2017 Summer

Just a few of our 2017 Summer memories…

              

    

  

  

 

   

  

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Learning to Trust

The past few weeks and months have taken me down a path that I never expected to walk. It has been a journey that has completely changed my life. My faith has been challenged in a completely unexpected way; through the hurt, pain, and tears God has shown Himself more real and more faithful than I’ve ever seen before!

Growing up I always dreamed of being a mother someday. Nothing excited me more as a child than hearing the news that I was going to have a new little brother or sister. I loved babies, and it was a delight to help care for them. Children were the greatest miracle in my eyes, and I spent all my free time babysitting. Every time I rocked a baby to sleep, I dreamed of someday cuddling my own little one. Being with children, reading Bible stories, singing, playing hide and seek, wiping away tiny tears, laughing together, and kissing away little boo boos were my greatest joys in life. I couldn’t wait to someday create these wonderful memories with my own children also.

In the late summer of 2015, after a fairy tale romance and blissful wedding, I settled into married life with my Prince Charming. He was everything I ever hoped for in a husband and more than I even dreamed a man could be. Our life seemed absolutely perfect! I graduated from college the spring after we married and was thrilled when my diploma arrived. Over the next few weeks, several friends announced pregnancies. I was elated for them and excited at the thought of possibly getting to babysit. 🙂 As days passed, I started to wonder when I would get pregnant. Wonder turned to concern, and concern grew to worry and fear. It seemed like suddenly everyone I knew was expecting a baby. I went to see my doctors, and they ran a few test and said, “Don’t even think about a baby until you’ve been married at least a year… babies take time!”

I was simply delighted with being married and loved every single moment with Brandon. With anticipation, I looked forward to him coming home every evening. We had so much fun together – hikes, picnics, spontaneous adventures, late night ice cream dates, walks in the park, trips home, moonlight strolls….I was enjoying everything a girl could possibly dream of in marriage…yet deep inside my heart, I longed to become a mommy.

Over the next few weeks and months, without even realizing what was happening, my view of life began to change. I was quickly growing more and more discontented and suddenly I found myself doubting God. Our first anniversary came and went and still no pregnancy. Now I knew something was definitely wrong, and I started praying and searching for a specialist. It didn’t take long to find one and make appointments. We were seen almost immediately, and with each new test my heart broke a little more. Night after night, I cried myself to sleep and felt like all my dreams and desires were shattered. Each night, Brandon held me close and let me cry until I had no more tears. He prayed with me and assured me that God had a plan and knew what He was doing. Yet, I had become so focused on the one thing I didn’t have that I was doubting God and His goodness. I kept asking, “Why me”? I had never before experienced the emotional pain that I was feeling at this time, and for the first time in my life, I didn’t feel like spending time with God or praying. It seemed that He was withholding something so precious from me for no reason at all. It didn’t seem fair. I remember late one night weeping and sharing with Brandon the deep heartache I was feeling. While he held me tight, I poured out my heart to him and shared that I was losing faith and had even started doubting God. I’ll never forget his gracious, understanding, and loving response that night. What he so tenderly shared over the next hour has literally changed everything for me!

Brandon encouraged me to be honest with God and ask for His grace to trust again. Then he challenged me to find the verses in Scripture that show God’s nature and to meditate on His promises. As I began asking God to help me see Him again and to give me grace to trust, He started changing my heart. As I searched for verses and meditated on who God is, my perspective changed. The following weeks God started allowing me to see how He had guided and provided throughout this entire journey. Not only has God shown me His hand of provision on the medical side of this walk (finding doctors, searching for answers, providing finances), He also has allowed me to see how this time has knit our hearts together as a couple. Walking through this together has created a trust and a love that words can’t even express. We’ve laughed and cried together, and each day has deepened our friendship. Even greater still, God has allowed me to see a glimpse of Him. The fellowship I’ve had with my Heavenly Father is unlike anything I dreamed possible. He truly has become my everything, and I’m learning that no matter what situation or circumstance life throws at me, Jesus Christ is the only one that can fully satisfy. I still cry often, and inside my heart feel the pain of infertility, yet in the midst of the hurt, I have a peace. God has shown me His love in deeper ways than I can fathom.  God is changing my heart and perspective. He is helping me to focus on the gifts He has already given me, and I am seeing in a whole new way treasures that I have taken for granted.

I’m so grateful to my parents for introducing us kids to a living God. He wasn’t something we just talked about on Sunday or at church…He was real in our lives every single day. They gave us the privilege of seeing Him do miracles by taking everything to God in prayer. They showed us first hand that God could be trusted no matter what. Over this past year that has been a greater blessing than I can express. I wasn’t emotionally prepared to face the heartache I have this year, but deep within my heart, I know that God does all things well!

This has been a hard subject to talk about and very painful to share with others, but I have received so much encouragement from so many who have reached out to us over the past year. We’ve received emails, letters, text, prayers, and little reminders of God’s love. Thank each of you for your words of endearment. We are truly grateful, and we are trying to learn to just rest in His plan!

