Saturday, September 16, 2017

Approval Ratings

If you have been alive and coherent in the past 10 years, you have heard all about approval ratings.  From major news networks to social media outlets, anyone with any importance has an approval rating.  From the President of the USA, to the college football coach, to the latest single man chosen as the newest Bachelor {and from what I've been reading, he doesn't stay single or committed for long.  Don't judge me...the Bachelor is one of my guilty pleasures}. Everyone has something to live up to.  Now I know that these ratings have been around for much longer than 10 years.  Some of you are just older than me, so you remember further back, right?

Here's the thing about "approval ratings:" they are people's opinions of how you measure up.  Are you doing a good job?  Are people happy with you?  Does the world approve of you? Are you making a positive difference? While many of us would LOVE for the world to all love us and make us feel like we are doing a good job, we have to remember that every human's opinion and feelings are all molded and shaped through their own personal circumstances.  While circumstances do not define us, we can all agree they tend to lend focus to different areas for different people.  Which means there are absolutely no black and white parameters in which we can know how to make everyone happy.  Everyone is different, and we all hold different things close to our hearts.  What may be important to me just might be the least of your worries.  Did you know that Jesus didn't have the best approval ratings in his time?  He was not well liked.  Many people tried to make him look bad.  They called him a liar.  But did you know, He was the single, most significant thing to happen to the human race?  Even to those who hated him.

In my Bible study this morning, I had to answer some gut-wrenching questions which made me list what occupies my mind the most, what do I love, and what can ruin my day.  I really wanted to write the Sunday School answers because then I could feel a little better about myself.  No one wants to admit they can be shallow in that they seek approval or long to be significant, to make a difference, or to just be accepted.  Holy cow!  That's someone who seems pretty vain. The lesson was on worship.  As Christians, we tend to define worship by what goes on in the beginning of the church service each week.  But the true definition of worship [based on my google definition search] is the feeling or expression of adoration and reverence for a deity.  There were several other definitions which were all basically the same.  As the study went on, the author was sure to remind us that worship doesn't just happen to inside the walls of the church.  She said, "If you're breathing, you're worshiping." But the questions is...what is the object of our worship?

As I looked at my answers from the first page, it was clear that my worship isn't always directed at the one who thought I was good enough to send His son to die for me.  It was on the thoughts and approval of those who will fail me everyday, because like me, they are sinners and live in a broken, fallen world.  The trouble with trying to live up to everyone's expectations of me is that there are no clear, concise directions on what would make everyone happy.  You see, if I spent all of my energy focused on making my kids happy, it is highly likely that my husband will be left feeling very unhappy because they require completely opposite things from me.

The only way I will ever experience true joy and peace is to live in a state of worship of Jesus Christ.  The one who approved of me before I was ever created.  The one who thought enough of me to die for me while I was yet a sinner.  So on my absolute WORST, UGLY, DISAPPOINTING day, Jesus loves me.  I have surrendered my heart and life to Him, so my life must only serve to honor Him.

Now, where I go wrong sometimes is trying to do enough to make Him happy with me.  But that is a lie from the devil himself.  There is NOTHING, and I mean NOTHING I can do to earn His love.  He gave it freely.  The only requirement on my behalf is to surrender to His will, and live my life in a way that honors Him.  Sure, I screw it up everyday.  But I know His love never fails.

So how do I get away from these approval ratings?  God doesn't ask us to live a life to get amazing approval ratings from the world's perspective.  He doesn't even ask us to be significant, to make a difference, to win, to be on top, to be liked by everyone, to write the best blog, to have the most friends, and the list goes on and on.  He only asks one thing of be OBEDIENT.  Obedient to accept Him as Lord and Savior over our lives, and obedient to each thing He calls us to.  No matter how big or how small.  You know how I know this?  This past week, God had laid the previous blog post on my heart to write.  I haven't written in so long, and truthfully just didn't feel up to it.  What is one stupid blog post about my own struggles going to do to make any difference?  So I finally decided to be obedient in a small step.  But let me tell you, the devil about made it impossible.  I was going to post it on Instagram and just share it.  But there wasn't enough room to write everything.  So as much as I hated to, I had to try to log on to the blog that I haven't even touched in 7 months.  I forgot the password, got locked out, only for my computer to freeze.  I may have hit the computer with a little extra pressure which then reset the battery.  I decided to quit.  It wasn't worth it.  But Rob reminded me that quitting was exactly what Satan wanted me to do.  I am not a quitter, and I often give the old devil more power and credit than he deserves.  So I continued on.  That insignificant little blog post lead several people to tell me how it encouraged them.  I had several facebook messages and such of people telling me that God had used my post to lift them up.  Listen, SaraBeth can't take any credit for that.  Because not only did I NOT want to write it, it seemed so small.  And who has time for the small things?  I want to be used in a big way.  But God took the insignificant and used it significantly in the lives of others.

