Thursday, December 23, 2010

End of a year.

It's December 23.
Christmas Eve Eve in my family.
With two days left until Christmas and eight until New Years -
I thought it the perfect time to write one last posting for the year.

I'm not sure what else to say that hasn't already been shared.

Ryan and I continue to reflect on our journey this past year.
The roller coaster ride we have called life.
It's been confusing.
But most importantly, right now -- it's peaceful.

Peace has reigned in our hearts throughout it all.
Despite our questions of whys, and whats---we have never once questioned if God was with us.
His peace has always remained.

Things are not necessarily how we would have ever planned.
Things are not necessarily how we would like to keep them.
But for now, we are thankful for much.

We are thankful for the transition that has happened.
We are thankful for jobs, a home, provisions.
We are thankful for the love of family and friends, who have lifted us up so much.
We are thankful for a healthy, growing son--who is curious, confident, and so loving.
We are thankful for a generous giver, who gave to us financially -- thank you.
We are thankful for others who feel our same sentiment, and are stepping out.
We are thankful for insurance.
We are thankful for vacations.
We are thankful for prayers.
We are thankful for the journey--just as it's been.

No, it hasn't been easy.
No, it hasn't been as planned.
And no, we weren't confident through it all.
This year was a year of refocusing.
Who we are, who we want to be, who we will be should ONLY be defined by HIS desires for us.
This year, God has reminded us that our focus is to be on Him.
A reminder that our calling is based on HIM alone, and what HE desires of us.

We followed HIS desires this year.
Hard to understand.
Hard to comprehend.
Hard to follow.

This year, we gave in 100% to our calling.
We followed.

And here we remain.
Wrapping up 2010.
In transition.
Faithfully following.
Comfortably waiting.
Thankful for so much.

I have no idea what 2011 will bring.
I never would have guessed what 2010 was going to present.
Despite everything, here we are.
In the middle.
In the quiet.
Preparing for Christmas.
Reflecting on a journey unfolding daily.
Hopeful in the plan that God has dreamed for us.
Inspired not to settle for anything less.
We end 2010
and Peaceful.

May the peace of the Father find you and yours this Holiday season.
May you be challenged in 2011 to step out and follow HIS dreams and desires for you.
If you are out in His will, find comfort knowing you are not alone.
In 2010--we stepped out into God's plan for us.
In 2011, the journey will surely continue to unfold--
stay tuned.

Peaceful in His will,
The Stevensons

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Trust the Process

This weekend Ryan and I had the amazing opportunity to join other young leaders for a weekend conference.  Logistically we were thankful, it was only 24 hours and here in Sacramento. Eli stayed with my parents allowing us time to reflect on, and really defrag the last six months.
We enjoyed every moment of the retreat, and really felt God confirm many area's of our lives.
During the conference, the speaker (Chris Conrad) made a statement that has lingered with me.  While talking about times of change and transition, Chris said, "Trust the Process."
Sometimes things aren't as they were planned.
Sometimes our dreams don't work out as we hoped they would be.
Sometimes what we think life will the complete opposite.
Ryan and I still don't know what's next for us in ministry.
We are still being asked by others weekly.
We are still feeling the tugs to move forward on something.
We are still very much aware that people are "waiting" on us.
we are waiting too.
We are in the process.
God has yet to speak.
He has yet to point us in the direction HE wants us to go.
We don't know why.
We know we are in HIS will and we are OK with that.
Ryan is in LA for his final training with FARMERS these next few weeks.
Not sure why Farmers, or where that will lead--but once again we are "trusting the process."

Trust is a hard thing.
It's earned.
God has earned our trust with his faithfulness time and time again in our lives.
This process has been one of the most stretching, painful, and growing experiences we have ever faced individually, spiritually and as a family.
We know it will not be in vein.
We trust in a big God who is mighty.
His plans are not our plans...and so we wait.
Trusting the process, one day at a time.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


Ryan and I have learned a lot about God's faithfulness and provisions in the six and a half years we've been married.

One of the things we have come to recognize, but not fully understand -
is "God Math."

"God Math" is simple.
It's unexplainable.
It's when the numbers in your account--don't match.
When there's more then there should be.
 Or JUST enough to make it, when there should be a huge negative in the red.
 It's God Math.

Or at least that's what we refer to it as.
Giving God all of the credit, because that is who deserves it.

I have to tell you though, despite how many times God Math has happened in our times of financial hardship.
Being in hardship NEVER gets easier.
Even though time and time agin HE has proven himself more than faithful, we still doubt.
I doubt.

In this most recent journey, "God Math" has happened probably too many times to count.
God has taken care of, provided for, and supplied our needs time and time again in the past few months.
He is so good.
So aware of what we need, exactly when we've needed it.

It's pretty amazing to serve a God who care's so much.
When you doubt if God is really there,
it's the last bill getting paid to the cent, that shows HE very much knows.

I am thankful to say that the time hardship has passed for now.
Ryan's job has been a HUGE provision, again just in time.
And while we are still very much catching up,
I am so thankful that burden has been lifted.

Provision is a beautiful thing.
God Math is God's way of reminding us HE will see us through.

I don't know why I worry.
One way or another, God provides.
May I never become numb to the subtle (but HUGE) ways God reminds me that he is very much near to us.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

A Month.

It's been over a month since my last post.
If it's not obvious, things have settled down.

Things are quiet.

Life is routine.
Honestly, it's been a welcomed breath of fresh air.

Ryan is loving his job.  He's stilli n training. But he's finding fulfillment in learning something new, and meeting new people.   His job is SO relational, it comes so naturally to him.

