Our Time at SAFE Family Ministries
I am finally getting a chance to share with all of you the best 6 months of this journey for me. Last June we arrived through a beautiful chain of events at SAFE Family ministries in Chehalis, Washington. Its a home for women who desire to come out of their addictive or abusive lifestyles. I have always had a heart for women from these backgrounds but never knew how we, as a family, would have an opportunity to help. As we pulled in, I didn’t know what to expect. I don’t have a background similar to any of these women, so I didn’t know what this would look like. I was hesitant at first but couldn’t wait to get to know them. Little did I know that the next 6 months would teach and mold me in new ways.
I started by going in the morning to their devotions. I got to listen to each one share and I became in love with their hearts for God. Their desire to learn and their humility. I began to learn that even though I hadn’t been in their shoes, the answer doesn’t change. Christs example of how to live and his will for all our lives doesn’t change depending on your background. These women, as well as most of the people we meet, have just lost sight of Gods love for them and the marriage relationship with him he has called them to. These women were no different than anyone else. They needed to know they were loved by a holy God and that he had called them to a powerful freeing lifestyle in Him where they die to their fleshly desires and begin finding value and direction within the life and example of Christ.
I saw how their humility and desire to learn, opened the door for powerful moves of God. They began to find freedom and value as God used them to heal, prophesy, to dream dreams, and begin to pray mightily in the spirit (they would see things in the spirit and they learned they could pray against them and take authority over them). Their destinies began to come clearer as they submitted and learned to use the authority God had given them. But I also saw how a persons will, to not submit or fight spiritual truth, hindered them from finding the freedom they deep down wanted.
I will never forget a conversation I had with a young lady, whom I love deeply (I really love all of them like crazy). She began to get real with me and when I asked her why do they struggle with self sabotage and going back to their old ways after being clean for a long period of time. She told me that it can be a fear of the “other” side. They have grown so accustomed to this lifestyle and being controlled by others that even though they know its destructive, they fear living a good life on the “otherside”. I just thought to myself, wow! And here many of us sit in judgment and snub their noses at people struggling and they don’t even realize the deep deception and lies those struggling are dealing with. They have to be told and encouraged that there is more and that they have much more value in Gods eyes then what man around them tell them. And sometimes, we have to walk with people as they go on their journey to discovering this for themselves.
While I was there I also saw the difference in helping the girls when we attempt to use mans way and psychology vs Gods way and freedom in the spirit. I also saw how someone can begin to get freedom but how the enemy can come back if they don’t get fillled with the spirit and align themselves with Gods spirit and truth.
After seeing and learning over those 6 months, I left there with a stronger understanding that following Christ is not a casual endevor. The spiritual battles are real. Demonic activity is very real and following Christ is not about a religion nor is it a game we can just play around with to make us feel good and get us to heaven. I have realized that Christians have become too comfortable with grace and have lost their fear (holy reverence) of a God who holds our eternity in his hands. When we get ahold of this as a body, there is nothing more humbling yet so empowering to go and do the works of Him. If we are comfortable with helping at church occasionally, cracking our bibles open for bible study or following a program, we are missing the mark. We are missing what relationship with God is all about. We miss out on the true transformation as we learn to walk in His ways, obeying his commands, stop following feelings, denying the sinful desires, and humbling ourselves to a mighty God that draws us to holiness and walking as Christ walked.
My sisters at SAFE are a part of me. They will be forever and I miss them dearly. But I also knew it was time to go because some of them needed to fly. You can walk with people but they must also learn to depend upon the holy spirit for themselves. They must step into who God wants them to become within that house. So we passed the torch. And God is still growing them in leaps and bounds. I pray to go back and I know we will at some point. But for now, we are off learning more, in other ways.
How Long Are You Doing This?
Since day one on this journey we got asked how long we would be doing this. After 3 years, this hasn’t changed. People are quite surprised by our story and wonder how long can a family do this. Our answer hasn’t changed, we will stop when God tells us. But in the meantime we go and stay for how ever much time we feel we should. But the scripture that comes to mind whenever people ask how long we will be doing this or staying in an area, the scripture that comes to mind is Luke 10..
Luk 10:2 Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.
Luk 10:3 Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves.
Luk 10:4 Carry neither purse, nor scrip, nor shoes: and salute no man by the way.
Luk 10:5 And into whatsoever house ye enter, first say, Peace be to this house.
Luk 10:6 And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it: if not, it shall turn to you again.
Luk 10:7 And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the labourer is worthy of his hire. Go not from house to house.
Luk 10:8 And into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you:
Luk 10:9 And heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.
You see, sometimes people equate doing what God has on their hearts with finances and this being Gods blessings and his “green light” but if the money runs low for a little bit the questions within and sometimes from the outside begin, “maybe God just has you doing this for a season” and “Maybe this is him telling you to stop and settle down?” But I have realized time and time again that Gods blessings come in many different forms and if what was in our bank account determined how long we would be doing this, we would have been done long ago. God tells us to walk by faith and not by sight and when we feel a call on our lives to begin serving him instead of ourselves, it would be in our best interest to listen. YES, even if it seems impossible and doesn’t make sense. But this scripture above is what its about. As we have gone, we have not been welcomed by some and others we were welcomed but we knew only for a short time. We have shared the kingdom only to be rejected by some and embraced by others. We have also prayed for the sick among those whose paths we have crossed. Each stop holds some learning and greater understanding as to how the kingdom works. Our desire is to be led by Him and learn as he leads us. This is our journey and its for the rest of our lives.
Right now, this scripture holds a special place in my heart because we are seeing it in a much different way. We arrived here at SAFE Ministries in Washington and planned to only stay a couple weeks. We pulled in and they had a campground behind the facility on the property. There are newly installed electric boxes and full sewer and water. But the spots were overgrown and we weren’t sure what this was going to look like. Joe got the weed wacker and began clearing our spot. We pulled in and were welcomed with open arms. We knew we would be here for a little bit. There was peace. They have welcomed us into their home and some meals are provided and we began building relationships with the beautiful women that live here. They come from various backgrounds and are here to get their lives back on track after living addictive lifestyles. We have seen some women healed of physical ailments and we have seen others not healed. We have shared testimonies and had incredible conversations and times of sharing what God has done in our lives. The most beautiful times are when women come and share with me that they went to the doctor and were offered narcotics for pain and they turned them down….or…when they are offered a cigarette and instead of taking it, even when they won’t get caught, they say no thank you. Then there are the times when they do take it and God convicts them of it and its tastes horrible and they confess. All these times are huge victories and such glorious times.
I have had the privilege of getting to know one young lady since we arrived and to see the light within her get brighter and brighter each day. To walk with her when things were hard and she wanted to quit and walk out. But you know what is key to each girls success? They are choosing to be REAL, both with God and with others. They are making daily choices to surrender themselves to God and let him do the work in their lives. Deciding daily to choose Gods way over the enemies. These girls are no different than any other person we have met, but as with everyone, true change comes when we surrender EVERYTHING to him. And you can see those who don’t want to and they stay in their struggles much longer. There is a huge difference to knowing scriptures, going to church, doing the program of life and TRUE surrender. And true change won’t occur until we are willing to let go.
