Full Circle

This past week Barry & I learned that we will be allowed to lead a small group. Not just any small group but one we have been hoping to teach for a long time. We will be leading a group for those who are leaving Mormonism.

Our church, South Mountain Community Church, has a 9 week class called “Transitions”. It is a course for those considering leaving their LDS roots. When the current session of Transitions is complete, Barry & I will be offering a small group in our home for those that are interested in continuing their biblical education. This class is such an answer to prayer. For us, this is coming full circle. This allows us the opportunity to do what we came to Utah for in the first place which is to help those who have been living the LDS lie to know the truth of the Gospel.

Last night, we joined the Transitions class ourselves. Generally, no one is allowed to come to this course unless you are leaving an LDS background. This exception is being made in an effort to introduce us to the class and build relationships. Our goal is that people will feel comfortable enough with us to seamlessly move from the Transitions class to our small group.

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Being in that room last night, brought me to tears. There were about 30 people attending and the class is lead by 3 Ex-Mormons who have a love of Jesus and a heart for their LDS brothers and sisters. We were so moved by the stories we heard. Stories of children disowning their parents because their parents are leaving the LDS church. Stories of friends and neighbors no longer having any contact with them because they are seeking the truth. Stories of losing a marriage and an entire family simply because they desire to know the true and living God.

People have praised us for moving to Utah. People have patted us on the back for following a call into missions and for making sacrifices to go where He told us to go. We are here to say that we do not deserve the praise or the admiration; All the glory is His! What’s more, the people in that room last night are REALLY making sacrifices. They are the ones that deserve encouragement and support. I have been a Christian from a young age. I have taken Him for granted more times than I even care to admit. He has always been there and always welcomed me back with open arms. Still, through it all, it has cost me so very little to follow Christ. It is costing the people in this class everything! They are bravely leaving a life-encompassing religion in search of a relationship with their Heavenly Father. However, I know that though their cost will be great, the reward will be SO VERY MUCH greater.

02bcf1777068079e93ec863bd5f322f0So now, we pray. Pray for the people in this class. Not all of them will continue to come. It’s just the way it is but the Holy Spirit is working in their hearts and we pray that they will answer that knock. We pray for those that will come to our small group after this session of Transitions is over. We pray that they will feel comfortable in our home and feel free to ask any question with no fear of judgement. We also pray that they will bring their friends or family that may be questioning the LDS church but are not yet ready to walk into a Christian church. We pray that they too will be immediately welcomed and comfortable. Above all, we pray that these and many more will leave the darkness they currently live in and embrace the freedom they can experience through Christ alone.

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Conor, our 10 year old son, said yesterday: “Imagine, when it’s time for Daddy and Mommy to be dead, and then Me & Reagan too…Imagine if Utah is almost all Christians and not Mormons! That sure would be awesome!” We are so grateful for those of you that continue to pray for and financially support this mission to reach the LDS people for His kingdom. We know that without you we could never have these front row seats, and believe me, the game is getting exciting!

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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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