Making all things new….AGAIN

I am not sure why I have been feeling the tug of the Lord to blog again but it is definitely there. So many of you have asked what we have been up to and many times I just have not had the energy or the heart to share it . When I read my last blog post this morning I realize just how blissfully unaware I was then about the things that would happen over the next year…….

2017- We were busy planning our next big event at The Connection (the Easter weekend ) and we had been struggling financially and even just emotionally for a few months living in Countryside.We also were feeling a shift….. even though we fought it and did not want to admit it, both Jason and myself were starting to realize our time at The Connection was coming to an end. We finally told Shanda (our ministry partner in Countryside) what was going on and then The Easter egg hunt was upon us. We knew this would be our last big event there and we were all really excited !! Unfortunately, I never even got to go to the hunt. Jason’s dad called me that morning. He was really sick. Now if you knew Rick, you would know that he was the strongest,healthiest person and he HATED to go to the doctor. He didn’t want to go then. I said to him “Rick get up and get dressed because we ARE going to the emergency room. You have been sick for weeks and you sound awful.” The news we got that day would change the course of our lives forever. Rick was diagnosed with multiple myeloma (a type of bone cancer ) and it had spread pretty bad. You see, before we even knew how much Jason’s dad was going to need us, God already knew. We had planned to move in with him while we looked for our next place to serve but it turns out we moved in with him to walk beside him and serve him as he went through this difficult time.

Looking back, even that day I thought he would be able to beat this. I thought,”He is otherwise healthy and vibrant. He can do this”….. but that would not be the plan for him.

When I say our family has been fighting cancer for the past year, I don’t think those words even do his fight justice. In fact, i never really understood before now why people said that when one member of your family gets cancer, your whole family gets cancer. I do now. He fought so hard. I am just weeping as I think back on it now. The doctors, the sickness, the pain, he battled through it all. We were blessed with time to be with him as he fought. Time to have deep conversations with him and time to let each other know how much we loved one another. Honestly, most of that time is a blur….. we left Countryside and I had our 4th little girl and we began serving at a local church and it was all just so much and so fast.

BUT….

This year was the hardest year of our lives. Ministry was hard. Sometimes realizing that where you are is not where you need to be is REALLY hard.

WE HAD TO LET GO!

First, we had to let go of our positions. There were just more important things that we had to do right then and we were out of energy. Also, maybe God wanted us to humble ourselves and ACKNOWLEDGE that we were out of energy and heart to battle. (If you are serving anywhere you know what i mean when I say that you are on the battlefield every day and it does not stop because we have an enemy prowling around seeking to devour ).

We had to let go of precious family members. My grandparents both passed away within 3 months of each other. They were the heads of our family for so long. They babysat great grandchildren,and cooked meals, and hosted our big crazy family, and even still went swimming with all of us. They both passed down a heritage of loving and serving the Lord as well.

Then, we had to let go of Poppie (Rick).He was spiritually ready but he also wanted to be here with us so badly. We were blessed with the opportunity to minister to him and be with him up until his final moments on this earth. We have not shared much about that time because it just hurts to do so. But that last night and morning we just held his hand , read the Bible to him, sang songs for him, and loved him. Though painful, we are thankful that God had forced us to slow down our lives and take this time, and that He just gave us a little longer to love each other.

Now, we are dealing with grief and loss for ourselves and for our children who miss Rick dearly. The emotions creep up on them. As we rode home from Rock Hill one night, one of them busted out in tears and said ” I just miss Poppie so much ” . Remembering that they don’t always share how they feel and trying to be there for their hearts whenever they open up is a challenge. They have never dealt with loss like this either.

Unfortunately, not every time in your life as a believer can be spent on the mountaintop. You will spend time in the valleys too. Each one of our valleys looks differently. For us, this valley has been one of loss and heartbreak. For others, valleys can look like the loss of a job or battling an addiction or anything really! But,we know that God is walking through this with us. We have felt his comfort and his presence. We have been ministered to by friends in our lives that will probably never even know the depth of the encouragement they have shown us. Jesus has shown us both new parts of our relationships with him. And as we struggle we still have good news!!! Our family has been ministering in a new way this year but he has not cast us off to the side. We are still telling others about Jesus and about his love for us and his love for the world! As I am writing this, I am waiting on my children to come back from their first mission trip without us ! God is taking the loss we experienced and making all things new once again!!! We are praying about what is next for our family! If you are one of our prayer warriors will you join us in praying for that ??

