abbey starling nobles

Vision Weekend

By Abbey Nobles

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“The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. He did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit.” - Romans 8:3-4

It started in December: the non-stop hustle to get everything accomplished, make everyone feel loved and special, and try to squeeze some time in for connection and purpose with my husband, Brian. In the midst of the Christmas chaos, Brian and I looked at each other and realized that in trying to be so intentional with family, friends, and our students, we had successfully neglected each other. From there, vision weekend was born. We did not set out with the immediate goal of filling out a chart and making big future moves. In the beginning, our mission was simple: plan a weekend where we could “get away,” reflect on both the great and painful things of 2018, and talk about the coming year.

Inspired by Brian Few’s vision sermon this year and reading through a Christmas-New Year’s devotional, we were able to come up with a manageable goal setting and reflective chart that we both could be excited about. (Link to that chart is included here, it is slightly different than the one we passed out at Church) We set our tentative plan of where we would go out to eat, what we would do for fun, when we would talk, etc. and truly let the Spirit inspire what we would talk about. Because we both have a constant myriad of ideas teeming in our brains, and indecision is not too foreign for both of us, we sat down and planned out a schedule so there would be no questions of “where are we going out to eat?” or “what should we do now?” (tentative, but something to fall back on). The week prior we were in prayer and sought prayer from close friends for this weekend. We had some big items to discuss and none of our conversations were stressful or caused any anxiety. We were able to easily knock out about 75% of the chart.

“Do not quench the Holy Spirit.” - 1 Thessalonians 5:19

Advice I would give to anyone wanting to try this weekend are as follows: Be in prayer and ask for prayer from your close community, do not get bummed out if you do not reach all of the discussion goals/topics, trust in the ability to be organic and genuinely inspired; let this guide your conversation. I think we often forget that when we are plugged into the Lord, the Spirit divinely inspires us. We musn’t flee from that and we must be aware of that. Allow time for the Lord to connect you to himself, to inspire and move you deeply. Brian and I started the first morning of our weekend not talking about vision at all, just coexisting in our house, drenched and warmed by the sunrays, drinking coffee on the couch, reading and journaling leisurely and independently, playing music together, and making breakfast. This normality and relaxation was okay because it created the connective space and calm for us to be productive in the following hours.

“Letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace… If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.” - Romans 8:6, 11

Let's be a Church that doesn’t make excuses; that is divinely inspired by the Spirit and notices it; that encourages one another to be reflective and set goals for our future. No weekend will be the right weekend, you will never get the most perfect babysitting situation, taking off work is never going to be easy, you will not have the right amount of money saved, or ever enough time. We must stop listening to the lies the Devil uses to replace our ability to commit with excuses. God wants to show you all that he is doing in your life. Let us be a Church body that allows time, space, and energy to be divinely inspired and led by the Spirit. Let us hold each other accountable to this call and let us celebrate with one another when we faithfully walk into a time of seeking vision for our lives.








A Wedding, A Funeral

THE FOLLOWING IS THE FIFTH IN A SERIES OF BLOGS, EACH WRITTEN BY A DIFFERENT MEMBER OF OUR LIVE OAK CHURCH FAMILY.

Abbey and Brian Nobles 

Abbey and Brian Nobles 

By Abbey Nobles 

If anyone knows my husband Brian and me, they know we love to travel, meet people, eat delicious foods, and tell our experiences through fun and engaging stories. So when we told our friends that we saw, felt, and embraced the glory of God, I’m sure at first they pictured us experiencing this while walking on a crazy Icelandic glacier, or relaxing under the Balinese sunset, or even enjoying the delights of a French vineyard, but that was not the case. In July of 2017 we witnessed one of the most powerful displays of the glory of God either of us had ever experienced.

Recently, Pastor Brian Few did a “Jesus Is” series which defined the different aspects of who Jesus is: the Glory of God, the Creator, Sustainer, Humility, Wisdom, Love, Savior, King, Freedom, and Judge. It is still crazy to me to think that in this one single event, once we saw the glory of God, we stood witness all of the aspects of Jesus Brian talked about. Every. Single. One.

In July 2017, my brother and his fiancee asked Brian, my Brian, to play the guitar and me to sing the song, “Your Glory” by All Sons and Daughters, at their wedding during a moment of worship. Brian and I had a hard time practicing and needed inspiration, so for the weeks leading up to the wedding we would drive to Pender Memorial Hospital where my grandmother was a resident on the nursing home floor and practice for her.

My paternal grandmother, Nannie, suffered from dementia from 1999 to 2017. She went through the traditional phases of progression, from babbling speech and nonsensical talk to only smiles and high fives. She was always enchanted by music, so captivated, her spirit would speak the Psalms when she could not speak herself.

She would do what Psalm 100:1-2 says, “Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth! Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing!”

It was the day of the rehearsal dinner and Brian and I went to practice our song one last time for my grandmother before the wedding the following day. On this particular day she was almost unwakeable. This wasn’t unusual. I can remember my dad multiple times weeping at her bedside, thinking it was the end, yet something inside of her pulled through, she still had purpose.

She still had meaning. She still had things to teach us. This new lesson, her last lesson, was about the glory of God. Psalm 101:1 “I will sing of steadfast love and justice; to you, O LORD, I will make music.”

As I brushed her soft white hair and kissed her pale and wrinkled skin, I tried to rouse her. She would not budge. Brian said, “Let’s go on and practice, she will hear us.” He started playing the guitar while I stared hard at the words on my phone to distract myself. My voice cracked as I sang the first verse:

“My life is Yours

And my hope is in You only

And my heart You hold

'Cause You made this sinner holy

And holy, holy”

My voice cracked more, she was still in a deep slumber, tears came to my eyes as I stared at my grandmother’s peaceful body slumped in her wheelchair. I stroked her soft hand and tried to push through. Other family entered the room and I tried not to look in fear of a total breakdown. I felt their warm presence, I felt the peace of God in this moment, I felt comfort, but the coming words I could barely sing:

“Cause Your glory is so beautiful

I fall onto my knees in awe

And the heartbeat of my life

Is to worship in Your light

'Cause Your glory is so beautiful

'Cause Your glory is so beautiful”

Getting to the chorus I had to stop. I had to weep. An RN I never knew and will never forget came in the room and gave me the biggest hug, she completely embraced me and said, “Baby girl you sing your heart out, you sing for your grandmother, you will do great, I know you will.”

That evening after the rehearsal dinner with so much unity and joy among the bride and groom, we got the call that Nannie had passed. The last song I sang to her would be the last song she heard on this Earth.

And I felt the glory of God in that moment.

I embraced my family, I prayed in the Spirit feeling like God had called me to be a leader in that moment. We knew her death was timely and perfect. Part of God’s glorious perfect plan.

The next day I sang for all the angels to hear. I sang, and I knew she was there singing too. The wedding continued, and joy abounded. More joy filled my heart knowing Nannie’s purpose on this earth had come to an end, she was now singing in the fullness of His glory.

That is how the glory of God works: untimely for our flesh but perfect in the spirit. It is often fraught with earthly misunderstanding, our minds not fully comprehending the Spirit.

But Jesus holds all things together, He is the Glory of God, the Creator, Sustainer, Humility, Wisdom, Love, Savior, King, Freedom, and Judge.