Monday, January 25, 2010

Some Big News!

I'll go ahead and put everyone out of their misery... no the big news is NOT a baby ;) That said, we have been super busy year so far in 2010! We had a great time at home for Christmas and have been back to the grind since the new year!

Colby is starting back to class this weekend and is already overwhelmed with reading assignments and lining up a semester long research project about the homeless in downtown San Francisco. I am relieved to say that I am feeling a bit more comfortable at work and I am officially checked off on all of my "advanced skills" which means I have been released into the wild world of deliveries! (And just this week, I intubated for a surprise meconium kid all by myself... well, with the help of a shaking Labor and Delivery nurse! I must admit... it was a bit of a rush!) We are becoming closer to friends here and are really trying to make it our home.

In the past couple weeks we have heard the news of two HUGE exciting events in the life of our ministry, both present and future!

I'll start with the present... The financial and circumstantial crisis our church finds itself in at the present time has so sadly resulted in all of the staff being let go. After strongly sensing the Lord calling us to this church - even in their time of crisis - we knew it must be because we could help be vessels and ask the Lord to use us to help change this church and see the beautiful exchange of beauty for ashes! We made it known to the interim pastor that with Colby not having a regular job, we would be willing to help in any capacity. We met this week with our interim pastor and the current Children's minister where they asked us to slowly transition into the Children's minister/ directors on a volunteer basis!!! We are totally excited... but I must admit it is a big task and I think we both know this is a task that we MUST depend on the Lord to give us the strength and wisdom on this journey! We should be in full swing on our own by summer time! We will keep you updated and in the meantime would LOVE any feedback from those of you that have previous and/or current experience!

I saved the best and future ministry plans for last! Shortly before we moved, some dear, dear friends Zack and Jennifer Stepp took us out to dinner where they shared an incredible vision they believe that the Lord gave them... They believed so strongly in our calling to Africa that they wanted to be an integral part of this journey and ministry in an intimate way. As Zack had just graduated from Law School and was waiting on his Bar results, he amazingly took on the task of learning tax law and completed all the necessary (and ENDLESS!!) paper work to establish a non-profit organization that will begin to serve as a platform for ministry in Africa! In the last couple weeks, we received the long awaited official paperwork from the IRS stating that our corporation is now recognized as a not-for-profit entity!!! This ministry is named Acacia Missions. The Acacia tree is a beautiful tree that can been seen throughout African plains, but we really loved the Biblical reference to these trees from Isaiah 41: 17-20. (You should check it out!) We are praying for the Lord to give us an initial project to begin working on and are waiting on His perfect timing! We are so thankful for friends who are willing to sacrifice and make a long term commitment to believe in our calling and keep us accountable!

We love you all and, again, would love to hear feed back/wisdom about the latest happenings in our ministry! Also, pray that we will be protected from the lie that we can do these things in our own strength and power! We know that lives are only changed by the Name of Jesus.

Love and miss you very much,

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Tough Stuff

Although there are many wonderful things happening in our lives right now, I think I have been avoiding a blog post because of the "not so wonderful" things that are just a part of living life! I will start with the wonderful things first :)

Colby finished up his first semester really strong, and got an A in the class that he has already received the final grade in... we are waiting to hear from the rest! This means 3 more semesters and a summer long research project abroad before he graduates with his MAIS, and probably about 7 more semesters until he finishes up with his MDIV. This is exciting and we cannot believe how fast the first semester has gone! I previously mentioned that we would be helping start a ministry for twentysomethings in our church, but the plans have changed and we have been asked to help transition the children's ministry into a "volunteer run" ministry starting in January! This is a little scary because neither of us has ever done children's ministry, but our interim pastor felt it would be a great (and yes, challenging!) fit for us with our interest in orphanage ministry in the future. Also, we think Colby may have gotten a little job on the side so that we can have a little extra money to save to come home or other special purchases! He'll be working with a man that has a business that assembles furniture (mostly Ikea stuff) in peoples' homes for them. The best part about it is the super flexible hours and most jobs he'll be able to ride with the guy which helps a TON since we only have one car! We are so thankful for all of these wonderful things and look forward to what next semester holds.