I laugh within sometimes to think about how people who aren’t working with these girls look in and judge. They assume they need God and are afraid to step in and help because of their own judgements towards these womens past. But I can attest that these ladies are so amazing. They have incredible hearts for God and a true willingness to transform their lives. There is a hunger for truth that in our 3 years of traveling we just haven’t found in many places. Some of these women hear from the Holy Spirit so clear and but years of turning the other ways left the Spirit buried beneath their choices. But as the clutter clears, they really shine and its humbling and powerful all at the same time.
I want to share a testimony about how God provided for us while here. A few weeks ago, I began being in charge of the girls medications. I love this opportunity to pray over their medications and over them each week. Part of this job is that I have to go into town 2-3 times a week to pick up the medications. Well, our tank was empty. The light was on and I knew I had to go pick up the meds the next day. I kept thinking of ways we might be able to come up with some money, but I didn’t want to ask because we haven’t had to since we have been traveling. I tossed and turned and woke up in the middle of the night and God told me he had it handled. I went to sleep and got up at 6:30 for devotions. I went and came back home and crawled into bed. I thought, God, all I need is $20. God again told me he had it handled. I fell back asleep. There was a knock on the door and one of the girls had an envelope and said another girl gave it to her to give to me. I opened it and there was $20. There was a note with it that said God woke her up at 4:00am and told her to put $20 in an envelope and give it to me and tell me that God would continue to provide our needs. This was so humbling and amazing to me.
And the truth is, God has provided all our needs. The other day I was in town and found $10 on the ground. Someone even blessed us with a container of emergency meals they had sent to us here. God continues to show up in many different ways.
I can’t even begin to share all the lessons we have been learning. But maybe in a future post. But the biggest thing we have seen is that a persons desire to surrender to God in every aspect greatly influences the change within an individual, whether it be physical or spiritual healing. I am still leaning to release things myself. But Its wonderful and worth it.
You Can Do It
A friend once asked me if I could get $10,000 in a lump sum or I could get 1 penny the first day then double it the second day, then double that the third day and so on for the month, which would I choose? This sounded like a trick question so I said I would take the penny the first day option. He told me that would be wise because over the period of a month, that comes to over $10 million. In just 30 days, 1 penny becomes 10 million. You see, if each person who knew the love of God took time to talk and share with one person, then encouraged them to do the same, imagine the impact! We look to governments, to make a difference, but the truth is, we can! One person at a time.
A few weeks ago I had the privilege to share my heart and our story with a few groups of people. Afterwards, I was approached by a precious gal with a huge heart. She told me she just didn’t know enough about the bible to talk to people. I asked her who it is that draws a man to repentance? It’s the Spirit, right? I explained to her, that she has the love of God in her and a story of what he has done in her life. I said, just share that. You see, we all have a story. We all understand what God has done for us. We don’t have to have all the answers, no one does. People are desiring something that is real. Your story is real. You share it, and God takes care of the rest. I encouraged her to just let God lead her and when she felt a pull toward someone, just ask if they need prayer for anything. Its that simple. Its amazing how many people open up.
Another woman came up to me and said she couldn’t pray for people in public because she just didn’t have the right words to pray. I smiled at her and reminded her that it wasn’t what we said, its being willing to do it. I shared with her a story about a lady we talked to in Walmart and she wanted prayer but asked us to come out to her car to do it. We put our hand on her back and just commanded the pain to leave her back. That was it, no wordy prayer. The woman felt heat and her back was healed. I told her of another time where we just prayed that God would reveal his love to a person. They began to weep as God touched their hearts.
You see, you don’t need to take special class or go to special training. You don’t need to know everything about the bible or be able to rattle off scriptures. The bible says that no man comes to the father unless he is drawn by the spirit. When we enter into a relationship with God, it says His Spirit lives within us. So all we do is become a vessel of Christ’s love to others. We just have to be willing. When we stop and open our lives up to another, we allow the Spirit to flow from us to another. There is no need to have all the answers. You will know what to say.
Do you recall the story of the demon possessed man in Mark 5? This man was in the tombs and pretty wild. After Jesus delivered him, this man asked Jesus if he could follow him and Jesus tells him NO. He tells him to go to his friends and tell them all the great things the Lord has done for him. Do you see this? Jesus didn’t need him to train or make sure he knew everything about Him first. He didn’t need him to have all the right theology first. Jesus told him to go and share his story! That’s it! That’s all we need to do. We all have a story, maybe not as dramatic as the demon possessed man’s, but we all have a story. And our stories are true.
I know there are many others with the same questions sitting in the pews of churches each week and I am hoping this post is an encouragement to everyone who has been seeking God and wants more. As God moves through you into the lives of others, you begin to see why you were created. And Pastors or other church leaders, begin to do this in your lives and share the stories with the people you have the blessing to speak to. Lead by example and help the people in your church or people you come into contact with know that they too can do this, and should, because one life at a time will make a larger impact than the largest church meeting or conference. By doing, growth comes. People don’t need more classes, they just need to know that they can in everyday life. Everyone needs to know they are already equipped with all they need, they have the Spirit who will teach and guide each of us. So lets all do our part and begin to spread the true love of who Christ is and what he represented. We have no earthly excuse to do otherwise.
One Week at Walmart
It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of
Since we’ve been on the road we’ve stayed at ran down truck stops and at five star resorts. We’ve been to Disney World, SeaWorld, and Legoland. We’ve also been where drug deals are going down less then eighty feet away from our front door. We’ve had nights at fancy hotels and nights with drunkards yelling at each other right outside of our bedroom window. But wherever we are God is always right there with us and it’s exactly where He wants us to be.
At the time of this writing it is Sunday September 14th 2014. We are on our way to the Albuquerque hot air balloon fiesta. At the moment we are a little over 7,000 feet above sea level in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The backdrop is a beautiful mountainous scenery behind miles and miles of prairie. Scattered throughout the landscape are various Indian homes called adobes. And as I sit in my bed writing this chapter looking out my bedroom window all I see is a crystal blue sky with white puffy clouds as though we’re floating above the earth. Our truck is sitting on an eighth of a tank of fuel and we have been resting in Walmart’s parking lot for almost a week now. Which is new to us, Walmart stays are usually only for a night. Usually just a place to break up the drive. Only this time the reason we stopped here was because we are once again out of cash and low on fuel. He always gives us what we need to get where we need to be, so there must be a reason we’re here.
When we arrived we were just waiting for God to bring us what we need to move on. This is the farthest we’ve been out west and honestly I was a bit concerned about being out this way. I had heard that life was different here. Another step outside of my comfort zone. After two nights of waiting on God to provide we began to get uneasy. Doubts once again began to try to creep their way in. This is another time of pruning. Learning to walk this out isn’t always easy but knowing it’s God’s desire makes us want to do it more then anything this world offers. It helps me when I think about the Israelites being taken out of Egypt, there’s a lot in that story that relates to us in these days. Moses had parted the waters of the mighty red sea and taken the Israelites across on dry land. Then it says as they were wandering through the desert they had forgotten how God had parted the waters for them and they began to doubt. After some time passed they once again arrived at the waters edge, needing a miracle. God parted the waters for them, but this time tells them to go to the deepest part and gather stones. With these stones build an altar near the water’s edge so that when doubt tries to come it will remind you of what the Lord has done. We’ve found it encouraging, in times like these, to look back at all that He’s done for us and where He’s taken us. So we continue to rest.
