September 30, 2009

Every good and perfect gift!

"If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!"
Matthew 7:11

The good gifts of the heavenly Father are more numerable than we could ever imagine. Just yesterday I was taking Eden and Rudy for a walk and was struck with how good He is to give us beautiful weather. The Fall could have easily ruined weather totally for us. But in the Lord's grace He chose to give us perfect autumn days where we can sit on a blanket in the grass perfectly comfortable for hours.

Our lives have been a testimony to the many gifts He gives. There are so many stories we could tell you about how the Lord provided in some amazing ways and gave us unexpected, over the top gifts. Our entire honeymoon was paid for, mostly by people we had never met. Just before we were married we desperately needed a car. Mine had just died for good and Clint's Honda with 250,000 miles was less than reliable! Two months before the wedding, another person we had never met gave us a CAR! An Audi at that! When we began praying that the Lord would allow us to start a family, we also began praying for a home. We had nowhere close to the finances needed to purchase one. A few months later the Lord blessed us with a very unexpected generous gift from again, people we had never met, that allowed us to put a down payment on a house! " much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!" Amen.

And so the Lord, again, adds another chapter to His gracious gift-giving. Last night I went to Clint's flag football game. Almost as soon as I arrived at the field my phone rang. It was 8pm and a number that I didn't recognize popped up on my screen. Usually, I don't answer calls from numbers that aren't programmed in, but for whatever reason...I answered. Rhonda was the very polite, excited voice on the other end of the line. "May I speak with Rachel?". I was right, I didn't know the number. Rhonda works for Lifeway Christian Magazines. She proceeded to inform me that in August I signed up for a vacation sweepstakes from their ParentLife magazine. This is the first time I have ever attempted this. And on a whim, in August I thought, "what the heck...never know...the Lord always does things like this for us!" Lo and behold...WE WON!! At this point I am giddy and somewhat confused. I remembered signing up for it, but for the life of me, I couldn't remember where the vacation was! And then the best part...."The vacation you won is to Captiva Island, Florida."

This place is BEAUTIFUL. Now I remembered why I signed up...the picture and description of the South Seas Resort was AMAZING! And we won! The best part of this whole thing is that in about a month, on November 4th, Clint and I will be celebrating our 3rd wedding anniversary! What a better way to do it than on the gulf coast, where we celebrated our honeymoon!

We are overwhelmed by this timely, gracious, exciting gift. Another reminder of the goodness, loving kindness, and grace of our Lord. He is truly the perfect Daddy!

September 24, 2009

Almost a Month!

I know we promised reconnected Internet meant more frequent blogs. And happened. Teething happened, 2 week fevers (Clint) happened, ligament damage (also, Clint) happened, drunk driving...happened.

Two weeks ago we received a call from my (Rachel) mom at midnight. As soon as the phone rang dread ran through both of us. No call at this hour is a good one. Mom proceeded to tell us that Calvin, my step-dad had been in a car accident. Dread turned to disbelief. I wanted to hope for the best but as details came...hope faded. The hospital had called...he had been hit on Highway 321, TWO HOURS before. They had to cut him out of the car. "We may have to transport him to CMC." The last detail made my heart sink. Unfortunately, we have had many calls like this. Any ending in "transport to CMC" has ended in death. My stomach turned, and Clint sat on the bed suddenly awake and terrified of the look on my face. And then...we waited. For 35 minutes we waited on another call. We sat and prayed and waited. Thoughts stormed my mind. The day before, Calvin had taken Eden on her first merry-go-round ride. We were not ready for this. I took a shower while we talked about what to do with Eden. Clint called his parents and set up a worst case scenario drive to Wingate from Shelby. Finally, the phone rang again. Calvin was alive, conscious and talking to the nurses. He had been hit, nearly head-on by a drunk driver. Suddenly, pain and disbelief were joined with anger in my heart. This was not an accident. Someone chose to get behind the wheel of a car very very impaired. The car jumped a 3-4 inch median, Calvin swerved at the last minute, literally saving his life. He made it out with seven broken ribs and a broken shoulder blade. A few inches different and he would have lost his life.

We have lived these last few weeks torn. Anger and grief pulled one way, hope and deep thankfulness the other. Calvin is going to be fine. His recovery will be slow and painful, but he will recover. The Lord's grace to us, my mom and sister, and many others is overwhelming. The Lord spared Calvin his life! This is the essence of grace. The Lord chose to grant Calvin life. Once, and now again. We, Calvin and the drunk driver who hit him do not deserve grace like that. But that is how God works. We deserve hell and he gives us abundant, overwhelming new life. Now, and in eternity. May this grace lead us to a deep thankfulness and worship of the Creator and giver of life. Please Lord, don't let us waste our lives!

September 1, 2009

Daddy's little Dolfan!

It is currently 66 degrees in Wingate, NC....this is unheard of on September first. Living in the Piedmont region of North Carolina you just miss the beautiful mountains to the west, and sandy beaches to the east, and are left with mostly heat and fire ants. So, with this very early visit from fall comes a Darst celebration.

We LOVE fall. We anticipate in all other seasons the start of this glorious and most beautiful time of year. We talk about it, a lot. For us, life is just better in the fall. There are many reasons for this preoccupation with autumn. Primarily, we (yes WE) loooove football. Clint has lived and breathed football since day one. He used to tell his dad that "yourami" was playing on TV when then Miami Dolphins were on. Rachel grew up in Belle, WV...where the only thing to do on friday night was go to a high school football game. It is ingrained in us...fall means football. And we LOVE football!

Another, more legitimate reason is that we met, and fell in love, in the fall. Appropriately, on a football field. It was August of 2001...picture day for the football team and cheerleaders at East Lincoln High School. And we certainly noticed each other. One year later we started August and proceeded to fall in love over the next few months. Thus, we love the fall. In addition, the two most wonderful gifts God has given us have been in November. On November 4th 2006, the Lord gave us each other, in marriage, on a chilly, vibrant fall day. Two years later, He gave us our sweet Eden.

Fall also means an end to the blistering Southern North Carolina heat. And with that, the need to wear Rachel's favorite article of clothing...the hoodie. And lastly, fall brings a new semester and start to a new school year at Wingate. This is the most exciting time of year for us in college ministry. The campus is bustling as freshmen get acquainted with classes and new friends. And with much planning and prayer we set out to glorify God by building new laborers on the campus. There is nothing like the first 6 weeks of the school year.

This weekend kicks off college football season, flag football season, Wingate's first weekly meeting, and the end to preseason NFL football. This, is a good week. So with this week...we celebrate. Pumpkin spice Wallflowers are installed, soup is being made, and decorations are being dusted off and hung up. Praise the Lord for this season. May it be one unforgettable fall!