Thursday, December 30, 2010
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” Matthew 7:7-11
Chad and I have lived in Oklahoma now for almost three weeks. We have both enjoyed spending time with Chad’s mom and dad. The boys love having free reign over Grandma Jennifer’s farm. They have quickly learned the perimeters. Don’t go in the horse pen, no firearms in the house and leave your boots and hats at the back door. Ruby runs right along with them, but mostly she sits and looks at Grandma’s horse, Katrina. Chad and I seem to take turns encouraging one another depending on who needs it most. Still, in this bleak time God lets a little light shine through.
The time of year has off-set a lot of progress with job hunting. It seems like every time we get some momentum, a long weekend comes along leaving us to hold fast until Monday; then hope we haven’t been forgotten in the mean time.
We had a wonderful meeting with the director of church planting just before Christmas. After our meeting Chad and I decided to take the first step we could take and survey the surrounding areas to see where a church might be needed.
We started in the area of town he had directed us to. It was in a part of town we had considered middle class, but right on the other side of the highway is half a square mile of “Section 8” housing. It’s all apartment complexes. Rows, and rows, and rows of apartments. It’s pretty much an entire city of people.
I did some research on the Section 8 housing program in Oklahoma City. The residents of those apartments can receive rental assistance for five years if they are working or getting an education. They also provide family reunification services for families who are working to get their children back from CPS.
Chad and I drove a little farther into a neighborhood known as the Village. While we were driving around I asked Chad to drive to The Village Baptist Church. I wanted to show Chad the house we stayed in during the waiting period for Dad’s transplant.
Wandering through the surrounding neighborhoods, we came across a great big High School in the middle of a sea of small houses. The houses reminded me of the San Jacinto neighborhood in Amarillo but it is a much larger area.
We drove around the High School and noticed it is was abandoned. The facilities looked to be in pretty good shape. We could see the two athletic gyms, an auditorium and greenhouse from the outside. Sitting in the parking lot of this School we started daydreaming, or (mid-afternoon dreaming) about all the ways the John Marshall High school building could be used to reach the neighborhoods.
All the way home we talked about it and stayed up late researching the building. Who owns it? What kind of shape is it in? We came to one site that only made matters worse, because there were pictures of the inside. www.abandonedok.com/john-marshall-high-school/
Now we were really dreaming and way out ahead of ourselves.
I passed a church sign the other day and it said, “Know the strategies of the Devil”. One of the lies he has been telling me constantly is that we have nothing to offer anyone else, so we need to just take care of our own business and leave the ministry to someone else. I agree, we don’t look like much right now, but we are working to take care of our family. He wants to discourage us with this lie is so we will give up entirely. If we give up, we’ll never realize what God can do when we offer up to Him our obedience. There are souls in need of Salvation who need to be reached. Our Heavenly Father has called us to serve Him and He will be faithful to help us put the other pieces of life back together.
As we continued to read about this building and why it was closed we came across an article in The Daily Oklahoman from last summer. It had a list of school buildings auctioned off; among them was the John Marshall building. We read the name of the man and there was a quote from the pastor/rancher saying, “I want to use this building to help troubled kids and give people jobs.” I should mention the title before this mans name indicated he was a Christian pastor. Chad and I looked at each other. "Sounds like something we can help him accomplish!" Digging a little further we found the way to reach him and called the next day. This was right before Christmas.
Today Chad and I were particularly discouraged. Another long weekend is coming up. He is just now starting to get opportunities to drive for LTI, but is an on call driver for right now until he gets his “Class A” license next week. All the kids woke up this morning with fever and we had to take my car to get the transmission fixed (more thievery aftermath). We got alone and just prayed together.
All we can do right now is wait on God, but we’ve got to keep “asking, seeking and knocking.” “Try to call him one more time.” I suggested to Chad. I went into Walgreens to pick up some children’s Advil. I came back to the car and Chad had a smile on his face. “He wants to meet us and told me to send him our resumes.” He needs help! We had resumes at the ready, and prayed over them as we put them in the mailbox.
If you are reading this blog I’ll ask you to pray with us.
