God did it again! He performed the yearly miracle called our family vacation. Before 2017, vacations were very rare for us. Just surviving the day and putting food on the table was the priority. It didn’t seem like we could afford for Chris to take off work or pay for a vacation rental. We didn’t think to ask God to provide for a family getaway.
Finally in 2017 I decided to ask God in prayer. We had no possible way to make it happen, but God did! He gave us a few days in a house up north. What an amazing time we had! We returned to that cabin again the next year and started the tradition of naming our rental homes.
The second was the “Cold Cabin” because the heat in the old farmhouse didn’t reach all of the rooms.
The third was the “Star Cabin” because there were over 50 stars that decorated the place.
The fourth was the “Cow Cabin” because we shared the property with a herd of cows.
The memory of each has become so dear, and the faithful words of God so precious.
This September we received a free week at a real log cabin, and I thought sure it would be known as the “Cabin Cabin.”
I underestimated all that God had planned.
We traveled up north with two vehicles, 11 people, and a mountain of “essential” provisions. We were very excited when we saw the lovely, secluded cabin with a pond. We all went to bed dreaming of the coming adventures.
I woke up in the night. It was incredibly quiet in the woods with only the insect songs and the soft wind in the trees…until an unearthly howling began. In my sleepy stupor, I couldn’t imagine what it was. More and more voices joined in. My mind began to conjure genetically enhanced, alien coyotes having a secret round table deep in the woods, plotting the destruction of all who trespassed on their domain. I shuttered and was grateful that the boys hadn’t slept outside in their tent!
A fear plagued me all night. Yes, the howling mutants were creepy, but I had a much bigger concern: the thought of one of my precious little ones disappearing into the murky water of the pond. I had learned a lot about fear and spiritual warfare at the “Cow Cabin” last year. This year, I was still working through the irrational fear that one of my children would drown, and that this idyllic vacation would turn into a tragedy.
The next morning dawned with hope, sunny and beautiful. My girls had found some “treasure” in a drawer in the living room. They were very excited about the plastic gold and jewels.
Aria said to me, “We should call this the ‘Treasure Cabin.’”
Their older brother, Chai, made a treasure map for them to find the treasure all over again.
“How sweet!” I thought.
My plan was to bask in the warm sunshine and just relax, read, and rest. I began with Ephesians and read it one verse at a time. I allowed each verse to marinate my body, soul, and spirit in divine revelation before I moved on to the next.
When I got to Eph 1:3 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,” I knew this was in a God set up. As I continued to read verse after verse about riches and blessings, I knew that God had designed this vacation for treasure, not tragedy!
I spent all morning mining the treasure found in the first three chapters of Ephesians.
Being Spotless and Blameless (1:4)
Being predestined for Adoptions as sons (1:5)
Riches of His glorious Grace (1:6, 1:7, 2:8)
Redemption and Forgiveness (1:7, 2:5)
Knowing the mystery of His will, the Gentiles are fellow heirs (1:9, 3:6)
Riches of our glorious Inheritance (1:18)
Holy Spirit, the guarantee of our inheritance (1:13,14)
The Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation to enlighten our hearts (1:17)
Immeasurable greatness of His Power toward us (1:19, 3:16-17, 3:20)
The Church (1:22-23, 2:2-21, 3:10)
Good Works that He prepared in advance for us (2:10)
I was so overwhelmed by God’s goodness and knew that our vacation week would be full of beautiful surprises. The howl of mutant coyotes ceased to echo through the valley, and I counted 73 treasures that came from God’s loving hand. Here are just a few.
Eating meals outside
Misty mornings overlooking the lake
Sunsets on the porch
Family fun at the pond
Watkins Glen’s Gorge Trail (the prettiest trail I have ever hiked!)
PA Grand Canyon
The best chicken fajitas ever
Treasure Chest store where I found the blue and white frames I had been looking for
Country Haven Treasures where I found the blue and white birds I had been searching for
Kidsgrove in Selinsgrove (the biggest and coolest playground ever!)
Among the treasure were simple, everyday moments that I would have missed if I wasn’t looking for them such as:
Chai showing Aria how to play T-ball with patience and kindness
Soft words of affirmation from my husband
The Veggie Vendor along the road to the cabin
Green grass, green trees, yellow flowers
Cadin making Ashlyn giggle
Stony Fork Country store which sold raw milk, cheese curds, and $1 whoopie pies
Eating massive steaks that Cooper bought
Chris doing laundry until every load was done
This year’s vacation rental will be remembered as the “Treasure Cabin”, and I am so thankful for all that God showed me there!
During this Christmas season, when our thoughts revolve around gift giving, I would like to remind you that the treasures of Ephesians are always with us as well as the simple treasures hidden in the common place routines.
For all who are battle weary and stressed
Remember this day is a GIFT, not a test.
Not an exam you are destined to fail,
Nor a trial that mocks, “You will not prevail!”
This day is a gift from His loving heart,
A grand adventure – you have a part.
How He desires to see wonder in your eyes
As you joyfully discover each sacred surprise.
Treasure map in hand, begin with thanks and praise,
Continue by abiding in His LOVE and …remain.
Enlighten the eyes of our hearts, LORD, to see
The Hope, the Power, and the Riches of our family tree.
At the beginning of the 2021 school year, I was still homeschooling three children. The other three children wanted to return to public school. Masks had been made optional over the summer. I suspected that the School Board would change their minds right as school resumed in the fall as they had done the previous year. I wanted to keep my three sons enrolled in 21st Century Cyber Charter School which was a very good school. However, I went through the tedious work of enrolling my three boys back into the school district.
“I Made My Voice Be Heard” at a school board meeting in August. I was so encouraged by what God had done in the parents, giving us boldness and confidence to speak. The school board voted to make masks mandatory anyway, one week before school started. Not only that, but they had instituted policies that pushed experimental injections on the students as well as discriminated against the students who didn’t comply.
I knew that this decision was likely, and this was just the beginning of the fight; not just for mask choice but also for medical freedom, parental rights, and true education that leads children to American Exceptionalism rather than socialism.
But what to do now! One Week before School!
I refused to submit my children to these man-made rules that violate their God given immune systems and Constitutional rights.
“What is the big deal?” some might ask. It is just a mask, right?
First it was just two weeks to flatten the curve. Then it was mandatory masks during an emergency. Now it is, “Submit to our rules or forfeit your education and career!” What will it be next?
I cannot comply with something that violates my conscience.
I decided that it was too late to switch back to 21st CCCS because the enrollment process takes a month. We opted for the district’s new cyber academy for Chai and Cooper. We were not happy with the option, and it was a bumpy road getting it going. We enrolled Calvin in a private Christian school because he didn’t do well with cyber.
God has worked it all out for our good!
We love the private school, and it has been wonderful for Calvin! The tuition was a stretch of faith, but God has provided!
The cyber academy has not been great. Chai and Cooper are begging me to put them back into 21st CCCS. However, this alone is a breakthrough; for them to want to be enrolled in a school that just last year they said they hated! Plus, they can complete their cyber school in a few hours and still have time each day to work on their lawn care business. This business has taught them more about hard work, honor, respect, customer service, business practices, and budgeting than public school ever could. They were able to save up enough money to buy a pick-up truck which will only expand their business!
