End of the School Year Program

The children had the end of the year program and Billy invited me to speak.  The verse was Philippians 3:14, “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”  I said, “Now that school is over, we can reflect on our achievements.  How did you do this past year?  Did you do well in all your classes?  Do you think you could have done better?  How about your attitude and behavior?  When I talk to my boys I tell them that the past is the past.  Every day is a new beginning.  Paul says the same thing, ‘But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.’  We need to let go of the things in the past and move forward.  If we don’t let go of the things in the past, we will have problems in the future.  Listen carefully… the past can be failures and/or successes.

“Past failures can make us think we are a failure.  When we fail, we doubt our abilities and lower our self-esteem.  Failure has the power to prevent ambition, creativity, learning and growth.  But I want you to understand this… Failure does not define us, it shapes us.  In reality, failure is a necessary and vital part of our life.  For example, when a baby tries to learn to walk for the first time, he or she will fall.  The baby has a choice to either sit there and cry or reach for the table and try again.  Are we any different?  When we fail, are we are to just sit there and cry or are we going to try again?  Failure can make us stronger, smarter and successful.

“And what about success?  Why are we supposed to leave our successes in the past?  The answer is that the biggest threat to future success is past success.  Why?  If we focus on our successes too much, it can become pride and we don’t prepare for the future.  For example… Barcelona has 3 or 4 world cups in FIFA.  If they think that their name and past success will give them success in the future and they don’t prepare for the next year, they will lose.  I am not saying the past is not important.  We need to learn from the past.  We need to know our strengths and our weaknesses.

“Then what?  Paul says, ‘I press on toward the goal…’  What is your goal?  The next grade?  Junior High?  High School?  College?  Whichever it is, know this… You can do it.  How do I know?  It is a promise of God.  Philippians 4:13, ‘I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.’  I believe you can do it.  Mike and Dottie believe you can.  Sebastian, Billy, your teachers, dorm parents, sponsors and family believe in you.  God has a purpose for all of you.  He has a plan.  Every time you walk into the blue building, you can read His promise to all of us.  Jeremiah 29:11, ‘”For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”’  Give you what?  Hope and a future.

“God knows your struggles, your failures and your successes.  God has a purpose for your pain…a reason for your struggle and a reward for your faithfulness.  What do we need to do?  Trust in Him and don’t give up.  Learn from your past, forget your past and press on.”

The children did dramas, sang and danced.  Everyone worshiped the Lord with music from a local praise band.  It was a good program.

After the program, we picked up the boys’ final grades and we shared the results with them.  Many of the boys will be advancing, some need to do remedial and some will repeat.  The boys know where they need to improve.  I reminded them to press on and win.

We received two boys.  They were here with us before and went home and now are back due to family issues.  One of the boys had a Mohawk haircut, and I smiled at him and said, “Nice hair, but don’t you like my style better?”  He looked at my short hair and just grinned.  I think he liked it…

All His,

Lee and Candy

A New Season

The last three years, specifically, have been filled with many events, with our emotions going in all directions. God has led us through…sometimes holding our hands, sometimes carrying us. He’s also rejoiced with us on many occasions. What I’m saying is that God has never left us. Our family verse is Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. For the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” We have relied on this verse. All of us.

At this time, we feel the Lord is calling us back to the States. Yesterday, when we told our boys, Lee referenced Ecclesiastes. “There is a season for everything.” It was one of the most emotionally difficult days ever. We love our boys so very much. Please pray for a godly couple to come and love the boys and treat them as family. We ask that you please pray for our boys…that they transition well.

Please pray for us. Lee will be looking for a job, and we’ll be looking for a house for the three of us. God knows what’s in store for us, as He has written the plan. Please pray we transition well as we move back to Tennessee, always desiring His will.

We don’t know when we’ll be leaving, as we still have a few documents to complete. We do pray for godly parents for our boys soon, so we can help with the transition. We thank all of you for praying for our boys and us. These past eight years cannot be matched. God is to be praised!

All His,

Lee and Candy

Prayer Request

We have a dear friend who is in need of prayer. He and his wife live in Maine. He recently found a swollen lymph node in his neck. In the initial screening, squamous cells were found and a second biopsy was done, this time at the base of his tongue. He and his wife are awaiting the results. PLEASE join us in praying for this dear couple. They have been and continue to be, so faithful to the Lord. They know God has this. Please pray for comfort, peace, and NO CANCER. God can do anything. We are all walking miracles. Thank you.

The Good Words for the Day by Ray Pritchard is, “Lord, we pray today for our loved ones who are far from you.  Open their eyes so that light from heaven may come flooding in.  Give us grace to keep believing while we wait for the answer to come from heaven.  Amen.”

All of us know someone who is not saved.  Someone in our family, here at Casa Aleluya, co-workers, neighbors and at church.  We pray to our Lord that He will open their eyes. We know that everything is in His timing, not ours.  There is no one who is so far, so distant from our Lord that He cannot find him or her.  Psalm 139:7-8, “Where can I go from your Spirit?  Where can I flee from your presence?  If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.”

They may not be seeking Him, yet He seeks them.  God sent His Son to seek the lost and show us the way home.  Luke 19:10, “For the Son of Man came to seek and save what was lost.”

Many think they are unworthy and that God will never forgive them.  Many don’t think about God.  Many think they are saved.  Yet, the lost will be found and eyes will be opened.  When I read the “Good Words,” I thought about Saul.  A man who “lived” for the Lord, who watched Stephen being stoned, and persecuted Christians.  A man far from the Lord, yet our Lord “opened” his eyes.  He was blind and now he could “see.”