I hope that this blog post encourages you whether you are in a valley or if you have just come out of one as well! This is only our story ( one of millions in God’s big story)…. you have one too!If you are not sure about this “Jesus”thing or where you stand with him , message me or email me and we will get together and talk !! and if you are sure about him…. you’ve got good news too…. Go and tell it 😘

XOXO,

Nancy

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2016…. Never Been A Moment

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I have been wanting to blog about our past year on the mission field, but trying to think of a way that could completely describe it. Then I heard this song  called Never Been a Moment on the radio this morning and thought THAT IS IT!! Here are some of the verses that really hit home with me.

There’s never been a moment
I was not held inside your arms
And there’s never been a day when
You were not who you say you are…..

You see, this year has been a roller-coaster of ups and downs, highs and lows. But, looking back, I can honestly say there has not been a single moment without the love of Christ.

I think this is one of the biggest things people miss out on when talking about Jesus and who he is and who he can be to them. We forget to say how wonderful the relationship is. How blessed we are to know that even when times are tough, Jesus is right there with us (and he knows a few things about tough times on Earth as well.)

Jesus has been with us over this entire year…..there is not a day that He did not have in his hands. He has equipped us to do things we never even imagined possible! With the power of Christ, we have led others to Him, preached His Word to others, been brave in scary situations, and learned to entrust EVERY area of our lives to him. We have literally watched God move through his people and take care of ALL our basic needs and some of our wants as well.

One of the reasons that I have not blogged in a while (other than being EXTREMELY busy) is that Jesus has been teaching me some things about this. Sometimes, when we are in that learning place we cannot talk about it yet. We have to just be still and LEARN. I needed to learn things like I cannot control the events or people around me here. I cannot offer the people here financial freedom or freedom from addiction or even be the perfect friend to them. I can’t be the fixer. But, I can point them to a Savior. I can be there to pray with them and intercede for them as well.

I will admit, sometimes that feels like it’s not enough. So many times this year, I have felt defeated because I thought there was nothing else I could do. At times, I thought that I absolutely could not give one more ounce of myself to this neighborhood. I became weary of it all…. the knocks at the door, the constant people around all the time, the way that it seemed there was heartache around every corner….believe me, it is a lot to take in. But, as part of my walk with the Lord, I needed him to show me that I CAN’T deal with all of that. Some of it is just HIS!!!!

How freeing is that ???? I don’t have to deal with all of it…. and you don’t either……so , in the New Year, I plan on doing just that….dealing with my parts, and letting Jesus deal with the rest!!! I will rejoice in who HE is….the Almighty, the Everlasting, and most of all my father who loves ME!!! I will trust in His perfect plan for my life and know that in ALL circumstances, whether good or bad, I am HIS!!!!

Once again, I want to thank all of you who continue to support us, love us and be excited about what God is doing here in a little mobile home park in Lancaster. Please continue to pray for us as we continue to minister here. Pray for energy and strength, and that we will rest for the next month as we prepare for our busy summer months ahead. Pray for our children as they serve right alongside of us.

XOXO

Nancy

Here is a link to that song I was telling you about too!!

One YEAR!!!

In the past week I have been reminded over and over again that we have been here for exactly one year!! This morning as I woke to the sound of fighting and screaming at 6 am, I let Satan whisper that not much has changed. And in some ways that is true. There is still crime. There is still brokenness and sin ALL around us. Sometimes, it creeps into our home as well. Sometimes it is literally just too much to put it all away that night, kiss our kids and go to sleep. Instead, we cry and question why and are short with each other. The ground is still hard here. I am talking plowed for 4 years and its still rocky hard. We still need laborers to come and move one rock……to come and water one section of the garden. These things have not changed.

But on the other hand things have changed!! We are JUST beginning to earn the trust of some of our neighbors. They will let their kids go to camp with us for a week. They will share with us their lives and tell us SOME of the struggles they face. This is progress but it is VERY slow. Our lives have changed. We have moved to a different trailer with a more central location (it just happens to be the trailer our friends Grant and Amber lived in too).  We moved churches and became part time staff members at Hyde Park Baptist Church. This has been a huge change and we believe part of God’s big plan for the future of the Connection.

MOST OF ALL WE HAVE SEEN GOD MOVE AND CHANGE THINGS!!

We have almost an entirely new set of children at Homework Helpers this year. This is the nature of living in a very transient neighborhood. Unlike the 60-70 children who went to AWANA for 2 years with us, these children have NEVER heard of the parting of the Red Sea. As of right now, we are no longer transporting children to AWANA, instead, we have begun a new Backyard BIBLE club right here in Countryside on Thursday afternoons! An opportunity for ALL churches to come and share Christ with anyone who walks up that day!! This has been an amazing time of learning and new relationship building each week.

This summer, God moved mightily in the lives of our children here. We know that 13 made first time professions of faith. I can only say this is a part of kingdom work that the churches in Lancaster and even as far away as Sylacauga Alabama have done together as THE CHURCH!! It was a direct reflection of all of you pouring the love of Jesus into these children through VBS, sports camps, mission trips and much much more.

