We were still living in the old farm house in the country when I heard about Becky. She was a young girl of 16 and was in deep trouble.
She was into drugs, climbing out the window at all hours of the night to meet boys, and it was suspected that she was pregnant.
After a violent beating from her father, her parents had taken her to the juvenile department and turned her over to the court—not because they didn’t love her, but because they did.
They were so afraid that great harm would come to her and they were desperate to know how to handle the situation. So for her own safety they had made her a ward of the court.
As I heard the details of the story I couldn’t help but identify with some of the rejection and emptiness she must be feeling.
All I could think of was how the realization of the greatest love in the world had changed my life. If only Becky could know how deeply Jesus loved her, she could change too.
I felt that I would be able to demonstrate that love to her. If only I could bring her home with me and love her, I would show her in reality that love and forgiveness.
I began to pray, and talk to the family about bringing her into our home.
We began to suspect that this idea wasn’t just something I had dreamed up. We had many long discussions and tried to face all the possibilities of unforeseen problems.
What about our own family? How would our family adjust to such a change?
We were new Christians and our lives were going through tremendous changes already.
One of our greatest fears was the influence of a street smart girl on our vulnerable innocent preteen daughter.
Our daughter Kandi was a new Christian also and her hopes were that she would be able to remain strong in her faith and to have a positive influence on Becky.
Of course she was very excited about having another girl around.
We alerted the prayer group at our church and received counsel from our pastor.
After much prayer, we were in agreement that this was a special calling and assignment that God was giving us.
We asked God’s protection on our decision. After all, it was not likely that the parents or the court would even release her to us.
We phoned the parents and were amazed when they gave their permission for us to go before the court and get custody of her.
Arrangements were made for me to fly to their city, stay with them and go to see the court officials together. Within twenty-four hours I was on my way to meet one of the biggest challenges of my life.
As I sat on the plane I was filled with fear, not only fear of flying, but fear of the unknown future.
I pressed my face against the glass of the window and cried out to God, “Oh God, please don’t let this happen if it’s not of you. Please don’t let me be able to bring her to live with us if this is not your will for her life and ours. And please God, protect me and don’t let this airplane crash.”
My fear of flying was causing something of a problem. I had broken out in hives and the itching had become intense. But as I prayed it seemed that the fear of everything lifted from me, just as the plane had lifted from the ground and soared into the heavens.
As I began to think about the whole situation, I asked myself, “How could it not be the right thing to do?”
I felt so sure in my heart that I knew what Becky was going through. As I reflected back on my own wasted life of alcohol, rebellion and selfishness, it seemed that I had wasted a lifetime.
Now at 42 years of age, I didn’t want to waste another minute. I wanted to be able to help Becky find the love, fulfillment and satisfaction that she was searching for.
The next day I sat with her parents, counsellors, and court officials as they brought Becky in and sat her in a chair in the center of the room.
She was a beautiful young girl, although you couldn’t see her face clearly. Her brown curly hair was parted in the middle and with her head hung low to her chest, her face was hidden.
Her body was rounded yet small. She sat like a limp rag doll with her hands folded in her lap.
As they explained who I was and what was happening she didn’t answer or give any sign that she had even heard.
My heart pounded in my throat as I waited for her reaction.
There was none!
As they continued to reason with her, she didn’t move or respond in any way.
“Mr. and Mrs. Edwards have a house in the country and want you to come live with them.” The counselor urged, “Do you think you would like that?”
Still she didn’t answer.
“Why won’t you answer, Becky?” the judge asked patiently.
Suddenly her father burst forth angrily, “Because she’s a dummy, and dummies don’t talk.”
I saw Becky break. Her body seemed to jerk forward and the tears began to drip from her bent face and fall into her hands, which were still lying limp on her lap.
My heart broke for her. I could stand it no longer. I leaped from my seat, ran to her, and began to cry as I fell on my knees in front of her and gathered her in my arms.
“Becky, Becky, I love you. God has sent me here to get you. Please talk with us so we can work it all out. Please don’t close us out.”
She sobbed and sobbed on my shoulder and I could feel her arms tighten on my neck. Finally she answered weakly, “Okay,” and from then on things went great.
The court did award us custody, and after the parents had signed the papers, we had a long talk and discussed some plans for the changeover.
Becky had a horse and of course we were in agreement that she be allowed to bring it also. The parents would pay us $150.00 per month for expenses incurred by Becky and her horse.
We would have to wait two weeks before Becky would be put on a plane to fly to the nearest airport. Then her parents would drive by car and trailer and deliver the horse at a later date.
I knew that Kandi would be thrilled because they would have such fun riding together.
It was an exciting time preparing for Becky’s homecoming. We had two weeks to get everything prepared.
It had been a hectic time of furniture moving, cleaning and making room for another teenager. Kandi now had twin beds in her small room and even though she was looking forward to having a new sister, she shared her apprehension about the lack of space in her room.
We all began to realize the sacrifice that we were being challenged with.
We recognized the fear of not being able to live up to the requirements of this calling. It was so obvious that we needed God’s strength and wisdom.
We spent more and more time praying over every decision and our faith was strengthened every day.
From the minute Becky arrived she seemed to have a great attitude about wanting to please us. She even gave me her pack of cigarettes on the way home from the airport and said she was quitting.
I was so grateful and really looked forward to working with her in the future. I had been a heavy smoker at one time and felt that I could encourage her in her desire to quit.
I looked forward to teaching her about spiritual things but also practical matters as well.
However, the very next day, after getting her unpacked and settled into her room, I began to get very nervous.
If she went outside I was walking from one window to another to see where she was and what she was doing. Day after day I became more and more nervous and stressful.
It took some time before I realized that I wasn’t trusting God. My husband Jack and I joined together and prayed and I tried to yield the entire situation to God.
We each knew that if there was any change to come about in Becky’s life it would be because of what God would do. I was finally able to relax and there was a great peace that came into my heart.
Then I began to really enjoy getting to know Becky. She became a special part of our family and it seemed very natural for her to be with us. She was moody at times and we had arguments and disagreements but actually she was pretty even tempered.
She started going to church with us and attended the youth group with Kandi. She never really enjoyed going although she didn’t outwardly rebel.
One day as we were coming home from Sunday morning service, I was feeling extremely joyful and laughingly remarked, “Oh, I am so happy and life is soooo wonderful.”
But it seemed to ignite anger in Becky and she sarcastically said, “What do you have to be so happy about? All you ever do is work and go to church.”
My joy subsided a little but I answered, “I’m happy because Jesus loves me and has given me a new life.” It was true.
Things seemed to be going very smoothly with no major complications for a few months, when suddenly she ran away.
What a terrible feeling! Where could she be? Why did she leave? She wasn’t angry. We had not had any conflict or argument.
It just didn’t make sense. We had no idea where she was but we called the authorities and reported her as a juvenile runaway.
I have never been so scared in my life. It left me with a sick, hollow feeling in the pit of my stomach that just wouldn’t go away day or night.
I began to have doubts about our decision to bring her here. Was God really in this whole thing?
We began to fast and pray. It was our first experience with spiritual warfare and even though we weren’t sure how to go about it, one thing was for sure, we weren’t about to give up without a fight.
We were learning fast. I couldn’t sleep or eat but once again I began to realize that there was nothing I could do except trust that God would protect her and bring her home safely.
After three days we received a call from the authorities at juvenile hall saying that she had been brought in.
We were so relieved but still very puzzled as to why she had run away. When we arrived at the facility where she was being held we sat in the car for some time.
We prayed, asking God how we should respond to her. The only answer we felt we heard was, “Forgive.”
I had to confess that I felt so angry with her. It would take a miracle from God for me to forgive her and continue on as though nothing had happened.
I wasn’t sure what my reaction would be when I saw her face to face. I wanted to take her across my knee and give her a good spanking.
But the minute I saw her I felt the love rise up in my heart and I began to cry as I took her in my arms.
I was so relieved. We began to tell her how much we loved her. It didn’t seem to matter why she had run away. All that mattered was that she was safe and we were back together.
We took her home and explained to her the fear and pain she had caused us all. We assured her that we could and would start over.
We would erase the blackboard, forgive, and begin again just as though it had never happened.
She was amazed at our reaction. So were we, but we knew that God was teaching us to forgive others the way He forgives us. It was a hard lesson to learn.
Things went along pretty well for quite a few months and then suddenly she disappeared again.
It was so unbelievable because it had seemed to us that she was doing great. She had actually made a commitment to God and although she wasn’t greatly changed, we thought she was happy.
Once again we went through familiar feelings of hopelessness, doubt, and fear. We knew by now that God was not only working in her life but in ours also.
A few days later we returned to the juvenile hall to get her and went through the same procedure and assured her that she was forgiven.
It had been a little more difficult this time to understand how we could just take her home and begin again as though nothing had happened. God’s faithfulness was becoming more and more a reality in our lives.
Becky was overwhelmed with our attitude. “Why would you do this? You must be crazy,” she screamed at us on the way home.
I could very calmly and lovingly assure her that it was a total demonstration of God’s love and forgiveness for her.
Becky was with us for a year and a half when the day came that for the last time she disappeared and we couldn’t find her.
The authorities put out an all points bulletin and still no word came.
It was about three months before her parents called to tell us that she was in prison in Louisiana. She had been picked up with a man and arrested for possession of drugs.
Her trial would come up in a month and her father said he would go and take care of it.
We found out much later that the court had released her back to her parents and had advised them that if she ran away again to just let her go. She would be 18 years of age in a few months and there was nothing they could do to hold her.
There is no way to describe the pain and confusion I felt.
Why? Why had God brought her to us to help and then forsake us?
Or had He? It felt like He had, yet deep inside I knew that all we could do was trust that He was still taking care of Becky and doing the most loving thing for her.
We had to just let it go and trust that God had accomplished what He wanted in our relationship with Becky.
We may never know what that was but we felt assured that we had done all we could. We had learned so much about the ways of God.
All I could think at that time was that I never wanted to go through it again. Little did I know, it was only the beginning of many heartaches and yet wonderful experiences to come.
And for the next twenty years, God began to open the door for many others who needed to know the reality of God’s love and forgiveness. One by one He brought them to be a part of our family.
One of the woman from the church called early on the morning of the ladies’ prayer meeting. “Would you mind picking up a new member on your way to the church?” she asked.
“Not at all,” I answered as I quickly took up a pencil and paper and jotted down directions to her home.
It seemed that there was a special presence of the Lord right there in the car that day as I sang, prayed and worshipped. I couldn’t help but feel that something wonderful was about to happen.
I found the address I had written and was just a little surprised as I stopped the car and two young children came running out and hopped into the car.
“Momma will be out in a minute,” the oldest, a girl, spoke.
“What is your name?” I asked the beautiful little girl. She was about eight years of age.
“My name is Pam,” she answered, her eyes dancing.
“And what is your name?” I asked her younger brother. He looked to be about six.
“Damone,” he answered with a very definite drawl, as though he had just recently arrived from the South.
There was no time for further conversation because just then their mother came out of the house carrying a younger child that looked to be about one or one and a half years old.
I leaned over and opened the door and as she got into the car our eyes met and I have never seen such beauty.
“Hi,” she spoke. “My name is Marcie.” Her face was radiant and her voice was full of joy.
“My name is Betty,” I answered her. “And I am very happy to meet you.”
I was overwhelmed with the love that I felt rise up from deep within. That was very surprising because you see, Marcie and her children were black. I had never had any close contact with black people before.
I never had felt that I was particularly prejudiced; I guess the best description would be that I was just indifferent.
As a teenager I came with my family from a small town in Texas where there had been a lot of prejudice. I thought I had been somehow protected from all the bitterness that some people seemed to feel.
I just thought that I would never be confronted with having to take a stand one way or another about the way I accepted them or not. But now, here I was face to face with the most beautiful woman (who happened to be black) and I loved her.
She must have been having a lot of the same feelings because she sounded overwhelmed by the circumstances as she said, “I don’t even know you but I feel such a love deep in my heart.”
“I know,” I answered. “I feel it too. It’s as though we have been brought together at a special time, for a special reason. It’s God.”
We just sat and cried and rejoiced together for a time before we started off down the freeway toward the church.
It was a wonderful day. We shared so much information together. By the end of the day we felt that we had known each other for years. I just couldn’t get enough information about her and her family.
As she explained her situation my heart went out to her.
She shared how she had been living with a man for nine years. They had never been married. Her three children were born out of wedlock.
When she had just recently become a Christian, God had begun to convict her of the sinful living conditions.
She repented and her life was changed, but the man she was living with would have nothing to do with God. He didn’t want to hear about the things of the Lord. He definitely refused to marry her.
She stayed with him even though she was living under deep conviction. She felt that God was telling her to leave but she had no place to go.
