Can you hear God? He’s saying, “Stop complaining and just trust Me.”

Homeless IMG_3059

It’s been one year since the road broke under the tires of our RV and our family became homeless for a month after a towing company totaled our camper.

 

Somewhere in the middle of my prayers last year in August I felt we were to go to Bellingham for a while and not to go through Canada   …but we were trying to head through anyway (3 times, you know, because… I don’t even know why…)
Homeless IMG_3267

(Ever feel called to do something but don’t do it? I’ve read these kinda stories in The Bible and have heard a few in my lifetime, too.)

I didn’t understand why I felt we were supposed to go to Bellingham at that time (and there are probably a hundred more reasons we won’t even understand til Heaven) but we can see many wonderful and interesting things God’s been teaching our family over the past year.

I love this lesson because even when we are heading the wrong way God can always redirect us – and He does this amazing work where He makes something good come out of something that we don’t think is good.

(I mean, get this. We were going the way I didn’t believe we were to go and the road literally broke under the tires. How’s THAT for an answer to prayers asking Him to lead?!)

We have learned so much through experiencing homelessness for ourselves that we could never have learned in any other classroom.

We can see that God took care of us even through homelessness and now we can better serve some other people who also know this kind of life but who don’t want to stay there.

 

Homeless IMG_3261

God is the greatest Teacher and when we commit our lives to Him He will teach us what He knows we need to learn to fulfill His purpose for us.

People are constantly trying to test the limits of these physical bodies God gave us – but when God tests our faith or we have to grow spiritually, so many times it’s Whine Time.

If a soldier in training for any other battle whined like we do about this, we’d probably lose a little respect.

Like it or not, we are each a soldier in training.
 
I have learned this. Since we felt called and shared this with several people over the past three years, we’ve met many others who also feel called to move, too, and some, also to Alaska like we do.

Think God is up to something?

Perhaps… He’s working on a little something called The Great Commission?
 
He knows what He’s doing. And no powers of hell can stop Him.
 
Mark 16:15-16 The Great Commission –  And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach The Gospel to every creature.  He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.

 

A few weeks ago we told a girl we met that ever since we’ve shared that we feel called, several Christians have told us that God doesn’t lead people anymore.

She gave the best answer we’ve heard, “When did He stop?”

 

Prayer unlocks doors that nothing else in this world can unlock.

 

When we stop fussing about changes that happen and just ask God to reveal why and lead us through each thing, He does it.

He’s not in a hurry like we are most of the time. This is a lifelong obstacle course and each experience we live through has important stuff to teach us.

People spend billions of dollars on obstacle courses and creating manmade adventure in this world but God already wrote it into our being. When we open our eyes, hearts, ears, and focus on Him leading through prayer, we find adventure and clues all over the place.

I wonder if God’s sometimes thinking, “Don’t you understand I’m training you for your purpose? Stop complaining so much and start trusting Me!”

 

 Homeless IMG_3257.jpg
#Faith
#Purpose
#Serve
#Homeless
#itisallaboutfaithblog
Read more about our walk in faith to move from Texas to Alaska to open a homeless teen place here.
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Hey, Kids, Let’s Hang Out At The Tire Store

A couple weeks ago I noticed the truck tire was low. A neighbor also noticed and pointed it out to me the next day. By then it was even lower.

A few years ago I would have felt like this – and anything like it – was an inconvenience in MY day.

I mean, it’s not like any regular day I’m going to say, “Hey, family, let’s go to the tire store and just hang out there for a couple hours.”

But what if –?

What if we treated most things WE call interruptions as God redirecting us?

 

Think about this.

How many times (and in how many ways) do we as parents help redirect our children?

How much MORE would God want to redirect HIS children to something He sees that’s better for us or toward someone He wants us to talk to?

 

When God gets my attention by a flat tire (and I’m not saying He MAKES flat tires happen but He IS God and He surely could do anything to redirect me in “MY day” toward HIS Will) then what if I change my perspective to see this as a possible Divine Appointment?

Sometimes we’re so upset about that silly flat tire and we totally miss the new contact God just put right in front of us.

“Okay, God, lead us. Please guide conversations and show us who are we supposed to talk with at the tire store.”

Jesus said He leaves His Spirit, The Holy Spirit, with us. How does He guide us?

What does that look like in 2016?

Maybe, possibly, it COULD be that it looks a whole lot like a screw in the tire and a few hours at a tire store.

It’s not really MY day anyway.  ALL the days are HIS days.  And we belong to Him.

When we start to play OUR part in HIS Design, amazing things begin to happen.

How is He trying to get your attention?

 

God, please guide me today and show me what YOU want for me today.  Please take “my schedule” to show me what YOU want for me.  Please show me who to talk to and who not to talk to and what to say and what not to say and please even show me how to say it. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

So I am letting go of my pride and asking for help.

Tony wrote:

I have not really wanted to ask for money because I guess I have not seen myself as being on a mission but just moving.

At first I guess I thought I could do this (well, the move part) with my little, tiny job, but God has shown me that none of this is me.

So I am letting go of my pride and asking for help.

I have come to the realization I am on a mission.

This whole trip has been a mission and I can’t do this on my own.

Kerri has asked for and gotten support from a few people and my brother-in-law set up a GoFundMe account and donations were brought that way.

We are very thankful for all the support we have received including prayer support because that’s where my help comes from.

I am not sure why but it seems God does not want us driving through Canada. We have been in three times, and each time we have been stopped for different reasons. It seems we are supposed to take a ferry or ship everything.

Any way I look at it it’s going to cost between 8 and 9 thousand dollars. I have spent every dime I had saved, every dime we made selling our stuff, and all the donations to get us to this point.

We are fine with the everyday living expenses because this great job God blessed me with where I can work from home (wherever home may be at the moment) takes care of that. And we can save some money, but it would take me a long time to save 8 to 9 thousand dollars.

The homeless place itself will cost way more than that but one step at a time is good.

I think my pride is the reason we have not made it there so far.

The more people we talk to from that area the more confirmation that there is a big need for what we are going to do. We are moving there to set up a shelter for homeless teens.

So I’m begging for help.

Please share this with your church and friends.

People can donate on this blog if they would like. (PayPal only takes a 3% fee but it looks like the GoFundMe people take out a fee closer to 10%.)

And more about what God’s been doing with our family is on this blog on the Alaska Homeless Teen Center Stuff page here.

Thank you. Tony Stites

And more of our walk of faith is here.

Donate via PayPal here.

What many SAY vs. What many actually seem to believe about God.

Many in Church: Lord, lead us.

Many Preachers: Go where God calls you.

Many Pastors: Walk in faith. Die to self. LIVE for Him.

Many Teachers: The Bible says to go into all the world and make disciples. Care for the orphans and widows.

Many Song Leaders: Lord, let us hear Your Voice. Speak to us.

 

Our Family: Hey, the coolest thing happened! We started praying a couple years ago and asking God where He wants to use us and He’s revealed something to us. We feel called to Alaska to open a homeless teen place! Isn’t that amazing that He really leads like we talk about and sing about and read about in The Bible?!

 

Church: I’m not sure about that.

Many Preachers: My advice is that you go check Alaska out first to be sure you like it. (Me: I’m VERY sure that is NOT how God calls anyone.)

Many Pastors: God doesn’t do that anymore.

Many Teachers: No He didn’t.

Many Song Leaders: We don’t really think we’ll “hear” His Voice. We just sing that.

Parents/Family: That’s nice.

Many Acquaintances: That’s weird.

Many Friends: That’s interesting.

 

Many Atheists and Agnostics:

THAT’S the coolest thing I’ve EVER heard! Tell me more.

 

Make no mistake.

God is alive and well.

He uses people and stories to touch hearts and lives all the time. And He does this in a billion different ways and it doesn’t matter what our past looks like.

He’s using this story He’s writing with us to restore people’s faith in Him.

We are going in faith that God is leading and is providing and He will go before us and make a way where we can’t SEE a way just like The Bible says He does. We’re going to make disciples and care for orphans. This is a dream He’s put on our hearts and it aligns very much with Scripture. We’ve witnessed miracles along this journey already; stuff beyond our power or income or capability or explanation.

It’s called living out our faith.

We’re laying down our lives and what WE want to do (dying to self like The Bible says to do) and asking God what HE wants us to do. We’re LIVING for HIM.

If we could SEE how He’s doing this homeless teen place thing in Alaska or if WE could do it on our own with our own resources that wouldn’t be called faith. It’s all about His Power and our obedience to what He’s put on our hearts. It’s way bigger than we are and our income and God knows this. If we worshiped money or put our faith in money instead of God we’d have quit before we started. And if we’d known our whole lives that this was His plan for us or saved our whole lives for this we STILL couldn’t make it happen at all like He can.

And we pray everyone chooses to experience this real life most fulfilling way to live.

Some doors can ONLY be unlocked with prayer.

God doesn’t say use good judgment without ceasing.

Or make intelligent choices without ceasing.

Or use wisdom without ceasing. (He does say to pray for wisdom and He will give it.)

He doesn’t say to read The Bible without ceasing.

 

He says to PRAY without ceasing. Try this.

 

He’s the same yesterday, today, and forever, and He led before The Bible was written or else The Bible couldn’t be God-led (which it is,) and He led during Bible times, and He still leads and works in our lives every day still now even in 2015.

Immanuel = God with us. He means it. He REALLY is with us and provides and leads.

Pray without ceasing. Try it. Give Him your TIME and just watch what He can do!

All eyes are on You, Lord.  Do what only You can do.

[Note: A common daily prayer in our home goes something like this. (Try it.)

God, please lead us today. Please show us who You want us to talk to and what to say and who not to talk to and what not to say. Please guide our day and let us not take control back. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.]

 

Today is moving day and I am not afraid.

(Check out what we’ve shared since June here

https://www.facebook.com/itisallaboutfaithblog )

 

Today (tonight) we begin a drive from Texas to Alaska to open and care for a homeless teen center.

God is not in a hurry and He’s been patient with me as I finally accepted what He’s doing with our family.  I will praise Him.

HE has made me brave.

For probably 35 years I was afraid and hid my talents because of childhood sexual abuse and being raped 4 times later in life.

Ministry is NOT a pretty thing because it involves real life and in real life we have been given free will and when we have free will, we make a lot of not so great choices and the choices we make every day affect others around us.  I forgive the people who have hurt me and God is using that pain and turning it into something altogether beautiful and has given me a passion for people and to be able to see deeper than the surface.

Genesis 50:20 is my life verse.  It says, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”

 

YOU matter.

Period.

Just because God made you, you matter.

 

Tonight we move out of a house we’ve lived in for eight years ~ and I am not afraid.

THIS is God working in me and not me by myself.  There is a peace covering my family that can ONLY come from Him.

We don’t know what The Home Place looks like yet (or if that’s the name for certain) but we DO know that God is doing this and so far it’s like He’s shown us that no church or organization will have its name on this work.  It’s God’s work and His Name is to be praised for all of it.

At first we were a little sad when church after church turned us down saying they want no part of this but very soon God showed me that it is okay and He will keep providing through individuals He calls to give.

For The Home Place we are praying God provides jobs for each person He leads to us so that people may earn money to make a living while God reveals each person’s talents He’s given.  We will love on people and celebrate people who may not have felt much like celebrating lately.  We will be Jesus’ Hands and Feet to hurting people.  We will give people a safe place to stay for a while, teach interview and job skills, and just live life with them, reminding them Jesus is very real and God moved mountains to move our family from Texas to Alaska in 2015.

I didn’t choose this ministry.  God revealed this to us over time.  When you follow Him, He directs your steps.  This stuff is real.  And hard.  And fun.  And exciting.  And exhausting.  And He provides all the tools needed to do the job He’s prepared in advance for us to do.

First, I needed my confidence back because mine had been stolen along with my innocence when I was a little girl.

I did not know to even ASK Him to restore what had been stolen because I did not know it was missing.   I just lived life without my confidence.

ONLY God can give the gift of confidence.

Then, He pushed me online.

Online is a strange place where people seem to think that they can hide behind a screen and mock and be unkind in more ways than imaginable.  But it’s a lie.  We have ONE life and we are to find this life in Jesus Christ.  The things people do and say to others and about others matters.  Always.

