Ashes to Beauty

Wow! It has been an amazing couple of weeks. Barry started his new job, the Littles started at their new Options Day location, we packed up our house, moved, unpacked the house, started another homeschool year, met our neighbors (One family who happen to also be Baptist missionaries here from SC. I mean, really??? So God!) and Barry started teaching the 5th graders at our church. God has been exceedingly good to us. So…why do I feel so guilty?

I’ve been thinking lately about how much I don’t deserve what I have. I mean, I honestly deserve nothing. If you truly knew my heart, you’d agree! Yet, He just gives and gives. Even more than normal, however, I feel guilty about what I have. God has provided us with a fantastic church, a nice home and new friends. It feels like, as missionaries, we shouldn’t have it so good.

I clearly know that it is through God that we have any of it. Through the gift of Barry’s job and the financial support of people like you, we are able to rent our new house. It is a very nice house by my standards. Plenty of space. Space enough to provide a home for a teenage girl or maybe even a mother and her children as they flee the FLDS. I know God gave us this house for that specific reason. We could not host in the 1200 sq foot townhouse we were renting before. So why do I feel guilty for having it? People. Yes, people. I feel guilty because of what other people will think. I feel like I should be cautious of posting pictures of the house or talking about how much we love it because I am nervous what other people will think, ‘Why are they living there?’, ‘Doesn’t look like missionary housing to me.’, ‘Wow – they don’t need any support. Look at that house.’ Now, it’s no mansion, but it is nice. Of course, we have reduced all of our expenses to afford this house, including going down to just one vehicle. I know our main goal is to provide a safe home for the person or people that God brings to us. I know that He alone has provided the means to do that. Why then am I still focused on what other people will say? So…here’s goes…my leap away from guilt…here is a picture of our new, God provided house.

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I also feel guilty about not doing enough. I was reading a Frances Chan book last week; The Forgotten God. He asked a question that is still with me. “If everyone in your church was just like you – gave like you, served like you, went on mission like you, evangelized like you, prayed like you, studied their Bible like you – what would your church look like?” I got to thinking about that question and began to feel so inadequate. I am ashamed to say, it would be a pretty sad church indeed. Why am I feeling the guilt in this area? Again, I have allowed what people think to come before what God thinks. I’ve tried not to appear too radical, too weird, too pushy and instead have become too complacent, too quiet, too comfortable.

Today, I am surrendering the guilt in a prayer of repentance. I pray that The Lord will forgive my desires to put what people think over what God requires. I repent of trying to hide his provision for the sake of not being judged by other people. I commit to trusting that He will provide regardless of what other people think of our situation. I am praying a prayer asking to be filled with the Holy Spirit in a new and bold way, even if that makes me radical, weird and pushy.

What can I pray for you about today? Are you struggling with guilt like I am? Are you more concerned with what your friends think than what God asks of you? Are you carrying a burden that is not meant for you to carry? Are you in a broken relationship? Is the devil attacking you through your finances, children, illness? How can I pray for you?

As I was walking my dog last night, this was my view. A God that can make such beauty from nothing, can turn our sin and struggles into victory for His glory! He can turn our ashes into true beauty.

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When it rains, it pours…in the best way

We’ve all heard it said so many times; When it rains it pours. It really does feel that way sometimes. Today, though, we feel as though God isn’t raining blessings down on us, He’s pouring them. One answered prayer after another.

Barry started his new job on Monday. It’s been an interesting week with so much to learn and he is enjoying it. He likes his co-workers and the company is a great place work . He is a Logistical Customer Service Rep for SSA Marine. They are basically like air traffic control for cargo ships along the West Coast of the United States. Yes, that is done from Utah =) Many of the people that work for SSA are former military so Barry has a lot in common with them. We are so grateful that God opened up this opportunity for him. Literally, out of the clear blue sky.

We also found a house. Praise God! It is a 6 mile drive to Barry’s office and an 8 mile drive to our church. We have never lived that close to everything before! The house is the perfect set up to host a foster child. Again, all glory to God for showing us just where to be and when. The neighborhood even has a community gym and pool. How fun, right? We are planning to stay in this house for quite some time. At least until after we sell our house in FL and then look to buy here.

