3 May 2013 | 10:15 am
Posted by: Alan and Jackie
We walked on down the narrow alley for just a short time.
We were almost there.
I hadn’t seen her in months.
I heard she was walking. I heard she was defying what the doctors said she would never be able to do. I couldn’t wait to see this miracle child with my own eyes.
We turned the corner and ducked under shanty balconies and we continued our way to Yasmin’s home. In was quiet in this neighborhood, not the way you would typically describe where they live, but it was early in the morning and most were sleeping after partying until all hours of the night.
We winded up a spiral staircase and when I got to the top, there she was! Walking! Talking!
She even had a little belly on her! Her bone thin ankles and legs had a little more meat on them than they had before. She was getting stronger.
I also met the newest addition to their family. Yasmin has a baby sister, just a few months old at the time of my visit as well as a seven yr. old sister. The oldest took care of Yasmin, while Yasmin, now three and a half tried to carry her baby sister in her thin arms. I smile and think to my self how the bond of sisterly love truly transcends all cultures as I think sweetly of my own daughters who care for each other dearly.
Carina with her new baby
I snap a few pictures for Carina, holding her precious baby girl. We chat about life, Yasmin, being a mom and then they have something to show me. We head down stairs and out the door to the main street in the barrio and they give Yasmin 20 pesos and she begins her journey to the Colmado (corner store) to by her galleticas (little crackers). She walked quite a way as if she knew exactly where she was headed! Stopping all along the way to play with older kids and say hello to many as they begin to emerge from their houses as the morning wears on. I am told this is her game, and it builds strength in her legs as she walks this distance daily.
This little girl can walk!
This little girl is fierce warrior, fighting for her life and for a chance to live each and every day. Thanks to the many who have stood alongside of us and partnered with us to get Yasmin the help she needs, she will have that chance.
Pediatric Doctors, coming on a mission trip with G.O. Ministries this summer, will evaluate Yasmin. She continues her regiment of 1.5 bottles of ensure a day to gain weight and muscle mass.
Ensure in the D.R. is expensive. It costs $65 for a case of 24 and in one month, Yasmin needs 45 cans of Ensure, not to mention her medicine needs. Providing she is at an acceptable weight at the end of the summer, we will have her re-evaluated by Operation Smile in hopes that she will be able to have the surgery she needs to fix her cleft pallet. Once that is taken care of, we will begin the harder work of having her observed to determine what neurological condition she suffers from and how to get her necessary treatment.
I am thankful for sweet gifts like Yasmin who show me what it really means to fight for something worthwhile. I love this little girl and I find myself thankful for this tiny little girl who has already begun changing lives and showing God’s Sovereign power to heal and overcome adversity.
Carina with her three sweet daughters!
We need your help! Please join us in prayer for Yasmin and her family. If you would like to make a donation to help with her ongoing medical needs please make checks payable to G.O. Ministries, Inc. and send them to 11501 Plantside Dr. Suite 14, Louisville, KY 40299. In the memo line, be sure to write “Perez/Yasmin.”
24 Apr 2013 | 10:55 am
Posted by: Alan and Jackie
It is a special place, magical even.
It has a way of getting under your skin and piercing your soul.
It has it all.
Hungry bellies crying out.
It has it all.
I found myself, 8 years ago standing for the first time on Haitian soil in Ounamenthe, Haiti, trying to keep pace and take it all in as we winded down dusty roads lined with cactus hedges. Little kids shouting "blanc" ("white") with fascination and wonder in their eyes. They poured from out of their houses to greet us, touch us, slip their hands in ours and run alongside of us for a brief second as we walked by... I knew my life was about to change. God was doing something inside of me and I knew I would not return from that mission trip the same.
I have been to this magical place countless times since my first time 8 years ago. It has never stopped being magical or stopped being a place where God grips my soul and forever changes a piece of me.
On our trip this year, we camped in Phaeton where Lucner pastors the church and leads the nutrition center. God is doing great things through him in this community. The other six pastors traveled by motorcycle (some for many hours) to reach us.
Pastor Lucner and wife Marie
When they arrived to Phaeton, they laughed and greeted one another with a familiarness and love of a family reunion. Such joy! They turned and grabbed shovels and joined us blancs on the job site, and boy were we ever thankful for their help. Truck by truck, remains from the old sisal rope factory were dumped on the foundation of where the new church and nutrition center is. Our job was to level the fill that was brought in... 24 truck fulls!