I can’t even begin to list the ways spiritual warfare happens when we follow Jesus.  It’s exhausting and the Bible talks about Christians being persecuted.  It’s been interesting to see that many other Christians have been the ones doing the persecuting.  I would never have believed it if you’d have told me this would happen.

When you tell someone you’re feeling called by God to do a job, MANY begin to tell you how “You’re doing it wrong.”

But the truth God revealed to me is that if we were ALL doing the jobs He’s planned in advance for us to do, then there would be NO time to hate on each other.  (Heaven is gonna be so wonderful!)

We didn’t know for a year and a half if He was moving us by airplane or ground and this past April He provided a truck (which made us know He would provide a camper to pull behind it.)

The very day after He provided this truck, my pinky toe went numb, my ear started to have trouble hearing and both eyes began to have more vision trouble.

God sent a prayer warrior to my house to pray with me.  She said something that blew my mind and I had not thought of yet, “No, satan, will NOT stop this woman’s steps!”

It had not occurred to me that the spiritual warfare was beginning to take on a physical form.

After she prayed over me I could see, hear, and walk easier again.  Then God sent another friend to pray the very next day.

He is just so good.

We will keep walking in faith as God keeps opening doors.

He will keep providing all the tools we need to do the job He’s calling us to do and right now the main tool needed is money.  We know He will provide through His people.

If you feel called to help with this ministry He’s doing with our family, please check out this donation site.  Contact email for donations is itisallaboutfaithdonate@gmail.com

What little we offer to God matters. He can do MORE than enough with our little offering. We just have to bring it to Him and ask Him to bless it.

Not sure how much is enough to give?  Check out John 6:5-13 and see what He did with a few loaves of bread and fish.

Donate Button

 

Missed Birthdays and Broken Holidays (Faith)

Some kids don’t get birthday parties.  Some kids get forgotten.

Some families don’t feel the “Holiday Spirit” and don’t have hope that anything will ever get any better than it looks right now.

Our family is going to go bring hope and Light to some kids and families.

We know this isn’t just with our power (and we also know God is calling more people to do this work with us.)  God renews us every day.  We trust that He will keep doing this so that we can help others and then they can help others, too (and so on.)

When God first put it on my heart that He was using our family in this way, of course I wanted to know more.  Who wouldn’t?!  This is the most amazing experience of my life; knowing He’s working in us and through us.

God has always led people and since He’s the same yesterday, today, and forever, we can know He still leads people today.

Think about this.  How do you “know” something?  I mean, some women “know” they’ll have 2 kids.  Some “know” they’ll have 10.  Some people “know” they’ll never be married and some “know” they will be.  I’ve heard some people, after a young person died, say, “He always ‘knew’ he was going to die young.”  How did he “know?”

Sometimes we take our knowledge, gifts, and talents for granted.  We just “know” how to draw or how to invent things.  Sometimes we don’t even give credit to God because we have the ability to easily remember things or to do math in our heads, and we forget or don’t think about where this comes from.

Sometimes you just “know” stuff.  God put that in us.

We “know” He’s moving our family to Alaska to open and care for a homeless teen center (not yet in existence.)

~~~~>  The funny thing is that when we started packing boxes last year, waiting on His timing to move, the very first box I packed was full of mismatched tea party pieces.

I was blessed to have a roommate from college helping me pack.  I asked out loud, “WHY am I packing a tea set to move to Alaska?!  What a SILLY thing to pack!”

She looked right into my eyes and smiled, “I can’t WAIT to see how God manifests this tea set!”  <~~

Some kids are forgotten and some never had a birthday party.  Some got a black eye instead of a present.

Since that time after packing the tea party stuff, we’ve collected many sewing patterns (new and on sale.)  I wondered “WHY?”  “WHY am I collecting this many patterns and different kinds, too?  I mean, I do like to sew but haven’t really taken the time to so why would I be gathering this many patterns?”

Then God put this on my heart.

Some kids are homeless and have only the clothes they are wearing.

Oh, wow.  I hadn’t thought of that.  Not only will WE sew, but we will teach teens how to sew their own clothes and teach them job skills and share Jesus’ Love with them.

Then there’s this:  20 years ago I started collecting art supplies.  WHY?  I never really got time to paint, stamp, sew, or create like I wanted to so WHY have I had these supplies?

WHY did we pack decorations, hair cutting supplies, make up, and photography equipment?

It’s simple.

Homeless people aren’t trying to decorate for parties (or even go to any,) or visit the salon, or get family portraits done.

We are going to do this for them.

We believe God is moving us to Alaska to bring hope and Light and to celebrate missed birthdays and broken holidays with teens and families who haven’t had much light or hope in their lives.

We’re going to paint fingernails, cut hair, and donate our photography skills to people who otherwise would not have these luxuries.

At first I was like, “God, this may sound kinda silly to people.”

So I didn’t tell anyone that I believed He was doing this with us.

But it’s really not so silly when you think about it.

Celebrating someone’s birth and existence is a pretty routine thing for many people.  I know I was blessed to celebrate many birthdays with parties and friends.  You probably were, too.  Getting hair cuts, nails painted, family pictures, and going to the salon are things many people take for granted.

But when you have been neglected or overlooked or forgotten, moving our family to give hope and just to love on people is actually not such a silly mission at all.

So…  I said it.  Finally.  We’re going to Alaska to celebrate people who haven’t been celebrated much in their lives and who haven’t seen reasons to celebrate.

Prayers, donations, and support are always welcome here.

It’s all about God’s Power.

It’s up to us to obey His Calling (even if it looks silly to some.)

Cool fact to think about:  We don’t have to have all the answers right now or know how God’s doing this with us.  We will just have faith that He can and He is.

God opens doors that no man can shut and shuts doors that no man can open.  We have faith and will keep asking, seeking, and knocking since He’s put this dream in our hearts.  Your prayers, good thoughts, well wishes, support, and donations are welcome as we step out in faith to do this work in His Name.

 

[Note:  There are many stories about how God led people – and it looked kinda silly to others when you think about it.

– There was a guy, Naaman, and God showed him he was to go dip in the Jordan river 7 times and his leprosy would be healed.  Silly?  He was even mad that there wasn’t some amazing, grand thing that would cure his skin.

But it was simple.

Obedience.

Elisha sent a messenger to say to him, “Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed.”

But Naaman went away angry and said, “I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy. Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?” So he turned and went off in a rage.

Naaman’s servants went to him and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, ‘Wash and be cleansed’!” So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy.  2 Kings 5:10-14

– And what about that whole “March around Jericho and the walls will fall down” thing?!  Um, okay.  That would have been something to see!  (And God spared a prostitute and her family.)  What?!  But it happened.  Joshua 6:3-17

– And Noah?!  Are you kidding?  There had never been rain and He built a what?  A boat?  Um… yeah… right.  Can you imagine the jokes he endured?  What did the neighbors say?  Certainly he was mocked for his faith.  Genesis 6:9-22

We know.  We know.  It may sound silly to some.  Take this mismatched tea party set and have parties with people.  We are okay if it sounds silly.  We will still follow as God opens doors.

We expect that some people will mock us for believing God is doing this but the thing I didn’t expect was for so many who call themselves Christians to be among the ones laughing.

Maybe if we all focused on the jobs God’s planned for each of us we wouldn’t have time to make fun of each other.

~~>  Got courage?  Aren’t you a little bit curious to know God’s amazing plan for your life?  He has one.  Ask God what He wants you to do.  And KEEP doing this every day.  Follow the tugs on your heart and He will reveal to you what it is that He wants for your life.  <~~

By faith…  Check out Hebrews 11.

Check out the last 2 verses in Hebrews 11.  (I’ve thought about this verse and how it may relate to my life, too. ~~>)  39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, 40 since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.

So….. IF I get to the end of my life on Earth and the Alaska homeless teen center does not exist yet, then He can STILL bring it to happen and I will STILL know and have peace that my life meant something as I walked in faith, trusting Him to lead my family.

I will share my faith in God and I will share what He’s doing in us and through us.

By faith, I will follow Him.

As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.  Joshua 24:15]

The Right Way To Eat Pizza (not just about pizza)

Everybody knows the right way to eat pizza.

pizza

Pepperoni with parmesan.

The first bite is out of the side by the crust, right?

No.  The first bite is the pointed part, of course.

Why do we think this?  Because it’s how it’s “supposed” to look?

Or is it better as a supreme pizza with meats and vegetables?

Extra cheese.

Only cheese.

Two pieces together.

Or just folded in half.

With ranch dressing?

Or pizza with ham and pineapple.

Or what about an all vegetable pizza?

What about 3 day old pizza on the desk in your dorm room?  Perfect!  Right?

Pizza is a serious thing and people get kinda passionate about the right way to enjoy it.

Maybe NOT having pizza is the right answer.

The thing is – none of these are wrong and none are right.

They are just different.

Mission work is the same way.

When we do work for the Lord, haters, skeptics, and critics come out of nowhere.

When we start telling people we feel God is calling us to do a specific work, we hear more, “You’re doing it wrong,” than anything else.

Maybe it’s not wrong at all.  Maybe just different than someone else thinks it “should” look.

When we ask God what HE wants us to do instead of doing what WE would like to do every day, life begins to look different, WE begin to live differently, and spiritual warfare happens more than usual yet peace is more apparent at the same time.

When you stop looking around at other people, and you start looking UP to God and asking His direction, that’s when most amazing things start happening.

I pray for peace for people reading this and for all people to find God’s plan for their lives because He has one for each of us.

~~~>  When people are focused on what God’s planned for their own lives, there won’t be time to be upset about the jobs God’s got others doing or upset about the way He’s showing them to do the jobs.  <~~~

Some people believe you must do mighty things to actually get visible results. But God’s got this. He once had people march around a city and the walls fell down. Can you imagine the things that were said to them and about them and the way people mocked their faith? March around a city? Blow horns? What?! Such nonsense, right?

But the walls fell all the same.

