Tuesday, December 3, 2013

MERRY CHRISTMAS 2013

It's that time of year... the tree is up, the lights are glistening and the house is full of holiday cheer. It's Christmas time again! My favorite time of year...

2013 has been such a rich year for our family. So, here's some highlights!


EARLY WINTER

Arthur became a full-time Associate Pastor at our beloved church, Beach Fellowship, in January! Becoming a family in full-time ministry has been an adjustment, but there's nothing better than loving the Lord and serving His people day in and day out. It's long hours; it never stops; but we love every moment of it. God is truly awesome in how He moves and uses our feeble hands and feet to accomplish His perfect work! Arthur preached his first sermon at Beach Fellowship in March and has since blossomed into a very practical teacher.

Just a few months after Arthur came on staff at Beach Fellowship, Jessica did, too! She now serves as All S.T.A.R.S. Director, which is the Children's Ministry to our birth- Kindergarten aged children. In addition, she is still very active in Women's Ministry and disciples many women in the Lord's ways. 

In March, our dear Aunt Sylvia passed from this world into the next. She was such a loving woman and giving. She truly held a special place in our hearts. But little did we know our heartbreak would be just the beginning of a season of loss...


SPRING
Jessica was blessed with a weekend away in the Washington, D.C. area for her best friend Camille's 32nd Birthday. They had a nice, fun weekend touring the sites and spending time together. We even spotted The Rock on our journeys, albeit it was his wax replica at Madame Tussauds Wax Museum!



Giana turned 4 on May 5th and celebrated her birthday this year with a Mermaid-themed party! That same weekend, Arthur performed his first marriage ceremony for his former soldier and friend in New Jersey- the now Mr. and Mrs. William O'Sullivan- and Giana had the privilege of being their Flower Girl! 



We had to say "until we meet again" to our dear friends, the Oliva Family, who received orders to Illinois from the U.S. Navy. Goodbyes are never easy... especially to a family who had become so knitted into our hearts and home. We sent them off with blessing and know that the Lord will use their willing hearts mightily!

May also brought news that our dear friend and sister in the Lord, our Women's Pastor Katy Vinciguerra had brain cancer. She fought a hard fight but went to heaven to dance with Jesus in June. It was a particularly difficult time for our entire church Body, yet we all found solace knowing she is in a much better, healthier place. Personally, the relationship she shared with our family was so special and we miss her tremendously.


SUMMER
The summer season started with more heartache as another dear friend of ours lost his battle with Lung Disease and passed into eternity on July 5th. We celebrated the life of our brother Joseph Poole with aching hearts, but with the promise of reuniting in Glory someday. He was a man who loved our family and always went out of his way to serve others. We look forward to continuing that legacy- he really helped to shape and equip us for ministry. 

In light of the busy-ness of life and the heartache the months prior held, our family took a day day of respite in Williamsburg, VA enjoying the Yankee Candle Factory. We even celebrated Christmas in July, complete with a visit with Santa Claus. It was a wonderful break from the ordinary... just what we all needed!



We spent our few extra moments of time together swimming! Giana is part-fish for the summer months and we are blessed to have two neighborhood pools to use! Another summer pasttime for Arthur and Giana is fishing! We also have a small pond behind our condo that they enjoy using as a fishing hole. 

Mid-summer, ministry life was hustling as Jessica was the Director for our church's Vacation Bible School program, MEGA Sports Camp. Many hours of preparation, training Coaches and organizing all the details was worth it! We had 20 children dedicate their heart's to Jesus by the end of the week and everyone had a blast!

Later in the month, our family traveled to our hometown in Upstate New York to celebrate Jessica's Grandma V's 80th Birthday! We enjoyed time with friends and family and were also able to escape for a few days up to the old "stompin' grounds" of Watertown, NY to celebrate our 11th Wedding Anniversary! It was fun to visit the place where it all started as Mr. & Mrs. Briggs and remember just how far God has brought us on this journey... While home in New York, we got to spend time with Adam, Bianca and Allison who came all the way from Germany to visit family. We enjoyed our time together- Allison & Giana are so sweet together as cousins. Together they enjoyed the sights and sounds of the Briggs Farm, complete with chickens, a horse, cows and goats.