Another important blessing from this ridiculous governmental overreach is that many parents are waking up! Before this “pandemic” I never knew who was on the school board, when their meetings were, or what they did during those meetings. Many of us parents have learned a lot, gotten involved, and have demanded accountability. School Boards are now on our radar!
When this school year is over, I plan on enrolling Chai and Cooper in 21st CCCS. Then all my six school-age children will be out of the school district. I am so thrilled! I love not getting emails about every COVID case and every issue going on in the district! I love the freedom!
I love the fact that my children do not have to strap on a mask and wait for the bus each morning. I love that they don’t have to enter the school building and leave their rights and facial expressions at the door! I love that I don’t have to worry about them getting detention for allowing their noses to pop out above the masks. I love that I don’t have to think about quarantine protocols!
HOWEVER, THIS IS STILL MY TERRITORY!
I grew up here and graduated from the local High School. I still live in the district and pay their taxes and vote for the school board members. I will not abdicate.
The Kingdom of God will rule and reign here and not a political machine!
I have been asking God what He wants me to do. How do I stay involved? How do I bring His kingdom to come here? The answer is not always clear and it may change from day to day.
Cooper and Chai still do sports with the district. Thank goodness they do not require masks outside! In November I went to the High School with Chai because he needed his picture taken for “Athlete of the Week.” As I waited in the parking lot at the end of the school day, I watched the students emerge from the building and make their way home. I prayed for them and wondered how each was doing this year; physically, emotional, and spiritually.
I spotted a bird overhead, above the building. I saw a glint of white in the tail. Chai quickly joined me in the truck, and I asked, “Do you see that bird? Is that an eagle?”
“Yeah, that looks like an eagle mom. I can see white in its head.” Chai replied.
As it circled, I could see clearly, IT WAS A BALD EAGLE!
This was the 13th eagle that I have seen, and each time God has something to tell me. Many of His messages have been about the coming revival. (I heard Dutch Sheets tell a story during one of his Give Him 15 episodes. He had been writing the episode about the next Great Awakening and he saw two bald eagles soaring above him in his back yard. I was so excited to learn that God confirms the coming revival to Dutch in the same way He does for me!)
I was stunned to see a bald eagle above the High School, a place I consider unfit for my children. Immediately thoughts dropped into my mind with the force of the Holy Spirit.
“God is right here, right now. Revival is coming to this school and there is nothing that the school board can do to stop it!”
In my imagination I began to see students kneeling in repentance, hugging other students with forgiveness and compassion, preaching about Jesus unashamed, and working miracles. I began to see students who have been harmed in these past two years receive healing and restoration. I began to see students who have been depressed, cynical, or just bored begin to burn with a passion for truth and love. I began to imagine the answers to the prayers that friends and I had prayed in early morning prayer meetings when we attended high school in this district.
“I have not forgotten your prayers,” I heard God whisper.
My perspective just gotten elevated! I wasn’t fighting against the men and women of the school board. I was fighting principalities and powers, and Jesus has already won!
He told me that revival is certainly coming! A divine visitation, a sovereign work of God!
I did speak at the next Board Meeting after Eagle Sighting #13. But I did it with a confidence that God has got this. I referenced the article I had emailed to all the members, “More Than 400 Studies on the Failure of Compulsory Covid Interventions.” I tried to speak truth the best I knew how, but only God can plow up the ground and water the seeds. Only God can break the deception and change the hearts and minds. I plan on going to the next meeting early to walk around the school campus and pray! “Every place where you set your foot will be yours.” (Duet 11:24) If God gives me something to say, I will say it. “For to everyone I send you, you must go, and all that I command you, you must speak.” (Jer 1:7)
I know that God will bring justice and make all things right. Someday everyone will know the truth behind the propaganda. But to stand with God now, when the truth is shrouded and most people can’t see it, that is my glory! My small actions of prayer, emailing school board members, and speaking at the meetings may not dramatically turn the tide. But they will help, even if just a little.
And if I can be found standing with my LORD, doing what He is doing, saying what He is saying, when He comes in His glory…it will have been worth it.
We celebrated 25 years of marriage in August 2021. Our oldest daughter, Areli, with the help of her siblings, planned a surprise party for us. I was amazed by how they planned, cleaned, decorated, made a superb chocolate raspberry cake, arranged for food, and created a fun diversion to keep us out of the house (shopping at TJ Max).
We were so blessed by our friends, family, and neighbors!
Chris and I had planned for a beach getaway for our 25th ,but decided that October would be the best time to go. The weekend we had chosen months before became the most beautiful weekend of the entire year! Perfect sunny weather with a nice breeze, not too hot or too cold.
It was the best getaway yet! We had learned the lessons of past vacations. In Cape May last year we learned to revel in His goodness and enjoy the good life everyday of our lives as in Ps.128. In Virginia this year, we learned to be alert and awake, for although the enemy is like a lion looking for someone to devour, we will not live in fear for we have overcome the evil one!
This time we were able to stay alert and awake while enjoying the gifts of God in our lives to the fullest!
Our first stop was Dewey Beach. The town was small and quiet and there was no boardwalk.
Dewey was my favorite beach of the trip because of the nice, soft sand and the peaceful atmosphere.
We sat down to enjoy the sun and surf and were immediately thrilled by a show of dolphins jumping among the waves.
We continued to drive and stopped at Delaware Seashore State Park. We thought we would scout it out for a future camping trip. This state park was not what we were looking for, being just a large parking lot full of campers. We didn’t even get out to explore the seashore. Apparently, Delaware charges a day rate to enter their state parks, even though there was no attendant present.
We drove on to Bethany.
Bethany was my favorite town: lovely neighborhoods with wooded lots, a beautiful downtown with flowers and shops.
The boardwalk was very short and did not offer a view of the beach. The beach was lovely. We got into a conversation with a couple who has lived in Bethany for years and they love it!
We stopped briefly at Fenwick Island State Park. It was lovely but not that different from the other beaches we had seen that day. Because Delaware wanted us to pay to be there, we continued on to our destination, Ocean City, MD.
We had rented a condo on the bay side of North Ocean City. We were right up to the water, and it was quiet and peaceful. We enjoyed our supper out on the balcony and watched the sun set.
We got up early and relished the sunrise on the beach. I really like the beach at Ocean City, MD. It is so wide and so long. In the off season there is plenty of room to spread out.
The city is packed full of high rises and every square inch seems to be developed for making money from tourists. I am sure it is a zoo in the summer with driving and parking being an issue. That would explain why the major stores repeat themselves every few blocks, most visitors wanting to walk from their rental to the beach. In October we had no issues and enjoyed the large city.
We spent many relaxing and rejuvenating hours on the beach. I had been looking forward to basking in the sun while reading a good book for months! Chris did suffer from boredom after a while and wished that the boys had come with us, so he had someone to throw football with.
We spent many hours shopping for souvenirs, one for each child. I was sad when we exited no-sales-tax Delaware but was pleased to find that Maryland had cheaper prices. And if we couldn’t find the perfect clearance t-shirt in size 8 and XL, we just had to drive a few blocks to the next shop.
