Saturday, August 25, 2012

brooks, swings, games, and God all in PA :)

"Cheese" from PA
(and a little mischief!)
So here we are... over a thousand miles from home with no family and initially no friends. The Lord has no doubt sent us here to do His work and to be His hands and feet within the ministry of Faith UMC and we find ourselves in a position of being ministered to - WOW! It brings to my mind the old hymn that says "where He leads me, I will follow; where He leads me, I will follow; where He leads me, I will follow; I'll go with Him, with Him all the way." and also the old Audio Adrenaline song Hands and Feet that says "I am willing yet am so afraid! You give me strength when I say ... I wanna be Your hands. I wanna be Your feet! I'll go where You send me, go where You send me. I wanna be Your hands. I wanna be Your feet! I'll go where You send me, go where You send me. And I'll try, yeah I'll try, to touch the world like You touched my life, And I'll find my way To be Your hands....." We have found ourselves a thousand miles from what we have always known as familiar and what we have always considered "home" and have learned a thing or two! 

after a game of Rummikub
and we still like each other!!!
We have learned about ministering to others and all the while we have learned by way of example about how to minister to others. We find ourselves full of gratitude beyond expression for the opportunities to fellowship with other people, even just sitting around watching children play, eating a tomato sandwich with tomatoes grown and picked from someones garden that they wanted to share, or by a simple note of encouragement from someone who just wanted to say "thanks for what you do." We find ourselves in a position that I have begun to wonder if the Lord sent us up here for Faith UMC or if the Lord brought us up here to show us another means of grace in our own life. A grace that is far beyond the comforts of what you know and that you find in the shadows of the things you find frightful and lonely. Those moments when you are able to stand still after a day with new people and know that the Lord is doing a mighty work and not through us or with us. But realizing that He is allowing us to experience and watch a mighty work that He is doing all because HE IS KING! 

LLWS game - New Jersey vs Oregon
Pennsylvania is absolutely a beautiful place to be with beautiful people and warm hearts! It has taught me a thing or two that I have now added to my Southern Hospitality repertoire.  Pennsylvania  has also taught me a thing or two about the wonder of a new place and how new is good for the soul! It keeps you young and energetic, always willing to go
it really is the Goodyear Blimp!
 and explore a new place - because it is ALL new right now! I find myself wanting to share about what I'm doing more, take more pictures of our family and of Chip, and to just sit back and admire the amazing masterpiece our God has created! I have seen the greenest mountainsides that I have ever experienced, felt the passing of a mountain brook and watched it ripply by - is path only interrupted by a stone or a stick that might be in its way. We have also watched kids play
splashing in a brook -
one of my favorite pictures
as of yet in PA
on the biggest baseball diamond in a 12-year old's life, Little League World Series,  and experienced things that make me feel like a kid again such as watching the Goodyear blimp land at the local airport. I have had quiet moments with my husband that measure up to those first moments after I knew that we would marry and have seen expressions on Chip's face that replicate pure and absolute joy and peace in his little world! All of these things, I think, I find myself noticing because I want to take it all in and not miss anything or take the time up here for granted!

After a fun afternoon of
swimming. Resting and
warming up!
Isn't this the life we are called to live each and every day? We are called to in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 to "Rejoice always, pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's Will for you in Christ Jesus." If I was here and missed what the Lord has given me and the place that God has brought me to because I was looking back to Alabama wistfully and with sorrow, would I be any better than Lot's wife? We are told in Ecclesiastes that there is a time for everything! I am not saying that I haven't had homesick moments, or opportunities that have passed that I didn't miss the south, but look at what all I would be missing if I were not getting up and fighting the good fight! What use am I to the God who sent me here in the first place and to the Kingdom, then? I told a friend on the phone the other day 
I see this as a jigsaw puzzle -
just beautiful!
that Tony and I had been through the refining fire that you, as a Christian, hear about and truthfully dread, and through the grace of God, the heat and pressure of the last 6 1/2 years of our lives have not burned or broken us, but they have refined us. They have continually changed and molded us into the people and the couple that we are today and we are so much better for it! Look where God has brought us now, on the other side of a refining moment in our lives, and look what He has done for us! He has blessed us beyond measure and beyond words!
a fun day at the Faith
UMC playground
All of this rambling tonight to ask you to live a little. If that means to borrow someone's toddler and go to a park and see everything through the eyes of the child, then slide down the slide and swing on the squeaky swings! If it means to find a new place and visit it and be 
we 'hatched' a moth!
open to the wonder of it all that God has created, then go exploring! And if it means living through a time in your life that you don't fully understand with a determination that will last, then be refined and 
strengthened, and then endure the heat with hope! Be encouraged today! There is beauty all around you and a purpose that you are standing in the spot you find yourself in! Learn what you are there to learn and then take that into the world! Share the silly things you see that amaze you and laugh about the things that don't go as planned!

