When I was a very small girl, Dad and I went on a carnival ride. They called it the Octopus. Maybe you’ve heard about it and its ridiculous tentacles. I was terrified throughout the ride, but the end is most indelibly impressed in my memory. I remember lying on my back as the ride came to a stop. We were at the top, so very, very high up. Gravity pulled us earthward. My small, sweaty hands slid on the metal safety bar. I could feel my back slipping across the fiberglass seat.
“I’m going to fall!” I screamed.
“No, you’re not.” Dad said in his most matter-of-fact voice. “You’re fine.”
“But I’m going to fall!”
“No. You’re strapped in, you won’t fall.”
I felt myself slip a little further. “I’m falling!”
If I hadn’t needed the air to scream, I would have been too afraid to breathe. Why didn’t he believe me? Why didn’t he tell the men we were going to fall and that they needed to fix it? Couldn’t they see us slipping? Couldn’t Dad feel us slipping?
“You’re going to be okay.”
The chair jerked. We were moving again. Then we stopped, still up in the air, but not so nearly upside down. I stopped slipping. I dared to wipe the sweat from my palms, one hand at a time. I leaned in against my Dad. I was safe.
I know no better way to describe this summer. Dad is gone. Anita is gone. Mary is gone. And the rest of us are left, in a sense, like a small child flailing high above the ground, unsure, scared, feeling gravity do its work—ready to get off the ride. But beside us is the ever-present help of the Father, quietly reassuring us, “It’s alright. I’m here. You’re safe.” And there is but one thing to do—lean into the crook of His arm and rest.
Our ride has included four funerals (and those are just the ones since Dad died), mountains of new responsibilities, financial losses, massive house repair projects that are still incomplete; attacks against the church from without and struggles within. I can’t help but ask myself, “When did we start rodeoing, and when are they going to run out of bulls?”
The future is uncertain. Normal seems far, far away. But God has not changed. He never leaves us and never forsakes us. He knows the path we take. He goes before and behind. We often want to know what our new lives will look like, we want to move on, and get back to what “we’re supposed to be doing.” But for now, THIS is what we are supposed to be doing. Waiting. Holding the fort. Remaining faithful. Trusting. Resting. Leaning on the Everlasting Arms.
I have no plans of quitting because my Father has no plans of quitting. I don’t know how the future of Forbid Them Not will unfold yet, perhaps you will be a part of it. I do know this—God has promised that when He has called us, He will be faithful to do it. We continue to do the work God has put directly in front of us. The church is carefully regrouping and praying that the Lord will lead us to the right man. We have continued our monthly fellowship nights as an opportunity to invite new people in and encourage believers from other churches, some from churches as many as 60 miles away. Mom is still faithfully ministering in the jail, prison, and prerelease center. She has seen several saved this summer. I have taken on many new responsibilities at the church and am preparing for the fourth annual Green Bean Project and our annual Ladies’ Retreat Day.
I would like to add a fourth and very important ministry to this year’s Green Bean Project. Our local ministry.
For the past three years, I have slowly been putting together the beginnings of a ministry to single moms and their children. I don’t share much about it in my letters or online because these women are often faced with very sensitive and personal challenges. I’ve held various events, provided transportation, and even an opportunity for one woman to earn her rent money. I’ve counseled, encouraged, and just tried to be there. Progress has been slow, but lives have been touched.
A couple of people have approached me about getting involved, and I feel the next few months will be a good time to start gathering the resources to expand this ministry. But, I need your help! Please, pray with me that we would be able to start working with more women, teaching them life skills, teaching them how to be good mothers, helping their children as God has called us to, and—most importantly—winning them to Christ. If you would like to know more about how you or your church can get involved or partner with me in this growing ministry, please let me know! I’m excited to see what God is going to do.
I’m pretty sure our ride isn’t over yet. The Octopus just keeps turning. The bulls keep bucking. Please, pray that we will remain faithful, that we will allow the joy of the Lord to be our strength, and that God will be glorified through all that has, is, and will take place here.
“According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:20,21