Monday, June 30, 2008

A Lesson Learned...

I quickly dotted the tears from my eyes before they made their dramatic exit in an effort to avoid any of the other mom’s noticing my little break down during my sons swimming lesson. I figured the swimming lessons would be a great idea for Josiah to build up his confidence in the water and have something to focus on before we leave for Thailand. It’s been great for him…he’s doing great and it’s the best $25 dollars I’ve spent on him here! But not only has it been great for him but it has been great for me…

Little did I know that this hour every day would affect me so much. It began when I started reading “Redeeming Love” by Francine Rivers - WOW! I had two friends that just sold this book to me and once I finally picked it up to start it I was completely…HOOK LINE AND SINKER -- HOOKED. I have to say it’s right up there with Frank Peretti’s “This Present Darkness”. I could not put that book down and I finished it in 3 days and that is saying A LOT considering I still had to maintain my house and take care of my children. I highly recommend you reading this book…it will bring you face to face with the love that God has for you in a way so clear it hurts.

Anyway, I was given a book called “Living Beyond the Possible - Trusting God with your finances and your future” by my father-in-law, Curry. We were talking about God and I brought up finances and how God had provided for us yet again to purchase our tickets and how amazed I was and how amazed I was that I‘m amazed that God provided yet again when he has never failed. Curry was sharing about how God has blessed him and didn’t deserve it and we were both just kind of basking in God’s goodness and then later on that night he handed me this book.

My father-in-law is great at that by the way…I can count several times when we’ve had a conversation and within a day or so he hands me a book that has to do with what we’ve talked about. It’s like his own little way of ministering to me. I think books move him so much that that’s a way he feels like he can bless me and boy did he this time. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this book. When I looked it over I said to myself “we’ve SO got this believing God and trusting God thing down Curry but I’ll give it a read…”.

Boy was I wrong. You guys, I was sitting at that pool today repenting for my selfish attitude. God clearly said to me today "Freely you receive, freely you must give"...for the whole 4 years that God has been meeting our needs and taking care of us I've always felt like a beggar.

I've felt bad when people give to us as if I was doing something wrong or that I needed to do something to make up for it. There were other issues for that from my past but one thing that God showed me today is that through all these years we could have pleased him all the more if when we were given something for free we would give it away for free. We did sometimes but usually it went something like this: Example - all the clothes that we were given for Jossalyn are way more than we will ever what was my bright idea? I was gonna take them to a consignment shop and sell them to get some money to buy things we need. God spoke and told me "Freely you receive, freely you must give".
The motorcycle that was given to us here in was given to us...what did we do...we sold it so that we could have money toward a car in Thailand. It sounds like the smart thing to do...most people wouldn’t find any fault in that…and I know that God does that sometimes (gives you something so that you can sell it and have money) but he's teaching me a lesson. He told me that it should be a matter of prayer "if we CAN sell what we have been given" instead of it being a matter of prayer “if we should just give it away“. Giving it away should be the standard to continue the blessing on instead of it being the road less traveled.
Boy have I missed it. It's like I've been living in protective selfish mode...John always thinks of that kind of stuff and I'm the one who reminds him to "be smart". How shameful! I am just so humbled by God and how he has blessed us and I'm humbled by the understanding that I missed out on blessing other people by thinking I have to make a way on my own and I CAN'T BELIEVE I'VE BEEN SO SELFISH and NEEDY when I've been so blessed.

There I was thinking that we had this whole "all we have for God" heart and I was still holding on trying to take care of us by my own means instead of doing unto others as God has done unto me. As if he’s not going to provide a way for a baby monitor (what I wanted to sell Jossalyn’s extra clothes for) and as if he’s not going to provide some form of transportation for us when we need it while in Thailand! He is the ultimate example! PRAISE THE LORD! I'm so encouraged!
Man...I had giving away things and not being attached to things but was deceived into thinking I was trusting God with everything. As soon as we had something to sell then I did and thought nothing of giving from the money I received from selling the item. I always praise God for the free item...but never considered what God would want me to do with the money I received from selling the item or if he wanted me to sell it…or give it away.