Finally, we are beginning to see God draw his first few FAMILIES to himself! We have personally gone to church with 3 sets of parents and children this year!  One of the families has been to church with us multiple times and their teenage daughter made a public profession of faith in youth class a few weeks ago!!! She will be getting baptized very soon at church!!

Would you join us and commit to pray for this ministry? Pray that God will continue to move in the families here at Countryside. Pray for clear direction for our ministry team as the ministry continues to change and grow!! Pray for more church partnerships as we know that our neighbors are drawn to the Lord through the witness of many! Pray for our family and Shanda’s family as well as we try to live in a difficult and all the time stressful environment. Lastly, pray for how God could possibly be calling you to witness to one of our neighbors!

Love,

Nancy

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Jason

This picture may just look like a cup of coffee. However, this moment… just really spoke to my heart this morning. This is actually a picture of my husband’s  SECOND cup of coffee poured that went cold before he could drink it. You see, this morning one of our neighbors needed him. They had a hard day today that they needed to face. So even though he rose before the sun did, my husband never did get that cup of coffee.

After snapping this picture, I began to think just how much he gives of himself, of his hopes, of his plans, of his life.  This week he celebrated another birthday . I am sure he would say this was one of the biggest years of change in his life!This year I have watched him truly become a man surrendered to God. A man who is SOLD OUT to the Gospel

And because of this,  I have been blessed!! Blessed to watch him figure out his calling , blessed to walk through this with him,Blessed to just spend every day with someone that is desperately seeking after  God and his will for our lives.

I know this year has NOT been easy for Jason. He has always been the sole provider for our family. To walk away from that and begin trusting in his father for provision was difficult. Watching him struggle through what God is calling him to do , watching him share tears and be afraid for our family …. These things are so hard! But I am so thankful for this time in our lives that we get to share together.

So today, my blog is dedicated to Jason. As you can tell, I am beyond proud of my husband! May God grant us MANY more birthdays together … Now excuse me while I go make him a fresh cup 😘😘

 

God’s Faithfulness

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Know that the Lord He is God; it is he who made us, and not we ourselves: We are his people and the sheep of his pasture. Psalm 100:3

This morning, in the quiet before the craziness of homeschooling 3 children, running errands and ministering to a community, I am praising God for who he is. I am reminded humbly that we are HIS people….in fact we are the sheep of HIS pasture. Many times I am asked the question of how we have lived here for almost exactly one year with no job and the simplest way to put this is that WE are being shepherded…literally fed and clothed and housed by our Lord. He has used his people to continue His work in Lancaster. I am just so thankful and so humbled by this experience. 

Yesterday was just one of those days, where his faithfulness was proven to me over again. Not that it needed to be proven for the millionth time, but it was just one of those gifts to me and Jason, from our loving father. The Hope House….rent taken care of as we minister. The washer and dryer that was needed for that Hope House….GIVEN to us by someone we did not know personally who had heard of the work in Countryside. Our family…..loved and blessed. The Homework Center….Backyard Bible Club staffed, many more volunteers this week, and even a sweet email from a partner church that said  “we took up supplies for Homework Helpers last month can we bring them by tomorrow??” God is so good…he is working when we cannot see it. He is shepherding his sheep! Just needed to get up and praise him for it !!

Love,

Nancy

 

 

 

Life in the Park

The past few weeks….months have been a blur!! There is SO much to do here that we literally serve from sunup to sundown and still have a list a mile long when we get done. Currently, I am blogging and Jason is studying for his seminary classes that he began last week.It is midnight and I am blogging LOL!! God has called us OUT….out from our homes, out from our comfortable lives, out from our comfort zones. And sometimes that walk is more than we want to give, or harder than we thought it would be…..but its God’s walk. It is exactly the walk that HE planned out for us and its a big, busy, beautiful mess that I am so in LOVE with right now. I only wish I were better at making a few minutes to blog more often so that I could share more of what is going on around here each day!!

The Lord has been doing some amazing things here. First, Jason and I have great relationships with the young people here in our neighborhood . However, we truly began praying to meet and form relationships with our adult neighbors. We prayed and God answered!! We have met the sweetest new friends in the past 2 months and we have LOVED watching God work in their homes. He is showing them right now that HE is pursuing them. That He loves them and cares for them and that HE put a witness in this neighborhood just for them!!!Can you pray for these 2 new families in our lives and that we will be able to continue to minister to them ??