We walked most of the boardwalk. I loved seeing the display put on by a kite club. I loved the playgrounds and the older buildings with history. Again, the shops seemed to repeat themselves every few blocks. All the restaurants were bars or grills, reinforcing the fact that this is NOT a dry town. It is not a quiet town either. Many shops would be blaring loud music, competing with music from another shop farther down, competing with live music from the Sun Fest at the end of the boardwalk. It still was lovely!
On our way home we stopped at Rehoboth. It was a very beautiful town with charming rental homes in abundance. It wasn’t as small and quaint as Bethany but had much more of a small-town feel than Ocean City. The boardwalk looked much classier. The beach was beautiful, and I walked up and down, looking for shells and enjoying the sun. I had to leave Chris sitting in a small, shaded gazebo because his feet and ankles had gotten as red as a lobster. I couldn’t stay very long without him.
Just as we were about to leave, I remembered the high socks I had in my suitcase. Chris put them on with his sandals, so he could walk the next beach with me. Very Sexy! I was excited to check out Broadkill Beach which was highly recommended. Once we got there it was clear that the only beach access was through renting a home on the beach. We continued until we reached Beach Plum Island State Park. It is on a huge Nature Reserve and rather secluded. As soon as I got out of the car, I got a painful fly bite. The flies continued to munch on me as we trudged to the beach and sat down to have a picnic lunch. The beach was littered with trash and debris, the sand hard and grayish.
Beach Plum Island won the prize for the ugliest beach of the trip!
It was on the bay so the waves were gentle, but I missed the sound of the ocean waves. I could look to my left and see Broadkill Beach, perfect for children because of the small waves and privacy. I wondered if the flies were as bad there and decided that it would not be on my list to visit next time. Those vicious flies finally drove me to finish my lunch in the car as we made our way back home.
It had been a wonderful adventure together, and we were in awe of God’s goodness.
Just two weeks later the forecast was calling for an 80-degree day. Wouldn’t it be fun to take the children to the beach? My original plan was to just take my homeschoolers. All the other children wanted to come, so they were able to take an educational trip and miss school. Chris couldn’t be left out so he took off work.
My three oldest had to work, but the rest of us were really going to do it! Take a day trip to the beach!
We had only ever attempted that once in the past, back in 2008 when we were visiting family in Florida. Much packing, preparation, and driving had led to 20 minutes on the beach. Quickly a thunderstorm blew in with torrents of rain and lighting. We ended up back in the van, soaked through and covered with sand.
This time we decided on Ocean City, NJ and listened to Lamplighter Theater all the way to 5th street. We found free parking in the lot there and were able to enter the boardwalk at 6th street where there were large public restrooms.
This beach was very different from the others: narrower and the sand was darker grey and not very fluffy. So many shells! Most were broken but still fun to look through. The older children made straight for the waves and enjoyed themselves in the water. The sand on the bottom was covered with broken shells that hurt their feet. The younger ones began by building in the sand but ended up in the water as well.
The boardwalk was very nice: family friendly without any alcohol at all. We explored a fudge and taffy shop before we headed back to the parking lot for a long ride home and more audiobooks. The younger children had sand everywhere, even after spraying off and wiping down. We gave showers at 10pm and all went to bed happy.
God’s goodness was hunting us down again! Chris was able to play football on the beach with his boys, and we all captured a bit of summer in the middle of October!
We want to say, “Good riddance!” to 2020, toss it in the dumpster and set it ablaze. We would like to turn our backs and walk into the new year of 2021. If we do that, we will lose all the treasures hidden in darkness, all the lessons learned from challenge, all the wisdom gained in hardship, all the promises fulfilled in ways we didn’t expect. At the beginning of 2020, God was telling us that it would be a Good and Blessed New Year, and it really has been! All His words and prophecies were true. In fact, it has been our best year yet.
I hesitated to write this article, because I didn’t want to make any of my readers feel bad if they didn’t have a year as wonderful as mine. But it is simply a matter of perspective. I think that God would like all of us to concentrate on His blessings rather than the trials. If I made a list of all my heartaches, fears, doubts, and hard times in 2020, you would most certainly pity me and be glad you didn’t have my life. Yet in every life, the blessings and the trials dwell side by side. And the trials actually turn into blessings if we let God have His way.
I used to live in a state of perpetual self-pity. I spent a lot of time feeling sick and tired and grumpy, and every new hardship was confirmation that I was a victim. I didn’t realize that I had taken on an orphan identity that was in opposition to God and the Bible. It just felt like normal life, and normal life was incredibly hard!
It took years for God to renew my mind, peel back the layers, and reveal my victim perspective. A victim mindset produces victim thoughts and victim thoughts produce victim decisions. Victim decisions would lead me away from God’s goodness and into deeper darkness. I didn’t need a change of circumstance, I needed a change in perspective. I was an eagle living in the dirt, but God has taught me how to fly.
I do sometimes forget to fly. So I proclaim over myself, “I pursued my enemies, and I did not turn back until they were destroyed (Ps 18:37)! Fear, you have no hold on me! Victim spirit, orphan spirit, you have no place in me! I am wonderfully well and blessed and highly favored of the Lord. I am his favorite daughter! He has put a crown on my head…” and on and on until I have confessed every good scripture that I can think of.
If you are beholding the LORD, then you will go from glory to glory (2 Cor 3:18). Each year will be better than the last because you are drawing nearer to Him and He is drawing nearer to you!
One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are by Ann Voskamp really helped me change my thought patterns and grow the joy center of my brain. I started keeping a journal of all that I was thankful for, writing a few things each day. At first it took some thought, but pretty soon the blessings would come to my mind faster than I could write or keep track of. I got to one thousand and beyond with no trouble. Now I am in the habit of falling asleep thanking God and waking up thanking God. Some days I must force myself to do it just to push out the discouraging thoughts, but most days it flows naturally.
I decided to write down all the amazing things God had done for us in 2020. Then Chris reminded me of additional blessings that I had forgotten about. We talked about it as a family, and the children remembered even more. It really was the best year yet!
You don’t even have to read my list. The main point is for you to compile your own. It may take days or weeks, talking to family and friends, and reviewing journals and photos, but it is worth the effort. It may just take you from the valley to the clouds and beyond.
Why 2020 has been My Best Year Yet
I have been singing truth over myself every morning. I have been filled with more confidence and boldness and spent less time in discouragement and lies.
I have been waiting on the Lord almost every morning and there is nothing better than hearing His voice.
I have renewed strength and energy – not as tired or overwhelmed.
I have taken a walk almost every morning and I have never been so immersed in the beauty of my own neighborhood in every season.
I found renewed joy in homeschooling. The children got better nutrition and better spiritual discipleship since their schools closed.
Two of my adult children have been home for most of the year. They helped me without being asked and I loved their company.
We spent a week in the best vacation rental we have ever had.
Chris and I fulfilled our 24 year desire to return to Cape May.
We were able to save money in many different ways.
My daughter Ashlyn had a better-than-expected experience during and after spinal fusion surgery.
No sickness in our home except colds.
My boys have wanted to go to church.