After staying for two nights we realized something interesting. Generally people stop for the night at Walmart, it’s a convenience that most of them allow, then they’re back on the road the following day, but this Walmart is different. We started realizing that the same people would pull in, in their cars, every night to get some sleep and then disappear for the day only to return again later that evening. A small community of homeless folk are our neighbors at Walmart. Now we know why God brought us here.
The first person we spoke with was Dave. We noticed him walking in the landscape behind our camper. It’s a large area that’s nicely sculpted and perfect for small walks, we’ve taken a few strolls around it ourselves. Erin had just made a large pot of chicken soup so I shot out the door to invite him for dinner. As I approached him, he was the first to speak up “hello, how are you today?” He asked if I was the one with the wife and two kids. He said he had noticed us the day before going into Walmart and was surprised to see how happy we seemed. We talked for a bit and he welcomed our offer to come for dinner. Dave is a clean cut publisher that has published a few books from his late wife Anna. He lives with his son Seth in his small pickup truck and they’re hoping to get an apartment in the area soon. They are both spiritualist in search of truth, which seems to be the norm in these parts. So far it’s been very refreshing as opposed to the east, where it seems most have their guard up. It seems westerners are very receptive and interested to hear about our lifestyle.
That night, as I was laying in bed, I felt like God told me to give Dave a Bible. I woke up the next morning to Erin saying, I feel like we should give Dave a Bible. Then there was a knock at our door, it was Dave asking if we could boil some water for his coffee. We continued our conversation and then I told him we’d like to give you a Bible if you want one. He told me he had read through the red letters once before. I explained to him how each of the gospels are the same story about Jesus but in each disciple’s perspective of what they saw. That peeked his interest but yet he said, I’ll have to pass but thank you. I just said OK, no problem. We finished boiling his water and ended our conversation and he headed back to his truck. Erin and I looked at each other and said, wonder why God told us to give it to him if he didn’t want it? A few minutes later he knocked at our door again, he said, I talked with my son and I think we would like to have that Bible if it’s OK.
The following day as Erin was making dinner I had the pleasure of meeting a precious couple whose names were Brian and Heather. I saw them at the Walmart entrance flying a sign, asking for help. Brian is a veteran, he and his girlfriend Heather live in a small tent in the prairie just outside of Walmart. I begged them to come and have dinner with us but Brian was ashamed of the alcohol on his breath and Heather said she had problems trusting people. I asked if they had trouble keeping warm the night before because it had gotten down in the forties. Brian said “we did alright, she’s a good snuggler” and Heather reached out to hold his hand. I asked if they would like any sleeping bags. They said they would like one if we can spare it. I rushed home to grab the sleeping bag and tell Erin about our new found friends. She joined me on the trip back to the roadside with sleeping bag in hand. We took the chance to love on them, speak life into them, and pray that God would show them His love. We once again invited them to dinner. They humbly agreed to come and join us in a bit and sadly never arrived.
We then had the chance to meet our other neighbors, Tim and Ron. Two friends that had met during some rough circumstances that lead them to being homeless. We brought them dinner, a plate full of roasted chicken, corn, and mashed potatoes. When Tim brought our plates back he was very grateful and I asked if he would mind if I came over and prayed for them. He said he would love that and that he usually prayed every night. We went over and spoke the love of Jesus over them for several hours. Tim said that he was raised a southern Baptist and believed in God. Ron and I just sat on the curb talking about the plans God has for him. He told me how he didn’t feel worthy and I explained to him his value in Christ. We finished with a big hug and Ron explained to me how grateful he was that I took the time to sit and speak with him, especially about things that matter.
I don’t tell you any of this to boast as though we are anything. My hope is that what I’ve written will encourage you to step out on your journey. I know it seems like a scary place, outside of your comfort zone. That’s where the people are that need you. That’s where Jesus spent most of His time and we should all walk as He walked.
Erin prayed last night and asked how much longer we should stay, she heard two more nights. Today she received a text from a friend that was wanting to send us some money and how could she. She ended up sending it the next day just as God had told Erin.
Usually when we dry camp, that’s when we have no hookups for water or electric, our water tank only last about two to three days, it lasted seven full days during our stay here at Walmart. God loves to take care of His children. With the provision we received we restocked our groceries, filled our fuel tank, filled our propane, and headed to a campground. Just as we pulled in, right before we hooked up our hose, Erin tried our water and as soon as she did the tank had just ran dry. It lasted just as long as we needed it to.
Understand that God loves you. You are His child and He has amazing plans for each of us. All that is required is that we put our lives completely in His hands. He sent His son to give up everything in hopes that we would give Him our everything in exchange. We are His adopted children, we’ve all come from different lives and circumstances. Some of us are happy to drop our old selves because we see them for what they are, filthy rags. Others aren’t so sure, I kind of like my filthy rags, I worked hard to achieve them. Look around at creation, the birds in the air, the flowers in the field, sunsets, oceans, we serve a God who knows what He’s doing. Spend time with Him, start your relationship and learn to trust.
This isn’t a typical blog post, but it has been weighing on my heart as we meet so many people. I pray that anything that is from God stays in your heart and anything of my flesh falls aside and is forgotten.
My heart has been heavy for a long time and I have been preparing to write this for almost 6 months. But its not the easiest thing to write because I know it effects a lot of people and each situation is very different. But the more I understand the heart of God and his desire for us and our marriages, I have realized how much the enemy tries to get us to focus on ourselves and tries to destroy our marriages by building up walls between the very person that should be our team mate, biggest fan and support. Marriages are struggling on so many different levels so I felt a need to share what I have been learning and how it has strengthened my marriage in hopes that each of you will allow God to begin making changes in you, so you too will see the fruits in your marriages.
You see, God tells us that we are to love God with ALL our hearts and Love our neighbors as ourselves. These are our two commandments on which everything else stems from. I had noticed that I could go out and love people, minister to people, and share the gospel, but when I got home, I would lose patience and get snippy and condescending to the very people who were the closest to me. So why is it that loving our neighbor as ourselves seems to not apply when we are talking about our spouse and somehow we justify it?
A few months ago, I began to get very frustrated with Joe. For some reason, my mind began to dwell on all the things I was doing around the house and for our family which led to thoughts of what Joe wasn’t doing (in my mind). I began to let those thoughts fester within me. I began to have feelings of entitlement from him, like he owed me. That things weren’t “fair”. So everything he did all I could see was what he was NOT doing. My focus and perception became very distorted because I was dwelling on the negative. I was choosing to assume the worst instead of the best and every time we do this, we start building a wedge and begin to separate ourselves from our spouse. He would do a project and instead of encouraging him, I would find a flaw and point it out or ask him why he didn’t do it this way or that way. You see, our spouses value how we view them and we can tear them apart or lift them up to greatness with simple words. As women, we want our men to lead us and take care of us, yet when they do, we find ourselves correcting them or sharing our opinions (even with the kindest words or best intentions) which only quench their ability to lead or do anything because what they hear is “you aren’t doing it right”. When we choose to see the negative within our relationships, we begin to feed this into our hearts until eventually, this is all we see and we begin to gripe and complain about them which just drives us further and further apart.