So what is the point of all of this mumbling?  It is to encourage you {and me} to quit living your lives in hopes of garnering raving approval ratings.  Take all of that effort and energy, and start living a life in obedience to Jesus.  His gift of salvation is significant enough to save your life eternally.   He wants you to live life more abundantly {John 10:10 - The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.}  The world's opinion of you will quickly steal your joy.  It can destroy you.  Live that abundant life in Jesus.

Everything you do, do it with a heart of worship and obedience to King Jesus {Col 3:23-
And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;}.  Then and only then will you have the joy and peace you are searching for.  

Keep on keeping on.  Love Jesus, love people, and be obedient to the next step, no matter how big or small, He is calling you to take.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Waiting on the Lord


This young man has played football since he was four, sitting out only last season. That makes this his 10th season playing the game he loves so much.  Although his heart for football has always been bigger than life itself, he spent 9 seasons watching from the sidelines.  He always gave it his all at practices, knowing his size hindered him from an easy spot on the field.  Year after year, we went to the games, watching through tears as our boy had to watch his friends (some of whom got to start even their first year playing), live out his dream.  We would always encourage him to support his team, have a good attitude, and work even harder.  I NEVER, and I mean NEVER, heard him say a negative word about anyone getting to play.  He was always just grateful to be a part of the team.  It was like added family for him.  

When it finally seemed like it may have been his time, God called us to WV and to homeschool.  Both of which turned into a nightmare for Cade.  We watched our joyful, spunky young man turn into a slightly bitter and negative guy who was miserable with life.  Over and over, he reminded us that God may have called us to WV, but He didn't call Cade to WV.  As if things weren't hard enough, we added another sister to the family, and he was no longer the oldest.  Things couldn't get worse for him in his eyes. Zoe got to go to public school (state requirement for foster care), and Cade watched bitterly as he had to remain home.  I have only seen him in such a dark place once before...when Faith died.  My heart was broken for him.  

After much prayer, Rob and I decided to allow him to go to high school.  We felt like he and Zoe could keep an eye on one another, and he desperately wanted to play football.  He started summer workouts (6 am mornings in our house every day of summer), with an eager heart.  Mine was not so eager. I was TIRED!  I worried about him not knowing anyone, being small, and being disappointed once again.  I knew he couldn't take anymore disappointment in WV.  Every day, when we would pick him up, he was on cloud 9.  Even though he knew he wouldn't start, he was just grateful to have a chance to make friends, be a part of a team, and work towards being an active player his sophomore year.  We met the coaches, and I was immediately impressed with the care they showed Cade.  Cade never once felt like an outsider, but everyone, including the kids, made him feel a part of something he hadn't felt in a while.

As the summer plugged along, we continued to see Cade grow in confidence, work ethic, and gratefulness.  He was still continuing to deal with some bitterness about adding a sibling, which was hindering his walk with the Lord.  God allowed him to go to Snowbird with our youth group from FL.  We spoke with Tim, our youth pastor and dearest friend who has taught us so much, and he offered to spend some time with Cade.  That week, God showed him that he had to love his new sister, because Jesus loved us even when we didn't deserve it.  He came home renewed and with a different attitude.  As he returned to football, it was becoming more clear he was going to get a chance to play.  Second-string was a highlight for him.  He was ECSTATIC!  

School began, and he was too excited to start his freshman year.  He had made a ton of friends, and walked in the first day as if he had been here all of his life.  He was thriving!  He got added to the Varsity scout team, which gave him more practice time.  He shared with us that even though it was only "scout team", he saw it as an opportunity to grow, to learn, and to get better.  He was so grateful.  The JV team dresses out each Friday night for the Varsity games, and we watched as he cheered relentlessly for his new brothers on the field.  He was patiently waiting his turn on the field once JV games would start.  

