vicious, vicious cycle

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i just want to lay my heart out in writing for a moment.

TRUTH: i have not had much of a desire for Him lately. i haven’t enjoyed Him and i haven’t really tried to enjoy Him. He is and has been becoming a distant influence on my life-only to be called back when i’m in desperate need.

that sounds more harsh and blunt then i mean it to be. i still love the Creator of me. i love Him with most of my being, but the whole relationship that i know He desires from me just hasn’t been happening. and i’ve been perfectly content with that. i know you know what i’m talking about. i know you been content with this life before. i know there has been a time in your life where you’ve said to God, “yeah, You’re great and all, i know that, but i’m just honestly not getting that cool feeling from You anymore, so i’m going to distract myself with ___________.”

well, after almost 12 years of being His daughter, i’m at that place i just described and it’s been and very inward struggle of scary, shame, and most of all confusion for the last year or so. where do i go from here? here’s the cycle i’ve been stuck in:

pain > bitterness > guilt > “punishing” myself for my guilt > not understanding God’s grace > not wanting to rely on self-discipline because i don’t understand God’s grace > no discipline and no understanding of God’s grace (dang) > guilt (for not being disciplined and for not understand) > “punishing” myself for my guilt > not understanding God’s grace > not wanting to rely on self-discipline because i don’t understand God’s grace > no discipline and no understanding of God’s grace (dang) > guilt > etc.

you get the picture. you can see that my excuse for all of this are what i like to call “pain” and “bitterness.” but really, that’s so lame. i’m so over it, really. i’m just pretending to not be over it so that i can continue to circle around and around and stay stagnant.

but i’m done. “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened by a yolk of slavery.” (Gal. 5:1) i’m not a slave anymore, He has set me free and i want to live in that freedom.

are you thinking what i’m thinking? i’m thinking, “well, lg, that sounds great and inspirational and all that jazz but what in the world are you going to do about that verse?” and the truth is: i don’t know. i don’t understand Him and His grace and His sacrifice, i don’t. i can admit that. but i don’t want the lack of understanding to trip me up as it has for the last however-long-its-been.

ok, so here’s the resolution for the day, because change has to start with a resolution for change. i can’t just expect change to happen in my life if i don’t resolve to do anything about it. duh to me.

discipline is what i’m starting with, because i need to talk to God about my confusion about His grace. and without the discipline of waking up early, or planning out my day so that i prioritze spending time with Him i don’t and won’t talk to Him. i literally found myself going to bed one night last week and saying to myself as i glanced at my Bible, “what’s another day? who cares if i don’t talk to Him today?” duh to me, again. ask me how often i set aside time for Him the next time you see me.

prayer is the priority. real, honest, outspoken prayer coming from the depths of my heart. not pity prayer for my “woe is me” tendencies. but real and big prayer. God gave me such a fun wake-up call this morning. i was in the midst of telling Him all of my current frustration and why i was so mad at Him and stuff and instead of striking me dead because of my ignorant anger at Him, He simply said, “I know. this is what I’ve been trying to get you to talk about! duh*, lisagrace, I’m the only one who can fix you and who can fix everything else your praying about. (here’s the kicker) that’s why you pray.”
*ok, so maybe God doesn’t say, “duh” but that’s what it sounded like to me.

duh, duh, duh to me. it’s back to the basics for this one (me).

i’ve been humbled enough that i’m actually ok with that.

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so much better

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i forgot to tell you that bryan and i officially have a bed to sleep on when we get married! woot!

we got a suppppppeeeeerrrrrr cheap mattress (in both senses of the word) and because we save so much we also bought a digital camera! hoorah!

except, we took it back the next day, turns out it wasn’t a great digital camera. so, my hopes of having a super fun blog are diminished for now, until we find the time to research and buy a little better digital camera.

so, sometime soon our blog will be so much more fun for you to read and look at, get ready!

ps: in the mean time, i decided to give a little google entertainment for those who have faithfully been reading this blog pre-pictures.

ba ha!

praises up!