Obedience matters.

~~~>  Sometimes God said things that really seem strange. “Cast your nets on the other side.”

What??

Does God not realize how completely silly that sounds to human ears? (I’m sure He does.)

I mean, when you think about it, the water underneath the boat was all the same water, right?  <~~~

But He said to obey and when they did, the nets were full of fish.

It is about obedience to His Calling even when it looks silly to other people.

For our family, we believe God is calling our family to Alaska to open and care for a homeless teen center.  Unless you have walked in our shoes, you wouldn’t understand how this fits every experience and test God’s put us through.

Some say, “God doesn’t lead us like that today.”

No?

God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, right?
So since He’s the same…
He led people before the Bible was written, right?
And we know He led people during Bible times.
And He leads us now.

And how does that look for each of us?  I believe it may look just as different as each example in the Bible.  It looks as different as each “right” way to eat pizza.  What if all the ways are right enough?  When we look at the Bible examples, there are so many ways God led and so many different jobs He gave people.

God leads our steps when we ask Him to – and I’ve noticed over time that He was leading me EVEN when I wasn’t paying as much attention to my life. That’s pretty cool to think about.  My past is messy (just like many others’ lives are messy.)  And IF my life and past did nothing but bring me to spend the rest of it speaking blessings over people and telling you that YOU MATTER, all the junk I’ve been through was worth it to get to this place.

You are SO valuable. And if you forget, ask me and I will remind you a thousand more times. You are worth something. Maybe someone didn’t notice this about you. That’s unfortunate. Your life matters and your story matters.

It is so great that we each have different ways of learning, living, speaking, listening, different talents, and different ideas. What a boring world it could be if we were all exactly the same.

Sometimes when we do work for God, I have to wonder if He sees it as we do when our children do jobs we ask them to do.

Example:  Your young child washes a window.  She’s proud of the work she did.  You see the effort and also the places of the window she missed.  You’re still proud of her for trying.  You (hopefully) do not tell her what an awful job she did but instead, praise her and also help teach her gently how to do a better job as she tries next time and the next.

When we do work for God, we are proud of the work we did (sometimes a bit TOO proud and forget to thank and honor Him for the talents to do the jobs in the first place) and I’m sure God sees all the spots we missed.

He’s STILL proud of us for trying.

Ask God what HE wants you to do.  Try this for a month.  Follow the tugs on your heart and see how He will show you His plan for you.

[Note:  Our family would love to hear how God’s using your life and story.]

[Another Important note:  We would love to hear about the right way to order and eat pizza, too.]

 

 

 

 

“One thing I like about you is…”

Relationships are important.

A marriage relationship is important and tough (probably tougher than any other relationship ever in the whole world, in my opinion) and totally worth the work.

I’m always looking for simple ways to help relationships be as close and as healthy as they can be.  My husband and I have just started doing a few new things for our marriage and we’re noticing this one could be helpful in possibly any relationship.

Here is one experiment we’ve just started a couple weeks ago (and we’re both loving it!)

Every morning we have decided to say (out loud to each other) something good we have noticed or something good that we like about each other.

“One thing I like about you is _____________.”

We get too busy in life sometimes, ya know?  With work, school, church, kids, housework, bills, finances, volunteering, rough times, health problems, and a billion more things we can forget to nurture important foundations and critical relationships.  It’s not that we mean to; but it’s just that life happens and sometimes we let moments go by that need attention.

(Sweet note: The look on my husband’s face as he speaks is so beautiful and something that’s been hiding for a little while.  It’s really nice to see the thought behind his words as he says something kind about me and to me.  Sometimes he’s just remembering good things from the past and those are good to hear also.  I can’t help but think he may be feeling the same way as he hears me speak good things about him, too.  It’s heart-healing.)

This is proving to be a great idea.

One thing it does is it helps us THINK about the positive things during each day (and night) because we know we need to tell each other something we like about each other every day.

(And the negative stuff seems to constantly already be lurking around and threatens to remind us of things we DON’T like about each other… Not sure about you but we’ve had ENOUGH of that!)

Another important result of this experiment is that we’re BOTH getting to HEAR some positive words in the morning.  (Yes, it must be genuine and yes it can be something from the past or present.  Actually, it could even be something positive we see in the future.  Getting to hear blessings spoken over you is powerful.)

Our kids just told us they’d like to be included in this in the evenings.  Good stuff can be contagious!

We ALL probably hear WAY too much negative stuff about ourselves (even from our own thoughts) and this is damaging to our brains, hearts, self esteem, and probably in a hundred other ways I’m not thinking to mention.

If you have a great marriage, that’s wonderful!  Maybe this can just be icing.  (And maybe you’re already doing this.)  But many of us have a tougher time in marriage and my husband and I know this can help lots of people so we wanted to share this idea.

I believe absolutely EVERY person could benefit from hearing something good every day that someone notices about him or her.

Here’s one from me to you today:  One thing I like about you (yes, you) is that you’re beginning to realize your value; you’re a very worthwhile person and you matter.

Her Dreams

Some people know what they want to be when they’re kids.

When I was a little girl the only 2 things I knew in my heart I wanted to be were a mommy and a wife.  (I’ve been a wife twice.  I guess I was an overachiever with that dream.)

As my oldest child and I were talking today we remembered all her friends who came to her giant slumber party several years ago called me “Mommy” because I asked them all to use sippy cups because I didn’t have water bottles with lids for 20 kids but I had enough sippy cups.  We didn’t want to spill on the carpet.  Some of her friends still call me Mommy because of that.  (I told them their moms may not appreciate them calling someone else by the Mommy name.  It’s cute though and they were just being silly and being the awesome, cute kids that they are.)

~
The thing I can’t stop thinking about is this:

What if there’s a child who needs a mother’s love and care in Alaska and God knew this was His plan for my life a long time ago?  Maybe the reason I didn’t know yet was because I wasn’t asking Him what HIS plans are for my life.  I was just doing what I wanted to do.  Maybe also it’s that He just reveals each next step to us in His timing whether we ask or not.  My husband and I can look back over 35 years and see how God’s been preparing us both for this very thing.

What if there are a hundred kids who need care?

I know there are.  And this is everywhere.  Every city.  Every place.  God leads people and uses us where He wants us.  Our family specifically feels called to move to Alaska for this work.

 

When someone tells you her dreams in life, although they may seem smaller than others’ dreams, her dreams may just prove to be bigger than they looked at that time.  (Being a mommy and wife are AMAZING things to be even if some don’t realize this.  Being one or the other is amazing, too.  And no, I’m not saying to purposefully be a single mom.  I’ve been there (though not purposefully) and it’s TOUGH!  My heart goes out to single moms and dads.  You guys are doing a very important job.)

Just sayin’ when people share what is most important to them, even if you think they’re not the super most important “career” choices many others are working toward, pray with them and help them see how God will use these dreams in their lives.  He’s got a plan for each of us.

The talents and dreams put in our hearts are there for a reason even if we can’t see the whole picture when we’re young.

Prayers for the Alaska homeless teen center are always welcome here.  We don’t know everything about how to do this work but we can look back and see how He’s been preparing us for this over 35 years.  We will keep following as He keeps leading.  We know He’s preparing the way even when we can’t see all of it yet.  We are excited to see who else He’s calling to this mission work.

 

[Note:  Yes, God hates divorce.  But God does NOT disown you if you’ve been divorced.  God uses EVERY part of our story for His Glory.  You don’t have to believe me.  Ask Him to do this with your story.  He will.]

[Another Note:  When people laugh at your God-sized dreams, be kind. Sometimes we all forget to dream big. Sometimes we forget that there is a big God over all this and it’s not actually random at all.]

Stayin’ Alive

I’m stuck.  I mean I’m not really stuck.  We’re just waiting on God.  Actively waiting on Him – but we’re waiting on His timing all the same.

We know waiting goes against life in 2015;  GET it NOW.  DO it NOW.  BE it NOW.  We COULD try to MAKE it happen but we’ve lived and walked with Jesus long enough to know that when we try to make something happen on our own, especially something like this, things just don’t go well.  And we could fail.  That’s okay.  We’re not afraid of failing.  If we fail, then at least we tried to do what we feel led to do to help kids.  (What is worse?  Failing?  Or not trying at all?)  Our goal is to help homeless teens by giving them a safe place to live for a while, teaching job and life skills, and leading them to have closer relationships with Jesus.  If we are trying to do God’s Will, He will go before us and make a way when we can’t see a way.

Some people are laughing at our faith. (That’s okay.  If people laughing at us was gonna stop us, we’d have had to stop as soon as we started telling people about all this that God’s put on our hearts.)

Some know this is for real and are praying with us. (Thank you!  This means SO much to us. Thank you!)

Some HOPE all this is real. (Guess people will have to watch and see what God’s doing. Fly or fall, we’re in this and there’s no going back.  God opens doors no man can shut and He shuts doors that no man can open.  We’ll keep walking in faith toward this homeless teen shelter work He’s been leading us to unless He shuts the doors and steers us another direction.)

We know it’s real.

I keep thinking about people wandering in the desert for 40 years and can’t help but think, “Isn’t that what so many of us do all our lives? We wander.”

I mean, sure we make plans and do stuff. We go to school and to work. We’re part of a church. We have a family – or not. Some stay single. Some get married (some, a few times.)

 

But we wander.

 

I wonder if our wandering isn’t so far from the stories about people wandering in the Bible:

“Hey, believe God is doing this.”

“Nope.”

“Okay, then. Have a good life – or at least as good as YOU think YOU can make it as you wander around aimlessly.”

Then – after all the doubters are gone from this generation, God will do great works that you’ll always wish you’d have gotten to see.

Today I prayed something like, “God, I’m feeling afraid; a little discouraged and intimidated by this homeless teen center quest You’ve got us on. I mean, we can’t quit and don’t even want to because this is the most amazing work You’ve ever done with our lives, but at the same time, the magnitude of this work seems so far beyond us and our abilities – and it is, FOR SURE – and the heartaches we’ll hear about are already breaking our hearts. Would you please send some encouragement?”

I was walking through a thrift store looking for fleece shirts for my family while I prayed this when I hear a song I’ve never heard before in my life.

Not joking. The song sings, “Baby, you got what it takes.”

That made me smile.

Then I was on an aisle all by myself when a woman walked just 2 steps past me and we spoke a moment about finding the right sizes. I said something about colors I hoped to find. She said colors don’t really matter as much. I agreed and said I know warmth is what matters most and told her that we’re moving to Alaska. She told me she goes fishing there sometimes. I said we feel God’s moving us there to take care of homeless teens.

THEN she told me they’ve made friends with a family in Alaska who also felt called by God to do work there (and have been now for a couple years) and they have 2 sons who homeschool and she’d like me to call her to have another family to talk with.  ((Thinking out loud about grammar stuff… Yes, I end sentences with prepositions sometimes.  I don’t even mean to.  The important thing is that it won’t keep me out of Heaven.))

(Coincidence? I think not.)

Ummm… so this brought another smile.  And some much needed comfort to my heart.

A little while later I’m thinking of dangerous situations we may encounter with people and animals in Alaska.

Not even joking.  The song Stayin’ Alive played over the speakers.

This made me laugh!

God is good and He hears our prayers. (And the even cooler part is that He answers.)

 

~~~

We are asking for prayers for finances, houses, buildings, donations (including desks, beds, clothes, money, vehicles, food, books, and everything else I’m not thinking to mention,) volunteers, and for God to keep leading us as we keep walking through the doors He opens.

Thank you and may God bless you so big that you can’t help but see Him.

 

Hey, you. Please get up. This broken world needs you.

I have about 2 hundred cousins. Not really. But when I was a kid it seemed that way.

One time when I was a little girl, I was so excited that we were going to visit my very favorite cousin’s house. His name is the same as mine; only he spells it C-a-r-e-y.

They had a playhouse in the back yard that was used for storage mostly but that was okay because that made it be a better haunted house. It was also a castle, a fortress, or whatever you wanted it to be. It was 2 stories tall and you could climb stairs inside to the top where there was a little wooden hatch door and sort of a balcony place and you could stand at the top of the world and daydream. It was a beautiful little house.

They also had a swingset. I loved playing there, especially with my favorite cousin, Carey.

Only THIS visit was different.

On this visit; this was the moment the enemy started telling me I was nothing.

My cousin pushed my sister on the swings. But he wouldn’t push me. Then, as he pushed her, he chanted, “Yay, Jenny!”  “Boo, Kerri.”  “Yay, Jenny!”  “Boo, Kerri.”

My little heart broke.

Didn’t he know he was my favorite cousin – my favorite person – in the whole world? Why would he do this?

That was the first time I remember someone (someone I admired) being blatantly unkind to me. It was quite a shock to my little system.

He was probably trying to be silly or tease me but it hurt like I’ll never forget.

“Joking” should be fun for all involved; if not, then it changes from “joking” to “bullying.” (Don’t worry. I asked Carey for his permission to share this. I’m not trying to disrespect him or pay him back. I love him still. He was just someone the enemy used to start my life on the path to believe I was nothing.)

(And then satan worked many more years until I fully believed I was absolutely 100% nothing. There is too much to write in one story -I’ll share more as God leads me to- but I know the very moment satan had fully tricked me into believing his lies. I was being raped. I was 22 and I remember believing right then, “This is all I’m for? I am nothing.” THE ENEMY WAS WRONG. But he’s very clever in his tricks and how he custom-designs them for each person.)

I know the “Boo, Kerri,” time was before I was 9 years old. Not because I wrote down the date but because I remember well what happened later.

When I was 9 years old, I was sexually molested by an uncle who married into the family. That lasted 7 years.

I don’t know why I didn’t tell. Maybe I thought nobody would believe me. I do remember feeling like I was special in some way. Special is FAR from the truth when it comes to sexual molestation. There is NOTHING special about it. It is SICK. Touching any child in a sexual way is purely and completely sick.

I know there are many others who didn’t tell when stuff like this happened to them – and I’m guessing there are probably as many reasons people don’t tell as there are people it has happened to. Every situation is unique and I pray every person finds healing.

At that time, (and for many years) I thought just my innocence was stolen. I was wrong.

He stole my confidence, too.

The only reason I realized it had been stolen was because God just gave me my confidence back about a year ago. I’m now 46.