The first JV game was scheduled for Labor Day.  Our family had already made plans to travel that weekend, because our schedules are so busy, we HAVE to make time to spend as a family.  However, the game interfered with our trip.  Cade made the decision to stay back with some special friends, so he could play in his game.  We made plans to leave TN early because there was no way I was missing that game!  We left Thursday morning for Pigeon Forge, only for Cade to call us late Thursday evening with news the game had been cancelled.  I was furious and heartbroken for him.  He had given up time with his family doing fun things, to reap the fruit of what he had been working so hard on.  We tried everything we could to get him to TN, but nothing was going to be possible.  I was mad...Cade was ok.  He said "Mom, it's ok.  I'll just stay here and rest."  I am so thankful for special people God has given us here who love our kids like their own.  They are a blessing!!  And his attitude spoke volumes to my bitter heart. 

Fast forward to last night.  We experienced a first in all the years of being Cade's parents.  We got to see our boy start on kick return, defense, and play off and on offense.  He made numerous tackles (mostly on kids twice his size), blocked 2 passes, and even ran the ball for 5 yards.  I couldn't have been more proud.  This is what he has dreamed of since he was a toddler.  While all of that was more than exciting for us and for him,  God spoke to me and showed me something I have been struggling with myself.  Often times, we have dreams.  We work so hard to see them come to fruition.  But many times, we have to sit on the sidelines of many seasons until it is our turn.  We still have work to do, to be prepared, to get stronger and more confident.  Sometimes we have to watch others live our dreams, and it is so easy to be mad, bitter, discouraged, and angry.  We quit because it is hard.  We become ungrateful for all that God is trying to teach us, and how He is trying to prepare us.  You see, last night wasn't about the fact that Cade had the greatest night of his life.  Yes it was awesome!!  But it was more about God's timing.  After all of those years of preparing Cade for his time to shine, God was teaching him and showing him how to be the best he could be when his time came.  Rob and I are having to learn that in our own lives in this season.  It seems like we are on the sidelines, waiting for our moment, but we have to be patient, listening to the Savior as He teaches us and prepares our hearts for the big game. 

This verse was in a devotion this morning and I thought it was fitting:
“Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass. Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; Do not fret— it only causes harm.”
Psalms 37:7-8 

We are learning to rest in the Lord.  And wait patiently for Him and His timing.  He knows best, and his timing and plans are perfect.  He knows what He is doing.  

My prayer is that while we are waiting, like Cade, we will learn to be grateful in all things, see every opportunity as a chance to grow in Jesus, and become more like Him.  Then when it is our turn to hit the field, we will glorify Him and make Him proud.  

Are you sitting on the sidelines?  Seek Jesus and be willing to play with your whole heart!  Even if it doesn't look like you think it should.  God is good, all the time!  Wait on the Lord and do NOT grow weary.  Due season is coming!

Isaiah 40:31 
31 But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

Galatians 6:9
And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.


Saturday, February 25, 2017

365 Days

Today marks one year since we pulled out of my mom's driveway and headed into the great unknown in which we now call home...West Virginia.  With any major life event, each anniversary brings a lot of reflection.  This has been one of the most challenging, yet fulfilling years of our lives. 
I have experienced a lot of personal growth this year, and while I have grown spiritually, I have also grown in other areas.  If you know me from my Florida days, you might find some of these pretty comical.  Here is a list of things that have changed about me this year:
  • I eat sandwiches!!  As a matter of fact, one of my most favorite places to eat is the Church Street Deli in Spencer.  The owners are fellow Floridians, and we have grown to love the food almost as much as the sweet people who own it.
  • I eat leftovers.  Leftovers are a staple in our lives now.  Before moving here, I would never DREAM of eating a leftover meal.  But we have learned to like them, and like them well.
  • I actually enjoy a hot dog!  Another WV staple is hot dogs with hot dog sauce.  Definitely one of my favorites.
  • My road rage has completely disappeared.  The lifestyle is so laid back here.  You just don't get in a hurry, and you learn take the time to enjoy the simple things.  When I'm back in Florida, I am the person everyone is honking at or giving finger of fellowship to.