FALL
Giana started Preschool 4 and Arthur entered his final full year of Seminary! 2013 has brought a wealth of learning and challenges in the academic arena for him, and he has met them with excellence! He will graduate with his Masters of Divinity from Regent Universtiy in May of 2014, after becoming a scholar in many areas, including learning Biblical Hebrew. What a testimony! Especially in the face of being told, even by a Guidance Counselor, he wasn't "College Material."

In late September, Arthur had the privilege of preaching at Regent's Divinity Chapel on a stage shared by great men of faith, such as Reinhard Bonnke. That same week, Arthur turned the big 3-0! Jessica gave him a surprise bash with a few close friends, and the highlight of the celebration was his long-requested "Bacon Lasagna."


 


For Veterans Day, Arthur organized a special day for our Veterans at church, blessing them with a Color Guard, patriotic message, and a cookout complete with All-American Apple Pie. His passion for the military community shines through in his ministering and it was a great day of service to the Servicemen and Women of our Nation. 


THE HOLIDAY SEASON
Operation Christmas Child is the event that always kick-starts our holiday. Jessica has participated in this ministry since 1993 and has a special place in her heart for the shoeboxes that go around the world full of Christmas for a child. Jessica organized a Packing Party at church that was well-attended and a lot of fun, and together we stuffed 120 boxes! In addition, hundreds more came pouring in from families who packed them on their own. Our grand total was 412 boxes! What a privilege and amazing opportunity to bless the children of the world!

We enjoyed a special visit from Jessica's best friend Camille and her husband Brandon from New Jersey for the Thanksgiving holiday. We had a low-key day with lots of yummy food and chit-chat. 

We know the Christmas season will be full of it's fair share of hustle and bustle, but we pray each moment brings you the realization that Christ is here with us- Immanuel! 

 
Our love and blessings to each and every one of you. To God be the Glory!
Love, The Briggs Fam

Friday, June 28, 2013

A Pillar of Remembrance for Pastor Katy

Throughout Scripture, people set up pillars of remembrance to honor and glorify a Great, Mighty, Awesome God- a Miracle-working God, a Holy God- the One, True God. While it's not customary any longer for Christians to erect large stones as a testimony to glorify God, there are now even more remarkable Pillars of Remembrance. Those pillars are people- people who respond to Jesus's call to come unto Him. People whom Jesus graciously pours out the Holy Spirit upon. And today I remember an especially beautiful, strong, ornately adorned pillar full of the Spirit. Her name is Pastor Katy Vinciguerra.

Pillars are a vital part of a building structure. They support the structure above and rest upon the foundation below. Without pillars, the structure will fail. And that is the best way I can describe our beloved Pastor Katy- she was a Pillar resting on the firm Foundation of Jesus Christ. She held up a ceiling of protection over others, as a Shepherdess protects her sheep. And Pastor Katy was an especially strong Pillar. She often bore the weight of life for many woman and beautifully shifted that load into the Foundation- trusting and relying fully on Jesus to meet the needs of her sheep. 

Pastor Katy was no ordinary pillar, either. She was a beautiful Pillar. You see, life had chipped away at her, too. Even through her painful experiences though, she remained steady on the Foundation. She placed so much faith and hope in the Foundation, that she would allow the Master to carve her- to shape her- to mold her. God used many tools to shape Pastor Katy throughout the years- suffering, faith, submission, service and waiting upon the Lord. And the result was an ornate and breath-taking Pillar. She was a strong pillar that was tested and approved to be solid. She never proclaimed her self as strong, but always boasted in the all-sufficient strength of God. And she was a Pillar of true beauty- the gentle, quiet and sweet spirit that emulated from her was evident to all. 

Mostly, pillars go unnoticed even though they are doing their job. Pastor Katy was a vital part of the house of Beach Fellowship. It's now we realize through the grief in our hearts just how much support in the faith we are missing. Yet, we also realize that Pastor Katy was not the only pillar of faith in the House, in our church. Pastor Katy knew she was a pillar made of wood- wood that decays and ends. So while she was here she helped Jesus build His church. Her mighty faith and strength helped to fortify and raise more pillars. She spoke words of encouragement and words of wisdom to many, calling out the strength within them that God had given. Pastor Katy- while a beautiful Pillar- will be sorely missed. But her legacy will continue in every person she touched, as we learn from her example how to stand firm on the Foundation.

