Thursday, July 26, 2012

Shower of Blessings

Deuteronomy 11:27
"the blessing if you obey the commands of the LORD your God that I am giving you today."


Proverbs 10:22
"The blessing of the LORD brings wealth, and he adds no trouble to it."


Isaiah 44:3
"For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants."


     The last few months have been amazing. The Lord has continued to pour out his blessings all over Meagan and I. We are so undeserving until it hurts, but God reminds us time after time that he will never leave us hanging. I used to think that the more synonyms for Jesus that I used as I praying, then the more God would bless me. I don't think I ever really thought that exact thought, but that is just an example of how I ran MY Christianity. 


     I had this idea of God that was totally off base. I would avoid sin as much as I thought that I could get away with so that God wouldn't punish me too bad...WHAT? Punish? Yes, that is how I viewed God, like I was going to get grounded from his blessings and grace if I lied to many times in one day. The Bible says God chose the foolish things in this world...he must have picked me in the top ten then. 


     There is something that I really want to talk about, but before I do I just wanted to share something that God revealed to 3 or 4 times in the last month of my Bible study. For all those seminary folks out there....yes I said 3 or 4 times because if there isn't a bush on fire telling me stuff then he must make it clear to me, and without fail he always does.


     I was always asked God, even after I was truly saved, I would ask him why I had to be slung around and thrown in the mud until I was in such a dark place that I wanted to die? Why me God? I remember asking one time "God, why do so many of my friends have it all together and I am just barely making it?" Little did I really know...NO ONE has it all together.


     In Luke 7: 41-50 Jesus is telling Simon of two men who each owed money to a lender, one owed 50 bucks (paraphrase obviously) and the other 500. He tells him that the lender forgave both debts and then goes on to ask him which one would be more grateful. And it was that "AH HAH" moment when God revealed to me that it took everything that I went through to get me to become as grateful as I am. I will never go back to the things of this world. Why would I choose pain over promise or burdens over blessings?


     I will step out from behind the pulpit now. I really want to take a little space and just sing my wife's praises. She is maturing in to such a submissive woman of God. I don't mean submissive like "Meagan, do the dishes then rub my back", I mean biblical stuff here, she honor's her commitment to our marriage daily on top of honoring God in all that she does. She is such an amazing person and I daily look up to her and am so thankful for her friendship. I am so thankful that she has chosen to live in obedience to God's calling with me. It is a daily adventure to see what trials and triumphs God will bring us.


     Not long after I started working Meagan and I started talking about her going back to work. She somewhat wanted to and some extra income would be nice to have. So, she started doing all the things she needed to do in order to teach in Texas and began applying for jobs. About a month into applying for jobs that she was over-qualified for and not getting any kind of feedback she came to me with something that God had shown true in her life. At that time she was doing a little painting for fun and making a tad bit of spending money. She told me that God had called her to use her ability to paint, that HE HAD GIVEN HER, and that he would provide for us using her talents, God-given talents. 

     Within the first month of full time painting she had received more business than either one of us really even believed possible. We were being blessed from every angle. We thought, hmm this is neat, God is blessing us with this for a few weeks. We were wrong Meagan's business keeps growing and growing and we keep getting blessed abundantly. It is so amazing to see how Meagan's obedience to God's call not only blesses us just enough, but our cup runs over. People don't just pay for Meagan's paintings, they pay extra, not because we ask for it, and we certainly don't expect it, but because Meagan is obedient to the call God showers us daily. Something (just a side note that one of my mentor's shared with me, he said 'something' was another name for God, so when someone says "something" told me to do it...) something is put on peoples hearts to just bless my family and it brings great joy to my life. Especially when I know that we do not have it all together yet, we still struggle at times financially and spiritually and these blessings are just a way for God to say "relax you two, give me your troubles, keep seeking me so that I may pour out more and more blessings in your life." So that is what we do, we long for him and lift his name up. Meagan and I try to always preach the gospel without using any words. 


     We are so blessed that God chose us. All we have to do is passionately seek him and he will fill us with the anointing of The Spirit. 







     

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

15 countries...

He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation."
--Mark 16:15

Last month, I was asked by Outcry in the Barrio (the men's home Todd went to) to paint a flag representing each country where a Victory Temple was established.  I was more than excited to do this for them.  The paintings are hanging in the entryway as you enter the men's home.  There are 15 flags.  It's really unbelievable thinking of the history of this incredible ministry and how many destroyed lives and families they have helped piece back together.  Todd and I are humbled to say we have had experiences with this ministry that we never believed were possible.  
Anytime one of the "homeboys" gives their testimony, they always lead up to the day they were saved by saying, "But One Day," which is where we got the title of our blog.  It gives me chills every time I hear one of them saying it.  All of their pasts were so different, so spoiled, and usually so deceitful.  Even though I know those three words are coming up as they are giving their testimony, I still get teary-eyed hearing each one of them say it because when they get to that part, "BUT ONE DAY," they are all the same.  We are all saved only through Jesus blood he shed on the cross for us.  
I am so thankful for my "one day."



