The Bollen Alley

life with our little family of three… and almost four!

we’re off and away…

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Well, we’ve officially been Texas residents for over a month! I can’t believe it. Total whirlwind. While the last several weeks in Arkansas were precious to us, I knew that finally getting here would be a relief of sorts. When you pray and plan and dream and worry and pray some more (and some more and some more), finally seeing all of it come to fruition has been wonderful.

When we left last month, we knew two things: where we were going to school and where were going to live. We didn’t know much more… jobs, insurance, pediatrician, neurologist, church… people. We also hadn’t sold our house in Little Rock. So many questions. But let me tell you a story…

Within the first week, the Lord provided dependable renters to move into our Little Rock home. They’re Christian leadership students with a ministry called Downline, and the deal is guaranteed to cover our mortgage for the next year. Also within the first week, the Lord provided Daniel his first job. Not a glamorous one, but it’s income, it’s on campus, and he’ll be allowed to study during any downtime.

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I say the first, because He provided a second job a week later. Daniel is officially a Starbucks barista! If you know Dan at all, you know his love for people and his love for coffee. So besides pastoring, this is basically his dream job. (Unless someone paid him to hunt and watch the Razorbacks, of course.) He loves it, and did you know that Starbucks provides health benefits (among many other perks) to even part time employees after 90 days? In the meantime, we’ve been accepted into Medicaid. Tindell’s epilepsy meds – covered! On top of that, the doctor at the Seminary’s campus clinic has a background in pediatrics. We see him for no more than a $25 copay. Thank you, Lord!

Beyond Daniel’s jobs, we’ve also had family and friends very generously bless us financially during this time. We are so humbled by this… who are we that so many would give of their own hard-earned resources?? To those people – thank you for allowing the Lord to work through you in our lives. Thank you for your sacrifice and love. We are in awe!

We began visiting churches right away. Considering there are at least 2.4 gajillion in Fort Worth, we knew we needed to get started! Lucky for us, just 2 weeks into the search, some new friends invited us to their church home (shout out, Ashton and Julie!) and we knew pretty quickly it was the place for us. The people were welcoming and sincere, the teaching was Biblical and challenging, and the worship was engaging and Christ-centered – all things we learned to appreciate while at The Summit (I mean, they even had wood pallets on the stage… wink, wink, Summit fam!).

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Second to sending our families back to Arkansas, visiting churches was the most emotional transition for me. I think God knew how much we needed – I needed – to find a place to dive into quickly. We just know so deeply in our hearts how important it is to be a part of a healthy community of believers, as a family unit and as individuals. For relationship, discipleship, accountability, service and support, learning and growth. I was hungry for it. Side note: To anyone reading this who may be struggling with the burden of this life and this world – if you aren’t involved in a church family (and I mean involved… not just showing up for service Sunday morning), find one. It will be like a healing balm to your soul. It is for me.

IMG_7649On the topic of community, our apartment is part of a 6-unit building, filled with families with young children. It’s Seminary housing, so everyone is in school. This whole thing has been like going off to college again, but with kids in tow! We’ve had a blast getting to know all of our neighbors. I think it’s a rare blessing to be surrounded by so many like-minded people on such a similar journey at this point in life. We’re doing our best to take advantage of the incredible opportunity!

At this point, we still need to find a neurologist for Tindell Bear, and we’re still solidifying our enrollment in Medicaid, then will transition into traditional insurance in a couple of months (so. much. paperwork.). We’re also praying and exploring some income opportunities for me that will still allow me to stay home with the girls, as childcare isn’t a healthy option for us right now. However, in summary, we’re doing well. We’ve gotten off to a great start. The peace that comes with knowing you are exactly where God wants you to be is precious, and amazingly reassuring during the difficult moments. The transition can be scary, but living in the place you’re called is so worth it. He has proven so faithful, as always.

Thank you to everyone who has been praying for us. Thank you for bearing with us during all the craziness that was this summer. Arkansas, we miss you. Texas, we look forward to knowing you!

