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Numbers

I don’t know about you, but I love when the Lord connects numbers for me.  Now, that may sound ridiculous or you may have no clue what I’m talking about, but don’t worry, I’ll do my best to explain myself.

Today I have 40 days until my wedding.

40 is a big number.  If you look in the Bible, the number 40 pops up A LOT!  It rained on Noah and the Ark for 40 days and nights when God flooded the earth.  Moses and the Israelites had to wander the desert for 40 years after they were freed from Egypt.  After Jesus was baptized, He went into the wilderness and fasted for 40 days, during which time He was also tempted before He started His ministry.  Jesus also appeared to His disciples and other people for 40 days after His resurrection.

Those are all that I can think of off the top of my head right now, but there are more.

The number 40 is typically linked to a time when someone or a group of people are going through a test or trial.  It’s used during Lent, the 40 days before Easter, as a time of fasting and prayer as well.  But my interest is not in numerology.  I just like the idea that the Lord has used 40 multiple times in His Word, which I think means that 40 is an important time frame.

I think these last 40 days before our wedding are going to hold many things for Brandon and me.  There will definitely be tests and trials galore, but I also think that there will be blessings galore as well.  Besides, James said that we should “consider it pure joy when [we] face trials of many kinds because [we] know that the testing of [our] faith produces perseverance” (James 1:1).  So any trials we face during this time will not only be used to help build our faith and perseverance, but also to mold us into the man and woman that God has created us to be so that we can do the things that He has created us to do.

I’m going to use these last 40 days as a specific time of prayer over our entire marriage.  Not just the wedding day and all of the things surrounding that.  I’m praying for our marriage.  The thing that lasts long after the flowers die and flower girls grow up.  I’m praying over the life we will have together and the years we will share with one another.  I’m praying over the trials we have not yet faced and the joys we do not yet know.  I’m praying over the people we influence and the people we allow to influence us.  I’m praying over the gifts and talents the Lord has blessed us with and will grow or develop within us as His perfect timing works itself out.  I’m praying over the love that we share and the lives that we impact with that love, given by the Lord.  And so much more.

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As much as I like the 40 days until our wedding, there’s another number related thing I’ve been thinking about a lot lately too: When Brandon and I get married, we will have been together for almost 6 whole years.

Now I know that 6 isn’t really a big deal in the Bible, but I like to think of it in relation to when God created the heavens and the earth.  He worked and created for 6 days, but on the 7th day, He rested.

That’s how I see my relationship with Brandon.  We have been working for almost 6 whole years.  We’ve been living life apart and dealing with a long distance relationship for a long time now.  We have and still are putting in a lot of work, cultivating our relationship and helping it to grow over all of this time.

But praise the Lord, this time of separation and distance is close to an end!  The 6 years are almost over!  The work that we have been putting in is not necessarily about to end, because marriages take work, but it will definitely change.  This season of our lives is ending after 6 years.  And what is to come?

The 7th year.  Rest.

During our 7th year together, we will finally be able to live together and be a part of each other’s every day life, rather than spending a weekend together once a month.  All of the work that we have put in the past 6 years will be completed and we will no longer be working towards marriage.  We will finally be able to rest in our marriage.  We will be able to rest in our union and covenant.  We will no longer be two separates striving toward each other, rather, we will finally be one and we can rest in that unity.

Oh how I look forward to that rest…

Oh how I pray that we rejoice and revel in that rest, rather than allowing the difficulty and negativity to pull our joy and rest away from us.

Many people say that the first year of marriage is the hardest.  I believe them.  Wholeheartedly.  It won’t be easy.  It won’t be pretty.  It will be chaotic and hectic and we won’t have anything figured out.  It will be absolute insanity and we will likely drive each other crazy with the little things we used to think were cute and indeering.  Words will be said and understood in ways they weren’t intended.  Feelings will be hurt and balloons will burst.  Negativity and frustration will likely win out over joy and peace some days.  Days will grow long and tempers will grow short.