You see, with Joe, I started feeling like I “deserved” better, that he wasn’t meeting my expectations, and I have a “right” to (you fill in the gap). I was justifying myself while putting my husband down. But the truth is, when we love, we surrender our “rights”. We begin to lay ourselves down, in love, to serve our spouses. And when this happens mutually, we begin to uplift and help one another, doing all we can to support each other instead of our own need, wants, and desires.
You see, God has given us marriage as a reflection of Christ and the church. As we surrender ourselves to Christ and the Gospel, it becomes no longer I that live, but Christ that lives in me. It no longer becomes about me, but about Christ. This is oneness. And this is what we are called to in our marriages. We become one, by laying ourselves down and not making it about myself and what I deserve or what I can get, but about what I can do for my spouse. How I can uplift and encourage and serve them, no matter what, and expecting NOTHING in return. This is love!
Love is kind…this means we don’t speak negatively about our spouse. We lift them up and encourage. Love is patient…it walks things out with our spouse. It helps them and goes through difficult times together. Love is never jealous or envious. We are not in competition with our spouse so when they succeed we succeed. You compliment each other with your talents and faults because you have become one. Love is not proud or boastful. Its not about you! Its not about what you have done or who you are and what you deserve. Its about becoming humble and laying yourself down for your spouse. Love doesn’t insist on its own rights or its own way because it is not self-seeking. It takes NO record of wrongs. This is huge because this is forgiveness. This is something that truly divides a couple. Holding on to and dwelling on the faults of the other. The times they may have failed or messed up. Because when we hold onto these things, we begin to expect the worst in our spouse instead of the best. This causes us to look down upon instead of encouraging them. Love bears up under ANYTHING and EVERYTHING that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of our spouse and hope NEVER fades under ALL circumstances. Love NEVER Fails! This means that regardless of the wrongs done to us, we continue to forgive and not be offended and cling to the best rather than the worst, speaking life into our spouses and our marriages instead of discouragement. This is 1 Corinthians 13.
Now if you read that and thought about all the areas your spouse needs to change, then you missed the point. We can never change our spouses, but we can let God change us. If your marriage is struggling, remember it takes two to struggle. When one decides to lay themselves down and love the way Christ does, refusing the desire to “be right”, it will change hearts. Not because of what you say, but because of your actions. Its the kindness of God that draws a man to repentance, not us pointing out all the things they need to change. And this can only happen by submitting yourselves before God first. Taking your value and worthiness from Christ and not your spouse. Allowing God to love you and loving your spouse as Christ does.
I want to be clear about one thing too. A husband and a wife are a team. Its not meant to be one spouse dominating another and hanging a misinterpretation of Ephesians 5 about the woman being submissive to the husband over your spouses head. When you read this chapter, remember that in that time, Men were the dominating ones. They were the ones with the power. But this chapter is talking about men coming down from this position to raise up his bride to become glorious! This is what Christ did for us, he came down from his position in heaven to come along side his bride so that at the wedding feast he will present to himself a glorious bride. Its beautiful as we, women, submit and come along side our husbands!
I have read and heard others speak of books they have read about “love languages” and psychology books about women and men and their differences and how to relate to the opposite sex. They are full of information about personality traits and accepting who we are. This is fine, except for Christ calls us to die to our flesh and lay ourselves down for one another. So these types of books tend to give us an idea of who we are and become our identity and justifies us to stay a certain way, because “that’s who I am.” It also boxes in our spouse to being a certain way, that it can often times be hard to see them in a different way and we limit them to the confines of this box. This doesn’t leave room for God to change either of you into the love he wants you to be. To become more consumed by what your spouse wants than “how you are”. Be willing to change. Be willing to let God change you!
You see, marriage is supposed to be wonderful just like our relationship with Christ. Its freeing and awesome. That’s why God gave us each other. Just like the church should be working together to love others and encourage each other, we should be doing with within our homes. Spending time with each other, not just talking about bills, activities, and schedules, but flirting, dating, holding hands enjoying each other. And absolutely yes, do this in front of your kids. It benefits them so much to see their parents in love. Take time to use your words to tell your spouse how you feel. Don’t just assume they know. And even if they reject you, keep going. Let Gods love change your marriage. Laugh together and remember what made you fall in love in the first place. And have Sex. Yes, you heard me. We were made for each other. God made this a glorious time to be with each other in a way that is special. So do it and do it often (even if one of you doesn’t feel like it and the other does..this is part of being there for each other) and don’t be ashamed of it. Your marriage will thank you.
Focus on God and don’t give up on your marriage! God never gave up on his bride (you) no matter how much we deserved it, ran away, or messed up. He was always there. We should be too.
Our Visit to York, Pennsylvania
Back in 2010, I began to learn how to minister on the streets. But, I had 2 kids aged 2 and 4 at the time. So I put a message out on facebook asking how to seek God with two kids. I received a private message from a now very dear friend, Zoe. Over the years, we have exchanged many emails and cultivated a friendship. She always guided me to listen to the Holy Spirit and encouraged me to listen, not giving me direct answers. This became very powerful in my walk, because I began to trust God rather than a person.
Well, a few weeks ago, God gave me the privilege to finally meet Zoe, her husband Darrel and their family, we also had the pleasure of meeting Edgar and Patty (another family), and their friends in York, Pennsylvania. These 2 families let God lead them into a very dynamic and spirit led ministry unlike anything I have ever witnessed. But this ministry came because 2 families completely surrendered their lives to the direction of God. Both families had 6 figure incomes, multiple homes, and cars. But when they began seeing in scripture where God desires for us to give it all and follow him, they obeyed. They left this all behind to do what God desired.
There are many avenues that God uses these families, but the one I got to experience first hand was at a restaurant called The wHoly Chicken. This restaurant was started through the obedience of Edgar and Patty and lies in downtown York. It is in a strip-mall in the middle of lots of housing with kids wandering around. They just wanted to love the people of York. They live day by day learning to be obedient to God and trusting him for everything they have. The restaurant gives more then they sell in a month and they live by financial blessings and miracles. And when I say they give food, I mean rotisserie chicken, steak, rice, and beans. Lots of delicious food. It isn’t about income, its about hearts.
Many kids from the neighborhoods come in and Edgar gives them a broom so they can help. These kids just need a place to belong and a purpose. Many of the kids tell others they “work” at the wHoly Chicken, just because it gives them value. The families love on these kids and welcome them. When we arrived we sat down at a table just to visit and say Hi to Edgar and see his place. He immediately introduced us to a gentleman that he had met out in the parking lot just an hour ago and asked him to come in and have a meal. Edgar fed him for free and he was just hanging out. Joe and I began to talk to him and this guy needed some encouragement and direction. Joe began sharing with him and praying with him. God just gave him the words to share. Then I went to the back of the kitchen and was talking to another friend of Edgar’s, when he came back and asked me to come out front and just talk to this gal for 5 minutes. I was a little confused, but said, Ok. I went out and this girl and her 2 year old were sitting at a table. I just sat down and asked about her. We spoke for a little bit and I began to see her struggle and her heart. I had an opportunity to talk with her and share Gods love and encourage her. I prayed with her and told her some things that just came to my heart. She ended up coming back a few days later to testify that what I had told her came to pass. It was just about loving her where she was. The restaurant was constant, God just brings people in. They don’t know why they are there, but they come in. They get love and prayer and the Gospel. And many times, an awesome meal!