On to the tough stuff... As many of you may know, I have been battling with Rheumatoid Arthritis for about 10 years. For those who don't know, this is a disease where my body has gotten confused and attacks its own joints, causing pain and fatigue. I am very thankful that the majority of the last 10 years I have had great control and a slow progressing form of this disease! The medication that I normally take to treat RA is extremely expensive and, as a result, I have not been taking it for several months since right now we have essentially "emergency only" health insurance. Since starting my job, my energy level has been getting lower and lower and most days I am off are spent resting. It is frustrating to have a busy and productive mind and a body that just cannot keep up. I am really sharing all of this, not for pity or anything else, but a humble request to lift us up in prayer. It has also been really hard for Colby to cope... he has never seen me struggle this much with RA and is at a loss for what to say or do to help and I can tell it makes him feel helpless and sad. We are moving forward, trusting that the Joy of the Lord is our strength and are still enjoying life and making new friends... this is just a bump in the road and we are asking for your help to hold us up!

The hospital I work for offers GREAT benefits, but there is a 90 day waiting period from the first day of work! I am excited that my coverage starts January 1 and I'll be able to find a doctor that can get me started back on my medicine. We are so thankful that we live in a place and have been given the resources to receive treatment... I so often think of those who are suffering that have no hope of relief! We love you all and we are thankful to have friends who can be entrusted with the personal details and struggles in our journey.

Also, we cannot WAIT to get home! We'll be arriving in ATL on Christmas Eve... of course, we'll be spending Christmas and the Day after with family. We will be at church in Watkinsville on Sunday and I'll be working an 8 hour shift back at Gwinnett on the 29th. We would love to see anyone who has the time... just e-mail me and we'll try to work out a time :)

So thankful for your prayers,

Sunday, November 15, 2009

So much to be thankful for....

It is official... we are coming home for Christmas! Of course this is a big deal, but it is an even bigger deal being a nurse at a new place and getting the entire week of Christmas off without even asking (another reminder that the Spirit is interceding for our needs so that they are met before we even ask!)!!! We arrive on Christmas Eve in the afternoon and head back to Cali on the 30th as I have to return to work on New Year's Eve. We will be touring through Snellville, Dahlonega and Watkinsville - mostly visiting with family, but if you would like to see us, let us know when you'll be stopping by!

I went through a couple weeks of really bad homesickness and feeling a bit like a failure at work... I walked past a group of nursing students in their white scrubs and briefly wished I could just join them and hide from the new (and daunting) responsibilities of this new job, or be back at Gwinnett in my royal blues where everyone knew me and I actually knew what I was doing! Then I quickly realized that being a student totally sucks and that this job is an awesome opportunity - I reminded myself that I was not given a spirit of fear, and turned myself around. Doing much better with my first intubation under my belt and only one more week of my orientation... I am gaining confidence and more certain than ever that God has been directing our steps out here.

As far as ministry goes, we have been asked to start a new ministry/small group at church focusing on the 20-30's crowd. This is a huge age group in SF... there are many students, grad students, and young professionals. We are thinking and praying hard about what direction to take with this group, but we are hoping to help this group articulate the absolute truth found in Jesus while navigating through a relativistic world. We are hoping to get this group kicked off by mid-January... we'll keep you posted. Also, we are working on some other projects that will help us accomplish our goals in Africa in the future. Really working through what we feel our mission statement for ministry will look like and some really exciting happenings that we'll have to share in the coming months.... (in the realm of missions, not grandchildren to any who would read into this the wrong way - MOM!)

