Not My Will, But Yours Be Done!

With Brian’s graduation from SBTS fast approaching (May 14th, but we’re not counting down or anything), many people are asking us, “So, what’s the plan after Louisville?” So I thought I’d share here, because we’re excited–and we want you to know and be excited with us!

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About a year and a half ago, Brian and I had been talking more about our “next steps” after seminary, and I remember us feeling a bit discouraged–not sensing any sort of direction from the Lord. Our “plan” all along had been to move internationally, but despite our best efforts to move forward with that, we felt God shutting various doors for various reasons. One Sunday around that same time, we were sitting in church, when a couple was introduced to the congregation–Jeremiah and Lauren Taylor. They announced that they would be moving to Miami within the next few months to begin a new church planting work there. Our interest was peaked! It’s no secret that we love our native state of Florida, so that was a perk for us. While we didn’t know the couple personally, they seemed pretty cool. And they were heading to Miami (obviously, a bustling metropolis–which is where we knew were called) to do inner city work (also a high level of interest for us) and plant a church (also something we saw ourselves doing). It was almost like pieces of this once really confusing puzzle all coming together!

Little did the Taylor’s know, we (Brian and Ashley) began talking together and praying together about joining them to help with the task. We also spoke with several church leaders about this new stirring in our hearts, and seemed to receive a pretty resounding, “Yes, I can see you doing this work with this particular couple!” It was really encouraging for us. We began emailing with Jeremiah and Lauren to learn more about them and their new life in Miami, planting Redemption Church Miami.

Fast forward several months and we had planned a trip to Miami to see, firsthand, the church that was being planted. This was really quite a “vision trip”, as we called it, and we prayed that God would give us peace and affirmation while we were there that said, “Yea, keep moving forward with this.” And we LOVED our time there! It was wonderful to spend some time with the Taylor’s and get to know them more as a couple, and it was equally as great to see the seeds they were sowing in the neighborhood of Little Haiti. While we did make sure to get some touristy things checked off our list, we can truthfully say some of the best parts of our days in Miami were spent in Little Haiti, spending time with the residents and worshiping together in the Taylor’s home.

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Our eyes were opened to the need. Little Haiti is a mostly Haitian neighborhood, marked by poverty and crime. It can be a scary place for an outsider. But our eyes were opened as we met people from all over the community who were kind and welcoming and genuinely happy to meet us. With virtually no evangelical presence within this community, we truly saw the importance of bringing the gospel of Christ to them!

So what now? Well, that was back in early January. Since that time, we have searched our hearts and continued to pray about this opportunity, and find no reason NOT to continue moving forward. In fact, despite a lot of unknowns, we are super pumped about it! We know that type of peace can only come from the Father.

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Our plan (and I say that very loosely) is to move to Miami in August or September after the birth of our second son. All of this will be pending when/if Brian is able to get a job transfer with his current employer (shout out to Starbucks!). We plan to both continue working once we transition down there, and, in addition, help with the ministry side of things as much as possible. Redemption Church Miami (RCM) is currently averaging about 15-20 people on any given Sunday, where a meal is shared, songs sung, and sermon preached. The group is meeting in the Taylor’s home for now, but we are all in prayer about finding an alternate meeting space soon (ie. community center, school, etc) to allow for more growth.

Because the cost of living is considerably higher in Miami, we plan to raise support to supplement our total household income for the first year (maybe two) as we make the transition. You might receive a letter from us in the near future regarding this, and we just ask that you prayerfully consider if you can play a part in this mission. A question we’ve been receiving frequently is, “Is Brian going to be the associate pastor?” And we honestly have no answer to that! It is not an expectation that we have placed on the Taylor’s or RCM as a whole, but obviously we aren’t opposed to that if it’s something God presents further down the line. As for now, we are going as servants, and we are excited to do so.

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So that’s kind of where we are at now! Pray for us, please! We anticipate this next step, but of course we are nervous about transitioning our family to such a new place, especially with many unknown factors still in play (jobs, housing, timing…). These next few months will be a sweet time, I’m sure of it, as we continue to trust God for fitting all of these “pieces” together. We look forward to sharing with you all how He is working out all of these things on our behalf!

-Brian, Ashley, Levi, and babyMat

P.S. Check out my newly created Etsy shop to help meet our fundraising goal! All proceeds will go to our Miami related expenses. https://www.etsy.com/shop/FillUsUpSendUsOut?ref=hdr_shop_menu

Mathews, Party of 4!

I haven’t done much writing about the newest little development in our family–my pregnancy with babyMat.

[Sidenote: I kind of have trouble giving him a number, since there was a baby in between Levi and this new guy. Third pregnancy, second viable baby. Is he number 2 or number 3? That’s why I just stick with plain ‘ole babyMat. Just like his big bro and the tiny baby before him.]

