God has moved mountains and turned our lives upside down.

Can you even IMAGINE the love kids will know when we finally are able to look into their eyes and tell them God has moved mountains and turned our lives upside down just for us to get to them?

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.  Proverbs 3:5-6

This stuff is real.

Very recently I yelled at God. It was something like, “God, YOU are the One who gave me this dream! Show me how and when! We are willing to follow You and obey. You know this. Please just show us HOW!” The ache to help people who need love is so great and we are so ready to go serve how God has called us to serve.

About 5 years ago God put a thought into my head, “YOU ARE MOVING.”

I didn’t want to hear that. So I didn’t listen.

Instead I told an elder at church that, “I could never move because I love this church too much.” I believe God took that church (building) out of our path because I was disobedient.  (And I lived to tell about it. God does not stop loving us or using us when we’re disobedient contrary to what so many people tell you. God uses ALL of your story for His Glory.)

But this was so strong that I could not ignore it.

It’s April. God put it on my heart that April 1st would be the time He moved us to Alaska to begin work on the homeless teen center dream. I was like, “God, You KNOW what April 1st is.  I don’t want to tell people that!”

Many people know that we thought it was last April. The thing is; there are a lot of Aprils in our lifetime. There is one every year.

If God’s shown you a time or season for something just keep trusting Him no matter what other people tell you because He knows what He’s doing.

We’ve looked like fools for Him kinda “building an ark” in our yard for the past year and a half since we started telling people about what He’s doing in our lives.

And we’ll KEEP ON looking like fools for Him until the day He takes our breath away.

My God is real. My God can do more than you ever ask or imagine. Follow Him. Talk to Him. (You can talk to Him right now. This story isn’t going anywhere. I’ll wait right here.)

Before He gave me this dream:

1. I never dreamed of going to live in Alaska. But apparently it’s been something my husband wanted to do since he was a little boy. (I didn’t know that til last year.)

2. I didn’t even LIKE teenagers until one of my own kids was a teenager.  My favorite ages have always been the 2s and 3s.  I love to listen to the stuff they talk about!

The world tells you that teenagers are… well, the world says lots of negative things about teenagers.  The truth about teenagers is that teenagers need respect just like adults and younger kids do and when we show them respect, they are quick to give respect back. Listen to their crazy dreams and stuff they think about, pray over them, and help them find their talents and what God wants to do with them. And how God uses them may or may not look like we think it “should” look regarding culture and school, career, and life. And that’s OKAY!

Even when nobody really (other than my 2 daughters who have always believed in me) believed what God had shown me, I still knew He was doing this work in my life and what He’s calling us to go do.

~~>  Walking by faith is SO very LONELY but SO very worth it.  <~~

Okay so check this out.

April 1st.  I yelled at God to show me HOW.

April 2nd.  We were led to a car dealership.

Wait. First we were led to a camper/RV place.

Wait. First before that my husband’s friend asked him to hang out for the day and they drove by the camper dealership so later he asked me to go see them with him.

But before that my husband worked over 50 hours in 3 days.

Okay. There’s not even a way to begin this story and explain how we got here unless God shows me how to share the details.

When you follow Jesus, be ready to let go of stuff you keep trying to control.

This is a God thing. If you’ve read this blog much it’s not new to hear that we have been waiting on God’s timing and a miracle. We are in the middle of another one right now.

God can do anything with anybody.

This truck thing happened with no credit for several years, a payment that meets our income, all the details we prayed about, strong enough to pull a trailer, and it was at the dealership for just a week (not even put in the front to sell yet.)  The guy said they rarely have this kind of truck for this price and right now they had TWO.

After we were home for the night, we all went to bed praying if this is God’s provision then great and if not, that’s great too. We asked Him to show us the next steps and to give us peace either way.

God showed me one time last year in a dream that we had a big white vehicle. When I woke up, I knew it wasn’t a bus or a van. At that time it didn’t occur to me that it could be a camper.

We revisited a used camper lot and the woman asked what we were looking for. All the campers there had only 1 bed in them. (All except one.) We need 3 or 4 beds for our family.  She showed us a camper with SEVEN beds and now we have a truck to pull it and to carry the art supplies, photography equipment, decorations, sewing patterns, hair and make-up supplies, and most importantly those mismatched tea party pieces.

~~>  You read that right.  We are moving to Alaska to celebrate people who haven’t been very celebrated.  <~~

The story God’s leading us through has touched so many lives already and we haven’t even begun the actual work IN Alaska yet.  Praise Him!  (When God shows you WHY you’re here it will blow your mind! Ask Him to show you. There’s nothing like this in the whole world.)

