Thursday, December 15, 2016

Home Is Where the Lord Is

This week Chris and I did something for the first time in our 10 years of marriage - we bought a house!  During those 10 years we have moved 4 times to 3 different states while preparing, training, and serving in ministry, and the Lord has finally led us to Lindale, Texas, where, Lord willing, we hope to serve for many, many years to come.

Honestly, there have been many times where we have been discouraged at the thought that we may never be homeowners, but the Lord graciously reminded us that Jesus was never one either.  In Matthew 8, Jesus said, "Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head."  Jesus was not concerned with home-ownership as much as he was leading people to his Father.

In Matthew 6, verses 19-21 says, "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."  While owning a home is a wonderful blessing, it is not a God-given right or necessity.  Homes break. They burn. They are easily destroyed, but the Kingdom of God is forever!

Yet, God, is his graciousness, still provides for our earthly needsHe doesn't stop in verse 21, but anticipates that we, as weak sinners, will be anxious about what we will eat and wear and drink and assures us by telling us, "Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you" (Verses 31-33).  Even though we look to eternity, God will still provide for our earthly needs.  It may not always be in the ways we are expecting, but he always provides for His people.  We have seen this so evidently in our lives over the last 10 years of our marriage.  There has never been a time where the Lord has not provided for our physical needs.

As we reflect on this weekend and celebrate the closing of our first home, we are so thankful for this earthly blessing the Lord has given to our family.  James 1:17 says, "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change."  This new home is certainly a good gift.  Even more so, we are thankful for our eternal home with Jesus that will never spoil, perish, nor be destroyed - what an even better and more perfect gift.

Merry Christmas from The Dilleys!


Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Settling In

The end of May will mark five months since we moved to Lindale, Texas, and those past five months have been busy, to say the least!  It was an interesting process, but we are officially licensed, registered, and voting Texans, and are settling into our new life here.

Papa & Eli, trying on cowboy hats!

 Learning how to shoot a bow and arrow at our women's retreat - I loved it!

Eli riding a four-wheeler with his toy shotgun - very Texas!

Enjoying the afternoon at the park.

Chris began his job at First Baptist Church of Lindale in January, and he loves it!  We are so thankful for our new church family and for the love and care we have received from the moment we pulled in the driveway.  It is such a blessing to be part of a church that is committed to preaching the Gospel and also to loving the members of the body and community.  They even had a welcome night for us called "Chili with the Dilleys" where everyone dressed in a Western theme and had a chili cook-off.  For dessert they presented us with Dilly Bars!

 Loved our welcome sign!

Chili with the Dilleys!

 Giddy-up, Ethan!

Our cowboys and cowgirl

 The Cook-Off Contestants

 The Whole Crowd

 Mrs. Leah & Eli - Best Buds!

The kids began school in January after winter break and never really missed a beat!  We did have to adjust to some changes in curriculum and the way the schools here in Lindale are structured.  Since Lindale has had so much growth in such a short period of time, they do not have a traditional K-5 elementary.  Rather, Ethan is at his own school, which consists on 15 (yes, 15!) Kindergarten classes as well as Pre-K, and Emma is at another school which is only First through Third Grade.  Next year, Emma will go to a school that is only Fourth - Sixth.  It was an adjustment for us to have to pick them up from two different schools every day, but we are very thankful for the schools here.  Lindale Schools are one of the top rated schools in Texas, and it is a great place for them to be!  Emma and Ethan were also blessed with wonderful and kind teachers who made their transition to Texas as easy as they possibly could.

 Ethan's "Tribute to the Movies" Night

 Ethan & I before the Mother/Son Dance at his school.

 Emma enjoying Field Day at her new school!

 Field Day Fun

Some day-to-day living changes that are different from Michigan is adjusting to the local flora and fauna.  We quickly learned boots in Texas are not just for fashion and that, unless you want to get bit by fire ants or other creature, you want to be wearing those boots - even in your own backyard.  Eli was the first to discover fire ants (of course), and it was not pleasant.  Snakes are also part of life down here, although I refuse for them to be a part of mine.  I have not run into a live one personally, but let's just say you don't want to be without a shovel or a hoe close by when you're outside.  We also have lizards, wild hogs, and other new wildlife that the kids have really been enjoying for the first time.  And, of course, there is no shortage of farm animals (cattle, horses, donkeys, goats, chickens, etc) for the kids to endlessly watch.  We live in the city, but you don't have to go far before you run across a pasture full of grazing cattle, which I personally love!

 Fire ant bites - ouch!!

 I stopped to take this picture on the way home from a friend's house because I thought it was beautiful!

 Farm fresh eggs from a sweet couple at church - there was even a pink one!

 One of our lizard friends that hangs around the house that Ethan has affectionately nicknamed, "Hulk" because of his green color.

The weather, obviously, has also been one of the biggest changes from Michigan, but I'm not complaining.  I personally have loved the warm Winter and the hot Spring we've had so far and I'm really looking forward to an even hotter summer!  We have, however, experienced our first tornado, which was scary.  I was two hours south at a women's retreat when it hit, but, by God's grace, Chris and the kids remained unharmed, which was a blessing, because a lot of Lindale was damaged.  Thankfully, no major injuries occurred.

