is good enough. I know that. Yet, this week it's like I totally forgot I can't earn Him and felt guilt instead of freedom. Yet, reading this, I'm filled again with joy that He forgives me and is not tallying up my sin at all. I'm totally forgiven:)

"I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope;"- I can't do it, but He is doing a work in me. My struggle in sin is becoming a sweet reminder to rest and wait for Him. And I'm seeing how true this verse is- His word brings hope. I'm reminded of His love and faithfulness again and again as I plant myself in His Word in this weak time in my walk with Him.

"my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning." Watchmen knew the morning was coming and I'm sure they waited anxiously until it did and they could be done with their super stressful job of watching to see if anyone was coming to attack the city. I'm learning to wait with more- with a joyful expectation for God, knowing He is coming. And this fight against sin will end. So for now I keep pressing on until then, looking not at my sin, but towards Jesus. Expecting Him. He alone is my rest and my hope.

"O Israel, hope in the Lord! For with the Lord there is steadfast love, and with him is plentiful redemption. And he will redeem Israel from all his iniquities."- YES! God has redeemed ALL that my sin has destroyed. Every. last. thing. What a packed promise! What a sweet reminder that my hope is in my God, who forgives fully and then restores fully. Wow.  I'm still fighting my sin. But I'm fighting in His strength and with full hope that He has already redeemed it through Jesus. He is just so good:)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Andy and Ginny: The Beginning

I thought I’d take a few posts and give you a little glimpse into me. So in the next few posts I’ll share one of my favorite God stories: how Andy and I met, fell in love, and were married. Enjoy!

Andy and I met in 1998 as freshmen at West Virginia University. We were both in Campus Crusade for Christ. Andy likes to say that he thought I was a senior, so he never talked to me. I was once asked to drive Andy and his girlfriend to a fall retreat. I quickly went and found two friends to invite so that my car would be full. Ha!

Over the years, we ran in the same circle of close-knit friends and we became good friends. We even double dated once (me with my college boyfriend and him with his college girlfriend). Once, when I was thinking of leaving the ministry because I was steeped in sin, Andy said, “Ginny. I’m not your Crusade friend. I’m your friend. If you leave, you’re still in my life.” It was so thoughtful and so timely. God used it to encourage me to come back to the ministry and be restored in truth.

Andy moved in with a friend that I often hung out with. This was a huge turning point in our friendship. Chris was usually late to meet me and Andy would entertain me and chat while I waited for Chris. Our friendship began to grow to a point where I'd come to hang out with both Chris and Andy.
Our Junior year, both of us had dramatic encounters with our sin and with our gracious and forgiving God. Mine was a breaking point while visiting family in Hawaii, his was the same week but at a Christmas conference in DC. That next semester, we both just couldn’t get enough of Jesus and often had exciting discussions about all we were learning. We both made choices to follow Him that involved remaining single for a season, so the friendship had a clear boundary, but it sometimes seemed kind of fuzzy to me…

Stay tuned for my next post to hear the rest of our story...

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A Glimpse into My Struggle...

"The people of Israel ate the manna forty years, till they came to a habitable land."- Exodus 16:35
God provided for 40 years... Why 40? BECAUSE THEY SINNED. They were wandering because of their sin and God was still providing their daily need the entire time.

I have been battling areas of sin that are constant struggles in my life. The biggest is fear. I feel incredibly weak and vulnerable in pregnancy and find myself fearful for the baby, for my other children, myself, and even Andy. I'm so aware of my unworthiness in it, too. I know to eat in moderation, yet eat in excess daily (note- pregnancy has actually put an abrupt halt to that), I battle to set good time boundaries with internet, and still continue to desire comfort and stuff instead of giving generously and living simply... This list could go on a long time.

As I've been struggling, I've been crying out and begging God to help me fight these sins. And He just keeps lavishing grace after grace. I'll cry out that I hate that I'm back on facebook for a third time in one day (ew!). And almost instantly, "Jesus died for me and I am now free" pops in my head. There is no sin He has not redeemed of mine (Psalm 130). Not one. And this week, as I cried out in my unworthiness out of fear for our finances, I flipped back into Exodus, and God reminded me "Ginny, I provide every need for those who are mine, not because they are good, but because I love them. And you are mine. Rest in me." He's so good:) Resting again...
"Return, O my soul, to your rest; for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you." -Psalm 116:7

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Hope in the storm #5: God will Restore

I pray this series (click here to read posts 1, 2, 3, and 4) has been a blessing and help to you as you prepare for suffering or endure through. I want to end by sharing wisdom from a blog that has encouraged me so deeply. I LOVE this sweet truth Ray Ortlund (you should go scroll through more of his blog) points out in the midst of suffering: He will restore us.
“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 5:10-11
And after you have suffered a little while.... Your suffering is real. “A little while” does not trivialize it. But suffering is not the rest of your story. It will end, and soon – as measured by the actual, eternal grandeur of your life.

the God of all grace.... He has remedies, comforts and powers for every need, every occasion, every moment.

who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ.... As C.S. Lewis said, someday you will get in. God himself has removed every barrier through Christ.

will himself... Not mediated but directly and personally. Not bare luck but his own loving involvement.

restore, confirm, strengthen and establish you. ... Terms upon terms, because God has thought of everything. Whatever you have lost he will restore. However you are weak he will confirm, strengthen and establish you, so that you emerge whole, formidable, happy.

To him be the dominion forever and ever.... No one can ever overrule his purpose of grace, but only serve his purpose.

Amen.... Very few things in life deserve this absolute affirmation. But here is one.

What a beautiful truth we can cling to as we suffer. God is just SO good.