I was telling Colby after I got off work yesterday that while washing my hands I had a strange moment of realization.... I all of a sudden realized that by the time Colby finishes here, we will both be 28. I do not think that is old by ANY means, but for some strange reason, it hit me like a ton of bricks. Colby asked why and I said, "I just feel like I would have done more in my life by now!" Colby said, "Ellen, we have already had more opportunity than most our age: we have both completed bachelor degrees, worked as professionals for a couple years and you are in the second job of your career that is a better opportunity than the first, I am working on two Masters degrees, we moved all the way across the country, and we've traveled the world... that is a lot!" To that I replied, "Well... when you put it that way...." I was reminded of all the seemingly insignificant details that God has perfectly orchestrated to get us where we are today... we are so unworthy and unqualified, yet He chose to take us as we were and is in the process of making us more like Him. The best part it is... He is directing this journey and He is not finished with us yet!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


I cannot believe I have let this much time go by before updating! I promised myself when we moved out here I'd be very good about updating! I guess life just got the best of me... Since you've last heard from us, I have started my job and I feel like I am beginning to sort of settle in although I have not had the opportunity to intubate or place umbilical lines yet! One thing that is kinda funny to get used to is all the stereotypical Berkeley "au naturale" births! There were some natural births in Gwinnett, but some of the people out here are a little over the top! It makes life interesting and it is always fun to see how different people live life so differently... wow, that was confusing.

Also, after finishing up my second week of work, we had our first visitor arrive! Colby's sister, Elizabeth, came on Wednesday and stayed until Saturday. We squeezed every possible tourist-ish outing in the city and Marin that we possibly could before returning her to the airport on Saturday where we said our good-byes and watched her go through security, took a deep breath, a long swig of our caffeinated drinks and said hello to one of my dearest friends, Michelle, walking through the Arrivals gate! She was able to stay for a whole week, so we were able to take our time with the site seeing! We had a great time with them both (and I am pretty sure I could now qualify to be an official Alcatraz tour guide!) and their visit came at a great time for me when I was really beginning to feel the sting of homesickness. It was strange to have them here, it almost made me feel like I wasn't so far away after all. Now we are looking toward the holidays and trying to make plans... none made yet. Holiday life is hard for a full time nurse...

Although it is tempting to get homesick, we are starting to feel more at home here and have definitely heard the voice of the Lord calling us to serve at First Baptist San Francisco while here. Without getting into all of the historical details, we have been lead here at a very critical time. This summer, the church lost their pastor to health complications and over the several years of his illness, the church's health has been declining too. This is a church that was founded the same year as the gold rush... 160 years ago! Now, they have just had to let go everyone but an (awesome!) new interim pastor and a secretary. We feel that this is the answer we have been looking for Colby to step in. We have waited about a job for Colby because the Lord has blessed us so much with my job, that we thought Colby's time would be better invested in his school work, but we have also prayed for a ministry opportunity for us to both have a chance for "hands on" learning... well, here is our chance! We are not sure how this will all play out, but we've told the pastor that we (mainly Colby) are willing to help and basically see this as Colby's part time "job" although, of course, it will be voluntary work. We are waiting to hear back from him (hopefully this week, or next) about where we could be of the most use.

We are missing home more than ever, but at the same time, feel more confident than ever that God has called us to love and serve this City for a season in our life. Continue to pray for us, that we would receive wisdom and strength from the Lord while keeping a humble spirit!

We love you all... I am posting a few pics of our "tour guide" adventures!


Friday, September 25, 2009


So, it has been a long while since I've written. I think blogging is one of those things that is easy to put off, but then you realize that you have so much to tell... well, you never really know who you are telling, you just know that whoever it is, you want them to catch up on stuff going on. Or maybe it is just a way that I use to feel closer to home/people/something familiar. Anyhow, we've been just going along with life these last couple of weeks. Colby is really getting into the semester and that means a lot of "reading nights" which is a good thing because I have finally overcome my non-reading funk left over from nursing school and read with him! I am amazed to hear what he is reading and learning, and I must say that it is fun to see him gaining so much knowledge (he has always been the smart kid to play the "fun guy" role, but he seems much more serious now!). We've continued to enjoy our time together. Last week, we rode the ferry from the next town over right up to the Giants stadium... it is right on the water! We enjoyed the game (even Colby although it was not the Braves) and realized that hot days do not mean warm nights in San Francisco... we were bundled up with hoodies and winter hats - at a baseball game!