But man, this pregnancy has flown by! I’ve always heard that with subsequent pregnancies, and it’s so true. Chasing around a rambunctious toddler all day makes the weeks and months all blend together! On the other hand, I have savored a lot of the sweet moments that come with pregnancy because I’m just so thankful he’s alive and well. It’s an odd balance.

We found out back in late October that we were pregnant again. I was just feeling kind of funky and decided to take a test, not really expecting much. Well, the faintest of faint lines showed up! I ran downstairs to show Brian and he was hesitant–seriously, I had to put the test in just the right light to see it. So we waited another few days and sure enough! We had the weirdest emotions of being overjoyed, mixed with a lot of reservation. We just didn’t want to get our hopes up to high, with what happened last time.

But I called my doctor, made an appointment (I was grateful they could get me in right at 7 weeks) and lo and behold, we saw a baby on the screen. With a beating heart. And tiny little nubs for arms and legs. Even though we still had several more “risky” weeks to get through, we were rejoicing for this life!

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The weeks that followed were tough, filled with complete exhaustion and constant nausea, but the babe lived! I remember my sickness with Levi being more intense, so I was thankful this time around (with a two-year-old in tow) was a bit more mild. I couldn’t believe it when I started feeling the baby move at 10 weeks. Brian thought I was crazy (and I was a bit convinced as well), but sure enough I could feel little flips and flutters. It was so reassuring for my worried heart. When I was 14 weeks along in early January, thanks to some amazing new technology, we were able to find out that we were expecting another BOY! We couldn’t have been more excited..two brothers would be so fun.

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Weeks 16 through 20 were ROUGH! My nausea had finally subsided, but now I was dealing with a whole new slew of symptoms that I hadn’t experienced with Levi. I literally felt as if the baby was going to fall out of me–and at 16 weeks, that is not a very comforting feeling. I couldn’t stand for more than 15 minutes at a time. Many nights Brian would come into the kitchen when I was cooking dinner and find me doubled over, holding on to the counter, trying to subdue the pressure. My doctor was a bit concerned and scheduled an ultrasound right away, only to discover that I had placenta previa. [Instead of the placenta being above or beside the baby, it was instead under the baby and right on top of my cervix, which is why I felt so much pain and pressure.] My doctor scheduled subsequent ultrasounds for every other week to keep an eye on any movement as my uterus continued to grow–otherwise, if the placenta didn’t move by 24 weeks, she was going to put me on bed rest. Thankfully, at my 24 week ultrasound, she was able to confirm it had moved completely away from my cervix and more alongside the baby! And at that point, the pelvic pressure I had was almost completely gone. It was a great day!

My doctor also recommended me getting progesterone shots once a week with this pregnancy to help diminish the chances of an early delivery (like Levi). Beginning at week 16, the first few shots were fine–my hip would hurt for a few days afterwards, but no super weird side effects or anything. My fourth shot was different, in that the serum that was injected stayed in one spot on my hip (almost like a big welt) and started getting really itchy. That itchiness soon spread to my belly and all the way up my chest and back until I was covered in hives. It was absolutely the worst thing I have ever experienced. Nothing would relieve the itch–I couldn’t even sleep because of the intensity of the rash, making it all the more miserable. My doctor soon diagnosed me with PUPPPS, which is a random and uncommon pregnancy rash. The progesterone shot itself didn’t cause the PUPPPS, but the irritation of my skin due to the shot made it flair up. She explained I would have gotten it regardless–shot or no shot–and I’ll have it until the baby was born. Praise the Lord, I researched some remedies and was able to find a soap that helps to maintain the rash. I bought that stuff right away and now, not only is the rash not visible on my skin, but my itch is almost completely gone!

So that was month number 4 of this pregnancy. It was TERRIBLE and I remember thinking to myself jokingly, “This dude better be worth it!” But of course, he so will be. I just never want to relive that month again.

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I’m 25 weeks along now and truly experiencing the greatness of the second trimester! No nausea, no pelvic pressure, no crazy rash flair ups, and my hunger is somewhat under control. I feel like I have a decent amount of energy and this little one is wonderfully active! I can tell he has had a growth spurt this past month, because his kicks and flips have gotten exponentially stronger. Brian loves to feel him moving at night before bed! This past week, we have even started seeing him move from the outside (something that really freaks Brian out). It’s a good time in this growing-a-babe process!

We have finally decided on a name and can’t wait to announce it on the day he is born. It took us a while–which I was expecting–but we are happy with it! We are beginning to gather some things we need for him (which isn’t a ton since he can use a lot of big bro’s stuff) and are anticipating his arrival in just 3 short months, give or take a few weeks. I can’t believe how much he resembles Levi in the photo above (taken at 23 weeks)! Can’t wait to see if that’s true of him when he is here in real life.

We love you already, babyMat!