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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Hello in there. You are missed!

Hello in there you are missed bk blog mommy

Whatever happened to bury you this deep, I’m really sorry.

Life’s blows with the enemy’s help have treated you unfairly and you put up a wall.

Then you added another.

Then another.

Until you built a VERY impressive battleground.

 

If people come near you (I mean the real you) they may -or may not- step on a landmine.

But that’s up to YOU whether it’s a landmine or you just give them a shove to knock them down for a minute (or if you want to shut them up for longer, that’s still your choice.)

YOU get to have that control.

And nobody can take that control from you!

You feel safe there.

And the truth is… NOBODY can make you come out.

NOBODY can break into THIS kind of castle!

 

But… the world isn’t the same with you locked away in this castle façade of a prison.

The enemy surely knew what he was doing when he isolated you.

I mean, he even made you think it was a castle.

Didn’t he?

If he made you believe it was a prison you were actually building, would you have kept working on it?

He recognized that you are a threat to him so he took his (your) time, keeping you busy with it for a quite a while starting from a young age.

However it started, it was pretty upsetting!

Maybe it started with bullying from other kids.  Maybe the beginning was that someone sexually molested you. Maybe it started with someone you trusted with all your heart. Maybe the very first memory of the pain was because of your own parents; the ones God assigned to you didn’t do their jobs how He’d rather they do. Oh and that boss! And that job! And THAT co-worker… And don’t forget that teacher! My wife! My husband! Don’t get me started about the time…

 

I know it probably took more than one thing to build such a massive, impenetrable, solid place.

And it probably took years to get it just right so that you never have to show anyone your tender heart exposed underneath it all. NOBODY can make you forgive!

You don’t even have to give out genuine, kind WORDS.

Those you get to have control over, too.

Muah Ha Ha!! Nobody can have your words! Nobody!

Because they may hurt you.

You’re probably right.

They may. They are human, too.

And when you feel lonely, just to keep people close (but not TOO close… but you don’t really want them to leave… but of course you don’t want them to know that…) you can just throw a few kind words out behind you as you run out the door. I mean, you can’t actually FACE them AND tell them the way you really love them and hope they never leave you, can you? (You know, in case they use them against you.)

Your words are yours, alone, to do with whatever YOU choose.

 

 

Whatever it was, I will admit that the craftsmanship of this fort is to be admired. I’ll give you that.

You’ve got that heart locked up tight and whenever people get too close, you sabotage it somehow (even subconsciously) so they can’t get in.

You designed layer upon layer of what seems like protection but through clear eyes – or clear sinuses – it’s actually moldy, crusty, years of caked on STENCH.

And the only one who can’t smell it…. is……… you.

It affects everyone around you.

Don’t worry if people know not to mess with you. They DO. People who need your support, love, or kindness, have suffered. THAT’S for sure! Part of the problem is that you can’t actually hear what other people are really saying to you even when they’re praising you because the walls are so thick that their words are muffled.

 

Of course you didn’t do this on PURPOSE.

THAT would be kinda… silly.

By now…. it’s just….. what you do.

 

It’s how you do life.

(If you can call this living, really.)

 

I don’t blame you for this.

You have your reasons.

 

 

But – I think the enemy has stolen enough of your time.

 

Don’t you think so?

 

Isn’t it heavy to keep carrying all that?

Your shoulders have GOT to be exhausted because of all that stuff weighing you down.

You kinda walk differently now. God designed you with joy in your step but the enemy stole that joy.

I sure would like to see your new walk. It will be a beautiful thing. And it’s going to feel great!

God’s been patiently waiting for you to give these VERY heavy burdens and broken pieces to Him for a while now.

But He’s not going to rush you.

That’s not His style.

He realizes there is some real pain that sent you into this place.

 

But —- the important jobs God wrote into your very being that ONLY YOU CAN DO aren’t getting done.

He’s surely going to be excited that you’ll begin asking Him what that looks like now. This, I know.

What if… you ask HIM to help break down that amazing fortress you’ve spent precious moments perfecting… and HE helps you build a different kind around you?

Like, what if it wasn’t a dangerous place for others OR for you?

