Tag Archives: Bolivia

Proving His Faithfulness

We are here. The Lord has been full of mercy- and has been gracious to my weary heart when I felt I would faint from all the newness surrounding me.

Overwhelmed. That has pretty much summed up my feelings the last several days. I’m surprised He hasn’t obliged my behind with a swift kick. But again… He’s full of mercy and it’s new every morning.

We went apartment looking yesterday and today – yesterday one out of three was a keeper – except for that little thing called a budget.

To find something in a safe area And affordable I was beginning up thinking was nigh impossible. But God looked down and set us up.

“When things look impossible will you still trust Me? “

I trusted Him without a second thought during my cancer diagnosis, chemotherapy and radiation…. What was the problem trusting and believing Him to find us an apartment? I was bone weary and emotionally spent. Every single ounce of my flesh screamed “stop and take a breath!”

We had several – what I will call “prayer crisis”. When we got to the Miami Airport to leave, we discovered that my tourist visa had expired. And to get one at the airport requires certain documents. Well, you would have thought we knew that it expired – but since Jeff’s was a 10 year tourist visa we never thought to check mine… We assumed. Yeah yeah. I know.

So there was a huge emotional deal going down in my head when we got to the airport checking in our bags. I asked a few prayer warriors to pray. Well…. They let me on the plane.

Of course you must know it was not a peaceful flight like I had “planned”. Instead my heart was filled with anxious thoughts. When we finally got here and deboarded the plane it was another ordeal and phone calls and anguish and tears – finally I was spent…. I was ready to go home and say “forgetaboutit“. I sat there in tears (while Jeff was – I’m not sure where, trying to get me in) and told the Lord “I’m done”. I said it twice for good measure. I was, as they say–being real with God.

That very instant when I admitted to having NO abilities on my own, and our merits could get us nothing, the guy walked over who had told me my papers were no good and not enough–and he asked for them again and he made it happen. More than an hour after we landed, we walked out into the freedom of a tourist.

There’s a LOT of spiritual lessons here once I unpack it all, but know this, God proves Himself daily. Every single minute of every day.

We are grateful to a lot of people-both here and at home. Our prayer partners are relentless. And so is our God.

My friend, Paola wanted to get Jeff to try something – her words were “have you proved this”?? He had not tried it… That’s us. Try HIM. Prove Him. He is trustworthy. It may not look like we thought…. I may not understand the whole process but His ways are eventually visible.

One last note – we don’t have wifi yet, but we have phones. If you see our family – love them for us. Hug them. This is the Hardest thing for me because I love my family more than anything.

I’m reading a book called “A Tale of 3 Kings”, by Gene Edwards. I want to leave you with a quote:

“… God did not have -but wanted very much to have – men and women who would live in pain. God wanted a broken vessel.”

I think that can often sum up the life of followers of God. To die to the desires of our own hearts and take up His. We are no different than you. Just a different assignment today.

(special thanks to Stevie Elam for this amazing gift!)

You Have to Believe it to See it

You’ve heard people say,– I’ll believe it when I see it? Try believing before you see. Try seeing it in your spirit. And then watch Him unfold the journey.

When in Costa Rica, I almost forgot that a blue this color existed. But the skies are that blue at home. #nofilter. And at night, the stars shine bright. It’s especially beautiful on a cold night. Head thrown back, thanking my Father for such wonderful gifts like this!

Every night while home, when I took my Gracie Mae out, I would look up at the night sky and draw in a deep breath of cold air and proclaim aloud my gratitude for the heavenly display of night-lights. I love it. If you have never had a length of time when you couldn’t see the stars– or a cloudless blue sky this spectacular– like only Northwest Florida (at my moms house) can produce, then maybe you don’t quite understand my immense joy. Even though I couldn’t SEE the stars in Costa Rica, I knew. I believed. They were still hanging around up there. Waiting to be seen!

I love coming home. Although we didn’t stay at mother’s this visit– (the things we both had to do were concentrated in Marianna), I still enjoyed my few short visits back home. It’s was really odd- the LORD really helped me deal with the emotions of each place I called home. The people– that’s another thing. It hurt to leave them again.

Our daughters and their boys are the delight and light of our hearts– but we have an urgent compelling to follow what God has laid on our hearts. It’s a compelling that we just can’t turn off.

The other night I heard something- it was actually in the wee hours of the morning– I lay there very still and the Holy Spirit whispered again. I got up to go to the bathroom with intentions of writing it down (typing it on my notepad) when I got back to bed. But just that fast– that word was gone. Stolen from my mind with all the busy things that kept rolling through night after night while we’ve been home.

As I lay in the bed, very still and quite, I asked the LORD, “please give it to me one more time.”

He did.

