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Saturday, January 22, 2011

My "Year In Review" (finally)

A YEAR IN REVIEW.

As you probably know by now, we moved to Monett, MO about one year ago – sometime at the very end of October, 2009. If you do not know how we got here, the short answer is, “The Lord”. The long answer, well, read my testimony that’s posted in the “ABOUT ME” section at the top of my blog http://www.fewtherebethatfindit.blogspot.com/. Or, CLICK HERE.

So much has happened to our family over the past year – it’s hard to know what to share and what to leave out. I’ll try to keep it as short as possible and just stick to what I see as major milestones. Also, the children are writing their own reviews, so I will not say much about what all has been going on in their lives this past year.

Recently I was sitting at supper one evening during fellowship meal with the Graybill family. Wilbur said something like how us being here is a ‘feather in his hat’ … if it were not for him, we wouldn’t be here! Well, we all know that he was really just following the promptings of the Lord to offer to pay our gas and house us to visit the first time back in August of 2009, so really the glory goes to God … but we praise the Lord for Wilbur’s sensitivity and willingness to freely share what the Lord has given him. He mentioned how we must have learned a lot this year [doctrinally]. No, I honestly cannot think of one thing I see differently in the scriptures after being here, though I do see some things more clearly than before. So what has changed over the last year? A lot!

Something I always knew I needed to do a lot more of was visit widows, elderly & shut-ins. I had done some of this in the past, but it was always with a group of people or, at the very least, with another family. You see, I am very shy and just don’t know what to say. I grew up in such a self-centered environment and just do not know how to relate to others in that way. David has gently pushed me out of my shell and I have been very blessed by it. We now visit several widows and elderly people each week. We are especially close to Christine; she has become like a grandma to us. We are with her several times a week helping with cooking, cleaning and just visiting. We also visit many others as well, including one woman who cannot move much at all nor talk. After the first time I visited her I realized how we just take for granted that we can get up in the morning, swing our legs over the bed, and go about our day. Before meeting this woman, when was the last time I thanked the Lord for that ability? Never. Now I am so humbled and thankful for the health I have – and yes, I remember to thank the Lord for it. Each person we visit is so special to us and all have really been a blessing in our lives. I joke sometimes how we are supposed to be a blessing to them, but I really think WE get more out of it than they do. There’s so much wisdom, history, etc. and they love to share their stories!! I could say so much more, but I’m trying to keep this on the short side! Let’s move on to another topic …

Ever since I met David, he has taught me several little ‘nuggets of truth’ (??? don’t know what else to call them) that have really encouraged and challenged me. I’ll share them with you and maybe they will become a blessing to you as well? Each one has come in the form of advice, so I’ll put each in quotes.

1) “Just go through it” - this is the first thing David said to me one time before we even came here to visit for the first time (or maybe it was right after we visited the first time?). I was so desperate at that point - just feeling like I could not handle ANYMORE and if God put even one more little thing on top I was just going to die, or at least want to die. Seriously, I really was in a desperate situation. And then he called one evening to check up on me … it happened to be the lowest of the lowest point so far (well, it seemed that way) … and I laid it all out on him. When I was done sharing, all he had to say was, "Just go through it." And I knew exactly what he meant. We talked a little more about that, but just that little phrase was all I needed to hear and it has really stuck with me. “Just go through it” Don’t try to go around it, don’t turn around and run from it, just go through it – if it is for the Lord, He will be with you. You see, these trials that we face as followers of Christ can all be such a beautiful blessing – things we can learn so much from and benefit from the rest of our lives. Personally speaking, I did NOT want to have to go through all I went through the last year before we came here. I thought it would be so much easier to just get from “A” to “B” in a way that I thought was right. But, God knows best! I have learned so much “just going through it” that I never would have learned had I chosen to turn around or go over it some other way. I think the most important thing I have learned is that the Lord will provide. While we know this, it’s so hard to BELIEVE it when at such low places. The Lord has always provided – and always right when we needed it the most. He knows exactly what we need and, more importantly, how much we can handle; we just have to trust Him and ‘go through it’.

2) “You chose this path, you don't have to stay on it if you do not want to” - this is something David said to me one night when he was downstairs talking to the children. I didn't know he was there at the time and I came out of the room with the intention of sitting outside by myself to pretty much have a 'pity party'. He looked at me and knew something was up ... he said, "what's going on?" I said, "I'M FRUSTRATED!" and then I shared a little of why I was frustrated. After I shared I said, "I know what you are going to say, "Quit your whining", right?" His reply, “Yeap.” But then he said, “You chose this path, you don't have to stay on it if you don't want to. Read the bottom of your email.” HA! He's so right. The bottom of my email says, “Some choose their road and accept its destination, others choose their destination and accept the road.” So, anytime now that I am tempted to have a pity party, that phrase comes to mind and you know what? ALL THOUGHTS of self pity go away in a snap. How could any pitiful thought stay with that phrase going through your mind?! I CHOSE this path! Praise the Lord. And I have every intention of enduring to the end. Jesus does not promise us happiness here on earth … he promises us a cross. We must faithfully pick it up daily and follow Him, no matter where He takes us or what we have to go through. He is worthy of all we have and so much more.

