Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Home for the Holidays

We are back in Alabama! from 9 degrees to 60 degrees :) We flew out the morning right before a big snowstorm came-all our friends are snowed in and sledding..kinda sad we missed the first one of the year, but there will be plenty more apparently..up until April..eek!

Its been nice to be home for a few days and we are excited to see our new nephew, Waylon Patrick Granger, born December 17! Chad has been finishing up his finals here and then we will head down to meet the precious little guy!

The past month felt like a whirlwind, and I feel like I am just starting to get my head back on straight. With the end of the semester and finals-it felt like a constant uphill battle to study so much information! So thankful to be done, but in these past few days I have been reflecting on how studying tends to make me selfish and when we are so stressed and concerned with OUR schoolwork, it numbs us to our need first for the Lord, second to be attentive to the needs of others and just becoming consumed with ourselves.  I am praying that next semester, the rest of school, the rest of LIFE I would remember this and daily take this battle of serving ourselves to the Lord and pray for Him to change our disordered priorities and thinking to be rightly centered around Him. 
We did get a super special treat over Thanksgiving break-our friends Jake and Margaret from Auburn came to visit! It was so fun and refreshing to have friends that know us get to see our new world! We had so much fun exploring with them and introducing them to our life and New England and seminary life-they were Bell Hall residents for a few days :) They were an encouragement and joy to us in their visit. It was hard to see them go.But so thankful they came and thankful for their continued friendship, even though we moved apart. Also, thankful for this picture of the body of Christ and community. We did a potluck Thanksgiving with Bell Hall. As you can see, its made of people from all over with different stories, and it is such a blessing to be a part of this unique community!

We are excited to be home in Alabama until January 12 and hope to see y'all!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

No Haircuts November :)

It's been awhile since my last post, but its because we have been studying…studying..studying..I feel like sometimes we are both trying to keep our heads above water with the amount of schoolwork we have.  BUT the great things is we both LOVE what we are studying! Here is Chad's update for those of you that don't get the email and sorry to those that do: (But I think its great (even for me) to hear it in his words how he is doing! :) )
Friends and Loved Ones,

The fall season is in full swing here in New England. The leaves are dressed in bright shades of red, yellow, and orange, the mornings are crisp and chilly, and the Red Sox are in the World Series. It really is a beautiful and exciting time of year to be in this part of the country. I’m constantly reminded of God’s beauty and creativity through my surroundings as I walk up and down the hill to and from class each day. I often think of many of you during those walks with a prayerful and grateful heart because our reality would not be a possibility without your prayers and generous giving. Thank each of you so much for your encouragement and support of Allison and I in this season of our life.

The longer we’re here the more confident I am that this is exactly where God wants us. School has been incredibly challenging, but amazingly enriching. My classes are like trying to sip water from a fire hose. I constantly feel overwhelmed by God, our Creator and Redeemer, in a good and humbling way. I can honestly say my view of God and therefore my worship of God have grown in these first two months of class. I’m only half way through my first semester, but I already feel better equipped and trained to love and serve God’s people and Kingdom.

One book that I recently read for my systematic theology class that has been particularly enriching and encouraging is called The Drama of Scripturecoauthored by Bartholomew and Goheen. It is about the historical narrative of God’s redemption of his people through out all of scripture. In other words, it shows you how the bible is one grand story of God as the Bridegroom pursuing and redeeming his bride from creation to consummation of the world. It makes sense of the parts, the individual books of the bible, in light of the whole, the entire canon of scripture. It also brings clarity to the mission and purpose of our individual stories today within the context of the larger story were apart of. If you struggle with connecting the Old Testament to the New Testament or with your role as a Christian in your current job I encouraged you to read this book. I think it will encourage you greatly and renew your love for God’s word.

Please continue to remember us in your prayers. Please pray that our many relationships in our new community would grow into fruitful friendships, that God would continue to provide and stabilize us financially, that I would be able to find a flexible part-time job to fit my class schedule, and that we could continue to get plug into our new church community. Please let us know how we can be praying for you as well.

Thank all of you again for your faithful partnership and prayers. Blessings, Chad and Allison

So, we are so so grateful for all of your prayers! We have felt God's hand and blessing on us in ways like never before.  We have seen God continually provide, even when we fear and doubt, and pray that he continues to! Chad has gotten a regular yard work job for some ladies that live around Hamilton, which has been a huge blessing!! (AND ANSWERED PRAYER-from chad's letter) as well as to be a part of the snow shoveling team at Gordon Conwell! We are in for a shock I think with this weather change-its already too cold for me! :/ eek!  We also got to celebrate our anniversary and my birthday because of sweet gifts :
From my sweet godmother, Maizie :)
& A trip to Vermont as a birthday gift groupon from my parents! So special and it snowed!! :)
We are so thankful for the blessing that you are in our lives through prayer and support.

