Sam and Dusty here: What a whirlwind of a year it has been. We cannot believe that 365 (plus a few more) days have passed since Sam began the Residency with The Austin Stone Institute. What a blessing it has been. And what a challenge it has been. Every part of our lives are continually being molded into the persons whom God is refining us to be. We must be transparent in order to show the power of Christ at work in our lives.
We are compelled to share every-day struggles because these challenges reveal the marvelous grace of God at work in our lives.
- Dusty and Sam
Our marriage. When the residency began, we had been married for 4 years and two months and had two children. We had already been through very difficult seasons in our marriage: the loss of our mom Bonny, multiple moves, changes in community and churches, difficulties in pregnancies and deliveries. Through each of these trials, we stayed strong together and strived toward keeping our eyes on Jesus. Summer 2016 was probably our hardest year in marriage. We struggled big time. During this trial, the Lord revealed so much (like sooooo much) sin in my heart (Dusty). Even as I recall who I was last year, I am amazed at where the Lord has brought me. I had taken my eyes off of the Lord; I was relying on my own strength to get me through the resentment and bitterness that was growing inside of me. I was quick to anger and slow to listen and forgive. I had a constant "woe-is-me" attitude. Sam, through the grace of God, was patient with me. He loved me through it and pointed me to the cross, even when I (honestly) would say, "I don't want to pray right now." God showed me that I am not the center of the universe (guys, this was a BIG shocker to me). He revealed to me that I was relying on Sam to make me happy, instead of resting in the joy that Christ freely gives. This showed me that in everything, and through everything, all I (we) need is Him.
I (Sam) struggled as well. I was moving from having my own company to being a part of an Institute. I was essentially re-entering school.
I thought I was supposed to have "it all figured out" by now (a 30 year old).
Some days I found it difficult to navigate how to care for my family and how to be a resident. But the Lord showed me. He showed me His mercy. He taught me (as I have mentioned before when I got a speeding ticket) to not be hasty; to slow down and be diligent for the work He has given me. God has given me the capacity to love my family well and to serve them well. It's only by the grace of God through Jesus that I can truly love and lead my family. It has been made clearly evident to me that this is true. In no way is our marriage figured out. We still struggle, but we are eternally grateful for the season the Lord brought us through in the last year. He has refined us individually, and He has refined us as one. Our marriage is stronger because God is stronger.
Our sweet sweet children. We cannot get enough of them. Child development is fascinating. How quickly they change in a year! Sawyer was 2 1/2 and Jahna Bellamy was 8 months old when we started the Residency. Sawyer is thoughtful. He loves everything music and is really into building things, he loves to read, and over the last year has become an amazing big brother. He is a typcial "threenager" as well, full of tantrums and "Why?" questions.
Jahnabell is a firecracker; she keeps us on our toes. We really love this stage in development - when their personalities really begin to shine. Our sweet girl is joyful and independent, and she LOVES her big brother. She copies pretty much everything he does. Last week we moved them into a room together. While we have had some difficult moments, we are extremely excited for them to live together and to share a space together. The day-to-day can be difficult when tantrums are constant and sleep is nil. We desire to point them to Jesus daily.
We start our day as often as possible by having breakfast and reading The Jesus Storybook Bible together. Some mornings we discuss the story we read and others we barely finish reading before a meltdown occurs. But we have established this routine in hopes of giving our children a love for reading God's Word. Most mornings now, Sawyer will not start eating his breakfast until we open up the book and begin reading. In the last year, we have had the opportunity to hear from many parents who we highly trust. To hear how they parent biblically has been a blessing for us as parents but also for our children. One big take away is in how we discipline our children. We want to show them the gospel as much as possible. One day Sawyer was absolutely pitching a fit over eating his food. It was getting ugly, and I (Dusty) had had enough.
I told him that if he spit out his food he would have to stay in his throw up clothes all day because I was not going to change them. And I stormed out of the dining room.
A moment later, he had spit up all over his shirt and was uncontrollably upset about it. The Lord was so sweet to us in that moment. I was able to get down on my knees to remove his shirt, and tell him, "Honey, mommy is going to extend grace, just like Jesus extends grace to us. We deserve to wear throw up clothes all day long, but Jesus gives us new clothes." We prayed and moved on.
This summer we have grown by two: Sam's two youngest siblings are living with us, Matthew and Sarah Anne! While we have loved having them here, Sawyer and Jahnabell are over the moon that they are here. Sawyer loves his "Aunt SA Winkey" and Jahnabell will not let "MattMatt" out of her sight. We have a full house, and we love it.
We know this was a longer than normal blogpost, but we wanted to share with you all some of the things the Lord has been doing in our lives over this past year. If we were to write a blogpost detailing everything the Lord has been doing in our lives over this past year, ya'll would be reading for days. So thank you. Thank you for reading. Thank you for praying. Thank you for giving. We want to be transparent about the work of the Lord in our lives so that others may see how marvelous and wonderful He is.
We are in a season of support raising for the second (and last) year of the Residency (June 2017-May 2018). We want to ask you to prayerfully consider supporting us. You can learn more about the Residency here. We would also love to have you over for dessert to share more! We are eternally grateful for your love, prayers, and support.