3) “Just be” - he said this to me a months weeks ago. I was somewhat discouraged about a few things and we talked for a while. At the end, I was a little confused about what he was getting at, but I did not say anything... I figured it would make sense eventually. Well, it didn't, so I asked him the next day if he could clarify a little. His response? Just be. So now that has been going through my head for the last few months and it's been such a blessing! Just be. Just be in the moment, doing all you can RIGHT NOW for the Lord. Whether you are 'just being' a mother, a wife, a cook, a taxi driver to get your boys to work, or whatever else you can fill in the blank with. Each moment you can just be serving the Lord in whatever it is He has you to do. So often times we are tempted to get caught up in thoughts about the future … all sorts of ‘what ifs’ and things of that nature can crowd our mind and cause us to lose focus on what is more important. We can focus so much on the future that we lose time in the present that we could be spending serving the Lord RIGHT NOW. Instead of focusing on the future, look for all the ways you can serve the Lord RIGHT NOW … RIGHT WHERE YOU ARE.

4) “Wait” – We want results. We want answers. We what everything to all make sense. We do not want to wait; we want it RIGHT NOW. I have been learning how to WAIT; praise the Lord. This covers so many areas, but I will not get into all of that.

Something else that has been a real blessing to me over the last year is simply being a part of the body of Christ. You see, this is the first church we have ever really been ‘plugged in to’ … we’ve been regular visitors to other churches, even for a year or more, but have never truly been a part of the local body. It’s neat to look back and know that one thing I really appreciated the first time I ever visited here was the diversity of people … and yet it turned out to be the hardest thing for me to overcome!! Strange how that works! The Lord has used this to teach me so many things. A few months ago I listened to an older message of David’s called, “The Perfect Church” – it really summed up well all that I went through this past year while being here. Is there such a thing as “The Perfect Church”? I’ll try to get that message on the website soon.

Another thing about being a part of the church body is the blessing of being able to help and serve others. While living in Omaha, I thought I was so busy … however after moving here I realized [to my shame] I was only busy serving myself first. I did do a lot for others, however I know now that I could and should have done so much more. Here I am able to help out in so many ways and it has been really good for me – not only helping the church body, but also others in the community. Learning how to put others before yourself is such an invaluable lesson; I pray as time goes on I will learn even more fully what all it means to show love in this way.

One of the biggest blessings this past year has been the ability to go out on the streets once in a while with the brothers. I would go more often if I could, however for now I’ve only been going once or twice a month. While we do run into some that are out getting drunk and just want to be mean (this has only happened a few times), most of the people we talk to on the streets are professing Christians, so we deal a lot with helping them see that you must be following Christ in order to be considered a Christian. It’s still amazing to me each time I go out with the brothers and watch them talk to these people. Most are Bible school students (Springfield has a lot of Bible colleges) and they KNOW so much … yet do not put what they know into practice. Many of them will even argue and say “that’s not in the Bible” … especially the verses about women and their role at home or in the church. If you try to show them the scriptures, they’ll try to tell you why it does not mean what it really says. Sometimes they curse and yell – this is very shameful and sad. Sometimes we deal with people who are seeking Truth but don’t know where to start. We counsel them to start with Jesus – because He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. There is NO OTHER WAY. Jesus said if we love Him we will keep His commandments and we are His friends if we do whatsoever He has commanded us – we must abide in Him. Hebrews 5:9 says Jesus is the author of salvation to all who obey Him. For these reasons and more, we must know Who Christ is and what He taught … and that is why Matthew 5, 6 and 7 is such a great place to start. I have also had many opportunities to counsel women while on the streets with the brothers – mostly I talk about their role as women, wives and also about dressing modestly so as not to be a stumbling block to men. This has been a great blessing and encouragement to me. The brothers preach each week in several places – the main ones being Springfield, MO and Fayetteville, AR every Friday and Saturday night. At least one brother goes to Eureka Springs, AR each Sunday afternoon too, and then scattered, miscellaneous places throughout the week. A few also go to college campuses when they can; I’ve been there twice so far and it’s quite a different crowd than the one on Friday and Saturday night. Not different in the way they dress though … immodesty abounds in both places equally (in all places really, because the local stores, etc. are the same way … you cannot escape from it!). No matter which place we go to, I’ve been so blessed to witness the same scene several times: someone will initially be upset by what the brothers are saying to them. They try to argue and fight against it. But, if they are a seeker of the Truth, eventually they thank the brothers. Some will be upset and leave, but then come back a while later to say thank you. Some even come back and say they are sorry for the way they acted. Wow. I’ve seen it happen more than a few times as well that someone will come back and hug the brothers and bless them. For those who have never tried reaching people in this way (holding up signs in various places) I strongly urge you to give it a try. I’ve seen the fruit, and it is very good. Of course this is not the only thing the brothers and sisters do here to reach out, but this is just the thing that’s new to me. We hand out tracts, leave sermons and books sitting around in various places, help those in need, etc.