The next big event: we celebrated our 2nd anniversary on Tuesday the 22nd! Although I had to go to Oakland for a pre-employment physical and set up my "personnel file" with HR, Colby had a lovely evening planned when I finally got home! We had a beautiful sunset dinner at a restaurant right down the street that is literally on the water. They are famous for their sunset views... behind the water is beautiful Mount Tamalpais which the sun sets behind. We enjoyed our yummy italian dinner while reminiscing over the last two years and how much has happened and wondering what we will be looking back on in 10, 20, 30, etc years! We feel so incredibly blessed and sometimes I feel like God has swept us away on an adventure and as long as our hearts are surrendered to His will, there is only more adventure, surprise, blessings (and challenges!) ahead! We have also planned a beach horse back ride sometime in October... a life long dream of mine - to celebrate these two years!

The permanence is setting in and it is both exciting and unsettling. Exciting because I think we are actually feeling somewhat "at home" here, but it is unsettling knowing that means life is going on in Georgia - without us. This seems to bother me more than Colby, but maybe that is just because he's been busy with school. I was looking at my new badge from work sitting next to my old one in the car and it just seems so real... we are out here, we are staying, this is our home now - it is sad. More time equals more distance and that is kinda sucky. It is a harsh reality of "growing up"... heading into a new, wonderful, exciting chapter in life, but at the same time, leaving a different kind of wonderful behind. The thought of an indefinite time here with no idea when we might come home (although we are hoping for sometime during the holidays... but not sure what holidays I'll have to work) is scary, but I am so relieved that we have a great dose of home coming very soon! Colby's sister, Elizabeth is going to be our very first visitor! She flies in on October 6th, then when we take her back to the airport on October 10th, we'll be picking up Michelle, one of my best friends from college! I think this will be so good for us (or maybe just me?) to be able to make some link between this life and our Georgia life... someone to see "our town" and our home. It is funny the pride you can take in such simple things as "And this is where we go to the grocery store, and this is our favorite restaurant, etc." I cannot wait :)

Lastly, I start my job on Monday, I repeat MONDAY! I initially thought I would start October 12 after Nursing orientation, but my manager called me today to see if I could start earlier. From a financial standpoint, this is awesome... but I must admit, I am a little anxious! I think it has been long enough though... I am bored of just being at home doing uuber "wifely things" (aka cooking, baking, cleaning, etc) and nothing else :) It has been a nice break, but I am ready to be back to work. I will have to update after this coming week to let you know how it goes!

We love you and (obviously) miss you!


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Marin Life

So, I feel like we (especially me because I am the worrier in this duo) have breathed a sigh of relief since I got the job offer and can let our hair down even more than we had! I am hoping to start work either the last week of September or first week of really just depends on how quickly they can process my background check. I have really been trying to get everything around the house super settled before I get started at work and this included a little project. There was a really "unloved" wicker chair kind of shoved in the corner of our apartment mother taught me well and I know a spray paint resuscitation when I see one! After checking with the "Lane Ambassador" (a fancy title for the "go to" person in our complex), a few cans of spray paint, cute cushions, a tiny table and plant turned this eye sore into a welcoming site outside our front door! I think it needs another coat of paint, but will do for now. I have included a picture :) We have also been enjoying ourselves around town. We went to Crissy Field in San Francisco where they have a beautiful beach! (This is the photo with the seagull) It was a nice warm day, so i took off my sandals to walk in the waves: BIG surprise, it was FREEZING! We have quickly learned these beaches are only for swimming if you are wearing a wet suit! Another adventure was lunch in nearby Tiburon. A quaint little town in Marin county right on the water with a ferry and yacht marina. You can see Angel Island and the whole city!