• Pray for God to make a way for us to serve Him and reach these neighborhoods. We can see His hand moving and are thankful for the hope!
• Pray for our house in Amarillo, Texas to sell.
• Pray for continued provision for our family.
• Pray that the boys have a good first week at school.
• Pray we will be able to put the pieces of our life back together.
Thank you for praying. I can’t wait to share more about what is happening!
Monday, December 20, 2010
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Three weeks ago, as Chad and I pulled away from Amarillo my heart was broken. There is a particular kind of hurt when leaving a place of ministry. I struggled with feeling like we had done something wrong, like we had sinned against God and were being punished. Or maybe I was never really called to serve in full time mission work in the first place. Maybe we were both just doing what came naturally and easily to us.
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
After dinner I remembered a craft bucket packed away with the toys. We got out the beads and pipe cleaners to make ornaments. This project is inspired by my mother who made the same style ornaments with us one year. Probably under similar circumstances. :)
On his own, Sean took extra pipe cleaners and gold beads. He made one heart and really liked it, so he made one for each of us ". . .in his family" he said.
After we picked up from Ruby's not so organized crafting, it was time to for the kids to brush their teeth. They ignored me and brought me a book to read in attempt to avoid bedtime. It was a Golden Book - "The Christmas Story".
I laid down with them next to their night light and read the story of Jesus. Both of their eyes lit up. Sean said, "that's a GOOD story!" David asked why God named himself Jesus. (good question!)
Last year is kind of a blur. I remember rushing through a bunch of festivities with a broken heart after losing my dad; However I think l'll always remember tonight. This Christmas, I may have no choice but to get it right.
Ever since the boys have moved to the front room two years ago, Sean has said he was scared. He and David would end up sleeping like puppies in the top bunk.
Sean has expressed to me some specific fears. He's complained about noises and lights, bumps, a mouse and a cat named "Carlos" who comes to their window.
Most of the time I tried to minimize his fears. It was easy to explain the cars driving past and road noise. I refused to believe there was a mouse in his room, but "Carlos" would get it if there was.
One of the moves we made this week was to move our bed in the boys room because it is the biggest room with it's own bathroom. This put the boys in our old room tucked away safely in the back corner of the house.
Tuesday Chad went to Oklahoma because he had to be in town early Wednesday. So I spent the night by myself in the front bedroom. I didn't have a problem falling asleep but about an hour later I was jolted awakes by a loud noise coming from the attic.
What Sean didn't know was that just above the room is the heater and when it came on in made a "roar". Surely to an imaginative boy like Sean this sounded like a wild animal!
To go back to sleep I had to fight the noise of basing hot rods and motorcycle engines. Even closing my eyes did not help block the constant stream of headlights through the side window.
I was pretty restless but felt better after checking on the kids who were snoozing away, fast asleep on their end of the house.
It turns out we do actually have a cat who prowls around our garage at night and he can still help himself to the mice.
Unable to go back to sleep, I turned the lights on low and laid in the bed. I thought about how much more compassionate I am to Sean's fears now that I've taken his place.
Philippians 2:4-10 says "Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow in heaven and on earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father."
God knew that in order to relate to us He would have to be one of us. While Jesus walked the earth He experienced, grief, loss, temptation and betrayal. He even took the punishment we deserved, the beating we had coming and the death we earned.
Jesus did all of this so we could know Him as Lord and Savior ; So we could feel his compassion when our heart breaks and win the wrestling match with fear.
It gives me great reassurance to know my God is not cold and uncaring to my anxieties. He knows, He understands and He is the way to overcome.
The next morning, after my adventure in the front room, Sean and I had a funny talk about the lights, sounds and wild animals. He said he likes it better in his new room, so he's going to stay there forever. :)
A Marriage Made in Heaven
By Chad Clement
It was a cold November morning and I was nervously awaiting my appointment for that morning. The interrogation party had increased by two brothers a few days before, but I knew they were just there to check me out. I wondered to myself if it would be easier to get a meeting with the head of the Gambino crime family than to meet the daughter of a Baptist preacher.