My school year is moving right along.  My partner and I have a few needier students who have taken up a lot of our spare time.  They are near and dear little ones and setting them up for success has been a never ending job this past month.
For the very first time in my professional career, I am getting the opportunity to mentor a student teacher. I am ecstatic about the gift to get to pour into an upcoming educator, and "pay it forward."

Eli is doing so well. He is full of energy, life, and new tricks.  Our hands are full,  but we wouldn't want it any other way.  His vocabulary is growing daily, and we find ourselves talking to a little boy who now knows MOST of what we are saying. It's amazing how quickly time flies.  HIs preschool situation is not working out as planned, and honestly that's a huge area of prayer right now.  We always said that we would reevaluate in November if it was working, here it is mid-October and we find ourselves doing just that.  We had hopes all would be great, but unfortunately it's just not and we are going with our guts -- trusting God will provide a better fit for Eli, and us.

I had coffee with a friend yesterday and she asked me if I felt we were still were God wanted us? Were we listening to him, or bitter towards him?
GOd has been talking to us so much in the past month.
Speaking truth to our hearts about how he see's us.
About living lives that please him, not men.
He's been whispering words of healing, and confidence.
Words of love and hope.
We hear him clearly based on the lessons we are learning about ourselves, our journey - past, present and future.
God is very much active and present here with us now.
He is working in our lives and on our hearts.
Preparing us for what is next.
Though He hasn't spoken a word about it.
Bitterness, no.
Hope, yes.
Peace in where we are, absolutely.
God is speaking to us daily.
Revealing new truths, area's of growth, comfort in healing.
He is with us, we are with Him.
The journey is as HE planned.
In that, we find confidence.

We are well.
We appreciate continued prayer.
We appreciate the words of love and support we have received.
It's been a welcomed quiet month.
The journey has slowed down a bit, and it's been nice living out a new routine that God has designed for us.
Always waiting for what's next,
but thankful to be where we are, doing what we are doing--for now.

Monday, September 13, 2010


Sometimes, things come to us.
Ryan and I talk regularly about this journey we have found ourselves on.
We wonder about all of the whys.
We talk a lot about the what ifs.
We think about the things to come.
Mostly we talk.
Talk through past situations.
Talk in regard to present burdens.
Talk about current blessings.

Nine times out of ten, we find ourselves in the cycle of whys.
Still wondering.
The conversation ends with big questions remaining in the air.

We think about what's next.
What door to be seeking.
Who will cross our path.
The next part of this journey.

I can honestly say that we have no clue.
If you haven't already picked up on the elephant in the room its that NONE of this fully makes sense to us.
We are just going with it.
Conventional? No.
Planned? Nope.
Desired? NOT AT ALL.
Impressed? Yes. On our hearts.
And for now, that's all of the reason we have, "because it was pressed deeply on our hearts."
Ryan ended our conversation two night ago by saying,
"Des, we are living sent- our current life's calling was to go...we are doing that. God is sending us somewhere HE knows, and for now that's alone is our purpose. Sent and Following.
Living sent."

In worship yesterday, while singing a favorite the words resonated like never before.
Shortening the verses this quote came forth...
"Called Out.
Made new."

Months ago, we were called out.
We followed.
We faced some hard times, God is making us new through that.
We are currently unsure of what's next but we've followed.
We are living sent.

Details unknown.
Life a bit jumbled.
Focus unclear.
Moving one step at a time as God lights the path.
and thankful.

Living sent.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


So, even though this is our "journey" blog and not our "family" blog (
I wanted to update our readers (YOU!) on the preschool situation for Eli. While Eli starting preschool I would normally be part of our other blog, the background is all in regards to this blog. Part of our current journey includes Ryan taking on a new job.  Ryan was one of the caretakers for Eli so that I could work.  With him starting a new job, and me going to back to work.... finding Eli care had been at the top of our "to do" list.
In my last post I explained a bit of our ordeal.  Ryan and I were so touched by the amount of questions,  emails,  and prayers lifted up in regards to this situation.
In fact, we even had a dear friend offer to open her home and arms to helping us out.  Thank you to that friend for your love shown, you know who you are.
Naturally, we would not have turned her down.  In fact, we were praising God for her and His provision through her.  Our next task was to try to get our "deposit" back from the preschool and withdraw Eli.   When we called to do so, we were informed that unfortunately it was a non-refundable deposit (which we basically already knew) and that our only option was to keep Eli enrolled for the month of September and part of October to get our deposit's worth.
Ryan was hesitant, but said OK.  The preschool teacher followed by asking Ryan if we were still interested in Eli going to two days.  She remembered us basically begging a few weeks back for a two day slot and at the time, there was not one available.  Ryan responded with, "well possibly, but you said that wasn't an option."  She continued with, "well it wasn't, but Friday one of our families informed us that the father was being furloughed, and that they would have to cut back on their days....this opens a two-day slot.  If you do decide to take it, you will be covered for care until November."
Two days was what we wanted.
It's all we need.
It's truly what we were praying would happen.
With our dear friend's offer still on the table, but our money tied up in the school- we gratefully thanked God for looking out for us and providing the two day slot--and we accepted.
All in all, everything worked out.
Eli will start at the preschool next Wednesday.
I'm still nervous to have Eli in someone else's care besides family or friends, but confident that Eli will grow, learn, and be loved there.
Thank you to all who prayed, and to our dear friend for her offered hope and willing spirit.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

a J-O-B.

I'm trying to think of a creative way to open this blog up.
Nothing is coming to mind.
So I will write.

There has been a lot of celebrating around here the past few days.
Biggest news: Ryan landed a job.
Not just any job, an amazing job.
A professional job.
A hard-to-get job.