But at the end of the day, when all is said and done, I will be there for Brandon and he will be there for me.  We will be a united front against the enemy’s schemes to steal our joy and rob us of peace.  We will be an unbreakable team forged in the refining fires of the Almighty’s Hand.

It certainly won’t be perfect, but we will be together.  Finally.

So here’s to 40 more days and a 7th year of rest amidst the chaos.

Gentry Bass

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Conviction

Let me just start by praying:

Lord God, You are Holy and Almighty.  You are Sovereign over my life and there is no one I desire above You.  You created me and You know my deepest, most heartfelt desires.  You have planned a life for me that I can live to the full, if only I obey Your Word and follow Your will.  You have given me talents and abilities that I am to use for Your glorification, not my own.  You have granted me grace, mercy, love, and favor that I do not deserve and have done nothing worthy of earning; yet, You bestow it all upon me simply because You love me and I am Your child.  Thank You, Father God, for Your abundant love and for Your plan for my life.  Because You are sovereignly in control, I don’t have to worry or fret about what I am to do next, where I am to go, or what I am to do when I get there.  Thank You, Lord, that You know all things and that You hold me within Your hands, guarding me against anything that You have not allowed to enter my life.  Thank You for molding me and shaping me into the woman that I have become, but thank You even more, Holy Father, that You continue to chip away my pride and negativity, ever perfecting and ever transforming me.  Thank You for the plans You have for me and for the ways in which You are preparing me for Your plans.  Thank You for walking with me through the refiner’s fire, the darkest valley, and the steepest mountain.  You are so Good.  You continue to amaze and astound me, Lord!  Thank You for Your trials and for the ways in which You teach me to be a better follower after Your heart and lover of Your people.  May You never cease to work in, through, and all around me.  May Your name be proclaimed by every thought, word, and action that spills forth from me.  May Your will be done, Your way, in Your timing, and for Your glorification.

Lord, allow the people who read this to hear Your voice, not mine.  Let them know Your Words, not my own.  Use me here to write honestly and humbly.  Lord, I ask that You would speak to each one as You see fit.  Thank You, Holy Father, for speaking to each of us differently and for convicting us all differently.  Help us not to judge one another simply because we have different struggles than another or perhaps someone else is at a different place in their walk with You and You have not yet revealed to them the things that You have revealed to us.  Help us all to put aside our prejudices and feelings of entitlement.  Help us to listen only to You and to praise Your Name when You speak to us and when You are silent.  May Your will be accomplished.  May Your voice be heard.  May Your people grow and return Your blessings with praise.  Thank You, Lord God, for all of the incredible things You allow us to experience each and every day.  You are Holy and we praise Your name.  Amen.

The Lord has recently been showing me my ugly side…  It isn’t super fun when He does that, but it is definitely something I need Him to do so that I don’t continue living in my sin or continue living a lie.

Now, let me preface all of this by saying that this is how the Lord has convicted ME about MY feelings and attitudes about MY wedding.  There is a high possibility that absolutely nothing that I write will have much meaning to you because you are not me.

First, let’s talk about a word I’m about to use a lot: convict (other forms include- convicts, convicted, conviction, convicting, etc).  When I use this term, I’m talking about the way the Lord points out something in your life that you are doing wrong, or that you aren’t doing and should be doing, and He brings it to your attention in a way that you know that something needs to change.  For instance: ‘the Lord convicted me of my sin’ means that God showed me that something I was doing was sinful and I needed to stop it and be obedient to Him instead of continuing to sin.

The Lord speaks to each of us differently and He will convict each of us of different things at different times.  That is one very important reason why you can’t go around life expecting that everyone else in the world has been convicted of the exact same things that you have.  In fact, they probably haven’t because their walk with Christ is completely different than yours.  Other people have other stumbling blocks and other sins that the Lord has to work out with them.  That means that the Lord may convict them of some things that He never convicts you of because He has already worked that out in You.  We all need God to speak to us in specific ways so that we can better understand Him.  We all require different levels of support.  And praise be to God, He knows what we need and He will meet us there!

