A Time For Praise

It’s easy to get discouraged in this life, and no less in this work that God has called us to. The constant pressures, difficult situations, uncertainties, and heartache of watching the struggles others are facing can wear a person down pretty fast. To be honest, I’ve been having a lot of those moments lately. Little discouragements here and there added to bigger discouragements or disappoints all pile up to a cloudy perspective even on our beautiful 100 degree days.

Purple Umbrella

Every Thursday morning, Marta and I meet for a special time of prayer. Of course, we pray separately for various needs across the ministry and in our respective churches throughout the week, but Thursday mornings are special. This morning, as I was rushing across town to get to the office, I was thinking about our prayer time and about the heaviness in my heart, and I realized today needed to be a little different.

Sometimes, we need to make a conscious effort to praise the Lord for what He is or has been doing in our lives and ministries. Today we decided that our prayer time would be a time of praise. Rather than making a prayer list, we made a praise list, but it didn’t quite go as we planned.

We would write down a couple of items, and then one of us would kind of groan and say, “Did I tell you about this?” And our spirits would drop as we discussed a serious situation that has come up in the past few days. We’d forge on, write down a few other things for which we are truly grateful, and a text message would come, describing a horrible situation, which seems to be heading in all the wrong directions. We’d write a few more things, which led to discussion of some of the personal struggles that stem out of the choice to follow the Lord in this ministry. Then we’d get back to our list and try once again to focus on the abundance of things God has done for us. This pattern just kept repeating itself until finally Marta said, “It’s really hard to focus on praising when we keep getting ourselves down again.”

It might sound laughable. In fact, it sounds like something I might say if I were trying to lighten up a situation, but there was nothing funny in the statement. We both sat there in tears having just heard of children who have been abused and neglected, hurt emotionally, physically, and spiritually, children whose parents chose abusive partners over the wellbeing of their little ones, and a system that moves so slowly that weeks go by without solutions. Instead of bringing joy, our time so far had just made everything raw.

But then we finished our list, began to pray—and the room changed. Oh, not physically. The furniture didn’t move or anything. No, the spirit in the room changed because stepping into God’s presence and verbalizing our praise is a mighty weapon against discouragement. By the time we were finished, our hearts were much lighter. Prayer changes things, but so does praise! What were we praising Him for? Here are just a few of things from our list:

  1. Earlier this week, the Lord allowed me to reconnect with a single mom that we have ministered to in the past!!!
  2. We found out this morning that a spot may be opening up at a live-in facility for a single mom in desperate need of a safe home and a community that will point her toward Christ!!!
  3. Yesterday, we had 16 new members added to the Faceboook group, which always excites us!
  4. One of the women we have been working with has just had the adoption of her first child reversed and now has custody of her daughter.
  5. In reflecting on what God has done over the past few months, we looked back at the Green Bean Project and how God took this little ministry and channeled over $1700 to three missionaries and their works in other countries as well as providing $500 for the local single moms ministry!
  6. We looked back at how God led and provided in the planning and carrying out of the Forum on Fatherlessness. It was amazing!!!
  7. We reflected on the fact that God has given clear direction in the weekly Bible studies, so often making the topic of discussion exactly what was needed for some situation or another!
  8. We thanked Him for the joy of the study that Marta, Yvonne, and my mom and I have been doing each week. We have all learned so much and grown in the way we approach ministry.
  9. We praised Him that we still have an office and a real presence in this building. (I no longer have to move all of the ministry stuff from my bed to my desk to my floor and back again.) All of our bills are paid! We’ve made all of our reserves but one! And in the last couple of months, God has brought in a set of shelves, an office chair, and several unexpected gifts of office supplies!
  10. I praised Him for His provision for me. It’s been eleven months since I left my job and stepped out by faith. I had one month’s worth of living expenses saved up, but God has met every need for eleven months!
  11. God has burdened the hearts of two people to partner with the ministry!
  12. We praised Him for the volunteers who have helped in the clothing exchange, in gathering resources for developing courses, and in helping us transport various items that won’t fit in my Swift from one end of town to the other!
  13. We praised Him for the opportunity to walk alongside of a family helping a girl who had been cast off by her own family and to maintain the relationship when the Lord moved her to another part of the country.

SO MANY THINGS for which to praise Him! Sometimes it feels like we are making so little progress, like things are not moving as we would like—but God is always working. When we stop to praise Him, we realize how much He has done.

Are you feeling discouraged? How can you praise the Lord today?