It's truly and understatement to say that it feels as though a GIANT tidal wave of relief has overcome our household.  Honestly, it was at the last minute, and yes we were fretting.
Ryan and I had enough money saved to make it until September.
As you and I both know, September is next week.
Yes, nickel and dime-ing is a term we have lived very well these past couple weeks.
Thankfully after nearly a three month application process, the end is in sight, and God has sent provision through a job.

Starting from the begining, if you would have asked Ryan three months ago where he would be working, I garantee Farmer's Insurance was not what he would have said.
We had a few other doors that appeared open, and probable at the time.
Needless to say, God slammed many of those doors, and to this day some never were shut...just silent.
It's been a hard summer of uncertainty.
A difficult time of trusting God, but doubting the road ahead.
The opportunities we thought were guaranteed to us quickly faded with every passing day.
What we had confidence and comfortability in, dropped us.
It was hard.
Ryan applied everywhere, with what seemed like hundreds of other people.
Jobs we thought were in the bag, weren't interested.
Jobs that were handed to him, were taken before he could even start.
It was NUTS!

All of that to say, in the beginning, one of the many applications Ryan applied for was as a Property Adjuster for Farmer's Insurance.  We have a great friend who does this very same job in the Redding area and loves it. Ryan, thinking it was a LOOONNNNGGGG shot, applied.  The posting was for an adjuster to serve the Loomis to Tahoe area.  If you know anything about where we currently live, you would know that the closest point in that area to our home would be a 45 minute drive--making the furthest point (Tahoe) a two hour drive.  Obviously not at all convenient.  But, needing to make ends meet and desperate for anything, Ryan applied.

In the meantime, Ryan was still pursuing other opportunities for work that we thought were sure to pan out.
They didn't.
And in July, Ryan got his first call from Farmer's.
Then his second, a phone interview.
Which resulted in his first interview.
Which then lead to a group interview.
Which was followed up by a ride along.
And finally an offer.

Ryan was basically hired on the spot after his group interview.
We were ecstatic,  BUT it took nearly three weeks to get the official offer.
So, while we were so excited that it looked like something was finally working out, we were so hesitant to holding our breath in fear something "could still happen."

Nearly three months after applying, Ryan got the verbal offer on Friday.
The job is a huge blessing.
The pay and benefits are JUST what we needed.
Ryan is so excited to see WHY THIS job.
Why was this the only door God kept open.
Why did the other ones close?
Our prayer all along is that God would close all doors and ONLY leave open the "right" one.
Here it is.

The job story continues.

After his first interview, Ryan was told that he was not being considered for the Loomis - Tahoe area, but that they were considering him for the Sacramento area.  YAY!
This was huge, huge news!
But---it got even better.
After his last interview, were he was basically hired on the spot, they informed him that he was no longer being considered for Loomis-Tahoe, or Sacramento, but now--West Sacramento.
So yes, Ryan is now a property adjuster for  the West Sacramento area.
West Sac,
The area God put on our hearts.
The area we moved to.
The area we aren't sure what we are here for, but God is confirming to us daily that YES we are just where he wants us.

No, we still don't know why West Sac.
No, we have NO idea why Farmers Insurance (though I will add Ryan LOVED the ride along, and can't wait to start!)
We are just in awe of God's hand and how it's leading us through this journey.

This week I had a wonderful conversation with my teaching partner Kelly.
As a fellow pastor's wife, I was sharing with her some of my struggles and uncertainty.
With a listening ear to talk to, I shared.

This transition has been a stretching one.
One that I am pretty sure I can say we were not expecting.
Yes, three months ago we were confident we were going to plant a church.
That has changed.
Three months ago, Ryan had a few jobs "lined up."  That changed.
Three months ago, God called us out.
We went.

Since then, a lot of things our life was built around has faded.
And in many ways, we have stepped away from everything we knew to follow God.
I have felt confused and uncertain.
Growing up, all I have ever known is working for the church.
Being part of the Pastor's family.
Eating, sleeping, and breathing ministry.
This summer, I have felt a huge part of me was gone.

In my conversation with Kelly she reminded of our current ministry.
We are living it daily.
And while we aren't sure WHAT exactly it is, yet...
We KNOW God is with us.
We know we are right where HE want's us.
Your calling is being where God wants you, when he was you there.
We are in our calling.

Ryan starts with Farmers on August 30.
He is so excited.
We are so relived.
We are anxious to see where this road takes us.
Does it make sense? Nope.
Is it what we planned? Not at all.
Are we at peace with it? Absolutely.
God is with us, His hand is VERY evident in our lives.
We are where he wants us, and soon Ryan will be doing What God wants of him (for now....)

Side note Prayer Request:
Ryan and I have been on a wild goose chase looking for a Day-care for Eli. My expectations are HUGE, and my list of "must-haves/do's" is endless.  This has been a very hard thing for me to swallow, and finding the perfect place has seemed impossible.
Three weeks ago, Ryan and I came across the perfect place. A In-Home Christian preschool. Pristine. Warm. The place I envisioned and hoped for in our search. Priced high, but not terrible.  I fell in love.
This was it.  If Eli was going to have to be in someone else's care, it was in this preschool he needed to be......
All fine and dandy in mind and words, but NOT in finances.
We are looking for care for two-days a week.
The preschool only has an opening for a three-day a week commitment.
Essentially leaving us in the bind of paying for days we don't need (and truly can't afford)...or walking away.
With a heavy heart, this mommy is torn.
Prayer for God's provision in this situation would mean so, so much to me.
Eli is getting to the age where an outlet with other kids would be so beneficial for his development, but I still want it to be in a loving nurturing, Christian environment.
My prayer is that in the next week (yes, its that close) God would give us security in our decision, one way or the other.
That a two day slot would open up....or like HE has with every other situation, He will shut the door and give us peace that the right place is out there.
Will keep you posted.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


There are many things that have gone unspoken.