On a more serious note, our family as a whole has had to learn to trust in Jesus wholeheartedly as we have navigated so much change in a short amount of time.  When we were called to WV, God had given us clear direction that our calling was to build and serve at a youth camp.  So we began the building process.  As soon as that stage was nearly complete, God called us away from that ministry.  You can read my previous post here for more details on the move.   The unknown can be so scary, but I'm thankful we serve an all-knowing God who sees the entire picture. 

It is a hard place to be when you  don't have one particular niche to fit into...a daily routine to give you security.  A specific ministry to belong to and hang your hat on.  But we have had to learn to find our security in the One who created us, called us here, and is orchestrating things we cannot see.  Our life looks NOTHING like what we had imagined when we pulled out of that driveway 365 days ago.  And that is ok.  There are days that we are frustrated and discouraged, but our Heavenly Father has surrounded us by some of the best friends we could ever imagine who lift us up and encourage us daily.  Full time ministry is one of the hardest things I have ever done.  Until you are really all in, it is easy to look at it and think "Wow!  It must be so nice to love on people all day long.  To make a difference in the lives of others.  To tell people about Jesus everyday."  Those things are all wonderful, but they come at a cost.  It has cost us our everyday routines, control of our financial security, our families back home, and even close friendships.  If we dwell on those things too long, the devil tries to convince us that we gave it all up for nothing.  But our faith is stronger than that.  Though it has been difficult at times, it has been overwhelmingly fulfilling. 

This year we have been able to spend more time as a family since we all work together and I homeschool some of the kids.  We have traveled many places and have gotten to see so many beautiful things that we would have never gotten to do.  We found a church that we absolutely love to serve in.  We are working with the teens, I have been playing the piano, and we have been working on a lot of outreach and missions projects.  Through a relationship at church, we are going to be able to work with a local wilderness camp this summer in several different capacities.  The everyday stress is no where near what it was when we were spending as much as we were making at our jobs.  We have learned to live a more simple life, which makes us see and enjoy what is most important...our relationship with Jesus Christ and with each other.  One of the hardest things for us to do was to leave my family back home.  In a way that only God can do, He provided the most wonderful people who we call family.  It feels just as if we were home.  We eat together, go to church together, and spend time together.  A piece of my heart that was left at home has started to mend.  While no one will ever replace my family in my life, I feel doubly blessed to have two families who love us unconditionally. 

The addition of Zoe to our family has been a wonderful gift.  Even if she was the only reason God called us here, it was worth every second of it.  I'm not going to lie and say that the transition of adding another child to the family has been a breeze, but I will tell you God is knitting our family together and I couldn't be more honored to be used by Him in such a way.  Cade, SaraGrace and Emmy are amazing as always.  They are the real human heroes of our ministry.  You never realize what impact full time ministry has on the children, but I can assure you it isn't easy on them.  They often talk about how much they miss their lives in Florida, but they all understand that God has called us all to serve Him in WV in this season.  I am so incredibly proud to be the mom of all 5 of my wonderful children.  Holly is still with us here and taking classes at Glenville State College.  She is an asset to us, especially in the areas of homeschool and babysitting.

So what does our ministry look like at this moment in time?  We are still forging ahead with opportunities as they arise.  We know our calling is to the people of WV, and has taken many shapes and forms besides youth camp.  We are learning to love through hurt and disappointment.  We are learning to always point people to Jesus, instead of our own personal opinions and feelings.  We are learning that we cannot survive in ministry if we aren't on our knees in prayer asking for wisdom, direction, strength, and encouragement to do whatever He has for us to do each day.  We are learning to trust God in each day to provide opportunities to love and honor Him, and to share that love with those around us.  We find ourselves in the role of encourager more than anything.  We have had many opportunities to love on young couples and families, and encourage them through some tough seasons of their own.  We are currently working with our church in some outreach programs and the teen classes, working with the wilderness camp on some construction projects (and getting ready to help in some fundraising for them), raising our family, ministering to our new daughter who just turned 16, loving on our college student as she navigates the next steps in her adult life, and we are always available to lend a helping hand to anyone who has a need.  God has truly blessed us more than we could ever imagine.