Her sister lived in our town but she had a large family and there certainly was no room for four extra people. Nor was there money to provide food for that many.
But finally things became so bad that Marcie knew that she must leave. Ray had gotten really worse with an involvement with drinking and drugs.
It was almost as though God was putting her into a situation to force her to make the decision to leave.
After a very heated argument, she knew what she must do. So she took the barest necessities and went to her sister’s house.
Her sister knew a man who owned a house that was empty while he was trying to sell it, and at her request he agreed that Marcie and the children could stay there temporarily.
As she told me the details of her life I couldn’t help but want to do something to encourage her and make her life more comfortable and peaceful.
“You know, Marcie,” I’m sure my voice was noticeably emotional, “If you ever need a place to live, you can come live with me.”
Oh my! What did I say? What would Jack think? Sure, he had told me if I ever found a teenage girl that needed a home, I could bring her home. But here was a woman with three children.
I really felt that the words had come from someone other that myself and I knew that if it was of God, He would make a way.
We embraced as we said goodbye, and she thanked me for the offer. She assured me that something would open up somewhere.
That night as I told Jack about the day and my newfound friend I was so excited. But I didn’t tell him that I had invited her to bring her family and live with us.
Maybe she was right. God would work something else out for them.
It was only a few days later that Marcie called and was in tears.
“Betty!” she cried. “We have just received word that this house has sold and we have to be out by Saturday.”
That was only three days away.
“I am so humiliated to have to ask you this, but I don’t know what else to do. I have nowhere to go.” she continued.
“Do you really think we could come and stay with you? Just until we can work something else out?”
“Let me call you right back,” was my quick reply.
I would have to get in touch with Jack immediately to see if he would agree. I really had no doubt that he would agree but I was feeling doubtful that this whole thing was of God.
So before I called him I prayed that if this was of God, Jack would be in agreement even if I didn’t tell him what it was that I felt God wanted us to do.
“Hi, honey!” I cheerfully greeted him when he answered the phone from his office.
“What do you want, honey? I’m very busy right now.” He sounded almost impatient.
“Well, you will think this is crazy but there is something that I think God wants us to do and I don’t want to tell you what it is. Because I want confirmation to come through you. So will you pray and ask God what it is and to give us a yes or no answer. Then call and let me know right away.”
I waited for the rest of the day praying for God to speak to him and give him the right answer. What if he didn’t get an answer? What if he said no? What would Marcie do then?
“Oh please, God. Speak to Jack. Confirm this if it is of you,” I prayed over and over.
Finally late in the afternoon he called.
He sounded a little exasperated with me as he said, “Betty, I have been so busy today I haven’t had time to do much praying, but just now as I asked the Lord to show me, all I got was that maybe there is someone that needs a place to live and you want to bring them into our home.”
“That’s it! That’s it!” I cried. “But Jack, you don’t know the whole story. There are four of them. And did I tell you they’re black?”
“Well, they still need a place to live, don’t they? Do you want me to stop and pick them up on the way home?”
That is just the way that husband of mine is: totally giving and it is so natural for him to obey the Lord. It was no big deal to him.
Also we both knew that this was what the Lord wanted us to do.
“No,” I answered. “They have to be out Saturday. So that gives us plenty of time to make space for them and get things ready.”
I called Marcie right away and gave her the good news.
I explained to her how God had given the confirmation through Jack so she too would know that God was in control and bringing our lives together in a miraculous way.
Once again it wasn’t something we planned ahead. We had no idea at that time that this would become an extended ministry.
We hadn’t made any plans or rules. We were trying to walk in obedience to what we felt God wanted us to do one step at a time. Things just began to develop.
What fun we all had on Saturday when we went to pick them up! The kids were wild with excitement.
It didn’t take us too long before everything was in place, they were settling in, and we began to really get acquainted. One thing was for sure. Our house wasn’t big enough to accommodate four extra people.
We had moved furniture and rooms around to make room for everyone but it was just too crowded. We had wall to wall people.
We had been thinking about selling our place in the country for some time. Now we began to pray seriously and ask God if this was His will.
We felt assured that we were to sell and right away went through the process of listing our property with a real estate company.
When we heard about an old Victorian house for sale in a nearby town we went to investigate.
As we drove past the house several times, it became obvious that it required a lot of hard work.
Even though there was a certain charm with the Queen Anne Victorian architecture, it looked as though it was falling apart. The porches were sagging and it looked as though the whole house would fall over at any minute.
We parked across the street and viewed it from another angle hoping to see something worth saving.
The yard was a disaster with rose bushes and shrubs growing over the sidewalks and into the street. Weeds were as high as the windows.
All we could see was that it would mean years of hard work, not to mention the expense. But as we sat there we prayed, “God, if you want us to buy this house, please put the desire in our hearts and make it a possibility.”
We had spent years working and remodeling our old farm house and it just wasn’t too exciting to think about going into another project that would take years to complete.
It was a great blessing that Jack was able to do all the remodeling himself but he worked at a full time job with the California Highway Patrol and could only work at home during the evenings and weekends.
Driving home we decided to just put the thought aside and wait to see what God would do.
I couldn’t stop thinking about that old house and wondering what it looked like inside.
Finally I prayed, “Lord, if you really want us to buy that house let us get a chance to go through the inside of it tomorrow. Then when I’m inside I’ll remember that it is confirmation for us to go ahead with plans to buy it.”
I decided not to say a word to Jack about my prayer, but to wait and see what happened.
The next morning at breakfast Jack said, “You know, Betty, I just can’t stop thinking about that old house. Last night I dreamed that I was floating around the outside of the house trying to see what was on the inside. How about me calling to see if we can go look at it again today?”
My heart leaped as I answered a quick, “Sure.”
I said nothing to him about my prayer, and he went right to the phone and talked to the owner and made arrangements to see the inside of the house that afternoon.
As I walked through the house I couldn’t help but have a sick feeling. It not only looked bad on the outside but the inside was worse. There was darkness, and we had a cold, desolate feeling as we walked from room to room.
Going up the steep, creaky stairway, I heard God speak, “Betty, remember the prayer you prayed last night?”
“Oh no,” I thought. “God does want us to buy this house.”
By the time we returned to the car I was in tears. I just didn’t want to buy that old house.
But if that was what God wanted, then there must be a good reason for it. I did want to be obedient, but all I could think was that maybe we were wrong.
Maybe God didn’t want us to buy this house. I needed more confirmation.
I had always dreamed that the next house we bought would be new, or at least one that didn’t have to have every room in the house remodeled. I wanted to be able to move into a nice, new, clean house, put things away, settle down, and not have to redo everything.
The man who owned it was a long time friend. As we prayed for confirmation from God we were amazed at the way circumstances changed.
The friend said we could go ahead and move in, put our place in the country up for sale, and start payments on the house once the sale of our property was completed. It took a giant step of faith for us to pull up roots and move into town.
Our place did sell immediately and all the paper work was finished with payments about the same as we had paid before.
There were many advantages to moving to town but many sacrifices also.
It was hard for Kandi to say good-bye to her horse, Blaze. We had found a good home for Blaze and Becky’s horse also. but even through the sadness, she agreed that it was something God was requiring of her.
Her attitude was so rewarding to us. We were in this together as a family. We were grateful that the problems we had with Becky had only strengthened her faith and determination to follow God.
It wasn’t easy for any of us, as we gave over the many blessings of living in the country. As we gave up blessings in one area in order to bless others, God more than made up for it in other ways.
We were learning so much about the ways of God day by day. We were learning to hear his voice.
Some nights I would wake up with a scripture in my mind that would confirm a decision or perhaps start us to thinking in a different direction.
Or during the Bible reading for the day, Jack would sense that God was giving a specific direction. It was an exciting way to live.
Moving day was really something special. Marcie and the children pitched in and helped. They were so excited about having a new home.
It was fun settling into the community and getting to know the neighbors. Soon the two older children were in school and it looked like all was going well when Marcie discovered that she was pregnant once again.
She was devastated at first. But her faith in God was growing stronger every day and we knew that God would work it all out.
She had not let her ex-live-in boyfriend know of her whereabouts and she did not want him to know about the baby.
But we prayed diligently every day for him, that God would change his heart and that he would come to know God.
He had contacted Marcie’s sister trying to find Marcie and the children but she had not let him know where she was.
The first project we started after moving was to remodel and decorate a room upstairs for Kandi. She had sacrificed so much for others that we wanted her to feel her comfort was the most important thing.
What fun we had picking out the pink flowered wallpaper, dark pink carpet, and the pink ruffled bedspread!
Yes, pink was her favorite color and she was thrilled to have a beautiful room all to herself. It blessed Jack and me to be able to put her first in selecting a special room and making that a priority.
Kandi had started high school and was doing well.
Her grades were getting better all the time and she was asked to work in the school office during some classes. She had a natural ability for working with business machines and typing.
At home she helped with the cooking, cleaning, and other chores. She loved helping Marcie with the children, especially Ena, the baby. I was so proud of my precious daughter.
Day by day I became more aware of loving this little family. Those precious children were as dear to me as my own.
I will always remember how Ena, the youngest little girl, would curl up on my lap each morning sleepily rubbing her eyes and yawning trying to wake up.
I loved the feel of her curly little head against my cheek and her chubby little hand holding onto my arm as I sat and prayed for the day ahead for all of us.
And Damone, as he joined in on the prayer time and prayed for each one of us.
I think Pam was too caught up in just eating and getting dressed for school to care too much about what was going on but she was such a willing and obedient little girl. Even though sometimes her questions just about drove you crazy.
It was early in the morning that Marcie began to go into labor. Kandi watched the children that morning and got the two older ones off to school and I was free to be with Marcie.
She had decided that as soon as the baby was born that I should send Ray a telegram and let him know that he had another child.
If he wanted to see the baby she would let him come to the hospital and of course we were all praying that he would be open to hearing about the wonderful things that God had done in the lives of his family.
Marcie’s labor was short and she gave birth to a beautiful baby girl which she named, “Rayna.” She was so cute and tiny and when she looked up into our eyes it seemed that she already knew who we were.
Ray was so relieved and excited when we called him and gave him the news. Of course he wanted to know when he could see Marcie and the children.
As we gave him directions for coming we felt that God was going to work a miracle.
It was late that same afternoon that Ray rang the doorbell of our home and we met him for the first time. He was a handsome young man and very soft spoken.
As we sat and related to him all about the way God had brought our two families together he was speechless.
As we sat and talked the late afternoon sun began to fill the room with a soft glow. The presence of God was so powerful and real you could almost see Him standing there.
I sensed that Jesus was standing right beside Ray holding out his hands as if to say, “Come unto me.”
“Ray,” I spoke, “Have you ever considered giving your life to Jesus?” He hesitated before speaking and then in a whisper he said, “Oh, He would never want me. I’ve been too bad.”
For the next hour Jack and I explained the love and forgiveness of Jesus and the way of salvation. Finally after many questions and explanations he agreed to join us in prayer and give his heart and life to Jesus.
We knelt beside the couch and each one of us prayed. I thought my heart would burst as he cried out for Jesus to save him and change his life. His face was aglow as he looked up and said, “I have to call Marcie.”
When he called the hospital and told Marcie what had happened I could hear her scream, even though I was across the room.
“She wants to talk to you, Betty.” He was holding the phone out to me.
“Marcie?” I waited.
“Is it true Betty?” She was crying. “Is it really true. Oh I just can’t believe it’s really true.”
“Yes, Marcie. It’s really true. Jack, Ray, and I kneeled and prayed together and the first thing he wanted to do was talk to you and tell you.” I felt this was a real indication that he meant business.
By now Ray was standing close beside me ready to resume his conversation with her.
He took the phone and Jack and I rejoiced as we heard him ask, “Marcie, can we get married now? I’m coming back over there so we can talk.”
He couldn’t wait to return to the hospital and after a brief visit with the children and a farewell prayer, he drove away.
It was a busy and exciting day when Marcie returned home with the new baby.
Everyone wanted to hold the baby and change her and feed her. It became almost hectic just trying to keep peace with the older children.
But soon things settled into a pleasant routine and we began to make plans for a wedding.
Ray’s parents lived about an hours’ drive away. They were very excited about the engagement and wanted the wedding to be held in their home.
Marcie was so relieved that God was providing in this way and it made her feel so accepted by his family.
We went shopping for the perfect dress and finally found it. It was made of blue crepe and simple in style.
I did her hair in curls on top of her head surrounded with a halo of flowers. She looked so beautiful and radiant.
Of course the children looked great too with their little faces all shiny and happy. They were so excited to be back with Daddy and to be going to their own home again.
The wedding was beautiful and we were so proud to be a part of the family gathering.
We really were a part of the family. We knew it and they each knew it too.
It had become so obvious that even though our skin was a different color, we are all the same children of God.
