Dear People Who Feel God Stirring Your Heart to Some Kind of Ministry,

Where do you put your hope?

ONLY YOU know when God whispers to your soul.

It’s something you’ll not soon forget.

Please pray continually about the ministry He’s nudging you to. Every step needs to be saturated in prayer.

When God puts a dream in your heart HE can be trusted to lead you to everything you will need to do the work.

We’ve listened to many, many people tell us that we need to “do things this way” or “that way” because “that’s just the way ministry works.” There is some good advice out there.

But also I’ve heard of brand new ministries that were born into people’s hearts but were aborted because they gave up when a few said, “That’s not possible” or “No. We won’t fund that.” Some give up when faced with churches who want a “5 Year Plan” and won’t even pray with them toward this work.

I just CAN’T find it in the Bible where Jesus said follow committees, preachers, or churches, family, friends, or other leaders, and when they say “No” then give up.

Where is your Hope? In people? In circumstances? In other Christians? Or in God?

I have read that Jesus says “Follow ME.”

God is the God of the impossible. He’s great at making impossible things possible.

The Holy Spirit is here to lead us.

This stuff is real.

What God has put on my heart is that when people and churches and organizations that do NOT donate, whether prayers or money or other kinds of support, that does NOT mean it’s time to give up!

Perhaps God wasn’t using them for this particular ministry.

And that’s okay!

 

There are many people God does bring you in contact with who believe with you

…BEFORE the physical buildings can be seen,

…BEFORE it “looks official,”

…when it’s still ONLY BY FAITH that you feel compelled to take another step.

We felt God planting in our hearts that He was moving our family from Texas to Alaska to open a homeless teen place. Currently we’re waiting on Him in Washington. He’s training us more every day.

And I still can’t give anyone a 5 year plan. (…probably never will be able to.)

And the funny thing is I can’t find it in The Bible where God says I have to.

As we have stayed in prayer, walking in faith, over the past 4 years, God has led us to people:

with hearts for ministry and specifically for this ministry we feel moved to,

who are counselors,

people on Boards of Directors who are already working with the homeless,

people who have started organizations that help rescue sex-trafficked girls,

maternity ministries,

CEOs with the same hearts for this kind of ministry,

people who know about nonprofits like 501c3,

architects,

builders,

teachers,

camp directors,

musicians,

worship leaders,

preachers,

prayer warriors,

singers,

gardeners,

landscapers,

hunters,

chefs,

janitors,

AND

people who have donated financially (some once, and some a few times) over the past 4 years

EVEN THOUGH

they know we’re not even “there” yet. (Yes, we’re keeping the list for later tax purposes.)

God has sent people to believe with us, in spirit and in action.

And THAT is the most amazing thing.

For God to send support like that is just reassurance time after time that HE’s got this and HE IS listening and leading and providing.

After all, He IS our Provider, so… I’m not surprised but ALWAYS constantly in awe every single step of the way.

If we’d TRIED to plan all this, things couldn’t have ever gone better.

When you see God giving you the next step and the next, you can’t help but want more!

My question is that if we’d “planned” it all on paper (to get a church or organization to donate) then where does being open to the Holy Spirit daily fit in?

I actually don’t even think that’s how it’s supposed to be done “Biblically.” I think that’s taking a dream God gives and trying to make it fit our way.

Perhaps “planning” how we want it to look isn’t such a perfect way after all.

That “plan” would have changed so many times by now already.

My faith and my hope is NOT in an organization

or in a preacher

or in a committee who may pull funding

if we’re not fast enough for them,

or if we don’t baptize enough people in their given amount of time,

or for whatever results they want to see on a graph chart or powerpoint.

My hope is in HIM.

And HE is faithful to complete work He started.

 

SOMEBODY NEEDS YOU.

And God, ALONE, is MORE THAN ENOUGH to lead you to this work He’s prepared in advance for you to do. (You’ll know it when it happens because it’ll include your passion and talents He gave you.)