We have also been blessed in relationships so thank you for praying for that! We have rich community at seminary and pray for those relationships to continue to grow and deepen.  We also have been blessed with relationships with non-believers and have found that people are really drawn to us as Southerners.  It feels so different to be the outsider, but are thankful to be received well (overall that is :) and have an opportunity to share our lives and speak the gospel in this mission field of New England!
These are our friends Nick and Katie from CA, we have loved getting to know them and really enjoy our time with them! We carved pumpkins, watched football and roasted the seeds ! (ranch and salted caramel)

Fondue party with some of Bell Hall friends! Its so neat to see God bring community together from all over! And to have people living the same way we are and be creative with fun things to do while living in a dorm and being in school post college :)
 Lydia (CO), Emily (TX), Stephanie (GA) and Katie (CA)

I have also been so blessed by my PA school friends, Brittany (from NJ) and Dena (from here/VT). They have been such great friends to me, and makes studying so much better!
This is us getting to watch the Red Sox win the World Series at a restaurant connected to Fenway, Game On! It was crazy! so fun to be here when that happened!

They also made my birthday super special and took me on a surprise Duck Tour of the city and to lunch at Cheers. I am so thankful for them!

Overall, I would just say we are feeling so THANKFUL and BLESSED. Amazed at the God we serve and how big and even incomprehensible (is that a word?) He is.  Chad is getting to marvel at that as he studies and deepens his knowledge and it is so encouraging for me to see him love and thrive studying God's word so much.  God has blessed me through being outside my comfort zone and having to depend on Him, and through this study of St. Ignatius's Spiritual Exercises and learning how to really sit in God's presence and savor His graces and spend time in repetition and prayer and focus. So humbled by our financial circumstances, and to see God continually provide, even when I feel lack of faith or fear or worry, and deepen my TRUST in Him as Provider-Jehovah-jireh! Please continue to pray for this, and especially these relationships with non-believers.  I feel like we have such an opportunity here , and I am constantly reminded that its a work that HE must do, and we must pray! Thank you all for the blessing you are to us. We miss you!

OH YEAH-MARGARET AND JAKE COME IN TWO WEEKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! we are pumped, can you tell :) 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Getting Colder!

I've been blessed to realize over the past few weeks some of the Lord's purposes for me here, even in small ways.  I feel as I've had less "busyness" in the sense of not going out of town every weekend, not having so many relationships to always spend time with, and more time with Jesus and more time with my husband. (Even though we are busier!)  This is an answer to prayer.  I have been praying for my relationship with the Lord and intimacy with Him to deepen, as sometimes it feels routine and distant and even unattainable. I have felt the Lord richly bless and answer this over the past few weeks.  In my commute into the city, I have about 40 minutes on the commuter rail to sit and have a quiet time, read God's word and pray and process.  I am also starting a Bible study with the women of Bell Hall that is focusing on our personal walks and intimacy with the Lord, as well as a study that talks about really entering into God's throne room in time of prayer.  All of these opportunities have allowed me to really encounter Christ more.  Spending significant time reading the word where it is not a part of a "study" in the mornings and especially really trying to envision entering into God's throne-room while praying is incredible! I feel like I am being sanctified through seeing what is important and really trying to shape who I am based on God's word, rather than the picture of what I think a Christian should look like.  Its extremely liberating, but at the same time it has been a slow process that often feels lonely but I am now starting to see so much good in it.

Bike rides 

to the beach!

Lobster rolls!

White Coat Ceremony

Chad scouting his hunting "property"-Appleton Farms

Head of the Charles Regatta Race (with our friends Emily and Dan)

Special treat-Chickfila! theres only 2 in MA, and one is in a mall 20 min from us!

We also were so excited to have Katie and Jordan visit! Jordan was interviewing at Harvard Med (NBD :) and we met them for breakfast and his friend took us on a tour of Harvard and we got to see places only a student could take you. It was really cool, like Harry Potter! And it was so refreshing to see familiar faces and we really hope they move here!!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

He is Faithful

We have been so busy with school, its easy to forget the One who has called us here.  I am so thankful that we have a God who is always there and never leaves us, even if we feel far away from Him.