What IF?

What if you ask Him to help you build a safe house with angels to surround you?

What if that safe house was built with grace and mercy instead of explosives and stone walls?

After all, He’s pretty big and He loves you more than ANYone else possibly ever could.

What if HE helps you?

It doesn’t even have to be a leap of faith.

It can be a tiny, baby step of faith that He is who He says He is; your Provider, your Comforter, your HEALER, and your Savior.

HE is safe.

Break it down!

Your most powerful weapon; forgiveness!

Matthew 6:14-15 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

You are so missed!

 

 

And some day, when a homeless teenager looks into my eyes

Yesterday I stood on the edge of the Washington pier just looking at the water.

A big boat that said “Alaska Ferry” was just a few feet in front of me.

Every once in a while,

like for one moment every few months,

I experience an “I may throw up now because this is so much bigger than my whole life and what in the world am I doing?” moment.

Yesterday was one of those.

(I’m good now.)

About 7 years ago, God placed these words in my head, “YOU ARE MOVING.”

I’d love to tell you that I listened and obeyed that day…

but… not so much.

The thing is… I think we all have a bigger Calling than we realize and many times we miss it because we’re doing stuff WE want to do instead of waiting on The Lord and asking Him what HIS plans are for our lives.

It’s not that He can’t eventually help His plans work out for His Glory but choosing to really follow Him is a choice we each have to make for ourselves. The whole “die to ourselves thing” and “follow Him” are real, every day choices.

And that includes giving Him our time.

And I’m not talkin’ about just going around doing good things for people. That’s cool and there are many benefits to that but I’m talking about ASKING God to guide us.

If a coach stands on the sidelines and we don’t constantly ask for his help or listen to His coaching… what’s THAT about?!

Pray without ceasing.  Try this.  Pray to God all through the day and at night any time you wake up.  Prayer unlocks things that no other key can open.  (I know this because there were many weeks and years of my life that I didn’t pray much at ALL.)

The Alaska Ferry is HUGE.

I don’t even know what is across that water waiting for me.

But God put this fire in my heart and the pull is so strong that I am lookin’ like a fool, following Him – a thousand miles away from my comfort zone.

As I stood there, I wondered about people talked about in The Bible and when God showed them something bigger than themselves.

I thought about how a person felt when nobody else knew yet what God’s plan was.

I thought about the people watching Noah build that ark.

I thought about Mary who knew Jesus was in her belly but how silly did she sound when she told anyone else?

I thought about Joseph and that he didn’t believe her.  He didn’t believe so much that he was going to quietly divorce her.

Can you IMAGINE the loneliness Mary must have felt just then?

I thought about David going to face Goliath.

Was he afraid?

The very Power of God was in those rocks as David took down Goliath.

And THAT Power is with us today.

Jesus said The Holy Spirit is with us to guide us.

What does that look like today in 2016?  How does God “Call” us?

When someone tells you he or she feels called by God, who is to say it’s not truth?

God is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

I know that until God did this work in me, while I did believe He COULD do this kind of thing, I had never experienced it for myself before.

So I can understand why some people would wonder if He really does still work in our lives like that.

He does.

Following Him is lonely.  But it’s worth it.

The Alaska Ferry costs $8,000 to $9,000 for our family of 4, the truck, and our camper trailer to go from Washington to Alaska.

God does not need money to accomplish what He wants to do.

WE may feel limited by money or other resources but God is not limited.

I cannot limit Him.

And it’s not even that.

I mean, it’s not even just the ferry getting us TO Alaska.  It’s after we’re there, then what?  God is MORE than capable of leading and providing land, help, money, people, and everything needed to do this work He’s put on our hearts.

The actual homeless camp or whatever it will be probably will cost millions of dollars.

And THAT reality makes the ferry tickets seem insignificant in comparison.

I don’t know HOW He’s doing this.

If I could SEE how, would that be called faith?

I cannot SEE how this homeless teen place can happen but He’s given me assurance that He’s doing this work with our family so we will keep praying and keep walking in faith as He leads.

