4.12.2016

Faithful


Bryan an Kim Rogers are those people for me. Fifteen years ago my world was turned upside down when my parents divorced. When I was fourteen they moved to the church we attended from Texas. My dad actually helped bring them to our church. I very quickly became close to their family...babysitting, hanging out in my free time, and of course getting to know them through our youth group gatherings.

From the time I learned that my parents were going through a rough season until I went away to college, Bryan and Kim were always there for me. I recall sitting on their front porch, and Bryan reminding me of who my Heavenly Father is, that He will never leave us, and how much He loves us. There were many times Kim did the same. We had many conversations of this sort during my high school years. We also talked about normal teenage things...where I'd go to college, boys that I liked, and high school drama. Bryan and Kim took me on my 1st mission trip and my 2nd. They were a huge part in molding me as a young girl who loved Jesus.

When I was a freshman in college, they moved their family back to Texas, but this did not change our relationship. We kept in touch quite often, and I even went to Texas once to chaperone a trip for their youth group.  Over the years, life has been busy, but we've still kept in touch.

It's been over fifteen years since my parents divorced and fifteen years since I experienced any huge trial in life. Recently I wrote a post about my current battle with anxiety. I wasn't sure about putting myself out there for the world to see, but I'm so glad I did. The next morning I woke up to a message from Kim. "Hey Magan, I read your latest blog about your anxiety experience.  I found myself thinking I was reading Bryan's words." As I continued to read, I was reminded of Bryan's experience and was very quickly drawn to her invitation to give Bryan a call to hear his story.

Fast forward to tonight. I just got off the phone with Bryan. I am seriously in awe at how the Lord works. Once again,  He has reminded me of His goodness. As I listened to Bryan share his experience and encouragement, I could not believe that the same things I'm experiencing, so did Bryan. It was so encouraging to hear how Bryan overcame his struggle in the same ways I feel the Lord is encouraging me to overcome mine. Waiting is not easy, but God doesn't promise easy.

I am so very grateful for how the Lord provides when we need it. Fifteen years ago God brought this sweet family into my life and used them to encourage me. Now, as Matt and I struggle through this current battle, God has used Bryan and Kim to encourage me again.

As I finish my post, I am reminded of something Bryan used to say... It might sound cliche', but it's true...God is good, all the time. All the time, God is good.

Mama Kim & Daddy Bryan, I am forever grateful for you!

4.06.2016

Good Shepherd

I was really unsure about writing this post. In fact, I waited a few days to be sure it was the right thing to do. I am usually a pretty open book, but sharing our struggles isn't always pretty. However, I do know that the Lord can use my story to help someone. I've talked to many friends recently that have shared their story, and it has helped me so here we go...

I was recently sitting on my back deck, soaking in the sun and enjoying a quiet moment to myself while listening to Amanda Cook's station on Spotify. I was planning to sit and journal a little, but was intrigued by the lyrics of her song "Shepherd." As I sat and listened to the song, it was like God was speaking directly to me. Every lyric describes exactly how I feel about my current season of life.

Without typing out my life story, I've had a recent bout with anxiety. I've always been a pretty high strung person, but I've never experienced anxiety the way I have the past few months. I'm not 100% sure if I'm where I am because of a reaction to a medicine that my doctor gave me, or if I really do struggle with an anxiety disorder. Nevertheless, I am where I am, and I know that God's going to see me through.

"Shepherd" 

In the process
In the waiting
You're making melodies over me
And your presence
is the promise
For I am a pilgrim on a journey

You will lift my head above the mighty waves
You are able to keep me from stumbling
And in my weakness
you are the strength that comes from within
Good shepherd of my soul
Take my hand and lead me on

You make my footsteps and my path secure
So walking on water is just the beginning
Cause my faith to arise, stand at attention
For You are calling me to greater things

Oh
how I love You
how I love You
You have not forsaken me
Oh
How I love You
how I love You
With you is where I want to be

It's been a while since I've felt like I was in a hard season of life. There are days I hear clearly from God that He's got this, and there are other days that I don't hear or feel Him, but I know He's still holding me. This journey has taught me many things, and I've just recently been able to find joy and thank the Lord for what He is teaching me. I've memorized a lot of Scripture. I've learned what it looks like to surrender my life to the Lord on a daily basis  (sometimes several times in one day),  I've learned to literally take my days one minute at a time, I've learned to slow down and to listen, and I've learned that God really does give us exactly what we need for each day. 