God gave me my confidence back and then He pushed me out of my comfort zone and showed me He has a job for me to do. He moved me into the terrifying wide space of the internet so that I would be a voice to tell you that YOU are VERY worthwhile.

You are very important and YOU MATTER. I will spend the rest of my life telling you that you matter. Because you DO.

Somebody – or maybe somebodies – told you or treated you like you were nothing. They were wrong.

Whatever happened to you matters. How you feel about it matters. And what you do with it next matters, too.

You are very important. Why would satan work so hard to make you believe his lies if God didn’t have important things for you to do in this life?

Why would satan waste his time on you if you truly were “nothing?”

The answer is, he wouldn’t.

You must be quite a threat to that old devil for him to spend so long convincing you to lie down and shut up.

This is the year you need to get up.  2015.

Please get up?

~~> People need to hear your story so they know they’re not alone in theirs. <~~

You can help people find healing just by sharing your story. You do not have to do this alone. God will nudge you to share your story when you need to. You’ll know when and who needs to hear it.

Please ask God what He wants you to do today ~ every day. He has SUCH great plans for your life. I believe this about you. Now, it’s time for you to believe this about you.

God can restore what was stolen.

My confidence was stolen along with my innocence and I lived without it for about 35 years. If God can give me my confidence back, I know He can do miracles in your life, too. Ask Him.

Please get up. This broken world needs you.

~
Genesis 50:20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.

An Open Letter to Divorced Parents at Christmas,

Hi. I’m Chloe and I’m 16. Divorce happened in my life when I was one year old.

This is the first Christmas I’m looking forward to. Any other year I couldn’t care less if tomorrow was Christmas and to be honest, I learned to dread all holidays.

Today I will be a voice for the four year old who doesn’t understand why this Christmas Mommy is not at Daddy’s house to open presents.

Little kids may not be able to speak out yet so I will for them.

I dreaded picking whose house I wanted to be at and dreaded the stress of hurting someone’s feelings that comes with it.

I also dreaded being forced to go to either house when I didn’t want to go.

My feelings matter.

Half a day here and half a day there is not fun. (And thankfully my parents did not make me do this.)

I dreaded presents I wouldn’t like but was told gift cards are tacky to ask for. They are not. Gift cards are okay to ask for.

I dreaded time with people who made me feel unwanted.

Divorce changes a family but not many people think of how the kid was affected.

You don’t “have” me or “get” me for Christmas.

I “get” chicken pox.

I “have” a rash.

I “have” to “go.”

I “got” a broken arm.

“I have my son for the holidays.”

What? You don’t “have” him like you have a rash. You’re blessed to spend time with him this Christmas. And if you’re truly blessed to spend Christmas with him, then treat him like it.

And don’t let him feel the divorce was his fault. Don’t be fake, either. You’re the grown up and if you want your kid to be part of your family, too, then act like it and take the first step.

While I understand some kids with divorced parents act like they don’t care because they’re getting extra presents, some place underneath it all they actually do care and they’re hurting.

Most of the time I couldn’t care less about the presents because hurt and sad memories were attached to them. Because every time I see the game that was at the top of my wish list, I remember the tears of missing my mom, and of brokenness that went along with this present.

A lot of us feel hurt that Christmas isn’t “normal” (whatever normal is.) Or kids are sad that their family is broken. Or they feel like a bother because Christmas family vacations aren’t whole. Or they feel left out of family events. Being a kid is hard enough. Please don’t add stress of your divorce to my life.

The divorce was not my fault. And I should get to hear that. Often.

Contrary to what many kids from divorced parents think, I know it wasn’t my fault. But I still feel stuck in the middle – because I AM.

I’m stuck between Mom and Dad and words like “biological” and “step.”  (I’m SO done with the word “step.”)

I’m stuck between two homes.

I’m stuck between feelings of brokenness and extra love.

I already feel torn and broken that you guys aren’t married anymore so please don’t add to that by forcing me or guilting me into coming over. I didn’t ask for the divorce and I’m not the grown up.

I’m the little kid who is learning that happily ever after isn’t always true.

Just talk to me.

Even as little kids we understand a lot more than you think we do. Talk with me WITHOUT trashing the other parent. It is okay for me to love Mom and Dad and I can even love new parents and new siblings. God doesn’t limit or divide our love. He increases it.

I get it. You’re grieving. I need time to grieve, too. Something died and it’s okay if I’m upset. Tell me it’s okay that I’m upset. I lost something too. I lost Christmas the way I wanted it to be.

Just love me today and spend time with me today. Pray over me. Remind me it’s okay to love Mommy AND Daddy and all the rest of this messy family – because it IS okay and I should get to hear that.

I will be okay and you will be okay.

I will love you BOTH and anyone else I choose to love – and you need to be okay with that.

I am blessed to get to spend time at Christmas with two parents, even if at separate houses, who love me and are nice to (and about) each other.

A Note from Chloe’s Mom.

Sometimes there are things that we never would have thought of before divorce that are now real life for us.

Celebrating on “the actual date” doesn’t matter anymore. You celebrate when you can and with the people who can be there.  And that’s okay.

You learn to accept that life looks different now – and that is okay. Even if other people don’t understand everything, that’s still okay.  We know that every situation is different.

You pray over your children and encourage them to enjoy time at the other parent’s house. Sure. Let them know you miss them but more people to love and care about any child in a healthy way is a good thing. It is okay for kids to enjoy Christmas at either house. I KNOW it’s rough. I spent many hours crying because holidays didn’t feel whole anymore. In fact, I spent many hours crying over just missing regular, everyday life moments.

If you’re a single mom or dad, we know it’s tough. We’ve been there. A lot of presents aren’t necessary. Your time just hanging out and listening to your kids matters more. If the other parent can afford more presents, that’s okay. If not, that’s okay, too.

We will be okay and you will be okay.

We wish you a peaceful and stress free Christmas – however that looks at your house.

Love, Kerri and Chloe

 

[Note:  Unfortunately, there are many times a child should not be in the care of someone.  Please do pay attention if something seems unsettling.  Everyone involved in a divorce can probably benefit from counseling if needed.]

 

She said, “You mean today?”

She said her family may as well be as far away as Mars. I asked what she was doing for Christmas dinner. If she didn’t have any plans she could hang out with us, play board games, eat dinner, and watch a movie.

We saw her a couple more times before Christmas.

We asked her once more and gave her our phone number. We didn’t want her to feel like she HAD to come to dinner so we didn’t bug her about it again.

~
Dinner was almost done and it was around 5pm. We hadn’t heard from her yet. I whispered something like, “Okay, God, I’m not sure what to do. If You want her here, please show us. If not, then okay.”

I called her number. No answer. I left a quick message; something like, “Hey, we’d love for you to still come to dinner if you want to. It’s almost ready to eat. Please let us know. We can come pick you up if you need a ride.”

Within minutes she called saying she was at a nearby store (which was closed for Christmas) and would love to hang out.

She was only a few minutes away from our house. After she was in the car, I told her I could have driven to her house to pick her up. I didn’t mind at all. “Where do you live?”

She said, “You mean today?”

~
Our family has known for a long time that we are to help take care of homeless people.

Knowing this, we’ve tried to get involved in local homeless shelters and every year we’re told they have enough help.

~~> What we’ve learned is that people don’t have to ask other people how they can help. Ask God how He wants you to help. He’ll show the way. <~~

He brought a homeless woman to our door for Christmas dinner.

God will make a way when there looks like there is none.

That tug on your heart is there for a reason. Ask God what He wants you to do. He’ll lead you – even in the little things.

~
He also leads in the bigger God-sized things.

God put it on our hearts (about one year ago) that He’s moving us to Alaska to open and care for homeless teen center. He makes a way where we cannot see a way.

Prayers always welcome here.

We don’t know everything about how to do this God-sized job but we can look back and see how God has been preparing us for this for over 35 years.  We’ll keep following as He opens doors.

This is all about God and His Power. We are just His hands and feet.

Because of Stephen (a very special kid)

God calls us in different ways.

Lisa was one of my roommates from college. She was called by God.

God gave her 3 healthy kids, 2 miscarriages, and Stephen. Because of her experiences she can help people in ways I can’t even begin to know how to.

Stephen is a very special kid with very special needs. He’s been diagnosed with multiple disabilities due to severe brain damage from birth because of preeclampsia; He is deaf, blind, epileptic, has a feeding tube, a shunt for hydrocephalus, non-ambulatory (meaning he can’t walk or sit or feed himself,) and Cerebral Palsy.

~~> When God calls you

it usually turns your world upside down. <~~

People are in their house all hours of the day (and sometimes night.) There’s no privacy.

Some of their house has been turned into a hospital ~ for Stephen.

People stare at him because he’s… different.

He’s a very beautiful “different” with a contagious laugh.

He’s here for a reason. God did not make him by mistake.

God has connected many people together because of Stephen.

If Stephen wasn’t Stephen, the nurses, doctors, therapists, and hundreds more people wouldn’t have been connected with Lisa and she wouldn’t have had this opportunity to share her faith with them.

She COULD have cursed God. But she didn’t. She COULD have said, “No. God, this is too much for me.” (…Because sometimes it feels that way.) But she didn’t. She accepted the assignment that she was called to be his mom as a gift and she loves him.

She accepts help from people she doesn’t know (medical and personal help) because caring for him is a full time job.

I cannot comprehend the faith and energy it’s taken her and Kevin to learn all they’ve had to learn to be his mom and dad. And I praise God for all the people who have been there to help love on Stephen and get to know his family.

I’m writing this ~ because of Stephen.

The truth is we ALL have special needs. Jesus is the answer to them all.

~
Notes from Lisa.

8 1/2 years ago my world was turned upside down. Fear was the theme for the day. I was afraid for my life as well as my unborn child’s.

It was too early, but apparently, it was time.

Some in this world would say it was a tragedy. I call it a true gift. It has brought unimaginable joy, heartbreaking pain, laughter, tears, patience, and humility.

Stephen Sanders was given as a blessing not just to me, but to the world. I would move Heaven and Earth to change things for him, but I would never change him for me.
~
I am thankful for my children in general.

David for being friendly and outgoing.

Micaiah for being willing to work hard even when she doesn’t really want to.

Stephen for teaching me patience by throwing me into the fire.

And Nathan for giving me a fresh look at the world.

God, bless my children as they walk their paths through this life and please take care of my two babies who are already in Heaven with You.
~
Monkey, You are such an amazing little boy. There aren’t words to describe how much I love you. Your strength inspires me to go on when I am worn down. The smile on your face makes me laugh through the tears. And the way you tell me you love me without uttering a word reminds me of what true love is really about. I am so blessed to be your Mommy.

 

3T7B1491 2 website

Hurting from the Inside Out (Quantity vs. Quality -especially in churches)

Recently I visited a church and…

There is nothing wrong with wanting a church, business, school, family, or club to grow.

There IS a problem when the focus is mainly on “the numbers” if the group’s members are hurting from the inside out and they are not being cared for in a healthy way.

Especially talking about churches; If the members are starving for healing, purpose, and love yet the focus is on growing the numbers, there is a problem.

It does NOT matter if you rave about having 300 or 3,000 attendees when so many of the current members are poor in spirit and are not being fed.  Where are the leaders when the people who attend there every week are feeling left empty?

That being said; If the members go to church on Sunday or whenever and then don’t live like Jesus the rest of the week; helping and loving on people God leads them to help and love on, there is something missing. [And of course many people DO help. You know that I know this.]

If we were all doing our jobs then how can there be members in any congregation who have everyday needs not met when they are the very SAME needs they’ve had for years?

And I’m not talking about people who take advantage of others and expect others to take care of their lives for them.

I’m talking about yards needing raked or fences falling down when the family is busy just trying to survive. Physical needs are everywhere. Please help meet them.

I’m talking about people who cannot leave their houses and this may be for physical reasons or emotional ones. Both are valid and people just need to know they matter and that someone misses them.

Yes. Members need to take responsibility to let a true need be known and then we need to help where we are called to help.

And we need to realize there are some people who just cannot ask for help for whatever reasons. We should be looking for those who need help ~ and ask them how we can help.

We don’t need a committee meeting. We need to listen. We need action. God will lead us to the very people He wants us to serve. That tug on your heart is there for a reason.