I was able to start making kefir and taking supplements again.
After living many years with a leaky roof, we were able to get a new roof with no debt.
I hiked Hawk Rock with the family. I hadn’t done it in 27 years. It was definitely challenging but it felt easier than when I was in my teens!
We finally got a membership to the State museum and used it many times. My dad used to work at the museum, and it was there that I spent many happy childhood days.
On our porch we had yellow mums for autumn and festive lights for Christmas for the first time.
We grew closer to a wonderful group of friends and have never felt more thankful to be able to spend time with them.
I have never been more excited to attend church! I have watched many church leaders rise up in a new boldness. I have witnessed the Ekklesia work together like never before.
I have lived through an amazing year that history will look back on as the beginning of the Second Revolutionary/Civil War, a precursor to the Third Great Awakening when America turned back to God!
I conducted a survey on Facebook. I asked my friends who supported Donald Trump to tell me why. I received 21 replies which contained 35 reasons. I have simplified the answers and ranked them by popularity.
Funding of Historically Black Colleges in perpetuity
Middle East peace treaty (Abraham Accord)
Women’s empowerment through programs for education, jobs/equal pay, maternity leave, etc
Prison reform policies
Strengthening of military and establishing the Space Force
Opening the White House to intercessory prayer and worship
Authentic love of his children – their poise, intelligence and love for him
Surrounding himself with strong, intelligent (and beautiful) women starting with Melania
His ideology has never changed – watch interviews with Larry King, Oprah, Phil Donahue from ’80s and ’90s
Focus on Natural Resources
It is easy to see why Trump has been meeting enthusiastic crowds of thousands of people everywhere he goes. If this list seems too good to be true, our you just love to research and discover facts for yourself, I have two wonderfully thorough and documented articles for you.
Before the last election, I noticed a strange phenomenon that I hadn’t observed before. I had been used to people praising their favored candidate and criticizing the opposing candidate. Politics could be hard to debate without arguments. However, when Donald Trump arrived on the scene, I was surprised by how some people reacted to any mention of his name or any post about him on social media with unfettered hatred.
There was so much anger expressed that logical conversations seemed impossible. I wondered why.
It seemed as those people who hated Trump had been personally offended by him. It was as if they had invited Donald Trump to dinner in their home and he had insulted their cooking and spit in their faces. It was as if they had met Donald in the school yard and he had pinned them to the asphalt and humiliated them in front of the other kids.
“How can they be so offended at a man they have never met?” I asked myself over and over for the past four years. The answer began to come as I caught a news-show or talk-show in a doctor’s waiting room, or as I watched a clip of late night television or a video on the internet.
The media was offended at Donald Trump.
They would express their disgust and distain for him in a way that evoked a deep emotional response in the audience. The American people were being constantly and consistently conditioned to be offended at the man. It didn’t matter if the media would tell lies, because if they said it often enough it seemed like the truth. It didn’t matter if they exaggerated certain facts, left out other facts, and just plain made things up. It didn’t matter if they took a sound bite out of an entire speech and put a different spin on it. (Click here for just one example of this practice called “journalistic malfeasance.”)
The media created a thousand different hooks to catch a moral and compassionate person. If a person took the bait, it would keep them tied to the negative words or images that were displayed. They were caught in offense; hook, line, and sinker.
In 2018, the Media Research Center reported that 92% of all mainstream media coverage of Trump was negative. And it hasn’t let up. It has gotten worse and worse.
I had realized many years ago, long before Trump ran for president, not to waste my time on mainstream media, the news or TV shows, Hollywood and most of what came out of Hollywood.
Why? Because it filled my head with negative thoughts, glorified violent and immoral images, and presented lies as facts. Most people in the media did not live lives that I wanted to emulate, and as the saying goes, “You become what you behold.” I decided that there were much better things to behold such as Jesus, the Bible, good literature, and men and women who had characters that I could trust. I never got hooked by the offense that the media and the left had been generating. I simply didn’t give them the time of day.
Perhaps you feel justified in your dislike for Donald Trump. That is fine. You don’t have to like him. You don’t have to vote for him. But if you hold on to offense, it hurts you, not Trump. Offense is just unforgiveness. We all have the opportunity to get offended many times each day. It can happen in an instant.
My little daughter will come to me with tears in her eyes, telling a pitiful story of the injustices inflicted upon her by an older sibling. I am immediately offended at my older child, thinking, “How could they do something like that?” Once I hear the older child’s side of the story, usually my offense dissipates as I realize that both children were at fault. I am trying to skip the entire offense process to simply listen and ask God for discernment.
Some things don’t bother us and other offenses we hold on to for hours, days, months, even years. But WE get to decide how long we want to be in bondage to unforgiveness. Perhaps the person who offended us really did or said something bad. Or perhaps we just couldn’t see the situation from the other person’s perspective. Perhaps Donald Trump has done or said things that were bad. Or perhaps it is a matter of your perspective. Either way, you don’t have to stay in bondage to that.
You can forgive him.
You NEED to forgive him if you want to live a happy and healthy life.
Many health care professionals, neuroscientists, and doctors agree that 95% of disease has a mental/emotional component. One of the worst choices for your mental and physical health is unforgiveness. It is like a cancer, eating away at your insides.
You NEED to forgive him if you want to be forgiven of your own wrong doings.
Matthew 6:14 “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you..”
Mark 11:25 “And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”
Matt 7:2 “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
You NEED to forgive him so that you won’t be blinded by deception.
What we are witnessing in this country is a large group of people who can no longer discern right from wrong, truth from lies. When I asked God why many in the church no longer defend the Bible or Life or the freedoms of the Constitution, I felt God answered,
“They listened to voices that were not mine. Those voices stirred up offense. Some people have been harboring and feeding that offense for four years, and now they are blind.”
About week later Wanda Alger posted a new article and she said this,
“Offenses blind us to the truth and give a distorted view of reality. There are those within the body of Christ who are convinced they are pursuing a righteous cause when, in fact, their cause is rooted in offense, both personal and corporate. Unfortunately, bitter roots only open the door to deception and defilement (see Hebrews 12:15). We must keep our own hearts clear of offense and pray for those who revile us.”
I asked my friends who didn’t support Trump to tell me why. I expected them to explain how his policies have been bad for America or point out specific parts of his platform that they didn’t agree with. Instead I received descriptions of how the man had offended them with his pride, criticism of others, lack of intelligence, promotion of violence and division, and mean words. They called him things like narcissist, liar, and cheater. They didn’t consider him fit to lead our country. That is fine. That is their opinion. But their offensive is hurting them, and I pray they can let it go.
Are you offended at Donald Trump?
Did the title of this article irk you?
Does the sight of Donald Trump cause anger or disgust to well up within you?
Do you call Donald Trump demeaning names?
Do you find yourself wishing harm on him or rejoicing when something bad happens to him or his family?
Do you get angry when discussing him?
Do you find the need to tell Trump supporters how awful their chosen candidate is?
It might be possible that you need to forgive him.
You don’t need to like him.
You don’t need to vote for him.
Just forgive him.
You could honor his position as President and pray for him! You might just get a different perspective!
I have lived in Pennsylvania most of my life and never had the opportunity to go to the major cities. When I would say I had never been to Philadelphia or Pittsburgh, people would give me funny looks. “How could you live in Pennsylvania and not have been to Philadelphia or Pittsburgh?” they would say.
Just recently I was able to travel to one of these cities: Pittsburgh. I went because I heard that Sean Feucht was coming and doing one of his “Let Us Worship” events.
“Let Us Worship” started on the Golden Gate Bridge in California when it was announced by the governor that the churches in the state could not sing in church. Sean felt he had to do something.
Over 300 people came to worship and declare life over the state of California.
Over the next several months Sean and his team have brought worship to many cities all over the United States. Some of these cities were Portland, Seattle, Chicago, New York City, and Sacramento. In almost every place they were met with resistance, but nothing could stop the miracles, salvations, or baptisms. I was so encouraged every time I would read or watch an update.
These were the thoughts going through my head as I drove to Pittsburg. I was overcome with thankfulness as I passes by the endless Pennsylvania hills bursting with color.
I was going to a new place and worshiping Jesus at the same time!
After I met my friend (I had not seen her in a long time so it was a joyous reunion), she joined me and we went together to the park that the event was to be located. It was hard to find at first because the park was so big. We passed playgrounds, grass fields, and tree groves before we found the spot in front of Carnegie Mellon University.
We could hear the musicians warming up as we walked towards the stage. People were already gathered and waiting in anticipation.
As we worshiped, I could feel the presence of God and the joy that He brings. There was so much freedom as everyone danced and sang at the top of their lungs. The problems of everyday life no longer seemed important.
Some people were experiencing this freedom for the first time and ran to the front to receive Jesus as the Lord of their life. You could see the joy on their faces. This joy was contagious as everyone who watched celebrated with them.
Reconciliation was received as people from every race prayed together. People got baptized, dying to themselves and coming out of the water as new creatures.
The whole night I was in awe of all that God was doing. I felt so encouraged to see that God is doing things in this nation, no matter how bad things seem. That is why I wanted to write about my night in Pittsburg. To tell others that God has not stopped working.
Take heart and don’t let the darkness put out your light.
Sean will be doing a worship event in Washington D.C on October 25th. You are invited to be there! If you can’t be there in person then you can pray. Pray that God would continue to open the eyes of the people of the United States and that we as a nation would come to Him in repentance.
As a young teen I was asked if I supported legalized abortion, and I said no. Then I was asked about cases when the mother had been raped. My answer was, “Well, in that case it wasn’t her fault, so she should be allowed to get an abortion if she wants to.” I didn’t understand what abortion really was, what it entailed, or what it meant for the baby or for the mother.
At age 14, I had an incredible salvation experience where Jesus came into my heart, the scales fell off my eyes, and the entire world looked different to me. I started going to a non-denominational church, reading the Bible with awe and wonder, and learning to hear God’s voice.
After high school I spent a year with Youth With A Mission doing their Discipleship Training School and their School of Evangelism. I learned so much about God, the Bible, marriage, families, education, homeschooling, and abortion. We had a teacher, Bev Kline, who ran a ministry for pregnant women in crisis. They offered support, counseling, and a home to live in. This incredible woman told our class her story. She had had two abortions and spent many years under incredible pain and guilt. She found healing through Jesus and now spent her life extending that healing to others. She tried to talk to women considering abortion, to spare them the heartache she went through. Bev helped many women keep their babies and see them thrive in their new lives as single mothers. She helped others lovingly give their babies up for adoption.
She had found a purpose and passion in life and was filled with peace and joy. But she never forgot the birthdays of the two children she had aborted and looked forward to meeting them in heaven someday. Bev is still loving women by running Living Alternatives.
During that time I saw pictures of the small humans that had burns all over their tiny bodies because of saline injection abortions. I saw pictures of tiny legs ripped from a tiny torsos by forceps during an abortion. Abortion was becoming real to me. Here are some similar images.
The reality of abortion is extreme cruelty to the most vulnerable humans among us, not the “evacuation of fetal tissue.”
We also had another teacher who started a pro-life group. He explained how abortion was the same to God as the sacrificing of children to idols in the Bible. Some ancient cultures had this practice. Israel had a period of leaving the LORD and worshiping the idol Molech, and/or Baal who required that children be burned in fire to appease his wrath.
“They have filled this place with the blood of the innocent. They have built high places to Baal on which to burn their children in the fire as offerings to Baal— something I never commanded or mentioned, nor did it even enter My mind. So behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when this place will no longer be called Topheth or the Valley of Ben-hinnom, but the Valley of Slaughter.…”
In America today we are too educated and sophisticated for idols made of metal or stone. Now our idols are called Selfishness, Convenience, Greed, and Fear and THOUSANDS of babies a day are being sacrificed to these idols.
This teacher also explained to us the procedure called “Partial Birth Abortion” which was legal in some states.
“Partial-Birth Abortion (Brain Suction) – 4 to 9 months of pregnancy
Guided by ultrasound, the abortionist grabs the baby’s leg with forceps. The baby’s leg is pulled out into the birth canal. The abortionist delivers the baby’s entire body, except for the head. The abortionist jams scissors into the baby’s skull. The scissors are then opened to enlarge the hole. The scissors are removed and a suction catheter is inserted. The child’s brains are sucked out, causing the skull to collapse. The dead baby is then removed.”
In the girls dorm at YWAM there were no TVs, computers, or phones. So I picked up a huge book about the origins of Planned Parenthood and read the entire thing (I think it was 400 pages long!) I learned that the founder, Margaret Sanger, despised both blacks and Christians. She lived a very promiscuous lifestyle. She felt that abortion was the answer to society’s woes: to set women free from traditional morals and of course those burdensome babies. She also said that abortion would be very useful in controlling the populations of the pesky lower forms of humans, mainly the Negros. As she began to market her idea, she used the slogan, “Every child a wanted child” and promised that a utopian society would surely follow.
As we can all see now, Margaret Sanger was a very false prophet.
Planned Parenthood started entering the schools and providing “sex education” which was supposed to help prevent unwanted pregnancies. Teenage pregnancies began to skyrocket, and it turned out the “sex ed” was actually creating more clients for her abortion clinics.
I knew a woman who had an abortion when she was young. It left emotional and physical scars so that later when she got married, she could not get pregnant. After much struggle and help from health care professionals, she was able to bring one miracle son into the world. She developed an abstinence based sex-ed course. She was invited into many schools.
I also learned from that book that 80% of women who had an abortion reported negative side effects, many long term.
It was becoming clear to me that abortion was devastating to the mother as well.
I have since learned that women who lose their baby before 20 weeks, whether through miscarriage or abortion, have a much higher risk of breast cancer and that risk goes up with each baby that is lost. On the flip side, for every month a women nurses a baby, her risk for breast cancer goes down. I have virtually no breast cancer risk after nursing my 10 babies. What does this tell me? God created our bodies to work a certain way and when we violate His design, there are negative consequences.
There are so many documented complications following abortion from increases in many kinds of cancer, poor general health, problems with future pregnancies, and on and on. The most concerning is the death rate in the year after abortion.