Wayne Myers says it so well...I have been grasping...

"If you want to be poor, hoard. If you want to be needy,
grasp. But if you want
an abundance, scatter - after all, we only own what
we give away. If you can't
release it, it owns you and is opposite of the
way of the Kingdom of God, which
is to live with an open heart and an open
hand. I've never been blessed by a
hoarding, selfish Christian, have you?
Neither has God." Another quote from the
book: "Faith that costs nothing and
risks nothing is worth nothing. If you try
to always play it safe, if you're
afraid God is going to let you paint yourself
into a will never
see God's miracle-working power for you

I don’t know about you friend but I want to see God’s miracle working power PERSONALLY! I want to share another excerpt:
“ Martha and I were honored to share in the Heins’ ministry to these Africans who had survived drought and national chaos and still held on to their faith in God. I knew that the message I had shared in some of the wealthiest churches in the United States , Australia, South America, Europe and Asia had the power to change the lives of those poverty-sticken, war-ravaged believers. But I needed courage - how could I tell such poor people to give?

I was looking into the eyes of some of the most desperate people in the world. But someone had to tell them that God’s irrefutable laws would work for them just as it would for their fat, wealthy American brother. I shared the scriptures with them and challenged them to think of others.

“all of us can give something,” I admonished them. “If all you have is a handful of peanuts, share a little with your neighbor, help someone lift their load, carry water for the older grandmother.”
Suddenly there was a commotion in the crowd. I could hear the sounds but couldn’t see what was causing everyone’s attention to be drawn to the back of the crowd. I stopped speaking and asked Martha if she knew what was happening.

“It’s Debbie, the Heins’ nine-year-old daughter,” she told me. “She’s taken off her shoes and is trying them on the African children’s feet, trying to find a fit so she can give them away.” Debbie’s instant response to the message was no doubt registered in heaven as one of the quickest acts of obedience on earth. Her simple childlike innocence resoned that she had something that her poor, barefooted friends needed, and so she gave what she had.

Her unselfish act was the perfect illustration for my sermon. That nine-year-old’s spontaneous reaction that day is to me what giving is all about. She didn’t have to weigh the pros and cons of giving up her shoes, nor was she concerned that she would be barefoot for the remaining days of our time at the border. Debbie didn’t ask her parents if they would buy her another pair before she shared her own with an African girl who needed them. It was a gift from her heart.”

Isn’t that incredible? I just love that story and his book is filled of moving stories of people giving from their heart when their physical means say that they have nothing to give or they would be idiots to give what they felt they should give.

I want to share one more excerpt from when he was talking about the widow that took care of Elijah even though she had but enough bread to feed herself and her son before they were surely going to die of starvation. In strolls Elijah and tells her…AFTER SHE’S TOLD HIM THAT SHE IS RETURNING HOME TO PREPARE THEIR LAST MEAL BEFORE DEATH…make me a small cake of bread FIRST and then go home and make the rest for you and your son! Can you imagine? Would you do this?

Here is the excerpt:

“Elijah’s principles of giving will work for you and me today:
1) Refuse the fear that says you will go without if you give
2) Put God’s needs before your own
3) Step out by faith in obedience to what He told you to do.

Why would God ask a poor, starving widow to take care of someone else’s need before her own? The same reason He asks us to support the missionary, feed an orphan, or supply Bibles in a foreign land…because He wants us to experience the kingdom of God advancing in the world through our personal lives. We are always the winner, never the loser, for following the formula for giving laid out in the Bible.

Did you notice that the prophet didn’t ask the widow to feed the whole village…or build a church…or buy a new chariot for him? God always starts with what we have. For that widow making on little bread-cake took all the faith she had and that’s what God wanted from her.”
OK last quote and it’s a doozie: “Let me encourage you to stop telling God how big your mountain is, and start telling your mountain how big your God is.”