Psalm 139

You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
    you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
    and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,

    too lofty for me to attain.

Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
    and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
    the night will shine like the day,
    for darkness is as light to you.

I am so grateful this is the God whom we serve, and that Christ has paid the price for MY continual sin of forgetting and ungratefulness and thoughtlessness.  I pray we wouldn't make light of that, and remember what a price was paid for that!

These are some of the fun things we have gotten to do in the past few weeks: 

Camping in New Hampshire at Bear Brook State Park with our new friends Katie and Nick (they had an archery range-whoo! ;)

We have also recently gotten hired as RLC (resident life coordinators) for our apartment building with another couple from Texas.  This is a way we want to serve and get to know our building, so please be praying for that! We have gotten to do fun things like a women's bible study, game nights, and watching SEC football with some of our building, but we are really praying to get to know those who we haven't met and especially bridge the cultural gaps! Please be praying for that.
We are also praying for continued community and fellowship outside the seminary with non-believers and also for mentors for Chad and I.

Chad has a "reading week" coming up next week, and I am hoping we may take a drive up to Vermont to see the peak leaf changing! As always, come and visit :)

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Hittin' the Books

We have been studying, studying, STUDYING!! Chad constantly has his nose in one of the many books he is reading for classes or studying Greek. It has motivated me to study more! I have had several tests and several more coming up, so we have both been working hard with late nights and early mornings! We are still trying to figure out what the balance of both being in school looks like for us.  However, it has been affirming though that we enjoy what we are studying and feel encouraged continually in God's call for us.

We have tried to take some breaks! We went apple picking on Saturday with some friends from Mississippi-the apple cider donuts are AMAZING!!

We also have been continually blessed in growing relationships with friends at the seminary, outside of the seminary, and for me at school in the city. It definitely has made studying easier to have friends to talk it through with! Also, we have been excited to have relationships with people who are extremely different from us, whether they be Christians or not.  Please join us in praying for these relationships and for great opportunities.  

We have our "official" sign on our door-no longer the welcome note :)

Some praises and updates-I have a babysitting job two afternoons a week that is a big help financially and I really enjoy it! Also, Chad found a local property where he will be allowed to hunt-YAY!! I truly am so happy for him :) I am also incredibly thankful for a New Wive's class I am taking at the seminary which has been a huge blessing!

Prayer requests-Please pray for continued transition and financial support. Also, for these new relationships outside our seminary bubble :)

Happy Fall!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Gettin' in the Groove ;)

We are incredibly thankful for starting to get in the groove of things. Its been more of a transition and challenge than we thought to jump back into school, figure out the commute into the city, even just the timings of things, grocery shopping, finding pharmacies-all the little details of life that you just have to get the hang of in a new place! But, I am very grateful this week has finally started to feel a little less difficult to do all these things.

One of the biggest reliefs has been deciding on a church! We have decided to go to First Congregational of Hamilton, which is where our pastor and his wife went while they were here and then the new associate pastor our home church hired from here! So in addition to the connections, we went this Sunday again after trying two other churches, and it really felt like home. There was a church picnic after and everyone was so friendly and welcoming and inviting.  Also, Chad was introduced to a guy that hunts and they got coffee one morning and hit it off. We really enjoyed getting to meet their whole family on Sunday.  Praise God for such a quick answer to prayer!

Also, we are getting back into the mindset of students! Chad is constantly studying Greek--I just heard him pronouncing it in the shower..haha :) But he is enjoying his classes and already studying hard. We are so thankful he has been able to make friends in his class so we will have relationships during our whole time here, as a lot of our friends we have met are already in their second or third year.  One of his favorite new friends is from Germany, and we got to have him and his wife over for dinner this week, which was so fun! We also have a new friendship with a couple we met at Orvis! Such unique blessings to have met so many couples so quickly that we really enjoy.  Chad has a fraternity brother up here in seminary too that we love to hang out with him and his wife and watch Auburn football  :)

School for me is harder than I expected-but I'm so thankful to be excited and affirmed about being a PA! I also have been really excited this week to feel like I have classmates that are friends and that I can study with.  Its a neat opportunity to be surrounded by so many different people from different background and really be prayerful about how to minister well to them.