I was just as black as they were. They were just as white as we were. We had found a true love in the Spirit that lifted us up and over any barrier of race and prejudice.
As we returned to our home that night we felt a little sad.
Even though we were rejoicing that God had brought Marcie’s family together we knew that our lives would never be the same.
The house would feel very empty and it was hard to imagine the days ahead without them. Kandi was especially sad and tearful.
Now, as I reflect back over the years of ministry it is obvious to me that Kandi was a very vital part of the beginning of the ministry.
God was faithful in keeping His promise that as we walked in obedience to Him and poured out to others, He would pour out His love and protection on our family. We felt assured that He would protect us in every area.
If we hadn’t had that assurance I doubt that we would have reached out to others in the first place. It was because of the supernatural faith to trust Him totally that we were freed from the fear.
As we became more involved in the ministry it was hard to make family and friends understand about the change in our lifestyle.
That was a part of the sacrifice for us. It meant that we wouldn’t have time for family outings and fellowship as before.
It was hard for some not to feel hurt. But soon they began to accept it. Although they voiced some of their fears by asking questions, such as, “Aren’t you afraid someone might rip you off?” Or, “What if things get broken?”
Actually those thoughts hadn’t even entered our minds. But it is a very valid question.
The things we owned were not of great value even though we were grateful for all that we had. Some things had great sentimental attachment.
Everything we had was given over to God so if something got broken it helped to say, “Oh look, Father. Your vase got broken.”
It was a reminder that it no longer belonged to us. God continued to remind us that things were not more important than people, but it took a while for this to become the normal way to live.
I remember what a thrill I felt when I took Marcie into my room, one day right after she had moved in and opened the closet door and said, “Take your pick. You can have anything you want.”
The real test came when she picked my favorite dress and I felt a prick in my heart. “Oh no, Lord, not that one…” I thought silently.
But when she put it on and I saw the joy sparkle in her eyes, my joy leaped to the surface and I couldn’t help but rejoice with her. I think at that moment God began to sing with joy over my obedience.
We discovered that there were no greater blessings for us than to give all that we are and all that we have to God. Then the more we give out to others, the more he gives out to us.
“Store not up for yourselves treasures on earth where moth and rust corrupts and thieves break through and steal, but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven where moth and rust does not corrupt and thieves cannot break through and steal. For where your treasure is, there is you heart also.”
That scripture came alive to us one day when someone broke into our home to rob us but nothing was taken. They were probably looking for something of value but found nothing.
The amusing thing was that the thief broke a window to enter the house when the front door was unlocked.
I remember, one day shortly after we moved into the house, we decided to have a spiritual cleaning.
We all gathered into the furthest corner of the upstairs and went through the attic, all the rooms, and closets and rebuked any spirit or spiritual influence that was not of God.
We quoted scripture, and sang songs of praise as we ended up at the back door of the house. It was an exciting time.
Then we joined hands and prayed that God would bring the people that He wanted into our home. We prayed that God would give wisdom to know who to accept into our family and if we were to turn anyone away.
Soon we were overwhelmed with calls from people asking us to take someone into our home.
The pastor, elders, and the congregation of our church had become aware of our open door policy and were very supportive in prayer and encouragement.
What a great blessing it has been to us. Proverbs 22:24 says, “A liberal man will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.”
Surely our cup runneth over.
Our ministry progressed far beyond hospitality but it began in many small ways.
It could begin by inviting one person at a time into our home for a cup of coffee and edifying conversation.
Or we could go so far as to use an extra bedroom for someone who has no home.
It depends on the amount of time and committment you want to invest, as well as the burden God has placed on your heart. It is freedom to be as involved as you want to be.
For me, it was a calling and burden to disciple people. It didn’t matter the length of time or depth of committment.
As I read about Jesus and His disciples, it was inspiring.
He was with His disciples only three and a half years yet eleven of those twelve men carried the message throughout time.
Christians today are a result of Jesus’ discipleship.
Jesus ate and slept with His disciples. He taught them and was the perfect example for the way men should live.
That became a goal for my life also. It was something that had to be learned as I lived it out day by day.
It is a satisfying experience to actually spend time with another person and let your life be a living example of walking by faith.
You can expect to make mistakes along the way. We learn as we walk.
Even with only one hour a week, it can make a powerful difference. It can bring healing to a broken heart, fellowship for loneliness, or encouragement for someone who is discouraged.
There were so many wonderful people in our church congregation but it was impossible to get to know everyone and spend time with them individually.
We wanted to get to know more people so we decided to set aside every Friday for fellowship night.
We would choose six pairs of people at a time, write their names on a small piece of paper and place them in a basket.
Every Sunday morning we would pray and then draw one name. We would invite that person or couple for the following Friday night.
We included single people’s name also. It was a great way of getting to know more people and so much more fun to greet one another when we met in church. We were no longer strangers.
I always thought I had to wait for Jack to retire before we could go to the mission field. During this waiting process God began to bring the hurting lonely people that had needs.
Now I can see clearly that I lived on the mission field already.
We have all heard the saying that we are either a missionary or a mission field. But we sometimes have a wrong concept of where the mission field is.
As we submit to God and ask Him how He wants us to be involved, He will lead and show the way. He knows what’s best for each of us and never expects more than we can perform.
He didn’t begin by filling our home with six to ten people at a time. He began with one rebellious, hurting, angry young girl that really needed to see love and forgiveness.
Next it was a family that not only had a physical need for a home. They needed to see a Christian family in loving action.
When I first heard the discipleship concept, I became very eager to have a disciple. Someone that I could not only teach the ways of God, but also show them in every day living.
During an intense prayer time I poured out my desire to God.
“Father, please help me to disciple people. How will I know who to disciple? Or how will I know the right time? When I’m ready, please let me know by letting someone actually ask me to disciple her.”
Little did I know that I had been discipling women already.
That prayer was forgotten until a few days later a young, shy girl of about twenty passed me a note during a church service. It read, “Betty, would you consider discipling me? I had this thought during my prayer time and I think it’s of the Lord.”
Needless to say, I answered a definite “yes.” After much planning, prayer, and discussion, we agreed for her to move in and live with us so we could spend as much time together as possible.
It was fun having her with me almost constantly and teaching her all kinds of things. she was full of questions and hungry to know more about God. I discovered that I was learning more also.
I didn’t always have the right answers but we learned together as we prayed and searched through scriptures.
She became one of many women the Lord brought to be my disciple. He only increased the ministry as I and the rest of the family were ready.
There are many ways the Lord can use us right in our homes.
If there are no extra bedrooms we can open for a weekly Bible study or home group. If you have a desire to teach, it is a great opportunity to use the gifting God has given.
We linked with an evangelism team from the church at one point and opened up our family room for their use.
They would go out on the street each Saturday night and get people interested in hearing about God and bring them back to the house.
Our family would pray for the team while they were out on the street. Then we prepared hot drinks, cookies, or popcorn and would be waiting for them when they returned.
It was encouraging for the team to know we were there to help.
If there is a guest room in your home or unoccupied bedroom the opportunity is less limited. A friend of ours, who had extra rooms, opened up her home for a Bible school student after her husband died.
The student was a great blessing and filled a place of loneliness for our friend. It also met a great need of the student. The two women became great friends.
If there is a Bible school, junior college, or university in your city there is always a great need for housing. Commitment can range all the way from a boarding house situation to discipleship.
A larger home can be used as a home for unwed mothers, pregnant teens, or foster home. We discovered that you have to be licensed with the county if you bring minors into your home to live on a permanent basis.
While teaching a young adult Sunday school class we met Anne. she was about seventeen, a new Christian and living in a county operated home for drug rehabilitation.
After she became a Christian, God had completely delivered her from all desire for drugs but she was more or less made to stay in the county home.
It was not a Christian house and the influence was very negative. There was loud rock-and-roll music, smoking and conversation that was depressing for Anne.
For many weeks, as we heard about her situation, and prayed for her many problems, we became burdened for her and felt that perhaps she could live with us.
She was overwhelmed with the possibility of living in a Christian home.
As we began the process of transferring her, we discovered that we had to go before the county authorities and become a licensed foster home.
It didn’t mean that we would have to take youth from the county unless we wanted to, but it did mean that we had to be licensed in order to bring in a minor.
I also heard about a lady who opens up her large Texas home for retreats every other week-end. What a blessing to be able to provide a place for people to have much needed rest and relaxation.
While working in a prison ministry I became aware of the great need for a home for women (or men) after they are released from prison. Some of them become Christian while in prison through Bible studies, or some are Christians even before they enter prison.
After their release so many have no place to go where they are safe and protected from the temptations of the world. They are released back into an unfit environment and soon return to prison.
What a great opportunity for discipleship. That is what so many of them need.
It is easy to understand the fear that might arise in taking someone into your home that is just released from prison. There would be a definite screening involved.
But those people whose lives have really been changed by Jesus need help to acquire a strong foundation before they are thrust back into society.
Single women can join together for a ministry to one another. It could provide encouragement for each other as well as help with living expenses.
That could make it possible for a third person, who needs discipleship, to share the same home.
It would be wise if you have to travel a lot or be out of your home, to have someone living with you in order that the house not be left vacant when you’re out of town.
Many people have made a business of “housesitting.” You could have that need met and bless someone at the same time.
Once we had people living with us there never seemed to be a problem with leaving for a short “getaway.”
The house was always full of activity and anyone would know that there was someone there. We felt the home was always safe if we left for a time.
If you are licensed with the state or county there needs to be someone in authority for overnight. It is a mandatory rule of the county and state.
It wasn’t until much later in the ministry that we became licensed. It was many years before we had to take the necessary steps of coming under the authority of the state.
With today’s economic situation it is sometimes necessary for families to join together in order to make ends meet.
There are a lot of adult children with their families returning to live with Grandma and Grandpa. It can be a real blessing for the children as well as mom and dad.
At one time it was strange that one by one the people living with us began to move out on their own.
It was either time for them to get their own place, or return to parents or whatever the situation. The house became strangely silent.
We wondered just what God was up to. Was it a time for resting from the ministry or what?
Before long we received a visit from one of our sons and his wife. They were wondering if they could move in with us while they built a house. Oh! So that’s it, Lord!
After much discussion and planning it was decided that we would do it.
We tried to cover all the possibilities of problems before either of us made a definite decision.
We decided how we would divide up the household responsibilities, expenses, shopping, etc.
They had two young girls and with three bedrooms, a small den, and bathroom upstairs, it was decided that their “private territory” would be upstairs.
However, the kitchen, living room, and family room downstairs would be common territory. Jack and I had our large bedroom and bathroom which would be our “private territory.”
We were excited about living together even though we felt that it would be unrealistic to think that there would be no problems. But we decided to face them and pray about them as they came up.
There were more delays in getting building permits and getting the house livable than they had originally planned so they were with us two and a half years.
It was some of the best years of our ministry. We became much more bonded than we had ever been before.
We can never out-give God. The scripture says, “Cast your bread upon the waters, for after many days you will find it again.” (Ecc. 11:1)
Blessings always return. Sometimes they return in great waves of spiritual revelations. Or perhaps in billows of peace and joy. One thing for sure, the real blessings are in the “casting.”
One cold rainy evening as the family sat around the kitchen table playing Monopoly, I had just passed “Go” and was about to receive my $200.00 when the phone rang.
A friend explained that her teenage son had brought home a runaway teen girl. He couldn’t leave her on the street but didn’t know where to take her.
It was an urgent request for an overnight guest. It just happened that we had an available room so we told them to bring her over.
Debbie was about fourteen, very pretty with dark brown curly hair and big brown eyes. She was very shy and embarrassed, drenched and shaking from the cold.
I immediately ran a hot bath and got a big flannel night gown for her. As she bathed, the family gathered in the kitchen to pray.
Jack, being an investigator, informed us that it wasn’t lawful for us to harbor a runaway.
While seeking the Lord for wisdom we felt we were to let her stay the night, but we must her know that we would call her parents the next day.
During a sleepless night Jack and I wrestled with the idea of letting her move in permanently if her parents were in agreement and she was willing.
The following morning I went into her room and she was just waking up. I gave her a big “Mommy” hug and told her we had been praying about her situation.
When I shared our idea about her living with us she instantly responded with joy.
She was perfectly willing for us to call her parents and discuss the possibility of her becoming a permanent resident in our home.
Her mother and father had been divorced and her father had remarried. The problem seemed to be between Debbie and the stepmother.
Her mother lived in Oregon and she was very resentful and bitter because she couldn’t live with her mother.
We were very impressed with the love and concern these two showed as we sat together and made arrangements for Debbie to live with us. I think it was a relief for them to release her into the hands of someone who could help her through the crisis years ahead.
Our comittment to them was open ended. She could stay as long as necessary for healing and restoration. They agreed to pay us $100.00 per month to help with expenses.
I was so excited about having her with us. I just knew that in a short time she would turn her life over to God, be healed of her hurts and be made whole. I grew to love her more each day.
She didn’t rebel at the simple rules, did her share of helping around the house, and attended church with us regularly.
She had friends which she brought home for fellowship and everything was going along perfectly.
Debbie had been with us only three weeks when the mother of a friend of hers called to see if I knew where the girls were.
Debbie had asked permission to stop over at her friends house for an hour after school that day. I hadn’t imagined that she wouldn’t be there.
The friends mother had given her daughter permission to spend time at our house. When we called the school we discovered that both girls had cut school that day.
As the dreaded night drew near, I was once again confronted by a cold fear. Where could she be? Why did she do this? What had happened?
We made the necessary phone calls to her parents and discovered that someone had broken into their home and stolen money. They were sure it was Debbie.
After checking at the bus station her father felt sure she had taken off to Oregon to join her mother. The friends mother called a few days later to let us know that her daughter had returned home safely and that Debbie was with her mother.
I didn’t respond to this situation well at all. I was filled with questions. What had gone wrong? Where had I failed? Why did God do this to me?
I was perfectly happy and life was going along just great before Debbie came along. Then I opened my heart wide and let her in. I loved her with all that I had and now look what happened.
“Never again!” Those were my words to God.
“Never! It hurts too much. Why should I pour out all the love I have to someone when they just turn and break your heart? No! Never again!”
I was unhappy as I attended church that next Sunday morning.
But I felt God’s presence and heard His quiet urging in my heart. “Betty, I need a willing vessel. Someone who is unafraid of being hurt. Someone who will spend their life in loving others.”
It required a new and deeper commitment from me, but as I yielded my heart, I felt the love of God in a new and powerful way.
As my heart answered “Yes,” I knew that the only way I could possibly live this out would be through His love in me.
As Jesus walked with his disciples day by day, He was with them, teaching them by example as well as telling simple stories. When I read Matthew 5, 6, and 7, I can picture Jesus as He sat on the mountain side with his disciples.
Perhaps it was a hot summer day and they were hot, tired, and breathless from the steep walk upward. They were grateful for the cool shade of the tree and the gentle breeze against their sweaty faces.
As He taught them that day I’m not convinced they totally understood what He was really saying. Even as I read the beautiful words for the first time, there was not the impact of the principles until I began living them.
The more understanding I had of the principles of Jesus’ teaching, the more responsibility I had to live them out.
Even today, I am continually lead into situations which give opportunity for putting into practice what I know is obedience to Jesus’ teaching.
It is not always easy, but the everyday living out of His principles is an important example to the people we live with, whether it is our own immediate family or stranger we bring in to become a part of our lives.
To this day I have never heard from Debbie. I may never hear.
But I know that in those few short weeks, she saw love in a way that she had never seen before. Seeds were planted and hopefully some took root and are in the process of growing.
Yes, it’s true. I can prepare the soil, plant seed, do a little watering along the way. But it’s God that brings the increase. He is the one that brings change in a person’s heart.
In the beginning of the ministry I had a very unrealistic dream of being used by God to change people’s lives. I thought that by bringing people into our home, telling them how Jesus had changed my life and then being a living example, would cause a big change in their lives.
When it didn’t work out that way, I would become very disillusioned.
It took time after time of disappointment before I realized that I couldn’t change anyone. Yet with each person there were small seeds planted.
Our lives revolved around church, church activities, and fellowshipping with people from the church. No one ever rebelled about going to church and participating in the programs there.
It was always understood that living with our family meant going together. Even though some of the younger people didn’t really enjoy going or get enthusiastic about it, they still went along and understood it was the way we lived.
Little by little we could see that it had a positive affect in their lives. Sometimes we could see great changes as a result of learning more truth about God.
Most of the time, we had a weekly Bible study or home fellowship group meeting in our home. Everyone was encouraged to attend but it wasn’t mandatory.
Students usually had homework or wanted to stay in their room and go to bed early. Some enjoyed the fellowship and always participated.
The most rewarding times was when questions would come spontaneously during meal preparation or other household responsibilities.
I usually took the main responsibility of cooking but others would help in making salads, setting the table or making a dessert.
We would get so involved during conversation that we would have meals on the table before we realized it. Time would pass so quickly.
A call came from the pastor of our church asking if we could take in a young mother who was having a terrible time with depression.
She was on medication but would become so confused sometime that she couldn’t remember how much medication she had taken. Then she would be in danger of overdosing.
One of the young women in the house was preparing to be away for about three weeks. She graciously gave up her room so Cindy could come to stay until she could recover from her problem.
Her mother had agreed to take care of her children until she was able to function again. The commitment was for three weeks.
I was a little nervous at first. I am not a psychologist or trained counselor so I felt a little insecure about being able to help Cindy.
But right from the beginning there was a feeling of trust and love. All I could do was to just be “myself.”
I included her in everything I did. If the schedule for the day was to clean house, I would talk to her while I worked and show her how much I enjoy cleaning.
It is very rewarding for me to clean a room until it sparkles and then bring in fresh flowers from the garden. I get very enthusiastic about all the responsibilities of running a home.
After a few days, Cindy began to respond to everything I was doing. She began to help, ask questions, and get inspired also.
We began to have a lot of fun. We openly discussed her problem and I monitored her medication carefully. I would take her for her doctor visits and sometimes we would take time to go out for lunch.
I had recently bought a magazine full of recipes for making economical meals. As I tried a new recipe night after night, she would sit at the table and read the recipe and tell me what to do. It was such fun working together.
Time went so fast and I hated to see her leave when her husband came to pick her up. We had become good friends.
She had changed so much in such a short time. She didn’t look like the same woman. She was so outgoing and you could see the absence of stress in her face. Everyone began to notice the difference.
Even today when I happen to meet any of her family, they remark at the change that took place and still is evident today.
Their question is, “What did you do?”
My answer is, “I really don’t know.”
I think it was being able to see love, joy, peace and life in action and seeing that every little thing we do can be fun when done as unto the Lord.
That was about fifteen years ago and recently while talking to the pastor that brought her to us, he remarked about how her life had changed and how victoriously she is now living.
That is encouraging for me to see that my life helped to bring wholeness to another. It isn’t always that easy or successful but it is always that exciting and challenging, even when the ending isn’t that great.
When Tom and Sharon and their baby daughter moved in with us, it was just as we were beginning to realize that this was an ongoing ministry. Tom was constantly asking, “Well… what are the rules of the house?”
We hadn’t even thought about rules until then. We hadn’t made any and hadn’t felt it was necessary.
Jack’s suggestion was that we live the first and most important rule. “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, mind, and soul, and thy neighbor as thyself.” (Matt. 22:37)
His theory was that if you love the other people living in the home as yourself you wouldn’t have to make a long list of rules. I was in agreement with that idea. It was the perfect rule.
That was the answer we gave Tom.
Soon in the midst of a hectic day we were suddenly aware of very loud music coming from upstairs. It was beginning to get on everyone’s nerves.
As a result, a rule came into effect. “Do not play your radio or tape player loud enough to be heard outside your own room.”
We began to discover that the bathtub was left in such a condition that no one would want to take a bath. There was only one bathroom in operation at that time and seven people living together.
Another rule was added. “After taking a bath, leave the tub the way you would want to find it if you went in to bathe.” It’s not showing love for the other person if you don’t show them the same consideration you expect for yourself.
Before long we had some specifics to emphasize when asked what the rules were. But basically it could all be summed up by asking, “Is this the most loving way to treat others that I live with?”
Most of the people living with us had a need to interact with family. Therefore we did not allow television in bedrooms.
We did have a television in the family room and everyone was free to use it in the evenings. We discouraged daytime television except for specials, or football games on weekends.
Those who wanted to watch television would gather, agree on what to watch and enjoy it together, along with popcorn, soft drinks, or maybe homemade cookies that someone had baked that day.
The rule in the kitchen was that you could cook or bake anytime you wanted to, but you must leave the kitchen in the same condition you found it. In other words, “Clean up your mess.”
I even strongly discouraged anyone from leaving one dirty glass, or cup after having a cold or hot drink.
My reasoning was, “With five to ten people leaving dirty dishes in the sink or on the counter it’s a cluttered mess by meal time. Someone has to clean that up. Is that loving for the person who will take the responsibility?”
One day I returned home from shopping and found a unbelievable mess in the kitchen. From the evidence I could see that someone had made a cake, and there was a fresh bowl of jello in the refrigerator.
That was great, but, all of the dirty bowls, pans, and utensils were in the sink and sitting on the counter.
I couldn’t believe that anyone would deliberately leave a mess like that. So I decided to just wait. I was sure someone would return to finish their job.
I waited and waited. Suddenly two of the girls came downstairs and headed for the door to leave for a shopping trip.
“Hi gals. Going shopping?” I asked casually.
“Yes,” they answered cheerfully, totally unaware of the chaos in the sink.
“Do you have any idea who left this awful mess?” I asked.
“Oh, we did,” was the simple answer as they continued towards the door.
“Wait a minute.” I raised my voice just a little to be sure they had my full attention. “Who do you think is going to clean this up?”
They both looked shocked! It didn’t appear that they had even thought of it.
“Ooooh… we will.” They both turned, lay their purses aside, and moved quickly to the chore before them.
I just left the room, as I responded to their action with a loud, “Thank you very much.”
The scripture says that if anyone needs wisdom all we have to do is ask and it will be given freely. I was asking all the time and I can truthfully testify that God is faithful in providing wisdom along with His wonderful grace.
One basic responsibility of everyone was to keep their own room clean, do their own laundry, and not leave personal property in free areas. The cleaning of bathrooms was shared by those using it.
The living room, family room, and kitchen was a responsibility that I took upon myself, partly because I loved doing it and it was a part of the training I believe God was putting me through.
As I prayed that God would give me a servant heart I discovered that He did that by requiring me to serve those I lived with.
I never cared a lot about cooking and I didn’t think I was a good cook. It was especially hard for me to be in the kitchen preparing a meal when no one came and offered to help.
Part of the training and discipline for Kandi was to help with cleaning and cooking. I was teaching her to cook as well as setting an example of serving others.
I didn’t dare complain to her. But I found that resentment began to creep into my heart.
One day when I was feeling particularly sorry for myself, I cried out to God and told Him just how I felt. “Lord, it’s not fair. Here I am cooking meal after meal, cleaning and working and no one ever helps.”
(Doesn’t that sound a lot like Martha?)
“Why are they so ungrateful? Please help me.”
Instantly, I remembered the scripture, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do with all your might.” (Ecc. 9:10)
Also the one that says, “Serve wholehearted, as if you were serving the Lord, not men.” (Eph. 6:7).
“Could I do that?” I wondered silently to the Lord.
Could I just imagine in my mind that I was doing everything as though I was serving Jesus? After all, the scripture does say that as we have done service unto the least, we have done it unto Him.
I came to the conclusion that it was exactly what God expected of me.
Little by little, day by day, it became easier and more enjoyable until finally it was a natural part of life.
It was then that others in the house began to volunteer to help and God permitted me to request help with cleaning up after meals.
Soon I made up a schedule and everyone took turns. Jack and I were then free to leave the table to take our after dinner coffee and have a quiet time together.
One of our girls played the guitar and sang. She would take her guitar into the kitchen and all the girls would sing worship songs together with beautiful harmony. It was a great blessing.
When someone first moved in, we would give them a few days to settle in, get acquainted with everyone, and get the feel of the household.
They were given the basic rules but no responsibilities until they were feeling comfortable and “at home.” Once they felt loved and accepted it was easy for them to begin taking on responsibilities.
Students going to school and working women were not expected to do more than basic duties and help with dinner cleanup.
I was free during the day and did most of the shopping, cleaning and cooking. I still had time to participate in many volunteer projects in the church and community.
I loved the feeling of spoiling the family.
It was a joy to get up early, fix breakfast with a variety of menus, make lunches for everyone, and start their day on a cheerful note. Jack would lead in a devotional and start the day with prayer.
It was all a process of learning. Some of it was very hard and painful.
When we first heard about Karen’s attempted suicide, we were heartbroken. She was the mother of two young sons and it was unbelievable that life had become so difficult that she would want to take her own life and leave her children without a parent.
She was an unmarried single woman and as I began to question those that might have information about her, I discovered her reason for such a drastic decision was that she had never felt that anyone loved her.
I discovered that after a few days in the hospital she had been taken to the crisis center. Jack and I went to visit her in hopes of encouraging her. But it seemed hopeless.
She was so depressed, had nowhere to go, no job, or family. As we drove home that night our hearts were burdened and we discussed the possibility of helping her.
We could provide her with a home and family. But most of all we could love her and show her the love Jesus had for her.
It would not be that simple to bring in three people at one time, especially two little boys. James was eight years old and Johnny was only one and a half.
As we prayed and sought the Lord, we became totally convinced that we were to offer her and her family a home.
The next evening when we met with her we were surprised at her quick acceptance of our offer. She was so desperate.
Arrangements were made for her to check out of the center, pick up her children, and gather up her few belongings and move in the next day.
She had one of the bedrooms upstairs and her two sons shared another bedroom next to hers. Johnny was still sleeping in a crib.
The boys were very happy and excited to have a new home and accepted Jack, Kandi, and me very quickly. We had two other women living with us at the time and they shared a bedroom downstairs.
It was certainly one big happy family and growing and changing constantly.
At first I felt that I was not to require anything of Karen except to take care of her boys, and get them off the school.
Jack and I had made ourselves available to help her with the discipline of the children if she needed or wanted it, but we would not interfere. It would be her responsibility.
They settled in right away.
I was attending a discipleship training school in our church at the time and would have to leave very early in the morning.
Everyone was up early, had breakfast together, and went their separate ways. There was very little time for cleaning before we left.
Karen was usually alone until I returned home about 1:00 p.m. Each day I would walk into a darkened house, with the drapes closed, dirty dishes still in the sink, and Karen would be lying on the couch in her robe, watching television.
I would feel a wave of disappointment but greet her cheerfully, open the drapes and start in on the dishes. When I suggested that she get dressed she would usually comply without a word.
As this continued day after day, I sensed that God was requiring me to demonstrate love by serving and not putting any pressure on her at all. No requirements were made, but I began to wonder how long this was to continue.
One afternoon when I returned home, she was not there. I didn’t have any idea where she was. She had not left a note.
Soon the boys came in from school and it was beginning to get dark as I started dinner. I had dinner almost finished when Karen phoned.
“Karen, where are you?” I asked worriedly.
“Betty, I’m at the crisis center. I checked myself back in here. I just can’t make it,” she told me.
I was shocked and amazed.
“You did what? You can’t do that. Karen, you said no one loved you. No one cared. Now we have given you and the boys a home and loved you the best way we know how. God is supplying your every need.
“You can’t do this. I want you to know that if you take your own life, your children will be made wards of the court. I will not take the responsibility of raising them. They are your responsibility.
“Now you check yourself out of there and get home as soon as possible. Your children are here waiting for you and dinner is almost finished.”
I was so angry with her. I had such an urging that it was time for some tough love and discipline.
Her answer came quickly. “Okay, Betty. I’ll come right home.”
And she did. We waited until after dinner and then took her into our room for a loving confrontation.
We explained to her that it was time for her to learn to take on some responsibility.
I suggested that we commit ourselves to one another for a discipleship relationship, and she was in agreement. I would study with her and help her come into a better understanding of God and His ways.
We also lay down some simple rules for her to follow in taking on some of the workload around the house. We required that she be dressed by breakfast and keep herself presentable during the day.
We explained that there were other things she could do besides watch television all day.
She really showed a desire to change and live victoriously so things were greatly improved after that. There were times of correction but she began to respond more and more positively.
After she had been living with us for about a year I felt like I was being drained.
The more we gave the more she demanded, until finally I had to admit to myself and to God that she was the hardest person to live with I had ever experienced.
In fact, I had to confess that I did not love her at all.
I was devastated by this revelation. I regretted that we had ever asked her to live with us.
That day I met with one of the pastors of the school and cried out my frustration. “What am I going to do? I wanted to show Karen the love of Jesus but now I realize that I don’t love her at all. I just want to get rid of her. What can I do?”
He was very compassionate and wise as he prayed with me but when I left he gave me a book entitled, “Love is Not a Certain Way of Feeling,” by Charles Finney.
Needless to say I read that whole book that afternoon and evening.
I began to understand what agape love is all about. It’s not just having an emotional, sweet feeling about someone, but it’s choosing to do the loving thing for the other person.
It’s continuing to love in spite of how you feel or the response of the other person.
After much prayer, I made the choice to love Karen.
Regardless of her response, I would love her. Then I began to feel more patience and compassion toward her, and continue to teach and help her.
After two and a half years I had to honestly admit that she was the most cantankerous person I had ever met. She was impossible.
Actually, we could see that she was very capable of taking care of herself and her children.
She was healthy and able to work and should be ready to help others by now. She knew the right thing to do and how to make the right choices.
We began to learn that once a person is capable of trusting God on their own, and are able to be self sufficient, it is time for them to move out. We can remain available for counseling and encouragement.
I sometimes wondered if anyone would ever take that all important step on their own. It is a fearful thing for them. But it finally comes to the decision that it’s the most loving thing for them. Therefore we have to give that little push.
We could see that it was time for Karen to make arrangements to move out on her own.
We gave her plenty of time to find a job, get a place to live, and make the change. We encouraged her and assured her that she was strong and ready.
Before long she had a place to move to and had found a job. She was plenty scared about the big decision but we explained that we were always available and willing to help when she needed it.
She didn’t live too far away and we saw her often. We still attended the same church.
After about a year she informed us that she would be leaving town to attend a Youth With A Mission discipleship training school in Kona, Hawaii. What a blessing.
In later years we heard that she was still working with YWAM in Hawaii.
The greatest lesson I learned while working with Karen was the lesson of love. It is easy to love the lovely. But like Jesus says, “What reward is there in that?” (Matt. 5:46)
It’s the unlovely that sometimes hurt the most and have the greatest need.
Cold rainy days are special days when you can sit beside a cozy fireplace. It gave me an opportunity to accomplish a few of the things that I enjoy doing when it’s impossible to get outside.
I love to sew, knit, crochet, read, or just sit and talk with a friend.
In free moments as I picked up one of these hobbies it was a natural thing for someone to wander into the room, sit and begin to talk. It usually turned out to be a very important time of teaching and discipleship.
It was also a time to teach the practice of knitting, crocheting, or sewing.
I always seem to have a project going and as the women living with us would see the many finished projects, it inspired them to want to learn to make some of the same accomplishments.
Many would learn quickly and spend their free time sitting with me, working on projects as we spent hours sharing from our life. We could share about many intimate things without any pressure.
One day I was working on a particular difficult sweater pattern. It had many different colors and the instructions were to change color of threads from time to time.
I was getting very frustrated as I did it over and over, taking it out and then repeating the same mistake and having to take it out again.
All of a sudden I gave up and threw the whole thing across the room, needles, thread, and all. The room was filled with laughter as the women expressed their shock at my impatience.
They had never seen me at the breaking point before and it ministered to them to see that we all have limits and come to the end of ourselves.
Later I retrieved the mess and after taking it out once again, I started over. Imagine our delight when the sweater was finished and I had succeeded. We all rejoiced together.
I used this example as an illustration of other things in our life. We fail time and time again, but we can always pick ourselves up and begin again.
With Jack away at work all day I had plenty of time to spend with the women that were unable to work for one reason or another.
It gave me an opportunity to be available for counseling and fellowship. They had my undivided attention until my family returned.
Unless there was some major problem I tried to be available when Kandi came home from school.
We would go into my bedroom, close the door and talk about the day. She would share with me what her day was like and I would do the same.
I never held back my own frustrations about different situations in the home. It was a special time for both of us. The closeness has continued throughout the years.
When Jack returned home from work I encouraged everyone to escape to their room for a short time to give him a chance to be renewed from a stressful day. I felt that it was very needful for him and important for the family to realize that he deserved our respect.
I discovered the importance of this through an experience with Karen and her family when they first moved in with us.
Late one afternoon as Jack arrived home from work, there was a very hectic atmosphere.
The television was blaring out much too loud and both young boys were sprawled out on the floor. Toys were strewn all around, and their mother was screaming at them.
I was in the kitchen preparing dinner and because I was running late, I was nervous and didn’t even take the time to greet Jack with a friendly hello, let alone a hug and kiss.
When he walked into the kitchen and I saw the look on his face I could see the frustration and disappointment. I wished I had prepared a more serene welcome but it was too late to do anything about it then.
Later though, I remembered that look on his face and began to think of ways I could make things more pleasant for him when he returned home.
The next day, after Jack left for work, I called a house meeting and told everyone how badly I felt that we didn’t show Jack more respect.
Everyone agreed to keep things more peaceful during the hours that he was expected home.
I committed myself to start dinner in plenty of time that I could have free time to greet him, fix him a cup of coffee or tea, and sit with him for a few minutes before dinner.
It worked. It was not only more pleasant for him, but for everyone else in the house also.
We were fortunate that our bedrooms were big enough to accommodate more than one person.
With a family we could give the mom and dad a room to themselves. One couple with a baby shared their room with their child.
With single women we would sometimes double up with two to a room.
There was only one time that we had two young men living with us. They were students going to the local Bible School.
Philip was a young Filipino that we met on a trip to his country a few years earlier. He was with us three years before returning to his family in the Philippines.
His roommate, Jim, lived in southern California and they became great friends.
It was great having them with us. I even began to think I was a pretty good cook because no matter what I cooked, they thought it was the greatest.
Our bedroom was large, downstairs, and right in the middle of the house. We could hear just about everything that went on in the house.
We had plenty of room to have a small sitting area where we could escape to be alone for prayer or fellowship.
Later we bought a small television so we could spend time alone watching a program or Jack could have a private time for football.
Our bedroom became our sanctuary. The rule was that if the door was closed we were not to be disturbed unless it was important. Most of the time the door was left open so people wouldn’t feel closed out.
We were never to enter anyone else’s room unless invited.
And if anyone didn’t want to be disturbed they would also close their door. There was never any trouble with abusing anyone privacy.
One day I went upstairs to put something away in the storage room. The door was right across the hall from one of the young women living with us at the time.
I just happened to look into her room and I almost fainted. The room was a complete disaster.
Clothes were thrown all over the room, every drawer was opened to some degree, with things hanging out, the bed was unmade, and the entire room had an odor of stale body.
As I turned away I couldn’t help but cry. She had been given one of the prettiest rooms in the house and it broke my heart to think that she would leave it in such shameful condition.
This particular girl had a problem with self-esteem and I had been working with her for months. Yet her room reflected her own image of herself.
I was disappointed and a little angry that she would let her room get into such a condition. She knew there was a rule of keeping your room clean and that it was strictly enforced.
That night after dinner, I called her into my room for a confrontation.
I explained to her that I hated to think of her returning home after a hard day’s work to have to live in a room so dirty. It just wasn’t good for her.
I said everything I could think of to inspire her to want to get it cleaned up and keep it that way.
Then I became much more forceful and told her is she didn’t keep it up, she would have to move. I even threatened to check it each day to make sure she kept it clean.
After that, each day I would look inside her room and it was kept clean. One day I put a rosebud on the table next to her bed along with a “thank you” note.
It took a lot of time and much patience but little by little there was a great change in her lifestyle and her opinion of herself.
I don’t think anyone enjoys confrontation but sometimes it is necessary. People will begin to respond if it is done in a loving way.
We made some rules along the way that were not always welcomed by everyone. But we tried to take into consideration the good of the entire household, and not just the desires of one person.
Of course everyone wanted a pet, usually a cat or dog.
There was no way we could let everyone have an animal.
Kandi had a cat when we first moved but when he disappeared one day we decided it would be better not to have any more animals.
We could have a bird, or a goldfish, but not cats or dogs. I did put a parakeet in the family room which became everyone’s pet.
It was hard to not interfere with the discipline of the children that lived with us.
They were under the authority of their parents and we didn’t want to take over in any way but sometimes the most loving thing to do was to say something, or make a suggestion for a better way.
Especially with single moms. They were usually agreeable to our help and welcomed our advice.
Rose and her baby daughter, Angie, came to stay with us for a short time. Rose and her fiancee had been living together when they became Christians.
He was in the process of getting a divorce so they were unable to get married until the papers were final.
Their pastor suggested that they separate until they could marry and he called us to see if she and Angie could stay with us. We did have an available room so they moved in.
Rose had come out of the hippie movement and wore as little as possible including no shoes.
She didn’t feel that it was important for Angie to wear anything at all.
Angie was only about two and a half and looked like an angel, with blonde curly hair and big blue eyes. She was such a tiny little dimpled thing that you wanted to pick her up and cuddle her all the time.
But, no way… She wouldn’t have anything to do with anyone.
I thought she would warm up to us after a while but as time went by, she withdrew more and more.
She cried all the time. I became very burdened for her. I kept trying to pick her up and touch her.
All she would do is scream. It made me want to cry too, every time I tried to love her.
One evening we were all sitting around the living room fellowshipping when Angie walked in.
She looked so sweet and lovable. I reached out to her and once again she started screaming.
I got up abruptly, picked her up, and deliberately walked out the back door with her, across the back yard, and into the garage workshop.
I stood her up on Jack’s work bench and as she screamed, I began to cry also. I puckered my face up just like she did and let it all come out.
At first she stopped crying and stared at me like she couldn’t believe I was crying. But then she let it all out once again. I had been so burdened for her so long and now it just seemed to spill out.
As she cried louder and louder, so did I. Suddenly she looked toward the door and stopped crying. I looked around and there stood Jack.
“What are you two doing?” He asked, with a quizzical look on his face.
“We’re crying.” was all I said.
He left the garage workshop and closed the door. Angie and I continued to cry. Louder and louder we cried.
It felt so good for me and it must have felt good for her too. Finally her crying subsided. So did mine.
I let her take the lead. As we eventually stood there, eye to eye, I began to sense that something had been released in both of us. I smiled at her.
She returned my smile and much to my delight and surprise, she reached out those precious chubby little arms and hugged me so hard around the neck I thouqht I would choke.
I embraced that naked little body and have never felt so much love. I carried her back into the house and we were friends from then on; no more crying or bad temper.
I never really understood what happened that night, but I think God did a miracle.
After a few months, we attended the wedding, and lost our sweet little angel. They moved to Hawaii and we kept in touch for a short time. I often wonder where they are.
“Let’s get away!” Kandi cried out one day.
“Yes,” Jack echoed. “Let’s go away!”
“Yes, yes, yes!” was my urgent agreement.
But where would we go? What would we do? How long would we stay?
What would everyone in the house think? Would they feel rejected?
After all we had been living in community for several years, keeping busy, and using vacation times to complete reconstruction on the house.
Now, there was no reason why we couldn’t go away for at least a week.
We finally decided that we wouldn’t make any plans as to where we would go until we were actually in the car driving away from the house. Then we could decide and go where ever we wanted to go.
We shared with the rest of the household and told them we wanted to get away for a few days to be alone together. We would only be gone for a few days and would keep in touch with them.
I made out simple menus, shopped, and left everything in their hands. They were all adults and perfectly capable of managing on their own. In fact, it would be good for them.
As we drove down the highway we were still wondering just where we wanted to go.
Finally we decided to go to the mountains where we could play in the snow and have a warm place to snuggle up and play games, read, and do whatever we wanted to do.
The mountains were beautiful, but it was very cold. Soon we managed to rent a small cabin which was perfect for the three of us.
We did all the things we had imagined we would do. We laughed, we played, and prayed together.
Mostly we prayed for all the people we had left behind. They seemed to be foremost on our minds.
On Sunday morning we attended a small church nestled in among the big pine trees. There weren’t many people in attendance but the Lord really spoke to my heart.
I discovered that being “away” was not something you had to do, but something you had to “be.”
I learned through the experience of being away that when I abide in Jesus, I can be in such a state of peace that I am away. Changing locations doesn’t change the heart attitude.
I was so comforted by that revelation, because I realized that even though we need to draw together more closely as a family, it doesn’t necessarily have to be miles away from other people.
Our rest, comfort, and peace is found in Jesus.
After we returned to the cabin and I shared with Jack and Kandi how I felt, we agreed that we needed to pray together as a family on a regular basis.
Sure, we would go away for a vacation from time to time. We could go away any time we wanted to but our peace of mind could not be found only in that. The strength of our family bond would be found in our relationship with the Lord.
We were anxious to return home and greet the rest of our family. We felt that we had learned a lot, and through the years experienced the truth of what we had learned, as we made it a regular habit of joining together for prayer, as a family, before the rest of the household was up.
After Kandi married and moved into her own home, Jack and I continued this important habit and found that it gave us confidence and peace throughout the day.
Throughout the years I was learning more and more how to honor my husband.
Jack was being a good influence on the women in the house by demonstrating the example of a loving husband. I think our relationship really did help to bring healing to many by seeing a loving husband and wife relationship in action.
To many, Jack became known as “Papa Jack,” and I became “Mama Betty.”
During holiday times we continued to live as a family. If the people living with us had family to be with they would leave for whatever time they wanted.
Sometimes it was for a day or sometimes longer.
Those who had no family or elsewhere to go, stayed with us and continued on as “our family.”
Our own children and sisters came for holidays and it was a great time of fellowship and rejoicing.
The only problem was making room for so many around the table. Sometimes we had to serve meals buffet style and sit where ever we could find a chair.
Christmas was especially joyful. The early mornings were not too hectic, but later in the day as the family began to arrive it got very chaotic.
We welcomed guests of our household family. Anyone could invite guests for dinner, although I requested that I know in advance, when possible.
If someone wanted to use the living room to entertain, they were welcome to do so and the rest of us remained in the living room or whereever was comfortable.
We tried to make each person feel that it really was their home as much as ours.
Monday night had become a special night of the week for everyone who lived with us. That was the night that Carrie came for dinner.
She was a beautiful young girl and it was such fun to sit around the table each week and hear about the experiences of the previous week.
She was so joyful and excited about everything you couldn’t help but join in with her enthusiasm.
She came from a broken home and even though she seemed to have adjusted very well, I know that it was because of her relationship with God that she had managed to remain fairly stable.
She worked for a lawyer and was a faithful and loyal employee.
She lived at home with her mother, who was a teacher. They had a very good relationship. They were close and had a lot of respect for one another.
We all belonged to the same church and had known one another for quite some time although we didn’t have close fellowship.
One day I heard that Carrie’s mother was taking a group of young people on an outreach to Europe.
As I thought about Carrie I became burdened for her being alone for all that time so I spoke to her one day and invited her to have dinner with us each Monday night.
“Just let me adopt you during that time, Carrie. That way if you need anyone to talk to or a shoulder to cry on you can come to me. We can always have a nice little chat after dinner every week and pray together,” I suggested.
“I would love it,” she quickly responded, and that is the way our Monday night became “Carrie Night” and a special time for everyone.
One Monday night after she had been coming for several weeks, she burst into the house more excited than usual and fell down on her knees before me.
“Guess what? God told me I am to move in with you.”
“He what?” I exclaimed. “Did He say where I was to put you?”
You see our house was filled to capacity. All of the bed space was occupied and there was no room for her.
We joked about hanging her on a nail or putting up a tent in the back yard, but I could see that this was no joking matter to her. She was serious.
“I don’t know where or how. I just know that God said I was to move into your house.” She was very emphatic about the whole thing.
“He even gave me a scripture to confirm it.” And she opened her Bible to Psalm 69:6 where it says, “God sets the lonely in families.”
“Well if God said it, then He will work it out, so we will just have to trust Him in it.”
I have to admit I felt a little skeptical that anything would happen to change our situation very soon.
After we finished dinner and did up the kitchen we went into the family room to have our usual fellowship time together. She was so intense as she asked me all kinds of questions about rules of the house and work responsibilities, and any requirements.
I was a little hesitant as I answered her questions.
She seemed so sure that she was going to move in right away and I didn’t want her to be disappointed or to lose faith.
I tried to warn her that this may not happen right away and maybe we should hold off on making any definite plans. But the more we talked the more excited she became.
I heard the phone ring in the kitchen but I knew that someone else would answer it, knowing that I was busy. I didn’t pay any attention to it.
Suddenly my daughter burst into the room and said, “Mom, guess what? Mary called and she’s engaged and getting married.”
Mary had been living with us for a few months and had returned to her home in another city to spend her vacation with her parents. It seems she had resumed her relationship with an old boyfriend and they had become engaged.
Before I could even catch my breath Carrie jumped to her feet, grabbed me in a big hug, and with tears streaming down her face, she said, “I knew it. God does want me to move in. When can I move in? Oh… when can I move in?”
“Well… right away!” I answered. I have to admit I was stunned, surprised, and overwhelmed. Yet I had to admit that God did want her to move in with us.
Now we really began to make plans. We went upstairs and entered the room where Mary had spent so many hours and I couldn’t help but feel a little sad as I thought about her leaving us.
She had become an important part of our family and was a very special friend to our daughter. We would miss her terribly.
The sadness couldn’t last too long with Carrie bouncing all around the room making plans to rearrange the room and asking questions faster than I could possibly answer.
And as we prayed and began to talk about the future I couldn’t help but wonder what God would do in each of our lives as we began to walk in obedience.
She did move in the next afternoon. I had spent the morning packing up the few things that Mary had left behind and got them ready for shipping.
I had the room sparkling clean and ready for the new precious tenant to put her own special touch into existence.
It was such fun having Carrie live with us. She was so filled with joy most all the time and full of questions. She was very teachable and wanted to know God better every day.
She never complained about anything and did more than was required of her around the house. Her respect for Jack and me was a constant encouragement.
There were times when situations in her life were discouraging and she would come for prayer or advice. Things weren’t always easy for her but she had such a dependance on God and was always open to correction.
If Carrie had called to ask if she could move in, I would have told her there was no room available. But God knew where He wanted her and just how to bring it about.
She lived with us two years and what a blessing to see her grow in faith and become a strong woman of God.
I am very proud of her, and today she is married with two beautiful children. She has a small apartment in the back of her house where she houses two young women which she is now discipling.
It is so rewarding to know that a seed planted years ago continues to grow and produce much fruit.
If I had seen Annette before I spoke with her on the phone, I doubt very seriously if I would have asked her to come and live with us.
I had heard that she was in the hospital and was to be released but had no place to go. She had no family and had been living with a local family and working for them to compensate for her room and board.
All was going well for her until she began to weaken more and more and was finally diagnosed as having Lupus.
After spending weeks in the hospital the doctor was releasing her and had reported to her that there was nothing more they could do. Her main problem was that her kidneys were failing and were badly damaged.
When I heard about her problem my heart was broken. It seemed that no one could help her and she had no place to go when she was released from the hospital.
“Could I help her?” I asked myself as I spoke aloud to God. “I have never been much of a nurse and what if I had her come here and live and then couldn’t take care of her?”
As I voiced my concern and doubts to her over the phone she was so excited and hopeful. “I don’t have anyone to take care of me. I couldn’t be any worse off than I am now, and I have to leave here tomorrow.”
“Okay,” I said, “We will have you come here and live. We will be your family and this will be your home. I will do my best to care for you and help you.”
I fixed up the downstairs front bedroom which was right next to the bathroom. The three huge windows faced the garden which was an unbelievable array of colorful flowers.
With the white criss-cross curtains at the windows it was like a huge life-sized painting, which she could view right from her bed. The room was cheerful and sunny and I felt very confident as I looked around to give final inspection and approval.
The evening Annette arrived was a very significant turning point in my life. As I opened the door I could hardly believe my eyes.
Her body was so bloated she looked grotesque. As she stepped up into the living room I looked down at her feet because she was having much difficulty walking.
Her feet were so swollen you could almost see light through the translucent skin. You could see how her entire body was retaining the water that her kidneys were having so much difficulty in eliminating.
I helped her into the house and we made our way to the kitchen where we sat down at the kitchen table. I propped her feet up on a pillow on a chair, and made her as comfortable as possible.
“Annette,” I said, “I want to be as honest as I can be with you. Frankly, I am just plain scared. I think you are going to need more help than I can give you. I have never taken care of a sick person in my life. I don’t know how. I’m not even sure I can.”
Suddenly a scripture came into my mind and I ran to get my Bible and look up the reference.
Matthew 21:21 read, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to the mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”
As I read the scripture aloud to Jack and Annette there was a sudden faith that flowed from my heart and into my entire being. It’s all I needed to be assured that God had brought Annette into my life and that He was going to heal her.
I got up from my chair, walked around the table, and knelt down at Annette’s feet.
“God is going to heal you, Annette,” I assured her as I lay my hands on her swollen feet and began to weep as I prayed.
I felt a sudden movement beneath my hands. It was as though I had my hands on a rubber balloon that had been opened gently to release the air inside.
I opened my eyes expecting to see a change, but things looked the same.
I looked up at Annette’s face as she exclaimed, excitedly, “Did you feel that?”
“Yes,” I cried, “God has touched you. I just know it.”
But in the physical everything looked the same. Then the scripture came to my mind that says, “Faith is the evidence of things not seen.”
As I spoke those words to Annette we both felt that God had actually spoken to us through those words to give us the faith that we needed to continue believing that He was in control.
The next day when I went into her room to greet her and see how she had slept through the night she was excited about what she had experienced through the night.
It seems that the fluid which had been so stationary had suddenly been loosened and was moving from one side of her body to another.
While sleeping on the left side of her body the fluid had moved to the other. So one leg was more swollen than the other. I still felt pretty discouraged when I saw it but she said, “But Betty, this has never happened before.”
So we prayed and continued on with the day making plans as to how we could best make her comfortable and schedule the day with doctor appointments, meals, etc.
I gave her a bell to ring in case she needed anything.
It sounded very pleasant to the ear and I felt it was better than having her call so loud if she need help in any way.
At first when the bell rang I ran with an energetic anticipation to minister to her. But soon the bell was ringing constantly.