I am so humbled by this book. I had this idea that I knew what it meant to give all for God but here I was grasping and that’s what kept me in that constant conflict in my heart. I knew in my spirit that I was still grasping. When I had the opportunity to give and bless others I with held…sometimes knowingly and sometimes just out of habit…either way it’s unacceptable.

I am so grateful to a God that gives and gives and gives to those who put their trust in Him. I praise God that because of my own selfishness he did not hold back from meeting our needs and blessing us beyond our needs. I pray that you too will ask God how you can bless those around you and let go of any things that you might have, or that might have you and go get these two books!
"Money is an instrument that can buy you everything but happiness
and pay your fare to everywhere BUT heaven..."
I thought this was hilarious so I had to had this...on a lighter note...

Monday, June 23, 2008

Wedding Dress...

So...I am a huge Caedmon's Call fan although I haven't heard like 11 of their what...13 albums but I loved and spiritually grew up on some of them. When I was just learning to walk as a Christian their songs encouraged me and drew me closer to my Savior...and helped me through the rough times because they sang of their hard times and how the Lord brought them through them.

I was catching up on their new works and I came across this song called "Wedding Dress" and well...just listen and I'd like to do something I've never done on here before...listen and I'd like for you to tell me what you think of this song...What does it mean to you and do you like it? Leave a comment...I have my own opinions, which I'll share later but I'd like to see what you guys think of this.

Here are the lyrics:
If you could love me as a wife
and for my wedding gift, your life
Should that be all I'd ever need
or is there more I'm looking for
and should I read between the lines and look for blessings in disguise
To make me handsome, rich, and wise
Is that really what you want
I am a whore I do confess
But I put you on just like a wedding dress
and I run down the aisle
and I run down the aisle

I'm a prodigal with no way home
but I put you on just like a ring of gold
and I run down the aisle to you

So could you love this bastard child
Though I don't trust you to provide
With one hand in a pot of gold and with the other in your side
I am so easily satisfied by the call of lovers so less wild
That I would take a little cash

Over your very flesh and blood
Because money cannot buy a husband's jealous eye
When you have knowingly deceived his wife

Sunday, June 22, 2008

July 17th!!!!

After I hung up the phone and pushed close on the screen on my computer I felt something rise up from my gut and it just kept on rising until it came out of my mouth as a high pitched squeel! I had just purchased our tickets back to Thailand for July 17th and I could hardly contain myself.
I ran to John and told him…and about 30 minutes later I came up to him again doing a little dance “We’ve got our tickets…we’ve got our tickets…” Oh man, it feels so good. The previous 3 weeks before purchasing the tickets I was really under some serious anxiousness.

All I could think about was…bye bye wonderful smelling clothes (no dryer), bye bye biscuits (bye bye fast easy breakfast for that matter), oh the HEAT…ugg…and Jossalyn with red hair…we’ll have to work double hard to fight the Thai’s off! LOL! (they love to oogle our kids and it’s a great open door but sometimes it’s hard…on us and the kids), I kept thinking…bye bye blue bell ice cream…

And saying goodbye…OUCH…I only thought about that once and I pushed that far from my mind. But after it was done and the tickets are ours and the money was spent I was shocked at the pure childish joy that rose up in me. It’s like the enemy just wanted me to focus on the hard things and the things I would miss instead of remembering the joy that I find in being in Thailand.

He didn’t want me to remember my love for the Thai people and how much I love doing what the Lord has told us to do. Nor did he want me to remember he easy it was for us to adjust to the weather and that it’s not so bad after a week or two and that 90% of the time I LOVE it when the Thai people stop me and my children and we’re surrounded by them asking all sorts of questions.

He didn’t want me to remember how much I love the people we work with or the incredible food that I miss so much…he just wanted me to walk in sorrow in hopes that I would not want to return but boy did he underestimate the hold that our God has on our hearts.

