Friday, July 30, 2010

we're back!

Well, we are back. It has been slow-going at the Givens' house! Well, for me(Ashleigh) at least. I think the jet lag really hit me pretty hard. Kraig says he was fine and seems to be so that is good. But other than that, we have been trying to get into a regular schedule.

I got my coupons this past week and I am pretty excited about getting started on that again. I really missed shopping. haha I guess every girl does when she can't for a time. I know I did. I missed the thrill of getting the best deals, going to the grocery stores for just things on my lists with coupons and just organizing my coupons and setting out to have the best strategy for getting the best deals. I have missed it. I think I may have a problem. :) O well, I should be able to budget this week in order to go out to see what I can find and I am so excited about that.

Kraig is back to work and so excited. He has been in inservice and meetings and getting everything ready mode so he is so ready for the kids to be back on Thursday. :) I know he is working in his calling and we are so thankful to God that he has placed him at such a great school.

I have been on the job hunt for the last few weeks. I will probably go back to my part time job next week but I was looking for another part time job or maybe something full time, so that has been a big hurdle to jump these last few weeks as I have been searching and coming up with nothing. A little discouraging but both Kraig and I know that it will all work out and the perfect job will come :) and for that, I am so excited about.

Other than that, I can finally say that I am glad to be home. At first, I had mixed emotions but after our youth service Wednesday night, I AM GLAD I AM HOME! I am missing Alaska and all our travels a lot but I know that the Lord has us here for a time and I couldn't be happier here! :)

Well, off to my Gran's house to visit with her for a little while before my mom puts me to work :)

Love you all.
k & a

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

We're almost done

Well, we are almost done. We are wrapping things up and getting things ready for our last Sunday service. The week started out rough when I woke up with a migraine Monday morning. So, Kraig and Hunter stained the porches all around the house. The house has turned out beautiful. I would have gotten pictures today, however it is rainy once again. So, the finished product pictures will have to wait once again. But yesterday was very productive.

Today, was a lot better. We got up and went over to the church and started printing more Sunday school materials and the boys worked on some odds and ends. The church might have to move locations if the theater is sold so we have been preparing for that all summer as well as just cleaning the building up so Kraig took the conduit that was lining the ground up and Hunter worked on the sound system thing. Then, we went down to Anchorage to pick up more paper in order to finish printing things for Sunday school, Celebrate Recovery and for the 40 Day of Purpose booklets. So, we will be busy printing for the rest of the week.

We hope for another clear day also so Kraig can paint the lines on the parking lot at the theater and we may paint the little storage building out at the Balos's house. And we also want to go to the Wildlife Reservation down close to Whittier. We hope to get that in and a couple more things but we will get what we can done for sure.

We look forward to seeing our family Monday in Texas for a week of vacation. Mom has many things planned, although the only thing the guys care about is golf. :) So, we will relax a lot next week and see some sites in Houston, we really look forward to relaxing. After that, we will be back to Georgia! We will be sad to leave here but we are excited to start a new school year and to see where the Lord leads us in this upcoming year. We have many desires that have been placed on our hearts so we are excited to see Him move and show us exactly what HIS plan is.

Thank you for your prayers and support through this time. It has been quite a journey. We look forward to many more trips like this and God's leading on our lives.

K & A

Friday, July 9, 2010

Our tourist days...

I thought I would post some scenery pictures of us being tourists this week. This is Summit Lake. It is fed fully by snow and rain. It is very beautiful and clear. We were on top of the mountains and surrounded by ice capped mountains.

This is from the glacier cruise we went on yesterday. It was a 5 hour tour. We saw 26 glaciers in one day. Well, not really b/c it was rainy and very, VERY cloudy but the ones we saw were beautiful! We saw Surprise Glacier which calved (where the ice fell from the side of the glacier) about 4 or 5 times. We saw many sea otters and sea lions and about 5 bald eagles. It was a sight to see! :) We had a great time in the cold, rainy weather. One of our waiters was from Chattanooga, which was really cool and we got to talk about home. :)

This is Surprise Glacier. It had a lot of action the past few days, so a lot of the ice had fallen off and we were surrounded by mini icebergs. It was really cool.