If you know the story of our daughter, Faith, then you know that one of our favorite verses is Jeremiah 29:11.  "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you a hope and a future."  That verse, and many others got us through the darkest days of our lives.  His promise for us and our family hasn't changed.  He has great plans, and we are patiently trusting and obeying Him in each step.  Did you know He has great plans for you, too?  My prayer is that you know Jesus as your Savior, so that you may have the hope and the future He has planned for you.

Here are some pictures of our year in WV.  We have made so many memories, and are looking forward to many more here.

Our first day here-
Our first Sunday 

Easter 2016

The Dam

Ace Adventure Water Park

Summersville Lake

Flood Relief
Cade's 13th Birthday

SaraGrace's 9th Birthday
First Day of Homeschool

Family Pizza Night at Pizzas and Cream

Family Fun Day at Butcher Farms

Trick or Treat

Emmy's 4th Birthday

Picking out our very first real Christmas Tree

Christmas at home with my family
Blackwater Falls

Zoe's 16th Birthday

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Seasons of Change

One of the things we have grown to love about living in WV is the changing of seasons.  Being a Florida girl all my life, I have always only known one season- HOT!  When we first moved here, winter was coming to a close.  There was a slight dusting of snow on the ground, but warmer, greener days soon followed.  Spring brought so many wild animals and their babies.  That was so cool for us to see baby deer just walking along the side of the road.  Summer came and went, and then my favorite, fall, arrived.  Fall has been my favorite season here in WV by far.  The beautiful, colorful leaves transport you to a different world.  The crisp air and small town festivals create memories that will last a lifetime.  Now, we are headed straight into our first real winter.  We are all so excited, although the locals always warn our excitement will be short-lived.

Seasons come with mixed emotions.  You find yourself excited for the new season to begin.  A new  season means new adventures, new experiences, and a fresh start.  But it also means that you leave behind the passing season with only lessons learned and memories made.  I know for me, I am always a little excited mixed with a little sadness because I know it will be several seasons more before I'm back to where I'm at. 

This is where our family is in ministry.  When we moved up here in February, we were sad to close a chapter at home in Florida, but oh so excited for a new beginning.  We had prayed for so long for God to show us where He wanted us and what He wanted us to do.  We came up here with so much confidence, with absolutely no doubt we were smack dab in the middle of His will for us.  This past year, we have worked tirelessly to build a ministry at Eagle Ranch.  We saw God move huge mountains.  We raised almost $80,000, oversaw the building of a bunk house, kitchen, and bath house, hosted mission teams, held events, and saw people come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.  These last few months, God has steered  the board at Eagle Ranch and the Vaughn family in two different directions.  After much prayer, Rob and I resigned from this ministry.  This was a tough decision, but God has been in it from the start.  If I'm being honest, it is hard to walk away from something that you have poured your heart and soul into.  Our entire family has sacrificed for us to be here and work in this ministry.  But it has not been in vain.  While our hearts are heavy, we know that we are right where God intends for us to be in this next season.  My flesh can begin to worry that people will see us as a failure.  But I know that God doesn't make mistakes, and He has a plan.  We, personally, cannot make decisions for other people, and we have to be obedient to the Lord.  For a moment, I might have felt like we made a huge mistake by coming up here.  But now I look back at the stepping stone Eagle Ranch has been for us.  Not only have we learned SOOOOOOO much, but we have gained a daughter.  Foster/adoption was not in any of our plans, but it was definitely in the Savior's plans.  We have been incredibly blessed by the addition of Zoe to our family.  It has been amazing to watch our family open their hearts to this precious young lady; to be the hands and feet of Jesus.  We have also been so blessed to have Holly as a part of our family here.  She has been a huge help to us, and there are no words to say what a blessing she is to us.  We have been blessed with a home with the most wonderful neighbors, who we call family.  God has used them to fill a huge void in our lives.  My kids walk up the hill, stay the night (several nights a week), we eat family dinners together, and most of all, they love us in all of our craziness.  God is truly soooooo incredibly good to us.