They are the things we cannot share.
They are the words that were said.
The actions that were (or were not) done.
They are the things that have hindered our hearts.
They are the things that have brought us down.
They are personal.
They are offensive.
They hurt.

While I cannot share specifics, though the list countlessly races through my mind every time it comes up again.
A list I would love to clear my mind of.
A list I want erased from my heart.
A list I so desperately want to move on from.

I'm angry.
I'm broken.
I'm hurt.

I'm giving it to GOD daily.

The thing about forgiveness is that it is a choice.
Something one has to commit to doing.
And sometimes...
over and over again.

This is where we are.
Having to forgive, over and over again.
It's so hard.
It's so grueling.

Making the effort to move on, just to be burned again--is hard.
Impossible it seems, at times.
Despite the hurtful occurrences,
I am trying.
But trying.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Why.

Last night, after a great night of dinner with my family.  Ryan and I sat down to watch TV. It was a beautiful summer evening here in West Sac, and as with most evenings the Delta Breeze was traveling throughout our house as we had all of the windows open.
Eli was asleep.
All was clam and quiet.

Well, sort of.
We live in a great neighborhood.
Full of life.
The joy of children laughing is heard regularly.
Last night, as we sat contented.

The silence broke.
While we sat in the living room,
the quiet of a peaceful evening was shattered with the crying of a toddler.
Jumping up, I ran to the hallway.
Thankfully, with my heart pounding I quickly realized that it wasn't Eli.
He was still safe, in his crib.
Dreaming peacefully.

My sudden relief changed as my heart dropped.
The crying was suddenly drowned out by shouting.
Loud shouting.
Cruel words.
Suddenly we heard the door next door slam, and that sweet baby was left to cry alone-- in the room directly across from our office window.
While the fight continued in other areas of the house.

I don't know much about the family next door.
Honestly, Ryan and I have been tied up in our own whirlwind to really reach out.
I know that there is a grandma.
And a sweet toddler girl.
There seems to be a mom and a dad.
Maybe a uncle or two.
Its a busy home.
And besides the grandma and the baby, we aren't really sure who lives there.

Last night, while Eli sleep in his room
and the baby next door continued to cry over the now faint angry voices.
My tears welled.

In the many moments that followed,
I sat on the couch praying.
My heart was broken.
Broken for the baby who needed comfort.
Broken for a family, broken.

In those moments, for that night I wanted nothing more then to offer that little girl arms of safety.
I wanted to crawl through the window and rescue her.
I wanted to knock on the door, and offer a safe harbor for the baby while they duked it out.
I wanted to give that sweet little girl a quiet, peaceful night.
With sweet dreams.

I wanted to shelter her.
I wanted shelter for her.

I couldn't.
All I could do, was pray.
I prayed that God's arms would comfort her to sleep.
That she would feel love like no other.
That her ears would not hear the words being yelled, and that she would hear the gentle voice of a loving Father rocking her to sleep.

After about ten minutes. It got quiet in her room.
The faint voices in the background continued.
I assume she had fallen asleep.

I went to bed last night with a heavy heart.
Sadly, I don't know her name.
I wish I did.
Soon, I will.

God has given us this time.
He's placed us in this place.
We have said numerous times that we don't know the WHY's or WHAT for's yet.

For a few weeks I have felt a bit like that little girl.

Needing comfort.
In all that's happened, God has been there.
His peace has filled out home.
His love has been present.
He's here.
And last night, He was there with that precious baby.

Last night, I felt my first task at hand.
Perhaps the first WHY and What for.
Our neighbors.
To love this family.
To show love to this family.
To let them know we are here.
To be an extension of the gentle hand of God to them.

Is it grand?
Maybe not.
Is it the end result?
Probably not.
Is it necessary?
People all around us need love everyday.
People need to know there is hope, comfort and peace in this broken world.

Psalm 34:18 (The Message) 
If your heart is broken, you'll find God right there; 
 if you're kicked in the gut, he'll help you catch your breath.

May a wave of peace and hope start from our home, and reach out to those around us.

1 Peter 4

(7-11)Everything in the world is about to be wrapped up, so take nothing for granted. Stay wide-awake in prayer. Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything. Be quick to give a meal to the hungry, a bed to the homeless—cheerfully. Be generous with the different things God gave you, passing them around so all get in on it: if words, let it be God's words; if help, let it be God's hearty help. That way, God's bright presence will be evident in everything through Jesus, and he'll get all the credit as the One mighty in everything—encores to the end of time. Oh, yes!
The Message Translation.

Thank you Ashley for the reminder.  Love you.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Rumor has it....

No, I'm not Jennifer Anniston, nor is the rumor that Kevin Costner is my father.

Apparently the rumor is that Ryan and I are "disenfranchised" with church.  This, being the reason why we resigned.  That we no longer enjoy the church atmosphere and are done with being in ministry.

Can I just say, on the record....NO!

Not even close.

My stomach has been turning since I heard this "rumor."

I know that people are going to say what they think, no matter what they've been told.

But it is disappointing when Ryan and I tried very hard to over-communicate why we are making these life changes.

So, for the sake of the rumor.

IF we are disenfranchised with the church....why would we move to an new area of town to pursue a new church here.

IF we are disenfranchised with the church...why are we still tithing.

IF we are disenfranchised with ministry....why are we currently  part of starting and building new ministries.  Two to be specific.

IF we are disenfranchised with the church....why are we attending eagerly as a family on Sundays?

IF we are disenfranchised with the church....why are we waiting for the perfect job, so that we can continue to be available for what God wants of us next.

IF we are disenfranchised with the church....don't you think EVERYONE would know that?

But, We're not.