My overflow is pretty much nonexistent right now. I don't have a lot of extra to give away, but as the days progress I feel as if He is teaching more and more about His goodness. He's teaching me more and more about the person He's called me to be, and I am confident that soon my overflow will be plenty. I look forward to that day. I look forward to being able to be myself again and to love people and serve people like I know I've been created to do. 

One of my favorite verses that I've read recently is Hebrews 10:23 and it says "Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep His promise." I know that He promises to never leave or forsake me. I also know that I will never fully understand His love for me. 

His promises get us through the stormy seasons. He loves us and is ALWAYS with us. Our hope in Him gives us peace and strength to get through each day whether it's a stormy season or not. He is THE good Shepherd. 

4.03.2016

In the Middle of the Storm

It's been a hectic season for our family. Probably more of a stormy season than a mountain top... I've been dealing with some health issues, and Matt has been slammed at Journey. Our poor kids somehow seem to flawlessly survive whatever is thrown their way, and they are thriving.

This weekend was no exception to our busyness because I had to do April meal prep, and Matt had some extra work that had to be done at Journey Saturday and Sunday.

Friday, we had a babysitter and a date night. We left here at 5:30 on Friday evening with zero clue as to what we were going to do because we hadn't had time to plan anything. Matt drove without really even thinking about where we'd go, and we ended up downtown at Chuck's. Chuck's is our favorite burger restaurant downtown. We ordered our favorite burgers and fries (all homemade with dipping sauce), and I broke my no soda rule (been trying to stay away from them) with a glass bottle Cheerwine. Afterwards we headed to Jubala (our favorite coffee shop) over by NC State. We enjoyed our favorite lattes and walked around Hillsborough Street to catch up on life. With things being so crazy lately, there hasn't been time for sharing deep thoughts. It was so nice to be able to have a conversation about what God's teaching us, where our heads are, and what's going on without little voices interrupting (we do love our kids...promise).


Saturday after breakfast I spent some really sweet time with the Lord while enjoying the rain on our front porch. The rest of Saturday was spent calendar syncing with Matt, April meal planning, grocery shopping, and squeezing in a nap for the kids. Matt spent most of his day at the church working on a project that had to be finished before Sunday services. When the kids woke up from their nap we headed to Lowes to purchase things for our very first little herb garden. I have NO clue what I'm doing, but we're excited to give it a shot. We bought our favorite herbs (not starting from scratch this year since I'm a beginner), and the necessities to get our little garden started. The kids also enjoyed some tractor time while were there.

Saturday night we hung out with friends from our early Journey days and enjoyed catching up on life. We were out super late, and Matt didn't get to join us until 10:00, but we had a really great time.


Today was busier than a normal Sunday because Matt had to stay late at the church to work on a stage design. He didn't get home until 5:00 this afternoon, so the kids and I enjoyed lunch on the back deck and they took a nap while I graded papers. Once Matt got home, I left for a long overdue "run" (aka fast walk).  I've been trying to find some balance between me time, family, school, and everything else. My exercise time has become a sweet time of solitude for me in this season. 


I'm not really sure why I felt compelled to write a public post about our weekend, but I do know that it sure does help me realize how grateful I am for my sweet little family and the life God has given us. While I feel like we're still in the midst of a storm, I can say that God certainly has blessed me in so many ways. Tonight, as I prepare for another week of teaching/momming/wifing, my heart is full and my blessings are overflowing. God is good friends. In the midst of chaos, in the midst of the unknown...His love is unending, His grace is sufficient, and He is constant!