WHAT IF instead of displaying on the overhead screen how many “bodies” are present, the leadership ministered to the current hurting members in SUCH a healthy way that more and more Christians could keep reaching out to the cities around them?

And I’m not saying preachers, pastors, elders, deacons, or teachers can meet every need. They cannot. But I’ve just about never been part of a church where the elder assigned to us actually takes the time to get to know me and my family; not even over one meal.

HOW can they be shepherds if they don’t know their sheep?

Stop. PLEASE stop counting the bodies and help speak life into the people who are already there!

There is not just ONE group where this fault lies. Members need to be living the way Christ called us to live and help serve when the Holy Spirit moves us to and so do the leaders of the church.

The leaders need to do more than just wear the title. Serve the members so that the members can serve others.

What if we all helped each other find the talents and gifts God has gifted to each of us?

Sometimes stuff in the Bible seems to be far away or not very relevant but the truth is; it IS relevant and it IS a Living Word.

I may not know how to help all churches, clubs, or whatever to be the best they can be but what I DO know (because I have been in this place before) and find comfort in ~ is this:

Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.  Matthew 5:3

 

I don’t have all the answers but I know we all need to be part of the solution. I was moved to write this because sometimes we get sidetracked with quantity instead of working toward quality.

 

Today my husband painted my toenails.

Our marriage has been under attack for years. We have been through so much with each other. There is one thing we can agree on 100%. God holds us together.

God has put a love in my heart for this stubborn man and He’s put a love in my husband’s heart for this impossible woman! If it wasn’t for God doing work in our lives, I wouldn’t even be writing here at all.

I shouted, “Let me in!” I cried, “Why do you have these walls built so high?” I tried to tell my husband for years what I needed.

I felt as if he never heard me.

My husband only was able to hear me when my spirit was finally quiet.

The problem with my spirit getting quieter was that part of me was giving up on believing we’d ever have a real, honest, deep relationship with each other.

Probably my favorite thing about my husband is that he asks God how to be the husband God wants him to be and that I need him to be. He prays about being the best daddy God would have him be for our kids’ individual needs. He’s always searching after what God would want.

And THAT is beautiful!

Today my husband painted my toenails.

This takes me being quiet and letting him love on me.

This takes me not correcting him when he’d miss the nail.

This takes me letting go of control and letting him brush side to side instead of how I’d do it.

This takes him listening to me when I tell him water on a paper towel may not take the paint off my skin as well and that a cotton ball and polish remover will work better.

This takes us both letting go of something and listening to each other to get somewhere better.

And I like it. I’d rather have this intimate time with him than perfectly painted toenails.  (And when I look at my toes, I smile about him.)

daddy-loves-mommy

I’m praying over your marriage today, also.

God, please touch marriages everywhere and make them into the healthy, beautiful relationships You intended them to be. Please help us let hurts go and be trustworthy for each other. Please help us be transparent; not hiding anything from each other. Please remind us how to show respect to each other and speak softer when we feel upset. God, I pray now for marriages that have yet to happen. Please guide us to be the best husbands and wives we can be. Please give us more moments of husbands painting toenails. Thank You for marriage. We love you, Lord. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

Has anyone told you today that you are important?

Has anyone told you today that you are important?


You are important.

 

YOU MATTER.

 

You should get to hear it.

 

And if you forget,

or if you keep forgetting,

I’m here to keep reminding you that YOU ROCK.

 

 

Today I Remember My Husband ~Guest Post by Stephanie Wagoner Cravens

When I was younger,

Memorial Day used to incite feelings of excitement and adventure.

When we were younger it meant the end of the school year,

the public pool opening for business

and the freedom of summer peeking its head around the corner.

Although, today I know and value the true meaning of this day of remembrance,

I secretly miss the innocence of Memorial Days past when all it meant was being one day closer in our chase for summer.

Enjoy the day off with your friends and family,

chase summer with your arms wide open

and make a million memories as you go.

But also take a moment to reflect and remember those who lost their chase for summer

and their freedom to make memories so you could.

Today I remember my husband.

A son,

a father,

a best friend,

and a Marine who loved his country fiercely.

In Honor of Jarod Cravens

If I were doing things MY way…

I would NOT be online. Period.

I was afraid. It’s as simple as that. I was afraid because now the rapists, molester, and others who have hurt me can now find me easier.

It was not a mistake that I wasn’t online. It wasn’t like I didn’t know HOW to use the internet or computer.

Of course I knew how.

I didn’t want to be online with pictures, video, writing, on social media, or anything else.

EVER.

If I were doing things MY way I would not have put myself “out there” in the great, wide space of the internet suddenly deciding at age 44 to be ridiculed and mocked for my faith in doing what we know God is calling us to do; opening and caring for a homeless teen center in Alaska.

I certainly wouldn’t have intentionally invited hate mail or wanted to hear the poisonous passive aggressive voices from people who do not see why we are doing what we are doing and at the same time do not have courage to ask us “Why?” personally.

If I were doing things MY way, I wouldn’t advertise that we were selling, giving, packing, and now waiting on the Lord to provide what He’s shown us He will provide if we do this work He’s given us to do.

No. I could have been a little more secretive about it… IF I were doing things MY way.

But I’m not. I am listening to the Holy Spirit as He leads our family to do amazing things.

I could have said, “No, God, that’s too uncomfortable. You KNOW me. And I just CAN’T be online. I love You but that is just too far out of my comfort zone. Maybe You have the wrong person for this job.”

RIGHT. I COULD have said that.

UMMM, NO.

One day I will be face to face with God and I want to hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” So… we will do what He’s calling us to do ~ EVEN though we face people laughing at our faith in Him.

God says He has a job for us and has given me the main tool I need to do this job.

Confidence.

Not just confidence in myself but confidence in Him AND that He’s got this and will show His Power through our work if we obey this calling and follow Him.

The Holy Spirit leads.

Have YOU been called?

Are you listening to what He’s called you to do?

Somebody needs YOU and YOUR life’s story. Have courage and do not be afraid.

Will some laugh? Probably.

Will some support? Hopefully.

Will some walk away from your life. Yes.

But with God’s Power and Support you cannot go wrong.

Step up into your position God’s calling you to.

I believe in you.

Listen to Him.

Matthew 25:21 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

No Limit ~Guest Post by Tony Stites (Homeless Kids)

I once thought about becoming a youth minister, and asked my dad what he thought.

Without even taking time to think about it he said, “No.”

After a few days went by, it started eating at me as to why he said no so fast. So I called him up and asked why he’d said no.

He then told me he thought I would make a great youth minister, but if I had to ask, it was not the job for me.

My dad told me if I was going to be a preacher or missionary of any kind it has to be such a strong passion that there is no way my mind can be changed, or it will not succeed.

I have been good at lots of things.

In my younger days I never found anyone I could not beat in a mile race.

I have never found anything I can’t fix.

But those are not passions; they are just things I’m good at.

I have such a strong pull to go help people in Wasilla that even if it is just one person I reach, it is worth it.

God has put it on my heart to go.

I have talked to the girls and my wife many times about this. And I asked them the same thing Jesus asked in Luke 14:25-30.

I told them that we may be sleeping on the floor for a few months before we can get a bed. I told them it was going to be a hard road.

Everyone has agreed it does not matter. The pull is too great. Not going would just make us miserable. We would rather go sleep on the ground, sit on the floor, and eat from the pot we cook in than sit here with all our stuff.

Wasilla is just a small part in what is going on.

When Noah built, God brought the animals to the ark.

Wasilla is the location God is telling us to build a teen center, and He will bring the people we are supposed to minister to.

I know most people don’t get it. No we don’t hear voices but God keeps opening doors and I keep walking through and this is the place He has led me.

Our whole family has a peace and joy about it.  And my girls and wife are amazed at the things they are able to give up without a second thought.

It’s not about how many people we may help. It may be 100. But if it’s just ONE person it still matters 100%. This is what we know we are supposed to do.

God turned 5 loaves and 2 fish into enough to feed 5 thousand.

There’s no limit to what He can do with 20 homeless kids.

The Ark In My Front Yard by Tony Stites

The Ark In My Front Yard by Tony Stites

Here’s the short version:

God is calling our family to move to Wasilla, Alaska.  We will be helping to take care of teens at a homeless teen center that is not even in existence yet and I need financial, prayer, and other support in completing the mission.  Please share our story.

The long and interesting version is below:

The Journey.

I started on a journey and never knew it.  If it was not for my wife I don’t know if I would have opened my eyes to see it.

Growing up I wanted to live off the land. I saw a movie about a kid who moved out in to the wild and lived off the land with a hawk. As time went by and life wore me down, I forgot about that dream.

Prison.

I was 21. I got myself in trouble for armed robbery and spent eight years in prison in Oklahoma. Toward the end of my time there I was at a work release job. That’s where I met a man who helped change my life. He started studying the bible with me and after a while he arranged it so I could go to church with him on Sundays. Right before I was getting out they were having a youth rally close by and he asked me if I would speak.  I don’t know if the speech was any good, but it inspired me to want to keep speaking.

From that point on I knew I was to work with teens.

My Wife.

I made parole and part of my parole was to get out of Oklahoma. This is the part of my life where I met my old crush from Oklahoma and got married. Between then and now we went to church in McKinney, Texas, much of the time. Different things happened here and there that led us to different churches.

Looking back on all of it I can see God’s hand guiding us, and growing us for this specific thing.

Youth Group.

When my oldest daughter got to the age of being in the church youth group I tried to get involved.  But it seemed that my prison background and openness about struggling and overcoming pornography addiction kept me from being able to be involved.

At least that’s what I thought the problem was at the time.

There came a point I decided, “Well maybe God does not want me working with a youth group.” So I started asking God what He DOES want me to do.

Giving It All Over To God.

After praying and searching I talked to Kerri and we decided the first step was to find out if God wanted me still working where I’ve worked for over 16 years. So we prayed and then wrote a letter asking for a raise.  If the raise was this amount or higher we knew to stay and if it was this or lower, we would take this as a sign that God has something else for us to do.

Guess what? No raise.

For a while I thought this is where the journey began but I can now see that the journey started the day I saw that movie and probably even before that.

Everything in my life has directed me to this point.

I don’t know if God removed my dreams from my mind so He could take me through other things, or if it was satan trying to destroy God’s plan for my life.

Working From Home.

The company I had been working with for over 16 years had just moved to another building. Up to this point they would never let me work from home. Well I could every now and then but for a regular thing is was out of the question. There was a mess up with the ethernet connection and the PRI. We still had everything connected at the old building but we had to be out, so the company asked us to work from home for the next week or two. Well three or four weeks went by and my boss asked me when was I coming back IN to the office to work. I told him, “I’m not. Unless you make me.” From that point on I have been working from home.  That was 2 years ago.

Alaska.

I wrote to my boss and said, “Hey we are moving to Alaska. Can I work from home in Alaska?” About fifteen minutes later he calls me up and asks if we’re serious and I say yes. Then he tells me that it would be great and it would really help him out. It would leave Tech Support open for an extra three hours because of the time difference.

I know what you are thinking. I thought the same thing but hey, God works His own way. So I am moving to Alaska but with the same job I thought God was moving me away from.

The Mission.

So now Kerri tells me, “Well don’t just get excited. You need to pray and ask God what he wants you to do.” So I start praying. And start looking at how much it’s going to cost to move.

A few years ago if God would have said, “Move to Alaska,” I’d have had the money. I spent our entire savings on opening our photography business, PhotoSentimental. So we cannot make this move on our own.

His Power.

We believe the timing was because God wants to show His power and show me and everyone else that it’s not up to us to do His will on our own. He is in control.

Advice About Alaska.

Kerri sent emails to several churches asking about advice on moving to Alaska. She got several emails back. One of the preachers and I talked about why I thought I was being called to move to Alaska. I told him I had been doing research and I had found that a lot of the small villages did not have churches. My idea was to pick a village and go help them with doing every day chores on the weekend and to tell them about Jesus.

The preacher explained not only had this been tried before but that they had not had success with it.

Well I believe that’s why God is sending me.

I know.

What an idiot.

Like God needs me there to do something He could have done with all the other people who tried.