Ryan and I left the ministry we were part of to open ourselves up to DO whatever God wants of us next.  We felt our time there was over and God wants us for something else.
Do we know what yet?  No.
But that in no way means we are upset, mad, sick of, or tired of "the church."
Disenfranchised? Not at all.
Ryan and I are still very much involved in the church in general.
To clear any questions, we have been attending multiple churches with family and friends to explore various ministry types and get a better grasp on where we fit.
We still very much believe in and support the ministry of The River Church.

Change is inevitable in everybody's lives.
Change is happening in our lives.
The transition has been difficult.
Rumors, like this...don't really help.
BUT they do make us continually focus on who we are, and what we are doing all of this for.
Not for others, but for God.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


It's been a rough week here in the Stevenson home.
And while I'm I pretty sure you are thinking to yourself, "Again?"
My response is truthfully, "Yes. Again."

While I will happily note that  LAST week we had a wonderful week together.
A vacation!
Much needed getaway!
A perfect retreat and IT truly was a great week.
But, I will share much more on this later.

This week though...well, it's been trying.
Ryan and I have felt the blows from every angle.
While trying so hard not to focus on the negative,
we feel as though Satan is trying so very hard to bring us down.
It like he's coming from any venue he can just to get us down, to crush our momentum.
Needless to say, THIS place is NOT his.
We have drawn a line.
We have committed to staying up.
Ryan and I are choosing to focus on having hearts of gratitude, and with that NOT let our attitudes take us down.

We truly have so much to be thankful for.
So much that God has given us, giving us, and/or has intentionally put in our lives to remind us HE is here.
Right where HE promised us HE would be.
This is HIS place, and this time belongs to HIM.
No matter what may come our way, HE loves us.
Therefore, we are choosing to see the good.
To focus on the positive.
To put our hope in HIM alone.
Ryan and I are not going to let the bad overcome, but instead really try to recognize the blessings.
Even when they are hard to see, Where GOD is - good is.
These are the gifts of life.
God's gifts to us to remind us HE is with us, no matter what.

Tonight, here are some of our blessings,
counting them one by one....

#1--- What I just said.
GOD is with us.
HE loves us.
HE is here.

#2 WE have eachother.
We have a beautiful and spunky son who is the greatest blessing both of us have EVER received.
Ryan and I are devoted to each other and happily have a strong marriage.
We have love.
Lots and lots of love.
We have Eli's laugh, that makes us laugh, that fills these walls of our home with Joy.
WE have a circle of three that can't be broken.

#3 We have a great home.
It's truly becoming home more and more each day.

#4 Family.
Our families support, encouragement, and unconditional love has given us so much hope in this process.
They are a tangible rock right now.
They are our biggest fans.
Because of them, we know we CAN do this.

#5 Friends and People to who believe in us.
This week we have been loved on multiple occasions tangibly through gifts, and by words.
Thank you to those who have reached out and encouraged us,
spent time with us,
and even given us a DVD player.
Thank you, for you were are sincerely grateful!

#6 A vacation.
Family to let us stay with them for free.
Craigslist, for CHEAP (and ok, maybe sketchy) tickets to Disneyland so we could share my favorite place with my favorite little guy.
The many beautiful beaches in California--they too are free, and always host a perfect day.
Fellow pastors to build and invest in Ryan.
Friends to laugh with.
Time to reconnect with far-away family members, and once again feel their embrace.
A drive to San Diego and back to talk to each other, to dream together, to build each other up.
A loving brother who watched our dogs and house so we could go, for free.  Thanks Mike.

#7 Savings.
At least we have some.

#8 Diapers and Wipes and Food on the table.
We are not at all going without.

#9 Cars that are working.
Even if just for the moment. :)

#10 A yard to find relaxation in.

#10.5 A park across the street to play in.

#11  The potential of a job (for Ryan)

#12  Interviews for that job.

#13  Exciting news from the lives of our friends.
 It faithfully brings our spirits up.
Babies on the way.
Miracles in Four.
New additions.
Life being lived abundantly.

#14 My work computer.
Thank you to Aimee for letting me use it over the summer.
It is our current "working" computer.

#15 My job
It is our current source of revenue :)

#16 Water- we don't thirst.  Electricity - We can see and are cool.  Gas- We can cook.

#17 Landscapers.
Our rent includes landscapers, on a day like today I am glad that WE don't have to worry about the upkeep of the yard.

#18  Phones - we can keep in touch with those who love and build us up.

#19 Nationstar Bank.
Approving the offer on our "old" home.
Reducing our promissory note.
Working hard to get everything finalized and closed by the end of this month as per the buyers request.

#20  You
For giving me the reason to make this list.
To help me chose gratitude.

#21 This day.
A positive interview for Ryan.
A fun gift find for my best friends little babies on the way.
A visit from my brother.
The hour this afternoon with Eli at the park.
Me and Him, together.
Laughing, playing. Enjoying the moments.
Dinner together.
Eli drinking milk from a cup, and not from a bottle.
Time to write.

This list can go on and on.
And while some  of these things may seem silly, right now - in this moment they are things I am thankful for.  They are the things that come to mind.  Am I reaching a bit, grasping for anything--yes! Everything!

We are truly in the midst of the storm.
But instead of focusing on the wind, and darkness....
I chose to recognize the refreshing rain.
The gifts.
Even in the toughest times.
Our cups overflow.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


I've been challenging myself to be quiet.
To listen.
To hear.
To take in my surroundings.
To just be.

This is hard.
What lot's of people may, or may not know about me is that I am a pretty TYPE A person.
Everything has it's place.
Everything has order.
There's a plan.
A system.
A goal.
In my own ideal world, I can always "see" where we are going.

HA HA HA!!!!!!!!

