Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Israel Pulls to Stand

It's amazing how we can work on something forever, and finally it just clicks. I can think of that in my own life spiritually, and I have seen that in effect with my son Israel. He's been in therapy for 2+ years, and last week he finally pulled up to stand on his own. No prompting from me, he did it. He even sat back down without crying, which was a first ever!


Pulling to stand October 2014 from Rebekah McGee on Vimeo.

I'm so thankful for this small victory. It proves that this is all working. The progress may be slow but it is happening. We must be faithful even when we don't see the fruit. Oh, how that speaks to my own heart. These little moments of seeing my son's brain finally click with the exercises we have been practicing for so long... they make a big impact. It gives me hope, it reminds me of my own need for grace and perseverance. God is faithful!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Easiest Birthday Party {Israel turns 3}

For Israel's third birthday party, I decided to forego cute invites, cleaning my house, and cooking anything themed. Didn't get a "3" t-shirt, didn't even make a birthday picture sign like I normally do. This year, we rented the local bounce house place and called it a day. And it was perfect! Will's mom made the cake and cupcakes, and the rental place decorated and cleaned up for us. We all had fun, we'd do it again!










It goes to show... sometimes little effort can make a big impact ;)

PS: Israel's first birthday party, Israel's second birthday party

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Sunday Night Band Practice

Almost every Sunday night we load up as a family and head to the church, where the EngageJSU band is setting up for Monday. The kids LOVE the music and getting to play around on the stage, and we love getting to see our students. These little moments have allowed us to develop deeper relationships with our students, and our kids are getting to see the college students too. Israel's favorite part is the drums! He loves watching Josh play and sometimes Josh or Taylor will hold Israel so he can play the drums too!






Israel drums September 2014 from Rebekah McGee on Vimeo.


Israel drum 2 from Rebekah McGee on Vimeo.

I'm so thankful for this Sunday night tradition. College ministry is so fun!


Saturday, October 18, 2014

Surviving Long Days

I am really thankful for this season of being a stay at home mom. But some days can be really, really long! I don't know what we would do without our daily walks. Typically, after Edith wakes up from her morning nap we will load up and do a few laps around the neighborhood. Depending on if our neighbors are around to chat, we will walk for 45 minutes to an hour. I love this break in the day, and  the kids love looking around. Israel also gets a walk in the afternoon with his daddy every day.

 The other day Edith kept taking her socks off (she hates having things on her feet!) and throwing them out of the stroller. Israel thought it was hilarious. About every other house, she would throw them off. Then she would stick her feet up for me to put the sock back on her foot to play the game again, and would fuss if I didn't comply.



 These kids cracked me up - they wanted to play hide and seek with the blanket. I'm glad that the cooler weather has given them entertainment!




Little moments like this help me stay sane. It gives me time to just get out of the house and break up the monotony. I can get a little exercise, we all have some fresh air. It makes a big impact on our day! What helps you pass the day?


Friday, October 17, 2014

EngageJSU

I've been meaning to share a little about our story and our ministry, EngageJSU.

In August 2011, Will and I moved to Jacksonville, Alabama to serve the church and to begin a college ministry targeting students from Jacksonville State University, a small public school. It was the first time our church really had an intentional approach to college ministry, and we were to begin a ministry from scratch. 2011 was a tough year. Will and I were adjusting to life away from our beloved former church. We were in the thick of our adoption, waiting for Israel to come home. Will was finishing his master's and ministry was slow going. We were able to make some deep relationships with students, but it seemed that we were having to say "grace! grace!" over and over again without really making an impact. The most students we ever had to an event was 25ish, and many events were held in our living room. We often questioned ourselves, "why are we here? what are we doing?" and just trusted that God was working even though we weren't sure that we were seeing fruit. At the end of the year, Will took a team to Haiti for missions.

The second year was a little different. Israel was home. Our ministry was growing, and we had some awesome leaders that really stepped up. We saw our numbers grow and students lives change - at the end of the year, we had around 75 students attending our worship gathering. More and more small groups were needed! I had a hard time figuring out my purpose in the ministry, as holding events in our house became more complicated, and being a stay at home mom with a special needs child meant limited availability and flexibility. A lot of good things happened in this year though. Our relationships with students deepened, and we saw some amazing transformations of some students. The gospel was taking root, people were really getting the gospel! We saw the effects of prayer and saw how God was specifically answering prayers for salvation of students. Our international ministry was really happening, and at the end of the year, Will took a team to Baltimore to work with church planters.