The other 2 pieces that go with the truck are the camper and an enclosed truck bed cover to store boxes in for the drive to Alaska (as tall as possible and we’re looking at junk yards to find one in case anyone knows of any good places.)

We need $20,000 more to pay for the camper and for gas to move there. And I hear there’s a ferry we need to pay for to move the truck and camper across water so probably more than this and I KNOW God will provide this somehow.

If a father asks his son to mow the yard, he’ll give him (or show him how to get) a lawn mower, gas (or an extension cord and electricity,) and a lawn to mow.  How much MORE will God supply for His children when we listen and follow what He’s calling us to do?!  He will supply everything ~ INCLUDING leading us to the very people He’s calling us to help!

If you know anyone with a heart for this ministry or who just wants to help this mission get started, please share our story.

We have hearts for homeless people and we are able to physically go there to serve them.  We know there are many more people who ALSO have hearts for this ministry and who cannot go physically but DO have resources to help do this work for Him.

We are going to give people a safe place to stay for a while, teach interview and job skills, budgeting, celebrate people who maybe haven’t felt a reason to celebrate lately, and MOST importantly lead people to a closer relationship with Jesus.

When you feel called to give, then give.  When you don’t, then don’t.   It’s really that simple.

I’ll say it again.

Can you even IMAGINE the love kids will know when we finally are able to look into their eyes and tell them God has moved mountains and turned our lives upside down just for us to get to them?

miracle truck

All eyes are on You, Lord.  We give all the glory to You.

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Let Them See You In Us

God, as we do work for You every day please always remind us this is about You and not us. Please keep us humble and not try to take the spotlight off You. Please remind us that the work we are doing is to lift You and only You. If we forget and start to like attention please take the attention and turn it back to You. Please do not let us get caught up in how the world and culture think life should be but let us remember who gave us our talents to do these jobs in the first place.

You are our Father and thank you for loving us as a good Father does. Thank you for Your Son because as a parent it’s really amazing to know You gave Your only Son as a sacrifice for our sins. How could You even do that? My mind can’t comprehend this. Thank You, God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit for guiding us, never giving up on us when we turn to You, and for Your perfect love for each of us.

Please give us words to witness to others in the way You would bless it and want us to witness. Please give us courage when someone stands against us and please give us words to speak and know when to be silent. Please give us wisdom to know when we are in the wrong and please lift our faces to look at You to find truth again. Please forgive us of our sins.

Thank You for Your Angels watching over us and thank You for making our paths straight. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

I’ve Been Burned

I won't hide it. This will be my ministry. Genesis 50:20

I won’t hide it. This will be my ministry. Genesis 50:20

When I started asking God what HE wants ME to do every day instead of showing HIM that MY stuff was so important and my “to do list” was more important than whatever He had in mind, do you know what He did?

He has been giving me everything I need to do the job He’s asking me to do. He’s been leading me and equipping me every day.

One thing He’s done is that He gave me confidence.

WHO can give the gift of confidence? I can’t. You can’t. I mean, we can help lift each other but to actually GIVE the GIFT of confidence? Who can do this?

I can only think of ONE.

I haven’t had confidence since it was stolen from me. I have not had confidence since I was 9 years old and playing Hide and Seek with my cousins then my uncle decided to lift the sleeping bag and tell me, “Hide under here!”

WHAT a great hiding place!  They’d never think to look under here!  Thanks uncle.

Or maybe not.

I didn’t move. I knew if I moved then they’d find me and then I’d lose the game of Hide and Seek.

That’s how innocent I was.

That was the beginning of many years of satan convincing me I was nothing. That little devil was busy at work to make me believe his lies. I must have been quite a threat for him to work so long on me. Maybe you are a threat to him, too?

God allows bad things to happen to people. I don’t blame God. We all have free choice to eat the fruit the same way Adam and Eve ate it.

And we all have the same free choice every day NOT to eat it.

I have even forgiven my uncle and I am still not going to have my children around him. That would not be wise. (I’m not arguing this point with anyone.) This is my choice because I am my children’s mom and God does expect us to use the discernment He gives us.

See this picture of our table? There are many names on it. (Maybe I’ll write about why we let people sign our kitchen table in another post.) This can represent my heart and people who have come and gone through my life. Some have faded and some are bold, still.

They ALL are written there for a reason.

Now let’s talk about that big, black, burn mark in the middle of the table.