And some day, when a homeless teenager looks into my eyes asking for some reason to live, and wondering if anyone loves her, I will read this blog post to her and tell her God put her in my heart before I ever met her.  And somehow He will make it all enough.

And I will tell her I almost threw up yesterday standing by the water wondering how God will finish this work He’s started in me.

I will tell her how God moved mountains and turned our lives upside down just to move our family to celebrate her life.

I will tell her I’m sorry I wasted time not understanding that SHE was why God’s message of “YOU ARE MOVING” was so important to listen to.

She needed a safe place to stay and people who would care what happens to her.

I will pray with her and hold her hand while we ask for God to lead her life and show her His plans for her.

And I will praise Him there, living more than a thousand miles away from my comfort zone (maybe almost throwing up.)

 

You are NOT damaged goods! YOU are worthwhile!

What if, instead of a one night stand, we call it what it really is?

Instead of a pick up line what if someone had to ask the “real” questions to the person he was hoping to hook up with?

Would this change anything?

“Hey, you’re cute. I’m feeling selfish. I know God gave you a beautiful gift and it’s not really for me but I’d like to take some of what He wants you to save for your husband (or wife, if a girl is asking a guy.)

Would you please lower your standards and let me tear off a piece of your beautiful wrapping paper? You could just lie to your future husband or act like nothing ever happened with me.

I’m lonely tonight and you don’t even know your husband yet so how about you give some of HIS treasure to ME?”

OR maybe it goes like this:

“Heeyy. What’s up? I’d like to give you some of what is supposed to be my wife’s some day.

I know you’re not my wife but since she’s not here yet, she probably won’t care. I’ll tell her she’s so special later, “blah blah blah…” but I’ll make it sound more meaningful than that, of course. (Honestly, you don’t mean enough to me to mention you to my future wife anyway.)

Right now, today, you’re the only one I want. But tomorrow, who knows?!

I’d like to steal from your husband and one day you’ll wish we didn’t do this (and I will too.)  So whatdaya think? Want to?!”

There is not enough cologne or make-up to make this be anything other than what it is.

What if we did think about this for what it really is?

I did NOT know I had value. I honestly did not understand that even though my innocence was stolen when I was 9, I STILL had value. Throughout my life, some stole from me and some I gave away; truly not having any understanding that I mattered. That old devil is clever and designs custom-made traps for each of us.