I can’t tell you it will be easy but it’s very worth it even when others think it’s silly. (And they will. So what? Let them think it’s silly. Perhaps, when they’re ready to surrender to Him, God will move them, too. Your job isn’t to convince them. It’s to follow in faith.)

There are doors that God unlocks through prayer, singing praises to Him, and reading Scripture out loud, that we could never have unlocked ourselves.

God opens doors that NO enemy can shut.

And He closes doors that NO friend can open.

HE IS ABLE.

 

A few years ago when we told someone about this God-sized dream He’s placed in our hearts, they asked skeptically, “You and whose army?! Who is going to do this work with you?!” I said, “Me and whatever army God calls together.”

Watch Him do it.

 

Hear This Truth:

Proverbs 3:5-6

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.

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If God planted a ministry in your heart…

God can move the mountains that are in the way.

There are so many ministries that God planted in people – but that haven’t begun – because we (members of church) put our faith for financing, encouragement, prayers, and other support in leaders of a church.

Please read that again.

If God has laid a ministry on your heart and you don’t find the leaders of a certain congregation to be in prayer with you, encouraging your God-given talents, believing with you that God is calling you and that He calls each of us in His timing to do work He’s prepared in advance for each of us to do,

I pray you prayerfully consider that it’s (probably way past) time to look  UP  instead of looking for support all around.

 

Sometimes leaders of a church or organization will not share (and I cannot understand why) the dream God’s given you with the rest of the congregation and a reason I think this is sad is because God only knows who else shares your passion but since the elders, preachers, pastors, teachers, deacons, or select committees won’t share what you’re feeling God doing in you with the rest of the church, others with the same message on their hearts are not even aware of the ministry God’s growing inside your spirit.

 Please don’t let that steal your joy or your faith. You know the opposition wants to kill ministries before they’re even born. What a horrible trick to use churches to extinguish God-ignited passion! We’ve all been tricked.

(Maybe your hope has been in the wrong place.) Stay in prayer.

If God has given you the dream of a ministry, you KNOW that He is MORE than capable to provide everything that is needed to carry that job out; including bringing you to the very contacts He knows you need, providing the money you need, and the land, buildings, and supplies. HE is The God of the impossible and all HIS resources are overflowing! You can have a body of believers praying for you from all over the world!

You can trust God to lead and provide better than anyone else.

Trust HIS timing even when (you or) others seem to think something is not happening fast enough. Trust Him to align your steps, asking Him to guide you every day.

If church leaders tell you that the money is already budgeted for the next year – or ten years… maybe their faith isn’t what it needs to be. It’s possible that the leaders’ lack of faith that God will provide for ANY ministry He plants in someone is something He will make them aware of eventually. Maybe right now they aren’t able to see beyond what they can see. (It is also possible that God is not using a certain group to provide financial support  – but even if they truly believe the money donated at that location is to be used in other ways, the leaders can STILL provide much support including sharing what the ministry is about and actively praying with you and for you.)

Sometimes everyone seems to struggle with having little faith. (God’s been reminding me to be kind about this always no matter who I’m talking with because some days the struggle of little faith is within me.)

God works with us all at different times and in different ways.

 

If God is calling you to begin a certain ministry, keep trusting God, asking Him for confirmation, provision, wisdom, and guidance.

Maybe God wants you looking to HIM for support that ONLY HE can give.

It’s just a thought – and it’s one He’s brought me to after seeking, asking, and knocking for answers.

This letter is to encourage you to look beyond what you can see (and who you can see) and to keep praying for God to lead in ways and open doors that ONLY He can open anyway.

Your friends cannot open doors God has closed and your enemies cannot close doors that God opens for you.

You can know that I’m already praying about the ministry He’s planted in your heart (maybe it was planted a long, long time ago) and it will be exciting to hear what He does in your life! It’s not too late.

It doesn’t have to be a leap of faith. A tiny, baby step of faith is a great beginning.

 

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

 

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.]

 

More Than Bathroom Signs

Just because something feels right or good doesn’t always mean we should follow it or do it. It may be good to ask for more direction or read the signs before moving forward.

