Friday, July 23, 2010

God Adventures

Josh and I have been in a season in our lives of what almost seems like continual fasting. God has just called us to fast like never before. At the beginning of the year we fasted together for 21 days seeking God's will and provision in a variety of areas, but particularly for our church and ministry. We were blown away at the way God answered prayers and the way He spoke to our hearts during that time.

When I'm on a fast, I love to go back to Isaiah 58 and study what true fasting is. Listen to what verse 7 says, "Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter...?" The first time this verse really hit home with me was over a year ago when I was on a 3 day total fast. I realized that I was missing the mark in this area. I was doing without food, but I wasn't meeting the needs of anyone else. So I began to pray and ask the Lord to show me who to help during times I am fasting. I began a fast about 2 weeks ago, and it was amazing to me the opportunities that came to "feed the hungry." Something I learned was that I didn't have to go search for a homeless person to feed. Feeding the hungry may mean picking up a college student's ticket when we are out with a group. It may mean just sharing leftover soup with friends who might need the help with their groceries that week. If I can say this without sounding trite, I was impressed by God. I was really impressed. Every time I turned around there was someone that I could sense had a need that I could meet by giving them the food I couldn't eat. What's even more amazing is for every time I gave a meal away, I found myself blessed in some way with a meal that was even appropriate for the Daniel fast.

Well, I don't want to take too long there even though I could talk a while about God's provision, because I really want to share this story about a woman God led to me while fasting. I had gone to the LSU hospital to visit Ashleigh. When I left, I thought I would try a different route home. I barely stopped at a traffic light when an elderly black woman approached my van a little too agressively for my comfort level. With my 1 and 3 year old in the back seat, I cautiously roll down the window to see what she needs. She proceeds to beg for help, tells me her son is in prison, and she has no one to help her. As the light is turning green, cars are impatient behind me, and I'm explaining to her that all I have is a checkbook, she asks for me to take her to Burger King. Against my better judgment (from my earthly perspective) I unlock the van and let her in. On our way to Burger King, she tells me "I don't like no Burger King. That's all they ever want to give me is that ole Burger King. I wish I could have me some chicken. I don't like them ole burgers." So, I resolve to take her to Raising Cane's. In my spirit, I'm asking God if I've done the right thing. It's one of those moments when I'm wondering God is this you, or did I just pull something really crazy! A part of me wants to be the hands of feet of Jesus, while a part of me isn't sure if she has a gun in her purse, or an angry relative hiding out somewhere to do harm. Ever been there?

After we went through the drive thru at Cane's, she needed to go in a liqour store to pay money she owed. Once again, against my better (earthly) judgement I dropped her off and pulled as close to the street as I could get to wait for her. While she was in the store, Kylee asked, "Mommy, what are we doing?" I got to tell my little girl we were being Jesus for someone who needed him. When she walked out of the liqour store, she didn't find our van at first since I had pulled up a little. I still had her food sitting in my front seat. I watched as she frantically searched and asked a couple of people and then resolved with, "Well, I guess she must of left." It was as if her life depended on my being there with that simple meal of chicken, bread, & fries. My heart sank for the woman, but mainly it sank because all I could think of earlier was the safety of my family. Jesus simply asked me to be his hands and feet. I simply rolled down the passenger window and yelled out, "Ma'am.." Her entire countenance lifted and she got so excited that I hadn't driven off; that she was valuable enough for some complete stranger to take the time to wait to drive her home. When we got to her place, she stopped before getting out, and thanked me as if I had saved her very life. She held my hand, and prayed this simple prayer: "Now Lord, you know I got the problem with the liqour Lord. But you sent this woman. This young, pretty, white woman to buy my lunch today. And I thank ya Lord. Amen."

Needless to say, I didn't take that alternative route home. I decided to go interstate. Even though I was trembling from relief that nothing went terribly wrong, my heart was so glad I was sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit and didn't turn that precious woman away. I got to tell her that God loves her. Really loves her. And I pray that she walked into her house that day with a new sense of value.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Happy 85th Birthday, "Grandma!"

One of the most unique aspects of visiting the Apache reservation is getting to visit with Grandma. Grandma is Pastor Robert's (the missionary) mother. Everyone on the reservation calls her Grandma because she always gives toys away to children. This week is really special in Grandma's life because she turns 85! So "Happy Birthday, Grandma" via the internet!

Grandma sits on her front porch each day ready to talk with anyone who has the time to sit and chat. She is so full of God's Word, His love, and wisdom, you leave so ecnouraged after talking with her. What is more amazing than even that is her whit! For an 85 year old, she doesn't miss a beat and can connect with teens like there is no age gap at all! She is an incredible woman of God, and we truly miss her!

This year was especially unique because Grandma taught the girls on the team how to make homemade tortillas while the guys were camping in the mountains. We had a blast in her kitchen that day!

Grandma and the girls

Becky learning to cook a tortilla

Kylee enjoying the fruit of our labor

Virginia with her beautiful tortilla

The girls ready to flatten their dough

Jeannie & Grandma

Derek & Grandma
This was after she showed off her talent to play the tamborine.
Grandma can play like no one else!

Grandma's fame after her debut!

Jill & Grandma

Our last night on the Rez!