“You cannot unhear a call from God.”

Just like you can’t unsee something you wished you hadn’t seen- or unsay something you said and instantly regretted, you cannot unhear once the voice of God has called your name.

Oh how I love Him. I am so thankful that when He looked for someone to “go”, we both said “yes”. How in the world did it all happen?? Only by God’s grace and HIS divine guidance. All the pieces of this journey will hopefully one day find its way to a book– that’s what my friend Betty and I had hoped to get to work on– but it didn’t happen– too many things going on. We’ve planned it and talked it for several years now though. And God has kept piling on the Words and the journey is sweeter with every passing day.

A lot of things look different than what I first supposed. But I have followed Him long enough and lived for Him long enough to know that He is very purposed about every detail of our lives and this journey.

After being in language school with over 30 other students– from other districts, we do know that our district is the best. (Grinning– because our district is family) The West Florida District Presbytery Board gathered around us this afternoon before we left and prayed for us– and we have such admiration for what they each do. They are amazing. And one of them is our oldest daughters Pastor. And I had the opportunity to thank him for all the prayers he has prayed over our girl and her boys. God has been faithful!!

If you’re dreaming a BIG GOD SIZED dream– keep believing. If it won’t turn off in your heart and mind no matter what- keep praying. If every sermon you hear, every song and every Word keeps you coming back to circle your dream again– trust that In HIS timing, it will all line up.

No, it may not look like you imagined. You may be older, gray haired, a little weaker in body, but stronger in spirit, … believe to SEE the impossible. Believe to LIVE the improbable. And believe to be used by the Master Himself when the time is right. That’s what we are here for. Bring HIM glory, through telling His story which is our story and HIS story in us. That may have sounded like a jumble of confusion there– but it’s late. Jeff’s driving and I’m blogging on my phone.

When you look up at the blue sky– think of us. Pray for me that I will keep my eyes open to what HE wants to show me next. And when you look up at the night sky and see stars, count yourself blessed. There were many nights I teared up wanting to see them. I’ve never been on a mission trip to Bolivia and saw the stars. I only saw about 5 stars (and only saw the moon about 5 times!) while in Costa Rica. It saddened my heart a great deal because I love looking at the sky.

Well. It’s late. For us anyway. We may stop and sleep soon and get an early start in the morning. We love y’all. Every single one. Keep praying. Keep believing. Keep giving Him Praise and Glory!

Believing…. and seeing. They go hand in hand.

Believing BIG-



I need to tell you something.