This is the view from just up the hill from our house. We don't see sunsets like this in Alabama!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

a little rain never hurt anybody!

So we have really dedicated ourselves to truly 'living' the PA life here in Montoursville and the surrounding area. That includes doing silly things like the fair, the farmers markets, meeting neighbors, introducing ourselves to the mail lady, and lots of other things. This week living in Pennsylvania meant attending the Little League World Series parade. As Dothan natives, we are up to date on parades, thanks to the National Peanut Festival Parade. This, though, was totally different! Couple of major differences: the emphasis was baseball, not a peanut, and there wasn't a SINGLE BEAUTY QUEEN!!! It was really quite refreshing to get out as the three of us and enjoy something new and fun!

Chip Sharp, had purely died and gone to heaven! There were firetrucks,
  "big trucks" (18-wheelers), "big brass bands" (high school bands), and baseball teams! He couldn't have been more excited - he has been to parades before, but I think this is going to be the first one he really 'remembers'.

We were blessed to be able to be within speaking distance of the amazing Wade Boggs, as he was the Grand Marshall of the parade this year! It was a really neat experience, and one that Tony appreciated most of all!

In all, there are 16 teams that make it to the LLWS. Eight from America and eight international team. I was lucky and able to get a picture of each team which was really a neat experience!

Tony and I were each able to enjoy this moment in Chip's life in our own way. We were each to see through the eyes of a toddler, the excitement and joy in the small things of life such as another tractor, or another "big truck" or even what he is convinced is a "big brass band". Where else and how else do we keep our eyes on the prize and joys in life without a toddler. 

There is a magic in the world when you are four that is beautiful and fabulously innocent! They see things so differently, and I try to learn a little something from him each time we do something like this! A little rain never hurt anyone, and we should just let God do a little cleansing work through the rain and clean our hearts and minds to see things more clearly!

All of this joy on a day that began as a reminder of why we are in Pennsylvania! We are here to do the Lord's work! We will find opposition, but the prize is simple and great! The sad moments are but a mere reminder of the fact that this world is temporary but the kingdom work goes on forever! Enjoy the moments of awe in your life! Allow the rain to wash away the sadness and cleanse the lenses you see the world through and to reveal the purpose in your place. Whether you are at a church plant near Auburn, AL, at a mega church in Dothan, AL, working in a local church garden in Napier Field, AL, in the African Congo as a missionary or in Montoursville, PA as a worship leader, the Lord has a plan and a purpose for your life! Ask him to reveal it, and you might just get a little wet - a little rain never hurt anybody!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

a month, and then what?

So as I woke up this morning, I felt a little cloudy - similar to the weather today. We are so happy and so blessed up here. The Lord has done what He does best, and that is to go above and beyond all means to make sure that we are provided for and that His presence is ever near.

There are, though, those days where the familiar things seem to be further away than other days. Things like the smells and sounds of Dothan, the little nuances that we took for granted that are not there anymore. Those tend to be the things that I find myself missing on days like today.

Things like silly inside jokes, secret escapes with girlfriends, and fun relaxing spots for you and your family! Also, things that we take for granted such as grocery stores and brands that we just "know" to be able to go get. Those people in your life that you can call and say that you absolutely didn't want or need anything at all and yet you wanted to call them and "talk".

Days like today, though, I also remember why I am here. I remember how in 2002 I met, and then in 2005 married my life partner (in crime!?!?) and best friend! I remember how he is the head of our home and how he is following the Lord's tug on his heart to take a huge step of faith and how blessed we have been for it! I see how far our marriage has come in those 6 1/2 years and think about how I wouldn't trade one single argument or bad day for anything in the world. Where we are today is a result of where we were yesterday! 

I find strength on days like today in the scriptures such as these two:

*This is the day that the Lord has made! I will rejoice and be glad in it! ~Psalm 118:24
*Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. ~ Isaiah 40:28-31

I find strength in the Lord and I find fulfillment in His presence within me! We will be going to do a fun family outing in a little while (I'm not telling what, yet!) and will blog about it with fun pictures soon! Until then, keep the faith, keep your head up, and keep on keeping on! :)


Sunday, August 5, 2012

the journey - then and now

So it has been a while since I have blogged but I can't help but put it off every time I think about it. I am still in awe that we live in Pennsylvania and that we traveled over 1,000 miles to get her, let alone that we have been here for a month now! When we got home from visiting PA and Tony was offered the job and accepted it, we began telling those that we love that we were going to accept the position that had been offered to Tony. 
Our last rain storm in Alabama only definitely requires boots and a jacket to play in it with!
We began packing boxes, trying to prepare Chip for a big change, getting our personal affairs in order, and all of the other things you do when you are getting ready to move. I would be a total liar if I told you that there weren't any tears and an inkling of fear, but through lots of prayer and guidance, the Lord washed those things that were not of Him away quickly.