The enemy is so tricky…I wonder why I listened and focused on all that stuff instead of telling him where to go. I suppose I just didn’t notice it - isn’t that a shame? If you are reading right now make sure you aren’t letting the devil steal your joy. If you are living where you are supposed to and doing what God has told you to do then hold on to your joy and keep your eyes fixed on heaven. Remember what is real and what is good…remember the love that God has for you and that he has plans to prosper you according to His will.

So it’s official…we’re heading back July 17th and we are both so excited! We’re waiting on Josiah’s new passport to come back and then we can apply for our visas and we will be all set! God is doing awesome things and allowing us to meet some awesome people and we are so encouraged. Please keep praying for us and please make contact before we leave! I’ll be updating the blog with some random craziness relating what it’s like getting ready to leave again.

May you be blessed!!!
Here's some pics of my babies...

Friday, June 13, 2008

Freed...once again...

Today John and I laid on the bed with our new little girl between us and the door bell rang. John got up and it was Joy from FBC Whitesboro bringing over a check from the “Biscuits for Thailand” that they held for us at their church this last Sunday evening. He returned and opened the check…he handed me a check for almost $1,200 dollars…I just stared at it for a little while…jaw gapping and thanked God. We had no idea that we would be receiving so much…but it was just what we needed.

Then my thoughts went on to my to do list for the day which now included getting this money into our bank account. Then I realized that after I deposit this check we will have $4,000 dollars in our bank account. Why in the world and I’m I talking about how much money we have in our bank account?…well, just keep reading. I sat there and thought about the fact that we’ve never had that much money sitting in our bank account before and how nice it would feel if the money wasn’t just going to be gone in a few days.

My mind whirled at the thought of having all that money to spend on whatever we wanted…some nice new clothes…new shoes for the boys and some cool new toys…fancy…really girly dresses for Jossalyn…good glasses and dental work for John…a shopping spree in LifeWay…all the books my heart desires! My mind wondered and it wondered. And then I woke up to the reality that this money was going straight for our tickets to return to Thailand and our visas…which would take the whole amount and a bit more.

Then a feeling rushed over me…an awesome feeling. I was taken back to our garage sale before we left for Thailand and a lady had my beautiful comforter in her hands asking me to sell it to her for $10 dollars…she didn’t know I had saved and saved to buy that comforter and it meant the world to me and I thought I would have it for years to come. She didn’t know that it was one of my most favorite things…and as she tried to bargain and talk me down I felt this same feeling as I took her horrible offer. My heart was freed…

Freed from needing anything beyond my Lord and His will for my life. I was also reminded of when we left our car behind to be sold for whatever they could get for it even though we were only about half a year from having it paid off and oh how we had struggled to keep that car for 4 years!! That payment was a thorn in our side but we fought hard and kept that car…knowing that one day it would be paid off and all ours. But…once again my heart was freed and I still remember the moment when I took one last look at my car that had become so much a part of who I was (sounds silly doesn’t it?)

Here I sat on the bed…freed. My heart sang “All for you my beloved God…all for you…” (As if I had done anything to bring in the money in that check…it came by the hand of the Lord anyway- but the one thing I can give my God is my life, my dreams and my desires and surrender them to Him)

I let go of the feelings that had been rising inside me…all of my wants and my dreams of an American life and all of it’s perks. I let go of the want to control our income and not have to trust God. And boy did it feel good! I can’t tell you how good it feels to know that my life is not in my hands…and the Lord loves me enough to care and have these plans for us. What an awesome God you are and how honored I am to know you and serve you!

Sunday, June 08, 2008

We're headed to Yala!

Recently the days seem to be slipping through my fingers. A week passes by so fast it feels as though we're living in fastforward! I believe we're finally in the groove of being a 5 person family...the boys LOVE their new sister and she is a wonderful baby.

We spent all day today at church and I can't tell you how blessed I feel. The people of First Baptist Church in Whitesboro have been so kind to let us stay in their missions house and today they poured out their love on us through encouraging words and prayer. It was awesome - we were able to share our video with both services and I was able to speak to the youth. After the evening service they held a "Biscuits for Thailand". I had never heard of a "Biscuits" for anything before but apparently it's a pretty normal thing that is done to raise money for things.