9.21.2015

Journey

10 years ago Matt & I started dating. 10 years ago Journey Church was established.  I always thought this was the coolest thing...but it's really not a coincidence. It's the plan God had for us all along. This post isn't about us though...

Over the past few weeks our church, Journey Church, has been celebrating our 10th anniversary. Our Sunday services have been full of laughter, memories, looking ahead, and LOTS of tears. I can't help but to think "what if.." What if God had not brought us to meet our friends Pam & Daniel Gardner through Camp Caswell? What if we had not had said "yes" to visiting with them the week after our wedding? We have been forever changed because we chose very early on in our marriage to make Journey a part of our lives. This post isn't about Journey either...it's about Jesus and how He has been so good to us and to our church.  I am blown away by His faithfulness and goodness...



Matt & I both grew up in Southern Baptist churches. We knew about the Gospel and both accepted Jesus as our Savior early in life. However, it wasn't until we were older that we learned about what it meant to have a relationship with Jesus. It wasn't until attending Journey that we actually learned how to live it out.

We started out as volunteers on Sundays at Journey...Matt served on the tech team and I served with elementary kids. We never in a million years thought that within a year of attending Journey, Matt would be asked to join the staff as the tech director...which is something he always dreamed of doing, but was never sure how it would happen.

When I took a break from teaching, or what I thought was a forever break from teaching....ha, I never thought I would serve on staff for two years. I loved every minute of what I did at Journey and God taught me a lot about himself and who I am in Him...it was not just a coincidence that they had an opening for this job when they did. I thought I was going to quit teaching and become a stay at home mom. Within 6 months of Laney being born, Matt and I knew that staying at home wasn't an option for me. I was bored and we needed the money. In a random parking lot conversation with my friend Lisa, I learned that they were interested in me working on their team. Before I knew it, I was working as an administrative assistant to the next steps team. In the two years that I worked at Journey, God reminded me that He had given me a passion for students and for teaching. As much as I would have loved to stay in my comfortable position at Journey, I knew I had to get back to the classroom. Now I get to work with girls every day and allow Him to be His hands and feet through me.

Not only have both Matt & I been impacted by what God's doing through Journey, we've been able to begin raising both of our children there. Both Laney and Ben LOVE going to Journey on Sunday mornings and are learning that God loves them and He wants to be their friend forever.

I have never been a part of a church that cares so deeply about sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with people. It's not about Journey, or about how big Journey gets, or even about how many people come to know Jesus at Journey on a Sunday morning. Journey is and has always been about reaching a city for the sake of Jesus and about reaching the world for the sake of Jesus. I could write all day about the countless stories of God's faithfulness and how He has used Journey to bring people closer to him...from Africa to South America, to right here in our city God is at work.

Matt & I are forever grateful that we get to be a part of a ministry that is not about themselves or about their own agenda. We are grateful for the leadership and that they aren't scared to make changes when necessary and speak truth into our lives. You guys are like family to us and have impacted our lives, our marriage, and our family in so many ways. We are humbled that God would chose us to be where we are and doing what we are doing, for His sake, in our city.

I know that our lives would be completely different from where we are now had we not have said "yes" to Jesus 7 years ago. I cannot wait to see what God is going to do in our city over the next 10 years at Journey and I am excited to be a part of it!


8.30.2015

Meal Planning for the Keith's

I feel almost kind of silly sitting down to write a new post. It's been quite a while since I've kept up with this little ole' blog of mine...I do wish I had more time to write, but more important things call these days...



I did want to take a minute to share how I've been planning meals for my family lately. It's really nothing genius...just something that needed to be done for several reasons...
1. We have a grocery budget and we need to stick to it.
2. We have a restaurant budget and we can't be lazy with it...if I don't plan meals, it's easier to come home on those days that are rough and just not feel like figuring out what to eat for dinner...then Matt feels bad for me, and we end up at our favorite Mexican restaurant. Before we know it, we've spent way too much money eating out. Plus, I'd much rather feed my family a home cooked meal than go through the drive through or take my 3 and 4 year olds out for dinner.
3. I really wanted to make sure that I'm feeding my family healthy meals...