Recently the Lord met me on my couch, as I was praying about my wedding coming up in May.  It’s getting very close now, so all of the little things are starting to sneak up on me.  I thought everything was going just fine and I had everything under control.  But that was my biggest problem…

I had gotten to a place in my wedding planning where I believed that I had everything under control.  Did you read that right?  I was in control.  Not the Lord.  I was.

And that was my pride-driven downfall.

I thought I could handle planning a wedding and doing a full time externship and working and packing up and planning to move and getting things ready for an apartment and all of the expenses that come along with all of those things stacked on top of things I would describe as “my normal life” stuff.  I thought I could do it all on my own…

I actually did for a hot second…

Then I started drowning.  All of the things I thought I had under control were suddenly far too much for me to grasp.  My grip failed.  I started sinking beneath the weight of everything I knew I could never handle on my own…

Then the Lord reached down to me, just as He did to Peter when he tried to walk on the water, and said “Oh you of little faith. Why did you doubt?” (Mat. 14:31)

Everything that was overwhelming me and pulling me under had been in perfect order when I had given it all to the Lord and relinquished control to Him.  God gracefully holds every single one of my burdens far better than I could ever dream to, and yet I pridefully thought that I could do it all myself…

You’d think that by now I would know better, but I am apparently a prideful person.  I hate admitting that because I desire so much to be humble.  I want to be a humble servant and a servant leader, but I have this pride within me that rises up and takes over if I am not diligent in prayerfully crushing it back down and relinquishing all praise to the Lord.

So the Lord convicted me of that pride.  He convicted me of a lot of pride I didn’t realize I had let settle into my heart and overflow into my actions.  He showed me how entitled I was and I hated it!  I hated to see myself through the truth that He was giving me…

I felt entitled to have a perfect wedding.  Everyone is, right!?  Or at least that’s what everyone says!  Even before I got engaged, I had people telling me, “it’s YOUR day YOU do whatever YOU want.”

Yeah, sure, it may partly be my day, but it’s also my husband’s day.  It’s also a day to say thank you to all of the people who helped us get to where we are now.

From the beginning, I wanted my wedding to be a celebration with the people that have supported us and helped us get to where we are now.  I wanted it to be a huge thank you to everyone who came and to those who couldn’t.  Yes, I want to celebrate my love with Brandon and the long awaited conclusion of long distance and separation.  I want to celebrate the journey that God has led us on and walked us through.  I want to celebrate the unity and holy matrimony that Brandon and I will finally be able to be a part of.  But I also want to celebrate and thank those people around us that the Lord has used to help us become who we are today.

I lost sight of that.

All I could see was how imperfect my wedding was going to be when compared to the other weddings I’ve been to or those that are being planned.  All I could see was how unfair it was that everyone else got to have a perfect day but I couldn’t because of this, that, and the other.  All I could see was the anger that I had toward myself mostly because I wasn’t good enough or organized enough or pretty enough or friendly enough or *insert any other negative comment here*.

That was it.  All I noticed was the negative.

And the Lord called me out on it.

I had been blessed with more than countless others; how prideful and arrogant I was to pity myself and feel entitled to even more.  I had been surrounded by so many praises and blessings; how blind and foolish I was to only focus on the very few negative things.

Now let me just tell you, when the Lord convicted me of those two big things (pride and negativity), it was not a pretty sight.  It was like being pushed out into the freezing cold with shorts and a tank-top on.  It was a shock to my system to realize that I had been living a lie and had so easily allowed myself to be tricked into believing it.  It was painful when the Lord ripped off my blinders and shone the truth right in my eyes.  It was uncomfortable.  Honestly, it still is.

Being convicted is like being brought into the light or being told the truth.  You can’t just go back to living like you were.  I mean, you can, but it’s terrible because now you know the truth and it will eat you alive to know that you are living a lie constantly.  You have to change something.  You have to consciously and actively decide to make a change and act on the truth that you now know.

I now know that I was being far too prideful (about many things, not just my wedding) and overly negative (again, about many things, not just my wedding).  Now I have to decide what my next step is going to be.  Do I continue living in sin and lies?  Or do I ask for forgiveness, change my attitude, and allow the Lord to help me live a humble, positive life?