So what is next for us?  We are currently closing out the year with Eagle Ranch to help with tax forms and such.  God is opening a few doors right here in WV, and we are patiently waiting for His direction.  We had a promising meeting last week, and we hope to have more concrete details after the first of the year.  In the mean time, we have been asked to take over the teen class at our church and build a youth program.  We are so super excited about that!  We will also continue to do mission work as the opportunities arise, and love all of those around us like Jesus loves us.  For those of you who have supported us through Eagle Ranch, thank you from the bottom of our hearts.  If you would like to continue to support us in our ministry, Sardis Baptist Church is handling all of our mission support.  They are an amazing church family that is a tremendous blessing and encouragement to us.

If you are one of our FL friends and family, we will be heading home Tuesday to spend Christmas and New Years with our families.  I am looking forward to some much needed time to refresh and remember why we do what we do. 

I keep going back to this passage, and remembering that God knows this season.  He even knows what is going to happen in the next.  I am choosing to rest in His presence and His peace, and our hearts desire is that He will be honored and glorified in all that we say and do.

Ecclesiastes 3King James Version (KJV)
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

Are you in a tough season of life?  Do you know who holds your tomorrow?  This Christmas, the best gift you could give yourself is to accept the gift of salvation.  This gift was paid for, in full, on the cross by Jesus Christ.  He loves you so much that He gave His life for you.  When the seasons get tough, He is tougher.  He wants you this Christmas.  He wants you to have JOY, PEACE, and most of all, He wants to give you the gift of everlasting life in heaven with him.

1 Corinthians 15: 3-4
For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

Merry Christmas from our family to yours! 

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Remembering Baby Faith {National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day}

The Lord has really laid it upon my heart to start blogging again.  Truthfully, I have fought Him every step of the way because social media is just so much easier and accessible.  I have been praying for some time for God to use me and grow our ministry, and blogging and writing keep coming up.  So what better post to start with than one on National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day!

When I sit and really reflect upon this season we are in, I am so thankful for the life of Faith and how God grew us to be where we are today.  I would not be who I am if I had never had the chance to be her mommy.  In a time such as this in our country, we see more and more people jumping on the abortion bandwagon.  I think it has never been more important in our lifetime to celebrate matter how short it may be.

May 19, 2011 is a day that will live forever in our hearts.  It was the day that Faith Mackenzie Vaughn was born into our arms and 42 minutes later, she entered the gates of heaven.  Those 9 months and 42 minutes molded us in ways that we could have never dreamed.  In the five and a half years since she was born, so much life has happened.  You know the story...we wrote a book.  I graduated college.  We moved far away from home to serve Jesus Christ in full time ministry.  All of those things are so scary and overwhelming, but we knew we could trust Jesus in these things because He gave us courage through the life of our daughter.

In remembering her, I also remember all of the parents who have lost a child.  Whether in an early pregnancy or years into their lives, losing a child is the most devastating thing I could ever imagine.  While the world moves on about their everyday lives, we sit and wonder how we will make it through the next day, hour or minute.  We never forget our children who have impacted us so much.  And guess what?  Jesus never forgets either!  He created each of them in His image, and loves them so much more than we ever could.  During Faith's pregnancy and birth, we clung to the verse in Jeremiah 29:11 that says "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord.   "Plans to prosper you, not to harm you.  Plans to give you a hope and a future."  God had great plans for your child from the time the world was spoken into existence.  Their hope and future is in heaven, as is ours if we belong to Him.  As Rob and I clung to that verse for her, we also came to realize that promise was for each of us too.  We could either withdraw from the world and try to make sense of what happened, or we could trust in God's plans for Faith and for each of us.  There were many days we did both!  It wasn't easy, and there are still days that are hard.  We continue to watch His plans for us unfold every day as we serve to spread the Gospel here in WV.  None of this would have been possible if we hadn't learned to trust Jesus with our greatest treasures...our own lives and the life of our child.

Moms and Dad who are grieving the loss of your precious little one...we remember each of you as you navigate life with a huge hole in your heart.  The Bible is full of the promises from our Heavenly Father. Psalms 34:18 says "The Lord is nigh to them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit."  And one of my absolute favorites in a time of grief is James 4:8- "Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you."  Cling to the Lord and He will carry you through these uncertain waters.  Our prayer is that you have the hope of Jesus Christ and eternal life through salvation in Him.  I know I will see Faith again, because Jesus paid the price on the cross at Calvary.  He made a way for me and you to have eternal life with Him in heaven, along with our sweet children. 