This picture should be first :) hahah O well...this is were we were for the Glacier cruise. It is located in Whittier, AK. It has one tunnel going through the mountain into the town. On the top of the hour, we were allowed to drive out of the town and on the half hour we drove into it, and at some point, the train has to go through. It is now used as a tourist town but the military used it for different things during WWI but now it's is touristy...

This is a train snow blower. We also saw a rainbow at this site. It was so beautiful!

We had a blast the past few days. We went hiking at Thunderbird Falls. We went on the Glacier cruise through Prince William Sound saw many once in a lifetime things, we went to Hatcher Pass where the gold mine is located. We went up to Summit Lake and saw mountains everywhere!! It was truly a site to see and the pictures we have do not give it justice. Kraig and I were in awe of our Lord. We were so amazed at how He cares for nature and makes the mountains so HUGE, puts the glaciers on the side of the mountains, and yet...cares for us. We are so humbled by the fact.

The group left out today. It is finally quiet. We had a blast with these people. We were sad to see them go. They got so much done! We painted the whole house! It looks amazing! I have to get after pictures to show you all. Well, we have one more week left. We still have lots to accomplish this week. Kraig is going to paint the parking lot lines and some different other tasks, I am going to work on Sunday School material and some other little things. I am sure we will stay very busy. We are going to try to see a couple more things around town but we shall see.

Love you all and thank you for all your prayers. We look forward to seeing you all soon!! :)
Kraig and Ashleigh

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Parade, painting, Carnival, Matnuska glacier...

We have been a tad busy that last few days. We are all pretty exhausted. But we have accomplished so much for the Balos'. Sunday, we had the 4th of July parade where we passed out over 1500 flyers talking about the different ministries with the church and also the carnival for Monday. So, Monday we had the carnival for the kids. We have over 50 families represented so that was a blessing. It was a great success. We were all very pleased with the outcome. In between all of these, we painted the Balos' house and passed out more flyers for the Backyard Bible club that the mission group that is here did on Tuesday and Wednesday. So, we walked the neighborhoods and put flyers on cars at Wal-Mart and Sears...we put them everywhere, or so it felt like it!!! But the house is about done being painted...all the is left is trim and touching up on areas which is a huge blessing to the family b/c it was a rough winter on their house.

So, since we have worked so hard....we went out to the Matnuska glacier last night. It is one of the only glaciers in Alaska that is accessible by car/walking. So, we drive out there, it was a beautiful ride...we finally get there and we have to hike about a mile out to it. We just had a fun time exploring the area and trying not to fall on our butts. It was fun!! And to see the glory of God was such a humbling experience. It was HUGE! And to think God is even bigger than that, it just puts me in my place. It was Beautiful!! There was a rainbow when we first got there so that was so wonderful to see!! It was truly one of the most beautiful places I had ever seen. We got to see a moose out in the wild also, it ran in front of our car! Talk about scary! Also, there is a pic of cottonwood up there! It snows here in July!! Actually, it's a tree that sheds and it looks like snow. It is real cool but very annoying.

It has been such a wonderful week especially with the group here. We have worked hard here are some of the blessings we have seen thus far.
:Church people are definitely seeing our hard work and trying to be more involved.
:A young lady, who is engaged and living with her fiancee who is not a Christian...through prayer and much counseling has finally called off the wedding and moved out of the house so we have been able to talk with her and help her move. She is for sure sad but she is so very strong and knows the Lord is going to bless her efforts. I look forward to getting to know her better. So, please pray she remains strong and encouraged because she is really hurt.
:We had a family come to the carnival that got our flyer from the parade...they showed up at the Backyard Bible club...and it is hopeful they come to Sunday service. They are very sweet family and seemed very interested in the church so that is so very encouraging to us.
:We have been able to get a lot of odds and ends accomplished for the Pastor...just day to day things that seem to get piled up and we have been able to take some of the load which has been a huge help to him.

All of these are very much answered prayers and we are so blessed to be a part of this. Thank you for the opportunity and your continued prayers. We are so grateful!! :)

I will try to get pics up of the carnival and parade up soon. Again, continue to pray for the people here and the impact the church is having in the community. Thank you all again for everything!

Kraig and Ashleigh

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Thoughts to Ponder...