The sisal rope factory located in Phaeton was once the largest source of income for the entire country of Haiti. The country boomed in it's time, and the factory was a sign of hope and promise, but as quickly as it met success, the lights went out, the factory shut down and left a town (and country) hopeless. Now the remains from that factory will be resurrected to bring hope and promise in a new way in the form of a church and nutrition center. Redemption.
The remains of the Sisal Rope Factory
The sweetest part of our trip was sitting down side-by-side with the Pastors and hearing their heartfelt stories of love, devastation, vision, hopes, and dreams.
Meet Jonas Lekkler. He is 47 years old. He works in a community called L'Hat. It is very difficult to find on a map. His eyes are kind and warm and convey a joy from the Lord that is unspeakable.
He is one of 7 incredible and passionate pastors we work with through out the Northern mountain region in Haiti.
He has been married for 24 years, has 6 children and has lived a life mixed with joy and bitter loss. He has been able to attend many of the trainings that G.O. provides through North-American Pastors visiting the island and teaching them. He shared how truly blessed he was by these trainings and not only has he learned so much about Christ and how to preach through them, but other pastors are listening to him and finding training through his sermons that they are taking back to their own churches. Renewal.
His favorite verse is Psalm 94:17. The NIV puts it this way:
Unless the Lord had given me help,
I would soon have dwelt in the silence of death.
The Message says it this way:
Who stood up for me against the wicked?
Who took my side against evil workers? If God hadn’t been there for me, I never would have made it. The minute I said, “I’m slipping, I’m falling,” your love, God, took hold and held me fast.When I was upset and beside myself, you calmed me down and cheered me up.
Jonas knows the sting of death. He and his wife have lost two children. One was just a baby and the other who suffered from what they believed to be Epilepsy had a seizure, fell and hit her head and the injuries took her life. Voodoo is prevalent in Haiti, it is hard to get away from it. It is believed in their community that the deaths of their children were the works of witch doctors who do not like or want the presence of a church honoring Christ in their town. They have received much persecution.
Not only does this man of God pastor a church, he also has a school, the only one in the small town of L'Hat brimming with 167 children in attendance. The kids will grow up with a Christian Education, empowered with the hope of Christ to become agents of change in Haiti. Restoration.
God gave our staff a glimpse of the beauty of his redemption, renewal and restoration throughout Haiti. A great revival is on it's way to this Island.
Will you join me in prayer for Jonas and his family? Let us come before the Throne of Grace and lift up these warriors for the Gospel together in expectation of the Lord's provision.
Jonas knows what it means to "slip" and "fall" and has felt the promise of God "taking hold fast." You and I know what it means to slip and fall as well and have felt that same very promise that God will take hold of us fast, calm us down; cheer us up. We are not so different from one another.
Is God calling you to be a part of something bigger? Ask God to search your heart and show you what it is he may have for you. Maybe it is coming on a mission trip with G.O. Ministries. Maybe it's to be a prayer warrior for the local leaders we work alongside of. Maybe it is to financially come alongside of someone and help them live out the calling they have received from the Lord. Don't let an opportunity to do good and be used by the Lord to redeem, renew, and restore pass you by.
Until next year... enjoy some of the pics from our time in this magical place.
Our crew at the Citadel
We managed to almost fall off the side of the building again... good thing Tim was there
The "Teams Team"
23 Apr 2013 | 4:55 pm
Posted by: Alan and Jackie
I recently was cleaning old documents off of my computer and found this article I wrote for a women's ministry blog from a large church. God really spoke to me during this time and continues to reconfirm the same truths today that he did then!
This was originally written May 30, 2011 (just a few days after my twin daughters turned 1). The photo below, however is from 2013!