Whenever I hear those words, “I need to tell you something”, my gut always lurches.  Always.  Usually–or when we had kids at home, it was followed by a confession of something that had gotten broken during some “rough-housing”…and yes, even daughters do that.  Or at least ours did.
It’s 11:33 pm and I’ve been sitting on some news since last Friday.  So, a week ago we got a verbal answer to a prayer we had been praying for more than a year.  Actually, if you want to get real technical and nit-picky, we’ve probably had this on the altar of prayer for about 4 years.  Not sure what-when-how God would order our steps, we just knew (and know) He does.
In February of this year, we began the process to become missionaries to Bolivia.  Santa Cruz to be really specific.  The city and country that claimed our attention and heart after our first mission trip together.  We actually celebrated Jeff’s birthday that first year there in 2011.  We told very few people.  We were secretly fearful that they would find all sorts of things wrong with us.  Our past.  Our lack of experience.  Our age….and when it all boiled down to it, our age did become a factor.
The first thing we did was make a prayerful decision.  Months of prayer–then one morning Jeff said it:  “We need to fill out the paperwork to become missionaries full time to Bolivia”.  Wow.  You could have knocked me over with a feather.  And that day– was an AMAZING day.  I wish you could have seen the sky that day–why, it was the bluest it’s ever been!  And the birds–well, they sang the best and the loudest that day!  Do you get the picture?  It was a spectacular–surreal feeling day.  Then the next day came.  And then the next…
After a few weeks of paperwork.  Buckets of tears.  (Maybe not quite buckets, but I was an emotional wreck for a few weeks.)  Anyway, the process began with the big WAIT.  Weeks went by.  We traveled to Bolivia in May for our 2015 Mission Trip with an incredible Crusade Team and the Focus Forward Team.  It was amazing.  God opened a new door and two new Schools!
We were thankful and saw and felt God move in our lives.
The summer came and brought lively camps.  Jeff spent every Tuesday sharing our heart for our new mission project with Focus Forward Ministries sharing about The Genesis Project.  The BIG WAIT continued.  Still no word.
Finally a letter arrived.  Not quite what we had hoped.  Actually, it was nothing like what we had prayed for nor expected.  We felt sort of shuffled.  Aside.
Tears.  Prayers.  More tears.  And finally, I settled it in my heart when I handed all my dreams and plans over to God.  Jeff pretty much said the same thing.  God had been working in each of us–and we were having the same feelings in much the same direction.  We were going to wait on God no matter what He said or no matter how long it took.  We knew He had a plan–and it was HIS plan–not ours that we wanted to see fulfilled in our lives.
Later in the summer we began to prepare for our ordination exam.  Nerve wracking to say the least.  It was like, “let’s just add a bit more stress and anxiety to the mix!”.
I remember being outside one day–I can’t remember what I was doing–but I felt a “stir”.  It was one I had felt before.  It was like “something is coming”-– I felt a definite change in the air.  Maybe that “something” was news.  News.  Maybe it was changes in our lives.  It actually was both.
Our District Superintendent and his wife, who is also one of our oldest and dearest friends came to our house last Friday night with the “news”.  He played a recorded voice mail (which I recorded for future encouragement–who knew I would need it even this week!) of our “approval” to be missionaries to Santa Cruz Bolivia!  Under the supervision of a great missionary couple that we had the privilege of working with THIS YEAR!  God planned all that out in advance!
This is really skimming the surface of the news….but I needed to tell you…. After all, so many of you have been praying for us… and when things looked the bleakest— God was working on our behalf.
Some have asked–how long? When will you go?  Well, first things first: Raise our budget.  Raise our monthly support.  Two separate things, but two necessary things.  We don’t know how much yet that we have to raise, but we have much to do!  We were told we could begin itinerating immediately!   With that, I contacted one of the pastors who had sent a young couple with us to Bolivia this year to share our news–as they had been praying with us as well–and they said immediately, “sign us up!”  Well, of course they will have to do that when we get our number, but honestly, what a shot in the arm that was for me!  After all the months of waiting and all the stress and anxiety, I felt the Lord nudge me and say, “See Baby?”  I have been taking care of this all along….I just wanted you to trust Me”.  (If you’ve not read some of my old blogs, you wouldn’t know that when Jesus is being tender with me, He calls me Baby”.)
Just in case someone out there in “la-la-Blog-land” thinks that life in ministry is a cake walk–let me sit your sweet self down and assure you, nothing is further from the truth.
Life in ministry is, ahem, well, to be quite frank, it can be hellish at times.  I mean, you aren’t exactly grooming the lawn of heaven.  You are storming the gates of hell and trying to save those through your messages, preaching, teaching, blogging, loving and sharing Christ with the lost… You are pointing “souls to Calvary’ as the song says.  And no one wants you to fail more than the devil himself.  With every sinner set free he’s lost another battle.  That infuriates him to no end.
BUT to think, that someone would be willing to step out in ministry–to pastor a church, teach a Sunday School Class, lead a choir, or travel across the ocean to minister to a people that has no clue that they can have a real relationship with a God they’ve never heard of?  That’s the last straw for him.  He pulls no punches.  He hits hard and fast and seemingly continual on some days.
BUT, I also want to tell you that life in ministry is unlike any other.  The blessings of seeing one that you’ve been praying for come to know Jesus Christ as their personal Savior, well, no words can describe that.  Or seeing that complete stranger seek God…or those little kids clutch their Bible as if it’s Life itself… and it is.  To hold the hand of a friend as she leaves this life, knowing her next step and next breath will be made in the presence of her King…oh, friend.  There is pain mingled with the joy–but the joy surpasses it all.
In 2010 I heard distinctly God call me to walk closer to Him.  He had in fact, been calling me closer for about 3 years…then a strong pull during the last 2 months of 2009, then WHAM!.  The day came and it was so loud in my spirit and heart that I felt surely someone else heard it too.  But no.  It was just for me.  It was undeniable.  I even felt like the Marine Corp road signs at that point were all for me.
Ours has been a journey of stages.  God has lead us along–and there have been days filled with SUCH joy, it is hard to put into words…and some filled with heartache.  BUT, through all of this, God has shown Himself faithful and true.  JUST as the Bible says.  Faithful and True.  Revelation 19:11
Can I ask you to pray for us?  We’ve so much to do–and I feel the urgency of the hour upon us.  We are almost out of time–and there are lives yet to be given a chance to know Him…we want to share Him with them.  We can’t get there without support and prayers.  PLEASE PRAY.  That’s most valuable right now.
There’s more to share–but now that I’ve finally gotten that off my chest and mind–I think I can sleep…..

Until He Comes,


A Note To My 9 Year Old Missionary Friend.


Dear Kaylee,

Your vision and heart for others will reap rewards long after the dust settles from this trip.

The seeds sown through the work of your hands, and the fingers of others (the kids in your children’s church) will multiple countless times–until a great Harvest.  When I looked at these kids–I thought about you–your heart and what you did so that they could have a constant reminder of their decision to follow Jesus Christ.