The preacher told me if I was really set on doing this he could get me in contact with a pilot when I got there and it will cost us a lot of money for the pilot to fly me out and back.

God Leads.

God led us back one Sunday to a church we’ve been part of on and off for 15 years. To our surprise they were talking about having a Harvest Sunday the next week. They said this amount was how much money they needed for the ministries they already decided to support. And then they said if they go over they will just have to find new ministries to fund.

Kerri turned to me after church and said, “Follow me.”  She felt we were supposed to talk with two of the church leaders and told them that we were moving to Alaska to minister there. They told us to write up our plan and give it to them.  We said that if more money came in than their budget would they pray about our ministry we’re doing and help move our family to Alaska.

The Plan.

I did not have a plan.

We did not know what to write.

We just felt God was calling us to move to Alaska and to minister to the native Alaskans but we had no idea what the ministry looked like so I sent a message to my new preacher friend in Alaska and said I might be able to get funding for my ministry but I really don’t know what it looks like and I asked if he could help me figure it out.

He said it was so strange that I asked when I did. He had just opened an email about this year’s Alaska lectureship and it’s going to be about evangelism.

He said there are three preachers who sent this message and that I should contact them. So I sent a letter to all three.

After a few days I decided to call.

The Same Old Story.

This preacher told me the same thing the other one did. Working with the villages takes like 15 years just to gain trust.

And he told me his church was full of military families and other people who moved there to climb the corporate ladder and after they got their next promotion they would be out of there.

He told me he would love to have me at his church and that he could use someone who would help make a strong backbone for the church.

I told him that sounded great but I did not feel God was moving me there just to be a part of a local church.

The Next Guy.

The next guy I called started to give me the same story, but then he started telling me ways they were trying to get into the villages, like through prison ministry and working with an adoption agency.

He said there were more kids than families.

He then said something like, “What we really need is a homeless teen shelter.”

We’re your guys. (And now we believe God has shown us a bookkeeper, a gardener, a physical education coach, a history teacher, and a home school teacher.  All of these have been in our thoughts and prayers.  And we believe God’s shown us who they all are.  So we’ll be moving to Alaska with our army of servants ready to help.)

The Empty Church Building.

This preacher said they are trying to build a new church building but had to stop until they could sell the old building. It is a big building and is on eight acres of land.  They thought it was sold before but it fell through and maybe this is the reason why.

My Dad.

My dad’s a preacher.

I called my dad up and was telling him how building the Ark was going.

It was funny because his first words were something I had forgotten about. He said, “Wow! That is exactly what you and Kerri said you wanted to do when you first got married.”

The Ark.

This is the ark that is in my yard.

Why is the ark there?

Well I believe God put the ark there.  Not so I would have something to write about but so God can show people He does work in our lives.

Open your eyes and trust Him and he will send you on great adventures. Some will be sad, some scary, some wild and some will leave you asking “Why?” like in Habakkuk.

But one thing’s for sure. If you have faith in God and trust in Him, He will get you through all of it.

He will turn your pain in to a healing tool.

He will turn your scary moment into comforting.

And He will take your wild adventures and turn it in to an ark in your yard.

His Money.

I was not always broke financially.

I think God designed it this way for His story and to show His power.

I have no clue how any of this is going to happen. What I am doing is what I feel God leading me to do.

I hate asking for help. That is one reason I went to prison in the first place. But like with all God’s adventures, they are designed to make you grow.

Financial Help.

If you want to donate, please email itisallaboutfaithdonate@gmail.com

We are also in the process of making a donate button online and we’ll be glad to send the link when we get this part figured out.  If you know you are to be part of making this happen, email us and we’ll figure out how to get you a receipt for your donation.  The name of the teen place is in the process as is the non profit work we need to do.  He leads. It’s been a long journey. And we haven’t even really started the work yet.

Please Share Our Story.

If you do not feel called to help financially or have no idea how to help please just share this story.

I know God has other people who are supposed to be a part of this because I know nothing about building a homeless teen center and I know I am not capable of doing everything it takes to make it happen.

Why A Teen Center?

I know this has been long but for those who are interested this is why a teen center.

Back in the 1800s when people first started moving to this area, different religions decided to divide Alaska up into sections.

Instead of bringing the Native Alaskans to God they made them not trust people.

Our first goal will be to get the teens to a safe place and make sure they are healthy.

The next thing is to help educate them in skills that will help them survive on their own and make a living.

The most important thing is to let our light shine so that they can see God and are led to Jesus.

There are state run places. The state can house them and feed them, but what they are not doing is showing them God.

Where does an Alaska teen go after he is given the tools to survive and has been given the Light?

He goes where we have had no luck.

He goes where we are not trusted.

He goes back and shows his village how well he is doing, and he shows His Light.

 

~

One of the preachers in Alaska responded quickly after our Ark letter.  He has given us permission to share this.

Great story! Has the church in Texas offered any help? Even if they could do a one-time offer just to help 5you make the move to Alaska there are always employment opportunities here for those who are willing to work. So keep that option in the back of your mind. There is also a tremendous need in Alaska for foster care especially in the Anchorage area. They simply can’t find enough families who are willing to take on that responsibility. So that’s another option to consider. If our congregation were more financially stable we could consider helping families like yours who want to move here to do the Lord’s work. But we’re like so many other congregations in the area. We are plagued with what churches in Alaska typically call “transfer growth” – where families transfer in but stay briefly before leaving again. We have a very transient membership of Air Force and Army families who are here for only three years at most. They’re here just long enough for us to get to know and really love them and then they’re reassigned elsewhere. Then there are others who move to Alaska thinking this is the land of opportunity only to face a harsh winter or two before deciding they can’t handle the cold dark winters. I get really frustrated by all this but it’s just a fact of life about trying to do the Lord’s work in Alaska. But every now and then there are those who move to Alaska and never leave. But they are a rare breed. If you can find the support you need to make the move I think you would never lack for opportunities to fulfill your dreams of making your dreams a reality. Please keep me posted about your progress.

My husband loves someone else more than he loves me.

I am not my husband’s first love or the first one he thinks about in the morning or the last one he thinks about falling asleep at night.

And that’s a good thing.

I support him and thank him for it.  I admire him for it.

Who is this First Love?  Jesus.  As long as my husband loves Jesus FIRST then loves me, I can have confidence and security that he is the best leader for our home.

As long as he puts God before me then whatever comes our way we will be okay.  My husband asks God how to be a better husband and father many times when he prays and that is probably the very sexiest thing about him.

I am not my husband’s first love.

My husband loves someone else more than he loves me.

And I wouldn’t want marriage any other way.

Check it out. It Is All About Faith Blog is on Facebook.

We’d love to hear from you.
It’s a family friendly place.

http://www.facebook.com/itisallaboutfaithblog

Having a few technical difficulties when clicking a blog entry on Facebook to get to WordPress.
Trying to figure that stuff out. When you do work for Jesus, the enemy tries to block it.

God bless!

Where can we let off steam?

I’m not crazy. I’m a mom. And a wife and a leader and a servant and a taxi driver and a counselor and a nurse and a peacemaker and a teacher and a volunteer…

Where can we let off steam?

Where can we really say what’s bothering us? Where can we get support from someone and just be heard and not have someone call the authorities on us?
~
Church? Heavens no. Do we dare admit that we sometimes want to self medicate when they ask for prayers at church? (Or that we actually DO self medicate in whatever our favorite way is?) Oh dear. Not me! Right? I have to look like I’m on top of things. I have to look like I’ve got this all under control. My kids look perfect. My husband is presentable. My smile is on just right.

“Why, sure I can teach the 2 year olds and lead the women’s bible study and neighborhood prayer group.” “Of course I can make 300 cupcakes by Saturday and cut out 180 snowflakes this weekend.” “Yes, send me the documents so I can edit them for you by 3 o’clock today.”

Sometimes the answer needs to be “NO.” That is OKAY! When we take on so much and spread our love too thin we’re not that much help in anything we do.

~
School? Oh you must be talking about THAT mom who stood up for her kids when other students have been unkind for months and the teachers make sarcastic comments like, “Oh is she absent AGAIN? She’s sick ALL the time.” That does NOT help. That is NOT being a good teacher. I trust you daily to care for my child. Be someone I can trust who will speak to (and about) my child with respect the same way you want your kids to be treated.

THAT family where they’ve tried to help teach their child, “Ignore.” “Speak up.” “It’s better not to speak.” “Stand up.” “Be invisible.” “Stand out.” “Have courage.” “Jesus is with you.”

Then THAT family goes to the school for help and the school administration assures you, “That does NOT go on at THIS school!”

Either they are blatantly lying or are absolutely blind to the fact that it IS happening at THIS school. Kids are bullying other kids all the time. If my kid is part of the problem let’s talk about that. If not, then help me figure out a solution while she’s in your care.

Absolutely we [parents and school and church] should be teaching our kids HOW to stand up for themselves and that it is okay to fight back. Turning the other cheek does not mean let someone walk all over you and not stand up for yourself. Absolutely DO stand up for yourself and more importantly stand up for people around you who are being bullied.

What to do about it? I’m sure there is NOT just one answer for every case but maybe the first thing to do is just to admit there is a problem. Stop treating moms and dads like we do not know what is going on. Not everyone is going to try to sue the school if school admits they are not perfect.

~
Work? We go to work. We do our job. We take care of other people’s problems, possibly face a little sexual harassment, brush it off, stop by the grocery store to pick up spaghetti sauce for dinner, walk in the door to hear our kids say, “Hey, mom, I need $20 for the field trip by my first class in the morning.” “Here mom. Sign this please. The teacher said I’m going to need tutoring for a month or until I get this grade up or I’m out of sports.” And my sweet husband says, “Did you take the car to get the tires rotated today?” And I pretend NOT to notice him closing down something on the computer and wonder who he’s cheating on me with this time.

~
Home? What if we lose our temper at home? Mom’s gone crazy. She’s out of control. No. No she’s not.

Sometimes we don’t realize our kids ARE old enough to help at home (at just about every age.) Let them do dishes. Remember, if something accidentally gets dropped, to buy less fragile stuff next time. If a dish is more important than our kids learning service, responsibility and to take care of where they live (because they will ALWAYS need to take care of where they live) then maybe we should buy less breakable stuff from now on. Let them fold laundry. So what if it’s not folded the exact way we would fold it? Let them help. And praise them for it. It will build confidence.

Delegate a little of the housework to each person in the house, briefly teach them how to do it, and then LET them do it. Don’t step in. But DO tell them, “Hey I really appreciate your help. I love how you cleaned the sink.” “I’m having a tough time getting the floor clean in here. You have such great eyesight. Would you please clean to the edges when you clean the bathroom?”

~
Romance? Dates? Looking and feeling sexy as a woman? When do we have time for that?! I WANT that. I NEED that.

~
WHERE can we let off steam? Pretty much nowhere. NO WONDER we are under so much stress. I have seriously considered building a place where women can go and for a small fee they can take a baseball bat and smash stuff for 5 minutes.

On top of all that if we raise our voice to our families we feel like the biggest failure of the century.

THAT is a bad day. When I raise my voice to my family. Worst feeling EVER.

AAAUUGGHHHHHHH!!!!!! ENOUGH. I need a moment to breathe. I need a little silence. I need someone to realize that I am a person, too. I am very great at what I do and yes I can handle 217 thousand things at once and (yes, we all pretty much wear the title “super mom” but) just let me catch my breath.

~~> I need Jesus. He can fill me and give me energy and the strength I need to be the mom and wife I need to be. Ask God for energy and thank Him for it. He is THE answer. He doesn’t HAVE the answer. He IS the answer. <~~

~ And then we kiss the kids good night and do it all again tomorrow. ~

I want you to know that I am praying over your life. I am praying over your jobs, your marriage, your search for a husband, your decision to be single, your church, your education, your kids, your life in general, and your heart. Just know that somebody cares and in case nobody told you today… YOU MATTER.

Just One More

Just one more hug. Just one more book tonight. Just one more kiss. Just one more.

Why not? We are not promised tomorrow and if time on earth was up, as a human mommy, I’d sure want that one more hug from my daughters right now.