We have done fun things like a seminary wide Clam Fest, having people over for dinner and being treated to dinner by friends, a picnic with Bell Hall (our apartment)
, and last night we went into the city with a couple that introduced us to the North End-which is Italian restaurants everywhere! We had some great Pizza and got to try the famous Mike's Pastry cannoli-
 Tonight we are going into the city again for a date night! to see Shovels and Rope-a band we really like! and try and get some authentic Szechuan chinese and catch the end of the Auburn game with the Boston alumni !

Despite all the fun and blessings, there are definitely still waves of homesickness, and missing being known and loved.  Its probably all you people who are reading this-we miss you! come visit :)
So please pray for these times of feeling  homesick and lonely and that it would draw us closer to each other and strengthen our marriage, and most importantly draw us closer to our Savior. And that the gospel would go forward in our new friendships and relationships.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Favorite way to explore-Running (and now biking! :)

Just wanted to comment on how thankful I am to have such incredible places to explore and routes to run and new towns to explore each run and now bike rides (thanks to Scott and Amanda!:) Especially since I don't have this one to run every morning with anymore...
Missing her lots

These are the kinds of things I run by...

and houses and farms everywhere!..which this is not even that big compared to many..

Today I biked to Appleton Farms to return our milk bottle-had to stop for horseback riders crossing the road twice :)

Chad had orientation today and the rest of this week and I start class tomorrow!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

More Exploring

This week's activities:

Picnic in Marblehead (at a lighthouse) and then visiting Salem

marblehead was really pretty
Salem was a little too witchcrafty for us, but Chad loves some old bookstores..

The next day we visited Gloucester and Rockport
Gloucester was our favorite

Its America's oldest seaport and had lots of neat antique stores and a really cool vintage record store that Chad loved

Rockport is super touristy but was fun to walk around and see 

I also had orientation Friday and it went well! I have 101 people in my class-crazY! But I made the commute in and out with no problems, and got to meet a lot of my classmates. I was really encouraged to meet a fellow believer also! I was also excited to be excited-I had a fear that I would doubt the PA career path like dentistry before, but instead I felt really ready and excited! Praise the Lord! What a blessing to be reminded of His faithfulness in calling us here.

We have also gotten to hang out with some friends this Labor Day weekend.
We went to Newburyport River Music Festival on Saturday which was fun. We really enjoyed The Lone Bellows (check them out :)

We also went somewhere to watch the Auburn game with some fellow Auburn fans which was fun-War Eagle for that win!
Today we tried a third church-an EPC plant, which went well. But I am just again ready to fill in that hole!

Missing you all and hope to have visitors in the near future :)
Nick's famous roast beef :)

Sunday, August 25, 2013

We have been having so much fun! But I also feel it necessary to share the not so great parts, as that is what life is! Its never perfect, and that just makes us long for heaven more. So Friday we did a practice run taking the commuter rail into the city and then switching to the T subway system for how I will get to class.  It went well, and its a little over an hour commute.  I felt a little overwhelmed at that task daily, especially when our 5:15 train got delayed until 5:45.  We had plans with some new friends that afternoon, but they ended up canceling on us, and we just did a lot of walking around and trying on jackets at outdoor stores to see what to order in the current online sales.  I had some really lonely and down feelings, but its expected and a natural part of transition.  We miss MARGARET and JAKE who  would be down to do something fun with us :)
But we are incredibly thankful for all the new people who have been so gracious and kind and hospitable to us. Its given us a great reminder of Christian community, and we are so thankful!
Bell Hall cookout

I have finally convinced Chad to do some fun things, and we had the best day! (Great ideas, as well as bikes, from Amanda and Scott Bowen :)- we think of y'all constantly and wish we could have been here at the same time :) 
Thursday Night we went to Crane Estate (a castle, downtown abbey anyone?) for a picnic and concert on the lawn with a couple from MS (so nice to have southerners :) )

 the alleyway ended in ocean view

And Friday we went to Russell Orchards where they have pick your own fruit, apple cider donuts, farm animals and tons more! We did a wine tasting of blueberry, apple, peach etc wines that were so yummy!

Russell Orchards
We then rode our bikes down to Crane's beach

 Which was super crowded-clearly!-since it was saturday, but i was so thankful to finally go to the beach!

Today, we tried out a second church, First Pres Ipswich, with a couple who lives under us and went to lunch with them. Which was wonderful! Sundays have been the hardest days for me, I am really missing First Pres in Opelika -- church hopping and searching is not super fun. I am ready to have a church home and real community and friends, but I know it just takes time! Still incredibly grateful and trying to soak up and explore in these last days before I start orientation Friday and Chad next week after Labor Day. We miss you all-come visit!! Its incredible :)