I am a wife missionarymother of twinsdaughtersisterencouragerand above all things, daughter to the King and image bearer for my sweet King Jesus who, because of his great unfailing love, donned a crown of thorns to give me eternal life. I, much like you, wear many hats depending on the day. Being missionaries with G.O. Ministries, we spend a solid nine months in the Dominican Republic supporting and encouraging the redemptive work of the Nationals whom we live amongst. We are blessed to see a glimpse of the Kingdom being restored on the Island of Hispaniola through his people. It is an honor and privilege to be a part of such restoring work. The other three months out of the year we are traveling around the United States sharing with churches, individuals, our family and friends about the work being done through the local leaders we work alongside of where we live. Our last trip to the states was... good. Real good. The kind of good that makes you feel warm and connected and like you could run forever. God gave me a glimpse of where I wanted to be. The kind of mom I could be. The kind of daughter, friend, missionary, encourager I could be. I often struggle across the tight rope of motherhood and everything else. I struggle with that feeling of having to choose one over the other. I struggle with creating boundaries and not saying “yes” to everything. I think of all the things I could say “yes” to in the blink of an eye, and frequently compare our family to others (because, let’s admit it, we all compare ourselves to others). I often remind myself that comparison kills contentment. This last trip to the states was unique in that I was hit with the realization that I didn’t have to choose one or the other! I had found myself wishing (after the girls were born) that God would call me out of ministry because that would make things a whole lot easier for me and for our family… I thought since He can’t reverse me from being a mom he would just have to call me out of full-time ministry so I can focus on other things… and then it hit me. I heard a sermon right around Christmas time from the pastor at my home church in Las Vegas. He preached that there really is no such thing as full time or part time ministry. We are all in full-time ministry because Jesus died a full-time death on a full-time cross. Wow. We don’t get to choose to not be in ministry, and really, why would we ever want to? I knew in my heart I really wouldn’t be fulfilled solely focusing all of my time and energy into being a mom, because that is not what He called us to. He calls us to first love Him and second to love others. We serve out of our love for Him and for others. That is something that we cannot walk away from, and if we choose to, I believe we will have to answer to Him for that choice. I am finding myself thankful that He took me down that path to discover that these two halves of me could converge and create someone who deeply loves Him, loves to serve Him and have a family that by loving them shows His mighty power and love. I am reminded every time I look into my daughters’ eyes of His grace and mercy for mankind and I would go to great lengths to bring Him glory in my own family no matter the path he leads us on. I know that pleases my Father.
And that is the kind of wifemissionarymother of twinsdaughtersisterencouragerand above all things, daughter to the King and image bearer for my sweet King Jesus that I want to be.
What about you? What has he shown you in your heart and done in your life to show his power to overcome any and all situations?
10 Mar 2013 | 10:19 am
Posted by: Alan and Jackie
We are in need of a new vehicle. The one we currently have is not working properly. We've put way to much money in repairs and it no longer proves to be safe or reliable for our family. Last October, our car broke down and left Jackie and the girls stranded in the middle of the road, two hours away from Santiago.
We are looking at trading in our car and have found a place that will work with us and are extremely reputable! We want to buy a Honda Pilot or a Ford Explorer. The most important quality in the car is that it has a third row in it so it will serve us well in ministry. We are also getting a car that has never been driven in the Dominican Republic. This is important for several reasons! There is a business in the D.R. of breaking the odometer and turning it back so you never know how many miles/km are really on the vehicle. Sometimes papers are forged as well. With a vehicle coming from the states we know it won't have these problems!
We are in need of about $5,000 to purchase this vehicle for our family and would like to do so in the next couple of weeks!
Will you be willing to contribute to a vehicle for our family? You can do so right on our blog! There is a giving box on the right side of our blog or you can send in a check to the G.O. Ministries Stateside Office in Louisville, KY. Simply mark "Perez, car" in the memo line!
As always, thank you so much for your continued prayers and generous support!
Alan and Jackie
4 Mar 2013 | 6:55 am
Posted by: Alan and Jackie
Over the last 6 months Alan has been making the transition to join staff with G.O. Ministries. He has been a National Partner with G.O. for six years and has faithfully served in Sports Ministry and Facilitating Teams. He is the first National Partner to join staff!
He will now step into a larger role with greater responsibilities and serve as the Coordinator of Education for Sports Outreach. He heads up the curriculum development and teaching for the Baseball Academy reaching nearly 300 kids daily. Alan loves these kids and loves teaching them about the Word and how to become Godly men of Christ in their homes and with their future families. What an incredible opportunity he has to impact kids for the Kingdom at such a young age!
Alan will also be facilitating teams and working alongside North-American Christians who come to serve on a mission trip with G.O. Ministries. He will have the opportunity to pour into hundreds of short-term team members this year and point them towards Christ's work here on the island through G.O. Ministries!
We are thankful for the ministry and the ways in which they have developed both of our roles over the last year! It is an exciting time in ministry for us and we are so grateful to our friends, family and supporters who have faithfully prayed for us, financially supported us and encouraged us with your sweet words. We love you and are thankful for the role you play in God's plan for the island of Hispaniola!
Alan and Jackie
Alan teaching the Discipleship class for the baseball academy- these kids are received a Christian education class as part of the baseball program with G.O.!
Alan translating alongside of a short-term team member during a baseball camp (read about their incredible week here)
14 Feb 2013 | 10:04 pm
Posted by: Alan and Jackie
One of the exciting things we wanted to update you on are how our roles are changing within the ministry. Alan and I both have some exciting news to share in these areas! (We'll share Alan's new role in our next blog update!) After returning to Vegas in October, I flew to Kentucky for our annual fundraising trip and to encourage our many partners in ministry in Kentucky and Tennessee. While I was in the G.O. Ministries office in Louisville I was asked to join the Leadership Team for the ministry.
I was incredibly humbled that they would ask me to step into this kind of role. Alan and I both agreed after much prayer, this was God's perfect timing. I now serve as the Executive Director of Teams. I am learning new things about this role everyday and am thankful to serve with an incredible group of people who teach me so much about grace, truth, forgiveness and love each and every day.
Will you pray for me in this new role? Pray that I follow the Lord's leading and that his direction would continually be ever so clear. Pray that his spirit would challenge and grow character that produces perseverance and faith. Pray for our ministry to boldly move forward to advance the Kingdom on the island of Hispaniola and beyond. Pray for our teams. We will have over 70 teams this year! (that's over 1300 individuals!) Pray for our staff and for our hearts to be aligned with him. Pray for unity. Ultimately, pray for the Lord to be glorified!
Executive Leadership Team, November 2012
5 Feb 2013 | 8:12 am
Posted by: Alan and Jackie
It’s been too long since we posted an update!
Alan and I planned out our next 11 (yes we said 11!) blog post updates to let you know what has already happened in ministry, that you definitely will want to know, and of course some exciting upcoming things in the future as well.
Today we just want to say THANK YOU!
2012 was… a year of growth. Many of you know what I elude to, when I say growth. Growing is hard work. It stretches you and it often hurts. Growing means changing. Changing means something new. New can be stressful, difficult (if you’re not prepared for it), and even lonely. Growing is a part of the Christian walk. Trials are not something we can avoid, in fact in James they are assured to us. And we are to consider it pure joy when we are in a trial because that will grow our faith.
I arrived in Vegas at the end of October praying for a time of rejuvenation. I am still so thankful to the Lord at how quickly he answered that prayer. Over and over again, I could see his small daily blessings through the many friendships and visits I had with so many of you.
Through conversations I could feel the Lord replenishing my soul and refreshing my spirit. So... Thank you.
Thank you for taking time from your busy days to spend time with our family.
Thank you for loving on and playing with our daughters.
Thank you for play dates.
Thank you for shopping trips.
Thank you for long walks in beautiful Mt. Zion.
Thank you for your encouragement.
Thank you for halloween costumes.
Thank you for the breakfasts, coffee trips, homemade dinners and lunches too!
Thank you for opening up your home to me on the many trips I made all over the states.
Thank you for caring for our girls.
Thank you for Disneyland!
Most importantly, thank you for believing in the work the Lord is doing through us at G.O. Thank you for encouraging us with your time, your sacrificial gifts, your love, and your energy. Thank you for the opportunities you gave us to share our ministry with others and invite them to be a part of what we are doing!
You mean the world to us. Every year we look forward to our time in the states to be with you, because you are family to us. We hold you so dear to our hearts and couldn’t imagine doing ministry any other way than by inviting so many of you to join alongside of us, and together, as a friend of mine in ministry says “storm the gates of Hell together.” Your constant encouragement sustains us. Thank you for loving us so well!
Here's some highlight pics from our time in the states:
Halloween with my dad and Liz. The girls had a blast as Strawberry Shortcake, and adore their grandma and grandpa!
Spending time with good friends, Brandon and Amy Gallup and Rebecca and Carmelo Herrero (not pictured) and of course eating some of my mom's incredible food!
A special visit with my best friend, Nikki. Words can't even describe how my soul needed time with her.
Being in Kentucky for ministry meetings and fundraising and visiting Wilson on his birthday at the Manias' home.
The gift of friendship with these ladies and a beautiful trip to Mt. Zion!
Spending Thanksgiving with family and sweet time with my grandparents. Being thankful for them is easy!
My mom, who continually and sacrificially loves us and cares for us. What an incredible example of being a mother I have.
My dad, who has taught me so much and still continues to do so. I admire so much about him. And of course, his love for Amelia and Stella!
I Run for His Glory! It was awesome running with our running team in December at Hoover Dam. (Carmelo not pictured). Thank you to everyone who helped support our ministry!
These girls are wild about their Opa (verdict still out if they'll be wild about the Dodgers!)
Celebrating my mom's 50th birthday and Christmas in Disneyland with our family! What a special celebration it was!
Until October, my friends!
19 Aug 2012 | 10:19 pm
Posted by: Alan and Jackie
I've known this week would come. The one where I have to write about Yasmin. It's plagued me for weeks. Since we saw the Doctor, really. It's haunted the back of my thoughts. I've prayed harder, searched scripture longer, and tried to make sense of the plight of this sweet little girl. This fighter.
Let's rewind to the beginning of the summer. We were blessed and humbled to have so many people praying with us and donating financially to Yasmin. If you're new to this story check out the links here
. When we met Yasmin she was 11 pounds and 17 months old, emaciated and severely sick suffering from a cleft pallet condition, fluid in her brain and lungs and anemia. A wonderful doctor named Wendy donated over 50 lbs of Pediasure and formula to help get Yasmin's weight up, which was the main reason she was denied the cleft pallet surgery. We met with the Dominican doctor in June, gave Yasmin's mom the Pediasure and a nutrition plan.
Carina and Yasmin at the beginning of the summer
A month and a half flew by, and soon Dr. Wendy would be in the D.R. with her church facilitating a medical clinic in two impoverished communities. The day arrived and I drove to Alan's mom's house where I would pick up Yasmin and her mom and we would drive to the clinic to see Dr. Wendy. Shortly after I arrived, I was in tears. Yasmin was fat! And scooting across the ground! Smiling! Waving hi! Her eyes, which always seemed to be glossed over and cloudy were bright. I watched her eyes twinkle at me and at my girls.
Yasmin's mom didn't meet me there. She's pregnant with her third child and had an opportunity to earn money at a lottery/gambling bank. In her place was her mom (Yasmin's grandma). I learned more in my drive with grandma and Yasmin that I had in all of my previous visits. Yasmin was born at 7 months old. She stayed in the hospital for two weeks. She had many problems at birth, but "she is a fighter," professed Grandma. On we drove.
At the clinic there was a joyful introduction of Dr. Wendy meeting Yasmin! We sat down and caught up Dr. Wendy on Yasmin's progress. We all marveled at how plump her belly was getting. Soon, she would begin developing muscle mass! Muscle mass= cleft pallet surgery! Things were progressing along. And then Grandma said she wanted Dr. Wendy to take a look at Yasmin's back. It was completely lopsided. The left side was raised and puffed out, while the right side was flat. Dr. Wendy immediately diagnosed it as congenital scoliosis. It would be difficult for Yasmin to walk without a brace in a couple of years. I was frustrated that this was the first time anyone had mentioned her back, but what caught my eye and the Dr.'s eye even more is this swirly skin pattern on her back. It was like looking at a Nasa weather map of a hurricane on her back. Two colors swirled together. Dr. Wendy called her husband over immediately who is also a doctor. They confer, ask me to ask Grandma if Yasmin has ever had seizures. Seizures? What?
The doctors tell me that this skin condition is a sure marker for a neurological condition. Anyone who's been around Yasmin understands that there is something else going on neurologically, but we focused so much on her cleft pallet, things we could treat that it was easier to overlook the bigger issues. Not anymore.
Wendy calmly tells me, if she hasn't had any seizures, she likely will, someday. She will likely not walk, she will likely not be able to take of herself, she will need 24 hour care. She might get the cleft pallet surgery, but never live on her own.
I held back tears and whispered to Wendy that I could not translate that to her grandma. So I didn't. I said what an incredible fighter of a grand-daughter she has. I told her we wouldn't stop fighting on her behalf for the cleft pallet surgery and then we would continue on. We would fight with them each step of the way, one condition at a time.
