So much to say….

#1 – We have a new daughter. Praise God! Ally is her name. She is 21 years old. She’s coming to us from the Warren Jeffs compound of the FLDS. (http://www.hulu.com/watch/428223)

She is tender-hearted and kind. She is very grateful for the opportunity to be with us and we are equally as thankful that she is here. She is currently trying to get a job and her desire is to go to college. Our job will be to support her in whatever she decides to pursue and to show her what unconditional love looks like.

Through the generosity of some of you, we were able to furnish her room and buy her some clothes and shoes. We will also have the pleasure of bringing Ally to Florida with us when we come in December. To those of you who have made all of this possible, THANK YOU! We are able to love her and give her a home and a family but financially, we are not able to do what we wish we could. Praise God for those of you who have so graciously stepped in to fill in the holes that we could not.

(Pics of Ally’s Room)

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While we are in Florida, we will be having Christmas with our family. It will be Ally’s first experience with Christmas. She doesn’t know what it’s all about, she’s never heard the songs, she’s never received Christmas gifts, she’s never had a stocking, etc. I am so thankful that we get to experience this holiday season with her. I am also excited that we will have this amazing opportunity to show her who Jesus is through his birthday!

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Please be praying for this sweet girl. She is and will continue to be going through a major life change. Please pray that her heart will heal from the pain she is feeling and that she will see how much God loves her!

#2 – Our Transitions class is coming to a close and Barry and I will be picking up the teaching in a little over a week. We have been so blessed to be a part of this group of people as they leave Mormonism and search for the truth. We have watched as they are learning what the Bible says verses what they’ve been taught through the LDS church. Sometimes we see anger in their faces and sometimes we see heartbreak. It has been both moving and sad to watch. Praise God we know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel they are in! Praise God that His Word is infallible and unchanging. Praise God that we have His promise that if we seek Him, we will find Him!

Please pray that God would draw those in this class to Himself. Please also pray that He would give Barry & I the words to say in the difficult discussions ahead. We are so eager to see just how God moves in the lives of these sweet people. We are confident that He will!

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#3 – Many of you have been praying for my friend, Heather. She lives here in Utah though I met her many years ago and we became good friends during high school in Florida. She is LDS and she is very, very sick. I’ve asked that you would pray that God could use this illness to bring her to Himself.

Well, she’s been kind of MIA for the past 6 weeks or so because of her illness. No FB posts. No Instagram. No response to emails. Until yesterday. She updated the blog she keeps yesterday with information about her health. The blog is a closed blog and you can only see it through invitation. She has added me to it multiple times, but it never seems to work. Yesterday was no different. I tried several ways and still could not access the blog. So, she copied the entire thing and sent it to me via FB Messenger. What a blessing that I can’t log in the traditional way! Because it was sent to me privately, I was able to type in a prayer for Heather to read. I was able to go before the true and living God for her and with her! Praise God for the inability to access her blog. I am praying now that each blog update goes just like this one =)

Heather is, in fact, still very ill. Her condition is strange and scary. Will you please be praying for her healing? For her physically body, of course, but more importantly for her spiritually healing.

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We are so very thankful for your continued interest, prayer and support. We can not imagine doing this without you.

photo by Dominik Gwarek

For those of you that are interested in giving to help Ally or just to help us, here are a few ways you can do that.

  • You can send gift cards for Walmart, Target, etc. to us at 12448 S. Iron Sight Way, Herriman, UT 84096
  • 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 34786

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

God is moving

We meet every Tuesday with our small group of Transitioners. To say that we look forward to Tuesday nights would be such an understatement. We are so moved each and every week by just how great God is! For us, personally, just sitting in that room is the fulfillment of a calling that the Lord placed on us a couple of years ago. We are humbled and in awe of just how specific God’s plans have been for us. Even when through our eyes things seemed to be confusing, He always had this group of people in mind. It blows me away! Even more so, to listen each week as they talk about their experiences both in belonging to and leaving the LDS church truly brings me to my knees in gratitude.

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Last night was week 6 of our 9 week class. The sheer volume of information being consumed in such a short amount of time is mind blowing. Last week, we had the opportunity to explain a little to the class about who we are. We were able to give them a very short explanation of why we are here in Utah and invite them to continue to come to the Transitions class after the 9 weeks is up by joining us each week at our house.

It seems so normal to us to join a small group, but for people leaving the Mormon church, choosing (or not choosing) a group to attend is foreign. They are not given that opportunity. They are assigned their church location much like school zoning and then they are given their roles in the church as well. Not accepting the assignment isn’t really an option. Praise God, we have heard from quite a few of the people in the class that they do intend to begin meeting with us in our home starting at the end of November.

Will you please be praying that God would move in the lives of the people He wants in that class? It will not be easy to step so far out of their comfort zone. Still, they have already made the effort to attend the Transitions class. We pray that they will keep the forward momentum.

I would love to be able to share all of what we’ve heard from these precious people in the class but that would be quite the long blog. I’m not sure you really want to read that much or that I really want to type that much so I will just try to summarize and hit a few key points.

  • One gentlemen was an auditor for the LDS church while they were building the City Creek Mall in Salt Lake City. It is a beautiful shopping mall directly across from the Salt Lake Temple and it is owned by the LDS church. When this man saw some things he found questionable and approached someone about it, he was dismissed. This caused him such grief, confusion and depression that he eventually left the church. He then, in turn, lost his wife and his children along with the rest of his family.
  • One woman had two weddings to attend in the same weekend. One for her LDS father and one for an Evangelical cousin. She spoke of how at her father’s marriage in the Temple, it was just him, his bride and her. It felt cold and rehearsed. “Creepy” is how she described it. She then told of how at the Evangelical wedding, there seemed to be so much warmth and true compassion and love. That weekend, she began to search for the truth.
  • In fact, many stories we heard involved people starting to question their LDS faith after visiting the Temple. One gentlemen told his story of being in a Temple ordinance class and feeling so uncomfortable, that he got up and left in the middle of it. Ironically, he drove away and immediately went and got a tattoo that reads “I just need someone to save me!”
  • An older lady in the class told a story of spending her life trying her hardest but always knowing she fell short. After years and years of carrying this heavy burden, she decided to try to figure out if there was a way that she could just know God and be known by Him without all of the pomp and circumstance that came along with religion. She is now 64 years old and said she feels like just a child having to start all over again.

These are of course only a fraction of the stories we have heard. There are certainly others and many many more we’ve yet to hear. I know, however, that God is working in Utah. I know that there are thousands here that are following a false prophet and worshiping a false Jesus, but there are so very many that are having the veil of deceit lifted. Praise God!!!!!

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Please continue to pray that we will see a mighty revival in this place. Please pray also that God would use us in any way He sees fit to help accomplish His purposes. To those of you who will pray for us and who always have been, we cannot thank you enough.

One final prayer request, if I can be so selfish…

The Devil is a very real adversary. He knows that we are here to thwart his plans and he does not like it. He is attacking us in a place he knows will distract us. I wish I could tell you that it hasn’t worked at all, but that would be untrue. Please pray that our eyes will stay focused on Jesus Christ alone and that we will trust Him fully over all aspects of our lives.

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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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