Just as the Jewish people would erect pillars of remembrance to mark God's presence, today we memorialize the memory of our precious Pastor Katy. Surely, we mourn and miss her presence on earth. But because she is a Pillar of faith, we know even future generations will look back upon her and recall the Presence of God and His Provision for those He calls His own.

Pastor Katy is stlll a pillar, but now she is in the palace of heaven. She has the privilege of being a part of God's Kingdom fully, and now truly abides in the Pillar of the Lord- that Cloud & Fire she so desperately sought after while she walked this earth. We who also believe in Jesus can rest knowing someday we will be beside her again. 

Just as Pastor Katy was blessed to be a blessing for generations that come after her, we can all follow her example and do the same. We can stand still and let the Lord carve us through all of life's circumstances, by exercising faith in WHO God is and not in how He performs. And when our time comes to pass into the palace of Heaven, may we also be remembered as a great Pillar for Christ as we now remember our dear Pastora.


"Our daughters are like {sculptured] corner pillars cut for the structure of a palace." Psalm 144:12b 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Today

How many times do we pray that the things we want and the things we need become one and the same?

Today was the day. The day where what should be and what are collided into the now. 

In 2007, just shortly after Arthur surrendered his life to Christ, he heard the clarion call of his life- to enter ministry. Not just any ministry, but Military Chaplaincy in particular. The calling seemed absurd. I remember clearly when he told me over the phone, since he was in Iraq defending the red, white and blue at the time... I chuckled. I shrugged it off. And just like Moses, the reaction was "Who, me? I can't do that, Lord." But after trials, growth and conviction of the Lord, by mid-2008 it was more and more clear that we could get on the path God had set before us or run the other way, kicking and screaming in unhappiness forever.

We chose the first. It took me awhile to get on-board: to really trust that God could make Arthur into a man suited for ministry. I needed to learn to trust that God could use me and shape me and mold me into a godly woman to support such a man. I worried about what it'd be like to be a ministry wife, or essentially a Pastor's wife. What would I have to give up? Arthur worried about the credentials he'd need to become a Chaplain- a Masters Degree in Divinity, 2 years of full-time Pastoral experience, letters of recommendation, licensure... He only had a high school diploma. The lists were long; the odds were stacked. Who we were didn't seem fit for "ministry." But one day at a time, we put our trust in the Lord to work it out. We said YES. Not even knowing fully what that yes would mean...

I could write a novel about the trials, challenges, leaps of faith and other things that have happened in the nearly 6 years since that Still, Small Voice spoke clearly to my husband in his desert sun in the middle of Iraq... But suffice it to say, it's been a roller coaster  We've made difficult decisions, such as my husband leaving a 10+ year very successful, well-paying career in the Army so he could get the education necessary to become a Chaplain. Arthur's had to face insecurities and lies from the enemy that have ended in triumph and victory in the Lord. His high school Guidance Counselor, who once told him he'd amount to nothing, is the fool now. My husband has nearly a 4.0 in graduate school, has an innovative mind and the hurts of his heart have made him a very compassionate man. God has been beyond good in his life, showing Him favor. 

And of course my heart and life have been transformed on this journey... I am no longer afraid of having to be a "perfect ministry wife." I no longer look at this call with selfishness. God has allowed me to learn the art of transparency while ministering which has taught me humility. It's made me more real to other women, and has forged deep friendships and love between them and I. I know that the only thing I have to BE to be a "Pastor's Wife" is fully, completely in love with my Savior. Out of that relationship, I can be anything He calls me to.

So today... Today's the day that our prayers have been heard. Answered. The day I can officially say- I AM the Pastor's wife. Arthur was hired on as an Associate Pastor at our church. It may not sound like a real big deal. But it is. It's a requirement for the Call. It's God's favor because of our obedience. It's amazing. Neither of us can really believe it's real. But we just want to PRAISE GOD for being everything He said He is! We are so blessed to be able to serve the Body of Christ at our local body. We get to "make a living" loving like Jesus. How awesome is that?


Friday, November 9, 2012

Whirlwind Week

It's been a week full of disappointments. Full of heart-wrenching news. Full of terrible circumstance.

Many Jesus-loving followers are discouraged. Even the Wal-Mart cashier- a young man I don't even know by name- commented on his level of discouragement as a Believer.