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let’s try this again…

So… I haven’t blogged for a while. Honestly, I think it was a self fulfilling prophecy of sorts. My hesitation with starting a blog in the first place was rooted in the doubt that I would keep up with it regularly. Sure, I’m busy… chasing a toddler, keeping pace with my husband, working, doing ministry, living LIFE. But after a bit of reflection, I’ve realized the real reason I stopped writing went beyond the busyness of life. Everybody is busy. The real reason I stopped writing was fear.

Fear of all of you, really. Ideas and topics would come to mind, everything from simple family updates to personal spiritual revelations, but I always found a reason not to sit and jot it down.

That sounds so dumb.”

Nobody cares to read about that.

Are you sure that theology is right?

And on and on, the thoughts would come. Ultimately, I always talked myself out of writing because I was afraid of what all of you… any of you… would think about it. You’d think after 26 years on this earth I wouldn’t care so much about the opinions of others, but alas, here we are 11 months later and not a single post to show for it. Not because my heart hasn’t longed to write. Not because material hasn’t come to mind. Simply because I was afraid of the judgement and criticisms you may or may not have in response to my writing.

So, I have an announcement to make. A personal resolution! I hereby refuse to care what you think. As a people-pleasing perfectionist, that’s difficult very difficult for me to say. However, I must declare it here now if I am to have any hope of reviving The Alley.

But, why not?,” you may ask. “My opinions are awesome! My critique is superb!” Well, my friend, while I don’t doubt that, I refuse to care because the truth is this: I don’t blog for you… not exactly.

I blog for my family… to record memories and document milestones.

I blog for myself… because writing and photography have always been an outlet and a passion.

I blog for the Lord… because He gave me that passion, and passion is a gift that should be used, exercised, and shared. He also is continually teaching, molding, and guiding me, and every so often, I feel Him calling me to tell you about it, too.

With that said, I do hope our family blog blesses you. I often tell Daniel after his messages to our youth that if even ONE student is affected, then every bit of prayer and preparation is worth it. The same goes for each post I write.  From now on, I simply refuse to write with the expectation of rejection. I choose to write with positive expectations and the hope that each of you will receive it well.

So what’s to come after nearly a year of silence? No worries… life around the Bollen Alley is rarely dull. With a another year of ministry kicking off, the most precious toddler in the world literally running us in circles, and another little “pin” coming in just 3 short months… I think I’ll find something to write you about!

Stay tuned! (No really, I mean it this time… wink!)

– J

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a bollen birthday

I have decided the only thing scarier than launching a blog is figuring out what the first post is going to be. Eeek! Serious? Silly? Long? Short? Decisions, decisions. Luckily, my husband came to the rescue this week with the perfect no-pressure blog food… His birthday!

Today marks Daniel’s 25th year. He’s officially a quarter-century old, and has so much to show for it. A husband, daddy, pastor, and friend to so many… I could just go on bragging forever. We started the morning with a little gift, a few cards, and a big stack of Cake Batter Pancakes (thanks to Pinterest and this lovely blog).

Conveniently, his birthday fell on a Wednesday – youth night at The Summit!  So, he wrapped up the day with some love from the Summit Student Movement.  For the past couple of days, students and leaders in our ministry have been sending in all of the reasons they love Dan so we could compile them all into a list of “25 Reasons Why SSM Loves Daniel”. There are a few inside jokes in there, but in all I think it gives a pretty comprehensive description of the wonderfulness that is my husband, so check it out! I’m so proud of him.  Thank you to everyone who sent in your reasons… Daniel appreciates all of the laughs and warm fuzzies more than you know!