Your  act of faith and obedience amazed me–as so many “grown-ups” walk in fear so often…. (I, myself have been that grown-up).  Thank you for teaching us all a lesson.

The lesson I learned–big jobs-small jobs–ALL jobs matter in the Kingdom of God.  Every single thing we do to express our love for God–thankfulness for our salvation–MATTERS…

I know you have a heart for missions–I am going to pray that God will continue to grow that feeling–and that He shows you every time what He wants you to do.  Don’t be afraid to tackle a larger than life kind of job.  If God plants the seed in your heart–pray it through and believe He can accomplish it through YOU.  HE CAN!!

Sarah, you and Cory have two amazing girls.  I know you realize that.  I am amazed at the heart of those two–what you have sown into them is growing, maturing and blossoming into God’s purpose–His useful vessel that He will continue to use to pour out on others… I’m so glad to have been a part of what He started in her life! 🙂

To all other mama’s and daddy’s out there:  Read the Bible with your children….pray with them–besides the blessing at mealtime.  Talk to them about missions–about how we all have a part we can play to plant seeds of salvation for others ALL OVER THE WORLD.  Young kids like Kaylee can play just as big a part as the one who packs a suitcase and boards a plane.  It’s up to all of us to do our part!

 This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.  Matthew 24:14 NASB


Special thanks to David Pettis for having cards printed to explain the colors and serve as a reminder of the day they made a decision to follow Jesus.  They are a great tool to use to witness!

An 8 Year Old Missionary

“Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God”.  

Matthew 5:8

2015-A MISSIONARY 03-19 2015-03-19 002 003I had the wonderful opportunity a few weeks ago to interview the youngest purpose-filled missionary I have ever met.  She just turned 9 and her name is Kaylee.

Kaylee took it upon herself to do something pretty extraordinary.

She wanted to make “Salvation Bracelets” for the kids in Bolivia where we would be ministering.  They ordered colorful beads and enough leather to make 500 bracelets.

This past Saturday, Kaylee did something almost unheard of in this day and age of children and all the gimmicks of our “stuff driven” society.  She planned her birthday party–around others.

When her mom asked her what kind of theme she wanted for her party–without hesitation, Kaylee responded, A Mission Party!

Kaylee wanted everyone who came to buy school supplies or give donations for the kids we are visiting in Bolivia.  Kaylee wanted nothing for herself.

Everything this young lady comes up with knocks me to my knees.  I am so proud of Kaylee and her heart for God.

Let me tell you (if I haven’t already) of the first time I met her.  Jeff and I had the privilege of being with my sister and her husband, Pastor Juno Douglas for our very FIRST mission service with our brand new baby ministry, Focus Forward Ministries, Inc.

Kaylee was in that audience.  Not playing a video game or coloring, or anything else that kids sometimes do in church–this young lady was eyes-front, listening to every word.    When I shared, she listened.  When Jeff shared, she soaked it in and became excited about the possibility of going on a mission trip herself!

Afterward, Pastor Juno called me and Jeff to the front so that the body of believers could come forward and pray for us, for our ministry and for the furtherance of the Gospel Message.  Kaylee came and stood beside me.  My heart and eyes wept when I felt that little hand on my arm and heard the whispers of her voice.  She said to me after the prayer, “you’re gonna do real good”.

Kaylee, I hope so.  My desire is to do “real good in every place He puts our feet”.

This young lady, with the help of her mom and her little sister, have made over 300 bracelets.

Listen up people–we need to understand something:  God will use anyone–no matter your age, life history, or circumstance, to take the Gospel to the WORLD.  There is a dying world.  Children who have no hope without Christ.  Parents who are dying in sin–and to sin…and leading their children down the same path!

We leave for Bolivia in 25 days to work in 4 schools per day for a week.  We have an opportunity to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ, His love for lost humanity and show them they MATTER and that they are LOVED.  Kaylee’s contribution of “birthday gifts”  and bracelets will help to spread the love.   We could use some more school supplies.  That’s a LOT of kids…

The Salvation bracelets we give out will remind them of what God gave–when He gave His Son.  And they will all get a Bible.  We have 500 in hand and 500 coming.  We have boxes of Mission Ball’s with the Gospel printed on all sides…. all paid for by those who wanted to play a part in this journey.

YOU still have a chance.  We gratefully accept contributions for this life changing trip.  THANK YOU for joining hands with us today.  Thank you for taking the GOSPEL to the WORLD!

2015-MISSION BRACELET03-19 2015-03-19 002 012


Focus Forward Ministries, Inc.

Post Office Box 5773

Marianna, FL  32447

(All monetary donations are tax deductible)