Keeping it Simple: How to Minister to the Fatherless

This week’s challenge will be short and sweet. We all know that God wants us to visit the fatherless and the widow in their affliction. We know that He said we are to be doers of the Word and not hearers only. But HOW do we do that? Where do we start? This week, I’m going to challenge you to do one simple thing that will mark a beginning point in this area. But first, I want to share with you why I so often suggest starting here.

Several years ago, I received a letter from a young woman whom I had met while sharing about the ministry of Forbid Them Not in a church near her home. In the letter, she shared about her burden to minister to the fatherless, but she didn’t know how or where to start. I wrote back and made a simple suggestion. A couple of months later, I received another letter from this woman. It was a letter full of joy. She told about how she had committed to do one thing every day, and as a result the Lord opened up a relationship with a single mom for whom this family had been burdened for years. The young woman and her sister began tutoring this single mother’s son. A relationship, which, in the past, had been strained, became a relationship of open communication and investment. It opened doors to share with this fatherless family about Christ and His love for them.

So what was that one little thing?

PRAYER

Maybe that seems too simple, but sometimes simple is the best thing we can do! Here is the challenge I gave her:

  1. Make a list of all the children you know who, for whatever reason, are living without one or both of their parents. This includes children in single-parent homes, children living with non-parental guardians such as grandparents or an aunt or uncle, children in foster care, or children in state or privately run institutions.

  2. Commit to pray for those children and their caregivers every day.

That’s it! Just start there. You may be surprised where this one simple step will lead.

I recently read a new book by an author that I have been following for a couple of years. I usually find his books practical and helpful. This new book, however, left me feeling like he was giving me ideas, painting a picture of the ideal situation, but not giving truly practical help. I had to read the book twice before I started seeing the practicality of it. I don’t want to do that to you. So I think we should also look at the question, How should we pray?

Here are a few ways to get started:

Praying for the Fatherles Card

This simple step can lead to amazing things, so I want to make it simple. Click here for a printable version of the above card. Feel free to share it with others.

If you are willing to take this step, to make a list of the fatherless children in your sphere of influence and pray for them each day, do me a favor. Let me know by commenting below. We will pray with you as you step out in faith and worship.

Prayer changes things. It changes lives. It changes us.

 

 

Friday Digest 2/24/17

This week on Facebook:

Forum Speakers, An Opportunity, and George Muller

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Praying for our Counties. [Combined posts.]

As we are preparing for the upcoming Forum on Fatherless, we thought we would share a few things to help shed light on why this is such an important topic. As part of that, we will be sharing, in Alphabetical order and by county and state, the rates of children growing up in single-parent homes in Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho. Be watching for your county and please be praying for these children:

Counties starting with “G” and “H”:

Montana – Gallatin – 20%, Garfield 10%, Glacier – 44%, Golden Valley – 39%, Granite – 36%, Hill – 35%

Wyoming – Goshen – 27%, Hot Springs – 25%

Idaho – Gem – 26%, Gooding – 21%

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Counties starting with “I” and “J”:

Montana – Jefferson – 23%

Wyoming – Johnson – 22%

Idaho – Idaho County – 35%, Jefferson – 14%, Jerome 29%

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Counties starting with “K” and “L”:

Montana – Lake – 39%, Lewis and Clark – 28%, Liberty – 15%, Lincoln – 21%

Wyoming – Laramie – 31%, Lincoln – 16%

Idaho – Kootenai – 27%, Latah – 27%, Lemhi – 32%, Lewis – 34%, Lincoln – 17%

Are you from one of these counties? Let us know so that we can pray with you today!

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February 22, 2017 – Click here to Meet the Speakers for the Forum on Fatherlessness

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February 21, 2017
In order to live a life that magnifies and to see that life, power, and reality of our faith, we must let our faith step beyond the walls of church and into the circumstances or our life.

#LetHimProveHimself

#DeclareHisDoings

#WalkByFaith

#OneStepAtATime

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Friday Digest – Valentine’s Week

This week on Facebook:

(Click here to receive the Friday Digest by email.)

We’ve noticed that nearly half our group members don’t see our Facebook posts, so here is a roundup of everything we’ve posted this week, just in case you missed it…

February 13, 2017

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“We were created to be magnifying glasses.”
Click here to read this week’s blog on the purpose of FTN.

 

 

 

 

February 13, 2017 – Praying for our Counties.

As we are preparing for the upcoming Forum on Fatherless, we thought we would share a few things to help shed light on why this is such an important topic. As part of that, we will be sharing, in Alphabetical order and by county and state, the rates of children growing up in single-parent homes in Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho. Be watching for your county and please be praying for these children:

Counties starting with “A”

Montana – N/A
Wyoming – Albany – 27%
Idaho – Ada – 24%, Adams – 34%

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February 14, 2017

“They joy of hearing someone pray ‘outloud’ for the first time.”