“According to the best record based study of deaths following pregnancy and abortion, a 1997 government funded study in Finland, women who abort are approximately four times more likely to die in the following year than women who carry their pregnancies to term. In addition, women who carry to term are only half as likely to die as women who were not pregnant”
What do you know? Pregnancy is actually good for women because God’s creation is good and He loves women. Pregnancy taken to the birth of a full term baby can actually protect a woman from DYING!
A year after YWAM, Chris and I got married and started having babies. We were learning first hand how our babies were being fearfully and wonderfully made by God who was knitting them together in my womb and bringing them through astonishing developments week by week. This was not a clump of cell. This was a miracle!
In quick succession I had a girl and two baby boys. My fourth pregnancy produced a beautiful baby girl, Ashlyn, who was diagnoses with a rare chromosomal disorder. Soon we realized that she was developmentally delayed and had unexpected abnormalities in her body. Yet she is such a vital part of our family. Most children like her never make it out of the womb alive. 80% of Down syndrome Babies are aborted in America. In some countries it is close to 100%.
I met a friend a few years later who took a special interest in Ashlyn. She even organized a fundraiser to help get Ashlyn the special therapy she needed. One day she told me her story. She was close to her due date with baby number 3 when the doctors realized that her child had some sort of problem, likely chromosomal in nature. They urged her to abort. Abortions in the third trimester were not legal in our state, so she and her husband traveled to another state. The abortion was preformed and she got a picture of her dead daughter. She and her husband had since divorced. Her older daughter was practicing self -harm.
I listened to my sweet friend and I heard a torture that I have never experienced in all the hardship of caring for a child who is physically and mentally handicapped. I wouldn’t wish that type of pain on anyone.
In the last year I have watched the movie, “Unplanned”, story of Abby Johnson who went from Planned Parenthood’s Employee of the year to a Pro-Life advocate. Please read her book or watch her movie. It explains so much about what it is like inside the abortion industry and what it is like to have an abortion. The turning point for Abby was when she was called in to assist with an abortion for the first time. It was her job to hold the ultrasound probe so the doctor could see the baby in order to suction it out.
When the suction tube came near the small baby, Abby saw it recoil and move out of the way. It tried to find a safe place but the little body could not escape.
“Beam me up Scotty,” said the doctor as the baby was ripped from the womb and ended up in a bloody heap in the machine.
Just a few weeks ago I was able to attend a Kick Off Rally for our local chapter of 40 Days of Life, the Pro-Life organization that helped Abby get out of the abortion industry. I met many precious Catholics who have been standing and praying in front of our city’s Planned Parenthood since 2006. They have pictures and stories of the babies and mothers they have saved from abortion. I was able to tour Little Bee, a mobile ultrasound unit by Undefeated Courage. They park in front of Planned Parenthoods in the area and offer free ultrasounds for pregnant women. Planned Parenthood always does an ultrasound for any client wanting an abortion, but only to determine price. The client is never allowed to see her baby moving on the screen, never allowed to notice the beating heart.
Four out of five women who receive an ultrasound on a mobile unit decide to keep her baby. She can plainly see that what is in her womb is a human child, HER human child.
I also learned about Rachel’s Vineyard, a local ministry that helps women heal from abortion. Their pamphlet reads, “One in Four Women will become a victim of abortion by the age of 45.”
Interesting, I had never thought of it that way. But now I understand why the woman is a victim too. She is being lied to by her culture, celebrities, media, lawmakers, educators, and her health care providers. Most of all she is being lied to by Planned Parenthood counselors who are trained to sell a product. They only product they have to sell is abortion. The pain, grief, guilt, and negative side effects are downplayed or never mentioned. Her baby is referred to as “the pregnancy”, “contents of the uterus”, or “fetal tissue.” She is never told that her baby is a real human baby, a life worth living, and a life worth saving.
She is never told that when God gives a woman a baby, it is His way of showing His favor and giving her His highest blessing. She is never told that babies are always a blessing and never a curse, that the child in her womb may become the best thing in her life.
I love to talk about pregnancy, labor, birth, and everything to do with babies and motherhood. It is my great passion in life! Women sense this and seem to open up to me. I have heard so many stories over the years! Many times I have heard a woman say,
When I first heard I was going to Nepal for my DTS outreach, I was so excited. Some of my excitement waned as we started doing research on the nation. We found that Nepal is mostly Hindu with only a small Christian population. Laws are in place that do not allow for public preaching of the gospel. This made me think that we would not be very welcome in Nepal, and I did not expect to meet many Christians.
As we continued to meet and prepare as a team, God started to speak to my heart. I knew we were supposed to go. I decided to trust that God would keep us safe and provide ministry opportunities.
After over 30 hours of travel, we arrived in Kathmandu. Everything was so different! The streets were full of vehicles, people and animals. Rising over the noise of traffic was the sound of the Nepali language. The smell of car exhaust and street food filled our noses. There was so much to look at.
Our first week was spent in Kathmandu. We went to prayer meetings, performed our skit, shared testimonies, did prayer walks, and helped tear down a brick wall. The entire week was full of new experiences and getting stretched in different areas. One of the ways that happened for me was when I gave my testimony in front of Seminary students. I went up to explain our skit and what it meant to me.
I was super nervous and wondered what I could give that the students did not already have. I simply prayed for God to speak through me, and He did!
Our second week was to be spent in a smaller town many hours from Katmandu. We got all of our stuff onto the roof of a van and started our long journey. Only 1 hour into the trip, the van started to make disheartening sounds. I looked up at the front and saw the driver pounding on the dashboard. This could not be good. Finally the van came to a complete stop and would not be coaxed any further. The driver finally told us that we would have to wait for a new van, which would take a few hours. This was the perfect opportunity for us to get discouraged, and I was tempted.
However, God used this situation to show us how He can turn situations around. We got to take a mini hiking trip and saw a beautiful view of Nepal. We happened to stop on the mountain top and could see for miles. The view was the mixture of jungle and flowing rice fields. Not only that but when the van finally did arrive, it was larger and newer then the original!
The next day we were served breakfast by our host family. They watched us eat with expectant faces. I had never experienced this before, and I almost felt uncomfortable. However, I forgot this feeling as I ate the delicious food that had been carefully made for us.
The place where we slept was a long building made of bricks. Outside was a place to wash dishes, a shower (made of sticks and blankets), and two squatty pottys. None of us were used to this way of living, and it was not easy. I had never felt this dirty in my entire life.
Every person that I encountered in Nepal had so little (compared to the normal American family), but they always gave generously and with a smile on their face. This inspired me to live with more gratitude.
While we stayed in the smaller town, we visited many local believers. Every house would be full of people, excited to meet the team from America. The greeted us warmly and served us drinks. Selected members from my team would give a message, testimony, or Bible story. After sharing we would pray with those who expressed a need.
I loved every part of home visits. I especially enjoyed getting to hold and love on the children. Through every little moment, God showed me that He loves the Nepali people more than I could ever know.
In Chitwan we got to stay 3 days at an orphanage. This orphanage is home to around 200 children ages two to tenth grade. When we came into view of the gates of the property, we could see the faces of the children gathered to welcome us. As soon as the van came to a stop, we were surrounded. They greeted us with the smiles and hugs. They then took our hands and led us to where we were to stay. A sign that said “Welcome Texas YWAM” was hung over the door.