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how great is the God that we serve?

the answer is, clearly, beyond what i can even express in words. God has provided soooo much for bryan and i in the past two weeks. He is always providing for us, don’t get me wrong. neither one of us has ever felt that we don’t have enough.
but He has gone over the top (i mean, waaahhhayyy over the top) this time and it’s been so awesome to be reminded, once again, of just how deep and wide his love is for us! if you want to hear more about the major blessings that bryan and i have encountered, just ask me sometime-i’ll be beaming about it for a while yet!

though our human words can never be enough to describe the wonder that is our God, i do believe that He enjoys our humble strivings to bring Him praise all the same. bryan and i love worshipping our God (although, bryan’s a little “better” at the musical aspect of worship as he worshipfully and skillfully plays his bass and other instruments, while i scream offkey in my car and at church).

because bryan and i love worshipping God, both musically and otherwise, i am so excited to update you on the latest developments in our wedding planning saga. we finally confirmed all of our musicians-we only have five! trust me, that’s a miracle, if you know bryan at all! we just met with jeff dodge this morning to discuss the format of our ceremony and it basically consists of music, music and music. it’s fantastic if you ask me. we decided a long time ago that we wanted our wedding and, more importantly, our married life to glorify God in the best way possible. bryan, being the musician and visionary that he is (i’m so thankful for his vision-he captivates my rule-oriented and planner heart and gets me so excited for what God can do!) came up with the idea of starting and ending our wedding ceremony in worship. what a good idea, bryan!!!!!!! he’s a genius, i tell you!

we have it all worked out, so i suppose you’ll just have to come to our wedding to see how great it is!

so anyway, i just wanted to encourage those who read this (which i know, is few) to think about new ways to worship our amazing God, both in good times and in bad. this is challenge i’ve been hard up against for probably close to a year now. it’s been a rough year for me and while i LOVE God, i struggle to worship Him when i feel sad, or lonely, or whatever. it’s been a battle to read scripture regularly. i don’t want to talk to Him, and i know that’s when i need Him most. but even in my bitter state, i think God still loves to hear my offkey screams, crying out to Him, pleading with Him to let me please Him and run to Him once again.

He always opens His arms and says, “get over here, kid.”

nifty fifty

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alsbury update:
i’m going to be an alsbury in 50 days! no more lying to myself! seriously, everything new that i’ve signed up for i’ve been signing up as “LisaGrace Alsbury” because i know i won’t want to change the username later and also that it will annoy me if my usernames are all “lgduvick” or whatever. my current username of choice is lgalsbury523 (the “523” of course represents the date that this username will actually be true)
i’m also excited to use my gmail account exclusively as i set it up as “lisagracealsbury@gmail.com” before we even got engaged…hey, i knew i was going to marry him!
anyway, we’re going to be a family soon and i am so excited for it. i think we’re as ready as we can get. we’ve learned SO MUCH over the last year (yes, we’ll have been engaged for a YEAR on monday) and are so ready to actually get to apply it.

wedding update:
i purposely put that “warning label” on all of my wedding updates, because i know you all don’t really care and would prefer to skip over it. but i love making lists and planning our wedding so i’m writing about it anyway! humph!
i had an awful dream on monday night/tuesday morning about everything going horribly wrong at our wedding. i’ll just give you a few tidbits as this was definitely the worst wedding dream i’ve had yet.*
i was just standing in the back of church, trying to get everyone to walk down the aisle and get the wedding started but all of the ushers/groomsmen were just sitting down, hanging out with bryan in the back rows, the bridesmaids were not to be found and the flowers girls were wearing tuxes and marching around the outside of auditorium and i couldn’t get them to stop!
then a few of our guests just hopped up on stage and started raffling things off like it was a junior high school fundraiser or something. every once in a while they would say something that would make everyone cheer loudly. i didn’t really care that the wedding had gone horribly awry, it was just that i was so confused and didn’t know how to stop the chaos. let me tell you, it was chaos in my little dream world.

so, what did i do that day? made a list of everything i need to do. i love lists. but the list was really good, because i actually have a lot to do. but not a lot that people can help me with, which kind-of stinks, because i’m totally ready to start asking people for help. all of the things i need to do are simply communicating to the people involved.
people are so unpredictable! i have pretty much everything confirmed except for the things that involve people…and it’s not that i’m not communicating…its that their not communicating back. this. this is stressful to me.
but it’s definitely my fault for loving people too much and wanting everyone and their puppies to be involved in our wedding. we have 5 musicians, 8 flower girls, 4 attendants each and 5 ushers, not to mention 2 guest book ladies, and all the other poeple involved. it’s stressful to not know if you can count on all of those people. it also doesn’t help that we’ve been engaged for so stinking long that i have this sinking feeling that everyone forgot we even asked them to be in our wedding!
Ok, ok, I’m calming down, I’m done rambling! I’m excited to have everyone i love involved in our wedding. it’s going to be crazy fun, i know that much! : )

*all of my other dreams are just about me sleeping in until 12:30pm (the wedding’s at 1pm) and stumbling down the aisle in my pajamas.

in other news:
i started reading the harry potter series last week and am done with the first two books. they are sooooooooooooooooo good! i love reading. it relaxes me. it takes me to another world where i’m not stressed out about wedding stuff and not stressed out about not being married yet.

that’s all folks!

homeschooleriffic

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How home schooled is LisaGrace?
We shall see!

