It was April 2013. We had been in Belize about 8 months, which meant Amy was around 6 months pregnant with Elijah. The spring had been a hard time, which really means from about Jan – April I had worked non-stop. I was determined to prove myself to the Belizeans, the other full-time staff with Praying Pelican Missions, and really to myself that I could do this job. I would spend most of the morning ’till supper visiting ministry partners and then post kids in bed to my own bed time ‘organizing our information.’ Work-life balance wasn’t something I was even trying to do. Amy and 1, well we had the “talk” of “you’re working too much. You have a family. This is really hard on us if you aren’t around, etc” And I listened or more appropriately heard what she said but my actions didn’t change.
I had led 3 trips that Spring so far (1 in Jan, 1 in Feb, 1 in Mar) and was heading into a back to back (2 trips in a row) in April. To say that tensions in our house were escalating would be an understatement.
As I said it was early April and I was packing up my things, getting ready that Saturday morning to head out the door to lead Mt Bethel. They were coming back and it was my first “return team” There was new leadership, a guy named Cary who would later become a dear dear friend. And I was extremely nervous. I had prayed. I had had and did have bubble guts. I loaded the waters into the truck, the trip leader supplies (a lot of paper towels, trash bags, bathroom cleaner, toilet paper, etc) and through my backpack over my shoulder.
I was heading out of our bedroom when I looked up and saw her. Amy was standing in our bedroom door, sobbing. It was partly tears of anger; it was mostly tears of frustration. But there were tears and some strong language.
Why do we have to be the ones to be obedient? When’s the Lord going to show us, show me my ________________ blessing? This isn’t fair. This just isn’t fair.
I felt the same way. When was the Lord going to show us our blessing? It isn’t fair! We’re missionaries. Our lives are supposed to be sunshine, rainbows, unicorns pooping rainbows. We’re supposed to be filled with the Holy Spirit and surrounded by angels. We should radiate the glory of the Lord.
The truth is we didn’t. It was hard. We were in a season where we needed to walk in obedience and choose to follow the Lord. I hugged Amy and told her I didn’t know. We cried and we both prayed Proverbs 3:5-6 over and over as we stood there in our bedroom doorway.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.
I knew God was going to pour His blessings over us but I had no idea how / when / where / etc? What would it look like? Would we see it? And to be completely fair and honest, God did continue to pour His blessings, favor, and everything else over us again and again and again. At times it looked like provision. Other times it was friendship, or miracles of healing we were able to witness. Perhaps the best blessing of all came a week ago from yesterday.
Madeline – a girl after God’s own heart.
Madeline has always longed after God, walking close Him. Often Amy and I felt that she was walking closer to the Lord than we were. For example, as we were searching out houses in NC, we had come up to the 3rd of 5 houses for the day. Before we go inside, Madeline pulls on my leg (she’s 4 1/2 at the time) and says “Daddy, God says this is the house that we are going to buy.” I remember patting her head and thinking that’s cute little girl. She must be tired from looking at these houses and wants to be done. But as sure as I was then, now not so much. I am currently sitting in the basement of that house writing this blog.
Anyway, our church had baptism services a week ago Sunday and we had been talking them up for a while to all the kids. They had already seen one service but we wanted to remind them of why we get baptized, why we celebrate like crazy, and what it means to follow Jesus.
Madeline woke up Sunday morning of Baptism services and just goes up to Amy and says “Mommy, I love Jesus, He’s my best friend. I want to follow him for the rest of my life. I should be baptized so everyone will know”
So I’m in Florida at our Spring Staff Meetings and Amy texts me that. I immediately call her and tell her “NOT TODAY, I’m not there!!” Then as I sat in our meetings and took communion reflecting on God’s goodness that conversation from April 2013 with Amy standing in the doorway came flooding back over me. Here’s your blessing Josh, was what God was telling me. See I am doing a work you cannot comprehend. Just like Abraham was the father of many nations, me working through you will extend generation to generation to generation” I sobbed.
Where are you at in your obedience to what the Lord’s calling you to do? In forgiveness of someone, in your personal pursuit of Him, in stepping out on faith and going on a mission trip or serving locally at your church. With your finances.
Whatever it is, I know the Lord is faithful. I do not believe that we serve to be blessed, not at all. I do believe that the Lord’s favor rests upon us when we walk in obedience to Him and the more we have the joy and peace of Christ in us, the more the world begins to change around us. Praise God for Amy and myself, the Lord used our time in Belize and uses our heart for the world to save our daughter and bring her into His Kingdom. Now she is being trained up ready to be unleashed to her school, and ultimately the world!
Madeline Grace: Go Forth and Make Disciples of all Nations. Baptize them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and teach them to obey all of God’s teachings. Do not lose heart because you can be sure God is with you always, even until the end of time.
- Madeline’s profession to Love the Lord with everything she has and to obey him in being baptized! There is nothing better than that!
- Community for Amy – followers, you know that our biggest prayer has been community for Amy and He has answered it time and time again. Belize changed Amy so much (mostly for the better). It is a true blossom to see Amy step out and tackle community head on and to be honest I can learn some lessons from her.
- More on Amy – Amy has started to volunteer at Salem Pregnancy Center. She is in the process on completing a 9 week Bible study and then will be unleashed to minister to those who come in to the Center. She is so excited and totally at peace knowing she’s walking in obedience to how God is calling her!
- Spring Staff Meetings – We had a great set of Spring staff meetings (it was the 2nd Annual Mustache Miami). I went with the “monkey tail beard”. Google it if you are not familiar. But it was a great time of celebration and refreshment and preparation moving forward into how the Lord is directing us this summer and beyond.
- Baptisms at church – we had 14 people get baptized a week ago at church. Praise God for life-change and a church that hungers and thirsts for more people to be drawn into the family of God.
- Nicaragua – I am preparing to lead a team of about 30 in Nicaragua at the end of this month. I fly out the last day of the month! Pray for the team, our partner pastor, and our staff as we get ready to pour ourselves out to the Lord!
- Community for Josh – For my whole life, friends just came naturally. Now with kids it’s harder. Our church is awesome and bible study is phenomenal. I think I, Josh, just need to get out of the house some more (more frequently) during the week. Working from home does have advantages and disadvantages for sure. Pray for more opportunities and for discipline to arrange my schedule to get out and get into community with others during the week.
- Healing for a friend – A great friend of mine Tony had some vascular problems and infection and long long long long story really short; he had a below the knee amputation on a leg this past week. Pray for immediate healing and pain relief for my friend and continued patience and steadfastness for his family!
Friends we love and cherish each on of you. Thank you for your prayers, your encouragement, and support. Please please let us know how we can be praying for you all!
Thankful for our partnership in the Gospel!