Saturday, May 19, 2012

Koinonia

"They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the communion, to the breaking of bread and to prayer...All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need…They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people."
--Acts 2:42-47

Wow!  Today the weirdest thing happened...It was another little sign of God's work in action.  He reaffirms my faith everyday as He answers prayers and opens doors for our family.  
I had been praying about possibly broadening the scope of work with my painting.  I asked God if it was His will for different opportunities to come my way in order for my business to thrive.  One of the specific things I prayed for was for someone to ask me to paint a mural of some sort in their home.  Not just any mural, but something that would glorify God and draw more people closer to Him. 
A little history...When we first moved to Fort Worth, I was asked by Kelly, who I have mentioned on our blog several times, to join a bible study group.  I didn't hesitate to say "yes" because not only was I going to be able to study God's word more, but I was going to be accountable.  I also thought that maybe in the mix of all that I would make some new friends.  I remember going to eat the first time we all met together.  I was really nervous because they were the first group of women I had been around in Fort Worth and I wanted to be accepted.  It is funny I say that now, thinking of all the friendships I have made.  
We all bonded instantly over a book called The Secret of the Lord by Dannah Gresh.  I encourage everyone who hasn't read it to definitely, find a small group of friends, and read it.  
Throughout our several weeks together, so many masks of perfection were broken down as each one of us shared some very tender, heartfelt moments of disappointment/embarrassment/struggle in our lives.  I really don't think that we ever got out of our study without at least two or three of us completely breaking down.  But, you know what?  That is what God intended to happen! And it was awesome!!  To have the freedom to share such intimate moments with friends who you know care about you is something I've never quite experienced.  One week our study mentioned the word "koinonia."  Don't worry, I had never heard of it either, but WOW am I glad I know what it means now.  In simple terms "koinonia" means to build community by intimate participation, which is what we are called by God to do with our fellow Christian family. This word really meant a lot to our special group of women and we often went back and referred to it.
Today was our last day to meet together at one of the women's homes.  At the end of our time, she approached me about something she wanted to commission me for.  Guess what it was?  A MURAL.  She wanted me to paint the word "Koinonia" in her family room.  How amazing.  I stood there in awe for a moment.  I even asked her to repeat exactly what she wanted me to do to make sure I understood.  God answered my prayer today.  And I can't wait to share with you what the Spirit fills me with as I try this new venture out!!

In the meantime, here are a few paintings I did for Lakeview Fellowship in Fort Worth.  These were for the youth Sunday School classrooms.  Enjoy!






Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Decisions, Decisions

"There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work."
I Corinthians 12: 4-6


We have lots of things weighing on our minds for our future this week.  Don't worry, everything is great and we are still staying in Fort Worth, just trying to decide where we will live, job possibilities for me, and exploring new opportunities.


We continuously are blessed by more orders for paintings.  Here are a few I did not long after we got to Fort Worth.  


One of Three for the Victory Home Administration Building...

A few "consolation" Bunko gifts...

For our sweet new friends, the Spence's...

Painted Tom's for Todd's (and my) cousin, Janna Clements.  Such a sweet memorial to some of her family.  Each component (down to some of the colors) had a special meaning.

Cross painting, which has become a favorite, for the Trantham's...

Holly also had me paint a canvas with their name...

"Mr. and Mrs." painting for Marci and Greg (who have one of the most adorable babies in the world)...

Triptych for Jenni and Derek's baby, Landry, who I am so glad my parents were finally able to  meet this past week.  I'm really jealous of them. :)  It matches his bedding.  

Painted chalkboard for Taylor's sweet 16 birthday bash...

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Where has the time gone...

"Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen."
--Hebrews 11:1


First of all, we apologize for leaving you all hanging for so long.  We have really gotten wrapped up down here in Fort Worth and have been trying to settle in and establish ourselves. 