  • We faced an election where many were hopeful for a season of new leadership- and we're let down. The emotions surrounding just that one part of life are charged and raging through many. I have read so many terrible things wishing ill to both candidates that break my heart. God has given us the freedom of choice- and He does let us have what we want!

  • This week we faced circumstance alongside our sisters/brothers in the Lord: loss of business opportunities, loss of life at the end of a long battle with cancer, loss of life due to a car accident... Devastion due to Hurricane Sandy. Christian marriages barely hanging by a thread. Moms at their witts-end because they lack support and encouragement. Women pregnant with child who are facing signifcant health issues and the fear of losing the baby all the while our country at large supports the wilfull murder of innocent, unborn chidlren. People battling sickness. Spirit-filled ministers facing evil circumstances and ministering to stubborn flocks. Children who have no parents and need a home- right in our own communities- that are overlooked and unwanted.

  • The "me, me, me" mentality haunting every corner of life constantly trying to win my attention as I battle with humility and pride to put myself aside day after day and clothe myself with Christ. 

  • And even closer to home, we face the possibility of quickly becoming a statistic in the Unemployment Rate as we received news my job- our main financial provision- is in jeopardy. It's nearly a matter of time until there is no more work to do.

I'll be honest- my gut reaction is not godly. Fear. Pain. Anger. Anxiety. Disgust. I am generally an even-keeled, level-headed, faith-filled woman. And in the admission of feeling those things, it's easy to become discouraged and even depressed. Why?

The reason is simple and ridiculous all at once- I thought.
 
I thought I could be strong.
                                          I thought my prayers were working.
I thought my encouragement toward others was enough.
I thought He would heal them...
I thought my faith was strong.
                                                                 I thought I was doing enough...
                                             I thought surely God would overcome my ideology of evil with good.
                                                             I thought...

But Scripture tells us that even as Believers our thoughts are evil (Jeremiah 17:9). There's not one thought in my mind that is truth, unless it comes directly from the heart of God in Scripture.

I have to replace these thoughts with TRUTH.
 
He holds the hearts of rulers in His hand. (Proverbs 21:1)
                                    He alone knows the heart of man (I Kings 8:38-39)
I am weak.  HE IS STRONG. (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)
                                                                  Pray without ceasing. (I Thessalonians 5:17)
The effective, fervent prayer of the righteous avails much. (James 5:16)
         Encourage one another as long as it is called today. (Hebrews 3:13)
                                                               God creates and sustains life. (Psalm 139:13)
              For to live is Christ but to die is gain! (Philippians 1:21)
He hates divorce (Malachi 2:16); Divorce is an option only because of hardness of heart (Matthew 19:8) He has given us hearts of flesh, not hearts of stone!! (Ezekiel 36:26)
                                                     Some sheep are really goats (Matthew 25:31-46)

As a believer, my worldview is through a foggy mirror (I Corinthians 13:12). I think this or I think that. But what I need to THINK is what Jesus tells me to think. What He has revealed through Scripture or whispers to my heart in a still, small voice (in accordance with His Word, might I add!)

Yet, in the twists and turns, the uncertainty and change, there is one constant- Jesus.
He never leaves. He never forsakes. (Deuteronomy 31:6)
He's right here. Right now.
In the middle of my fear, He's here.
In the middle of my pan, He's here.
In the middle of my anxiety, He's here.
In the midst of my disgust or frustration, He is here.
He will not leave. I
 do not have to hide my heart or my emotions. I
 do not have to impress HIM.
I do not have to be downcast that I'm not "more faithful."

I can simply run into His arms and let Him see my tears. I can open my heart and let Him pour what I need into me. I can trust HIM. I can think on HIM.

So, it's been a week... But it's HIS week. This is the week HE HAS MADE. I will rejoice and be glad in it!! I will stand upon the Truth and upon His promises... All things will work together for my good because that's what HE said! (Romans 8:28)

Monday, September 3, 2012

More DIY


I keep "perfecting" Nursery Letters- these are truly my favorite gifts to give. It lends for a personalized touch to the nursery, allows me to unleash my creativity and are always loved. This time I used Spray Adhesive instead of Mod Podge and I'm very pleased with this result. I will continue to do it this way going forward! This letter "K" I made for my friend's newborn daughter, Kinley.