We’ve made lots of changes lately: reducing to just one car, changing cell providers, manipulating the grocery budget, etc. We feel that we are so close to things becoming “normal” again. It’s not felt normal since we left Florida but we just know it’s right around the corner. The Littles are getting pretty tired of change and frankly, so are we. It has been hard, but God has been in control since before time and He’s got this covered too.

This song has been so important to me lately. It has been the constant reminder that I needed.

“Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You’ve never failed, and You won’t start now”

Now, we turn our focus to packing and moving. Please pray for the move to go smoothly and for Barry to learn his job skills without difficulty. Pray for the Littles as they feel like they are starting over yet again with a new Options Day location and neighborhood. Pray for us, above all else, to remain clear no matter how high the waves get just who is in charge of it all.

GREAT news!

I  know…blog overload this week…sorry but I just wanted to give you a quick update.

Barry got a JOB!!!! Praise God!!!! Not just a job either, but the best job he interviewed for. To go into all the details would take too much of your time. All I want to say is this, I’ve been on my knees, begging God to give Barry the job he interviewed for weeks ago. I was positive that was the one for him. Then, this company contacted Barry out of the blue. This job was not even on our radar at all. He interviewed with them twice this week and they called this morning to offer him the job. This position is significantly better than the one I’d been begging God to give Barry.

Immediately after Barry got off the phone, we both acknowledged that this was so clearly from God. He was telling us the whole time to wait. He knew what I wanted but He had something better in store.

Barry will start the new job on 08/04. We are so happy, relieved and grateful.

THANK YOU so much for continually praying for us. We cannot begin to truly express what that means to us. Please continue to pray for God’s guidance as we look for a house. Also, if you will please be praying for the child God is preparing for us to foster.

We still attend our Florida church each week via the internet. Our pastor said on Sunday that God’s way may not be the easiest, but it is always the best. I couldn’t agree more!

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When I deserve it least

Good Morning! I have to first apologize for being such a “Debbie Downer” in the last post. I don’t like it when I allow the negative circumstances around me to take the main stage. I am a normal person with real emotions. I have good days and bad, just like you, but I do apologize for using the bad day feelings to write a blog.

The circumstances we are in have not changed in the past couple of days since I updated you but my attitude has. I want to share with you why.

First off, Barry has been really great about everything. Clearly, he is stressed just like I am. Probably even more since the financial responsibility lies almost entirely on him. However, he has been so calm about it all. He asked me the other day “What is the worst thing that could happen? We lose everything? Things don’t go at all the way we’ve planned? So what! Things are just things. Plans are not ours to make, they are God’s. No matter what, we have each other.” He really helps me get my perspective back in line when I let it go bonkers.

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Second, I got a phone call yesterday from a woman that I love and admire so very much! She helped to bring my chaotic mind back into focus. She reminded me of what we know God has done so far. She helped me to see how He’s moving in some of our current circumstances. She also pointed me back to the real source of hope for the future. When I told her that failure is what I was afraid of, she told me that as long as we were following God’s call as obediently as we know how, then no matter what happens, it won’t be failure.

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Last, but most importantly, God spoke to me directly through His Word yesterday and I just HAVE to share it with you.

Psalm 62:5-8 ~ “Let all that I am wait quietly before God,for my hope is in Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation,my fortress where I will not be shaken. My victory and honor come from God alone. He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me. O my people, trust in Him at all times. Pour out your heart to Him, for God is our refuge.”

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Here is what I heard:

Let all that I am (not just the parts of me that are easy to surrender but ALL that I am) wait quietly (I don’t need to be constantly begging Him to do things the way I want them. I need to be quiet. Not talking, not not begging, not moving…quiet) before God (sit in front of the Almighty) for my hope is in Him (My hope is not in me or in Barry or in a new job or in our plans but in HIM). He alone is my rock (rock – strong, durable, foundation) and my salvation (Praise Jesus!) my fortress where I will not be shaken (Such an amazing visual! I picture an earthquake shaking everything around me, but I am standing under the cover that is Christ – still and unmoved). My victory (there is one coming!) and honor (I don’t deserve honor at all) come from God alone (He is so good to me). He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me (Oh, Praise Jesus! He doesn’t say that the enemy wont try to reach me, that he won’t try to get me; He says that because God is my refuge the enemy won’t be able to reach me!). O my people, trust in Him at all times (Not just when things are good, but even when you are in Utah and things are all topsy turvy and you don’t know which way is up). Pour out your heart to Him (Go to Him! Pray, cry, sing…He knows what you’re feeling anyway so just be honest and pour it all out) for God is our refuge (I am sensing a theme here).