I realized that we needed to make a few rules for the ringing of the bell. I was beginning to feel that my life revolved around the ringing bell. She was becoming bored and wanted company and companionship.
As I sought God about how to minister to her I felt that what she needed was to know what joy and contentment there was to have constant contact with God Himself. Not only for filling the hours during the day, but also for the benefit of her healing.
I began to gather tapes for her to listen to throughout the day.
I got teaching tapes that were filled with words of faith; music tapes that would sooth her restless soul. I gathered books for her to read, and got her started on keeping a journal about her feelings, attitudes, and anxieties.
I encouraged her to pray at different times throughout the day. I felt that everything that she came in contact with had to be very uplifting and positive, and that she could not begin to doubt or fall into self-pity.
For myself I began to realize that God was pouring out His grace on me in a very powerful way to be able to minister to her needs. The more aware I became of her needs the more I realized that I had none.
It seemed to me that the more love I experienced for her, the more love God poured into my heart.
I spoke with the other women in the house and cautioned them that when we went into her room we weren’t to speak of her condition. I felt that we were not to give her the opportunity to talk about how she felt or what the doctor had said, or the type of medication she was on.
Each morning we would go into her room and have a short devotion time to begin the day. Jack would read from the scripture and from daily devotional book and then we would worship in song.
One of the women played the guitar and led us in singing. It was a very special time. We could feel the presence of God and as we prayed together we could sense the renewing of strength for the day.
One day I had to make a trip to the kidney dialysis unit.
The doctor had advised me to get a list of foods from the attendant there that were low in carbohydrates. It seemed that Annette’s kidneys had almost completely stopped functioning and there was a possibility that she would have to go on the dialysis machine.
After talking with the attendant at the dialysis unit, I was so discouraged and filled with fear and anger.
He had said that once a person goes on the machine they can never come off. He informed me that once the kidney is damaged there is no hope for healing.
As I walked to the car I was filled with anger and hopelessness. How could that be? I felt so discouraged.
But as I got into the car I suddenly thought, “Wait a minute. That man doesn’t know my God. God can do the impossible. And this is an impossible situation.”
I began to pray and rebuke the devil from this situation and cried out to God to touch Annette’s kidneys and heal them.
I cried and prayed until I felt a sudden peace come into my heart. I started the car and drove home.
When I arrived home I went immediately into Annette’s room to report about the information I had received. But all I told her was about the food suggestions and reassured her that God was in control.
It was really hard on Annette.
She had to stay in bed and not only did she get lonely, but she was scared. She could only have certain foods to eat and her liquid intake was rationed.
The medication she was on caused an unusual thirst for water and I found that I had to really watch her or she would sneak water from the bathroom.
We had times of real conflict. She would get really angry with me and sometimes I felt that she was blaming me for her illness.
Sometimes it was all I could do to keep from reminding her of all I was doing for her.
But every time I cried out to God about my frustration, I always heard Him remind me that as I ministered unto her, I was actually ministering to Him. It brought such excitement, peace, and renewed strength.
As the days passed we became more and more aware that God had actually touched her. Her kidneys began to put out more and more liquid.
We had to save all fluid and keep it in the refrigerator. (That in itself was a real test for me!) It had to be measured daily and reports made to the doctor.
Finally the day came when she could get out of bed. She was able to move around the house, come to the table for meals, and even get out for church services.
She had lost an amazing amount of weight and looked great. We went shopping and bought her a new dress that was a size smaller than she had ever worn.
I cut her hair and gave her a new style and the transformation was amazing. Not only did she look great but you could tell that she felt good about herself.
The first Sunday that we went to church a lot of people didn’t recognize her. It was such a great day of rejoicing.
She began to think that perhaps she could stop taking her medication. But we felt that we should pray and see if that is what God would have her do.
So we asked Him to confirm to us is it was possible for her to go off the medication.
A few days later she began to break out in a rash. Each day it got worse and worse. It was horrible for her.
She became irritable and miserable as the rash turned into open sores.
One evening at the end of an especially hard day for her she came into my room crying and said, “Betty, let’s pray. I just can’t take this any more.”
Jack, Annette, and I sat down around the kitchen table and began to pray. We felt that we were to wait before the Lord and ask Him just what we were to do.
Suddenly the scripture from Mark came to my mind once again. As I turned in my Bible I felt that we were to read that scripture over and over and meditate on it and ask the Lord just what was happening and what we were to do.
We read the verse and began to take it one word at a time and talk and pray about it. We took each word and spent time praying, waiting, and discussing them.
When we got to the word “mountain,” I spoke up and said, “Now the word scripture says, we can tell it to be removed and it will go. So lets pray and wait to see if the Lord will confirm that.”
We all three sat silent and waited after we had prayed and asked God to confirm that we were on the right track. The minutes ticked by and we continues to wait in silence.
Suddenly the silence was broken as Annette cried out very excited and said, “The mountain isn’t the disease. The mountain is the unbelief!”
We were utterly amazed as we cried in agreement that it was from God and that we were beginning to doubt that God was going to continue to heal.
We began to praise and thank God for revealing the sin of doubt and unbelief and we repented and asked God to fill us with the faith that was needed to see this healing through to the end.
Finally after hours of prayer, meditation and rejoicing we all went to bed. I was so overwhelmed with the faithfulness of our wonderful God for leading us and teaching us his ways.
The next morning we made arrangements for Annette to see the doctor. They told us to bring her in right away.
Jack and I prayed as we waited for her to come out of the doctor’s office. what would he say? What could be the cause of this latest suffering?
She came out of the inner office with a glow and smile on her face that could mean nothing but good news.
It turned out that the doctor had discovered that the rash was caused by the medication that she had been taking and he felt that it was time to take her off the medicine and keep a close watch on the outcome.
We were so thankful and overwhelmed that God had revealed the next step in his way. It was definite confirmation that he was in control and that we could trust him totally.
Slowly, day by day, Annette improved. It seemed that the closer she came to good health, the closer she was drawn to God. Day by day she testified of His faithfulness and love.
Finally the day came that she applied for a job as a court reporter and was hired. Soon she felt that she was to move out and get a place of her own.
What an exciting day it was to see her step out by faith and trust God for her future. As we hugged and said farewell we each knew that we would never be the same.
We had learned so much more of God’s love, faithfulness, guidance, and healing power than we had ever known before.
I will always praise and thank God for bringing Annette into my life. I can’t think of any better way that He could have used to reveal more of his wonderful character, and to teach me to trust Him and allow his love to flow through me.
“You… back there… with the white beard and blue sweater! Stand up! Is that your wife with you? You stand up too!”
We were almost frozen with embarrassment. We had purposely sat on the very back row, hoping to be unnoticed.
Now here we were standing there, with every eye turned upon us. We expected him to ask us to leave the lecture. That would be the ultimate of humiliation for us.
But instead of asking us to leave he began to prophesy over us.
“Your house is a house of faith. Many will come and find comfort, peace, and healing. God has placed a canopy of protection over your house.”
He continued on and on quoting scripture after scripture and they all had to do with a special anointing over our house and our lives, as well as the lives of our children.
We were overwhelmed with the way God was speaking to us and confirming the ministry that he had already placed us in.
For years we had taken in anyone that came saying that they had a need for a place to live.
In some cases it was a father and mother asking if we would take in their wayward teenage daughter. Or it could be a young lady that needed a Christian home where she could learn to walk by faith.
Every time we had an empty bedroom or bed we would pray that God would send whomever He wanted us to take in. We never had an empty space because even before someone moved out we had a new request for a home.
But suddenly the house was empty. Everyone had moved away for one reason or another and we found ourselves alone for the first time in many years.
It was a very strange feeling. At first we thought maybe God just wanted us to have some time alone together. And we enjoyed it very much.
But soon we began to question just what God was up to. There must be some reason why no one was calling and why God was not sending us new family.
Finally we began to think maybe God was finished with this phase of our life. Maybe He wanted us to sell the house and buy a smaller house and end the home ministry.
Then we heard about a conference being held in Los Angeles. Several of our friends were planning to attend and invited us to go along also. It sounded like a great idea and now that the house was empty there was no reason why we weren’t free to leave for a few days.
So we ended up at the conference in Los Angeles and this particular day as we glanced through the schedule for the day we were trying to decide which lecture we would attend.
The only class that we really felt drawn to was the one being taught by Dick Mills. We had never heard him personally before but knew of his reputation. The only problem was that the schedule said, “For Pastors Only.”
We were not pastors and had no credentials so we didn’t think we would be allowed to attend that lecture.
When we arrived at the building where the conference was being held we decided to just go ahead and take our chances and go into the classroom where Dick Mills would be speaking.
The room was almost filled when we entered and we slipped unnoticed into the very back of the room. We were feeling very self conscious and uncomfortable already when we heard those dreaded words.
“You… back there… with the white beard and blue sweater!”
We were both in tears as we took our seats. We felt that we had heard from God about the future of our home and ministry.
As we drove back to our home later in the week, we made plans for the future. The old house still needed much repair, especially the two front porches.
So we talked about how the first step was to tear off those porches and rebuild them.
We talked about making a sign that read, “HOUSE OF FAITH.” We wanted the whole world to know that God was in control of this house.
We began to pray that God would begin to prepare the hearts of the people He would bring to live in this House Of Faith and to prepare our hearts to receive them with His love.
The whole ministry and our lives had taken on a new excitement and faith. Not only did we feel that God was in charge of the future but that He had been in control all along.
The confirmation was just what we needed to boost our faith to a level we had never experienced before.
We started work on the reconstruction right away. Jack did most of the work and I helped as I could.
I remember near the end of the project of rebuilding the porches I was asked to help with the laying of brick around the outside of the foundation.
He showed me how to mix the concrete and we improvised some great teamwork as I mixed the mortar and he placed the brick where they belonged.
I kept thinking that I would get enough mortar mixed that I could take a break and watch him lay the brick, so I was working as hard and fast as I possible could.
It was a very hot day and I found myself getting extremely tired and near the point of faintness. I finally decided to take a break anyway.
When I walked over and sat down, Jack looked at me and with a faint voice said, “Thank goodness. I didn’t think you would ever stop. I have been working fast and furiously trying to get ahead of you so I could take a break and watch you mix the mortar.”
We had a good laugh and decided to slow the work.
We continued to laugh as we lay the last of the brick and I held the flashlight while he used up the remains of the cement.
We still enjoy a good laugh when we remember the race with each other and the determination to finish that one side of the house even though it had gotten dark.
Before long the house sported a new coat of yellow paint with white trim. With all the gingerbread defined so sharply it made the whole house look grand and glowing.
I could almost see that invisible canopy overhead and angels stationed all around the property.
Little did we know or could even imagine what was in the future for our lives and the lives of the people that God would send to be a part of our home and family.
Some people consider themselves “morning people,” others are motivated to accomplish things at night. I always considered myself a “night person.”
That was before I became a Christian and began to walk in obedience to God. It’s true that certain people find their creative abilities come alive at night, and it’s not a matter of disobedience.
For me it was a bad habit that had developed in my life.
I worked eight or more hours a day, and with a husband and three children, I felt overwhelmed with trying to keep up with housework, endless laundry, shopping and preparing meals.
I was totally unorganized, undisciplined and escaped into late night television, after the household responsibilities were taken care of and the children were in bed.
Meals were never planned ahead and usually consisted of last-minute fast foods, or frozen dinners picked up after work each day.
After staying up late each night it was impossible to get up early enough in the morning to oversee breakfasts, or bring any kind of order to the home and family.
All I could manage was to get myself ready for work, and the children off to school, which meant that I was faced with chaos and disorder when we returned at the end of the day.
It became a vicious cycle day after day.
After I came to know God and learn of His ways, I began to hunger for discipline and order in my life and home.
Day by day God began to teach me. One of the first things I began to do was get up early in the morning. It wasn’t easy at first but I did discover that I was ready to go to bed much earlier at night.
It became a challenge to get as much accomplished as possible before going to work. What a blessing it was to enter an uncluttered home in the evening.
Soon I began to learn to make out menus for a week in advance. I could shop once a week instead of every day.
It was much easier and saved a lot of time and money. I began to enjoy cooking and had more time to experiment with new economic recipes.
I discovered that there were many ways Jack and the children could help with the household responsibilities. They needed to learn to do laundry, dishes, and cooking.
They didn’t always enjoy doing it but we all soon discovered that it gave us more time for family fun times.
I began having my own personal quiet time in the early morning hours.
After I retired from working and began attending a two year Bible school, it was a required assignment to spend at least thirty minutes in prayer before going to school. That began to form a new habit in my life and I found that it strengthened me for the busy day ahead.
Some days, if the schedule called for me to be out of the house by 7:00 a.m. it meant getting up at 4:30 or 5:00 a.m. Hopefully there would be time for a quiet rest later in the day, before starting dinner.
