A Great Journey Still Fresh As New

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A word of warning, this post is much longer than my normal posts. Even longer than my extra posts that I do every so often. May you be blessed as you read it.

I have been on a great journey in this life that started twenty-five years ago today. It was May 16, 1992 that my wife and I said “I do” to each other and were married. It has been an amazing journey that many stated would never survive.

I was a young man who went to Trinity Bible college, a small bible college in a very small town in North Dakota. The college made up nearly half of the town’s population. The town only had one stoplight in town.

At the end of the Fall Semester of 1989, I felt God lead me to drop out of college for a time. I was a member of the ND National Guard at the time. The very next year, the war in Kuwait came up. I had volunteered to go over in the battle. I returned home in July 1991 and returned back to my job as a certified nursing assistant in a nursing home.

In August, my boss asked me to help train in a new worker on a shift I normally did not work. I met this new worker and noticed that I liked something about her, but was not sure. As I trained her in and worked with her, I started to get to know her.

The more I knew her, the more I liked her. Without telling anyone that I liked her, I proceeded to get to know who she was by talking with her and others who knew her.

On October 10, which just happened to be my birthday, she went with me to a Christian comedian concert. There were supposed to be three other friends going that night, but the night before the concert each one had to back out for various reasons. She was still willing to go.

We spent a good portion of the day together. Everywhere we went people thought we were a couple already. This even included some of my own friends who knew me. Yet, at this point we were not going together.

At the end of the day, I knew that I really liked, no loved her. I prayed very hard all that night. I did not want to just date another girl. If I went into a relationship, I wanted it to be for marriage and for life. I needed to know if she was the lady God wanted me to marry. I felt in my spirit that she was the one, but I needed God to confirm it.

The following morning as I was walking on campus of the college, God chose to confirm it. He did it through three different friends of mine, none of whom knew that I was even interested in her. They had no clue what they were saying or talking about when they told me what they felt God wanted them to tell me, but I knew what it was about.

At that point I went to the campus bookstore and purchased a card that basically asked her to go with me for life. Indirectly it was a proposal. Amazingly, she said yes!

Over the next two months we started dating each other. By the middle of November, we knew that we would get married, but I did not want to officially propose to her until I talked with her father. Right before Christmas break I proposed and made it known to everyone. We set a wedding date for May 16, 1992, six months later.

During the time of engagement, my wife-to-be got very sick. Doctors could not determine what was wrong. We went to many doctors building up a very large medical debt. My small paying job was not enough to really cover the expenses of two houses. I had chosen to provide for all of her needs, besides I was going to be marrying her.

Many people were trying to tell us that the marriage would not work out. This included people in and out of the church. It was a difficult time because we both knew that God had called us together.

Right before the wedding, her health had returned, unexplained. God had blessed us with a very beautiful wedding and a two week honeymoon.

After a year of extreme financial hardship, in a town with no economy or jobs at all, I decided to join the army to get a better paying job. This moved us to Colorado. While there our first daughter was born. Shortly after the Army moved us to Germany. We stayed there for four and half years, and two of our boys were born there.

While in Germany God had blessed my wife with many Godly women to help and guide her in her life. She made several friends there that she is still friends with to this day.

The Army then chose to move us to Texas. We did not want to go there at all, and fought it hard, but God had His reasons. We finally gave in to God’s will and went. Before getting out of the Army, one more son was born.

During the time in Texas I had to be gone for several weeks to a month at a time, many times for trainings. It was a difficult time being separated. God held us together and kept us going forward despite all the challenges. God opened the door for me to get my ministerial certification shortly after getting to Texas.

In 2001, right before the 9-1-1 incident, God allowed me to get out of the army. God had blessed us with getting out, since a month later our country was under war again.

In our church I had become the children’s pastor shortly after getting out of the Army. It was a fun time, though there were some difficulties. The hardest part was financial stress. I could not seem to get a job that paid very well. Somehow God helped us survive and blessed us with two more children.

Later I felt God lead me to become a full pastor of a small church in Central Texas. It was a very difficult move for my wife because she had made a lot of friends where we were and did not want to leave them again. Leaving friends was something that seemed to keep happening in our life.