For example:

When you walk down the hallway where the bathrooms are at the nearest Chili’s, which I’ve done a hundred times over the years, the women’s restroom is on the left and the men’s is straight ahead.

But when you walk down the hallway marked “Restrooms” at Jason’s Deli, the one on the left is NOT – I repeat – NOT where they keep the women’s restroom.

It may be best not to ask me how I know this. Let’s just say I pay more attention to signs than I used to. (I may – or may not – have been in the restroom when I witnessed, through the crack in the stall door, a man washing his hands in what I thought was the women’s bathroom.)

If you’ve read this blog before then you know I’m talking about more than bathroom signs.

One time, about 3 or so years ago, I sat in my house and shared a fear with a teacher from church that I felt God was leading me to speak on stage one day and I was kind of afraid and didn’t really want to do this. (Give me a room full of 2 or 3 year olds and SURE I’m great and love teaching but a room full of adults; Yikes!)

Without hesitation he said, “Yeeaahh, but if He’s not…”

And I quietly repeated that I really feel He’s showing me (and He has been tugging on my heart for some time) this is something He’s doing with my life.  “But I think God’s doing this with me.”

Again, ALL he said was, “Yeahh, but if He’s not…”

That doesn’t seem like a very wise response when someone tells you that she feels God is leading her to something (whether she’s afraid or not.)

You’re probably already thinking there are at least 20 better pieces of advice or responses that could follow that.

~~> I believe the very best advice may be this encouragement when people open up and share with you what they believe God is doing in their lives; “That sounds amazing. Ask for more confirmation. I’ll be praying, too.” <~~

The problem I had with this experience was that I listened to a man (and someone I respected at the time) over what I kinda already knew to be true. And I believed that I probably “heard” God wrong for a few more years.

The only reason I can see to tell people they’re wrong about God Calling them is jealousy or maybe ignorance about the truth that the Holy Spirit actually does what God says He does in the Bible and that He actually DOES live in us and He actually DOES guide us every day. He actually interprets for us when we talk to God and aren’t even sure what to pray.

If you feel God is leading you to something, please pray for more confirmation and ask other believers to pray with you, too. I believe many of us miss out on Supernatural and Divine work that God’s got for us simply because we are listening to other people tell us it’s not possible that God actually works in ways He says He does.

God can take things we think are impossible and make them completely 100% possible and real. And He does this with everyday people like you and me. Believe His Promises.

Think about this:

If people tell you God only uses teachers, preachers, and Bible scholars, then maybe they’re missing the fact that Jesus chose regular people to walk with Him and perform miracles. He could have chosen anyone, right?

God’s got a plan for your life no matter who you are or what you’ve done.

Ask Him for more confirmation. And I’ll be praying, too.

 

I’ve fallen in love

I just can’t explain it! I’ve fallen in love!

You know when you feel warm and secure all inside and out?

You know what I’m talking about!

He’s all you can think about and he takes up all the places in your mind.

You spend all day long daydreaming about him.

People almost get tired of hearing you talk about how great he is.

I’m telling you ~ when you fall in love with Jesus you just cannot shut up about Him!

I’ve heard other Jesus Freaks talking about this kind of life. I’m SO glad I listened now!

I have to be honest. I didn’t understand for many years what they were talking about but now I get it. You’ve heard all that stuff about, “I was blind but now I see.”

It’s real.

He just does something to you and you cannot get enough of this amazing relationship!

Sometimes I wonder what our lives would look like if we STARTED with Jesus instead of searching through everything else under the sun first… because there is nothing new under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 1:9)

What if we started our kids on this path when they are young instead of the fickle, wobbly, unsafe, insecure, flimsy path many of us walked on through the years?

I’m not just saying to learn ABOUT Jesus. I’m talking about KNOWING Jesus.

When God gives a gift He really gives a gift! His Son is a gift. You cannot earn Him. You cannot buy Him. You just accept Him. That’s what a gift is. A gift is freely given. You can reject Him because you think He’s not the right whatever but I can honestly say you are missing out on some Heaven on Earth if you choose “Return to Sender” on this gift.  For certain you would be missing out after this life is over and getting to spend an eternity in Heaven with Him.  Can you imagine it?!  Forever with the One you love?!