I said that's my preference, not reality.

We have savings to "get us through,"
but Ryan still does not have a job.
We are in a wonderful house,
but there is still a lot to do to make the house, a home.
Ryan and I had every intention of going on vacation next week,
but with some recent events (and lack thereof) we are on the edge as to IF we will actually go. Mind you I said we are supposed to leave next Monday.
Eli has been sick, very sick.
Fever of 104 for days, sick.
Vomitting all night, sick.
Our insurance ends tomorrow and the new insurance is "pending."
His sickiness has made him very clingy and fussy--making it difficult to get anything done, let alone to even think about how to help him.

the list goes on.

All of these situations are up in the air.
They are the current prayer requests in this Stevenson household.

I don't know how they are all going to work out.
I can't see the plan.
I can't see the end in sight, and I can't see the road ahead.

So, instead, I'm listening.
Listening for His voice.
His calling.
His direction.
I know HE is here. I know HE knows each of these requests.

I can't see the solutions, but HE does.

Tonight, I'm listening.
Being quiet.
Thankful for the journey as it's been,
and hopeful in the one still ahead.
Tonight I am listening for peace.
For comfort.
For assurance.

In the quiet of this Tuesday evening,
talking and tears won't fix it.
Worry doens't work (though I am really good at it too).
I'm focusing in on the quiet.
Listening for THE still small voice.

He's here.
He knows.
I'm quiet.

He said ( to Elijah), "Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by." Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still, small voice. (1 Kings 19:11 and 12)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Coming together.

SO, we moved.
Tuesday, June 22nd.
The BIG day.
Everything went as planned.
Pick up truck, check.
Generous friends willing to give up there afternoon to help, check.
Load Boxes, check.
Take apart big furniture items, check.
Load refrigerator---an hour ordeal later....check.
Unload at new house, check.
Boxes everywhere. YES!

Thankfully, some of our family was able to stick around and help organize the chaos.
I can happily, and gratefully say we are about 85% unpacked.
What's left? Mostly decorations and our "office" items.
Being that this is our blog, where -- well we share our journey, here's what our home looked like after we woke up the first morning.
Not bad AT ALL!
Thank you to all who were able to give time, and to those who prayed.
Tuesday was a bit of an emotional day.
It was hard finalizing the end of Tourbrook Way being our home.

However with peace and a thankful spirit I can say I woke up Wednesday morning, in our "new" house feeling blessed and excited to call this place home.
Just what I needed.

(The Office -- our "dump" room)

Friday, June 18, 2010


We packed our house today.
90% of it is in boxes.

I'm exhusted.
I'm so tired.
Currently, I'm hungry,
Mostly, I'm sad.

It's becoming very real to me that our life here in this home is quickly coming to an end.
The memories here are going to stop.
And, yes, while new ones will begin.
This day, these boxes, marks the end.

We have lived in this house for three years.
Three years of laugter.
Three years of learning.
Three years of life lessons.
Three years of love.
This is our home.

Boxes flood our garage.
Boxes fill our hallways.
Eli's room sit's empty with his crib and dresser.
The cabinets no longer hold our dishes.
The walls are bare with the exception of that paint, which I still love so much.

As I packed our belongings into brown boxes my mind raced.
Thinking about the stories this house holds.
The funny memories of how the paint got on the wall and how long it took us.
The time I sat in the closet crying over our first little blessing taken before we knew him/her.
The many conversations Ryan and I shared sitting on our staircase.
The night before we moved in, sneaking into the house to see the final product.
I thought about the smell that first day moving in.
With every room I packed, I thought.
Packed and thought.

I will miss this house.
I really do love this house.
It's hard to imagine more, and frankly it's hard to imagine us not in it.
Today, I realized what I can't imagine will soon be.
Come Tuesday we will be gone.
Starting fresh, leaving something we love.
This house has been a wonderful home.
A home we have been blessed to call our own.
Soon it will hold these stories that the new owner will never know of.

As I sat packing boxes, thinking through the countless memoriess we have created in this home,
I packed them too.
One by one,
in my heart.
Holding them closer then our possesions.

With boxes in the garage of our stuff.
And boxes of memories packed in my heart.
The time is coming close,
and farewell to a faithful home will soon be here.

My stomach hurts, and it's not because I am hungry.
The knot in my gut is big.
I am ready to face what's next,
but so, so sad to let go of a blessing we were so honored to call our own.

Boxes. Packed.
Our home is getting empty.
A new journey is about to embark.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

It's Out.

For the first time, in many months, Ryan and I can finally breath wihtout the burden of a secret.
Secrets. I don't like them.
They make things merky.
Secrets make things hard.
It has been so hard going through this alone.
It has been so hard taking each step alone.
It has been so hard not being able to come out and say our thoughts, our plans, our changes ahead.

But now, the news is out. Officially, last Friday (June 10) an email went out to the church announcing our newest journey.
This past Sunday, June 13 it was annouced from the platform that we would be venturing out on our own starting July.

HUGE sigh of relief.

Ryan and I have both grown up in the church.
We know the importance of timing and the sensitivtiy of change for a church.
BUT, it's so hard to keep such big life decisions from those we consider to be our closest friends.
Needless to say, we are sleeping better at night knowing people know...and support us.

The news is out.
The secret is no longer.
We are moving in five days.
Our time at the River Church is soon coming to an end.
Ryan is getting a job outside of the church.
We are not leaving the ministry.
We are not walking away from any calling. Not even close
Instead, we are following God's lead to go where HE wants us, to DO what HE wants of us and to be where HE wants us.
Yes, it's stretching.
Yes, it's a bit out of the box.
But Yes, it's all true.