The last few days have been interesting to say the least. It all started Thursday night, with a mission team coming in from Brownsville, TN. There are about 15 altogether and so far, they have been a huge HELP! I'm getting ahead of myself.
First off, the beginning of the week Kraig and Michael got to weed-eat the theater parking lot for the carnival next week! It looks a lot better. We also got the flyers, over 2200, printed and folded, and we got the banners ready for the parade. So, once the group got here on Thursday, the plan was to paint the Balos' house. Well, it won't stop raining. Right now, we have about half the house scraped and half of it painted. It looks good. It's 2-tone. We are thinking of leaving it. 4th of July is big here, since it is a military town, so Wasilla does a big parade through town. Since it is on Sunday this year, we have moved our church service up an hour so we could go participate in the parade. We are going to decorate the van real nice, pass out candy and flyers about the carnival and backyard bible club, and carry our banners for the 40 Day of Purpose and the church banner. It should be a huge succes if the rain stays away. Right now, it doesn't look promising. But God is good and knows we need some clear weather or at least rain free weather the next few days. So, please pray for that. We would like to get the rest of the house painted and we are doing a carnival and backyard bible club all next week so we need some rain-free days. We also went door to door and passed out some of the other flyers I made and the first picture is some of the wildlife we saw along the way. :)
Now, on a personal side...some things I have learned over the past few days. I have always acknowledged and tried to live by the fact that "everywhere is a mission field." I truly believe that. But in the last couple of days...I have pondered the thought of why I find it so hard to be at home with "my mission field." I still don't have the answer. I have a lot of theories but we'll save that for another night. I am still praying through them myself. But tonight I read 2 Corinthians 5:9 which says, "So, whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please Him." That is so fitting for me right now. I so very much want to please our Savior and praise Him in all things but again, I get home and get in the swing of things and "forget." Sad, I know but as we are gearing up to go home in the next couple of weeks, I want to go home and please Him and not become stagnant in my daily life but look for opportunities. It has been easy here in AK b/c we are surrounded by things to do and "further the Kingdom" but that's not the case at I think. I am so dumb sometimes...I always have opportunities at home to share His love but I don't. But I want too. So, I am going to start praying now that I will be able too and be able too please Him where ever I go...b/c it is "by God's mercy we have this ministry, and do not lose heart." (2 Corinthians 4:1) I praise Him for this opportunity, Kraig and I have learned so much about Him, about each other and even how adaptable we are...which sounds weird but in all honesty, it has become a very good thing. I am so thankful for that.
Please continue to pray for this week with the team in, for no rain weather, and for the kids to come out to the activites this week. God is moving, we have seen it already! So, please praise Him for that. I will have to post later about stories of how He has worked things out but again...that is for another night. Love you all and we covet your prayers! We, again, are praying for you so if you have anything specific, please let us know!! :)
Psalm 32:8
Kraig and Ashleigh

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Our first Sunday Service...