If you or someone you know is experiencing the grief of losing a child, I would like to share our story with you.  You can purchase our book, Our Faith Renewed, here.  If you are local to the WV area, I have some on-hand and can ship directly to you.  Our story is one of love, life, grief, marriage struggles, and redemption.  God has been so incredibly good to us and we want you to have the same hope we Jesus! 

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Eagle Ranch Update~ 3 weeks

It has been three weeks since we have been here in WV.  It has been a great time of gratitude for the season we are in.  I would be lying if I said there hasn’t been some adjusting I’ve had to do.  We’ve all had to adjust to a different way of life.  But it’s something we are so thankful to be able to do.

A quick update on things here at Eagle Ranch:  Holly Tucker is here with us this week.  She has spent her Spring Break with us.  She wanted to come on a mission trip, and she has been the biggest blessing.  While she and I haven’t been doing construction work, she has helped me tremendously with getting organized with homeschool.  She has helped the kids get adjusted to working online, and has been the biggest help to me.  I’m so thankful to have her here.  It has been so good to spend some time with her.  She even got the good news of being accepted as Snowbird staff yesterday while she was here, so that was exciting for all of us.

The bunk house is almost complete.  We are just days away from finishing it.  We have a team of our favorite people from Sardis coming up next week to help us get it finished up.  We are so excited to see them, and for them to be a part of this ministry here.

Construction on our commercial kitchen began this morning.  We are so excited to be able to have a space to cook for all of our visitors.  I will post updates as we move along with that project.

Life in WV is very different than that in Florida.  Everything is much slower here, and that has been a breath of fresh air.  We are so used to living life at 90 mph, that is has been nice to just take a deep breath and focus on what God wants us to do.  Please continue to pray for our family, for this ministry, and for this community.  We have a lot of work to do!
I joked that I was going to do a post on “10 things I have learned since being in WV.”  I’ve done a lot of changing :) 
  • For instance, we eat almost all meals at home, which means I do a lot of cooking.  It also means we eat a lot of leftovers.  This is new for me.  We were not raised eating leftovers, but now I rejoice if there is leftovers because it means I don’t have to cook.
  • I have also learned that eating sandwiches will not kill me. If you have ever spent any amount of time with me, you will know I despise a cold sandwich.  These past few weeks I have learned to embrace the cold sandwich and realize it really isn’t the end of the world.
  • Not only have I learned to eat sandwiches, I have learned to LOVE hotdogs.  They have this hotdog sauce here that makes everything taste amazing!  I can’t wait to make some for our friends.  It is incredible!

  • People here are so trusting.  Did you know that they don’t pay at the gas pump in our neck of the woods?  You pump your gas, THEN go inside and pay.  That would never happen in FL.
  • They ONLY sing out of the hymn book here.  While I love some hymns, I love great music even better, so this has been a HUGE adjustment for me.  But I am learning to embrace it, too.
  • Finding a new church is HARD.  Don’t ever take your home church for granted.  If you belong to a good church, thank God daily for allowing you to be a part of it.  We miss our church family so much.  But after much prayer, we have found a church that we really like….A LOT!  It is a little bit of a drive (45 minutes) but hey…so is everything else.
  • Speaking of driving, I have learned to drive like a local in these mountains.  My kids may get car sick every time I drive, but I’m really proud of myself.  I have learned to have more confidence in myself when it comes to going places by myself.  I had to drive to the big city of Charleston by myself Saturday to pick up Holly.  I only made one wrong turn, and we both returned back to the Ranch in one piece.
  • I have learned to LOVE family time at home.  We have always been goers, and were always looking for somewhere to go.  Here, it is not easy to go anywhere because it is a long drive to just about everywhere we go.  We have enjoyed being together and refocusing on what God wants from us as a family.