But I wouldn’t change my past because everything in my life has brought me to this place where I will spend the rest of my time telling you that YOU MATTER.

~~~> If people stole some of your beautiful gift OR even if you voluntarily gave it away, you are NOT damaged goods! YOU are worthwhile! <~~~

Check this out.

Recently we replaced the broken face on my husband’s phone. About 2 weeks later we noticed it was cracked again! We took it and paid for a new protective cover for the broken phone.

When the guy walked to the counter with the phone, it went like this, “We have never put a cover on an already cracked phone before.”

Just because the phone has a broken part does not mean we want to trash the rest of it.

~~> We want to cover it with protection so that it does not get more broken. <~~

Just like when we mess up, we don’t want to keep messing up and making bad choices.  We want to “cover” our lives in prayer and protection.

When we are in a car wreck and the bumper is crushed and the tire busted, we don’t smash out the windows and slash the other tires.

We don’t hope for another wreck.

We try to avoid more damage to the car.

Purity is beautiful. YOU are beautiful. All of your story matters. And God will take all the broken pieces and make them into something worth sharing. It’s called your testimony. And it’s important.

When you see people giving themselves away, it’s very possible they do not know their worth in Christ yet. Saying a prayer for God to show them their worth in Him can help change the world.

[Note: I wrote this as if a guy is speaking to a girl (or a girl to a guy) but if you’re having a sexual relationship with someone of the same gender, I’m here to tell you that you matter and you STILL are giving away (or people are stealing) something that does NOT belong to them. You don’t have to prove something.

Please don’t let people treat you as if you are less than the beautiful person you are.]

[Note 2: This story can be read as a woman speaking or a man speaking pick up lines.

The value is the same. It does not change. We ALL matter. And we are not supposed to be using each other because God has a better plan.

When we understand the reasons WHY to (or not to) do something, it makes a whole lot more sense than just telling someone to (or not to) do it.]

[Important: THIS is not FOR or AGAINST political stuff.

A sin is a sin. I’m not going to argue with people about what sin is. Our conscience shows us that. Usually when we are healthy we realize something is a sin and we hide it (like Adam and Eve hid in the Garden of Eden) or we may even become belligerent about it, trying to justify it to people. The Holy Spirit will convict our hearts to show us what is better for us and when He does this, we want Him to lead us more. When we know better, we do better.

God made sex. And He made it to be a beautiful part of a relationship. We messed it up.

But just because it’s been messed up, doesn’t mean to KEEP messing it up.

Purity is beautiful.]

You are NOT damaged goods! YOU are worthwhile!

You are NOT damaged goods! YOU are worthwhile!

“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.

This IS the time of your life.

We talk about “spending” time.

“How did you spend the time on vacation?” “How much time did it take to finish that project?” “The time you took to repair that issue was time well spent.”

You can spend money
and you can get more.

But not time.

We each have a specific number of minutes, hours, and days.
When our time is up, where have we spent it?

We CANNOT get more time.

What is wasting your time? Did you hear how we say that?
“YOUR” time? Like it’s just a casual thing…
but
Where did your time come from?

“Spend” some of “your” time, the time that God has gifted to you, talking to Him. Just stop a minute now to speak to Him. Your conversation is something He wants very much. He is jealous for YOU.

On Purpose.

It’s offensive when people are so easily offended.

Am I living for praise from people?

Am I living for praise from God?

Sometimes they overlap and it’s great when this happens.
Sometimes not so much and that comes down to the true character in each of us.

It’s hard to lose friends when we stand up for something ~ but it happens.

Maybe the word “friend” is a little overused?

We CANNOT please everyone.  Why do people try to please everyone?

Not even everyone loves Jesus.  Think about this.  If every person does not want Jesus, then why in the world would we even begin to think that everyone should love everything about each other?  How much MORE are people not going to love us for standing up and sharing our opinions or even bigger and more importantly; our faith?

I’m not sure WE even love everything about OURSELVES.   So WHY do we think if we disagree on something, it’s a magnificent tragedy?  It seems being offended because someone views stuff differently goes against the very fact that God made us each different ON PURPOSE.  He did not HAVE to make us all different.  He chose to.

If you’re looking for someone who likes, agrees, loves, hates, and is impressed or not impressed with exactly the very same everything as you are you’re not going to find it.  Just love people where they are.  It’s really not so difficult to do this.

 

At the end of my life it may not matter as much if a person is impressed by how I lived but I absolutely, for sure, with every part of me, want to hear from God, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

When a Marriage is Broken

Know what satan wants to destroy?  I mean, besides EVERYTHING.

Marriages.  Because when marriage is great, we can serve others in such a big way.  When marriage is broken, we spend so much time trying to fix it.

Give your marriage to God.  HE is enough.  He has worked miracles in our marriage.  When we can go from not liking each other and wanting to not be together so much to a place of healing and smiling and actually liking each other again within a matter of a day, I believe that is God’s hand in our marriage.

Sometimes it’s easier to “love” and serve someone than it is to “like” him or her and want to spend time together.

Trust Him.