Two of the businesses here that were totally destroyed by the tornado last month.

 I love living somewhere that has palm trees!

Finally, a few months ago we discovered Ethan had an inguinal hernia, and when we took him to the Children's Hospital of Dallas, they saw that he actually had two.  About a week and a half ago, we traveled back to Dallas for his surgery, and Ethan did great.  We are so thankful for his doctor, nurses, and everyone else who treated him there.  He is recovering well, and should be back to 100% very shortly.  We go back for our post-op in about two weeks.

 Ethan's first appointment, where he was diagnosed.

 Checking out part of the enormous train room at Children's Hospital in Dallas.

On our way home, enjoying his second set of Popsicles.

We are so thankful that the Lord has led us to such a wonderful place to live and serve, and we are looking forward to many years, Lord willing, of ministry in Lindale!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

He Leadeth Me

The Dilleys have some big news!  Since we last updated you, we were anticipating Chris's seminary graduation, ordination, and praying that the Lord would lead us to a church to permanently serve.  By God's abundant grace in our lives, he has brought all three to pass in the last seven months.

In May, we were excited and proud to watch Chris graduate from Detroit  Baptist Theological Seminary with his Master of Divinity.  Seminary is an incredible privilege and we are so thankful that Chris was able to attend and finish.  

In July, Chris was officially ordained for ministry by the elders and congregation of Cornerstone Baptist Church.  He prepared a lengthy doctrinal statement and defended it for four hours before a council of local pastors. They unanimously voted to recommend him to Cornerstone to be ordained and the church officially ordained him on July 12.  It is really hard to describe what a blessing this was for me to see the people that have invested in me since I was so young now ordain my husband for Gospel ministry.


Finally, as I mentioned in my last post, Chris's internship at Cornerstone ends at the end of December and so he began the process of looking for a pastoral position to serve in back in March.  We prayed, we asked God for wisdom and direction, and the Lord began to make his will known to us.

This past weekend, Chris and I traveled back to Lindale, Texas for Chris to officially candidate at First Baptist Church of Lindale.  From the first time Chris had talked to them about coming on staff, we were struck by their love for the Gospel.  Then, as we visited the first time, their love for each other was just as evident.   We were also overwhelmed at their love for us and our family.

On Sunday, the congregation voted in favor to officially call Chris as their new Associate Pastor of Education and he accepted so we will be moving to Texas the week after Christmas!  We are so excited to join in what God is doing at First Baptist Church of Lindale and to serve the people of the church and the community.

Many people have asked us, "Why Texas?"  Quite simply, because that is where the Lord has called us to go, and when he calls you to go, you go!  But we are confident that when He calls you to go He will also provide.  Though we leave close family and friends, we are confident that God will sustain old relationships while helping us to develop new friendships (which we are already so thankful to have started making in just our two short visits).

One of my favorite songs is He Leadeth Me and it sums up our desire for our family in our lives.  Thank you for your faithful prayers for our family.  We appreciate them greatly and continue to covet them going forward.

"He leadeth me, He leadeth me,
By His own hand He leadeth me;
His faithful follower I would be,
For by His hand He leadeth me. "

Friday, May 1, 2015

An Update

It is hard to believe we are already halfway through the second year of Chris' internship at Cornerstone, but here we are!  A lot of you have asked us about our future plans, so we thought we would update you on what is going on and how you can be praying for us.

In just under two weeks, Chris will be graduating from seminary with his Master of Divinity!  We are so incredibly proud of him and are very much looking forward to that blessed day.  Although we will be glad to be done with school, we are very thankful that Chris had the privilege of being able to attend seminary and receive such excellent training for ministry.  

In June and July, Lord willing, Chris will go through the process to officially become ordained.  This is also something we are very excited for and Chris has already begun to prepare for this process.

As far as future plans go, the internship at Cornerstone officially ends in December, and Chris has begun to submit his resume to churches in search of a future pastoral position because the process of interviewing with churches generally takes a longer amount of time.

How can you be praying for us?
Please pray for Chris as he finishes this last semester.  He is simultaneously taking Hebrew, Greek, and his Senior Seminar class - three of the most difficult and work-intensive classes.  Pray that he would finish well.

Also, please pray for us as we seek God's will for our future.  We are trusting in the Lord to provide a new church home for our family and that could be anywhere in the country.  We would love to stay in Michigan, but we are willing to go wherever the Lord leads us.  Pray the Lord would continue to prepare our hearts to leave Cornerstone (which will be incredibly hard) and that we would walk by faith and not by sight.

Pray that God would prepare a new church home for us.  As I mentioned before, we have already begun the process of submitting resumes to churches and have been talking a bit more in-depth with a few churches.  Pray we would make wise decisions and that the Lord would bless these churches whether or not they decide to pursue the process of interviewing Chris.

Lastly, pray for our children.  They have always known that Chris' job at Cornerstone was temporary, but they are having a difficult time with the thought of leaving their Nani and Papa and the church home that they (and we) love so very much, and that loves them so well.  We know that when God calls you to go, he'll provide you with a new church family to love your children, so we are confident that they will adjust well when the time comes.