Is the Secret any easier.
My heart is still heavy about our house, but excited for the horizon ahead.
Leaving The River Church is bittersweet. It has been a beautiful four years of learning and love there.
Am I confident in the road ahead, well no.
BUT I am confident that God is with us.
His hand is in front of us,
and that is not a secret.

Not everyone understands.
Not everyone supports us.
And that's OK.
Ryan and I know that this journey is meant for us.
We don't know the whys, and we don't expect everyone to agree with our decisions.
BUT, we know that we know this is our time.
It's OUR calling.
And we WILL follow.

Ryan and I have received so much positive feedback,
but even with the negative - I am reminded of a song my childhood congregation would sing after a baptisim.

"I have decided to follow jesus, I have decided to follow Jesus
no turning back. no turning back
.......Though none go with me, still I will follow....
no turning back, no turning back."

The journey has begun.
The secret is out.
We are pushing forward to be available for what God has set aside for us next.
Following HIS lead.
No turning back.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A Home.

the rental we love is ours!
We got news last night from the owners that they were indeed interested in us occupying their home, and everything was finalized this morning. We will "sign" our year lease on Saturday.

This is a big deal for me personally.
One of the hardest hurdles with this whole change has been letting go of our home.
As I have expressed in my previous entry, I love our house.
Note: I do not like the payment, or decreased value.
But I do love our home.
Ryan and I have spent many, many ours making it ours.
Making it a reflection of us.
So, letting it go and leaving it has been more then emotional for me.

In our initial conversations, when the rental house hunt began, I cried.
I didn't want to leave my colorful walls (that took me a year to get just the right colors).
I didn't want to leave our yard, that we worked on the whole first year...and have continued to care for adding little things here that there to make it ours.
I didn't want to leave our memories.
The stories this house holds are already some that I will hold tight to my whole life.
Yes, we have only lived here three years-but they have been three years of stories.

So, moving on from our home here on Tourbrook Way is a big thing.
One of my greatest hardships in accepting the fact that we were going back to being renters. The thing about renting is that you lease a house that's not yours, it belongs to someone else. Someone else who might have a different style, or might not care about the yard, or might not like color on the walls-therefore having white.
I stressed over what was going to be next.
What would we live in, what would the house look like?
It was important for me to "see" us living there.
And trust me, in the rental house world many houses are...well, just well used.

Then, we found THIS house.
The house we will be renting for this next year.
The house we will move into on June 22nd.
It's a great house.

Located right in the Southport area.
Across the street from a quaint little park.
With taupe walls (some color!)
A beautiful backyard.
And little pieces of character that make the house different.

No, it's not my house. And it might not have everything Tourbrook Way has.
But we will be honored to call it home this next year.
God has answered my little whims.
He knew just what I needed to help this transition be a little smoother.
It will still be VERY hard to let go of this home.
But, knowing there's something lined up next, that I am pleased with....brings peace.

Someday we will own a home again.
One we can call our own.
I can spend a year picking new paint colors.
We can landscape,
and make new memories.

But until then, we have a charming house to call home.
For that, I am thankful.
We have a place to call home.
A roof lined up over our heads.

At the end of the day. A home isn't defined by walls and a roof.
It's defined by the love that it holds.
Our love goes with us.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Operation: Job

So, here we are--JUNE.
Our past two weeks have been overwhelmed with the latest task of finding Ryan a J-O-B.
I have to admit I have been amazed at how many opportunities have already presented themselves, and how many doors God has already began to open.
Right now, Ryan and I are praying through three potential job options. All with wonderful "friends" that we (Ryan) would be honored to work for and along side. For us, just the very fact that these business men are willing to take a gamble with us truly means so much.
Ryan has been in ministry for 7 years. It's been a long time since he was out in the "regular" working world, let alone as a grown adult. It's another BIG step of faith for us, but one we trust will be right.
Our hearts are so tired. We love the church where we serve, but also know that God is truly ready for us to move on. While we aren't really sure what is in store for next, continual confirmations (such as three wonderful job offers) give us tons of faith that we are moving on in GOD's will. We are planning on taking a break from organized ministry for a year, to live "normal" lives while staying 100% in tune to God's plans for us.
Yes this is different. Yes, it's a bit against the "regular grain" of ministry.

But this is also what we know:
-God has put the Southport area of West Sac on our hearts.
-We know there are no churches there.
-At this time, we would like to be a influential part of building a church for the wonderful families in that area.
-God has opened the doors for Ryan to pursue "work" outside the church.
-The burden of our house, has quickly lifted, and God's hand is definitely working in a time when the housing market is in turmoil.
-The support of family and friends has been a confirmation that yes, this is really OK.
-Ultimately we know that as we grow, God is defining us, and our ministry, and the role we will forever play in HIS everlasting plan.
- We KNOW we are in HiS hands, and HE is close, and HE is in this.

While Ryan and I are making decisions, and do feel we have a great job zeroed in. We aren't ready to share QUITE yet, but do stay tuned!

Update on the house...we have SIX, YES SIX Offers! God is not only good, but truly amazing! Our first offer was given to the bank last Friday, June 4. Can't say we have heard any news yet. BUT we did have an appraiser come by today and take some pictures at the request of the bank. GOOD NEWS!

We have yet to have the rental squared away. My type A, "planner" personality is freaking out! BUT, I am hopeful that what is meant to be, will be. God has been so faithful so far, no reason NOT to trust him with this too!

Today, I am challenged with the unknown. The year ahead. What it will look like? What to expect? Both questions I am not at all sure of what the answers will be.

I spoke to my grandma this week. Her words of faith reminded me of James 4:8 "Draw near to God, and HE will draw near to you."