At 7 o’clock we went to their daily worship time with the children. I loved watching as every single child worshiped Jesus with their whole hearts. One of the most beautiful things I have ever witnessed. Before heading to bed, my team and I got to give all two hundred children a goodnight hug.
The next day started at 5am with worship with the founders. The founders then shared with us about how they started the orphanage. It was not an easy road and they encountered many trials. Many things came to destroy what they were doing and to hurt the children. Despite all of that, God had protected and blessed them. As they spoke I was amazed at their bravery and endurance.
The rest of the day was spent doing a program we had prepared for the children. We started with everyone together so we could perform some of the clown skits we had prepared. There was lots of giggling and clapping.
We split the children into two groups: youth and elementary. I was put with the youth. We shared a testimony, a Bible story, and played a game. What impressed me was the sportsmanship and joy they had towards each other.
After lunch we had the youth do intercession with us. Intercession is when you ask God for what to pray for and wait for Him to speak. He can speak in words, pictures, or even a Bible verse. I explained this to my group, and we then waited for a few minutes. When I asked my group if anyone got anything, I received blank stares. I was a bit discouraged, but I decided to do something else. I asked if they would like to pray for their country. They seemed to perk up at this suggestion. I started praying and then was joined by a few other voices. We still had some time, so I asked if they had any questions for me. They asked me about my family and life back in America. They seemed very surprised and delighted by my answers.
After my group was dismissed one of the staff at the orphanage (he had helped me with translation) told me a bit about Nepali culture. He said that it is unusual in Nepal to share things in a group setting. That was why the children did not want to share during intercession.
This made me realize that I had no reason to be discouraged. Their culture is just different than mine.
That night we had one more worship night with the children. The children had prepared dances for us. We hugged the children extra-long at bedtime because, we knew we were leaving the next morning.
When morning did come, all the children surrounded us as we made our way to the van. As we passed each child, they gave us a hug and a homemade card. The children followed the van. As we left the property, the children ran along the top of the wall. We all cried as we watched the orphanage fade into the distance. The children had loved us like family, and we did not feel we deserved any of it.
It was very hard to leave. As we rode to our next destination, we read every letter we received. I loved reading the sweet messages writing in broken English. I would never forget the wonderful kids that welcomed us with open arms.
Our leaders told us that the next two days would be for resting and team building. We would be doing that by trekking the Himalayan Mountains.
Slowly we started to ascend the mountain in the rain. We encountered steep stone stairs that had become slick. By this point, my shoes were soaked through and I could hear them squish with every step. A little further up I heard someone cry out in alarm. One of my teammates had encountered a leech. This was even more terrifying then the possibility of falling down stone stairs. I made sure to check myself every couple of minutes for those little creatures.
After going about one third of the way, we stopped to rest. I was very thankful because I felt like my legs were going to turn into mush. I looked up and noticed my teammates were looking behind us. I followed their gaze and was pleasantly surprised. I could not believe how far we had come. You could see the little village we had started, and miles beyond. The rain made it that much more magical. We all forgot our wet shoes and tired bodies, if only for just a moment.
Finally we had to continue on our journey upward. The stairs continued and got steeper. It felt like was hours before we reached the top. Finally we saw where we would be spending the night. It was a cute collection of little cabins and a central restaurant. We changed out of our wet clothes and joined everyone in the restaurant for dinner. The building was very simple and had a traditional woodstove in the middle to keep it warm.
I got up very early the next morning to see the sunrise. I put on my sweatshirt and went outside to see if anyone else had decided to brave the cold. As I walked toward the grassy clearing, I was surprised to see most of my team already waiting. It was still pretty dark so we all huddled together and waited for the sun. It slowly started to peak over the tips of the mountains.
I had seen some very beautiful views, but this topped them all.
The sky turned from grey to yellow to orange. The colors illuminated the clouds clustered around the Annapurna Range. It was beautiful, and the mountains seemed so far away. Once the sun was mostly up I heard someone exclaim in excitement. I turned, and then I saw it! The Mardi Himal Mountain clear as day. I could see every detail of the snowy peak. This huge mountain had been behind our cabins the entire time. It had been too dark and rainy for us to see it when we arrived.
After we descended the mountain, we headed to our next destination in Pokhara, a guesthouse called Beth-Eden. It was a cute little compound full of charming little gardens. There was even a tree house! We spent the rest of the day resting.
The next day we headed out to help build a local church. We learned our first task would be to move a pile dirt to a new location. We were given old rice sacks to carry the dirt and got right to business. As the hours wore on, the new pile of dirt got bigger and the ceiling beams were almost fully covered in paint. The sun was beating down and sweat was starting to drip into my eyes.
The next day we came to finish what we had started. What we found out was that most of what they had for us to do, we had finished the day before. We decided to stay and help with whatever else we could. We finished painting the windows, clearing the floor, and putting up the ceiling beams.
We were able to come back the next day and take part in their service. I was able to share the story of the women who Jesus healed from bleeding. I then explained that the women was healed because of her trust in Jesus and His love for her. Then Emma (one of my teammates) came up and gave her message on trusting God. Everything seemed to come together so perfectly, and it seemed to be what that church needed. They were very encouraged.
The next week we ran an English camp, children in the morning and youth in the afternoon. I enjoyed preforming as a clown and hearing the giggles and squeals fill the room!
The third night all of us got invited to stay at different homes. Some of the youth had invited us and we gladly accepted. Kena (One of my teammates) and I stayed with a family that had all of their children in our camp (all the daughters were on the red team with Kena and me).
The house we stayed at was a simple three room house made of brick and mud. The main room housed the stove and eating area. We were greeted warmly by the parents and given the seats of honor. As we sat watching the mother cook, some other relatives came to see who the new visitors were. A few of them asked for prayer. After we finished our prayers, we were served our dinner. We were given plates with a generous helping of rice, chicken, soup, and cucumbers. The food was delicious and I knew that lots of care was put into the preparation. I ate until I could not eat anymore. I asked if I could help with cleaning. I was kindly refused and shown into one of the bedrooms. There Kena and I watched TV with the family until it was time for bed. The bed that Kena and I shared was a raised board covered with a thin cushion. All the children slept on one bed so that we could have somewhere to sleep.
This family did not have anything fancy, but they were more than willing to give up their bed so that we would be comfortable.
Our last two evenings of the camp we went with some of the youth to pray over their houses. They had requested that we come and bless them and their families. This made me so happy because many of the youth were the only Christians in their families.
We were warmly welcomed into each home. Many of the family members came up to us requesting personal prayer. We prayed for peace, strength, and even healing.
One of my team members prayed over a man’s eyes and they were healed!
Overall doing the English camp was an eye opening experience. It was not easy, and we were not experts at teaching children. None of that mattered because all we had to do was to simply be, and let God work through us. That was one of the many things that God taught me while in Nepal. I don’t have to make things happen or know everything. When I completely trust and give up control, that is when people are impacted.