I took them back to Alan's mom's house and picked up my girls. I held them so tightly and for an instant my girls were Yasmin and I was Carina (Yasmin's mom). There was no difference between me and my girls and Yasmin and Carina. Nothing separates us from the love and joy of our Father and nothing separates us, His people whom He created to delight in. Carina and I, are the same. Yasmin and my babies, the same. I cried most of the short ride from my mother-in-law's house to our own house. I am grateful that Yasmin has her mom and a good grandma to look out after her. There are so many kids who suffer in unimaginable ways here without any care from a parent or anyone to hold them or wipe away their tears. Yasmin has that. Her grandma also has faith and believes that God brought us to her "in such a time as this."
We are committed to Yasmin and her ongoing health care. We are hopeful that she will qualify for her surgery by the end of the year. Please join us in prayer for Yasmin and her family. Grandma was right; this girl is a fighter and we will continue to stand in the gap for this child.
Yasmin 13 months ago
But what can I say?
He has spoken to me, and he himself has done this.
I will walk humbly all my years
because of this anguish of my soul.
Lord, by such things men live;
and my spirit finds life in them too.
You restored me to health
and let me live.
Surely it was for my benefit
that I suffered such anguish.
In your love you kept me
from the pit of destruction;
you have put all my sins
behind your back.
For the grave cannot praise you,
death cannot sing your praise;
those who go down to the pit
cannot hope for your faithfulness.
The living, the living- they praise you,
as I am doing today;
fathers tell their children
about your faithfulness.
The Lord will save me,
and we will sing with stringed instruments
all the days of our lives
in the temple of the Lord.
12 Aug 2012 | 4:26 pm
Posted by: Alan and Jackie
There aren't many things more encouraging to our work on the Island as when our home church comes to work alongside of us. As the Director of Teams for G.O., it's a continual cycle of planning and helping teams prepare their time of service in the D.R. and Haiti. I spend a lot of time working behind the scenes so that our teams have the best experience working alongside of the Nationals. I look forward to working on the field and hosting our home church, South Hills, all year long!
I came on my first mission trip with South Hills in 2004 to work with G.O. in the Dominican Republic. God began a transformation in my life on that trip that would ultimately lead to me joining staff with G.O. in 2007. South Hills has continued to be involved with G.O. over the last five years. We are incredibly thankful for, not only the financial support, but the encouragement, friendship, support, prayers, time and love they have given to us and to the Nationals.
"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind."
Just as God began transforming me in 2004 through my time in the D.R. we had the priveledge of watching God transform the hearts and minds of 25 people in eight short days. But it's not just about what is accomplished on the field. No, the eight days spent here with us is just the beginning. A major part of what we do is to focus on mutual transformation. Not only is it about serving the Nationals and empowering them in the work they are doing, but it's about being transformed from inside out making more passionate servants of the King and the Gospel in our own "backyard." Serving "the least of these," right where you live.
G.O.'s vision is to empower passionate local leaders serving inside their own cultures to redeem people, renew communities, and restore creation by developing dynamic, international, mutually transformational partnerships.
This incredible vision God has given our ministry is part of the reason why we are so passionate about working with G.O. We have a unique opportunity to not only minister with our Dominican and Haitian brothers and sisters, but our North-American ones as well. We also serve as a way to bridge the cultures through Jesus' peace, redemption, renewal and restoration.
Thank you South Hills for your passionate hearts to serve HIM and for partnering with us!
Special thanks to my fabulous mom (aka Nana) for coming to visit us and watch the girls so we could go to Colorado for a week and be with South Hills and for all the wonderfully yummy treats she made us nightly! (We love you Nana!)