That's my prayer.
Despite all of the uncertainty, and maybe even unconventionality of this transition in our lives. We are fully relying on God through it. May we be challenged daily to listen to His voice, to feel His hand, and trust HIs calling....wherever HE takes us.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Marking the Beginning.

Welcome. If you are reading this it means that our journey is probably much further along then it is at this current moment while I type. YAY!
This blog marks the beginning, the start of something new for the Stevenson clan. I can't say when the change in our hearts started, and I can't pin-point the day God really revealed the start of the change to us, but through time he did.
Months ago change and transition started at the wonderful church we were honored to be serving at. Throughout the changes and transitions a stirring was happening in our hearts. One that we eargely sought after, but didn't know the meaning of. We listened and followed. We search for meaning, and prayerfully considered the path we were being beckoned to take.

APRIL 8, 2010- Ryan and I decide to take a trip to San Francisco. A prayer retreat. A time to make decisions. On the docket: A senior position Pastorate in Michigan (at another church we love dearly), To plant...or not to plant? On our way out of town, we stop at Starbucks in Southport (West Sac). Ryan asked if we can drive around the area a bit.
What we saw: Mommie and babies everywhere, young families, houses being built, new area, a new horizon.
A sign?
Well no, but a seed was planted that day while we drove the area before heading to SF.
Ryan and I had a wonderful getaway in SF. While we were there we talked, we dreamed, we prayed, we thought.
We asked each other the hard decisions about the choices ahead. Where did we see our family in the near future, where did we NOT see our family. Hard decisions, hard doors to close.
We decided Michigan was not our place. Not the journey we were meant for.
We decided that God had brought us to this time to take us on a new journey-- a journey to plant a church.
Now, for the WHERE?
Well, prior to our quick pit-stop and drive around West Sac, it WAS NOT on our potential places to consider a plant.
BUT, and thats a big BUT....
AFTER driving around, our hearts couldn't leave that area.
Ryan and I both agreed without question, or full understanding of the whys...but West Sacramento-Southport to be exact would be the place.
WHAT...and WHERE....down.

The following days after SF were busy, exciting, and scary. Getting confirmation from both of our parents. Both sets told us about how Southport has had a special place in their hearts. Both said that its been a place that for a while they all have felt needed a church.
Business conversations and planning to were to follow for a month. Lots of discussion happened amongst ourselves and head pastors as to what would be next as we amped up for this plant.
Our plan, stay on staff with our gracious church for a year, then launch June 2011.
Sound like a plan?
But not God's for us, yet.

Now, to current day. Today, day...well, let's say it's day ten of the real start to this journey. Why? Well becuase until ACTIONS take place, it's all just talk. Just dreams. Just a plan.
Plans have changed. Actions have happen.
Our journey has begun.

I can't really say WHY the plans needed to change.
And I can honestly say nothing caused the change.
But our hearts changed.
As we ventured down the systematic journey of planting the church. Our hearts stirred.
Something wasn't right, the journey wasn't quite as it was meant to be for us ... yet.
Many conversations, tears and raw prayers later, we decided to actively seek out moving to West Sac.
We put our house on the market--as a short sale.
This was big. I love our home. It's beautiful. It's our first. It was the place we brought Eli to a year ago. It holds many memories of another dear journey in our life, the journey to having Eli in our arms.
Putting the house on the market made me feel like we were putting our memories on the market too.
While we were so, so very excited about moving to Southport, letting go of our home was the first step in making the church plant "dream", a real action.
Our house went on the market May 14, 2010.
Over that weekend we had 5 showings.
On Monday, May 17 -- we had an offer.
As with all short sales, this is a LONG process. We are still waiting to hear back from the bank regarding that initial offer.

With our house on the market, our hearts still turned.
Something still was not right.
Ryan and I struggled communicating our feelings.
Tired, strained, overwhlemed, busy.
All words that flooded every conversation.
Words that described our feelings, our spiritual states, words that in no way pointed to us healthfully planting a church.

Confusion set in.
If God, has so evidently placed this calling on our lives, how are we supposed to do this feeling the way we do?

Ryan and I began to wonder what to do.
Do we pull the plug on the plant, even though we know with confidence this "church plant" is right?
Do we step away from ministry in general?
How do we prepare ourselves for the demand of a new church, when we don't have time to even rest together?

Honestly, conversation after conversation happened, with no result.

Sunday, May 23 Ryan and I decided that the best thing for us to do, in order to fulfill God's plan in our lives was to step down from our current Ministry commitments. That would mean stepping down from a church we love, stepping away from Ryan's pay, and standing on our own for a year.
Huge breakthrough, huge step to ask.

Ryan and I plugged the numbers.
Ryan started looking for a job in the secular world.
One that would disconnect him from the daily church grind, so he could rebuild his spirit in preparation for the plant.
He put resumes out everywhere.

We talked to our family first, positive they would say we were crazy and question our financial decisions with concern.
They didn't.
They supported our decision 100%.

Monday, May 24
We started working on transferring our insurance obligations to individual plans. We sought the counsel of other family members and a life mentor. All agreed that it made sense, and was right.

Which brings us to today.... May 25
we put in an application for a rental in the Southport area of West Sacramento.
It's the day I started journaling our journey.
It's the day Ryan resigned from The River Church

Today day we officially stepped away from the comfort of our life, to pursue a new beginning in Southport.
Today we committed to starting fresh, and renewed so that we can be effective at touching this beautiful community.

I am scared, but at peace. I have concerns, but am confident.

This is a new journey for us, but it's not for God.
He had this written and orchestrated since the beginning of time.
And while there are still a lot of things up in the air in our minds, we follow a Savior who already knows the path ahead.
So this is us, Stepping out.....following Him where He leads.
Off we go.

1 Timothy 6:17 "Put (their) hope in God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment."