Thursday, December 30, 2010

Asking, Seeking, Knocking

“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.
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

Growing Boys

Tonight Chad and I put the boys to bed, but they didn't go to sleep. Instead they stayed up being rowdy.

We heard them laughing and jumping from the living room. We told them at least five times to settle down and go to sleep.

Then it happened. The busted nose, the laughs turned to screaming and the blame and blood was flying.

First Sean said David punched him in the nose. David claimed Sean hit his nose on the back of his head.

Now, Daddy and I are both involved. I'm dealing with the nose bleed and Chad was trying to find out what really happened. We wanted the truth.

Neither boy would tell us the truth so they both got in trouble for rough housing instead of being asleep, for lying and bodily injury.

After spankings and time to think with ice packs in their room, we came in to have a talk.

Finally, Sean admitted to lying. David apologized for keeping Sean awake and busting his nose. Chad and I took turns expressing to the boys how important it is for them to obey us and tell the truth. "None of this would have happened if you had been doing what you were supposed to." (anyone heard that before?)

About midway through the discussion, Sean fell asleep with a bag of frozen peas on his face. David kept asking us questions.

We were done talking and as I kissed the boys goodnight, David looked at me and said, "I think God wants me to be a pastor someday."

He was very serious. Chad and I prayed for David and challenged him to keep listening to God's voice.

Tonight, I realized how important parenting can be to The Kingdom of God. When the tender hearts of our children are lead to The Truth, encouraged to trust and admonished to obey.
I am thankful tonight for the grace and understanding of my Heavenly Father who sees we are learning these lessons and growing in faith right along with our children.

"The Lord cares for His people, just as shepherds care for their flocks. He carries the lambs in His arms while gently leading the mother sheep." Isaiah 40: 11

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

We've Come This Far By Faith

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.

In my disgust I declared to the dash board how I'd never put my life in the hands of another church, pastor, congregation or ministry. After all, we had served for seven years with our whole heart. Even while I was in college I was putting in time in Tulia ministering to children. It was my time to live a normal life!

So, even before our feet hit the red Oklahoma dirt, Chad and I were both lined out with job interviews and prospects. Some of the jobs sounded more fun than others, all of them pay in American money. Honest work is good enough for me!

We took turns descending on the town with resumes in hand. Responding to adds and applying online. Chad found work quickly and leaving me resigned to take a less fulfilling job just to make up the extra income.

With the Sunday classifieds in hand I started out driving all the way across town to a school who was hiring pre-school teachers. I have no concept of where things are in relation to where we are living. When I mapped this school it looked like it was just a few minutes away.

Thirty minutes later I ended up at this run down looking day care center located right in front of the highway. The back playground equipment was encircled with yellow caution tape. All three of our children were with me and I almost didn't go in. However, the gas was spent to get here and I felt obligated to at least leave a resume. Ruby had fallen asleep, so I parked the car right in front of the door where I could keep my eyes on them.

The lady at the front desk wanted to interview me on the spot. She gave me an application so I took it to the car to fill it out. By then, Ruby was awake and I decided since I'm applying for a child care job it's not a good idea to leave my own children in the car by themselves. That meant taking all three children in with me for the job interview.

They behaved nicely and the lady was really kind. The last question she asked me was, "Who's going to take care of your children while you are working?" My immediate thought was, "Good question!" But, before I could answer, her phone rang. She took the call, hung up the phone, looked at me and said, "We'll give you a call."

I thanked her for her time and asked for her name. "Foshaun (sic?)" she said. I honestly could not repeat it back to her and was not going to ask her to repeat it. There was an awkward silent moment. She then said, "And my bosses name is Lateeshia. So. . . that might be a problem." I am assuming the problem she was referring to was my inability to pronounce their names. I was also thinking I'd have more of a problem telling small children not to tamper with evidence in the crime scene taped off on the playground.

As the Ladies Man would say, "Guess it's on to the next one."

I took another look at the classifieds. There was an add for a nursing home hiring nurses.

Now- I KNOW I am NOT a nurse, but I thought if this nursing home was hiring they may have regular jobs for the night shift. At this point I would humbly accept ANY job with a grateful heart. I walked in and there was a crowd of applicants. Smiling, and in my own personable way I approached the lady behind the window.

"Hello!" I said "I saw your add and read you are in need of LPN's. I am not a CNA or an LPN but I. . ." she cut me off and with a confused look she asked, "You are NOT and LPN?" "No ma'am." "And you DO NOT have your CNA?" she asked "NO, but I. . ." she cut me off again and began laughing in my face along with the 16 year old girl answering phones. "Honey, We will NOT and CANNOT hire you as a nurse. You HAVE to have a license!"

I refused to just walk away with her thinking I was trying to cheat the system , "I was wondering if you have any regular jobs available. That is the work I'm interested in." I explained. She turned to her receptionist and while she was still laughing at me she said, "HAhah, go ahead and give her one of the applications for a REGULAR job!" she then walked to her office where she and the director stood behind a window and both continued to laugh.

My first instinct was to walk away with my tail between my legs. Instead I took my seat right in front of her window and filled out the application. I filled it out completely and then came to the last question it asked, "Do you have any questions for us?"

About that time a current employee strutted in wearing tattered sweat pants and a hooded sweatshirt. He was jamming through the hall to the tunes on his ipod. He apparently knew my fellow applicant. Thowing up a gang sign to her he hollered, "WEST SYDE!" She responded with a giggle and a smile. The lady who had been so rude to me called this young lady back to her office saying, "I'm ready to interview you now since you ARE a nurse!"

I looked down at their last question again, "Do you have any questions for us?" By this time I'm pretty sure they're not going to give me a job. So I answered, "Thank you for asking. Do you always humiliate and laugh in the face of job applicants instead of providing helpful direction?"

I could barely make it out to the car before I broke down in tears. I don't want to say I was feeling sorry for myself, but I was feeling sorry for myself. Apparently this was not my scene. It was time for me to give up on having it my way and ask my Heavenly Father, "GOD WHAT DO YOU WANT FOR ME TO DO?"

Last Christmas I had the opportunity to speak to a congregation two days before my father passed away. My heart was particularly tender and I was thinking about what I would share. It my Bible I had marked the passage Luke 1:37-38 "The angel replied to Mary. . . For nothing will be impossible with God." Then Mary said to the angel, "I am the Lord's slave, may it be done to me according to your word. Then the angel left her."

I can feel the Holy Spirit at work in my life. He has called me to serve Him with my life and has promised to do the impossible for us and through us if we will obey. It's time for me to forget the way I think things should be and to trust and obey.

Last weekend while Chad was out of town. While researching to find out what type of ministry opportunities there are here in Oklahoma City, I came across a website with information about church planting. There were some pretty interesting statistics on this website about how Oklahoma is growing and how much of the population is unchurched.

I called Chad and talked to him about it; then sent our resumes along with a note from Chad to the email on the site. A couple of days later we received an email from a man named Greg Penna. He said he and his wife would like to meet us.

Today Chad and I met them for lunch. Plans were made for us to go to work as home missionaries through the North American Mission Board. Greg wants to use us to help some other missionaries who have just started new works, but are having a had time getting traction. Then in the spring Chad and I will start a new work.

As we finished up our lunch Greg and his wife invited us to attend church with them on Sunday. He looked at us both and after relating all the many different times in their lives God has redirected their steps he said, "Just know that God is not through with you guys yet."

My heart is starting to sing again and I'm thankful for a Heavenly Father who is long suffering with us. It will be exciting to God's big picture for our lives unfold.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


Our circumstances kind of depressed me today. Driving around in a new town, unavoidable Christmas music and getting lost. I thought about how I'd rather be Christmas shopping than job hunting.

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.

Trading Places

This past month has meant a lot of changes for the Clement family. Our house goes on the market tomorrow. In preparation for the showing of the house we moved out of the closets and did some rearranging.

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. :)

Chad's Side of the Story

A Marriage Made in Heaven

By Chad Clement

April 2003

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.

Dusty Momentos and Old Legends

Tonight at dinner Chad and I were having a silly discussion about the details we shared on our profiles. We laugh now every time we see a commercial for 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

April 2003

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

Today With My Dad

I wrote this note on my phone on November 16, 2009. I typed the words through tears while hiding in the bathroom of Dad's hospital room. 

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

A Letter Under My Door

I was 21 years old and a Junior at Wayland Baptist University. I had just spent the last nine months of my life struggling through college while being tormented by an abusive boyfriend whom I would foolishly accept a proposal from.
On December 29th I was home from college on Christmas break and I got a call from this manchild. We were arguing again. I was miserable. I was so afraid to call off the wedding and break up with the man, but I knew I would just be waiting to die if I went through with it. I hung up the phone, walked in my mom's room where she was folding laundry and said, "Mom, I can't do this!" she responded "Anna, you don't have to!"
That evening I accepted his invitation to go to dinner to "try and work things out" but I was done. I had taken the engagement ring off and put it in an envelope. That night over dinner I ended our engagement. I was tired of being made to feel worthless, and even though I knew I would face all kinds of embarrassment I was ready to make the right decision.
I came home that evening and went straight to my apartment at the back of our church building. I fell asleep crying. I slept all night until 11:30 the next morning when all of the sudden I got a knock on my door and a letter slid underneath. My dad opened the door just enough to say, "I love you" then walked away.
I remember going to get this letter and as I read it my tears just fell all over it causing the ink to run. After I read it I folded it in half. I accepted the challenge it contained to quit feeling sorry for myself and move on to greater things. I got up out of bed and got on with my life of serving God.
The night before my dad's funeral I found this letter. I'm not sure if he ever intended it to, but his words spoke directly to my heart again. This time in the midst of even greater heartbreak. I read it again through my tears tonight and once again it encouraged me to wake-up and keep going.
I retyped this letter just as Dad wrote it. I hope it is a challenge and encouragement to all of us as we start a new year, new season and a new day.