I’m personally choosing the latter of the two.

Now, am I good at this?  No.  Not at all.  But the Lord is working on me through it and I have faith that He will help me get where He wants me to be so that I can do the good works He has already prepared for me to do there.

It will be a long, tiring journey and Satan will do his best to throw me off and cast me back into pride and negativity.  But I know Who holds my future and I know Who holds me.  The Lord will walk with me through each and every step of this journey toward humility and positivity in every aspect of my life.  And I know for certain that He won’t let me down.

The question is: when the Lord convicts you, what will your choice be?  Will you continue to live in the darkness or the lie, even though you know the truth?  Or will you step into the light to let the Lord wash you clean and help you live in the truth?

The choice is coming, but the choice is yours.  Choose wisely, my friend.

Gentry Bass

Finally

If you would like to read the rest of our story, you can find the highlights of our four year journey up to this point here.

Allow me to set the scene for you: I was sitting on the couch and Brandon walked into the room.  It was such a typical, mundane act and yet it filled me with a shock of joy that I couldn’t contain.  Before I was able to suppress it, a brilliant smile broke the stillness of my face.  As he walked toward me, Brandon cocked his head and a slow smile spread across his face as well.  “What?” he asked.  “Nothing” I responded.  But then I really allowed myself to think about it.  As he sat beside me, I leaned my head onto his shoulder and quietly said, “I’m gonna marry you one day.”

Now, this happened about a year ago, and whereas it was most assuredly the first time I had spoken it aloud with such confidence, it had been a topic of quick conversation and much thought over the years prior to that moment.  However, even though Brandon and I had discussed it, the idea of actually marrying him and spending the rest of my life with him didn’t fully sink into my consciousness until that moment.  Until I saw him walk into the room and realized that he was indeed the man I would one day marry.

‘Maybe I’ll marry him one day‘ was nothing more than a fleeting thought in my subconsciousness that continued to make itself known time and time again, with more frequency the longer we were together.  But, me being me, I always tried to push it away and I never truly let it become a solid reality.  Instead, I would quickly follow thoughts of my future with things like, ‘but anything could happen!  Who knows what God’s will is for us.  Maybe it’s too good to be true and He’s just using this time we have together to prepare us for our separate futures…’  All completely valid thoughts!

If you’re thinking that I’m insane, especially after three years with the guy, then you would agree with pretty much everyone else I talked to.  Needless to say, that way of thinking didn’t last forever.  However, when I came to the realization that Brandon was indeed my future husband, things got rough.

I knew he was “the one.”  I knew I would marry him one day.  The problem was, we weren’t at all ready at that time for the next step in our journey: engagement.  So, the days went by as if in slow motion and my heart ached for the day we could finally move forward in our relationship because I was so tired of everything seeming so stagnant.

It was during this time that the Lord confronted me and tested my faith in His timing by helping me to overcome the quick, bitter pang I felt each moment I scrolled through social media and found another of my friends engaged or married, or even just moving forward in their relationship at all.  It took some time, but God is good and, thankfully, He is also patient.  I turned my bitter spirit, covered by a facade of happiness, into a true joy for those around me who had finally found the person they would love forever.  Then, He helped me to see that their joy in that moment and my prayers for them could fuel my joy in the waiting.  Don’t ask me how it makes sense, because it doesn’t in my mind; but God is greater and He helped me to see that in this particular season, just as I had numerous times before.

Almost a year later, I am happy to say that the Lord heard my prayer and has answered with more blessings and joy than I could have imagined!

Brandon and my friend Katie literally had to drag me to look at engagement rings.  And when I say drag, I mean that they lured me to the mall and then casually shoved me into a jewelry store against my will…  They’re the best… (note the sarcastic undertone)  But, I eventually warmed up to the idea and found a general style that I liked.  The thing is, I absolutely refused to pick a ring myself or even narrow it down too much, even though I had one in mind.  I wanted Brandon to pick my ring, and boy did he pick it!  Literally.  The exact one that I couldn’t get out of my mind.