When you think of the Apaches, and lift them up in prayer, remember Grandma as well! Pray the Lord encourages and strengthens her, blesses her and fills her with His peace!

Happy Birthday, Grandma!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A Few More Pictures

We couldn't bare to leave out these pictures from our last post! Hope you enjoy!

Kylee falling

Proof that they really do love each other!

Can you see that Louisiana humidity in their little faces?

Boston dragging sand from the sand & water table



Cherishing the Moments

Since we've been back from Arizona, we've taken some time to enjoy our girls, celebrate my 29th birthday, and yes, even bring a new little puppy into our home named Boston. We are so thankful for the treasures God has given us in each other, good health, precious children, and now even a puppy. At times life can be stressful and overwhelming. It's in those times that it's so important to step back and treasure the gifts God has given us! So, with these pictures we share with you our grateful heart of God's goodness in our lives.

These girls love their daddy!
Kylee in her car seat on our way to Chick-Fil-A Kids' Night
Kylee with her friend Emery
They made cow hats... too cute!

Meet Boston

He's about 2 months old and sweet as can be.
Our whole family is in love with him.

He fits right in with the girls!

Pure Delight!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Sharing Love, Hugs, and God's Presence

One of the neatest things about a mission trip is seeing students openly pray with complete strangers with the the faith that God is going to do a restoring work in their lives. Every church service we had was packed out with people, and God's presence was so real and overwhelming. We've posted a few pictures below to give you a little bit of an idea of what we experienced. Hope you enjoy!

Students praying with students

Chad and Randy praying with a man who visited the Sunday night outdoor service

Praying for the precious babies

Students pray with an Apache woman in the parking lot

Creating an altar outdoors surrounded by God's incredible creation

Students praying with the Apache people

Outdoor service in the parking lot on Sunday night

Students sharing life testimonies

It was amazing to watch the sunset over the mountain while we worshipped

These were the cars that pulled in from the highway to listen to what was being preached.

Woshipping in the parking lot

Students were drawn closer to God

We had four students filled with the Holy Spirit while sharing about Jesus to the Apache people.
There are several who are still seeking this gift, & growing in their relationship with God with each passing day.

Two Apache women trusting in God's Word

Our team worshipping on Sunday morning

I think this is what God sees as beautiful!

Students praying with "Grandma"

Joe preached a timely word on Wednesday night to the youth.
Good job, Joe!

Monday, July 5, 2010

So Much to Celebrate

We hope everyone enjoyed a wonderful 4th of July holiday this weekend. Yesterday we celebrated with our church family. It was so good to be with everyone again after our week and a half long mission trip. Several students who attended the trip shared stories of things they saw God do throughout the trip. It's our prayer that God used that to really solidify in them the things He spoke into their life during that week and a half. After service? One big family dinner with smoked chicken and sausage, baked beans and potato salad. And, oh the desserts! Then, Sunday night? Fireworks and swimming with the girls!

As I ponder over how much we have to celebrate and be thankful for, I can't help but reflect our times we've shared at the Grand Canyon. We spent our honeymoon there, vacationed there, and taken several mission teams there at the conclusion of our time on the Apache Reservation. This year was especially memorable, even though brief, because our little girls got to really experience it.

I've learned to really cherish the Fourth of July holiday, because I become increasingly sensitive to the fact that our freedom could be taken away. Then when I think on the largeness of the Grand Canyon I am reminded of Psalm 125:1-2. "Those who turst in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever." This fourth, I'm not just celebrating my American freedom, but the fact that when my security is in the Lord my God, I do not have to fall apart when it seems as though my world does. I can trust in the One who created it. So can you!
Aubrey, Kylee, & Hannah overlooking the Grand Canyon
Kylee & Hannah
Can you tell they were big buds?

Kylee & Hannah
Kylee finally poses for me!

Well, this one's just for kicks!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Finding Ministry in Laundry

It's 11:30 on a Saturday night with Sunday and 4th of July Celebrations full force ahead, I'll keep tonight's post brief, but I do want to share about a man we were able to encourage while we were catching up on some laundry during our trip.
His name is Bill, and he owns the laundry mat in Whiteriver. Notice I said, THE laundry mat in that small dot on the map. He was curious as to who we were and why we were there. As Lauren and I got to share with him, he began to pour out his heart of God's goodness and faithfulness even while Christians on the reservation are under persecution. Many are continually losing their jobs and unable to obtain jobs. He's owned and managed his small business for decades now, and his job became threatened. Keep in mind that the systems work differently on the reservation than they do elsewhere in the U.S. To make a long story short, instead of his position being terminated, he not only was able to maintain his business, but the admistrators there ended up paying him money! It was so encouraging to listen to his faith. We asked if we could take his picture so we would not forget him, but rather that we would continually lift him up in prayer. He gladly complied and asked that we would not just pray for him, but for his family as well. So if you read this post, and see this picture, take a moment right where you are, and lift him and his family before God. He and his wife are raising grandchildren because their children are not serving God. God's promise of salvation and abundant life is not just for us as individuals, but for our families! Believe with us for this precious man's family! Even though you may never meeet him on this side of eternity, your prayers can be the difference in eternal life or death for not only his children, but the people he has influence with on the reservation who still need the saving power of Jesus Christ!