The move became even more difficult when half the church left right after I took it over. I found out that the church was not doing as well as they had appeared on the outside. After struggling to help it grow and keep the doors open for two years we closed the doors and left the ministry. I could not find another position at all. I felt like God closed the doors on us. I believe that maybe someday God will re-open those doors.

My wife struggled with that because she wanted to be a pastor’s wife. She was also struggling hard to raise our six children, at that time.

After working at it for twenty years, God allowed me to finally graduate college with a General Church Ministries degree from Southwestern Assemblies of God University in Texas. It was a long, at times difficult road, but God had blessed it.

I started working several different jobs and kept getting laid off. Finances were extremely difficult to manage. Somehow God provided for our needs and kept us going. The one thing that was always very strong for us, was our love for each other. My wife supported me in whatever I felt God was leading me or us to do. I supported her in homeschooling our children.

Although my wife has never really worked a job for pay since we have been married (with exception to a couple of short time work jobs), she has worked very hard. The process of taking children to different events or trainings on a regular basis. The work of determining meals for a large family, that half will choose not to eat. The work of ensuring chores are done. And many other things keep her busy and working extremely hard.

Since then God has blessed us with two more wonderful children and a house with some land. We still have some struggles financially, but God has been amazing in providing for our needs. We have had vehicle breakdowns, sickness too numerous to count, injuries, loss of jobs, death in extended family members, false accusations, and many other challenges. The two things that gives sense to why we have survived is love and God, and both of those are one and the same. God is described as love. When we have God, we will have love. When we have love, we will have God.

We have kept a strong love and commitment to each other and to God. Both of us are constantly talking about each other and about God. Our relationship with God comes first, then our relationship together, and finally our relationship with our children.

God has blessed us with our children. Three of them are now adults but are active in the church and in ministry. The next three down are old enough now to be active in ministry in our church also.  The youngest two, I expect, will be active some day in ministry when they get old enough.

As I look back on this journey that started twenty-five years ago today, it often seems as if it just started yesterday or at least just a few days ago. My love for my wife has grown over the years. It has not diminished as many claimed it would. We have never entertained the thought that we should not be together or that someone else would be better. My wife, nor I have ever thought it was better when the other was gone away.

I want to encourage you, that if you are in a relationship or already in a marriage, keep that commitment to love each other and God as God loves you. Do not entertain thoughts of being with someone else. When you say, “I do,” say it for life, no matter what comes up or what happens.

God is with you and will never leave you. With God all things are possible. A marriage that lasts for a lifetime, though uncommon in this world, is not impossible with God at the center.

I can say with Solomon: He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the LORD. Proverbs 18:22

God has given me what is good and I have found favor with Him in my wonderful marriage of twenty-five years and counting!

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I have been blessed with these twenty-five years and will be blessed for the next hundred and twenty-five on this great journey of marriage and family.

 

Waiting For The Best

Back in 2014, I was laid off from a very well paying job that I had been at for several years. It was devastating to lose the job and was unsure of what to do next. I had lots of experience in many different areas, but was not great at any of them.

Several other challenges were also present in the process of searching for a new job. One was my age, I am not exactly a young person any more. Another was that I have a large family. At the time I had seven children, since then I have been blessed to have eight total…so far.

With the large family and not great skills, it made it very challenging to find a job that would provide for my family. My wife is unable to work, since we homeschool our children. I knocked on many doors, had several interviews, but will still coming up with no job at all. No one was willing to hire me for various reasons, some of which I knew, many of which I had no clue as to why they would not hire me.

Prior to all of this happening, I have worked with children at various levels and was told that I was good with them. I have also been told that I should be a teacher multiple times. I do love to work with children and I also love to teach people.

Around 2003 I did look into becoming a teacher, but did not have the required degree at the time. That option was not open to me at that time. Since then I did finish out my schooling and received a bachelor’s degree.

A couple of months after being laid off, a friend of mine called me up saying he heard I was searching for a job. He worked at the district level of a local school district. He told me he wanted me to be a teacher in his school district. He told me to get hired as a substitute and then how to proceed to get my alternate certification as a teacher.

After praying about it, I felt that was what God wanted me to do. I was immediately hired as a substitute teacher for the district. Each day I would sub in different schools for different teachers of all grades. The more I did it, the more I enjoyed working with the children. The challenge was that the pay was still very low, making it difficult to support my family’s needs. God was faithful during this time to meet all of those needs in His way.