Many have wondered about our little church; I’ll do the best I can to describe it. It’s a small group of believers striving to follow the Lord. Something I really appreciate about this group is that they are quick to admit they do not have it all figured out. For that reason, there is no ‘doctrinal statement’. Of course there are basic core beliefs, but not a long definite list of all the beliefs. And yes, some things have changed over the years. The biggest belief that will not change is that we must follow Christ. His teachings are taken very seriously, as are the other commands and teachings in the New Testament. There are about 45 people who come here regularly and a few that come when they can. Also, there is a family of nine that just moved back to Mexico to be with the brethren there; we are not sure yet whether or not they are going to live there for a while or come back home ... they are praying for the Lord’s will. [it seems they will be back next week, Lord willing!] Two brothers are in Peru with the brethren there, and there are other groups in Columbia, a few in Mexico, India (along with an orphanage there), and the Philippines. This church does not believe in ‘church planting’. If anyone in the world is trying to follow Jesus and has a desire for fellowship, someone here tries to go and help them along. The idea is to let the local people start their own church and be their own leaders … we are just here for help and encouragement whenever needed. There is so much more I could say here.

So, exactly where do we live? Monett is a little town in the corner of SW Missouri. It is in between Springfield and Joplin – about an hour from either place. There are about 10,000 people here, mostly whites and Mexicans. We are trying our best to learn Spanish … so it’s nice to have a lot of opportunities to practice if we want to. I’m still pretty shy in this area and need a lot more studying first, but Tylor is getting along pretty well … better than the rest of us anyway. There are hardly any blacks here, which is so odd to me considering where we came from. We just recently visited my long-time penpal and one of Brianna’s penpals in St. Louis and we met them at a very large farmer’s market in the city. I was SO HAPPY to see black people. Ok, maybe that sounds really strange?? But, for those of you who understand, I’m sure you can feel my excitement. I am very thankful for the environment I grew up in – such diversity of people. I miss the diversity but get a taste of it each time we visit bigger cities. Monett is a quiet town – lots of farmers and other hard working people here. Very friendly and pretty much everyone knows everyone. Life sure is different here ‘in the country’ than it was in the city! Having lived most my life in Omaha and then also in Phoenix, San Antonio and Tacoma, Monett, MO sure is small! Sometime soon I’ll do a post about ‘life in the country’ … be looking for it.

Many have wondered how I get by. We lived in the church house for over a year, but recently moved into the house next door that the brothers bought. I’ve had a lot of help over this past year from the brethren here at the church and also from a few more brothers and sisters in other places. I really appreciate the way this church views money – it is the Lord’s! Of course it is … but how they live that out is such a blessing to me. It’s humbling to know that many who have helped us are in need of help themselves … some in great need of help. The Lord provides and no one has ever gone hungry or without other basic care when needed. Brianna and I have a few small jobs cleaning for people and places, but that does not make me much. Tylor has been working some and even Corban has made some money working this past year … I’m sure they’ll tell you all about it in their own letters though. A few times I’ve even been able to help others that have come into the church and asked for help – it is more blessed to give than to receive – and I think that when you’ve been on the receiving end for so long, this statement rings so much more true than it ever could if you’ve never been in need.

Since we’ve lived here, we’ve been back to Omaha several times. We were going as often as we could so we could visit my grandma who was not doing too well. She was such a big part of my life all growing up and even up until the time we moved. It was so hard to leave her like that, but we visited as much as we could. We have many loving memories with Grandma and now I am sad to say that she has passed on. She died last September 19th, but I am so thankful we were there by her side when she passed. Now our need to go to Omaha more often is not as pressing … so it might be a while before anyone ‘up there’ sees us again in person. Of course anyone is more than welcome to come here and visit us … there’s plenty of room.



Well, I think that’s all I am going to share … except … Jesus is coming soon. Are you ready to meet Him?

Rev. 20:12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. 13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.

Are you a disciple of Christ? Hear what He says in Luke 14:

26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. 27 And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. … 33 So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.

2 comments:

  1. It's late, so I copied out your post so I could finish reading it later. . . .. . My back is spasming so badly, I can hardly stand it. Headed for the doctor Monday morning if I don't get some relief very soon. Yes, we should certainly be thankful for our health. I'm reminded what a blessing it is to work for my family when I have to lie there doing nothing. They are helping me right now, but I'd rather be cooking. Looks my husband is going to lose his job due to the state budget shortfall. Thanks for the post. Would covet your prayers. God bless, Liz

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  2. So happy for you there, Joanne! I enjoyed reading this, and also hearing more about Monett.
    k.

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