December 31, 2000

To: Anna Lea Lane
From: Don E Lane

Preparation Determines Our Destiny

Exodus 23:20 “Behold, I send an Angel before you to keep you in the way and to bring you into the place which I have prepared.”

Anna, I am writing to you today for several reasons. One, I love you and I want to heal the hurt you are feeling. If there was a way to heal the hurt you are feeling, I would do it! Two, I want to tell you why this type of thing happens to people like you. Three, there are some things in life with such deep personal spiritual nature they are best expressed in writing. This will allow you to go back to these words over and over in life and wring all the good out of them you can.
The things you have experienced and are experiencing now speak volumes about what God thinks about you and what His plans are for your life. The poem I have often quoted comes to mind again:

When God wants to mold a man and make a man
When God wants to find a man to try His splendor out,
Watch His methods and watch His ways,
How He hammers them and hurts them and with mighty blows converts them
Into tiny pieces of clay
And He alone knows what they are about!

When you consider what you have seen in life. You have been cared for by the church along with your family all of your life. You have experienced the pain involved when that same group of people try to “kill the preacher”. You have seen the struggle financially when your we tried to be where God wanted us to be at any cost. We sat in the dark when they cut off our utilities. We drove old cars and threw papers at two o’clock in the morning to get by.
In a million ways you have had to accept less, and be happy with being third in line. You had to keep your tongue when all your friends could say whatever came to mind, because your father was the pastor. You had to suffer through boring sermons and sometimes brutal business meetings.
Sometimes it was confusing to try to live for God with a completely different set of rules and priorities as the other 99% of young people. You went to school at home while everyone else was with their friends. The rejection of your father’s message resulted in you being rejected by your friends. You had to move, and move and move! And now you have had your heart broken by someone with the wrong motives.
Five years ago you suffered the trauma of watching me be reduced to an invalid, requiring the whole family to put their lives on hold while I fought to save my life. Once that trauma had passed you were a part of a bold move to an abandoned building and the beginning of a ministry requiring more physical work than any other. It is a good thing you didn’t have many friends, at least it saved you the embarrassment of explaining you families strange vision of what a church should be.
When you consider what you are going through right now it is hard to know the reasons why. Let me give you my best answer. God has put you in a great position of knowing Him in ways few people will ever find in their lifetime. I know the task He is preparing you for is great because the preparation has been so great.
There are some jobs in a hospital you can be trained for in an afternoon. To turn on a machine and record the results takes maybe an hour to prepare for. The lady selling popcorn in the lobby did not have to go through rigorous trials and training. In that same hospital, a surgeon opens a patient’s body up and has that life in his hands. The consequences are grave and of highest interest because so much is riding on the result. Will a life be saved? A family member come home again and be able to live with all their health again? That physician did not have to go through a horrible week of training. He went through a life of training. He learned and studied and was tested until he ceased being what he was and instead became a doctor. Wearing the white coat, and writing on charts could be learned in an afternoon. Saving lives required suchh time, trial and testing that he literally was changed from the inside out into an officer of health.
Life in the ministry is much the same. In most of our schools today young people are being prepared to look like they are in the ministry. When they graduate they will know how to “wear the white coat”. They will order literature, plan the ski trip, have a great planning session and carry out a great calendar of programs. That will be the extent of their accomplishments.
Anna, God is rather preparing you to transform cities, and move continents to the feet of God. He is molding you into a person to wield the Word of God like a scaffold and do spiritual surgery with eternal consequences hanging in the balance. This generation of young babies are in your hands. The future of children who need a hope and reason to live are you assignment. Are you up to the task? If you never take the challenge, risking failure, could you ever be up for the task?
Instead with all honesty you can look that great calling in the eye without fear, for God has taken you to the heights of His love and has held you safe in the midst of the greatest of human hurt. You have seen a side of God only a few people will see. He talked to one at a burning bush, another with his son on an altar ready to be sacrificed. One he found covered in sores with all hope lost. Another hiding in caves from a vindictive king. He called some to a den of lions, some from a fiery furnace, others from the sea side. Some felt a fire of torture, others were beaten and in chains. Some were beheaded, and exiled to faraway islands.

II Corinthians 11:23-28 Are they ministers of Christ?—I speak as a fool—I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness— besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches.

You will have a few things in common with all these others who have gone before us. You will know the splendor of God and will be a mighty tool in His hands to use in these last days before Jesus calls for a final accounting.
Adoniram Judson was called from a successful business to the small Burmese Islands to serve God. There he worked to interpret the Holy Scripture into the Burmese language. While there his children and wife died of small pox. He came back to the states and married again only to return to his work. His second wife died along with his two children born form her. In the end he contracted the same disease and was buried and a small headstone placed at his grave reads: HERE LIES ADONIRAM JUDSON, THE BURMESE BIBLE IS HIS REWARD HIS RECORD IS ON HIGH.
Anna, at any turn we can all run away from this life of tremendous significance and accept something less. Many will choose a job that is easy and trouble free, but consider the reward for those who finish well.

With all My Love and Admiration,

Don E. Lane
The richest man in Amarillo

As It Turns Out. . .

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