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February 15, 2017

Counties starting with “B” and “C”

Montana – Beaverhead – 22%, Big Horn – 48%, Blaine – 44%, Broadwater – 26%, Carbon – 26%, Carter – 4%, Cascade – 32%, Chouteau – 32%, Custer – 23%

Wyoming – Big Horn – 19%, Campbell – 25%, Carbon – 27%, Converse – 20%, Crook – 18%

Idaho – Bannock – 25%, Bear Lake – 15%, Benewah – 35%, Bingham – 21%, Blaine – 20%, Boise – 21%, Bonner – 29%, Bonneville – 23%, Boundary – 21%, Butte – 30%, Camas – 29%, Canyon – 27%, Caribou – 20%, Cassia – 20%, Clark – 19%, Clearwater – 23%, Custer – 15%
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February 14, 2017

Please pray for “E,” a single-mom who is starting over in many ways. Please pray for wisdom as we walk alongside of her. Please also pray for her children, for guidance, for health, and for a continued desire to grow in the Lord.

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Counties starting with “D”

Montana – Daniels – 13%, Dawson – 28%, Deer Lodge – 33%
Wyoming – No Counties starting with “D”
Idaho – No Counties starting with “D”

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February 16, 2016

We serve a God who answers prayers, even for simple things. We have been praying for a chair for Marta’s desk. Up to this point, she has been using a padded dining room chair (like you might see at a hotel or conference center). This past weekend God provided a new chair, an adding machine that WORKS, and a box of a few other office supplies. All free of charge! We are so grateful!! #Hesupplies #IWillPraiseHim #DeclareHisDoings

 

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Counties starting with “E” and “F”:

Montana – Fallon – 25%, Fergus – 27%, Flathead – 30%
Wyoming – Fremont – 39%
Idaho – Elmore – 23%, Franklin – 11%, Fremont – 8%

 

Are you from one of these counties? Let us know so that we can pray with you today!

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February 16, 2017

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February 17, 2017

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Speaking Clearly

Over the last year, the Lord has clearly shown me that I have often failed in the way I have communicated with those who are praying for this ministry, and I want to do better. I want to communicate in a way, which

Gives you clear insight into what is going on here at FTN,

Inspires you to see how you can minister to the fatherless in your sphere of influence,

And motivates each of us to live a life that magnifies God through this work.

We love you and we appreciate your prayer, involvement and partnerships. Over the last couple of months we have seen a shift in the way Facebook displays posts from pages. We’ve also seen a shift in the way group posts are being displayed. Some people have told us that they NEVER saw the posts from this year’s Green Bean Project. This concerns me because, as you can see, it means that you are not seeing the majority of the news, prayer requests, and information we are sharing.

In light of all these things, we will be changing how we post as well as some of the content or our posts (hopefully it will be getting much better!), and we may even ask you to help us broaden our reach! We have an important message and ministry and we want to share it with as many people as possible; but no matter how much we change things for the better, if you don’t see our posts, well, then we’re just wasting our time (and God’s resources) posting it.

So here’s where we’d like to start our changes out. We are still going to be using both the Facebook page and the group, but we will now be sending out an email at the end of each week that shares some of the week’s most important Facebook posts in one digest. This will help bridge the gap between the few posts that are seen and the many that are not.

We are amazed at what the Lord has been doing over the last few months and want to share it with you. I hope you will take just a minute to sign up for the Facebook Digest at this link: http://eepurl.com/cyZbE9

I believe 2017 has many wonderful things, and I can’t wait to share them with you!

 

Every Mile a Gift

The Wheels are Turning…Literally.

The wheels on my little car have been turning, turning, turning the last few days. I started off from Billings, MT on October 5th and drove to the Salt Lake City area to speak at a Ladies’ Conference at Faith Baptist Church. Then it was on to Fruitland, UT to speak at a Ladies’ Luncheon about the why of ministry to the fatherless. Then, after a rather grueling day going through the Medicine Bow National Forest (my heavily loaded car just didn’t want to climb those mountains) and a bit of a sick day, it was on to Cheyenne, WY and a wonderful weekend with Fellowship Baptist Church. Today, I hit the road running with 475 miles in front of me and a 45-65 mph crosswind keeping me company most of the way.

God has been good and has blessed all along the way. What a joy to have people ask sincere questions about what the Bible says about the fatherless and how they can apply it to their lives! What a blessing to hear a pastor say, “We want to mirror what FTN is doing in our church!”

It is humbling. Please pray that the Lord will continue to go before us as a ministry—To provide so that we CAN come alongside of others as well as continue to grow the work in Billings. This truly is our greatest need.