About 5 months later, one of the schools (which by God’s favor was my favorite), asked me to become their permanent substitute teacher. It did raise the pay some and provided very secure paychecks. The biggest challenge was that when there was no school, there was no pay either.

Last year, I was able to take the certification tests for core subjects and pass them. This was after a lot of studying and tears, remember I am no longer a young man.

Once I passed those tests, I started to apply for a teaching job. I had several interviews, but nothing would open up. I was not really positive that I wanted to teach any of these subjects, especially with the pressure on teachers to get the children to succeed. Yet, that was all I could see open before me and God had not pointed me in any other direction.

My wife and I often prayed if maybe I was supposed to go down another road, but God kept all other doors closed. I did not have a peace about anything else. And nothing else really presented itself. During this time, I often questioned myself as to whether I had heard from God clearly or not, but I know that I did and was unable to turn to a different path.

This school year presented a new path for me in the school I was at. About three weeks into the school year, I was placed in a Theatre classroom and told I would do all the teaching. I was given the lesson plans on what to teach and how to teach it.

I was game to do it, because I am willing to try anything. But I had no real clue as to how to teach theater. I had been in many plays (years ago), but had never taken or given a drama class at all. I questioned on what and how to do it.

Two weeks into it, the principle asked me if I was certified to teach theater. I told her I was not. She said I needed to be, because several parent’s liked what I was doing and wanted me as the permanent teacher. The other teacher was being removed. She then told me I was to do all the grading, lesson planning, parent-teacher conferences and anything else needed.

I was actually having fun working with the students. It was scary to start lesson planning because I still did not really know what I was doing. Over the time I have learned a lot about lesson planning and teaching theater. I am still learning, but I have having fun at it.

I am also able to be a witness for God to the students in the school. One of the things that I really enjoy being able to do is control what plays are being done. I can have them do plays that are in line with the ways of God.

I began to work on getting certified in theater. It was a very tough test. There were a lot of things I had to know that I had never even heard of before. I took the test in December, 2016 and failed by several points. I retook the test in Feb of this year and was able to pass it.

Almost immediately after passing the Theatre Teacher Certification Test I was hired as the full teacher for the class. I am still learning a lot in how to teach the students, but I am enjoying it.

One of the things that I realized in teaching theater is that I do not have to be concerned about the students having to pass the STAAR test. That is a Texas test to determine if the students are learning or not. It is a rigorous test that challenges every teacher with students who have to take it. This test is only for the core subjects classes.

Even though it took several years to get to where I now am, I am very glad that I trusted God. I had originally thought I would be teaching a core subject. God had other plans. He gave me something that was better.

Not only do I love acting, I have a son who is very active in acting, even as an adult. It made a great connection with my son in doing this.

God has blessed my family and myself in this field.

I want to encourage everyone to trust God’s plan for your life. Wait on Him for His blessing and walk the path He has for you. It will be worth it.

There were times I was scared and questioned God, but in the end it was worth it. God provided all along the way in miraculous ways. It will be worth it for you also.

Psalm 69:6 To Not Be A Disgrace To Others

Lord, the LORD Almighty, may those who hope in you not be disgraced because of me; God of Israel, may those who seek you not be put to shame because of me. Psalm 69:6

Families are often torn apart and shamed by the actions of one person. In some cultures, honor is held at such a high level in the family, that if a child does something wrong, the family will disown the child for life. That child will be considered dead in the eyes of the parents.

There are some cultures that if certain things are done by a family member, it is acceptable to kill that family member because of the extreme disgrace brought onto the family.

Disobedient children in a store often bring shame on the parent, who is attempting to control or calm them down. Parents who are called by the school teacher, are often ashamed of the actions of their child.

David had done some type of great sin right before he had written this psalm. He was asking God that all those who believed in Him, would not be disgraced or shamed because of what he had done wrong. He realized that his sin would reflect on others and have an effect on them.

It is often thought that a person’s own personal sin only affects himself and no one else. The reality is that it can bring disgrace upon other believers. When the world sees one believer sin, then they often  apply that sin to the whole community of believers. They try to say that God is not real and all believers are fake.