That burn mark is something that everyone sees or senses… but many of us don’t speak about it in our lives.

If I don’t talk about it because that’s uncomfortable or it would make someone else feel uncomfortable (especially at church because unfortunately that’s usually frowned upon and people are often gossiped about when we DO have courage to share our stories) then quite possibly the pain, and the wisdom I’ve gained through this pain, isn’t being used to help others.

I’ve been burned, right? God takes those very ashes and makes them into something beautiful that He will turn back around to glorify Him. He will use my pain and not waste it. I have peace in this.

You can have peace in your pain, too.

What God has been leading me to do (well, part of it) is to be online (which is more than a few zip codes out of my comfort zone) and speak blessings over people, challenge them to ask themselves “WHY” they believe and do what they believe and do, and then the bigger one of moving to Alaska to open and care for a homeless teen place.

I could not do this on my own. Ever. Period.  Any of it.

For the past 6 months every morning before my feet touch the floor, I pray, (sometimes silently and sometimes out loud) “God, what do YOU want me to do today?”

One day a couple days ago when I woke up, (or rather when God allowed me to wake up ~ and we may all do well to remember this about life when we open our eyes in the mornings) I thought to myself, “What if I STOPPED asking God, ‘Hey, God, what do YOU want me to do today?'”

UM, THAT’D BE A QUICK, “NOPE. I’m not going there!”  There’s no going back.

Submission to God’s will and plan for our lives can actually be a fun thing. It’s very exhausting and trying at times and sometimes it’s lonely. But this is so worth it. It’s fulfilling my soul in a way that’s never happened before.

God will use YOUR pain for His glory.  Your pain will not go to waste.

I hope you choose to try this.  It’s simple. (I didn’t say it’s easy though.)

Ask God, the Creator of YOU, the Creator of all your talents, of all your likes and dislikes, what HIS plan is for you today.  He KNOWS you.  He LOVES you.  He’s got wonderful plans for your life.  Do you have the courage to just ask Him to show you those plans?

I know you do.  He will make beauty from your ashes.

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.

She bluntly asked, “What’s WRONG with you?!” -by Guest Writer, Chloe Liv

I asked her what she meant.

She told me, “You’re different.  You don’t cuss or anything!  What’s wrong with you?”

I told her that I have Jesus. She said she wanted what I had.

She started to come to church with me and often our conversations would end in tears as she realized just how much God loves her and will love her no matter what. After a while her parents made rules. She could NOT come to church with me. Or go to “my” church. But she could go to someone else’s church and I could go with her… Rule after rule we gave up. I wanted her to be able to know more about Him and she craved it.

Finally I felt completely defeated. I felt like I failed.

And so I asked my mom if there was ANYthing ANY LITTLE thing I could do.

She told me (these are her exact words,) “Take church to her.” Me and mommy talked a little longer and then Jesus Club became an idea that would soon help tons of people.

As a freshman I was placed in a senior class on accident. I was in there a couple weeks and really connected with the teacher. I could see where his faith stands and who he is so I asked if I could “borrow” his class room. I didn’t even tell him why yet and he said “No! That’s like asking to borrow my car!!” A little shocked I was like ummmm okay then. I was about to turn around and leave and he said “Chloe, when would you need the room?” He still didn’t know why but knowing who I am and where my faith stands he opened up his class room to us.

Jesus Club.
-Chloe Liv

~
Sometimes kids tell Chloe they want to go but don’t think they should.

Some say they are atheist. Chloe says, “I don’t care. Just come anyway.”
Some kids tell her, “AWKWARD! I don’t go to church…” She says, “That’s okay. Just come anyway.”
Some kids say, “I’ve never prayed before.” She says, “Awesome. So let’s pray together.”

~
The best Christmas present EVER came from this teacher to Chloe.

Her teacher stopped her and said something like, “Chloe, I am so proud of you for starting Jesus Club. You are changing lives and I can see it. You’re planting seeds and I know it’s just going to keep on going even after you move to Alaska.”

THIS child. This VERY, VERY, VERY SHY child. This child would CRY if she had to ask for a straw at a restaurant. We had to MAKE her ask for a straw. She would beg us not to make her talk. LOOK at THIS child being used by God for His work AND loving it!

THE best Christmas present EVER is to know your child’s heart belongs to God. And on top of that leading other kids to Christ. No piece of plastic or electronics or even a house for Christmas is better than this gift.

God is very much at work. Open your eyes and watch His miracles that happen every day.