5 Aug 2012 | 4:22 pm
Posted by: Alan and Jackie
November 6, 2002- the day I fell to my knees and confessed Jesus to be my Savior
2003- Starting working in full-time ministry October 26, 2007- the day I knew I was God was calling me to move to the D.R. May 17, 2009- the day I married my husband May 25, 2010- the day our beautiful twin girls were born June 16-23, 2012- the week we spent in Colorado “For man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.” I could feel it begin to rise in the pit of my stomach until it reached my throat. What was happening? I thought I had everything under control. I thought I was “okay,” but in reality, there was something happening that I had no control over whatsoever. In that moment, I realized just how overtaken I was. And it had nothing to do with Alan. It was me. Shock, horror, frustration ensued… me? It was me? Surely this was wrong… but it wasn’t. Jesus had begun to uproot this vile, poisonous, bitter anger that had been hardening my heart and choking the life out of our marriage. And as I sat there on the side of the mountain, with a bucket full of rocks at my side, looking down at the one, shiny, glittery rock in my hand, the one that represented perfectionism, the first one I happened to grab, as I sat there holding it fearful of letting it go, I felt this gentle whisper “give it to me, it no longer belongs to you.” And I let it go. One by one, I let them go, asking for forgiveness, and confessing my sin. All 20 of them. One after another. Alan and I spent a week in June at the Blessing Ranch receiving spiritual counseling and encouragement for our marriage. I went, cautiously optimistic of what the Lord could do in 5 days. How foolish and untrusting we can be. He spoke directly to me about the condition I had let my heart fall into. This was between me and God. Our hearts had been so hurt in a way that only God could heal. It had happened slowly, over the years as a result of me trying to handle things on my strength and not His. We needed his intervention to work out the many footholds we had given Satan. I placed unreal and never-to-be-met expectations on Alan and looked for him to be my Savior. I put him in a position he was never called to fill. I gave him a responsibility he would never succeed at; to heal me and love me unconditionally.
I arrived at Blessing Ranch a broken and beat down person with a hard heart and a lot of baggage unsure of what the future would hold. But God’s promises are real and he will forgive us of our sins of unbelief. He will wash over us and make us new. He will renew our strength in Him and we will soar on wings like eagles. We will run and not grow weary. We will walk and not be faint. He has done these things for me, he did them in 5 days.
An excerpt from my journal while we were in Colorado:
Lord, I commit our marriage to you now. Father, may we feel the power of your transforming love, may we experience the richness of being in community with you. Give us eyes to see as you see. To see our humanity with sober judgement. To the feel the presence of the Great I am… We need only to be still and know that you are Lord. You are the Great One… I give you, all my anger, all my bitterness, all my envy, all of my jealousy, all my rage, all malice, all contempt, all my shame, all my worries to you. And would you remove them, as far as the East is from the West. Replace them with love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, goodness, and self-control. Lord of Lords, King of Kings- heal us, oh King. Our hurts, our unmet expectations. Heal us. May we be steadfast in obedience to you. May Satan not be given another foothold in our marriage. Help us persevere in you. Trust in you. Hope in you. When we stumble, pick us up graciously and gently. Replace our pride with humility and longsuffering. Grow in us long-suffering that produces faith in you. James 1:4 Perseverance must finish it’s work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking in anything. Matthew 5:43-48 (Message translation) "You're familiar with the old written law, 'Love your friend,' and its unwritten companion, 'Hate your enemy.' I'm challenging that. I'm telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that. "In a word, what I'm saying is, Grow up. You're kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you." The theme of the week for us was to live generously and graciously with one-another. It was a beautiful week that we will never forget of seeing the Lord bring forth his promises and restoration. Two months after our time in Colorado and God is continuing to sustain us with his strength. He has given us new eyes to see one another with. We know the best gift we can give our daughters is to love one another well, graciously and genuinely. We don’t claim to have it all together, but we do commit to honestly living in a way that will glorify Him amidst all of our struggles. We commit to living our lives as a faithful testimony to what He is capable of. He works miracles. Every. Day. We have experienced them in a way that completely humbles us. Please continue to pray for us and for our marriage. We want to be honest about our struggles. We want to rejoice when it’s time to rejoice and mourn when it’s time to mourn with those who faithfully partner with us. There’s a song by Hillsong that perfectly says what I feel deep in my soul and know in the depths of my heart: Never more to call on me and I am clean, yes I am clean.
The powerful work of you in me.
Breaks the chains of guilt and shame and I go free, yes I go free. I take them to your cross and leave them there.
Captured by this grace I’m free at last. It is the great gift of Your salvation
Working in me, working in me
It is the life giving taste of heaven
Your kindness revealed, Your kindness revealed to me
It’s the greatest gift of all
It’s the greatest gift of all
It’s the greatest gift of all Your mercy’s pouring down on me, Your mercy’s pouring down on me.
And I am clean, I am clean.
Your mercy’s pouring down on me, Your mercy’s pouring down on me
And I go free, I go free.
Beauty at The Ranch
The view from the top of Red Nose Mountain
Free in Him,