Growing up/now:
[x] Own/have owned a denim jumper
[ ] You were at least 13 when you got your first “trendy” haircut (i was 12, just barely made that one!)
[x] Everything in your closet at some time was referred to as modest
[x] You did/do have tucked things in that shouldn’t be tucked in
[ ] You have been a member of at least 3 co-ops
[ ] You have never been kissed
[x] Your mom drives a van of some sort.
[x] You have at least one childhood picture where you, your mom, and all your siblings match
[ ] You are/were/will be a PSEO Student
[x] At some point in your life you were more comfortable with adults than kids your own age
[x] Have studied ways to defend your beliefs, debate, and/or create laws
[x] Used uber conservative A Beka curriculum (i highly recommend it too!)
Total: 8

[x] You use big words that most adults could not use in conversation (when i was a kid, i used to say things like, “i’m impossible famished” right before a meal, so i’m counting this one)
[ ] You can use the words sublime, epiphany, and cognizant correctly
[x] You have a favorite word.
[ ] You have an understanding of Latin root words and how to use them
[x] People from the outside world are referred to as “public schoolers”
[ ]You or one of your family members knits or crochets
[x] You laugh/cry at the decline in literacy in America
[x] You score constantly higher than “public schoolers” on standardized tests. (i was always at a 12th grade reading level, even in the 3rd grade!)
[x] You have no concept of cafeteria food
[ ] Family vacations are/ can be referred to as “Field Trips”
[ ] Traveling on said vacations have included stopping at historical site markers along the way
[ ] You have never been in a public elementary school, middle school, or high school during regular school hours
[ ] You have gone to or been involved in a homeschool convention
Total so far: 14

[x] You read books on a regular basis
[ ] You have taken part in a political protest
[x] You were a Pride and Prejudice fan before the movie
[ ] You were a Lord of the Rings fan prior to the movie
[x] You were a Chronicles of Narnia fan before the movie
[ ] You speak a language other than English
[x] You dreamed of dating characters from books instead of celebrities
Total so far: 18

It has been assumed that you:
[ ] Have won many spelling bees
[x] Have no social life
[ ] Have no friends of the opposite gender
[x] Are inept
[ ] Only listen to classical music
[ ] Play piano or the violin
[x] Do not own a pair of trendy jeans (i would say i just bought my first pair of trendy jeans last year)
[x] Have no knowledge of drugs or alcohol (i still don’t, really)
[x] Don’t date, only court.
[x] Have never been to a “party” (never have)
[x] Know no other beliefs other than what your family believes

Total so far: 25

You have been asked more than 10 times in your life:
[x] If you wear pajamas to school
[x] If you get perfect grades because your mom grades you
[x] If your mom teaches you or if somebody else’s mom does
[x]How do you meet people
[x] Why you aren’t in school
[x] If you get days off whenever you want
[ ] If you’re going to be homeschooled through college
[x] If you have a big family
[x] What your parents are protecting you from
[ ] To quote something famous
[x] For the answer, because supposedly homeschoolers always have all the answers
Sub-total: 34

You have “rebelled” by:
[x] Listening to “worldly music”
[ ] Wearing black fingernail polish
[ ] Wearing tight clothes or letting your midriff show or showing off what color of boxers you are wearing
[x] Watching a *gasp* PG-13 movie
[ ] Breaking dress code
[x] Listening to music with a beat
[x] Dancing. Especially dances that involve contact for longer than 2 seconds. With somebody of the opposite gender. Scandalous!!!
Subtract this from total: -4

Overall Total: 30

1-10 You’re not really a homeschooler…you just do school at home
11-21 You’re a homeschooler, but not what the world expects
22-32 You’re a homeschooler
33-? Congrats you’re the stereotypical homeschooler

so, i’m pretty close to the stereotypical homeschooler! beware of homeschooling your kids! : )

Galatians 1:1-24

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From Memory*:
“Paul, and apostle, called not from men nor by man, but Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised him from the dead, and all the brothers with me, to the churches in Galatia:
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever, amen.
I am astonished you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel, which is really no gospel at all. Evidently, some people are throwing you into confusion and trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again, if anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned. For am I now trying to win the approval of God or of man? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.
I want you to know brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something man made up. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it. Rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ. For you know of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. I was advancing in Judaism beyond many jews my own age and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers. But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his son in me so that I might preach it to the gentiles, I did not consult any man, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was. But I immediately went into Arabia and later returned to Damascus.
Then, after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Peter and stayed with him fifteen days. I saw none of the other apostles, only James, the Lord’s brother. I assure you before God what I am writing you is no lie. Later I went to Syria and Cilicia.
I was personally unknown to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. The only heard the report: ‘The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.’ And they praised God because of me.”