~Michael Keilen

 

“Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever. But it is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, that I may declare all thy works.” Psalm 73:25,26,28

 

 

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Our 1st Anniversary

On August 15th I had the privilege of spending a very special day with the most amazing girl I know! Michaela, thank you for being the most incredible wife and friend! You are truly a gift from the Lord, and I thank Him for you! I love you! Happy 1st anniversary!

~ Brandon 🙂

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Our Honeymoon

We’ve wanted to share these pictures for quite some time now, but we’re only just now getting around to posting them. Our honeymoon… wow! Setting out on this new journey, hand-in-hand and excited about what the future had in store, our honeymoon was nothing short of an incredible adventure. Literally! Our destination was the old western terrain of Wyoming and Montana, and was it ever breath-taking! Mountains like neither of us had ever seen, wild life that we’d not previously encountered, and a few close calls that we hope will never happen again (like being charged by a bear)! 🙂

But as magnificent as the scenery was, it couldn’t compare with the excitement of finally being with the one that God brought into each of our lives… in His perfect time. There is nothing like traveling life’s road with the one that you know God brought to you, and this has been a blessing that has not ceased to grow.

We are so thankful for the safety and enjoyable time the Lord gave us on our honeymoon… He blessed it even more than either of us had anticipated! We hope you enjoy1314039  the pictures! 🙂 43221648 4741 42 46382349192420
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What Was Once Considered Two

With the release of our wedding today on UP, we were finally given permission to share this with you… It’s the song that was sung for the lighting of the unity candle at our wedding. It’s still a marvel to look back and remember the blessings that God granted to us on that incredible and exciting day. He was so faithful, and continues to be so in deeper ways as the days go on. We pray that the video is a blessing to you!

 – Michaela & Brandon 

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Christmas Contemplation!

With the Christimagemas season in full swing, there is so much we desire to get done before Christmas day arrives. Looking back, there are many fond memories of how we would spend this very special holiday with our individual families. But now, with being married, the whole approaching season has had a different light. Now that we live together in a home of our own, deciding what kind of things we will do for Christmas together is a new (and exciting) experience. With it being our first Christmas as a married couple, we both desire to make this “first Christmas as ‘Mr. & Mrs.’” the best that it can be.

However, not wanting to be overcome by the rush and hustle that usually accompanies this time of year, there has been a desire to have a fresh view of what took place in Bethlehem over 2,000 years ago. Being very familiar with the Christmas story, it didn’t seem like there was too much chance of receiving something fresh… but I was wrong. Last week, the Lord revealed a comparison that I had never seen before, and this comparison brought new light to what this season is supposed to be about, and it’s given a new and exciting avenue of focus for this wonderful time of year. This comparison follows the experience of two individuals: Jacob and Mary.

It might seem strange to go back to the book of Genesis when addressing the topic of Christmas. But there is comparison in the story of Jacob that is comparable to the experience of Mary, and this instance brought a deeper insight and longing to go beyond the historical facts that took place when Jesus was born.

As you probably well know, Jacob was the father of Joseph, who was sold by his brothers into slavery. But he later became a great ruler that ended up saving his family (as well as many, many others) from starvation. But before all that happened, Joseph had a dream; in that dream there were analogous events that took place that indicated he would be made a ruler and that his family would bow to him (see Genesis 37). When Joseph told this to his family, they were not impressed in the slightest (and understandably so). This even brought a rebuke from his father, Jacob. But even though the idea brought about Jacob’s rebuke, it doesn’t appear that Jacob simply dismissed the idea, like the others did. In Genesis 37, we see a very interesting detail mentioned –

“And his brethren envied him [Joseph]; but his father observed the saying.” – Genesis 37:11

While all of Joseph’s brothers were thinking “who does this guy think he is, where we should bow to him?” Jacob had another thing happen… he “observed the saying.” The word “observed” in the verse is the Hebrew word shamar, and means “to keep, or watch over” something, or “to guard” it. From a mental sense, it’s not something you let come into one ear and then out the other; it’s something you constantly think about, or ponder. In Jacob’s case, what was being pondered was a prophecy… although he did not know it at the time.

With this in mind, let’s go to the event of Jesus birth in Luke 2. It is here that we can see a strong comparison to what Jacob did in Genesis 37. When Mary gave birth to Jesus, and the shepherds came and saw Him, it says they then went and made know abroad the saying that was told to them concerning Him. Mary’s response to what they said may not seem all that important; but if we look at what they actually did say, her response is quite significant. What was it that the shepherds actually said? …what the angel told them. What did the angel tell them? We find the answer to this in verses 10 and 11 of Luke 2 –

“And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” – Luke 2:10:11

When the shepherds declared this, it seems Mary saw that there was a special significance in these words, and the Bible says that she “kept these things, and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19). The Greek word for “kept” in this verse means “to preserve” or to “keep in mind.” Again, from a mental standpoint, it doesn’t mean to let a thought come into one ear, and then out the other. Rather, it indicates continuous contemplation or pondering. This is exactly what Jacob did about Josephs dream. But there is a deeper parallel between Jacob’s and Mary’s response than just pondering a prophecy. In Jacob’s case, it was a prophecy that his son would rule one day. In Mary’s case, it was also that her son would rule one day: Jesus would be Lord! In both cases, there was a foretelling of rulership. It’s been said that Joseph is a type of Christ, meaning that there are many events in Joseph’s experience that symbolize the experience of Jesus’ earthly life; and this prophecy falls perfectly in line with that symbolism.