So last school year I dappled with the idea of doing freezer meals at the beginning of the month, and I did do it a few months, but was never super successful with it. I'm certainly not a "pro" at it, but I successfully plan and make 14 crockpot freezer meals for August. I actually took it a step further and planned all of our dinner meals for the month. Yep...I used my planner and planned out our menu for the week.

Then each week when I went to the grocery store, I only had to buy a few things (breakfast items, fresh veggies & fruits, etc.) And the best part...I was able to stick to our $400 grocery budget!

So many people have asked what I do...and it's really not that hard. I sat down and made a list of things my family likes to eat, plus I searched Pinterest for ideas. Then, I packaged all of the ingredients in labeled ziplock bags. On the day we are going to have the meal, I take it out of the freezer, empty the frozen ingredients into my crockpot, and set the timer (generally for about 8 hours on low).  I'm still tweaking a few meals and the times that they need to cook... When I get home from work,  if there are any sides that need to be fixed, I make them (and my kids help me...maybe I'll write a post about that later).

Here's a list of the freezer meals I made for August and a couple of the recipes I used:

1. Jumbalya
2. Creamy Italian Chicken
3. Homemade Spaghetti Sauce (Not a crockpot meal, but I freeze it and set it out the day we're going to eat it to unthaw and warm it up on the stove in less than 5 minutes while the noodles boil.)
4. Italian Chicken
5. Teriakyi Chicken
6. Beef Stroganoff
7. BBQ Chicken
8. Hamburgers (Not a crockpot meal, but Matt can throw them on the grill and cook them quickly.)
9. Cilantro Lime Chicken
10. Chicken Tacos (I just freeze the chicken, tacos seasoning & water...then I just put it in the crockpot for 8 hours on low.)
11. Salmon (Not a crockpot meal, but again, another easy thing to throw on the grill.)
12. Southwest Chicken Wraps (I make the chicken and stuff the wraps before we eat.)

We eat a lot of Mexican...at least once a week, and obviously a lot of chicken. There are other meals I make (Roast, Soups, Chili, Stuffed Potatoes...I'll post those recipes another time.)

It takes me about 2 hours to prep everything, an hour and a half if Laney & Ben aren't running around. Once I've prepped the meals, I sit down with my calendar and plan out when we are going to eat the crockpot meals (usually nights when we have something going on or if I know Matt has to get the kids because I have to work late at school). Then, I fill in the other days with meals that are easy to prep on school nights and save the longer prep meals for the weekends. I also make 1 night a week "leftovers night," because Matt has band rehearsal on Thursday nights. The kids and I enjoy a movie and eat leftovers on Thursday...it also helps us clean out the fridge without wasting food.

Anyways, there ya go...my little "secret" to cooking for my family every night while working a crazy teaching job. This also allows me the ability to spend some time with my kids because I'm not slaving away in the kitchen every afternoon.

I also make mason jar salads and do some other food prep...more on that another time. For now, it's time to go play bouncy ball with Laney! :)

Happy Sunday friends!

2.22.2015

Tiberius

I had planned to be able to blog everyday, but the internet connection here in Tiberius isn't great, and uploading pictures to my blog hasn't been very successful. Instagram & Facebook posts will have to do for now...

Maybe I can try again when we get to Jerusalem at a different hotel.


2.20.2015

Day 1: Tel Aviv

We finally made it to Tel Aviv about 3:00 pm this afternoon, 8:00 am North Carolina time. I don't have much to write about today, as we came straight to our hotel, rested, had dinner, and are about to go to bed. We'll be up bright and early tomorrow for a full day. 

I did promise a post though, so below is a picture of Tel Aviv (the capital of Israel) from our plane, and the Mediterranean Sea (taken from our hotel room). The weather here is rainy and about 55°. It's so crazy to think that I am on the same ground that our Savior once walked, much to take in and see over the next few days. 


Tomorrow we'll visit Caesarea & Megiddo, stay tuned!