Wow, it’s been an extremely fun month or so memorizing this passage. Even though I’ve been discussing this with my high school small group, Bryan and studying it rather in depth since last fall, there is something powerful about memorizing scripture. I think it’s because memorizing forces me to meditate.
Here are some notes/thoughts about what I’ve learned from this first chapter of Galatians.

1. Paul clearly expresses a separation from man

  • In his description of self […sent not from men nor by man, BUT by Jesus Christ…]
  • In his description of the gospel. This “new” gospel which the Galatians are turning to [which is really no gospel at all] is most definitely not from God, it’s from people. [Evidently, some people are throwing you into confusion…] also […what I preached is not something man made up…I did not receive it from any man…]
  • In his mission [If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.]
  • In his consulatation […I did not consult any man] not even the apostles who Jesus hung out with!

2. Paul was given the gift of apostleship

  • There are two clear signs of this: [rather I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ] and [nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before I was]
  • I’m still unsure if the gift of apostleship (as noted in 1 Cor. 12-13) is even possible today. Obviously, Paul talked to Jesus by revelation and thus was an apostle just as the disciples were later called apostles because they hung out with Jesus. I’m sure that it is possible today, to received a revelation of the teachings of Jesus from Jesus himself but does it happen? With the Bible and all of the knowledge we have? I don’t know. What do you think?
  • Paul clearly received this gift for a very specific purpose [But when God…was pleased to reveal his son in me so that I might preach it to the gentiles…] God had specific job for Paul, which is maybe why he got to learn directly from Jesus. (I know, I know, we all have specific jobs in God’s kingdom, but seriously, is anyone ready to claim that they’re the next Apostle Paul?)

3. Paul immediately reacts on his “calling” (that is to [preach it to gentiles])

  • [I did not consult any man…rather I immediately went into Arabia and later return to Damascus. Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem…] Well, talk about immediately responding to the powerful Holy Spirit!
  • I have a question about this though, I think there are two scales of this, a Micro and a Macro level. My question is, would you recommend this to another believer when it is on a Macro level? Let me explain, on a micro level, I am extremely spurred by Paul’s example. It is all too often when I know the Holy Spirit is tugging on my heart and calling me to immediate action and I quench it. But on a macro level (example: flying to China to become a missionary), should I really trust the feeling inside as the Holy Spirit and act immediately on that? I think I would advise other believers to seek counsel. But that is the opposite of what Paul did, once again [I did not consult any man]. So I don’t know about this one either and it furthers my question about Paul being very specifically called not just by the Holy Spirit but by Jesus and was given the rare (?) gift of apostleship.

4. The Main Point: The gospel is true, from God, and powerful.

  • Paul is [astonished] at the Galatians for deserting such a powerful, life-changing God and turning to whatever the next person preaches.
  • Though the Galatians heard the gospel through Paul, a man, Paul received the gospel by revelation from Jesus Christ. This demonstrates the difference between Paul and the people who [are throwing you into to confusion and trying to pervert the gospel of Christ] as well as the difference between the gospel which Paul preached and the different gospel which was swaying the Galatian believers [which is really no gospel at all]!

Alright, I’m done. My brain hurts anyway. I want to know what you think though, because I’m probably wrong in a lot of my thinking! Let me know!

*Original NIV Text (Only a few errors!):
“Paul, an apostle-sent not from men nor by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised him from the deadand all the brothers with me, to the churches in Galatia:
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospelwhich is really no gospel at all. Evidently, some people are throwing you into confusion and trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again, if anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned! Am I now trying to win the approval of men or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.
I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ. For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. I was advancing in Judaism beyond many Jews of my own age and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers. But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his son in me so that I might preach him among the gentiles, I did not consult any man, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I immediately went into Arabia and later returned to Damascus.
Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Peter and stayed with him fifteen days. I saw none of the other apostlesonly James, the Lord’s brother. I assure you before God what I am writing you is no lie. Later I went to Syria and Cilicia.
I was personally unknown to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. The only heard the report: ‘The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.’ And they praised God because of me.”

update your life!

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allllllrrrrrighty then.
there has been a lot going on in our lives as usual. i think i’ve already forgot some things i told myself i needed to blog about.