I had forgotten my razor in Dallas and had to make a panicked last minute rush to find a grocery store in Amarillo. The last thing I wanted was to show up looking like Grizzly Adams. I was up early that morning because feigning sleep was useless. I had prayed fervently, stretched, had some coffee, but somehow the thought of looking relaxed seemed like a distant possibility.
I had stood before promotion boards in the Marines where they asked impossible questions like, “How many rivets are on the back seat of a Hummvee?” or “What is the oldest weapon still in use in the United States Military?” Now I was going over in my mind the list of impossible Biblical questions that might be asked of me. More sweat. . .
There was some confusion over which Mc Donald’s we were to meet at, but Anna sorted that out. Finally I saw a black Scout drive up. I was sipping my coffee and praying as they walked up to the door.
As I shook hands with Don Sr. and Donnie a sense of relief came. I remembered that these were my brothers in Christ and although there was no doubt in my mind that they were very protective of Anna, I knew that we had everything in common.
I went on to meet Anna that morning with the apparent blessing of her father and two brothers. She was much more beautiful in person than pictures could do justice. When her father introduced me I stuck out a sweaty hand and she went straight for a hug. I was both relieved and terrified at the same time. I looked over to her family to make sure this hug was not grounds for immediate dismissal. When they seemed okay I figured I would probably live to see another day. What I didn’t know was that God had just blessed me with a wife.
I could say a lot about Anna and I or her family and what a blessing they have been to me. I could tell you about our future plans, because they are very exciting. More than anything I just want to say how honored I am that God has chosen us to be His own. After years of preparation Anna and I hve the opportunity to be joined together as one flesh and we plan to lay down our lives as a sacrifice to God. Matthew 16:25 says, “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake shall find it.”
It seems funny to me that people fuss so much over dating and wedding preparations, but neglect to honor God for the generations and generations of preparation He puts into the joining of just one of His sons and one of His daughters. This is a breathtaking labor of love.
Tonight at dinner Chad and I were having a silly discussion about the details we shared on our match.com profiles. We laugh now every time we see a commercial for match.com because we are usually sitting in a living room crowded with our children. Seven years later neither of us is wanting a refund. Anyway, I got sentimental and busted out with my SCRAP BOOK. Much to Chad's dismay I had printed our "correspondence" from the first email to the wedding invites. :)
Among all my psycho clippings and photgraphs was the Citychurch newsletter where we had each written articles announcing our engagement. I was moved as I read our articles out loud. They confirm the purpose in what we are doing now and encourage me to look ahead at what God has in store. I thought I'd share them.
Where Will You Live
By Anna Lea Lane
Chad and I have been dating for six months and the children I minister to have noticed that I have to travel to see Chad. Last week I took my Tulia kids on a special outing and told them I was engaged to a man who lives in Dallas. Their first question was, “Where will you live, Miss Anna?”
Through much planning a discussion Chad and I have decided that after we are married I will move to Ft. Worth to live with Chad. I my heart I had the same question as the children. I have a close family and we’ve never been apart. When I talked to God about what to do he reminded me to stay where I have always lived; within the sound of His voice.
I was born in Arlington, Texas at Arlington Memorial Hospital. As a young girl sitting in the pew of the church where my dad was preaching an out of town revival I gave my heart to Jesus. We went home to Caddo Mills, Tx where Dad was pastor and two weeks later I was baptized. As a youth my family lived in Burleson, Texas where Dad pastored Crestmont Baptist church. I was eleven years old at children’s camp when God called me to be a missionary and I surrendered my life.
At one point my mother added up all the places I have lived. If you count all the different houses I had moved 27 times by the time my family moved to downtown Amarillo. Moving from east Texas to Alaska and back to Texas. We lived in houses, on farms and in apartments.
There were not many consistent elements to my life growing up except those things most important. I always knew my family loved me, and we found strength in our relationship with one another. The other constant in my life was the immoveable Rock of God as my foundation.