Along with not trying to disgrace God by sinning, try not to bring disgrace upon the community of believers by your actions. Live your life in a way that will bring honor to other believers, rather than disgrace.

As you live your life for God, it will bring strength and honor to other believers. It will lift them up as they see you living for God.

Will God or other believers be disgraced or ashamed by what you are saying or doing?

Or will God and other believers be honored with how you are living your life?

I pray today that you will live your life for Jesus; that you will bring honor to God; that you will not bring shame to God’s community of believers; and that you will be a shining light for Jesus in this world.

When Children Do Wrong

Anyone who is a parent will have times when their children do something wrong. There is not a child who has lived on this planet, except Jesus, who has not done something wrong at some point.

The things done wrong vary as much as the variety of children there are in this world. Some of these wrongs may be “small” such as a boy took a cookie that he was not supposed too, or she refused to clean her room as told too, or he tried to cross the street when told not too.

Other things can be much “larger” wrongs. These can be he is caught stealing a candy bar in a store, she lies about where she was when coming home late, one caught in drugs or sex, or pornography and the list goes on.

The hard part for every parent is knowing what to do when your child does something wrong.

Many parents, especially the dads, want to blow up at the child. He wants to ask the child why he was being so stupid. She wants to strike the child in punishment. They want to yell at the child and put some fear in their hearts.

The hard question for every parent is what should they do? What is the correct action to do?

One way to determine that is to look at what God and Jesus did in the Bible. People who follow God are His children. And regretfully just like your children mess up, so do the children of God. Look at the Israelites and how many times they turned their backs on God and disobeyed Him. You have done the same as the Israelites and your children are no different with you.

The first thing that you will see from Genesis to Revelation is that God loved each and every person first and foremost. God’s heart always was and always will be to restore a person, to mend the relationship and fix the wrong. That is why He sent Jesus to die on the cross for every person, to remove their wrong doing, sin.

So the first thing you must do is fully love your child as Jesus loves you. Yes, your child did wrong, but still love them unconditionally.

Next you see that God had mercy on the people. Over and over God was at a point of wanting to destroy the Israelites and start over, but He did not. He gave them mercy and allowed a fresh new start. He did not always give them the punishment that they deserved. God has not always punished you in the way you deserve.

Stop going immediately to punishment and get to the heart of the child. Find out why they did what they did. Help them come to a realization that what they did, more than disobeying you, they disobeyed God. Turn their hearts towards God and their hearts will automatically be turned towards you.

Once they realize what they did to God, help your child see the love and mercy of Jesus. There is always forgiveness with Jesus. As Jesus forgave you over and over again and again for the same sin you have done in your past, you must also be willing to forgive. How many times have you had to ask for forgiveness from Jesus for a certain sin you keep doing?

Always point your child back to Jesus in everything that they do, both good and bad. In your own life do the same. Be what you want your child to be in every area of your life.

When you do these things and allow God in the middle of a situation with your child, you will see God is able to turn hearts and make changes in your child. There are times for punishment, but punishment done in love and mercy will win their hearts and turn their hearts towards God every time.

The next time your child does something wrong, and he or she will, step back and ask yourself how would God deal with you if it was you who did that same wrong, then act accordingly with your child. Do not let your pride and anger get the best of you and hurt your child. Allow God’s love and mercy win your child’s heart over.

Summer “Break”

Summer “break” is almost here, at least it is a break for most children. School is out, or almost out for most children. Public schools are coming to an end within the next week. Some of those children will need to attend a summer school, most will not.

Those who homeschool have no set time to stop school. Some continue schooling throughout the summer, others take a short break or stop the entire summer.

Although most children are looking forward to the summer break, many adults do not see it as anything different. Unless you work a school type job, you still have to work throughout the summer. The only thing that really changes is that you have your children more at home.

Many people will attempt to take a vacation during the summer when the whole family can be a part of it. Most people love the idea of taking a vacation, though many have trouble affording it. Often the way vacation is taken is on a credit card, then they take the next year to attempt to pay it off, or they make  the minimum payments and pay the high interest.

Taking a vacation does not have to be a trip to Disney Land or some exotic island in the Bahamas. It can be something that is a little different and local. Depending on the age of  your children, and how many you have, will determine what you can do for a vacation.

If your children are little, instead of traveling cross-country, go to a nearby city with a children’s museum, or bring them a few times to different city parks to play outside together. What little children want the most is time together with their parents. Trips to the park or beach can be just the thing, without breaking the bank account.

When your children are older, find out from them lower cost things that they would like to go see. They may like to go on a hike together, or go to a museum. Many like to go to the larger theme parks. Instead of going for three days, maybe just make a day trip with it.

One important thing for summer break is to enjoy the time together as a family in whatever you do. Another important thing is to keep it within your actual affordable budget. Do not go into debt for it. Then remember to relax during the break. Don’t try to pack in too much.

Finally, keep God in the center of everything you do. Seek God as to how He wants you to relax and take a summer break or vacation. While traveling take time to worship God for the beauty of the world He created.

Enjoy your summer break!

Hebrews 12:7 Hardship Is God’s Discipline

“Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father?” Hebrews 12:7

When going through a hard time, most people do not like to see that as something for their benefit. There never seems to be a good reason for the hardship. Hardship is painful and very difficult, yet is necessary. God uses hardship to discipline His children.

Then comes the next challenge–accepting discipline as a good thing.

In this world, discipline is often looked at as a negative thing. Too often that is true about discipline being a negative thing.

Most parents discipline their children to some degree or more. The problem many parents have is that their discipline is done out of anger and to punish the child.

God does not discipline to punish, but to turn the hearts of His children back to Him. All punishment is being reserved for when Jesus returns. Those who have accepted and followed Jesus will not be punished, since their sins have been removed. Those who have rejected Jesus will be punished since their sins have not been removed.

God allows hardship into the lives of all believers to correct them and bring them closer to Him and make them into the image of Jesus more and more.

In sports, the athlete disciplines himself to be the best he can be. He goes through the hardship and pain of hard practice daily. He pushes himself to do better and better, so that he can be the best.

God is doing that in your life. He is pushing you to be perfect as Jesus is perfect. When you are going through a hard time, turn your eyes on Jesus. Learn His patience and perseverance. Learn to trust God more. Know that God is right there with you.

Do not look at hardship as punishment for past sins or God hating you. God loves you with an undying love and Jesus has forgiven you.

Allow God to use those hardships as training ground to become more like Jesus.

I pray today that God will strengthen you in all hardships; that you will turn your eyes and life towards God during hard times; that you will trust God knows what He is doing and that He is doing the best for you; and that God will make you more like Jesus everyday.

Ephesians 6:2-3 For The Child

“Honor your father and mother–which is the first commandment with a promise–so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” Ephesians 6:2-3

Parents everywhere love the verse right before these about children obeying their parents. These verses take it further in children need to honor their parents. Paul even quotes it from the Old Testament ten commandments.

Honor is giving respect and recognition to someone. In America when someone does something extraordinary others will give them some honor. They will be given a plaque, or some sort of memorial with lots of public recognition to what they did to honor them.

However, when someone just does the normal day-to-day living, people do not show much honor. In fact, most people will tend to find fault with the person. Children are the same.

It is easy to find something wrong in a person’s life. Children everywhere are blaming parents for everything wrong. They will talk bad about their parents to everyone. There is no honor for the parents.

Yes, every parent has done some things wrong and, yes, there are some who are exceptionally bad in doing wrong. Despite their wrongs, they are still the parents. Children must still honor them in that aspect.

Jesus loved you while you were still a sinner and nailing Him to the cross. You must show that same love to your parent who is doing wrong. Honor your parent as that person is your father or mother.

Remember that even if you are an adult, you are still someone’s child. You do have parents. This is true whether they are living or dead, divorced or married. They are your parents.

Are you showing honor to your parents? Are speaking good about them?

Or are you just talking about all the bad things they did? Are you just pointing fingers at their faults?

Show God’s love to and for them. Show them honor. In the end, God promised long life on this earth. This was the first command with a promise. Follow that command and see what God can and will do for you.

I pray today that you will know the love God has for you and your parents; that God will help you to love and honor your parents; that God will reveal to you ways you dishonor your parents; and that God will use you to draw more people to Jesus.