We try not to get upset when the kids come downstairs, after bedtime, to talk to us at night. (When it happens more often, of course, we’re not so happy about it. We’re human.)

But, isn’t it nice that when we want to talk to God just one more time today, He doesn’t ground us. He doesn’t say, “I’ve had a rough day, Kerri, and I’m done for today. Maybe we can talk about it tomorrow.” He doesn’t say to me, “Go to bed. Daddy needs a break. I love you, and I need time to myself.” He JUST loves me. He JUST listens to me.

Just WHO AM I to be able to have just one more talk with Him?

Let Me Tell You About My Mom….

Let Me Tell You About My Mom….
Mother’s Day 2010

I remember my mom making sandwiches for the men who dad was working with on stormy nights at the electric company to restore electricity for the families whose houses were hit with lightning.

I remember the fun slumber parties my mom planned for my birthdays. She let me invite as many friends as I wanted to. Mom let us invite one friend our age to the other sister’s slumber parties, too. That was cool.

I remember the most beautiful birthday cakes ever made were the ones my mom made for us on our birthdays…. The kind someone would pay lots of money for, but my mom’s tasted better than ANY store could make.

I remember my mom making beautiful wedding cakes.

I remember telling lot of kids that I was going to have a party and to get off the bus at my house, and they did. My mom didn’t even get mad at me for that. I don’t remember how she got them all home.

I remember mom driving the camper and picking up ALL the friends I wanted to invite to Vacation Bible School, and never complaining about it or making me feel that it was an inconvenience.

Mom makes the very best grandma bread ever. Everyone loves her homemade bread.

My mom made sure we went to church, even on vacations, and that showed me how important church should be.

My mom chose the names for our streets on the corner where we built a house when I was a kid. That was pretty cool.

My mom makes the very best tasting food and makes it look very beautiful. Somehow my macaroni and cheese or deviled eggs just don’t measure up in taste or beauty.

I remember my mom giving up her bed to let company sleep there while mom and dad took a less comfortable place to sleep.

I remember knowing that if I told mom something, that I better expect that she’d tell dad because they had no secrets, and that felt secure.

I remember that mom let us play in the basement and color in coloring books.

My mom taught me hospitality. If someone needs a place to rest, clothes, food, my mom was there for them. I was hungry and… Matthew 25:34-36

Mother’s Day 2010
(From my sweet husband to my mom)
Why my mother-in-law is the greatest

My mother-in-law is the greatest because she is always helping others.
My mother-in-law is the greatest because she makes the best bread in the whole world.
My mother-in-law is the greatest because she always makes me feel welcome.
My mother-in-law is the greatest because she gives the greatest Christmas gifts.
My mother-in-law is the greatest because she has never judged me for my past.
My mother-in-law is the greatest because she had and raised the perfect wife for me.

This is a story about faith and moving to Alaska

Later we will write about all the things we’ve given up on this journey of faith because we do not want to forget and it’s worth sharing.

~
When I was a little kid in 6th grade, I noticed the funniest, cutest, nicest crush I’d ever met in my whole, entire life!

Well he was almost as funny and could make me laugh almost as much as my friend Terry Nishimuta. Terry was the silliest, greatest friend and he could make anyone laugh! I miss Terry. I hope you’re resting in peace in Heaven, crackin’ jokes up there and I just want to say, “Thank you, Terry, for making my school life fun!”

So this crush guy was almost as funny as Terry. He was so kind and nice and he never ever said a mean word to anyone. I loved spending any minute in his presence because he just radiated “friendship.”

Until 6th grade I never knew anyone thought I was weird.

I didn’t even know he thought I was weird. But now that I’m a grown up I don’t think there’s really another way to be. What kinda life is “normal, regular, worry about what everyone else will think of me?” It’s okay (and even envied by some) that we drive a free, somewhat beat up car, with NO car payment [Scratch that. The car’s been broken for over 2 months now so, yes, we’re the weird people with no car and walking most places we need to go.  The scale says I’m 5 pounds less. That’s cool.  Walking is something I WANTED to do but wasn’t doing with a working car.  I suppose we COULD have a car payment and then pay another payment to go to a gym but why?  So we walk a few miles each week for the past couple months.]  There’s just not room for negative energy from others (and thankfully, God has blinded us to some of the unkind looks and comments people have carelessly tossed our way.)

Okay back to Cute Crush David. He could entertain and make us laugh and it felt good to be around him. I’m sure everyone thought so. In all my life I’ve never met anyone as genuinely kind as he was to me way back then. He had the cutest, crooked smile and he said in a sweetest voice that he was going to call me Hee-Hee. OH the way he smiled as he said it! I think it’s cute that people who knew me from 6th grade through high school will still refer to me as Hee-Hee.

David VanBuskirk was his name and I think he was in the 8th grade. He was the kindest, cutest, almost funniest guy I’d ever met. And I’d like to thank him for the nickname, Hee-Hee. In fact, the first time any guy ever told me I was cute was Jeff Caruthers. Our senior year in high school he told me that some of the guys were talking and they agreed, “Hee-Hee’s gettin’ good lookin’.” THOSE were the sweetest words and least expected compliment I could have ever hoped for at that time!

So now… I’m a writer, artist, photographer, a mom of the 2 greatest girls in the world, and wife of a good, Christian man.

Hello, my name is Kerri, and I’m a Child of the One True King!

(Child of the One True King. Thank you, Jordan, preacher’s kid from Kentucky, for sharing your life’s story, and thank you, Matthew West, for writing this song because now THOSE words sing through my mind throughout the days! WHAT a relief from all the lies the enemy tries to put on my name tag!)

Anyway about 3 years ago I clearly had a thought hit me. From God? I think so. I believe God puts things on our hearts every day. So this voice or thought was telling me something like, “You’re going to move.” I was like, “NO WAY! I did not want to hear that! Let’s go on putting this laundry away and not think about that anymore.”

Well… it looks like we actually are moving. I need to move with my husband, 2 girls, a rat named Lancelot, (R.I.P. Sir Lancelot. Lancelot isn’t going with us now.) and a mouse named Charming (Charming won’t be going with us either. R.I.P. sweet Prince Charming) to Alaska.

Why Alaska? We believe God’s moving us there to do ministry work; specifically, moving us there to open a homeless teen center in Wasilla, Alaska.

So as I’m praying something like, “So, God, hey, where is the money going to come from to move to Alaska?” And as the few days go by since the realization that this is actually happening, this morning it hits me, “use the weird in you.” (This of course made me go back to 6th grade and look into David VanBuskirk’s, beautiful brown.  No blue.  No. Hazel? Whatever color those eyes were, they were CaaUUTE! I went back to 6th grade and unashamedly looked deeply into David’s eyes as he sweetly named me Hee-Hee.)

This morning I thought about that guy who took a red paper clip and traded and traded til he traded for a house. That’s kinda cool. (The Internet has a few videos about Kyle MacDonald and his trade of the One Red Paper Clip. One interview was done by the TV show 20/20 if you want to check it out.)

What a great idea. So I look through my house to see what I would offer to trade like that and I was led to a book. It has a picture of snow, snow dogs, a sled, a couple of people in warm coats, an airplane, ice and mountains.

WHAT? I’ve never noticed this before.  Looks quite a lot like Alaska.

[Quick fun fact: A few years earlier I had bought several old books from a garage sale for 10 cents each.  There were two books with the same title.  Interesting:  One of them has a picture of snow etc. resembling Alaska and the other book has a cover picture resembling life in Texas -which is where we live now.  Interesting coincidence -if I believed in coincidences …which I don’t.]

And the name of the book? Roads to Everywhere. Hmmm.  Interesting name.

Okay so what if I could trade this book and a few photo shoots to make enough money to move with my husband, 2 girls, and 1 rat (again, we miss Charming and Lancelot) to Alaska?

Hey! It’s worth a shot! If we try and fail to get a house this way, at least we tried! Try and succeed, or try and fail. At least TRY! Some will cheer. Some will boo. Some will laugh. That’s totally okay. Just be determined to try with 100% as our daughter’s teacher tells the students to do.

~~~~~ Since writing this we have made 3 trades (which is actually 4 things, total.)

We traded the book for binoculars.

Then traded the binoculars for a flowery, fruity, vintage chair.

Someone traded the chair for a Bose speaker set.  NICE!

Now we’re looking for the next trade; someone to trade the speakers for something bigger and better.  The trade can be new or old; doesn’t matter.  If you want to be part of this amazing story please send us your idea for a trade.
~~~~~
We sent Tony’s updated résumé out and we needed a new email address for his job search. We knew it was all about faith so… what to call it? As we sat together in front of the computer and talked, it came to us; itisallaboutfaith@gmail.com

Because you know what? Finding a job, enough money to move and live in Alaska comfortably (and by comfortably, I mean enough to pay all our bills and save, give, go on dates, and send our kids to college or online college, a car or 2 that will not break down with the right tires and no car payment, the right equipment and clothes to not freeze in 40-below weather,) and facing the looks and comments that people subtly (and some not so subtly) toss our way that we must be crazy, is ALL about faith.

By the way, I didn’t tell you yet that I’m TERRIFIED to be out in cyber world on the internet and put my life out there, up for criticism and hate mail, but again, this is a big step of faith. Something that millions of people do every single day without a care; put pictures of themselves and put their lives out in the wide, never-ending space of the internet; it is just something I’m NOT comfortable doing.

So… here I go, in faith.

Time to write.

Nevermind.

I can’t do this.

Yes, I can do this.

Okay, for real this time.

Here it is.

It is all about faith.

~

Thanks for all prayers, business, trades, and contributions!

Please share with other people who may support our Alaska movin’ family?

When did we STOP cheering each other on?

What would your kids say YOU do?

So… sometimes our kids are the best people to describe who we really are. Sometimes the answers make us smile. Sometimes not as much.

What would YOUR kids say YOU do? Encourage people or mock them?

When did we STOP cheering each other on and start looking down on each other for trying do accomplish something?

The news is most of the time… I won’t even say the bad words that flash across my brain to describe the “news.” They make fun of people and “report” some of the very worst stuff. We’ve all heard it “AT LEAST three people were injured.” SERIOUSLY?! “At least?!” Like they hoped MORE were hurt?!!

When our kids are little and learning to walk we cheer for them (and even tell our friends to cheer) until they can walk on their own. We encourage.

Now, as alleged adults, we mock and some people secretly actually enjoy others’ failures. That’s a sad thing in my opinion.

Are we all so jealous of someone actually succeeding that we find twisted comfort in ridicule?

Sometimes it may take a few attempts before we finally get something right. Lots of inventors come to mind. I sure am glad they kept trying.

Do your kids see you encouraging other grown ups or making fun of them behind closed doors?

My writing is not for everybody. But it’s for somebody.

And if I can help ONE person heal even just a little bit by the “stuff” in my life, then I will have the courage to write. Even when people laugh, I will write.

A few years ago a friend told me she knew I was supposed to write a book. I told her she had NO idea what she was talking about.  I’m nobody.  Who would ever want to hear what I have to say? I mean, I’m nobody.

She then said the words that changed my heart, “Hurting people need to hear what you have to say.”

Okay THAT got me… I’ll write.

The thing that has stopped me for a VERY long time is the fear of hate mail or people just looking down on me. And I’m TERRIFIED of being online “out there” in cyber space where people sit behind the false protection and act like it doesn’t matter what ugly stuff is typed to someone else because it doesn’t really “count” because it’s just online etc. etc. etc. It DOES count and you are affecting other people’s lives whether for good or bad by the stuff you say and even the stuff you don’t say.  Anyway the number ONE thing that has stopped me from writing is that – I’m nobody. Not true. I am a Child of the One True King. (And so are YOU. Please live like it.)

So the number TWO thing is that I’m terrified of living ONLINE. Being open and sharing life is obviously not a problem for us, but doing it publicly like this… very scary to me.

I just gotta have faith.

And number THREE, I do not want fame or anything that goes with it. I am perfectly comfortable ministering to the few people God brings across my path and feel safer hidden away in my house NOT sharing with the world.

