Monday, March 16, 2009

Crocodile Encounter Field Trip

We especially enjoyed our field trip to the Crocodile Encounter in Angleton, Texas.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

A Common Pose from Hava

Not the most flattering pose to show off her Fuzzi Bunz diapers...

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Sleeping Girl

David's Story - God at Work

I've been wanting to write the story of David for a year now. This is such an encouraging God story to me - I hope it blesses you as well. I'd like to warn you that it deals with subjects (demons, for example) that aren't accepted in our logical Western culture. But David can tell you that he has experienced satan and the work of his demons. Thankfully, he has also experienced the incredible mercy of God and the truth that God is more powerful than satan. I believe that satan knows that it's to his advantage to seem 'not real' to our Western minds, so he works powerfully 'behind the scenes' in our country. In other cultures where satan knows that his spiritual reality is known, he might as well work in more direct ways. And in those places, demonic activity is well known. Either way, we know that satan "comes only to steal and kill and destroy," but Jesus came that we "may have life, and have it to the full" (John 10:10).

For the 2005-06 school year, I was blessed to get to know a group of 11th grade girls at our church, as I served as one of their Sunday night group leaders. A very sad, memorable time of that year was when one of their friends, Arnold, passed away in October 2005. Involved in drugs, Arnold accidentally shot himself. I didn't know Arnold, but was saddened by this tragic loss, and felt for his family and friends.

Two years later, on February 10, 2008, I was sitting in our church building auditorium during Sunday morning worship. My baby girl was just a few months old, and I was accustomed to having to get up and walk outside of the auditorium when she started making too much noise. But on this day, she was perfectly content. Despite that, I had the weirdest "antsy" feeling... I just had to get up. It's not like me to just 'have to get up' from worship service, and walk out. In fact, it had never happened before. I didn't realize this was the Holy Spirit at work until later.

I walked out to the coffee bar area just outside of the auditorium, where there are several tables. A few minutes later, a young man walked in the front door of the church and sunk down at one of the tables near me. No one else was around. This young man, about 20 years old, was covered with a spirit of darkness. It was as if a cloud was upon him. Covered in tattoos, battered from life, and dressed in dark clothes, he simply sat with his head hanging down. I knew I needed to talk to him. I introduced myself, and he mumbled that his name was David. He would not make eye contact with me. I tried to converse with him, but his answers were short. After a couple of minutes, I asked what brought him here. He mumbled, "no where else to go." I felt the need to pray for him and asked if I could. He mumbled something, and shrugged. I asked if he would wait there while I got some others to pray for him, and he mumbled, unsure, to that. I ran to the side door of the auditorium, where I found my dear friends Bob & Alicia. They came with me, and Bob immediately recognized David, greeted him, and they sat down with him.

My baby now wanted me to walk her, so I could not stay by David and pray for him there, as much as I wanted to. Rather, I walked and prayed immediately, begging God to save David. It wasn't until early that afternoon that Bob called me from the hospital, where they had taken David because he was so agitated. I learned from Bob that David was Arnold's big brother. David had been with Arnold the night of his death, and was living a very troubled life. Later that night, I spoke with Bob and Alicia again. It turned out that when Alicia sat down and placed her hand on David's arm to pray for him, she got a picture which helped her know how to pray. Alicia could see demons clawing within David. With that, she prayed for David to be delivered from satan, his demons, and their work in his life. After praying, it was clear to Bob and Alicia through what David was feeling that he was suicidal. They got Angela, a professional counselor within the church body, to come over to help. She talked to David and recommended going to the hospital. Once at the hospital, they tried to calm David. He remained highly agitated, despite the drugs that were administered, which should have calmed anyone. Bob was so discouraged with how helpless they felt, ministering to David, yet feeling as if there was no breakthrough.

A few days later, Bob was surprised to get a call from David. It turned out that David was at a halfway house. His tone was entirely different than a few days before, and he was speaking clearly. He told Bob that he wanted to be baptized in front of everyone the next Sunday morning - he wanted to surrender his life to Jesus Christ. When Sunday morning arrived, he thanked everyone who had reached out to him the week before, and told them that they had saved his life. When he stood before the congregation to be immersed in Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection, he was asked first if he believed that Jesus was Lord. He boldly said, "Jesus is everyone's Lord, whether they like it or not!"

We have come to know David much better over the last year, as he comes to our home many Sunday nights, joining us and a few other families who are striving to draw closer to God and each other. It has been amazing to see the drastically different person that David is now compared to before he turned to Christ. Not perfect by any means (Who is? We're all on a journey...) but he's a whole new man. We've been sharing our stories, and it was intriguing to hear David's story several months ago. His past was very dark. He was medicated for years for Bipolar disorder (though he is now free of all medications), and felt that he slept much of his childhood away. He was active in using and selling drugs, and was scarred by the painful memories he has of his younger brother's death.

At one point in his story, David said that he used to be able to feel demons clawing inside of him, until that day when he was prayed over in February 2008. At that, I felt the hair stand up on the back of my neck, knowing how that fit with what God revealed to Alicia. After his story, I was able to share with David and the others the strange feeling I'd had sitting in the church that day - how I just had to get up. I also shared the picture that was revealed to Alicia when she prayed for him that day, regarding demonic activity. This was the first time David had been told about that, and it was incredible to realize just how God had delivered David, using many people as instruments. David also shared how much it meant to him that Bob had simply patted his back at the hospital and told him that he was going to be OK, and that Bob loved him. How encouraging to see how God turned a hopeless situation around, and used people (who even felt discouraged through the process) to powerfully transform a life. We were all thankful for the depth of God's love for David and how He pursued David and saved him.

David and his young wife, Cynthia, have many struggles to overcome as they strive to turn their lives around - not just for their sake, but also for their children. Satan is as active as ever, constantly throwing hardships their way and bringing up their past. Just a week ago, God spoke to me of how David may fall down, but he can get back up again. I wondered - has David gotten into drugs again, or what? My knee-jerk reaction was "Oh no!" - as if David had fallen off a cliff and the situation was hopeless. Immediately, I heard something different - God is not a control freak like we can be. God gave us the freedom to make terrible choices with terrible consequences, yet He acts redemptively through our mistakes if our hearts are turned to Him. I wondered at this random thought that came into my head about David falling down. Later that night, I learned of some serious hardships that David and Cynthia were facing due to some terrible choices they made. What would have normally thrown me for a loop did not. Rather, I was excited to realize that God's word to me was timely, true - and for my encouragement. God longs to give David hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11). He wants to redeem David's past and give him a crown of beauty instead of ashes (Isaiah 61:3). When you think of David, please pray for him, his wife Cynthia, and their children. Pray for perseverance and strength through this battle, that they will be transformed to experience the full life Christ has in mind for them.