They hold a meeting every Thursday outside on the sidewalk in front of the restaurant right next to a Little Cesears. They let anyone share what God has been showing them. It was an incredible time. Then on Sundays they hold a meeting in the restaurant. We were able to share out testimony that Sunday and it was just an amazing time. People raised their hands and asked questions, people came for prayer, and the Spirit truly touched our hearts on many different levels. These families, really live the gospel. They trust God for everything and were so giving. My son needed a bigger bike because his was too small. They brought out a new custom made bike for Zack. They had been given this bike a few years ago and it was never used. Zack was so excited, it was everything he could have wanted and no one knew it. We were humbled by several who gave to us, not out of their abundance, but out of their obedience and knowing God will supply back for them. The feeling in this place was something that cannot be explained on paper, but only through being there. I saw how they weren’t out to control the ministering that went on there. They truly trust the Holy Spirit. They refer to the restaurant as a ministering boot camp. If you believe and desire to love people, you will be given someone to talk to. They don’t try to tell you how to do it, because they know the spirit will guide you. The flow of God is awesome. It taught me a lot about trusting the spirit and about giving on a new level. It truly is about surrendering our lives for others. Our time, our talents, our resources to expand the kingdom of God. I promise, the more you surrender, the more of God you will get back. Its the most fulfilling and life altering decision you will ever make.
“More” of God
We, as Christians, sing about it. We meet and have prayer meetings for it. We worship hoping for it… “More” of God. Some kind of spiritual experience, a vision, warmth, goosebumps, etc. In the past, I desired this so much and it seemed like everyone was having these experiences. And I saw how I elevated people with these experiences as if they had reached something with God that I had not. Its almost as if I saw experiences as a sign that people had “arrived” at something. But over the last 2 years of doing what Christ said, to leave it all and follow him, I have experienced a depth in God that nothing can compare to. That no reasoning or person could ever take away from me. I have found that the “More” of God that we desire, isn’t in an “experience”, but in obedience. Its in surrendering our selves to Him. Trusting Him for absolutely everything. And I really cannot explain it to another, but the peace and rest, I have, the way I view life and people is so different than 2 years ago. I used to pray and want to “feel his presence”. But it just isn’t about “feelings”. I walk every day in His presence. Sometimes I feel as if people think, if they just pray harder, longer, or worship harder, “soak” longer, we can somehow get God to give us this “experience” we desire. When all along, God is just saying “Follow Me”! But doing this requires sacrifice, so we opt for the other. I honestly don’t share this to attack anyone and I understand the importance of prayer and worship. But there is a depth and understanding of God that he wants each of us to experience through Obedience. So for anyone who truly desires to know God, I encourage you to not look for an “encounter”, but to LISTEN, HEAR his voice and OBEY!GO! DO! Be about the Fathers business (please, don’t get this confused with joining another activity at a church or volunteering more…this is about Listening to God and Obeying what HE tells you).Take NO thought for your needs, but know that God will supply! Surrender yourself to Him (the more we surrender and stop trying to control our circumstances or how things happen, the greater revelation of God we walk into) and even when it seems hard and you feel you are sacrificing a lot, the reward is far greater!
Who Is God?
A few month ago I was reading the book of John Chapter 14. This chapter is before Jesus was taken to the cross and He was being very clear to the disciples that if you have seen Him, then you have seen the Father. As I read this chapter, I began to weep. I can’t really explain it, but I felt this understanding of Gods heart toward everyone that overwhelmed me. Jesus says he only does what he sees the Father do. So as you watch Christ throughout the Gospels, you begin to get a clear picture of how God desires to treat all of us. How we are to handle life, is revealed through Christ because we are made in His image and we are to be imitators of Christ. And God IS Love! It becomes so very simple and beautiful.
Over the past few months, I have had many conversations with people of a lot of different beliefs systems. And many don’t really know who Christ is and many don’t believe in evil. Some carry a very strong opinion that God doesn’t like “particular sins” and we need to be sure to “separate ourselves” or “take a stand for Christ” against such people. But, if God is Love and never changes, how can a God of the old testament carry out so much wrath and destruction and he must be doing that today?
I went to God with all I had been hearing and asked Him for some clarity. You see, God created the law and throughout the old testament, man could not keep the entire law. They had sacrifices to atone for not upholding the law. If you look across many religions around the world, they understand a blood covenant and sacrifices for their gods. The sacrifices were always the purest or the first, the best. So man was always in a state of trying to please God. Trying to pursue God. His wrath was apparent in the Old testament. But instead of leaving us in this striving state, He sent Jesus to earth to show us His heart. To reveal Gods nature and desire to be reconciled to the people he created. You see, God hasn’t changed, but His covenant has. After Christ had spent 3 years revealing Gods heart and desire for his creation, He was sacrificed and defeated death, so we would be fully reconciled to God the Father. It is the power of the Blood covenant. In many other religions, man continues to try and please and chase after and try to get to know their gods, but in Christianity, God pursues and lays out his son for us. Its beautiful!
God did all this, not so you would have to join a church (though its not a bad thing), and follow their rules, or pray a prayer or else you will burn in Hell. God did all of this out of Love. So you could see who he truly is through the life manifested and poured out in Jesus. He loves and desires each of us as a man pursues his future bride. All He wants us to do is turn around and embrace the love He is giving to each of us. For us to see His grace and mercy and extend it to others. To radically, pursue his heart and love Him back with the very love He offers us. And in this place, is a place of rest. And from this place, we extend our hands to others, offering them, this same gift of reconciliation. God is passionate for every person created. We all have a created value and purpose. Its to be loved, so we can love.
You see, its the GOODNESS of God that draws a man to repentance. Not us pointing out the flaws in each other. As we rest in the fathers love, His goodness shines through us and exposes our own darkness and struggles, but He takes these things from us, IF we allow Him too. Then, we allow His goodness to shine to others, even when they don’t “deserve” it in the worlds eyes. We no longer live for ourselves, but we live for others. We no longer get offended, because our love is rooted in God and its no longer about ourselves but Him. His love fills our hearts and from this place comes the “doing”. It does say we will be judged by our actions. But our actions are always a reflection of whats in our hearts.
If anyone out there has been hurt by people who are Christians. Don’t judge God by what people have done. We are all learning. If you want to know what God is like, take the time to get to know Him through His Son (read the gospels). Just like you don’t get to know your spouse by talking to all his friends, you don’t get to know God by talking to those who say they know him. Go to Him and find out for yourself. He is a beautiful God of love, mercy, and forgiveness.
One Year Anniversary
Today marks one year of being on the road and I just can’t believe how much we have learned and done over this past year. Last night, we spent the evening with friends watching Furious Love. When it was over the love we felt for one another was overpowering. We wept and saw their teenage son’s pain leave his back and spine get straighter. Not because of words prayed but simply by the overpowering love of God. Then as we step outside we were overcome by the beauty of the northern lights. We saw the lights faintly in the horizon, but they grew and rose so far up overhead. As we lay on the ground it was as if a dome of light surrounded us. I was simply overcome by the love and beauty of our Father and creator.