On October 22nd, Brandon surprised me with a visit and also picked up my ring (which was the cause of the surprise visit).  Yes, I knew he was getting my ring, I just didn’t know which one it was at the time.  I was actually the one who carried the bag with the box with my ring in it from the car into the house.  Where it sat.  In my room.  Taunting me.  All weekend…  He’s nice like that…

So anyway, I knew he had the ring.  I knew I would say yes.  Now all I had to do was wait.  But praise the good Lord in Heaven above because I only had to wait a little while!

And so do you!  Next time I’ll tell you all about the proposal, but for now you’ll just have to wait!

 

 

Haha just kidding!!!  I’ll go ahead and tell you now.

On November 5th, my friend, Kayla, got married and she ever so lovingly allowed me to be one of her bridesmaids.  (Congratulations Kayla and Chad!  You’ve officially been married a week now!!)  Brandon came up for the wedding and we were able to dress up and have a fun night celebrating with everyone at their wedding (for future reference, some of those in attendance included: my best friend Katie, her boyfriend and my good friend Coryghan, my sister Lauren, and her boyfriend Josh).  Brandon even asked me to dance for the first time!  It was perfect, I was shocked, and the song was A Thousand Years by Christina Perri.

Katie, Coryghan, Lauren, Josh, Brandon, and I had all planned to go to dinner together the following day.  One thing you need to realize is that we aren’t the kind of people that typically dress up and go do things.  We’re more of a ‘let’s just be comfortable’ kind of group.  So, later that evening, when Coryghan told me to make sure that I dressed nicely for our triple date, I began to get suspicious…

My next moment of suspicion came when Brandon decided that we would ride to dinner with Coryghan and Katie, but we were going to make a pit stop (which just so happens to be WAY out of the way) at camp to see Lauren and Josh beforehand because Coryghan wanted to hand out there for a little while.  (Brandon did really well.  He made sure every piece of the plan came from someone other than him, but because I knew it was coming, I was suspicious.)

First off, remember, we aren’t really people who dress up just because.  Second off, no one ever dresses up at camp unless they’re trying to impress a boy they have a crush on or they’re at a wedding or other event.  In this case, neither was the cause.  Or, at least, that’s what I was supposed to believe.  I didn’t.  I knew then that Brandon was probably going to propose that day at some point.  Besides, where better to start the next part of our lives?

Brandon and I met at Camp Chula Vista in June of 2012.

Brandon asked me to marry him at Camp Chula Vista on November 6, 2016.

From the moment we stepped out of the car, I saw a picture that begged to be taken.  So I grabbed my phone, walked down the hill, and almost laid down completely in the grass just to get the perfect picture of the swing.  Then we moved closer to the lake and I started taking pictures of Katie and Coryghan as well as Josh and Lauren as we meandered around the lake.

There were many fantastic pictures taken that day, but my favorite one wasn’t taken by me.  It was taken at four different angles, with four different cameras, by four different friends.  It involves the man of my dreams on a knee, offering me a ring as a symbol of his love and devotion; as a symbol of the long life we will have together.  It involves a proposal, not only of marriage, but of trials and difficulty and a promise to stand together no matter what we face.  It involves a boy and a girl, ready to face whatever this life gives them with Christ leading the way.  This is that picture.

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He took me back to where our story began.  And so, the next chapter in our story begins much the same way as the first: a guy and a girl at camp, led by the grace of God, surrounded by friends, destined to love each other more tomorrow than they thought possible today.

As you can imagine, I said yes.

Your prayers would be very appreciated.  A long distance relationship is rough, but a long distance engagement is sure to test us beyond what we have previously known.  Planning a wedding while in school and working will be difficult as well, but we believe that this timing is of the Lord and we are confident that He will provide all of our needs and supply us with abundant joy and strength to face each mountain in our path.

Thank you so much to everyone who has helped us and encouraged us over the years.  It means the world to us and we pray the Lord blesses you beyond all measure!  Y’all are awesome and you have blessed my socks off with the level of support you have offered us.  So thank you.  A million times. Thank you.

Gentry Bass

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