  • This is a BIG one.  I am a pretty independent person, and can usually do things if I put my mind to it.  Homeschool has changed all of that!  I am not personally cut out to do this.  Holy cow.  It tests me daily!  But I am learning that if I keep my eyes on Jesus, and lean on His strength, I can do all things through Him.  This has been a hard lesson to learn.  But it has been a daily reminder to trust in Him, and allow Him to direct my paths.
  • The most important thing I have learned since being here is that there is NOTHING more important than a relationship with Jesus Christ.  Being who He wants me to be, being where He wants me to be, doing what He wants me to do (even when it is the hardest thing you have ever done) brings a renewed joy and peace in your life that overwhelms the hard days.  I don’t worry like I used to.  I’m not anxious like I used to be.  I don’t stress like I used to.  It’s not because I don’t have things to worry about or be stressed about.  The change has come from trusting the Lord with my whole heart and my whole life. 
Proverbs 3:5-6 says “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” This has proven true these past few weeks.  As I was reading Proverbs 16 this morning, this verse is one I have committed to memory.  Proverbs 16:9 “A man's heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps.”  I am so guilty of making my own plans, but I continually learn that the Father’s plans are so much better than anything I could ever imagine.
Who are you trusting in today?  Are you depending on your own strength to do what is before you today?  Or are you trusting fully in Jesus?  I pray that you all will know the PEACE that passes all understanding, no matter what your circumstances may be.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Eagle Ranch Update

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!  I hope that you had a wonderful holiday season.  Ours was very busy, which I'm sure you have figured out since it's been a month since I last posted.  I will blog separate posts on our Christmas adventures, but wanted to give you the latest on our WV project.

We spent the week between Christmas and New Year's at Eagle Ranch and helped host a "Light the Night" New Year's Eve youth lock in at a local (meaning within 2 hours) church.  We were so excited to be able to participate this year and had the opportunity to meet so many people.  The evening included a combined adult/youth service where we had many people make decisions to give their heart to Jesus.  The youth then ate and played games all night. Our home church, Sardis Baptist Church, allowed us to take 9 Square in the Air, and it was a HUGE hit.  There was a line to play the entire night. We had a youth worship service and brought the new year in at the altar praying for God's guidance for the new year.  They continued to play games, watch movies, participate in a talent show and fellowship with one another. We all left (barely awake) at 7:00 am New Year's morning.  It was a great success, and we can't wait to host many more events once we get there. For more pictures and some great videos from the talent show, check out our facebook page at

While we were there, we were able to meet with our board of directors and put a plan in place.  As you may have heard, we have raised the first $50,000 for the construction of bunk facilities and a concrete bath house. Once these are completed we will be able to sleep 75-80 people. Construction began on the bunk facilities this Tuesday.  We are so thankful for Sebby, Steve and friends for getting this started.  We will begin construction on the bath house in March when the weather is more favorable for concrete construction.

We are currently working on rebranding with a new logo and a social media campaign, so stay tuned to the blog and facebook for some contest announcements soon!

Many of you have asked how you can help.  I have an answer for you!  Here are several ways in which you can partner with us in this ministry:
  • Prayer- Please pray for our family and this ministry as we venture out into a world of unknown. We know that God is in control, and we are so excited to see Him work, but we have a lot of work ourselves  to be doing and it can be overwhelming at times. We are also waiting on the sale of our house. We covet your prayers.
  • Monthly Support- Rob and I are supporting our family financially while in this transition and will be paying our own expenses with the sale of our house.  But we are raising monthly support for the monthly operation costs of Eagle Ranch.  These expenses are $2,500 each month.  
  • Project Specific Support- We will begin raising money for the following projects/needs:
    • Mattresses for the bunk beds (we are still working on pricing)
    • Instruments for the worship band
    • a Mac laptop for worship/video
    • A projector
    • Paintball equipment
    • Tables/Chairs for dining/worship seating for 80 people
    • Commercial Kitchen Equipment (Gas Stove, Refrigerator, Freezer)
  • Construction Projects- We need to raise funds for materials and we need some mission teams to come help us build the following:
    • Closing in the pole barn
    • Road infrastructure- bridge over creek, gravel, road construction
If you can help us with any of the above (even if it is a contact who can help us with pricing, surplus materials, etc.) please email us at, or call us and let us know.  God has already moved big mountains and He is continuing to show us His way as we take each step of faith. 

Matthew 17:20 - And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.

Thank you for partnering with us, especially in prayer. 

All contributions are tax-deductible and you will receive a tax receipt from Kerrs Creek Baptist Church Eagle Ranch Ministries.