God is in the business of restoring people, hearts, marriages, and a lot more!

ASK God to mend your marriage.  And I’ll be praying over this for you, too.

Here.  Start with this:

“Dear God, I don’t even like my husband/wife very much.  You’ve seen the hurt and pain in our marriage.  I am giving my marriage to You.  Please bless it and show us how to love each other again because we don’t even know how.  I want to ask that You give us eyes to see each other the way You see each of us.  And I want to thank you for the work you are doing even as I ask this.  Please make me into the husband/wife You want me to be.  Specifically please help me forgive him/her for ______________”

The devil is afraid of YOU!

This is SO on my mind. It helps me remember where the battle really is.

You want to make this a fight of flesh and blood. But it’s not. It’s spiritual with the powers of darkness.

The enemy is AFRAID of what YOU can truly become. -the movie King’s Faith

Check that out!

The devil is AFRAID of ME!

And he’s afraid of YOU!

 

Get that through your beautiful head today. The devil is AFRAID of you!

 

WHAT would your today look like if you lived today in this confidence?

Stand up and look up.  Ask the Holy Spirit to cover you, ask God what He wants you to do today, and go do it.

I remember being a kid we had tarantulas all around our yard. Scary! But I remember hearing that they were more afraid of ME than I was of THEM. Hard to imagine!  But I kinda believe it’s the truth.

Knowing satan is AFRAID of YOU and what YOU can BECOME… just think of it!  This is why he works tirelessly year after year to keep you down.  YOU are important.

We have strength knowing that God is on our side and fighting battles for us ~ and some battles we probably don’t even know about.

We have so much power we don’t seem to use often enough.

There is power in the Word God gives us.  God SPOKE and created the world and everything in it.  SPEAK what the Bible says.

 

Check it out!

You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that–and shudder. James 2:19

Read this – out loud – because the enemy trembles at the sound of the name of Jesus.

 

~The Armor of God~

Ephesians 6:10  Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. 19 Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.

~Helmet of Salvation~

Ephesians 6:17  Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Isaiah 59:17  He put on righteousness as his breastplate,
and the helmet of salvation on his head;
he put on the garments of vengeance
and wrapped himself in zeal as in a cloak.

1 Thessalonians 5:8  But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.

~Breastplate of Righteousness~

Ephesians 6:14  Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,

Isaiah 59:17  He put on righteousness as his breastplate,
and the helmet of salvation on his head;
he put on the garments of vengeance
and wrapped himself in zeal as in a cloak.

Philippians 3:9  and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.

1 Thessalonians 5:8  But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.

~Sword of the Spirit

Word of God~

Ephesians 6:17  Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Hebrews 4:12  For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

John 6:63  The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life.

~Shoes of the Gospel of Peace~

Ephesians 6:17  Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Isaiah 52:7  How beautiful on the mountains
are the feet of those who bring good news,
who proclaim peace,
who bring good tidings,
who proclaim salvation,
who say to Zion,
“Your God reigns!”

Galatians 5:15  If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.

~Belt of Truth~

Ephesians 6:17  Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

John 14:8  Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”

~Shield of Faith~

Ephesians 6:16  In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.

1 John 5:4  for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.

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.

It’s not easy and if somebody told you it is, then maybe someone lied to you.

God gives us our talents and jobs and He equips us to do stuff He calls us to do.

And He gives us the tools to do our jobs. Sometimes we may not even understand how to use the tools He gives us. When we let go and ask Him WHY, WHAT, and HOW to do the jobs He’s given us, life usually gets better and makes more sense.

Sometimes people don’t understand all you’re doing and why and that’s okay. God’s not leading them to walk your life. You just have faith and courage to listen and use the tools He’s given you.

It’s not easy and if somebody told you it is, then maybe someone lied to you. But it IS worth it.

Ask God what He’s wanting you to do. Uncomfortably, many times it has to do with the trash and not fun stuff in our lives but that’s okay because He is God and He can turn our trash into beauty. He’s the only One who can do this. Ask Him and Trust Him. I know you have the courage to do this.

The wind and the waves and the sharks and the snakes ARE definitely out there. Keep your eyes on Jesus.

Busybodies and Nosey Gossipy Rumor Guys

You know who they are. They are the people who never talk to you then you win a lottery and suddenly they are your best friends.

They are the people who talk about you behind your back and then pretend they care about your life when they hear something they think is “worth spreading.”

They are even the women and men at church who look down on you even though they don’t know you but somehow they still feel compelled to speak about you as if they do.

You take bubble gum to school and you are suddenly the center of attention and people say, “Hey, I know him! We’re best friends!” …when they wouldn’t speak to you any other days of your life.

The next time someone says, “Is it true about such n such?”

A great response is, “Why do you ask?”

You do not owe somebody information about your life. It is okay to NOT tell somebody stuff about you when you are uncomfortable.

If people are in it for gossip, it’s hard to hide. When they are genuinely caring about you they have a genuine answer.