Instead of looking to a teacher, pastor, preacher, a church, state leader, national leader, or even our mentors, what if WE search for Jesus? We have access to Jesus. God gave this to us.

Just talk to Him. Ask Him to be with you.

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13

OH what a difference, God, You have made in me! Holy Spirit, stay with me and guide me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

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.

 

Are you living every day feeling like something is missing? Maybe it is.

Nobody but God can qualify you for the work He has for your life.

Nobody can take away your job but God. If you turn your back on Him He may let you have your way though. But remember His thoughts are higher than our thoughts and His ways are higher than our ways. So what I know for certain is that if you walk away from your calling, you’re missing out on what you were created for which leaves you feeling pretty empty.

And as for people who do evil saying it’s in God’s name – all I can say is I’d hate to be standing in your place after this earthly life ends. I’m glad I won’t have to see what happens to you for claiming to be a Christian or using God’s name to steal, kill, and destroy.

Contrary to the way the world has taught us to believe, you do not need a thousand hours of college or hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt to do the job God’s got for your life.

A degree does not make you more valuable in God’s eyes.

You are valuable just because He created you.

I’m writing this because I know many people who feel held back and for many it’s because they didn’t finish college so their lives are passing them by because culture told them they were “less than” and they are believing that lie.

Believe it no more.

I’m not saying college isn’t important for some things. It is. Surely there are some good things about college but many times we’re just aimless young people who haven’t had people in our lives helping us discover our talents and guiding us in the path God has for us. (I do know many people who spend college years studying the art of partying more than other subjects. You can find anything you’re looking for in just about any situation whether it is sex, drugs, stuff, pain, or wonderful friendships and other healthy things.)

Do not write me a hundred pages saying I’m a college hater. I’m not.

I went to college.

I went to a Christian college.

That does not make me a Christian.

It does not make me better than someone.

It does not make me smarter than someone who did not go to college.

That means I can pay money to sit in classes and listen to teachers for many hours.

 

What I AM saying is that college did NOT qualify me for the calling God has put on my heart.

 

Your mom doesn’t qualify you for your calling.

Your dad doesn’t qualify you for your calling.

Of course they can encourage you (or, unfortunately, hold you back) but God qualifies you.

Teachers don’t qualify you.

Your best friend doesn’t qualify you.

Many times preachers or elders at church aren’t even realizing (or supporting) the talents you have or the calling God’s laid on your heart.

Your husband or wife can’t even qualify you but you can be supportive of each other as you serve God in the way He’s planned for both your lives.

Time and time again all through the Bible God does not call the “qualified” but He qualifies the called.

Are you living every day feeling like something is missing? Maybe it is. Ask God what’s missing. He is THE ONE to ask.

He restores what was stolen. In my life it was my innocence and my confidence one evening while playing hide and seek when I was 9 years old.

I did not even know my confidence had been stolen until He gave it back to me about one year ago. I lived about 35 years without my confidence. I know we can go through life missing stuff and not realize it. I’m living proof of this.

Ask God to restore what was taken from you. You may not even realize what is missing yet. He and only He can restore this for you.

There’s a great big world who needs you to do the job God created you to do. He will pick you up and give you a firm place to stand. He will give you all that is needed to do the job He’s called you to do and He opens doors that no man can shut and shuts doors that no man can open.

Is He calling you? You don’t have to wait for anyone else to validate you. Ask God what He wants you to do today. And keep asking every day. He will lead you.

 

 

Just maybe

My prayer tonight is for the grade school kids and middle school kids to be included in service for the community and church because when they are told they’re “too young” for so long; too young to help, too young to serve, only ages 15 and up can help with cleaning up someone’s yard etc. maybe we’re missing something.

I believe it’s damaging to young spirits to keep hearing they are too young to DO SOMETHING great.