"Beautiful Things" - one of my favorite songs and the best these talents EVER performed together! 
We began saying goodbyes to some shocked people (shocked by the news of the new move) and we began preparing the last parts of our hearts for the journey ahead. We also were VERY VERY VERY excited about this journey! Who else on Earth is blessed enough to be able to say that they get their dream job in a beautiful place, and what other wife gets to say that she has watched her husband become the man that gets to have his dream job and flourish in the gifts that the Lord has given him!?!? 
sleeping like a log in his room in Alabama
As my grandmother used to say, "I could have just swelled up like an ol' toady frog" I was so proud and excited for Tony and this opportunity. People regularly asked me, and still do, why in the world was I so willing to leave my family, friends, hometown, and all I have ever known to move to Pennsylvania. Though cliche and simple, my answer is still the same - "I chose Tony Sharp 6 1/2 years ago on our wedding day, and I still choose Him now!" 
our last picture at our home in Alabama! 
Also, though, the Lord began instilling in us both over a year ago that our time in Dothan was drawing to an end. We never knew that it meant Pennsylvania, but why wouldn't it - why would we put God in that kind of box to not assume that the Lord would send us where He wanted/needed us? There is, though, a huge human part of me that is grateful that it was Pennsylvania, not the African Congo, China, or somewhere like that. I feel like the Lord was merciful to us in that regard! *Sorry for the digression* BUT, Tony felt certain that this was from the Lord and what he was being called to do and where he was being called to go, and as a wife, who am I to stand in the way of his relationship with the Lord and his calling by God to "go"? 
*sorry it's sideways* Making snack bags for the trip with cousing Laynie and Aunt D
One day, I will stand before the throne of the Living God and be asked to testify for all of my actions and decisions - this is not one that I will have to answer for!. I will stand firm that I believe in Tony's wisdom as a husband/father and that this is where we are to be and I have no doubt or regret in his/our decision to come. 

Lots of entertainment through this trip! and even one nap!
All of that being said, let me emphasize that I, too, have had many confirmations and displays of the Lord's hand in this and I, too, have no doubt that this is where we are to be! Things as small as the farmer's market, groceries for Chip, friendly faces, gracious people to help me figure out clothing for PA weather, kind gestures, handwritten cards, and on and on and on, have continually confirmed in me that we are in the right place! 

We have had hurdles, don't get me wrong! There have been tears, there has been frustration, there has been fear, anger, and a little depression, and there has been lots of adjusting. 
onward and upward! 
But our God is so much greater than all of that! He is beyond that in such a way! The "Peace that passes all understanding" that we, as Christians, hear so much about (and sometimes just blow off or take for granted) has overcome me so many times and in so many ways, I can't even begin to blog about it all the peace I have personally experienced!

We are a blessed family that has had the opportunity of a lifetime to literally be the hands and feet of Jesus in a new place, to new people, and with His blessing! We are also a grateful family that has had the opportunity to experience the hands and feet of Jesus through other people that have shown us a way of hospitality, grace, and welcome that we could have never imagined possible! 
a beautiful almost-full moon in the mountains of Virginia
And, we are a "TEAM SHARP" family that has chosen to be the best team possible - God's team - no matter the circumstances! We have chosen to pray for each other, pray together, encourage one another, and love each other during this transition in a way that only "TEAM SHARP" can! 

There will be much more adjusting to do, I'm sure. And the tears aren't done falling and the fear is only temporarily put down, but when those things come back, we have Jesus to claim as victorious and we have each other to encourage and support one another! 

So if you see Tony or I, or even Chip, don't wonder why we chose Pennsylvania, and don't worry about the fact that we are "so far from home" but celebrate with us in the choice to follow Jesus that we made and join us in this journey, hand in hand, and ready to see God move in a mighty way! 
the rental truck with the mountains in the background 
Join us in celebrating the victories we have already had and the celebrations that are to come! That was the journey then, who knows where this journey will lead us today! 


Before I close this blog, i'd like to share a few more pictures from the journey up! Enjoy :)

I decided to take pictures of all the state signs on the whole trip up andcan you believe i got every one of them!?!?
State #1 - Georgia
State #2 - South Carolina
State #3 - North Carolina
State #4 - Virginia (at night!!!)

State #5 - West Virginia, Tuesday morning

State #6  Maryland (for only about 25 miles - LOL)
And finally, State #7 - PENNSYLVANIA!!!!!!!!

Chip - "Oh my gosh! Look at the mountains!!!"

Welcome to Mountoursville! New home of the Sharps!

A few pictures of our house - Boxes and all!!!

Fourth of July in a new place :)

 Chip's 4th birthday in our new house in Pennsylvania!!!
I'm FOUR!!!

We have as many bunnies in PA as we had squirrels in AL


BYE FOR NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
and until next time.......................... <>< Go in Christ, walk in your own journey that the Lord has placed you in, and forge on into what He has for you!