All summer we could not wait for Homework Helpers and BOY has that ministry started back with a bang!!! This year we began a new Backyard Bible Club right after HH and we had right at 20 kids stay this week to learn about God’s word!! We were so excited to hear their little voices saying WOW and OH MY GOSH when we told them about the Isrealites escaping Egypt and then this week how Joshua prayed for the sun to stand still. We were also reminded that this is hard ground. It needs much more plowing with the seeds of the Gospel. It needs you,  church, to reach it with God’s love. We are teaching those that truly have not heard sometimes…..I was reminded this week of a few verses in Romans 10:

14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?[c] And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!

Would you commit to pray that God would continue to send workers for his fields??

And lastly I would like to share about the Hope House!! We have been blessed just to watch this mission unfold right before our eyes. People have been here to pray, sent items, cooked food and even helped with the funding. However, we are realizing that this particular part of ministry is VERY time intensive. We desperately need some help with this. WE are praying that God would maybe send a strong, young, Christian male to live, and serve with our team in the Hope House. Maybe a man going to seminary or someone feeling called to the mission field. Maybe you know someone that would be a perfect fit for this. Pray with us for this!!!

Tonight I am rejoicing for all God has been doing here…..for his protection, and his provision, and mostly for all of you. I know the minute I hit send people will read, share and pray and we cannot survive here without those prayers!! I rejoice for you, church!! I thank God for you all and how you are serving here in our community!! God is up to big things!!!

XOXO,

Nancy

 

Hunter’s Thoughts from the Summer!!

imageSo, the interns have taken over my blog again!!! Excited for you guys to check out what Hunter has learned this summer! I am amazed at how God continues to use this place to draw his people closer to him!! 

What up guys, my name is Hunter Brown I am interning at The Connection this summer and I just want to tell you what’s been going on, what this summer has taught me, and how this summer has changed my life and my walk with Christ. When I was first offered the internship, I wasn’t too sure if I would be able to do it and play football too but, through prayer God said “do both”. Long story short I took the internship and still kept playing football. At the beginning of the summer, I was kind of scared to be over at Countryside but, because of God, I’ve developed many relationships with the kids over in Countryside. I had a goal to pray for one kid there and till this date I pray for him. Now, let me tell you about how God works! A couple of weeks ago, we were at victory sports and this particular kid came along with us. Now, this whole time I knew he wasn’t saved but, one emotional night he made the best decision he could ever make, he gave his life to Christ!!!
What I’ve learned.
Coming into this internship, I thought I was just going to sit back and watch, but God had other plans for me. The biggest thing God has taught me is to have an open mind, heart, and to always be open to meet new people, and to always be ready, because if God wants something done he’s going to have it his way. Out of those few things, the hardest thing for me to do was be open to meeting new people. I’m the kind of person that if I don’t know you, I don’t talk to you but, God has really worked on me with that and now I’ll talk to anyone about anything. This internship has given me so much knowledge to take back home and everywhere I go.
My walk with Christ.
Before this summer I was not living my life for Christ but, as of July 14 at victory sports I rededicated my life. All summer long myself and a few others have seen my walk with Christ strengthen. I say this all the time “I am in awe of how God works”. I say this because if you knew me before this summer, you would know I was not right with Christ. I’m not the person I am now that I was five months ago when all this really started. There’s a saying  that pictures don’t change but the people in them do. I am a perfect example of this. To be a Christian is a great thing but it’s not easy. Now I’m not at all a perfect Christian and no one is but the one thing us as Christians should do is strive to be a perfect Christian. This summer I have been really challenged on one verse Luke 9:23 (csb) Then he said to all of them “if anyone of you wants to come with me, he must deny himself, TAKE UP HIS CROSS DAILY, and follow me”. This is my go to verse, every time I see or hear this, God speaks to me and reminds me to take up my cross and follow him, do as he tells me, listen to his command, and never forsake him.
How this internship has changed my life
About five and half months ago God put a special someone in my life, through this time we have worked on bettering our walk with Christ. This internship has shown me so much that I can take onto the mission field myself. This internship doesn’t end when the summer does. This is something I will carry for the rest of my life. Just because school starts back, I will continue surrounding myself in God’s Word, even if this means losing friends. This summer is one I will never forget! It has changed my life in so many ways. First, it has shown me no matter who you are, or what you’ve done, God still loves you and wants you to come to know him on a personal level. Secondly, God reminded me to never look down on someone. What right do we have to judge some, when we look at the big picture our judgment means nothing. We shouldn’t worry about what others think about us because, God’s judgment is the only one we should care about. Also it has changed my prayer life. Let me tell you this….. never doubt the power of prayer. I’ve seen firsthand how God answers prayers. I’ll say it again I am in awe of how God works. My life before this internship was going down the wrong road, but God has put certain people, and an atmosphere like the Connection to bring me back to him.
Thank you for taking your time to read what I had to say today. Thank you and God bless!!!
-Hunter Brown