Honestly, I have had a lot of things on my mind recently and have been struggling with a challenge that has revealed itself to me...What is my purpose?  There are so many definitions and answers I could have given to this question a few months ago, but as I found myself down here in a new town with not many friends (except for my husband, son, dog, and a few special people), I became idle and lost.  Up until this point, God had revealed answers to us so clearly and explicitly that we didn't have time to wonder what we were supposed to be doing.  Once we got settled in though, I didn't hear from Him as clearly as I had for a few months.  I wondered why He wasn't revealing Himself to me and questioned my ability to discern what He wanted for my life.  
Then I realized, it was me.  It was my fault.  I had lost sight of Him in everything I do.  It is so easy to get out of consistent time with Him and get lost in the worldly things that REALLY DON'T MATTER.  AT ALL.  


Why?  Because we are just passing through.  This is not really my home, nor yours. We are only here for a mere moment when compared to eternity.  So, what is my purpose?  To worship my creator, my Father, and to share His love with anyone and everyone I come into contact with.  Not necessarily by words, but by my actions.  I have challenged myself to do this daily knowing that I will never be worthy of His love for me.  I hope you will join me.


On another note, to supplement our income, I have been painting A LOT since we have been down here.  When I say A LOT, I mean enough to pay our rent.  Not many people would share that, but I think it is part of our testimony.  Even though we do live in a one bedroom apartment, our rent is NOT cheap compared to where we came from.  It gets kind of scary at the beginning of a new month and I know that I don't have any paintings coming up, but somehow (also known as the Holy Spirit) something (also known as God) intervenes.  We always make rent.  ALWAYS.  Because God protects us.  


I wanted to share some of the paintings I have been doing over the past months for our next few blog posts.  To those of you who I have been blessed to paint for, THANK YOU.  Because really, to us, it is a blessing. 



  

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Led astray...

"All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the LORD laid on him the sins of us all."
--Isaiah 53:6

One of the reasons Todd decided that we should move down here was so that we would be able to help other families like our own.  Granted, not every family is the same and not every addict is the same, but when you have gone through similar situations, there is peace in knowing someone else has been where you are.  Since we have lived here, there have been a couple of people who have come across our path that needed the same grace that we received.  Yesterday, we drove about three hours towards Arkansas to meet up with someone, now our new friend, who had decided to make a change in their life. 
Honestly, once we started heading back down to Fort Worth, I became extremely bitter.  I didn't realize until later that my bitterness was not directed towards anyone but satan.  He has completely captured so many vulnerable people through the power of addiction.  It is disgusting to see how he can make someone believe their life is dependent on everything except the one true GOD that all our lives should depend on.  I was sickened to see how parallel our new friend's life is and Todd's life had been.  The lies, the stealing, the manipulating, the lack of LIFE.  Driving along, our friend kept nodding in and out of consciousness.  As she told us her story, I couldn't believe it.  She has already endured much more than I could ever imagine in her short life.  Todd and I just kept looking at each other.  
It was not a look of annoyance and judgement but a look of...HOPE.  We know there are possibilities for her life.  We know she is beginning her second chance.  We know the pills she had just taken and the cigarettes she just smoked, could be her last...forever.  We know this because we serve a gracious God that will pour out His mercy on her if she will just ask for it.  We know this because it happened to us.  
We can't wait to see the progression of our new friend over the next six months.  God will restore her life, her family, and her health if she will just allow Him to take it over.
  

Friday, March 16, 2012

God's timing is impeccable...

"Stand up and praise the LORD your God, who is from everlasting to everlasting. Blessed be your glorious name, and may it be exalted above all blessing and praise." 
--Nehemiah 9:5

"Worship the LORD your God, and his blessing will be on your food and water. I will take away sickness from among you."
--Exodus 23:25

"From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another."
--John 1:16


We got settled into our little apartment just a few days before Christmas and right from the start it was perfect. We had cut our square footage in half and yet our space had doubled. For you see our place back in Benton was just a house, not a home. Most of the memories in that place were horrid. We got Beckett settled in and then Duncan (our retriever). I think Duncan is still getting used to not having a backyard, but that won't last too much longer.

Meagan and I would often go to the men's/women's homes. I had developed such a strong relationship with Nick over the past few months, that I wanted Meagan to get to know Ms. Ana. Ms. Ana and her husband, Pastor Gerald Salamon started the Men's home in Ft. Worth over 20 years ago. Pastor Gerald passed away around 2 years ago and that is when Nick took over the men's home and Ms. Ana stayed over the women. 

Meagan and Ana hit it off immediately. I think the fact that Ms. Ana fell in love with Beckett probably kick started that. We all hung out pretty much every night. And at some point during the day usually stopped by to say hi to each of them. God began to use Meagan with the home's. She began volunteering one day a week at the administration building doing whatever was asked of her. I was so proud of her obedience to the call of God. She also began doing artwork for the men's home and then the administration building. 