Famous people do not have privacy anymore. Privacy is NICE. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t fall all over myself if/when we run into “famous” people, I mean, until it is Jesus, because then, I Can Only Imagine how I’ll react! But just because someone knows about someone or knows their picture and people recognize them from movies or TV, most “fans” don’t actually KNOW them. Who they are. What they stand for. How they treat their family. I cannot figure out why people turn into goofballs and can’t speak correctly when meeting someone famous. Sure, it’s an honor. Absolutely. And it’s just as much an honor to get to meet the girl who is working at the grocery store to pay for college. Both are important and God planned and created them both equally valuable. One is just not “famous.”

So

Number 1. I’m nobody.

#2. Terrified of online.

And 3. Fame. Not for me.

But if that’s true; If hurting people DO need to hear what I have to say… then… I will write. I’ll write to share my faith.

My writing is not for everybody. But it’s for somebody.

And if I can help ONE person heal even just a little bit by the “stuff” in my life, then I will have the courage to write. Even when people laugh, I will write.

The Secret of the Enemy

The bank account is negative. For the first time in my life, I have peace anyway (both are rare; the peace I have and the negative account. Though there’s not always much in there when it’s positive…)

I used to lie in bed in the morning and worry. I’d worry over money. I’d cry over money. I’d try to figure out how we can make enough to pay everything AND stay home with our kids because for us, that’s a ministry in itself. We both knew when we got married that we’d give up some stuff and I’d stay home with our kids. For OUR family that is the way it is.

It’s not wrong or right.

Just the way it is for us.

So I’ve worked some years by keeping other people’s kids and several years as a crossing guard for the school district and now also for our photography company God’s allowed us to start.

But every single day I’d worry over money. It never occurred to me HOW much it was a worry until we started to give 10% of our income. And we did that PURELY on faith. We do NOT have EXTRA and honestly it’s not supposed to come from EXTRA anyway. It’s supposed to be your FIRST money. We’ve made a commitment to do this now and though we mess up sometimes, we’re sticking to it for the rest of our lives. Period.

I challenge you to try it for one month. With happiness and obedience. Just TRY it. There is NOTHING like it I’ve ever known. The peace that your heart and mind have. The unexplainable peace. It’s not of this world. You may never go back. This is the beginning of the best times in my whole life, Jack! I can already tell you this and we’ve only done it for a few months.

NOW instead of lying in bed worrying about money every morning, I have changed my habit. Before my feet hit the floor I ask God to show me what He wants me to do today.

Get it? Seek FIRST the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Ask God what He wants you to do every day -AND GO DO IT- and everything else will be taken care of.

My friend pointed out something about me not worrying over money anymore. She said that satan tries to hurt us by using stuff he knows will get to us and now he’s not happy that he can’t get to us by using money this way.

If I’m so worried over money, he’s got my attention and I’m not able to focus on the important stuff God is putting in front of me today.

The enemy wants to WASTE your TIME. Because that’s all you have. Time. And the moments of your life are numbered. If satan can waste your time, ESPECIALLY when you don’t even realize he’s stealing from you, he’s done what he set out to do today.

THAT is the secret of the enemy. Now you know. Whatever you’re worrying over today, I’m praying for peace and focus for you right now. You have really important stuff to do. Ask God what that He wants you to do today and then go and do it.

She is Somebody’s Daughter (Pornography)

My marriage was attacked by brokenness.

Women who pose in pornography films and magazines are broken inside. Period. If you could just see the pain inside the heart of the girl in the porn video or magazine, you’d ache for her with a different part of you. You’d want to help her find healing. You’d treat her like the Child of God that she really is. She just doesn’t believe it or know that she really is yet.

She is somebody’s daughter. She is someone’s niece, aunt, sister, mom, grandma, but most importantly she is WORTHY of so much more than the life she’s trapped in.

Pornography was holding my husband’s attention and we did not realize HOW much it was wrecking our marriage. After a few months in marriage counseling my husband and the best marriage counselor on the entire planet came to the same conclusion.

Pornography was the culprit and was destroying our marriage. There is just NO place for it anywhere. Anywhere.

But the problem is that even soft porn is EVERYWHERE. He has to “bounce” his eyes a lot. The sad thing is you cannot UNsee what you saw. Yes God CAN take the images out of your head but sometimes our brains hold onto stuff when we don’t even want it there anymore.

Even now, 4 years after he’s been able to break free from that trap, and it absolutely IS a TRAP, set on purpose to enslave you forever, there are many times that the residual effects crawl out of the corners of the darkness and claw at our marriage threatening to destroy it.

One thing we’ve noticed is that after we’d be together, he wouldn’t speak to me much for about 3 days. This was killing me. I felt like he didn’t care. He sure cared enough a few days ago. He didn’t even realize he was doing it. We figured out together that it was from the past of seeing pornography and then the shame from it just overwhelmed him. Well, if he’s feeling that shame, he may not want to talk to me because it hurt me and he knows it.

But this was our marriage and it was OKAY for him to be together with me. God designed sex for married people. It’s fun and healthy when there is never another person or any other living, breathing anything involved in any way. As long as you both consent, and it’s ONLY you, your spouse, and God, then pretty much your imagination is the limit.

But the trap that pornography IS does THIS kinda damage and lots of it. Sometimes we’re not even aware of as the cycle keeps on going;  Together. He ignores me for 3 days. I feel like I’m invisible.  And this is only ONE example of the damage pornography does.

If you are upset with me for writing about this I apologize. Our kids hear WAY yucky stuff from kids at school, online, and unfortunately we as parents and people at churches mostly don’t talk about healthy sexuality but we MUST talk to our kids. They WILL learn about stuff somewhere and aren’t YOU the very best person to talk to him or her about such important things? I believe that you are.

So I’m just putting this in here to say I’m very sorry if it offends someone to talk about pornography. It unfortunately is a bigger problem than lots of people realize and we just have to take off our blinders and masks and get down to the stuff satan uses to attack our families every day. It’s not easy to talk sometimes but we just gotta.

This may be a forever thing my husband has to work on and I am willing to be here for him and with him. He’s worked very hard to walk away from that.  In fact, he actually ONLY was able to break free because of God’s help.

I’m so proud of him learning to bounce his eyes and save ALL of his desire just for me, his wife.

There’s NO better way to tell a woman she’s beautiful than this very thing.

It’s been a really tough thing to do and with God’s help he was able to get out of that hell. He’s also a great man for other men to talk to about this subject and many have asked his advice and asked about what books have helped him on this journey of freedom.

~
My husband wanted to add to this story:
~
Well my awesome wife posted a story about some of our journey today. After reading what she had written I thought there were a few things that needed to be added so here it goes.

I’m a preacher’s kid and have been in and around church my whole life.

As some of you know we are moving to Alaska. We feel we are being led there. I won’t go in to all the details just now but there have been a lot of things happen and it seems God wants us to go to Alaska and these days I am all about faith. I have turned into a faith-junky-God-loving-Jesus-freak and I can’t see being any other way.

I guess my story starts off around 16 when someone gave me my first pornography video. From that point on life was all about sex.

Around age 21 I went to prison for armed robbery. Why would I get in to armed robbery? Well it all falls back to me not liking me and that is a story in itself. I’ll tell you that one later.

On my way out of prison I went to a work release. It’s a place where the city gives the state a place to put prisoners and in return the prisoners work for the state. My last job working there was for the city electric company and while I really learned a lot, the problem is that’s where my pornography problem picked back up.

The guys there found out I was good at fixing things like TVs and computers so they started bringing computers for me to fix and equipment for me to build new ones. Well guess what? When I went in – no internet. Now there is internet. For those of you who don’t remember, when the internet first came out if you did a search online and you spelled the word wrong it would pull up pornography websites. People who know me know I am the worst speller ever. By the time I got out of prison and was at this job my pornography problem was bigger than ever.

To shorten the story I will jump to me and Kerri getting married. Kerri and I knew each other as teenagers in different church youth groups.  We didn’t know who we were to each other back then.  I have always loved Kerri deeply but there is no way a wife can match up to a fantasy in any way. Through our marriage I worked on beating my addiction to porn and the longer I was married the more I saw the damage it was doing. I got to the point where I only stumbled every great once in a while.

The problem was the effects after watching it were not going away. I prayed and prayed for God to take it from me and to make me see my wife in a new way.

The strangest thing happened. Kerri and I started going to a new church and they were talking about doing a “mustard seed offering.” Up until this point we had given off and on when there was extra money to be given but we had never made a commitment.

The day they took up the mustard seed offering they gave everyone a packet of mustard seeds and they told everyone to write on the packet things that wanted God to do for them. My first two things on the list were a better relationship with God and a better relationship with my wife and kids. Since then we give out of every paycheck, bonus, and gift.

Lately my wife has been asking me what has gotten into me. Why am I liking her so much? Why am I doing things I have never done? And I told her it’s all because of God and my better relationship with Him.

So if you have something you are praying about and nothing seems to be happening maybe it’s your lack of faith that is stopping things from happening. Maybe you’re not being able to move on from a sin you’re struggling with because you’re not acting on faith or maybe you’re not letting go so God can take control.

So here’s my challenge to you; If there is something in your life you have not acted on because of some reason take a leap of faith, put it in God’s hands and see how wonderfully your life changes.

~
It’s sad when some people react to us like, “DUDE! Don’t they ‘know better’ than to say that kinda stuff?!” Our reaction is, “Dude, don’t you know YOU NEED to talk about that kinda stuff?! You NOT talking about it could be stopping someone God has put in your path who needs healing, but because you are afraid to speak, you are not helping them.”

Now I Die or on second thought… maybe just have a Trash Ministry

I was married before. Yes, you’re reading this from a divorced and remarried child of The One True King. TRUST me. I KNOW. You just DON’T get divorced. When I was growing up there was no, “but if you do get a divorce then this is what to do…” You JUST DON’T.

But I was.

I was and I could not fix it. Do you know what? I now know a little about why God says He hates divorce. Boy, I do too!! I HATE it!

God used a guy I really didn’t care for at work to get me to “wake up and live” after my divorce. He said, “Well what are you going to do now?” I said, “What do you mean, ‘What am I gonna do now?’ Now I die.” He said, “No. You just turn the page.”

Isn’t it JUST like God to use someone you’re not particularly fond of to teach you a lesson He wants to teach. What a sense of humor, right?  That happens often, doesn’t it?

My oldest daughter has come home saying someone was not kind to her and it’s really not fun to be around that person. My response is usually something like, “Well looks like God may have her in your life for a reason. Maybe one of you is there to teach or learn something from the other.” (Not her favorite answer.)  But she usually responds with something like, “I know. I was afraid of that.”

Anyway back to divorce, I’m telling you about my divorce to let you know I’m not perfect and just because NOW I can work on helping other people more, my life has not been just cotton candy (or whatever says “yummy” to you.)

Gotta lay down our pride if we’re going to love on other people and help them through stuff. And we’re layin’ it all down.

My life is full of not wise choices. If it was perfect then probably nobody’d want to hear what I have to say. I’ve found it’s not much fun to talk to someone who appears to have all the answers and who looks perfect. They cannot know the pain I’m going through so I don’t want to talk with them because they kinda just wouldn’t understand, ya know?

My husband and I have talked about the fact that we are able to minister to lots of people with all the “stuff” we’ve been through; prison, smoking, molestation, rape, divorce, blended family, and on the blended family note, you could pray about the book my oldest daughter and I may be writing together about divorce. We’d appreciate prayers on that.

Anyway, we a got a lotta trash God’s turning into gold SO THAT we can help pick others up outta their trash and so on.

The thing is, God can and does use the ugly stuff in our lives to turn around and glorify Him. He takes our trash and makes it a ministry. Hey! I guess I have a trash ministry. And I’m proud to say it. “What do you do?” “Glad you asked. I have a trash ministry.” (Come to think of it, I have a chapter about that in my book already mostly written. It’s not just those words but… okay, some day I really need to finish that book.)

You probably have a trash ministry too.

It’s sad when some people react to us like, “DUDE! Don’t they ‘know better’ than to say that kinda stuff?” Our reaction is, “Dude, don’t you know you need to talk about that kinda stuff? You NOT talking about it could be stopping someone God has put in your path who needs healing, but because you are afraid to speak, you are not helping them.”