As I lay reflecting on this past year, this past evening definitely summed up what we have experienced throughout the year. An incredible display of Gods love in our lives and many lives around us. You see, God IS Love. Christ IS Truth. Truth and love aren’t just feelings or ideas of what we think or can prove is right, they are beings. And as we come together in Christ (truth) and God (Love), there is unity. And in this unity there is rest and from this rest comes power. Power to transform an individual with the overwhelming Love of God.
In this year, we have seen many healed of aches and pains, we have seen women get pregnant who couldn’t and tried everything, but we have also seen a woman die of cancer and a mother lose twins after 8 weeks of carrying them. A friend was asked to pray for a teenager who was losing feeling in her legs and had pain in her back. No doctor had a cure. But instead of praying, he simply spoke to her about Gods love and plan for her life. This girl got in the car and when her sister called her name from the back seat, she turned around and to her surprise, no pain. She had been healed. Not from praying and casting things out, but simply by love. So I am not going to sit here and pretend I have all the answers, but I am learning there is so much learn and so much power to be used simply through love and going after Truth (Christ).
Philippians 1:9-10 says, “And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgement; That you may approve things that are excellent; that you may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ;
As I read this, I began to see how important it is that our love grows in parallel with knowledge and judgement. Knowledge by itself brings pride and judgement by itself brings condemnation on others, however, if we allow love to abound and grow in our lives then we will be able to use our knowledge and judgment to see the good and excellent things in others and around us.
God says that Perfect Love casts out Fear! And God hasn’t given us a spirit of fear, but of Power, and Love, and a Sound Mind. But its amazing how many people we meet who are driven by fear. They make choices on food, where they go, and how they raise their kids, all based in fear. If this is you, I want to encourage you to spend more time with Christ and to begin to truly see his character and that all He is, is Love. This love will bring rest and peace that truly surpasses all understanding.
Love is powerful. It’s the greatest power we have. It’s the power to mend the broken, heal relationships, and transform lives. This includes yours. Start by letting God love you first. Let him show you what real love is. Our world has distorted what love is and made it about a “feeling”, but the love God has, is so much deeper than that. But the choice is yours. If you choose to let him love you, this love will transform you and every life you cross.
I know I know, it’s about time for another update We have finally moved out of Florida after spending 3 months this winter bouncing around different campgrounds and RV parks. There were many awesome things that occurred this winter, but towards the end we started realizing just how much more important it is to teach others about who they are in Christ and empower them, so they can go and do the same.
We often pray for people and would see God either heal them or touch their hearts, sometimes to the point of tears. But then it stopped. We would pray and nothing would happen. God began pressing on Joe to teach them about their identity in Christ and who Christ has called us to be. As he did this, he would tell them to go home and pray because as a believer in Jesus Christ, they had the same Holy Spirit. It was amazing to hear the testimonies, days later, of how they did this and the pain left. One gentleman when he prayed for himself off and on for a few hours was completely healed of TMJ. His daughter suffered from night terrors and one night she was being tormented by one. He went to her and used his newly understood authority and commanded the night terror to go. She fell right back asleep and last I heard, she hasn’t dealt with them since. We saw many other moves of God where people were healed and so excited.
As we moved back up the coast we stopped off in South Carolina at a little campground to visit with two families that happened to be passing through. One afternoon, Joe was standing outside talking to his friend. They saw a man who’s hands were shaking. Joe’s friend said, “let’s go pray for him”. This guy had gone inside his camper, but they both felt like they should go pray. So they went and knocked on the door and our friend asked the gentleman if he had the beginning of Parkinsons. This guy said he did. His friend asked if he could pray for him, but the guy declined, so they left him be. The next day, we were getting ready to leave and Joe saw this guy outside. Joe went over and talked to him a little about God and this man (in his 60s) said that his mom had always pushed a lot of rules when it came to God and religion and he didn’t want anything to do with it. Joe began to share with him that it wasn’t about the rules, but a loving father who just wants a relationship with him. As Joe shared, he said he could just see the walls coming down from this man. When he finished, Joe told the man that if he wanted prayer to just come let him know. This man said, “Go ahead and pray.” He was now smiling and Joe prayed for him. As we left the campground, this man gave us the biggest wave goodbye. It was just amazing to watch the love of God soften a mans heart, who had been hurt by religion so long ago.
We headed back to Nicholasville (our hometown) for a few weeks to visit with family, friends, and get a little rest and relaxation. Then we went up to Cincinnati. I got to visit with some family and some old friends. God did some great things in these visits and one of the biggest highlights for me was getting to hangout with my older brother again. It was such a blessing!
We then headed to Muncie, Indiana to watch Joe’s daughter graduate college. We hadn’t seen her in a while but we are excited for her. She is now married and expecting a beautiful baby in the fall. It was a wonderful time getting to spend with her and her husband.
After a whirlwind of visiting and watching God move in incredible ways, it felt like we hit a wall. We left Muncie with little to no money and trusting God, we went to a truck stop. We had been in this situation before and figured, He had us there for a reason. But as one night turned to another and another, I will be honest, we began to grow weary. God, why are we here? Did we miss it? We keep listening and it just felt like silence. Do we even hear from you? Its amazing how just a small bump in the road (ie…it doesn’t go how “WE” expect) and all he has done for us, seems to flee our memory. So Joe and I prayed one night and asked God where we were to go. Joe heard North. I saw a yellow truck and on the side was a “dollar general” sign. I was not feeling “spiritual” and to be honest, I was pretty depleted. So, on what little gas we had, we went about 20 miles north to Marion, Indiana. We pull into the truck stop and right away we see a dollar general truck. We started laughing. Well, then we saw another and another. It was crazy. So Joe looked up dollar general and found out their distribution center was about about a block away from this truck stop. LOL. So, we took it as a sign we were in the right place. We got out and walked around, but no doors opened for us to share with anyone. God, why are we here. Well, we ended up staying a total of 6 days bouncing from truck stop to truck stop. We went through a lot as a family. It started as peace, then turned to anger and frustration, then doubt and disbelief, then I just started seeing Gods hand in our lives. The kids were wonderful and Joe and I had many great talks and I think I finally let go of the reigns a little more to trusting Joe to really lead our family. I felt like I was in the wilderness and I was letting myself get tossed in the waves which is the exact opposite of what God tells us to do. On the 5th day, I felt like we had come full circle and began to focus back on the Lord and joy in all we did have, not what we didn’t. Joe had felt God lead him to talk to a trucker next to us and we finally felt at peace with whatever God wanted to do. It was a growing time in our relationship with the Lord for sure.
Well, we found a campground just a little ways away that had a discount for 2 nights. We felt like we should go to do some laundry, pop the slides out, and just stretch for a couple days. Joe had prayed and felt like God was going to bring something to us. So we went to this campground and as we checked in, I struck up a conversation with the owner. She was so sweet and she asked what we did. I told her a little about our story and she asked what Joe used to do. I told her surveillance cameras. Her eyes lit up and asked if Joe would want to help them put in some cameras around their place in exchange for extra days. I told her he wouldn’t mind helping. It’s just so cool how God brings things like this. It reminded me of Paul when he helped that family as a tent maker for a while because that was his trade before (Acts 18). They have since let us stay here for the past week and are letting us stay through Memorial Day weekend. Its humbling to see their generosity. Joe has been helping around here and we have had some amazing conversations with people in the campground.