Hubby finally built me the shelves I've been desiring for our living room. They were very simple to make! He used 2-8' MDF Boards and made a small ledge on the front of them using Quarter Round. We primed/painted them white and they are the perfect ledges to display my black and white photography and other pieces of artwork. I am so pleased with the outcome since I was able to hang my iron Artwork "As for Me and My House."

Monday, April 16, 2012

Jehovah Jireh


In the Old Testament when God showed up and showed off, His servants would respond by building a monument to remember His Faithfulness.

We need more monuments in this day and age… It’s so, so easy to forget His Faithfulness. Emails, text messages, work, children, husband, church, fellowship, ministry… there are more distractions we deal with than ever before in history. Each distraction begs for our attention and always takes our eyes off the Lord.

But, I need some monuments to God’s Provision. 

As many of you know, Arthur got out of the Army in October and neither of us had secured employment. But every month, our bills got paid. Every month our bank account GREW. How? I really can’t fully explain that. It was supernatural.

Then, in the last month God gave me employment… not just one paying job, but TWO! And in a matter of weeks these are the things God did in our Finances. These are my monuments:
1.       After taking a finance class, God started telling us to eliminate debt. So, we decided to sell our vehicle that still had payments (our Jeep). God showed up. He honored us honoring Him. We sold that vehicle for more than we owed, so we had a surplus!
2.       THEN, God knew we’d need another vehicle because of the lifestyle we live as a family in ministry… So He provided an affordable option- nothing fancy, but something fuel efficient and in good shape. And we paid cash… less cash than the surplus we made! And of course, this cut down on our Car Insurance!
3.       God not only provided for our NEEDS, He’s given us our desires:
a.       I wanted a Trifle Bowl to make fancy desserts… God gave me a FREE one that someone had donated at a Swap event.
b.      I wanted new patio furniture, specifically a Settee.  Our neighbors gave us a beautiful 5 piece Settee for FREE because they bought new patio furnishings.
c.       Giana’s growing up and we wanted to get her a Daybed for her 3rd Birthday. It just so happens that our friend’s teenager outgrew her immaculate Daybed (“it’s too cutesy and girly”) and they’re giving it to us for FREE.
d.       My laptop is sucking… literally. My battery has a pathetic charge life. It runs slow. It’s just no bueno for working from home on my computer for hours a day. But our friend who happens to build computers as a hobby has an extra computer he built laying around “the Spirit told [him] to give us.” Awesome. Might I mention it is wicked fast and comes with a ginormous Flatscreen Monitor- ideal for my job!! God, you’re so awesome.
4.       God knows we desire to cut down and eliminate our bills. He showed us that we could pay for Walmart’s Cell Phone Service- Straight Talk- and use their SIM Card in any Smartphone. So, we got phones we liked/wanted and needed (for my work) and cut our cell phone service bill by $75!! We have BETTER reception and service than we had in a traditional contract. BETTER phones and a MUCH CHEAPER monthly bill.

“Ask and it shall be given to you. Seek and you will find. Knock and the door will be opened to you.” Matthew 7:7

Ask. God listens…to the petty things like Trifle Bowls to the big needs like Vehicles. He is SO VERY FAITHFUL if you just put your FAITH in HIM! HE WILL PROVIDE. He has. What Monuments should you build??


XO,
Jessica

Saturday, March 24, 2012

I Love You Because...

I have the pleasure of being the Leader for a Mom's Group in my church called "Encouraging Mothers." We've been in the habit of trying to spend our time together doing something fun and productive at our meetings. I love the group of ladies and the children have so much fun playing together each time we meet.

Though this is a bit delayed, around Valentine's Day we did a simple project together. One of the MOST popular Pinterest Pins is the "I love you because" board. Well, that's what we made together. And, from that I've heard beautiful testimonies on how that simple project allowed woman to focus more on encouraging their husbands, which has benefited their marriage.

I made one of course for my Beloved... I personalized the look of it to match our bedroom decor. Here it is:


 I spent NO money on this project that made a beautiful Valentine's Day gift for my Hubby. I had all the supplies sitting around my garage- an old frame, Scrapbook Paper, Printer/Ink and a Paper Flower.

I'd love to see your version of the "I Love You Because" Board! Link below in the comment section.

XO
Jessica