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I am so blown away by how much God loves me. Even when I am being my poor me, pity party, Debbie Downer self, He still reaches out to love on me. When I deserve it least, He seems to lavish it most. What an awesome God we serve!

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I asked for a floodlight, but God decided a flashlight was better

Being in Utah is different than I thought it would be in some ways. We aren’t storming Temple Square everyday or evangelizing in loud ways. (Though we do still go to Temple Square sometimes to try to get conversations going.) Still, we have more opportunities to reach the LDS community in quiet and personal ways than I thought we would.

From the girl that cuts my hair to the people Barry works with to the other Mom’s at the playground, we are surrounded daily by people that are following a false god. We have daily opportunities to share the truth of the Gospel and build relationships that will, hopefully, point to Jesus Christ. We don’t always take every chance we get and we struggle with that just like I assume a lot of you do.

The best and most concentrated way that we’ve had the privilege of being witnesses was by becoming a host family for Holding Out Help. (For more details see previous blog entries)

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Our house-guest is no longer with us. “Boy” joined a job training program and is planning to pursue his dreams of becoming a nurse. He has a long way to go, but I am proud of his courage to at least dream of a future that doesn’t involve the FLDS.

In the short amount of time we had with him, we were able to share the gospel on several occasions. Through explaining the difference between religion and relationship, Christian music in the car and him waiting for us during VBS, I know “Boy” heard the truth more than once. I’m not sure if he truly understood all we said or if he was really listening, but I will continue to pray that those seeds are watered along his journey and that they will grow into a true faith of his own.

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So…that brings us to today and what lies ahead. Personally, I am worried. I know I shouldn’t be. I am trying to remember to bring everything to the Father in prayer. It can be hard though when I can’t see a way to work everything out. The reminder that you’re not in control can be a tough pill to swallow.

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We are now back on the waiting list for another child. In all reality, we are waiting on a girl. It is best for our situation to host a girl so that is the plan. Holding Out Help will notify us as soon as they have a girl needing placement into a foster home.

In the meantime, we need to move. Our lease is up here at the end of August. We will be moving further south as we shared before to be close to all the resources that Holding Out Help has to offer the kids once they are placed in a home. We are thoroughly searching for a place with enough space for our foster child to retreat for quiet time alone but we also need to be able to afford the rent =) We have seen a few options and we are hopeful that once the time gets a little closer, God will guide us to the right place.

I’m just going to be honest with you, one of the biggest obstacles is money. Moving is expensive even when you cut as many corners as possible. We have lived on a very tight budget since moving here and added expenses just aren’t in the cards. We thought we were on a fixed budget in Florida. Since our move, we are literally living on 1/3 of what we made there. It’s certainly been an interesting year.

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This will also be our first attempt at moving without an army of helpers. Man, I am so grateful for everyone that has helped us in the past. We are loved and I know it. I’ll probably be even more grateful for all they did when I’m helping Barry carry heavy furniture up and down stairs.

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Barry is also still looking for work down south. He had an interview this week and should hear back about that position by Monday. Please be praying that God’s will be done in Barry’s employment situation! We REALLY want him to get this job but if it’s not the one God has for him, I pray that we will continue to be patient. (That patience thing is difficult!)

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Will you please be praying for us? We want to be doing what God has brought us here for. We are not yet sure all that might be asked of us in order to do that. I’m scared of the unknown. I’d prefer if God would show me the whole plan. Like maybe a floodlight view. Even if there are obstacles, I think I would be more comfortable just knowing it all up front. Unfortunately, for my taste, that is not the way it works. God’s chosen to only shine a flashlight on where we are standing right now. I’m not sure what the next step is. I’m not sure what I might be asked to let go of or asked to grab onto.