Just the other day, Joe was fixing our slide. We found out there was water damage. So we stripped it all down. We had gotten to know our neighbors. They had their grand-daughter with them and God had given me some words of encouragement for her. She had left that next day so I gave them to the grandparents. They left that next morning and we went out to the car to go get some plywood and they had wrapped some money around our windshield wiper. It was just what we needed for the plywood, caulk, and a few groceries. It was an amazing blessing and it just blows my mind, how even when we go through periods of doubt, God is still there and continues to lead us and grow us.
I share all these stories as encouragement of what God does when we step out in our relationship with Him. But the truth is, the cord that weaves all these stories together is a RELATIONSHIP with God. This is the basis for everything and the simplicity of the Gospel. This was the whole purpose of Jesus coming to earth and dying on the cross. Not to give us a bunch of rules to follow or doctorines to keep or theologies to develop, but to restore a relationship between us and our Father through love! Sometimes we get so caught up in our ideas of what scriptures mean and Christians divide themselves with their ideas and use their ideas to condemn, separate, and bash those we are to love. We set ourselves up on our Christian pedestals of pride and arrogance instead of humbling ourselves at the feet of those around us. Love breaks down walls and it removes fear, God IS Love. It’s through this relationship with God that we can have peace and know who He is, so we can establish our identity in Him and who he says we are.
I have been asked several times on this journey these last few months, how do you know what you are called to? People are seeking purpose and its so simple. Focus on your relationship with the Father, period. This is what Christ died for, so it’s the most important thing. Once our relationship is established, then we can tell others, then we can know who we are in Him. From this place, we can do as He wants because we learn to be lead by Him and learn to hear His voice. He promises to lead us as we seek Him. So the rest will fall into place.
Then next question we get is, How do you have a relationship with God? My question back is, how did you form a relationship with your spouse? You spend time with them. You read the bible to get to know Christ’s heart. Who He said He is and who He says You are. I always loved to journal, I could write down my thoughts and ask God questions. Then I would just write whatever came to mind. He began to speak to me through this. Pray through out your day just talking to Him like you would a friend. But the key is time. The more time you spend with someone the more you begin to know how they would respond to situations. You begin to take on attributes of those you spend time with and this is true with God. Everything will begin to flow from this relationship as His truth gets established in your heart. You begin to trust Him in what He says and your faith in Him grows. We don’t need faith in different areas of our lives, we just need to have faith in Him, that HE IS WHO HE SAYS HE IS! You will begin to see your prayers answered and you will begin to know His voice. It becomes so freeing. But like you, I am still growing in this relationship and from my stories above you can see I am still not in perfect unison with Him and still struggle. But its ok as long as we learn from it and let him teach us through those struggles. So be encouraged! It’s the Love of God that draws a man to repentance. So let him establish his love in you and sit back and watch how he begins to flow freely through you to touch lives and break down walls in all of your relationships!
A Month of Provision!
Another month has flown by, but it has been powerful and also full of trials. We have learned to live in the moment and not worry about tomorrow. To trust even when situations look tough. We found a little campground just outside of St. Augustine with the intent of staying a week. As we pulled in we trusted our hearts and decided to stay a month. We had some wonderful neighbors and a great park owner.
This entire month has been one of learning to rest and trust in Gods provision. We met some wonderful families and people. We have never asked anyone for anything and we are learning to lean on the Lord and go to him with all our needs and God continues to show up. Before we left for St. Augustine, God provided for us, enough to pay our bills and pay for the next months campsite. We enjoyed visiting the beaches and the area around the campground. We saw Christmas lights and visited forts and preserves. There was a wonderful man who came by and started asking about our truck. We got to share with him and encourage him. But he also encouraged us a lot. After our conversation, he left and God put it on my heart to give him some money (there is a point to me telling you this, so hang tight). He was leaving the campsite and wasn’t going to return for a few weeks.
We then met another guy who became a great friend also. We had some great conversations and he blessed us with oranges from his moms orange tree and even brought the kids some Christmas presents. Toward the end of the month, Joe was helping him with his camper and he couldn’t raise his arm above his shoulder without pain. So Joe asked if he could pray and he said sure. His shoulder was healed right then and he was amazed. God was so faithful. He began sharing it with everyone.
Joe also had been struggling for a while with pain in his shoulder. We had prayed, but hadn’t seen anything happen. But one night, I just prayed for the pain to leave and it moved down his arm. I prayed again and he said it left. He hasn’t had any pain since. Which is so awesome! God just moves and its fun to watch. But you know, we had some trials also, that didn’t seem to move. The kids and Joe came down with a stomach virus, Reagan later got an ear infection, and then I got pink eye. So, I don’t understand why sometimes things move and sometimes they don’t, but this too is part of the walk. Learning to follow the Lord.
This was our first Christmas away from all family. But we knew God didn’t want us to go back for some reason. So we rested in that. But God knew this could be lonely, so he brought us a wonderful couple right across the street from our campsite. They immediately took us in and invited us out to eat, took us bike riding, and even made Christmas dinner and had us over. It was an amazing time and God used them in our lives to provide family.
Earlier in the month, Joe and I had each prayed and asked if there was anyway we could take the kids to Disney, it would be a blessing. I had no idea Joe prayed and he didn’t know I had prayed. We were down to a few dollars in the bank and a little gas. Then out of no where, Joe gets a call on a Sunday morning from a friend who asked what we were doing. He said they were in Disney and asked if we had ever been. They invited us down and said they would cover everything. We spent 3 days in a hotel, doing downtown Disney, going out to eat, MagicKingdom, swimming, and Sea World. They even blessed us with cash for gas and souveniers for the kids. We also got to meet his wonderful son and daughter in law and all their kids. The kids had a blast and we made some new blessings of friends.
Well, toward the end of the month, funds were getting very low, but God has really been working on our hearts and showing us in scripture how we are to take what is set before us and live in the now. We can’t worry about tomorrow or next week, we are trusting Him and he will lead us where he needs us. There is no agenda or ministry or church we are trying to build. We just want to follow him. We never take our needs to man and we always take it before the Lord. He is our provider and he has been showing us that provision is a grace just like healing and salvation. They are gifts from Him. So we were hanging out at our campsite with the first gentleman I mentioned (the one we gave some money to). He tells us that financially he was really fine and if we wanted out money back he would give it back to us. We told him no to keep it because God told us to give it to him. He said he was wanting to help us out somehow and that he was going to pay for our months rent, but since we gave him the money he felt we were fine. When he told me this all these fleshly things rose up in me…like, maybe I shouldn’t have given him the money….lol…but God quickly showed me He was in control and He had something else planned. You see when things like this happen, it shows our flesh and what we trully hope for and trust in…my heart was exposed that it was this gentleman. This was the reason God had me give him this money. God didn’t want him to provide for us at this time, so by doing this it stopped him. This also exposed my heart, which is always awesome because I don’t want that dependence and hope in anything but God.
At this time, we have $30 in the bank account and we are leaving in a few days. Joe gets a call from a friend who says you know, I have been praying and I have been wanting to send you money, but God keeps saying, “NO”. Then we are sitting at the fire with this gentleman again and he tells us he has been praying because he wanted to bless us, but God kept telling him, “NO”. But you know, an amazing peace came over me. I started seeing that God really was going to come through, I just didn’t know how.