...Well...first off...I love my sister. I forgot to post this a couple of days ago. But the first photo is when Kraig and I were flying to Alaska on Tuesday, we had a layover in Houston!!! Britt came to see us for about 45 minutes! It was so wonderful to see her. She has been such an encouragement to me over the past few days...she can not know how her random text messages of prayers and verses have come at exactly the right time for me. :) God is so good. She sent me this passage a few days ago and I thought I would share it with you all as well. On a side note...please keep her in your prayers. She has pink let's pray for a quick healing. Thank you. :)
Ok...1 Corinthians 1:21 - 22..:)
"It is God who enables us, along with you, to stand FIRM for Christ. He has commissioned us, and He has identified us as His own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first installment that guarantees everything He has promised."
Now, I don't proclaim to be a Bible scholar or one who knows what the Bible means at times. So...I will put this to you the way I see it...I am probably wrong but this is what it meant to me the day Britt sent it to me and over the past few days as I have pondered it. goes, real quick and to the point...since we, as believers, have the Holy Spirit in us, we are to stand firm for Christ, unity. I am probably going to read more into this than there is but this is what it has meant to me. We are in this together. We are to labor together, fight together, cry together, love together, pray for each other, and stand firm for Christ together. Now, for some reason...when she sent that to me...I was really struggling with "being alone" out here in the wilderness of Alaska. And she (and the Word of God, of course) encouraged me to know that I am not alone, not only do I have Kraig in this with me but my sister and Lance, my parents, Kraig's family...and many other prayers from you all at home! We are so grateful! Thank you so much! We can definately feel your prayers. Now, again...I am not a Bible scholar and I know that there is more to this passage than I have wrote about... and I have probably taken this passage way wrong but for me, at the time...that's what God spoke to me about. And I want you to know that...if you send Kraig or me prayer requests...we you are not alone either. We even pray when you don't ask. :) Thanks for being so supportive. We serve an awesome God!
With that said...let me explain some of the pics. :) The first 2 are the pamphlets that I have been working on as we get ready for the 4th of July parade and the carnival on July 5th. And the 3rd pic is of the 40 days of Purpose campaign they are starting on July 18th. I worked on the poster for will be hung up in store fronts all over Wasilla. I hope I didn't spell anything wrong :)
Kraig has been the muscles behind the scenes all week. He pretty much demolished one stage..."It was a beast to take apart," he said...but he did it in one day when Mike thought it would take a team of about 4 and probably 2 days :) I am so proud of him. Then, he took the stage he took apart and moved it to the next theater where the church is meeting now, and Kraig and Mike put it back together for today's service. "It was solid" Mike said and he felt comfortable on it b/c it wasn't as rickety as the old one.
So...we had the service today! It went very well...and let me just tell you...mainly, this is to my mom!!! I have been up by 7 am since we have arrived here last week. And I have not been cranky :) But we got to the theater about 7 this morning to set up and clean up a little from last night's movie but we got everything out really quick and with a few minor glitches in the sound, we were ready to roll. Everyone was so nice and very welcoming.
Well...I guess that's all for's late. I will continue to take pics and post our updates this week. O...and it's been we have yet to really see the tops of the mountains. But it's not HOT so we will not complain about the weather at all!! We are just praying for sunny days so we can go hiking to see the Mat-Su glacier and stuff this weekend.
Please continue to pray for CrossCountry Church as well as the parade and the kid's carnival this coming weekend.
John 14:27...Love you all
Kraig and Ashleigh

Thursday, June 24, 2010

We're HERE!

Well, we made it! After a beautiful wedding on Saturday, we flew home from Colorado to Georgia. We had one day to repack, clean, get everything organized and fly to Alaska. We accomplished all of that (at least I hope, I tend to forget things), and set off on our journey. We arrived Tuesday evening to chilly weather. We were so excited! We weren't sweating walking out of the parking lot. It was such a blessing!

Wednesday was a pretty laid back day. Mike (pastor we're staying with) allowed us to sleep in :) and get aquainted with the time change. We moved into our nice living quarters for the next month.

Thought you all would enjoy that. Mike is so graciously named it as "the Love shack" We do use the facilities in the house though so I am not completely roughing it so I am ok with that. :)

We went over to the church yesterday and went through the list of things that Mike wants to accomplish while we are here. When I say church, I really mean theater. The church is located at the local movie theater. So, we will be cleaning the theater up a lot over the next few weeks. Kraig did get started on that today by tearing apart the old stage in order to move it to the next theater. He did a great job and I missed a great photo opportunity b/c my camera died. I'm sorry! I will try to do a better job. Hunter worked on the song selection for Sunday service. He is singing the "Revelation song" and he put words and a slide show to the "You are Holy" song. It's been a really productive day. I worked on the bulletins for Sunday, as well as stuffing the inserts in them. I also worked on the Sunday School materials for the preschool classes. And I worked on the flyers for the 4th of July parade and started printing them.

Tonight we decided to make a fire out at the firepit by the Balos' house. Hunter had a great time trying to make the fire stay going.
In the background, you can see the side of the house...Kraig and Hunter have both been working on pressure washing it and when the next mission group comes up from TN, they are planning on painting their house for them. Which we have many other projects we will be working on and I will do better with taking pictures and documenting the different things we are doing. We are still a little jet lagged and getting adjusted to it being light outside all the time, but it is so worth it and we are already seeing God move. :) He has been so gracious and we are so excited to meet the church family on Sunday and plug in even more with the people.

Please continue to pray for well as for some of our friends and family back home. We have a lot of needs and burdens on our hearts for our family and friends. Thank you so much and I will do better with the pictures. :)

Love you all,

Kraig and Ashleigh

Thursday, June 17, 2010

John 14:27

John 14:27
"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid."