{Video from summer 2013 after 2nd year at EngageJSU}


EngageJSU from engageJSU on Vimeo.

The third year we went in with big expectations. We hoped for 200 students to come the first night, and we were amazed when even more than 200 showed up. Our band was/is amazing. They were/are writing their own music based on what God was teaching them, and our students really bought into the vision of "at JSU as it is in heaven." Our small groups were serving missionally in the community, and our church was supporting the ministry as it grew. Students were trusting Christ and believing that Jesus is worthy to be Lord of their lives. At the end of the year, we had the "Engagies" - a banquet for our volunteers, and Will took a team to NYC to do outreach in Harlem with Muslims. We finished the year with full hearts and a sense of gratitude at what the Lord had done.

{Baptism Recap of 2013-2014 year}



Engage Baptisms from engageJSU on Vimeo.

{Summer 2014 video}


Engage 2014 from engageJSU on Vimeo.

So now, we're in year four. Leading up to the year, we had a leader's retreat that was so special to us. The year has started out with a bang - close to 400 students at our first event. We have more small groups than ever, and people keep coming back each week hungry to hear the word. It's humbling. We are thankful to have been called here, to see fruit and know that it wasn't easy and it wasn't our doing. If anything, we have seen that God works in His way and His timing. There's much more work left to be done, but we are excited to have seen transformations in college students. We're seeing relationships form that will be godly, solid marriages. There are students who pitch in each week to serve and we know that they are going to be ready to serve the local church as adults. People are choosing their college majors based on how they can be strategically placed to share the gospel according to their gifting and God's word. Will has grown as a teacher and pastor.

{EngageJSU 2014 documentary (15 min long but worth watching!) }


engageJSU Documentary from engageJSU on Vimeo.

I'm thankful for this season. I encourage you to follow along to the #EngageJSU hashtag every Monday night and see how excited our students are about the gospel. Check the vimeo page for updates on sermons.

If I could sum up our time the past 3+ years, it would be a lot of little moments that have made a big impact. The biggest impacts haven't been the nights of 400 students coming to an event, but over lunches, walks, coffee dates, dinners, meeting students where they are and hearing them. Speaking "grace! grace!" over and over until it makes sense. Speaking it over ourselves. Reading scriptures with students and seeing lightbulbs go off. What a privilege it is to have these opportunities! 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

It's Just a Season

Phew. Some days are tough. Some weeks are long, and sometimes you know you're just in a hard season. I can look back and see seasons of my life that were easier, and some that really stretched me. I've been in a stretching season for a while. My mom worries about me, haha.

The good news is, this is just a season. There is a purpose in it. We've been studying Ecclesiastes in our college ministry, and it is a refreshing reminder that there is nothing new under the sun. I'm not the first mom to have two little ones, or a child with special needs. I'm not the first one to have my specific set of problems - God has grace perfectly portioned for me as he has for others before me. There is a time for tears, but there's also a time for laughter. It has been ordained and it is all for my good and His glory. There are little moments that are hard, but they are going to make a big impact - on my spiritual growth, on my story, for His name.

Ecclesiastes 3 English Standard Version (ESV)

A Time for Everything

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.

The God-Given Task

What gain has the worker from his toil? 10 I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man's heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. 12 I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; 13 also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God's gift to man.
14 I perceived that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. God has done it, so that people fear before him. 15 That which is,already has been; that which is to be, already has been; and God seeks what has been driven away.[a]


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Back to Back Dates!

Two Fridays in a row Will and I got to go on dates!!! This miraculous blessing was from our parents. One weekend we visited Will's parents and they let us go out at night. They put the kids down, we went bowling. It was so fun and a great chance to just be carefree for a while. Unfortunately, we're pretty terrible bowlers.



The next Friday, my parents came to see us one last time before they moved. They wanted us to have a "day off" so Will and I drove to Gadsden and went shopping, sipped coffee, and saw a movie. It was crazy to just have time to kill and no agenda.

I'm really thankful for time alone with my husband. Little kids are exhausting in the best way. Both times we were away, we were ready to get back and find out how our kids were and to give them kisses! It's amazing how needed and refreshing it is to have time as a couple. I wish we could "date" more, but we're blessed that the kids have early bedtimes.

It's important for us to spend time together and make sure we're staying connected, having fun, and reminding each other why we're best friends and loves. Marriage is such a blessing. We need to take little moments to invest in our marriage. How often do you go out on dates?


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