It was time to leave, and we had some overage on our electric, so we had to pay $30…haha! So we hitch up, bank account at $0 and gas tank almost empty. Closest Pilot travel center to stay overnight is about $40 of gas to the Southwest. Zack had come up to us and said God told him we would go south. Joe got a text from a friend who said he saw us going west. So its funny because it was confirmation to go to that Pilot Station. The whole time I just had peace, God what are you going to do. This is a huge change from my past. But God had been coming through for us all month, from dinners, to oranges, to Disney, and extra cash. So as we are leaving another gentleman from the campground, we said bye too, hands us an envelope and in it is a nice note and $40! Crazy, right?! I know what you might be thinking…why not more….well, because if had received more, we wouldn’t have stopped where we did and God always has a reason for everything if we are following his lead then he gives us enough for the day (this is what we are learning right now).
So off we go to the Pilot station. We pull in but rather than be upset because we didn’t know where we were going, we have now realized that God puts us where He needs us and even if it’s a Pilot station, we will wait for God to come through. I began calling around at campsites to see how much they were for a month and for a day. I began making a list. We played with the kids and just hung out and spent the night. In the morning, Joe prayed that if we were here for someone, then have them pull up next to us. We were in the back corner away from all the other truckers. We still had no money and the kids were asking, “when are we going to the campsite?” We talked to them and told them that God would provide. We prayed as a family and Zack said, God told me to give you my money so we can get a campsite. My initial thought was, thanks buddy, but $1 and a bunch of change will help, but its not enough. But then God brought to mind the story of feeding the 5000 with the boys lunch of a loaf of bread and 2 fishes. So we thanked God as a family for what Zack brought to us and asked God to multiply it. But after some time nothing had happened and the temptation to use a credit card was pulling on me, but God kept telling me not to lean on my own understanding. To put my faith in the card and ask God to backfill was a temptation we had fallen into before, and I learned a big lesson. But when you are in a gas station and you need a place to stay, it is a huge temptation. I told Joe, it was not an option, so he cut up the card. I felt peace, if God has us on this journey, we will never ask for money from another, and we will not rely on anyone but God. He will come through when He needs to.
So, we make breakfast and after some difficulty moving the truck back and forth, one pulls in right next to us even though there were tons of empty spots and we were in a back corner. Later that day, Joe heard the gentleman get out of his truck. He went out and asked him if he would like some chili. He looked up surprised and said, yeah. Joe said he would heat it up and come let him know. He went back out and began talking to him. The guy began telling Joe all about his struggles with his family and Joe just began sharing with him and encouraging him. He prayed with him and he came in and ate chili with us. It was an awesome time of fellowship and encouragement. He came over for breakfast the next morning and it was a blessing. After he left, another friend called us up and said God told him to pay for a campground membership for us that will allow us to stay at their campgrounds for 2 weeks, then we have to stay out of their network for a week, but can come back for another 2 weeks after that. So praise God, we have some camping paid for! Then this trucker, comes back and hands us $200, we tell him to keep it, but he insisted. What a blessing. We filled our tank, got groceries, and now have a place to stay! God is so amazing!
The biggest lesson I have learned though this entire month, is that we spend so much time looking to the future, what we will do tomorrow, will we have enough money for tomorrow, etc….We must begin to live in the now. Take what is set before you today. If its not what YOU expect, then rest in the Lord because He has other plans. There is a peace I cannot describe that comes from trully looking at God alone as your provider. When things come though like this and you know that God is the only one who knew your needs, you can take no credit for the blessings. You know it was all 100% Gods work. This grows your faith and peace in tremendous ways. It’s the walk that settles The Truth in your heart. Be encouraged and if God is calling you out to do something for Him, just do it. Follow Him, He will not disappoint you or leave you hanging even when things look tough. Go on your journey, you will be amazed at what He will show you and the lives that will be transformed!
I know it’s been a while since my last post, but I hadn’t felt a release to write. A lot has happened in the last (almost) 40 days. We have been close to running out of gas, low on funds, we have seen relationships restored, people brought back to God, healings, and also a lot of quiet prayer time, as if we have been out in the wilderness. But regardless of our circumstances, we have realized that God will come through even if its not the way we think He should or in the way we are “believing” for. God is a God of the miraculous and we have testimonies of things we have seen God do, so I can’t deny this, but He is also one that pursues our hearts. God wants our motives pure and a relationship with each of us. So as I asked what I should share. And rather than share all the stories in detail, I have felt as if God wanted me to share my heart and what I have been challenged with.
As we pulled into South Carolina, we had just been though a huge trial. We were very low on gas and almost out of money. We had been seeking the Father and learning about grace and faith and how the two were tied together. We were believing for the miraculous, God to fill the tank with gas and the needle to just jump. But when that didn’t happen in that way, we were a little shook up and needless to say doubt, questions, etc began to flood our hearts. But through a series of events, God provided in great ways. As we pulled into our destination in South Carolina, we began looking inward and asking God to reveal to us what was going on. He showed us that this journey is again about REST. He exposed our hearts in how when something didn’t happen the way WE expected, doubt flew to the surface. This trial exposed some hidden doubt I didn’t realize was there, but God did. He wants more than anything to see us sanctified as we go, because this is sometimes the only way the “guck” comes to the surface, but we have to be willing to let God show us what that “guck” is so we can let Him take it from us. But God showed us how He did provide. This taught me a lot. Because I started to see that true “faith” IS “Rest”. I relax because I know the father and regardless of our circumstances and what it looks like, He will come through. I “let go”.
So after all of this, God told us to WAIT. Someone offered to pay for a months stay here in South Carolina and so we took that as confirmation to WAIT. This is where we have been. God has done some amazing things and we have made some wonderful new friends that have kids and travel too. We have been having fun, campfires, clamming, riding bikes, talking to people from various parts of the world, but most importantly, we have had some wonderful quiet times with the Lord. But at times, it feels as if He has been silent. This silence makes me anxious, because of the feeling I need to be “doing”. But it is about REST. One night, I was praying, because I just felt like I was reading the bible searching for something, but I didn’t know what that something was or what to even look at. So I put the bible down and just said, “God, you have been teaching us a lot about grace, faith, and rest, but something is missing.” The next thing I heard was “humbleness”. Wow, a light bulb went on in my head. I began finding all the scriptures on being humble, meekness, and lowering ourselves. Rather than “teach” on this, I encourage any of you as God leads to look these scriptures up and see what God shows you. The more we get ourselves out of the way, the more God can flow through us. Less of us, MORE of Him…This is faith, totally put our life and all we do, in Him. You see, I thought I “had faith”, I thought if I believe enough, or say all the right things then things will happen. But what I am finding is it really is relational. Its trusting him even through the trials, because it exposes our weaknesses so He can remove them. Before, if a trial came, I questioned my “faith”. Now I see my hidden pride, weaknesses, and as He takes them away, we become transformed and our hearts purified. Its beautiful.
So, we leave on November 26th, and where too, I don’t know yet. But I know God will direct us and continue to transform us which will reflect into those we meet. I am excited!