We made it to Colorado! And I must say it is beautiful!!! I will post pictures soon once I figure it out :) But for now, you will just have to take my word for it. It is BEAUTIFUL! We are staying in Beaver Creek, CO...there are still snow-capped mountains but were we are specifically, there are green, rolling hills all around us. We can look out any window of our room and there are mountains. Breath-taking!!! God is so GLORIOUS!

This verse was in my quiet time this morning. I must say it couldn't have come at a better time. God is so good like that :) I am so thankful He gave it to me today because my heart is very heavy. Tuesday night, we have a bible study with some of our very dear friends. We have been meeting close to a year now and we have grown very close. We have grown in Christ most importantly, but we have grown as friends as well. We have become very close and we share a lot of things and we pray for each other. So, this past Tuesday night, we had a very sweet prayer time. It got me thinking. It made me sad. In our group alone, we have so many hurts and struggles, and then outside of our group we know so many that are sick, hurting and just seeking God's face. So, we prayed. We prayed for everyone we knew hurting, we prayed for each other and we praised God for His provision and for His care. We know that no matter what is going on, He cares. So, Wednesday morning as we were boarding our first plane for Colorado, my heart was very heavy. I couldn't help but wonder why. Was it the realization that we would be gone for the rest of the summer? Was it because a good friend was having surgery that very morning and I couldn't get him off my mind? Was it because I was already homesick? I think I realized we would be gone and we would miss so many things.

Kraig and I have a heart for missions and travel! We love to see new things, we love to follow God's direction and we love to tell people about what God has done for us and what He can do for them. :) So, this summer, is our first big step in following God's lead. I think I am just realizing what it means. It means, missing our Tuesday night groups, missing friends and family birthdays, missing our youth group and trips, and missing being a part of all the hurt that is going on at home. We aren't able to be there for our friends who are hurting. The Lord is so good. He put this verse in my way this morning and although I can't help but wonder if I will always feel this way when Kraig and I leave to go off, I can know that God gives us the peace to know that we are doing His will, He will take care of our family and friends at home and all we can do is PRAY! Pray that our hearts will not be troubled by our lack of trust, pray that our fears will be releived, pray that we seek God's face in everything rather than doing what we want. He is so faithful and He will take away the anxiety I feel. I am so thankful. I know He will take care of those we love at home and I am so glad of that. I have the peace He gives.

I ask that you also will pray for our friends that are battling cancer, sickness, and battling Satan. I ask that you will pray for our family that is sick. I also ask that you will pray for us as we travel and do the Lord's work. That we will not be torn by being in Alaska and wanting to be home to help our friends and family. We know God wants us to go but Satan is working hard on my heart so please pray.

Thank you so much. We love you.
Kraig and Ashleigh

Sunday, June 13, 2010

My first blog :)

Well, I have succumbed to the blog world. It was a long and hard decision. I am not a techy person, I have trouble sometimes turning the computer on and off so to start a blog is a big step because I know very little about how to manuever through websites and how to start new things on line. It took me almost a week to start my facebook account and even then, I was asking my sister to do it for me because I could not figure it out. So, here I go. :)

I wanted to start this blog mainly because Kraig and I will be gone for a lot of the summer. We will not be able to communicate with a lot of you and we thought that a blog might be the easiest way to keep in contact with you all to show you what we are doing in Alaska and when we visit my sister in Texas and then as we come back to the Chattanooga area.

So, with that said...the Lord is so good and faithful. He has opened the door for us to travel a lot this summer. So, we will be missing a lot at home but we feel that the Lord is leading us to do different things and to step out of our comfort zones. We are somewhat nervous but more excited than anything. :)

First, I want to say that I (Ashleigh) hate to fly! It terrifies me. So, we start off on Wednesday flying to Colorado. Some very special friends of ours will be getting hitched! We are so excited and can't wait to see them. After that, we will be flying to Alaska for 4 weeks. We will be doing mission work in Wasilla and really, just seeing the Lord work in our lives and the lives around us. We are learning to just be flexible and available. Then, we will fly to Texas for a family vacation!

So, over the next few weeks especially, please keep us in your prayers. Pray that my (Ashleigh) nerves are calm as we fly, that the Lord would work through us and that we would be open to His will. We are so excited for the journey ahead of us. I hope to update this every few days with pictures and our activities of our days.

Thanks for reading and we are so thankful for your prayers.

ashleigh and kraig