So after service we all gathered in their gymnasium and ate delicious homemade biscuits and gravy with bacon. It was such an awesome time of fellowship - It's going to be very hard to leave this time. I mean, it was hard last time...I still remember my eyes feeling like sandpaper and being as red as possible when we left last time and I can only expect it to be the same or worse this time.

No matter how at peace we are with what God has in store for us and how glad we are to be returning to Thailand...nothing can take away the sting and ache of seperating from family and friends each time. I have a feeling this time it's going to be a bit harder simply because we've been here longer this time.

I am so glad to finally get to give you the low down on what's going on. God has given us some really clear changes in what he has us doing in Thailand. Through a series of events and incredible confirmations God has shown us that we are going to be moving further south to Yala. Why is this significant? Well, as I've written before, the 3 southernmost provinces of Thailand are plagued by a Muslim insurgency and there is a desperate need for the word of God there.

More than 2,000 people have died in the provinces bordering Malaysia since the insurgency erupted in 2004, some say it is fuelled by accusations of decades of misrule by the central government. The insurgents have not announced their goals, but are believed to be fighting for a separate state imbued with radical Islamic ideology. The police believe that the attacks are planned to cause division and create fear among the people. They want to show that they are capable of carrying out attacks and it is rumoured that the insurgence are trying to get people to leave and sell their land cheap so that they could buy it.
The most recent bombing was June 4th of this year. Click here to read about it. We will no longer be working with our team: The Garsees and the Stubenrauchs on a daily basis. They are still like family to us but God is sending us in different directions. God has shifted their main focus on to serving the local churches and they are going to continue on doing the awesome work they are doing and growing up the believers in the church that was planted in Baan Phrut and helping churches from the surrounding areas with their needs. We will be now joining with the extended part of our team that used to live in Baan Nam Khem and keeping our main focus on reaching out to villages and spreading the gospel.

I have written about them before...they are incredible people. There are two families but are actually one. There is Todd and Renee Pruett and Trent and Amy Pruett. God put it on their hearts to reach out into Southern Thailand where there are few missionaries and even fewer churches. This part of Thailand is heavily populated with Thai Muslims and there is even a whole other language that they use: Pattani Malay.

Here is a small article on Yala from

Yala Province:
Yala is the southernmost Province of Thailand situated on the Country’s
border with Malaysia on the Malay Peninsula. The province was before a region
under the semi-autonomous Pattani Kingdom which was under the Sukhothai Kingdom.
The Province has a population of about 500,000 people.

The City of Yala situated in Amphoe Mueang Yala is the administrative
capital of the Province. The City is home to an estimated 65,000 people. Islam
is the main religion in Yala Province and is widely practiced by majority of the
population. Buddhism is the only other major religion here. Yala is served by a
small mainly domestic airport and a railway line linking it to Bangkok and other
major cities in the country.

Violence and armed conflict over the last
two years have hampered government efforts to promote Yala as a tourist
destination. Militants fighting for a breakaway republic have increased the
number of attacks on government installations and civilians especially in remote
areas of the province. The conflict has resulted in casualties on both sides and
has also affected civilians caught up in the crossfire.

While the idea of going to Yala does not sound like a good one...(God uses the foolish things to confound the wise) we are confident in what God has shown us and are excited about what God has planned for us. John will most likely be going into dangerous places but we will make sure that we find a home that is safe and take every precaution to protect our children and keep them from any harm. Please know that we would not be going into this area if we were not sure...beyond a shadow of a doubt...that this is what God wants of us.

So please be praying for us and keep checking back for updates. I am going to keep this blog updated every week starting today. Read with us as we begin what seems to be Act 2 in this incredible adventure God has us on. I was thinking about the scripture that says that we are never to hide our light under a basket but instead to put it up on a lamp stand for all to see...What better place to shine our light for all to see than the darkest place in Thailand? Thank you again for reading...

Jossalyn stretching...doesn't that look like it feels good?
Pretty in Pink!