Never stop praying.  Never lose hope.  Why?  Because all of us were like Saul.  We were far from the Lord and blind until He “opened” our eyes.  Titus 3:3-7, “At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by His grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.”

There is hope and His name is Jesus.  He is worthy and He is seeking.

All His,

Lee and Candy

His Joy is Our Strength

I had a devotional with the boys this morning and I said, “The Good Words for Today by Ray Pritchard was, ‘You can have the pleasures of sin or you can have the joy of the Lord, but you can’t have both at the same time.’”

I have been studying Nehemiah and how God used him to rebuild.  He is a good example of Godly leadership.  When I read the “Good Words,” it reminded me of a verse that I read in Nehemiah, “The joy of the Lord is your strength.”

Ezra read God’s word and the people wept, but he encouraged them and told them not to grieve but “the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

Our strength does not come from the pleasures in our lives but from the “joy of the Lord.”  Our strength is God, His Son, the Holy Spirit, and His word in us.  Romans 15:13, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”

Jesus is His joy.  When Jesus rose out of the water, His Father said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased.”  God loves us so much that He gave us His joy.  We are strengthened knowing how much God loves us.

The joy of the Lord is the Holy Spirit.  Romans 14:17, “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”  It is not in our pleasures that will give us strength but being in the Holy Spirit.

His words are our strength.  Jeremiah 15:16, “When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, Lord God Almighty.”  As we study God’s word, we understand who He is, what He has been doing, what He is doing, and what He will do.  His words should not weaken us but strengthen us.

We are His joy.  1 Peter 1:8, “Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy…”  Our strength is our belief, trust and faith in Him.

We can have pleasures of sin or joy of the Lord.  Pleasures of this world are temporary, but the joy of the Lord is eternal.

Exams are over, and school has officially ended except for the teaching staff.  They are still working, grading tests, organizing and having meetings.  Some of the children, including our little one, need to practice in preparation for the end of school program.  The children?  Everyday is like a Saturday except for Sunday.  Sleeping in until it is time for breakfast.  What a life!

All His,

Lee and Candy

 

Friendships

During my time with the Lord this morning, I reflected on relationships in ministry.  Unity in a church, ministries like Casa, in marriages and families is important… yet we know that there will always be problems.  Friendships help ease the burden and provide strength.  Friends may not always agree, but we can pray for one another.

I know that I need to be a better friend.  I know that I am not the only one hurting in this world; just look around and all of us can see it.  The world is broken and there is only one person who can fix it.  Jesus.  He doesn’t just glue us back together but He makes everything “new.”

While we are living for the Lord, we will be tested.  A testing of our faith.  During these times of testing, the important question is not, “How can I get out of this?” but “What can I get out of this?”

We cannot overcome our adversities, our problems, our worries with our own strength but with His.  How?  With Him.  With those He places in our lives.  With faith and trust.  “Be still, and know that I am God.”

Exams are this week, so the boys are studying.  I always tell the boys that their grades will reflect their study habits.  I tell them not to just “look” at the notes but study, memorize and study some more.  They know their weakest area from their last grades so they need to put more time in that area.  Of course, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,” so they spent time outside and exercising their body and not their mind afterward.

One of our newest boys didn’t do too well on his quiz so he had to redo it in the dorm and make corrections.  He had never gone to school before coming to Casa, so all this “studying” was foreign to him. He cried, had a tantrum, found excuse after excuse for not doing his work. Finally, after a lot of encouragement, he settled in on a bench away from all distractions and completed his work. Bless him.

It’s been eight years ago today that the Lord moved us to Guatemala.  These past eight years have been the most difficult, heart wrenching, mind-blowing, blessed years of our lives!  We have been blessed beyond measure by His faithfulness, grace, and pure love!  How can we not love Him!?

All His,

Lee and Candy

 

Do we make God a first priority or a last resort?

This morning, I read a quote by David Alan Campbell, “All the horrible things going on in the world should inspire us to tell more people about Jesus, clearly He is needed.”  We can take it a step further and say, “All the horrible things going on in the world should wake us up and believe in Jesus, clearly He is needed.”

Sometimes people can get so comfortable in their lives that they have no desire for salvation. They live their lives without thinking of the eternal consequences.  I know we can get comfortable in the mission field.  When we do, then we get complacent.  I remember talking to Mike about the difficulties that I have been having and he said, “It is to be expected.  You will be persecuted for your faith.”

Turn on the television, read the paper or just talk to others and we see and hear things that will bother us.  What do we do?  Shake our heads and say… “Senseless killings…” or do we pray?  Jesus was beat, scourged, spit on and crucified.  Senseless killing?  Yet, when we understand who He is and what He has done for all of us, then we need to pray to our Father in heaven and ask, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”  They don’t know because they don’t know Him. Do we make God a first priority or a last resort?

Here it is no different.  Guatemala has its share of corruption and violence, so when children go home, it causes concern.  If you are reading this, and you plan on coming to minister with our children, we ask you to witness and disciple our children.  Ice cream and pizza are nice, but the gospel is better.  Pray with our children, have devotionals and bible studies.  Clearly He is needed.

Flory knocked on our door and said, “The first washer is not working.”  Our other washer is not working either, so losing this one obviously hurts.  One deep sigh later, I removed the cover and checked the discharge valve.  You never know what you are going to find… I found a glow stick bracelet.  It prevented the automatic valve from shutting and it caused continuous draining.  After removing the stick, Praise the Lord, the washer began working.

A Texas team is here to serve.  It is good to work side by side with the teams.  I asked them if they would like to do devotionals with the boys and they said, “Yes!”  We want our boys to be ministered with His word and when a team comes to share, it is a double blessing.  How beautiful are their feet!!!

All His,

Lee and Candy

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