I do, however, know the One that CAN see the whole plan. Please be praying that we will lean on Him and wait for Him to move the light to the next step.

We appreciate you more than you know!

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Houseguest

Just wanted to give you a quick update…

In about 9 hours, we will be picking up “Boy” from the family that has had him since he left the FLDS compound. He will be staying with us for a while. The family received a work transfer and is moving out of state. “Boy” did not want to go with them. He has, instead, enrolled in a local education and career technical training program. However, the facility is not ready for him yet. So, he will be with us until they are. It may be a few days or a few weeks or longer. We don’t know. 

Here’s what we do know. This boy has lived his entire life, aside from the last few months, in a cult compound. He was raised under a false religion where he received very little love and affection. Whether God allows “Boy” to be with us for a day or a month, that will be precious time to show him Jesus. 

Please be praying that he will see Jesus in us. Pray that we will be able to have some real conversations with him about the God of grace and mercy. Pray that he will come to know Jesus! I know we will be praying for exactly that!

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Waiting for the ball to roll

I love to write blogs when we have new and exciting information to tell you guys about. I love to write when God’s fingerprints are so clear and visible in our life. I am not a big fan of writing when we are struggling, but such is the case right now. There are a couple of areas of frustration for us and we are writing to ask for your prayers.

#1 – We are still very isolated here. We have found a church that we KNOW God brought us to, South Mountain Community Church. (smccutah.org) The church is Biblically solid and has a huge heart to reach the LDS community. In fact, about a 1/3 of their members are converted Mormons. Praise Jesus for that! Each week we are blown away by the powerful worship and message we get to experience. We long to get more involved by joining a small group and serving with more regularity. The problem is that we currently live a little over an hour away from the church. We mentioned in previous blogs that we were looking to move further south. The church is located in the general area we are trying to move to. Our biggest obstacle has been finding employment in that area. Once Barry has a job, we can begin looking for a house to rent. Barry has been looking for work down there for around 3 months. Nothing has come through yet. Will you please be praying for the right job to open up? Will you pray for our patience as we wait on God’s timing? Will you pray for our loneliness until the wheel can get moving and we can get connected to SMCC in a real and personal way?

#2 – We have offered ourselves up to multiple ministries here in Utah. We’ve spoken with a variety of churches and have “pitched” several ideas. Nothing has panned out. It is so hard to have a heart that wants to help and then to not have that offer accepted. We’ve been in contact with various churches about coming to Utah on a short term mission trip and while there is interest at first, it just never seems to come to fruition. SMCC is the one place that really has desired our help and been surprised by our willingness. We know we could get plugged in, in a big way, as soon as we are closer. (See #1)

We are also still patiently praying and waiting for “girl” (the FLDS girl I spoke of in a previous blog) to be ready for a new home. Maybe we are in a holding pattern until we get the move completed. Maybe God is  sparing her from having to move twice. Maybe we are being taught patience. Maybe God has a completely different plan that we just can’t see yet. Will you please pray that our eyes will remain on Him only? Will you pray that “girl” will be safe in the meantime? Will you pray for God’s plan to be our only goal?

We are positive that God has us here for a reason. We KNOW that we are here for the LDS community. We believe that we are to be foster parents to FLDS children that are seeking security and refuge. We think that we can be put to great use at SMCC. It is just so difficult feeling stuck while you wait for the ball to begin to roll.

We love you all! Thank you is just never a big enough word.

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For those who have wondered about how to support us, here is the information:

You can write a check to First Baptist Church of Windermere and write “Utah Mission” in the memo line.

The check can be dropped in the offering plate or mailed to:

First Baptist Church Windermere

300 Main Street

Windermere, Florida 34787

You can also give through the church’s website www.fbcwindermere.com.

o   Click on “GIVE”

o   Click “Click here to Give”

o   Log In

o   Choose the amount and if you want a one time or recurring gift set up

o   Put the amount you specified in “General Fund” and when the option box comes up type in “Utah Mission”

o   Finish the online instructions

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