When they are young and want to serve but are not given jobs (and I’m talking about jobs they are very able to do; like pick up in the auditorium, pick up someone’s yard, maybe lead a Sunday morning class FOR 3rd graders BY 3rd graders…) by the time they are “old enough” by church or community standards, they are many times not even interested anymore.

Then we’ve heard churches ask, “What happened to the 19 to 30 year olds? Where are they?”

They were given a Senior graduation celebration, moved away from their parents and everything they knew, went out into the world (many times to college) came back to visit their “home” church congregation only to find they are no longer welcome in their own youth group because they are now “too old” for the “youth group” and don’t feel there is a welcoming place they fit anymore. “Yay! You’re a Senior! Feel loved? Good because when you come back there is another surprise!”

We have an idea.

What if we include them when they’re young and WANT to help and maybe when they’re older they’ll STILL want to help?

What if we create a class where college age kids (and older) are welcome to come and go as they grow up? What if it was a place they knew they were welcome ANY time they were in town? What if they KNEW when they came “home” they’d have a welcoming place instead of feeling “out of place?!” What if that place was a place they could unload all their worries and concerns they’re having out in the world instead of it only being a class where they don’t feel welcome to speak what’s really on their minds?

I don’t begin to know all the answers but I know some.

And when I’m married to a guy
who is a preacher’s kid (just like the kids sitting in Bible class)
who messed up,
who went to prison,
who served God and asked God to grow his faith WHILE he was in prison,
who now lives a life of faith,
and has been equipped with eyes and a heart for the kid who feels alone and may be heading down the same kind of path,
and knows how to help teens be included,
but yet he’s shut out because he has a criminal record but did NOTHING against a child…
I can’t help but think MAYBE he’s part of the solution but nobody opens their eyes to see the treasure God has placed right in front of them.

Maybe…

JUST MAYBE he’s the VERY RIGHT person the teens and parents should hear from.

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.

Mommy is a pole dancer for Daddy (and that is healthy)

I wanted to look sexier for myself and for my husband (even though he already likes the way I look and he’d never ask me to work out unless it was with him and for fun. He seems to have eyes that see me kinda the way God sees me. As beautiful.)

The best thing was to just tough it out and do regular work outs like regular people but working out is not one of my favorite things to do. Knowing I NEED to work out even though it’s torture

I chose to look for a more fun way to do it.

I found a pole dancing exercise place just for women. What a GREAT idea! I’d work out, feel sexier, look better, AND have a special private show for my husband.

Yes it really was a great idea but if I did this I knew I’d want to install poles in our bedroom so I could do my work outs at home for date nights also.

It may sound silly but this was heavy on my mind. I REALLY wanted to do this. But HOW could I install a pole in my bedroom when we have kids? WHAT would we tell them? Do I install two poles and say they are for support for our ceiling? Do we put a hammock hanging between them? “Oh kids, look at the metal trees.” Do we install one and say it’s a Maypole? (You know, those poles where children dance around it holding the ribbons.)

But we don’t lie to our kids. And some day they’ll eventually see a pole somewhere and they’ll know what the dancing is about and they may go into shock remembering

“that wedding anniversary when mommy and daddy installed the pole in their room.”

Lying on the counselor’s couch they’ll say, “So THAT’S what that was for! Say it isn‘t so!!”

I asked several girlfriends what they thought I should say to my kids about it. Nobody had the perfect answer that wouldn’t be dishonest. After a few months I gave up. I didn’t take the pole dancing class. I didn’t install a pole. I didn’t dance for my husband and I didn’t work out most of that year.

A while after that I was talking to my mother in law. She’s a preacher’s wife and a good, fun, God fearing mother and Grammy. She’s not afraid to give her opinion and we like that about her.

I told her it would be fun to take this class together if we lived closer to each other. I told her of the debating and agony I went through and that I’d want a pole in our bedroom if we did that exercise class.

I said THE reason I didn’t take the class is because I didn’t know what to tell her grandbabies about the pole. This sweet preacher’s wife had the best answer EVER. She said, “Well that’s easy. Tell them you had a REALLY FUN MARRIAGE!”

Time to sign up for that class!