Nepal seemed dark from a distance, but got brighter the closer I looked. I believe that Nepal will turn into a light for the Nations!
A note from Anne: This experience has been transformational for Areli, stoking the fire of God’s love for the entire world in her heart. She is asking God to provide the funds for her to be able to return to Youth With a Mission in January to continue her training. Would you like to be part of this miracle for Areli? You can contribute at Give Send Go. Thank you!
When my firstborn daughter, Areli,
invited me to her graduation, my first thought was, “There is no way I am going
to be able to leave my family and fly all the way to Texas!”
Talking with Areli on the phone during her Discipleship Training School had reminded me of the raw faith I had when I did my DTS, 25 years ago. Areli had the faith that God could get me to Texas, why shouldn’t I?
I had not taken such a trip without my husband since I had gotten married. Yet Chris, really wanted me to go. He felt that to visit my Alma Mater would be such a special time for me. Boy, was he right! God orchestrated a delightful and refreshing getaway!
My one year old daughter Aria and I traveled for about 8 hours before we arrived in Tyler, but the trip had gone better than I had hoped. One of the YWAM staff picked us up at the airport, and she was beyond friendly, carrying all the bags and taking us to the grocery store. She dropped us off at the base hotel, and we found the loveliest accommodations waiting for us. I had been given a small apartment with a living room/kitchenette and a king-sized bedroom. It was just perfect for Aria and I!
Soon came a rap on my door. I opened it and there stood Areli, my
beautiful daughter that I hadn’t seen in person for 5 months! Such joy!
Later Areli took me to supper in the new Paris Fellowship Center. Such a lovely facility. Such friendly people everywhere I turned. During my 4 days at YWAM Tyler, I got to meet the students and leaders of Areli’s DTS in addition to students of many other schools.
Each day we took a long walk around the base. It looked so much the same as it did 25 years ago. Wide open spaces, beautiful and peaceful. We enjoyed the warm sunshine and the mild weather.
We visited the charming chapel and the playground by the lake. We always stopped by the lake to eat a snack. One day we visited the new SST Village.
Another day we visited Ag Tech. I loved it! What a brilliant way to raise vegetables and eggs for the base. New and better farming practices and prototypes were being developed, and then taken out to the mission field. What a practical way to bring God’s love to needy places.
We went to the Base Worship on
Friday morning. It was a simple affair with voices and a guitar. The spirit was sweet and God’s presence was transformational. God gave me a breakthrough in my thinking,
perhaps the biggest breakthrough of my life.
I will write more about that in a later article, but it felt almost as
if I had been born-again…again!
That evening Aria and I were welcomed into the girls’ dorm to participate in a pre-Love Feast nail-painting party. It was so fun to be among such sweet ladies. I got to see the bunk that had been mine in DTS.
I remembered the good times I had spent in that room with the five other girls, three of whom became my best friends.
A year after DTS I traveled to be in Maddy’s wedding, and a year after that she was in mine. I am still good friends with her and one other roommate, Sue. What a blessing they have been to me over the years.
Saturday was the big day! There was a Friends and Family Reception
where the leaders talked about YWAM, DTS, and SOE. Leland Paris spoke with his kind and powerful
voice, so much the same as he had spoken to my school 25 years ago.
“We have been serving Jesus
together, what could be better than that!” Fran Paris said about their 50+
years of marriage.
I was impressed with the fire and
maturity of the leaders. Areli’s DTS had
been very much like my own: same themes; many of the same speakers; same
structure with work duties, one on one discipleship, small groups, and intercession
groups. Yet it seemed like the details
had been honed to perfection, and the training held the depth of wisdom gained
through experience. I was so very pleased that Areli had chosen to come! I was thrilled that she planned to come back
for the SOE!
Next we all chose seats at the
eloquently decorated tables. We were
served a lovely dinner by the new students.
Areli told me that the base chef had been working on the meal for days,
and it was exquisite!
After the Love Feast, there was worship, and Aria began to do the cutest baby, butt-wiggle dance. She looked at the young man standing beside her and decided to raise her hands like he did.
We returned to our seats and
listened to stories from the Family DTS.
It was the first DTS of its kind at this base, and it was amazing! Entire families were learning and ministering
together. One of the families I had known
from back home. I was so amazed at how
they had sold everything and came when God called them. The father and son testifed about how the son
had heard God’s voice and prayed for a man, and that man had received healing
in his eyes!
Then Areli’s DTS took the stage. I heard a girl talk about hearing God’s voice for the first time. I heard a young man tell about God’s creative way of showing him how to let go of his anger. I heard another guy tell of when he witnesses a healing after he prayed. The evening wrapped up with the SOE telling their stories, and each student received a diploma. Everyone was overflowing with an awareness of God’s goodness!
Sunday morning we had time to take
one last walk around the loop. I hated
to leave this special place. I was reminded of the many walks I had taken with
God on this path.
“There was the exact spot that God
told me that I was going to marry Daddy,” I told Areli and two of her friends.
Where we stopped for a snack at the
water’s edge was where I heard God speak to me so clearly as I prayed about
finances for outreach and my future. He
gave me this scripture:
will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the
stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has
no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” Jer 17:8
I still remember this scripture and
think of it often. I am not a missionary
depending on monthly support, or traveling to strange and exotic locations. But I do have 10 children, which sometimes requires
a leap of faith to just get out of bed each morning!
I recalled all that I had learned
here on this base and how it changed the course of my life. My expectation for
DTS and SOE was that I would learn about how to evangelize and about how to be
a foreign missionary. Yet almost every
speaker who came to our school, every book that I read, every encounter I had
with new friends taught me about something different. Something I desperately needed to know but
didn’t know that I needed to know.
Something that would prepare me for the future that God had planned, a future
I had never even guessed at 25 years ago.
God taught me about marriage,
raising children, homeschool, and His heart for families. I hadn’t thought much
about these subjects previously. I had
been focused on getting good grades in order to get into a good college so I
could become a teacher. Once I began my
YWAM journey, I fell in love with it! I
continued with SOE and at the end of it, I pictured myself as a missionary with
everything I owned strapped to my back.
I was excited to go anywhere. I
prayed about the next step, and all I heard God say was, “Go Home.”
I didn’t understand it at all. Yet I obeyed. A month later I was engaged to my high school sweet heart. A year later we were married. 25 years later we have 10 children. I am living my destiny, and I love it!
Now I can see that God had
perfectly prepared me. YWAM was a huge
part of that! I can also see that all my mistakes and missteps along the way
just brought me closer to Him. What would I say to the new DTS and SOE graduates?
“God is using everything in your life to prepare you for your purpose. It is ok if you don’t have a full picture of that purpose, God does! Whatever you are picturing, it will be totally different anyway! It is usually harder but better! All your experiences give you something important, even the painful ones, even the ones that seem like mistakes or failures. Make the most of your YWAM experience! The time set aside to seek God is sacred and will bring great rewards in the future.”
As we walked back to get ready to leave, I felt so thankful for my Alma Mater. I felt thankful that Areli was experiencing it too! Perhaps there was a deposit in little Aria’s spirit that would bring her back here for her own adventure, to this extraordinary place that has brought generations to the feet of Jesus!