(note: i like having headings within my blogs because it might be nice if our readers want to know just one thing about something they can just skim until they find the appropriate heading. maybe i’ll eventually take time to update more then once-ish a week and then i won’t need these uber-long blogs with headings and stuff)

school/future plans
we have some good news and bad news here. i’ll give the bad news first.

  • in short, bryan and i didn’t have enough time to get things for Iowa State figured out. he met with a counselor this week and many of the deadlines are tomorrow (FAFSA, UV Applications, etc.) we just didn’t have the time to get it all done.
  • we’re officially going to live in our awesome one-bedroom apartment. (but lg, that doesn’t sound like bad news, you yourself called it awesome) true, its going to be REALLY nice to have a washer/dryer and a deck and all of the “extras” that haverkamp offers. but it’s just soooo expensive. i wish we would have thought everything through more, but it’s ok. it won’t break the bank, i just feel like we’ll be “losing” money.

the good news is:

  • i’ll get to do laundry! hooray. i’m very excited about this actually, right now we go to my parents to do laundry and i end up never washing our clothes because its so inconvenient. my point is, the alsbury’s will be a lot less smelly.
  • bryan went to iowa state for about 3 weeks before he dropped because it s was expensive, hard, and he didn’t even know what he was going to study. but because of this, he simply has to “re-enroll” instead of start from scratch so thats awesome.
  • bryan probably won’t go to iowa state fulltime in the spring semester, which will give him a chance to take a few more cheaper classes at dmacc and us some time to bulk up our savings, pay off all of our debt, etc.
  • we may end up saving money in the end. the deadline to apply for financial aid is tomorrow and we didn’t have time to fill it out. but i don’t really think bryan would get financial aid because his parents financial info still affects him. but next year, when we apply for financial aid it’ll just be our income that applies, and by american standards, we’re poor. sweet. so, even if we got all of the forms in on time and crap, we would probably end up with a loan for fall semester because bryan would be enrolled at isu with no financial aid.

on another note, God has really been changing my heart about babies and not wanting bryan to be in school forever. i, more then ever, feel so at peace with him working hard in school for as long as he needs to get a degree that he can/will like using to provide for our family. also, i’m getting really hard core about not going into debt for school (this new attitude is causing me to say, “even if it takes longer” lets do this the wise way). we technically still consider it an option, but i think we might not even have to take out a loan. we’re going to try at least.

marriage
for our engagement class we are assigned to read three books. two of which i’ve finished. they were awesome. seriously. let me touch on a few reasons why.
john piper is simply an excellent author. this book is basically a few of his extremely well-written explanations of the Bible and quotes from Dietrich Bonhoeffer. it’s a great read, i learned so much and i didn’t even read it all (they selected certain chapters for us to read). read it. love it.

oh yeah! they other great thing about this book is that its free! well, kind-of, if you’re interested, there is a free pdf online, just click here.

and i’m so glad we were assigned to read this book before marriage:

oh no! it has the word sex in it!
lets face it, married people have sex. and it’s glorifying to God. (WHAT?!?!)
seriously, i’ve heard the above statement before and i just couldn’t wrap my mind around it. this book was helpful for my understanding that it no less glorifying to God then praying! weird, huh? even though i knew God had created sex, in my head i couldn’t see it as anything more than a selfish human desire. this is also just a great book for husbands about having a great relationship with their wives. and there is come great insight for women written by the authors wife. it’s a great read!

on another note, i finished all my invitations! that’s pretty much it though. not a whole lot of wedding updates here.

spiritual growth
our church is participating in lent together for the first time! i’m excited! the biggest blessing for me so far has been reading through the psalms. i believe its jeff dodge who is updating a blog with the psalm of day and “starter prayer” its been great.

galatians has been a joy to go through. i’ve learned more in my short study then i have in a long while. i was so thirsty and the Word has filled me up. paige and i are starting to memorize it as well. i’m so excited about that.

i’ve been growing a ton, in ways that would take too long to explain but it has brought me great joy to have two women in particular invest in my life. shout outs to mary and paige! you refresh me!

oh and my high school small group? awesome! i have not been able to honestly say that in a long time. it’s been a frustrating year for me and my group of girls but i finally feel like we’re moving. praise God! i’ve been so encouraged by the last two weeks. we gained a new student and that has been awesome, and stretching for some of my “don’t-you-dare-try-to-break-me-out-of-my-comfort-zone” girls. last week i had a break through. i was explaining Galatians four and had a “Holy Spirit Moment” where God allowed me to say exactly what needed to be said. i saw the faces of almost all of my girls resoundingly say, “oh! i get it!” anna said, “i can actually see why we’re going through this book now!” (we’ve been going through it since the beginning of the school year!)