One of the biggest loses that we have felt so far in SF is our church at home in Watkinsville! We have been on the search since we got here and have decided that the church we left is irreplaceable and are trying to refocus our view to find the right fit for this season of life! Today we returned to First Baptist San Francisco...which I might add is quite different than most Southern "First Baptists"! It is a really old building right in downtown, located next to the Castro district which is a stark contrast to the field that FBC Watkinsville is located in! It is the biggest melting pot of old, young, single, married, black, white, asian, hispanic, wealthy professionals, and even homeless; and although it is out of our little bubble of a comfort zone, it is a beautiful reminder that the Body of Christ is just as diverse as the cells of our own bodies. Where else can a Medical resident at UCSF and a special needs homeless man join together in unity and claim that they share the most central part of life: a personal relationship with Jesus Christ!

Today, after church we went to the Long Beach district, which is San Francisco's version of Little Italy. We ate at a cute little bistro table on the sidewalk at a restaurant called Calzones! I feel kind of like I am living someone else's life when lunch after church is a romantic get away with tourists driving by in buses taking photos and some of the best people watching you've ever seen! Our waiter was a round, jolly Italian man in a vest and tie and he smiled the funniest smile and he brought our calzones and pizza to us...I really felt like I was in a movie! I have seen the grace of God and the truth in His word when He says that if earthly fathers give good gifts to their much more will our Heavenly Father give perfect gifts to us! I am humbled and blessed by this special season in our life and as the days and weeks pass, I am so aware that all of these little moments are some that we will treasure until we grow old. Homesickness is creeping in at times when we least expect it, but usually does not stay for long: we just cannot believe that we have been away from Georgia for seven weeks!

We would LOVE to hear from anyone who actually reads this thing and hear what is going on in your lives back in Georgia (or San Fran, or wherever you may be!)...a quick e-mail or FB message would make both of our days!

Love you and miss you more and more,

PS: for some reason, this thing is not letting me add the photos...I'll try to add them later :)

Friday, September 4, 2009


BIG NEWS: I went for my third and final interview today and a couple hours later the manager called me back to offer the 72 hr/pay period position!!!!!!!!!! I was in shock! I told Colby I don't think I have been that relieved/excited/shocked since I passed the NCLEX (the nursing license exam). I really had to just be in awe of the Lord and His sovereignty. This was a job that I almost didn't apply for because I felt so under qualified for, but Colby convinced me that it could not hurt to just apply. I can honestly say that I have been given favor with this hospital, just like Esther! Now, that I actually got the job... it kinda freaks me out! The thought of intubating a 23 weeker and placing/suturing umbilical lines and maybe even inserting and securing chest tubes seems quite intimidating! (Apologies to the non-medical readers for the nursing jargon) BUT, with all that aside, you all may rejoice with us because I am quite confident a LARGE part of me receiving this position was due to all the prayer from sooo many family members and friends - we have been overwhelmed by all of your encouragements and prayers! I am so thankful for situations like these where I cannot take the credit because it continues to teach me that God is so much bigger than we are! He goes before us and behind us and beside us...he knew that I would need this job before I even dreamt of moving to California. The great thing about this job is that since it is full time, Colby really won't have to get a job: he can have all the time in the world for reading, paper writing and learning who the Lord is calling him to me as a minister! Although he is considering substitute teaching for high schoolers just for fun.

As Colby has been studying "people groups" for his MAIS, he was telling me last night that we fall into the "Sojourners" category. This category is for people who are in a certain place, but only for a short amount of time; in other words, they are not there permanently. As I was praying last night, I was thinking that as Believers and followers of Jesus Christ we should all be living our lives as "Sojourners". I know, I know...this has the possibility of sounding a bit philosophically cheesy, but think about it. For example, although I am living in California right now, I still consider Georgia my home. It is where my family is, it is where friends are, it is where familiarity is, it is where I am most loved. Although I am making the best of my time in California and loving, loving, loving it...I am looking forward to going back home! Is that not what we are called to be here? Diligent in our work , loving and serving people, but always, always with our thoughts and affections in the direction of Heaven, our home? I feel if I can humble myself enough to consistently accept this, I will be a much more joyous person knowing that this is not my home...I am just passing through! So when the homesickness for Georgia starts to creep in (which I know it will...and already does a little at times) I can rest knowing that I will not truly be home until I am home with the Father.

Thank you all again from the bottom of our hearts for all the prayer... we really need it!
Love you all,