I'm Back!

I've been wanting to post for a while now, but have talked myself out of it every time because there's SO much that's happened since April 1st of last year (the last time I posted) and now. But it's time to jump back into the blog world. I've missed writing and I want to continue with my list of 1,000 things I'm thankful for. I began making that list a LONG time ago...and it will take me a long time to finish, but that's ok.

As of yesterday, we've been gone from Hughes Springs for exactly a month. No need for details, but Daniel resigned from FBC Hughes Springs at the end of August. The church graciously allowed us to stay in the parsonage while we sought the Lord's will as to what was next for the Bramlett's. The 4 months of waiting were definitely not the easiest, BUT God showed up and showed out in so many ways! He reminded us every time we turned around that HE is Jehovah Jireh, the LORD our Provider. We didn't want for a single thing. Ok, so maybe I would have liked to have bought that ice breakers gum that's almost $3.00 but instead bought the Extra because it was cheaper. Seriously, though, He was so kind to us during that time. He used His people to encourage us and love on us. He gave Daniel many opportunities to speak and preach in churches around our area. He opened doors for us to share about Stephen's House Peru (another post for another time) in Northeast TX, Dallas, Arkansas, Missouri, Maryland, etc. It was during our time in Missouri at the end of October that we began to see a door opening and the possibility of a new place of service.

Our sweet friends, Cara and Kevin Carrington, live in Bolivar, MO. Cara is originally from Hughes Springs and grew up at FBC. Her mom was on the search committee that brought us to H.S. and Daniel ended up marrying Cara and Kevin back in 2012. When Cara heard Daniel was traveling and sharing about SHP, she asked her pastor if we could come up for a weekend and share with their church. Ted, the pastor, agreed and Daniel and I went on a road trip while leaving the kiddos with YaYa. It was a very fun weekend catching up with Cara and Kevin, but we also noticed an immediate connection with Ted when we met him for the first time. He took us to breakfast that Saturday morning just to get to know us better and hear our story. By the end of Sunday, he and Daniel were talking about what it might look like for us to move to Bolivar and Daniel to be on staff at Southern Hills Baptist Church. That was certainly not even on our radar when we agreed to come for the weekend, but we were excited about the possibility and willing to wait some more as the Lord worked out all of the details.

At the end of November, we came back up to MO and brought the kids with us this time. We were still in the preliminary stages (ministry positions take some time to walk through all of the stages!), but we wanted the kids to see Bolivar before we possibly moved here. It was a good couple of days and Daniel had some great meetings. We went back to H.S. encouraged, but still waiting. We needed to be out of the parsonage by the end of the year, so in faith we decided to go ahead and move out before leaving for our Christmas trip that would take us halfway across the country to my family in Maryland. We moved a large majority of our things into storage and with the help of some AMAZING friends, were able to get the rest packed and loaded by Dec. 20th.
We took all of our stuff to Daniel's dad's house in Hope, AR where we left it during our trip to MD. While we joked a lot about being homeless and nomads, we really were. We didn't have an official word from the church in Bolivar yet. BUT God, once again, reminded us that He is our Provider and His plan would prevail. So we chose to head to Maryland joyfully and eagerly anticipating what was coming next after the holidays. If you read my last post in April, you'll remember my referencing a song by Hillsong called "Oceans." I've come to realize in the past year that His calling me out upon the waters to walk with Him through the waves is not a one-time event. It is a constant, day-by-day choice I have to make. Will I walk in faith today keeping my eyes on Him, or will I choose my own strength and begin sinking into the waves that crash all around me. Choosing faith is not easy, but it always leads to peace and comfort.

Our Christmas adventure was a ton of fun (another post coming on that, too)! I'm so thankful we were able to visit my family for a week and see many beautiful parts of the country. Right before we left for Maryland, we found out the church in Bolivar wanted Daniel to preach January 1st and then they'd vote on whether or not to bring him on staff January 8th. So we knew after we left Maryland we'd head straight for Bolivar so he could preach, but we weren't sure what to do the week in between while we waited for the vote. After praying about it, we once again felt the Lord was calling us to step out in faith and stay in Bolivar for that week...AND enroll Riley in school. Bolivar schools started back January 3rd, and we didn't want him to miss a week of school, so his 2nd 1st day of 2nd grade happened on January 3, 2017.
I can't put into words how proud we are of this guy! He has been so incredibly brave throughout this crazy transition time. He tends to be our worrier and anxious one, at times, so to see how he's gracefully walked this road without having a choice as to how things happened, has encouraged and challenged me to no end. His new teacher is a kind woman who loves the Lord and clearly loves her job. She's been so sweet to him, which I know has helped him a ton. During his first week of school he only had to go 2 days because the last 2 days of the school week were SNOW DAYS!! That's right, we'd only been here 5 days when we received our first snow. For my friends who live in the north and get way too much snow every winter, I know this wouldn't necessarily be good news to you, but for us Texans who don't see snow much, we were pretty excited!

 Our first snow day, January 5, also happened to be our 9th wedding anniversary, so sweet Cara offered to play with Ella and Riley in the snow so we could go on a breakfast date to a local cafe.
 I'm thankful to be on this adventure with this man!
Our poor Texas car had been through so much winter weather by this point, I'm sure it didn't know what to think.

After enjoying the snow and a delicious breakfast, we headed back to Hope, AR for the weekend while we waited for the church to vote on Sunday. Since all of our things were at Daniel's dad's anyway, it only made sense to wait there so we could leave for Missouri on Monday if all went well. And...the snow followed us there! We didn't get near as much and it didn't really stick, but it sure was fun to watch it fall!
  Perfect weather for S'mores!

It was a fun weekend relaxing and enjoying family time. And since I'm sitting in Bolivar, MO typing this right now, it's obvious what the church's answer was! We got the call Sunday afternoon, celebrated for a minute, finished packing and loading and then pulled out early Monday morning. Our original plan was for Daniel's truck to go on the trailer and he pull it with the Uhaul while I drove our car. I was very comfortable with this plan and liked it. The complication came when his truck was too wide for the trailer. He looked at me and said, "Well, it looks like we're going to have to trailer your car." I immediately knew what that meant...I would become the proud driver of this ensemble...
 26' truck pulling a 16' trailer...no biggie! (insert wide-eyed emoji here)
 My riding mates for the first few hours. After lunch, the girls stayed in the big rig and the boys followed behind in the blue truck.
You just have no clue how thankful I was to see this sign after driving through the mountainous 2-lane roads of northern Arkansas!

We made it to Bolivar in great time (praise the Lord!) and excitedly got to work on settling in. That, too, will have to be another post for another time. In true Bramlett fashion, our living quarters are not "typical," if you will. BUT, again, God has provided and we love where He's placed us! Daniel officially began working this past Monday as the Discipleship/Outreach Coordinator, and we feel so much peace knowing we're right where He wants us for this season of our lives. Ella, just like her big brother, has adjusted much better than we expected. She started a half-day Pre-K program in the afternoons and has an amazing teacher, who also loves the Lord! We feel so blessed!
I have watched the Lord work over and over in my life throughout the years, so I shouldn't be amazed by His kindness and faithfulness, but I am. And honestly, I pray I always will be. I don't ever want to take His activity in my life for granted. I don't deserve a single ounce of His goodness. Grace, grace, God's grace...that's all it is! Each day is a new adventure, and I'm excited to see where He'll take us. Whatever we do and wherever we go, I pray it will ALWAYS be for His glory alone!

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