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As I was finishing my campground dinner by flashlight this evening, I was thinking about the Green Bean Project. I was also thinking about all the miles I drove today and those I will drive tomorrow as I make my way to the St. Louis area. Then I thought of the two together. It has been a struggle for me to keep up with posting and emailing and blogging about the GBP so far this month because I haven’t had consistent internet access. But what if we could set a simple goal with which EVERYONE could help?

What if we set the goal of reaching 1 Green Bean Donation (just $1.15) for every mile that I put in on this trip?

It wouldn’t be that hard really. Not if we all work together to share both the needs and the links to the FTN page with others. By the time I reach St. Louis, I will have driven nearly 2200 miles. The return trip appears at the moment to be about 1400 miles. So, the total miles should be somewhere between 3600 and 4000 miles. That seems like a lot when you think of trying to do one Green Bean Donation per mile, but with God’s help and the ease of hitting the share button on Facebook and Twitter, I believe it could happen!

Will you help me? Here’s how easy it is to get started:

1. Pray about whether or not the Lord would have you to give (perhaps as an individual, a prayer group, a Sunday School class, a family, a Bible study group, a church, or in any other grouping).

2. When you’re ready, Go to http://www.forbidthemnot.com/greenbeanproject.htm and scroll down to the bottom of the page where the donation buttons are and make your donation.

3. Tell others you have participated and encourage them to get involved as well. (This year’s project will not only help provide for the needs in our local ministry to single moms in Billings, MT but will also help provide school supplies for an orphan ministry in Africa, furniture for a children’s home in Asia, and textbooks for another children’s home in Asia.) Here is a link to a meme on our Facebook page that will help you spread the word.
4. Keep spreading the word. As you pray for the project over the next few days and weeks, share it again.

We have seen God do amazing things through this project over the years, just imagine what could happen if ALL of us took these simple steps to share it with others—to be relevant in the lives of these children and to take the opportunity to show them God’s love.

I hope you’ll join us! I’m looking forward to seeing what God does (it will make those miles go by a little easier)!

From All My Heart

“Thank you, thank you,” read one of several excited texts, which I received after a single mom found out she was coming home to a new window air conditioner.
The single mom, we’ll call her Karen, is one of the women whom we helped move earlier this year. Since her move, she has run into multiple problems in her new home, including the discovery that her new landlord had not changed the locks. This discovery was made when a strange man walked into their home at 10 o’clock one night. Not only this and not only did the house have no air conditioning but it was also infested with spiders, had a gas leak and a bad water heater.
About a week and a half ago, Karen texted me at the point of tears. I wanted to do something to help, but wasn’t sure how or where to start. I asked our partners on Facebook to pray with me that we would know how God wanted us to get involved. We were able to get information to help Karen in dealing with her landlord, but there were still other needs. God answered our prayer with an unexpected gift and a great price on a window AC unit.
So, when Karen texted me saying “you’re so amazing”, I was able to respond, “You’re welcome, but it wasn’t me. It was God. We didn’t have the means to do anything, but we prayed and God provided.”
I didn’t get a response right away, but the next text I recieved was priceless. It wasn’t from Karen. It was from her teenage daughter, who said, “I just wanted to thank you and your business [FTN] for looking out for us. I appreciate everything that you are doing for us. Love from all my heart
 
Please pray that the Lord will continue to open doors to work with this fatherless family and to share His love and the salvation that is in Jesus Christ.
 
Other News From May and June
•It’s official! After 8 months of paperwork, we finally have been approved as a 501c3. I was at work when I got the email from our accountant. I literally gasped, jumped out of my desk chair, and yelled out my manager’s name. I think she nearly jumped out of her skin. We are all so grateful to everyone who has prayed throughout this process and to the Lord for bringing this about.
 
• Mother’s Day –The Lord allowed us to give each of the moms in our care a very nice potted flower and a gift card for Mother’s Day. The gift was a blessing to each of them and held the door open for further ministry.
 
• A New Addition –We are so grateful for the way God has provided to bring Marta Trout into the ministry. I know that the path to this point has not been an easy one for her and that we have her at great personal sacrifice. We are so blessed and undeserving and so grateful.
 
• Our Bible Study continues each Tuesday. Please pray for wisdom as we deal with some very difficult topics.
 
• We were able to share with a group of 23 people all from the Billings area about the ministry of Forbid Them Not. Many of them took brochures because they knew people who would either benefit from the ministry or who would be able to send people in our direction. Please pray that God would continue to use this event to grow the ministry as He sees fit.
 
How can we pray for you?