SSM Loves Daniel Because…

25. His beard and hair are always trimmed to just the right length. – Joey Gormley
24. He has a great heart for God, is an intense learner, and is submissive to God and those who lead him. – Bill Elliff
23. He’s got nice legs and a really cool scar on his neck. – Also Bill Elliff
22. He has the voice of an angel. And the hair of an angel. And the eyes of an angel. Basically, he’s an angel. – Jake Scott
21. He has a heart for people and a genuine love for others… and his sense of humor and his hugs! – Donna Bean
20. He’s 25, and tells everybody that I am, too! – Layne Johnston
19. He sings the original lyrics to rap songs at Ovations… public school. – Andi Tedder
18. He’s not ashamed to admit that he is an “interstate rockstar”. – Laura Hart
17. He is super understanding and relates to most any situation you ask him about. – Elliot Jones
16 .…And he is the strongest man in the world. – Elliot Jones
15. …And he stands in the back at every church service. – Elliot Jones
14. He loves God, and will always listen when you need and ear. – David Irico
13. He is always smiling and says “I love you guys!” – Kari and Hudson Jones
12. He fought a bear and won… and by “fought a bear”, I mean “broke his neck”… and by “won”, I mean “and now he loves Batman.” – Blake Hudspeth
11. He loves Superman. – Jessica Elliff
10. He has this amazing ability to walk into a school or anywhere really and start talking to people, and they love him… they always remember him. – Hannah Troutz
9. He’s a bawling good hugger! – Pam Keeling
8. He can do anything. – Brett Williams
7. He’s my boss… – Kory Hamlin
6. His shoulder hurts when he laughs really hard. – Lauren O’Dell
5. He can’t stand the “whoa’s” and “doo-doo’s” in worship music, which is why every secular song we sing at SSM must include them. – John Scott
4. He is the most encouraging person I know. Literally makes me believe I can do anything. – Kyle Uptergrove
3. He’s the best Daddy in the history of the whole world… aside from God. – Tindell Bollen
2. Everybody loves bunnies. – Nathan Rogers
1. He’s really hairy. – Bill Elliff
Again, thanks to everyone who helped put this sweet list together. We love you guys!
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let the games begin

Hi friends! Welcome to The Bollen Alley – our family blog about life as we know it.  This has been long considered, contemplated, discussed and deliberated, so I’m super excited to finally dive in and launch. First, let me just take moment to share about where we’re at, where we’re going, and what you can expect to see here.

I always thought blogging could be something I would enjoy. I love to write, and with a degree in communication and 3 years in public relations, I’m very familiar with the sharing and communicative power that is blogging. But there was always something that stopped me – “come on, everybody has a blog“, “you do NOT have the time for that“, “seriously? nobody cares“.

It wasn’t until my extremely well loved husband suffered a severe accident (more on that later) and my Facebook page turned into a mini-blog to beg for prayer and keep everyone updated that I began to seriously reconsider starting a family site. Then our daughter was born a month later and I thought, ya know… we really should tell our story. God has blessed us way too much not to share. Why not blog it? If just one person can be blessed by it…

… and here we are.

Time was still a factor, of course. After 3 months of maternity leave (and one month caring for Dan prior to that), I returned to my full time job as a communication director for my hometown school district. A job I absolutely adored.  However, after a couple of months as a working mom, I knew my heart had changed forever.  I’m sure I’ll write more about our decision, but as of  July 1, 2012 – I began life as a stay at home mom. It may be for 6 months. It may be for 16 years. All we know is that the Lord has called me home, and I am so excited to turn my full focus on my family, our home, and our ministry. It will be an adventure for sure, which is why I knew this was a fantastic time to start the Alley – to document this step of faith and where it takes us.

So, thank you so much for joining us… I already have some really exciting things planned, so be sure to “follow the alley” on the right sidebar to be updated on our new posts by email. Give us a follow on Twitter as well!  We’ll always tweet new posts and other pics and tidbits (I’m a professed instragram addict), so there’s lots of guaranteed fun to be had there.

So, any special requests? Let us know what you would like to hear from us by leaving a comment below! Also, if you’re a blogger let us know that as well. I’d love to add you to my blogroll! Have a happy day!

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