When the Lord revealed this, He also spoke to what my focus should be when thinking about the nativity events. Just like Jacob and Mary, I’m to go beyond just hearing the events of God’s plan… I’m to keep them, pondering them inside, asking what the deeper meaning is of what is being said. So what is the deeper meaning of all that took place at Jesus’ birth, and what does that mean for me here and now? First, that He was willing to condescend to such a humiliating entry into the world is just mind-blowing. But why did He do it? It was not just to deliver us from the penalty of our sins. Jesus’ humble entry – and the life He lived thereafter – was to accomplish something far greater. His condescending to the lowest was ultimately to be exulted to the highest, where He would reign as Lord. And in that reign He would save us, not just from the penalty of our sins, but also from the oppressive power of sin… which carries out its tyrannical rule through natural man. Jesus’ exulted and overcoming position of authority allows for us to experience freedom from sin as He reigns within us, for where He reigns sin cannot abide.

So herein lies the Christmas contemplation… what does it mean for me to experience the Lordship of Jesus Christ in my life. He came to be Lord, and to the degree I receive His authority instead of my own stubborn will, to that same degree I will experience the freedom and life that HE IS! But what does it mean – in a here and now, practical sense – for Him to be Lord in every facet of my life? This is why He came, and this is what I am to observe, or ponder, or think about.

As you enjoy this Christmas holiday with family and friends, let’s go beyond hearing the historical events of Jesus’ birth, and ponder in our hearts what that means for our lives now. This, I believe, will bring a whole new experience, excitement, and joy to what this season is all about.

God bless you all, and Merry CHRISTmas!!!

 

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Our Wedding (Part 4)

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Here are the final pictures taken from our wedding day on August 15th, 2015! Many, many thanks to Chad Paine, Thomas Paine, Dakota Paine, and Amanda Hollar for  capturing this very special day in our lives. As we look to the upcoming holiday season, we have so, so much to be grateful for! God’s continued guidance, protection, and provision have all been clearly seen in the past few months. We give thanks to Him for the multitude of blessings He has given… a great one being His hand in bringing someone to share in life’s adventure of glorifying His name. We praise Him for what He began three months ago, and we pray that His life would fill and radiate through us for His name’s sake. Wishing you all God’s precious blessings as you gather together this season.

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Our Wedding (Part 3)

Well, after a few months of getting settled in and trying to keep up with a schedule, we’re finally able to post the pictures from our wedding ceremony! 🙂 The memories that flood our minds over all the excitement and joy that happened on that day has made this post a delight to prepare. We hope you enjoy these selected shots that captured this incredible, God blessed day! We’ll try to post more of the wedding party soon!

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Our Wedding (Part 2)

Well, almost exactly two months after our wedding, and we’re finally able to post the pictures from our big day! 🙂 Many thanks to Chad Paine, Thomas Paine, Dakota Paine, and Amanda Hollar for their expertise in capturing the moments of the covenant that has changed our lives forever! These pictures are those that were taken before the ceremony. We will post the shots of the actual ceremony shortly, Lord willing!


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Our Wedding (Part 1)

A month has already paBrandon & Michaela weddingst since our wedding… wow!!! It’s hard to believe that the day we (Michaela and Brandon) had been planning for so many months has come and gone so quickly! God did SO many things that day… big things, little things, and other things in between. To be honest, the actual wedding day seemed like such a bMichaela & Brandon wedding 2lur of activity that it’s hard to process everything that happened! One thing is for sure, though – without the gracious help of so many dear friends and family, our wedding would not have turned out the way it did. Some of those people we were able to thank in person, while others helped with behind-the-scenes details that we never got to thank. So to everybody that graciously contributed on our wedding day, THANK YOU!!! Thank you from the bottom of our hearts! God blessed us so much through you!

Ever since our wedding day we’ve been adjusting to the changes that married life brings… and we ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT!!! Through these times we’ve seen that all our adjustments are opportunities to grow closer together, as we follow the Lord’s guidance throughMichaela & Brandon wedding 3 them. It really is a blessing to know that God’s care and leading for us didn’t stop with bringing us together… He wants to use everything that comes from here on out to bring us closer to Himself as one. We know that many challenges will come our way in the days ahead, and we’ve already been seeking the Lord about some major changes that will be coming our direction. But we rejoice in the hope that whatever comes, God will weave it to form a beautiful thing for our good as we love Him –

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28
We’ve included some wedding pictures in this post, although we have not received the edited photos from our wedding as of yet. We look forward to sharing those soon, Lord willing! 🙂Michaela & Brandon wedding 4

(Photo credit: Chad Paine)