Everyday was a new adventure for us and we loved it, still do. This whole time I was vigorously looking for a job. I had what I thought were a couple things that were locks. God didn't see it fit for me to do these things and he closed those doors. For the first month we were down here the job hunt was somewhat dead. We were not desperate for me to get a job right away and we just enjoyed our days together. 

After the first of the year I really cranked up the job hunt and right away had two different interviews on schedule. I went to them and immediately I knew that was not what God had in store for me and my family. Over the next several weeks I went on several more job interviews, most of which were to just get the experience and then the "one" came up. It was a firm in Dallas where the pay was great, the benefits were great and the time off was even better. It was the one that Meagan and I wanted. This being said after a week or so had passed they called to tell me they had selected someone else.

During this time, my good friend Bobby came into town and I headed over to hang out with him. Out of the blue he asked me if Meagan knew how to use the program AutoCAD. I called her and she said yes, it had just been a while. Bobby's partner owned a landscaping business and needed someone to come up with concepts for multi-million dollar backyards. She was skeptical at first even though the money was great. We had decided that she would stay home with Beckett pretty much no matter what.

She went and met with what is now her boss. He explained that she could work from home and do it on her time. Wow, God is so amazing. Bobby also called me not long after that and told me he had a guy he wanted me to meet. The guy he spoke of was a director at a rehab in Azle, TX. We will call this guy Robert. Robert and Bobby met at one of the monthly luncheons at the men's home back when Bobby was still in the home. Bobby kind of became a liaison for Robert. When the men who just couldn't seem to get it after three months at Robert's place, he would call Bobby and he would help him get to the men's home for 6 more months. 

Since Bobby had moved back to Oklahoma he wanted me to introduce myself to Robert and somewhat fill this role. I gave Robert a call on a Saturday and after a great conversation he wanted me to come out and see his rehab. I went out on Monday to have lunch. My first impression of the place was...WOW. It was huge with nice leather chairs and huge bunkrooms, the kitchen had granite counter tops and it looked like a culinary school's kitchen.

Robert and I sat down and chatted for a while and we talked a lot about this blog which he had read. We also talked about the fact that I was vigorously looking for work so that I could provide for my family. He thought that was crazy because they were looking for someone. He said they weren't really advertising the job but believed that God would bring someone to them. God is amazing.

A week or so went by and Robert called and told me his partners would like to meet and we set up a meeting for the next day. Robert informed me he would not be there. When I got there I met with the other 2 partners and 2 of the counselors. It soon became a job interview filled with questions. I could tell they were kind of skeptical of my short sobriety time. But like I told them, when I got out of rehab the first time I was all about getting my 30, 60 and 90 day chips at AA meetings and all that, but now I didn't really think in time frames. I was just clean and sober and that was my life, it would never go back and it didn't matter if it was 9 months or 9 years to me.

I left there feeling pretty awesome about everything. In the mean time I had gotten another interview with the "perfect job" company in Dallas and it was coming up in about a week and a half. During all of this we went to Benton for Beckett's birthday. We figured it would be a lot easier to have 30 people meet there than all drive 5 hours away. By the time we went to Benton it had been a little over a week since I had heard anything from the rehab. We had a wonderful time with friends and family but were very glad to get back home to Ft. Worth.

I got a call the night after we were back in town and Robert said that I needed to call one of the other partners in the morning to talk specifics of the job. After a week of prayer they had decided to over look my short sobriety time and offer me the job. I will be going back to school to work on my masters and will hopefully get my doctorate as I become a licensed counselor. Two days later was supposed to be my interview with the company in Dallas, but God had made it so clear to me that I was to take this job and decline that interview.

I started the job over 3 weeks ago and I love it. I get to spend time, minister and just help these guys out. The hours are long and odd but I get to be home every weekday to spend time with the family. The money is great and on top of that we still have 3 or 4 different side jobs going on. Our life is so incredibly simple and so overwhelmingly amazing. I wouldn't change one thing about our life. God has blessed us beyond belief and we praise him daily for his grace and mercy. I am able to do more than just provide for my family and I owe it to Jesus.


Beckett is with his grandparents in Benton this week for Spring Break.  He stayed with Todd's parent for a couple of nights and then, switched to my parents for a few nights.  I'm nervous to see how he acts when he gets home because he has been SOOOO spoiled!!!
He loves bananas!

My dad said this was his favorite "toy" today.  Notice the HUGE knot on his head!

video
First experience playing on the playground in Chick-Fil-A.  Needless to say, we have an issue with hitting other people right now!  Oh goodness!