Thank you all for your interest and care in our lives and for praying and supporting us along the way!  We cannot tell you how much we appreciate your love for our family and we will continue to update you as the Lord continues to work. 

Many are the plans in the mind of a man, 
but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Don't Blink

The moment you announce your first pregnancy to the world, everyone tells you, "Don't blink.  Before you know it, they'll be all grown up."  Unfortunately, I have followed that advice terrible and cannot stop blinking because my children have not stopped growing up.
This past weekend we celebrated our littlest Munchkin's 2nd birthday.   Yes, our Eli has graduated from infant to toddler right before our eyes.  We began the day by going to the zoo and he had a blast!  This was the first time he was able to really notice the animals and get excited about seeing them.  He was also very excited about running around sans the stroller for a bit.  We ended the day with dinner and cake with Nani and Papa.  It was a wonderful day, and I don't think he could have enjoyed it any more than he did.

Here are just some of the things we love and cherish about our Eli: 

  • He is a very happy baby, sigh, toddler!  When Eli was born, he was breach, that is, he was born face up.  The nurses called him an "optimistic baby" (I had some other words for it at the time), and they were right.  We love his constant giggles and his ability to make the rest of us laugh.
    Loved by his daddy!

    Having fun with Mom's VBS glasses
  • He loves his family and has a special and different relationship with each person.  He loves to read with Emma one minute and tackle Ethan the next.  Nani is the one he loves to talk to and Papa is the one he loves to go on adventures with.

Hanging out with his big bro

Hamming it up with Papa

Getting spoiled by Nani
Can't stop laughing with Em!

  • Speaking of talking, he will not stop.  Though there are some words he refuses to say even though he knows how, like "Ethan" (poor brother - we know he knows how, we think he just doesn't like the way it feels when he says it), he is learning new words every day.
  • He's a snuggler.  Like his brother before him, he loves to snuggle, mostly with the girls (can you blame him?).  I'm enjoying this phase while it lasts.

    Snuggling with Mommy

  • He's a tough little guy.  We have been to urgent care more with Eli for injuries than with the other two combined.  He's the only one of our kids to have had stitches, and, to put it mildly, he keeps us on our toes.

    I'm pretty sure they have a parking spot reserved for us at Urgent Care

  • He reminds us of Emma in looks and personality when she was younger.  He and Emma share a lot of similar facial features, but they also share a love of reading, an intense stubbornness, and a pterodactyl-like shriek that will make your ears bleed.  We have a lot of deja-vu moments around here, which has been really fun.
Eli and Emma at around the same age!  It cracks us up how similar their faces and personalities are!

  • He's our Eli.  I could give you a thousand more traits that make Eli unique, but what we love the most about him is that the Lord made him and gave us the incredible privilege of being his family.  Every child is a blessing, and Eli is no different.  Our family was forever changed the moment we heard that little pterodactyl scream his way into the world and we wouldn't have it any other way.

Here are some photos of our little guy, though, one last thing you need to know is that he is the WORST picture-taker ever (and he knows it).  Happy Birthday, Eli James!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Learning About Love

It is February already, and that means that not only will Target have those bathing suits out, but also the candy, hearts, and everything pink and red.  I will admit, I have always like Valentine's day.  Not because I was popular and got tons of candy grams in school or because I love candy, but because I have always enjoyed having a day dedicated to showing someone how much you love them.  I can hear the groans from you "Singles' Awareness Day" folks from here, but, to clarify, I don't just mean someone you are in a romantic relationship with, but someone, anyone in your life, that you care about.

Lately, our house has been somewhat of a war zone (I am sure this NEVER happens in your house, right?).  The two older kiddos have been fighting more than usual, and there has been a general lack of love for each other, so this year, I decided that we would dedicate the entire month of February to focus on love.  Not worldly love, but Godly love.  I made a "Love Jar" (the green Mason Jar pictured above) that contains 28 verses about what Godly love is and how we are to live it out.  Each day, we pull out a verse, read it, and talk about what it means.  Then, we tape it to their chalk board upstairs where we can go back and look/meditate on the verses we have already talked about. Finally, at night, we pray for God to help us apply what we learned that day.

For instance, today's verse was:

"Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 
-I John 4:11-

We asked the kids questions like "How does God love us?  What are some things God has done for us?  How does he love us in the everyday things?"  and then, "How can we love one another?  What are some things that are unloving?  Does this show the love of God?"

Obviously, we've only been doing this for a few days, but it has been such a practical and helpful way for them to learn (and for Chris and I to be reminded) of the great love that God has for us and how that should impact how we worship, treat others, and live in the world.  

Whether you love or hate Valentine's Day, I encourage you to think about it differently this year.  Instead of viewing it as the world does, view it as an opportunity to show someone in your life the love of Christ.  Love that puts others first.  Love that gives without expecting to receive.  Love that cares for even the unlovely.

 Our Verse Board
If you would like to make your own "Love Jar", here are the Valentine's Verses we used (if you'd like them).