I prayed to Him as a little girl on the mountain top in Alaska. I would ride my horse to the middle of our hay fields, cry out to Him and thank him for sustaining my life in such beautiful ways. Dad was terminally ill my Senior year of High School. I would fall asleep every night thanking God for helping us through each day. I would pray for my father’s healing and for my mom to feel the presence of God around her. Three months later I rejoiced with my family and praised God for Dad’s successful liver transplant.
In college I would run to pay phones to praise God with my parents each time I had successfully registered for another semester. I prayed everyday walking across campus that I would be a student worthy of the sacrifice it took for me to stay in school. I also prayed for God’s protection from any destructive relationship.
As a family, we prayed around our dining room table for God to send us on mission. God directed our eyes us to the worst neighborhoods of Amarillo. I have had the joy of praying with children as they receive Salvation in a rooms under construction in a broke down building on Polk street, in the middle of city parks and in Tulia’s town square.
Last year I graduated from Wayland Baptist University. I moved back home, unpacked my dorm boxes and settled into our building to wait for the rest of my life to unfold. I became frustrated wondering what God would have for me to do next.
I enjoy the ministry to children, but I became lonely for a companion. So many nights I would sit on the stage in our new park, watch the sunset and pray for God’s man to find me.
Last November I met that man. We will be married in the park on July 12, 2003. We plan to move to Ft. Worth for a while and follow God wherever He leads us from there. I do not know the future from here, but our desire is to return to Amarillo. I do know where I can find life to it’s fullest and it is in the presence of my Faithful Lord.
“The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were least of all peoples; but because the Lord loves you, and because He would keep the oath which He swore to your fathers, the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of bondage, from the hand of Pharoah king of Egypt. Therefore, know that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments.” Deuteronomy 7:7-9
At the time, Dad was batting Leukemia and had just received some devastating news. As painful as it is to read this again, I'm so glad I wrote it down.
Today as I remember my father on the day He went home to Heaven seven years ago, I will celebrate the gift of hope we have in Jesus. Even in the face of death we can rest in His love.
You know I feel like I was just here about 15 years ago. In this town going back and forth to this hospital praying for God to save my dad's life. This time feels so different.
On one hand I am so thankful to God for the last 15 years of "extra" time I've been given. My dad was alive to move me into my college dorm room, talk me through a broken heart, "vet" my future husband, give me away to the "the marine" (his nickname for Chad) listen to the first cries of each of my children and have dinner in my first home.
God gave breath to dad's body to be an instrument of the gospel for the last 15 years, and has given our family an inheritance in The Lord. We have a place of ministry and are able to reach out to a part of our city that was dying in sin.
While it has always been my prayer for God to take us all to glory from the field it seems we are dealing with a much more painful reality today.
This morning I was up early with dad at the hospital. He wanted to be up and dressed for when the oncologist came in to visit with him. He called it having his "game face" on. As caring as the oncologist was, this news he gave was not good. I watched my dad's smile fade. Every unfamiliar medical term came like a blow to dad's chest and he seemed to be almost sinking into his bed.
The doctor was still so impressed by dad's testimony and attitude that he left emotional and shared how he would also be praying for dad's full recovery.
When the room was clear dad looked at me and through his tears reminded me how much he loved me. He told me he doesn't want me to worry. Then he said, "I'm gonna fight this thing with everything I've got!"
He sat up and and turned around on his bed and said, "I feel like the devil's throwing arrows at me. He wants me to curse God and give up. I feel like he wants me to believe that God doesn't love me. But I KNOW He does!"
In that moment I witnessed what our walk with God all comes down to. Through all the pain that life can bring. When all of the weakness of man is exposed. If it was me, sitting there, having received such news about my own life could I sit up and testify to the Love of my Heavenly Father?
At this hour in my life, in the life of our family and the ministry His Love is what we have. Hold fast. Let us all finish well. Hebrews 12:1
“And Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, ‘Let me go to the fields and pick up the leftover grain behind anyone in whose eyes I find favor.’ Naomi said to her, ‘Go ahead, my daughter.’ 3 So she went out, entered a field and began to glean behind the harvesters. As it turned out, she was working in a field belonging to Boaz, who was from the clan of Elimelek.” Ruth 2:2-3
A month and a half ago I was working at the school when my husband called. He told me to come home. He needed to talk to me. When we talked he explained to me why he had resigned from his work at Citychurch. We read the scripture from Matthew together.
Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
It is compelling to remember our Savior who is “gentle and humble in heart.” He sees our struggles and pain. He wants us to bring our weary selves to Him and trade in our heavy burden for the task He created for us and designed us for.
The next morning I woke up and out of obedience and dedication I went back to work at the school. When I sat down at my desk I wanted to cry. I missed working with my husband and for the first time in my life at Citychurch I felt like I didn’t belong there.
I fully intended to stay at The King’s Academy. I prayed for God bring healing to our hearts and give us joy again. In my mind I can see the vision for the school. I have plans in my head for starting the middle school and high school; however I am apparently not the person to see those plans through. After all it is THE KING’S ACADEMY. I have watched God provide in miraculous ways over the last three years and am confident in His ability to continue to provide leadership
I would like to stop here and say how thankful I am for the teachers God sent to the school. What a joy to share in our trials, joys, and ministry to the students together. They have been my dearest friends and I thank God for them. Each have a deep and real relationship with Jesus and they faithfully demonstrate that love to their students who are desperately in need of it.
I have not left without a fight. The decision was made for me. While I have tried to practice restraint I have experienced a full spectrum of emotions and am sorry if I have said or done anything hurtful during this time.
The truth is when I get alone with God the only clear instructions I have received is His voice telling me to yield. Yield to His will to His plan and to His healing.
I have much to be thankful for. I have had the rare experience of living a dream. Serving with my father in the ministry was a indescribable blessing. He never held me back and he saw potential in me to do more than I ever thought I could. At the same time he never cared if I accomplished a thing. He just loved me because I was his daughter. I have missed him everyday since he went to be with Jesus and always will.
Over the years my mother has rocked my babies so I could come downtown and make myself useful. She’s listened to me complain, apologize for complaining, then complain some more over the pressures of life as a mother and wife. Nana has won the hearts of my children by allowing them to do who-knows-what when Chad and I aren’t looking. She’s invested her life in me and I try to honor her always.
Still Chad and I have had to deal with a lot of difficult realities lately. Life as we have known it is no more. We have sought God daily with all humility and prayed desperately for His guidance through this storm. We’ve prayed for protection so our hearts do not grow cold.
The one encouragement we have is to look back at how God took our little ill prepared, no talent selves and has used us in the past. So once again we will offer up our “less than nothing” to The Creator. Our desire is that He will make use of our lives again in a way that brings glory to His name.
Next week we will begin the process of putting our house on the market. We plan to move to Oklahoma City this month to be close to Chad’s family. Our first goal will be to make a living for our family then find a way to minister to others.
I love the word of God. It has been said that for a child of God the storms of life serve only to cast them upon the rock of His promises. I always return to the life of Ruth.
She was widowed but made a covenant to her mother-in-law Naomi to be a companion. Together, Naomi who had lost her sons and husband and Ruth set out to return to the land of Judah. I love how the story tells of Ruth asking Naomi’s permission to go out in the field and pick up grain that was dropped. Ruth wasn’t going to spend the day pouting, feeling sorry for herself or blaming others. Ruth was obedient to do what she could do.
The rest of the verse describes in a few short words a world of God’s faithfulness. “...As it turned out, she was working in a field belonging to Boaz, who was from the clan of Elimelek.” Those words keep ringing in my ears “As it turns out.” We know now that it was no accident Ruth ended up in the field of the one man in the whole universe who could redeem her destitution.
As it turns out, God showed His good favor to Ruth that day and caused Boaz to notice her. Through Boaz Ruth and Naomi were redeemed and through Obed, the house of David. Through the house of David our Redeemer Jesus. God promises to bless faith and obedience. It is the only way we will ever see fruit of His Holy Spirit at work in us.
I will ask you to pray for us during this transition time. I will try to share as I can what we’re up to. I can’t promise it will be very pretty, but it will be honest. Thank you to each of you who have offered your friendship and encouragement. You will never know how you’ve blessed Chad and me.
“For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.” I Timothy 2:12