I began to learn how much easier it was to put things where they belong right away instead of just throwing them around and creating clutter.
I started to enjoy organizing things and began to get new ideas about how to put things in order. I was amazed at how quickly I could have the house in order and be ready to attend meetings, do counseling, volunteer work, or work on hobbies.
I find that sewing, knitting, and quilt making are very therapeutic hobbies.
It’s a wonderful peaceful feeling to walk in obedience in the little things in life and at the end of the day hear Jesus say, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things.”
Then He gives us a promise, “I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!”
Sometimes we think that being good stewards means to tithe our money and spend it wisely.
But when we tithe our time and energy and take seriously the responsibilities of the “little” things, we are being trained for a greater task in the Kingdom.
“Oh no,” my son, David, cried out. “Not liver! I hate liver!”
That was the usual response I received when I fixed liver in any menu I tried. Not only from David, but from his brother Rick, and Kandi, as well.
No matter how I cooked the meat they would not touch it. In the beginning, they did try it but after seeing them gag, and trying to get it to go down, I gave up.
It became very simple and natural for me to prepare hamburgers or hot dogs for them when liver was on the menu.
Jack and I loved liver and onions, and even though we didn’t have it often, there were times when we just couldn’t think of eating anything else.
If you’ve ever had children you know that there are some foods that you can’t get your children to eat, no matter how you prepare it.
I never felt that it was wise to cater to five different menus at a particular meal but I did discover that there is a lot of common ground. You can pretty well select menus for every day of the week and choose foods that meet with everyone’s approval.
But with a few things, like liver, it is no big hardship to select something else to serve to those who don’t care for your own choice.
With our family increasing and strangers coming to live with us, food didn’t seem to be a problem. I would share with each one how I tried to serve nourishing meals with foods selected from the proper food groups.
It is my opinion that if we eat from those foods daily, we can maintain good health. But there is such a variety of foods in each group to choose from that it doesn’t seem to be necessary to serve foods that some people don’t have a taste for.
I tried to get information from each person on their favorite foods, and what were the foods they happen to be allergic to, or foods that they just didn’t care for. I would sometimes add a new recipe to our menu, in order to accommodate them.
It was a special treat and blessing to have new ideas. If I planned a menu with something that someone in the household didn’t like, I would prepare a choice for them and anyone else eating that meal.
For instance, if someone didn’t like broccoli, I would prepare green beans along with the meal. Sometimes I would avoid broccoli altogether for a while.
If someone wanted to have only things like hamburger and pizza, I explained to them that those menus would be included in our regular eating, but not every day.
I could prepare hamburgers for a special Saturday night, once every two or three weeks. Then we could have pizza once every two or three weeks. But it wouldn’t be healthy or wise to have only those kinds of foods constantly.
I tried to stay within a budget, depending on how many I was cooking for at a time. I discovered that casseroles are economic and feed more people.
Chicken is very healthy and not expensive. Ground turkey can be fixed in a variety of ways and is not only inexpensive but healthy also.
I tried to limit red meat to about twice a week. Most people love fish and that was always a favorite although sometimes it gets expensive.
I have always hated to cook fish because it makes the house, your clothes and hair, smell like fish for hours, or even days later.
I discovered a great way to fry fish without that problem. I take the electric fry pan outside, and plug it into the electric outlet.
If no outlet is available you can run an extension cord. That way you can get the oil as hot as you want, and not worry about splatters or odor.
After doing this a few times I discovered that Jack enjoyed being outside to fry the fish, and that was a big help for me as I worked inside to prepare the rest of the meal.
Jack also enjoyed barbecuing and sometimes we had special barbecued chicken, hamburgers, hot dogs, and occasionally a steak.
Soups, stews, and a variety of beans were included in the menus also. They were favorites with cornbread for most everyone, except me. I don’t consider them my favorites but I eat them and feel very satisfied.
If there is space in your yard for a garden of any size it can help to supplement the food budget. We only had a small space in the back yard and planted a couple of tomato plants, squash, and lettuce.
It required very little time, but was so rewarding to go into the yard and pick fresh vegetables for dinner.
One day I decided to prepare enchiladas for dinner. It was a new experience for me.
The recipe said to dip the tortilla into the sauce, put the meat and cheese inside and then roll it up and place it seam side down in a pan.
The first tortilla I tried to roll crumbled into a hundred pieces. I don’t know if the tortillas were not fresh enough or what, but time after time I ended up with a pile of crumbled “stuff.”
I would scoop up each disaster and place it in a bowl. Soon I had a bowl filled with crumbled tortilla, sauce and cheese.
In my frustration, I threw the rest of the mixings into the bowl, dumped in the sauce and meat and poured it into a casserole dish. I put the cheese on the top, then added some chopped black olives, and popped it into the oven.
When I took it out of the oven and placed it on the table for dinner, everyone gasped and raved about how good it looked. I was pretty surprised, myself.
It was such a great blessing to see everyone enjoy it and hear their compliments. They requested that we have it often.
I felt pretty proud of myself that something I had considered a failure would become a favorite. But that was the creation of “Betty’s Tortilla Casserole.”
I accidently hit upon several recipes like that. Cooking became more and more something I enjoyed and experimented with.
We didn’t have desserts on a regular basis, only for special occasions, or a special surprise. We usually kept fruit available.
If someone felt like making cookies, or a cake, it was great to enjoy their creation after dinner.
During those days, we didn’t have a microwave oven. We did have a blender, mixer, and electric frying pan. They were all very valuable to preparing meals.
The women enjoyed cooking from time to time.
I have heard it said that it is hard for a woman to share her kitchen; it is “her” territory.
But except for not wanting anyone to re-arrange the foods and appliances, I enjoyed having the women come in and feel that the kitchen was theirs as much as mine.
I loved teaching them to cook and prepare menus or just working along side to help them.
In the beginning, I had to keep reminding myself that it wasn’t my house and kitchen, but God’s.
It seemed that once I gave up my rights, it was easy to enjoy another’s right to cook and take the credit for preparing something that others could enjoy.
After we had been in the ministry of hospitality for twelve years, Jack retired from the California Highway Patrol, and we attended a Youth With A Mission Crossroad Discipleship Training School.
It was held in beautiful Kona, Hawaii, and was not only a great opportunity for training for the mission field, but a time of rest and being able to be together.
Even though we had work responsibilities it was like a vacation for us. We were able to spend so much time enjoying the sunsets, beaches, and making many new friends.
After the three months of training, we returned to our home and our ministry changed drastically. Our home became a transition house for alcoholic women.
For the first time we became licensed by the county and state and had to make many changes in our lives, house, and schedule.
We worked through the county agency which provided services for recovering alcoholics. We could receive help or any information we needed through the county service for alcoholics.
The county authorities took the responsibility of working directly with the state officials.
To be licensed with the state, you must first of all have your home approved.
Our home was inspected many times. Changes had to be made to comply with the state requirements. Primarily safety precautions had to be made.
After being inspected by the fire marshal, we had to install more fire alarms. Although we did have several in the house, we needed to put one in each bedroom and in other places throughout the house.
A fire door had to be installed between the kitchen and the stairway room leading upstairs. Fire extinguishers had to be mounted in certain areas.
Each occupant was shown a map of the property and supplied with an escape plan. Special new locks were installed on all exit doors for easy escape in case of fire.
We had many meetings with county officials. Most clients came from the local detox center, and plans were made in advance concerning rules, schedules, and requirements.
The county official, Jack and I would meet with each person for an intensive interview before they were accepted into the program. There were certain requirements and rules they had to commit themselves to and it was necessary for them to have a clear understanding of what was expected of them.
They had to agree to taking the drug “Antibuse,” which is a drug that causes tremendous pain and sickness if mixed with alcohol. Also they had to agree to work on the county work program, and attend certain meetings weekly.
They also had to understand and agree that they could have no male relationships while in the program.
The ministry became much more intense and legalistic.
There was much more responsibility for Jack and me, and many more requirements.
Before becoming licensed, we only required finances from those that could afford it, to help with the expense of the household. We discovered early in the ministry that it was much better for their self-esteem if they were expected to contribute to their living expenses.
It was usually $100.00 to $150.00 per month. It really helped with the food and utility expense.
There was no special tax break before becoming licensed. But afterward, the new ministry actually became a business and we were therefore required to keep financial records, as well as personal records for each person.
Reports had to be made monthly concerning food stamps, number of people living in the house, amount of food used, amount left over, and menus.
We qualified for special foods supplied by the USDA (Department of Agriculture), such as cheese, butter, flour, spaghetti, canned meats, etc.
All of these details were covered when making an income tax report.
Although we were considered volunteers and received no salary, we were able to live in our own home, expense free.
The county paid the mortgage payment, utilities, insurance, telephone, and all other expenses.
The state held the responsibility of any accident claims, although we never had any occasion to call upon them.
We became known as “owner, manager.”
It was all to our advantage financially although it certainly would not be considered a way of making money. However, the ministry became much more intense.
There were certain requirements made on the women.
They were required to have a medical exam before entering the house to make sure they were not carrying something that could be transmitted to others.
Of course they were not to use drugs or alcohol and if they did it meant the immediate dismissal from the program. There was a curfew restriction.
They had to be in by 10:00 p.m. on week nights and 12:00 on Saturday night. We were to know where they were at all times.
They had to work for the county parks department three days a week. The other two days they were required to attend therapy meetings at the detox center where they had an assigned counselor.
They had to attend five AA meetings per week (one of which was held in our home). We also held a house meeting once a week for each one to air any grievances they might have. Saturday and Sundays they were at home.
Saturdays were spent doing their chores at home. I made out a rotating schedule for cooking, dishes, cleaning, and yard work. The women did all of the work, and I was overseer.
The transition program consisted of being able to live in our home for a period of six months. At the end of the six months, they were helped with job training, learning how to prepare a resume, and do interviews.
If necessary they were given money to purchase new clothing in order to look presentable for an interview. It was a great opportunity for a woman who really desired a changed lifestyle.
The women who came to live with us were not Christian but they were aware of the fact that our home was a Christian home where Jesus was Lord.
So many of the women had been raised as Christians but had backslidden and turned away from God. Some were desirous of returning to God, but some were not.
We did not require them to go to church. In fact the state would object if we made it mandatory.
But we did encourage them to go. Some of them went and some didn’t.
Our home became a place of safety for each of them while they recovered from lives of despair and turmoil.
It was necessary for Jack and me to be in the house each night. We could have someone come in to stay with the approval of the county authority.
We very seldom went away for overnight. We didn’t want to see the stability of the home disturbed in any way and felt that our constant presence did bring an atmosphere of peace and stability. We were always available.
Each morning as we gathered around the breakfast table, Jack would read from scripture and give a short devotional.
Then we would pray for each person individually. At the end of the day as we gathered for the evening meal, someone would have a testimony of how prayer had been answered.
I think the seed was planted in each life as they began to realize that God was real and He cared for them.
There are some negative things to be considered before becoming licensed with the state.
Some of the state restrictions were difficult and very different from the way our home was run before becoming licensed.
You cannot reject people because of race, religion or sexual preference. Although you can suggest that they attend church or Bible study, you cannot make it a rule.
Living a Christian life with a household of non-Christian women is not easy. Their language is not edifying, their morals are totally opposite, and attitudes have a lot to be desired.
The challenge is much greater, and sometime you can’t see the fruit of your labor.
The women were permitted to smoke, but only in the smoking area.
The family room was the designated smoking area. With the fireplace in that room, the smoke escaped up the chimney and the smoke didn’t seem to linger in the room. The door was kept closed to the rest of the house.
In the spring when the weather no longer required a fire, we moved the smoking area outside to the patio. It was beautiful in the back yard when the spring flowers began to bloom.
Everyone enjoyed sitting on the patio for fellowship and we sometimes had our house meeting there.
The paperwork seemed endless. There were daily trips to county offices for counseling, medical exams, social services, or unexpected circumstances.
Going to the social services for picking up food stamps or anything meant hours of waiting.
The scripture talks about counting the cost of serving God. There is a high price to pay with this type of ministry.
As we count the cost, not only emotionally, mentally, and physically, but also spiritually, it is important to realize that without the strength and anointing of God, it is an impossible task.
My heart longs to see everyone healed, set free, and come into a personal relationship with Jesus. Not everyone responds in the way you want or even expect them to.
Sometimes we have to realize that we just don’t have the ability or education to help them.
There was one young woman who came to us under the state authority that had deep mental problems. The problems weren’t immediately detected but after a few days, we could see a habit pattern that called for professional help.
We had to give her the alternative of leaving or going for professional help. I would rather have sent her to a Christian psychologist but the state and county had their own programs.
She did decide to go for counseling but it was still impossible to have her continue with the program in our home. It caused too much friction with the rest of the household.
She was asked to leave, and the county found her a place more suited to her need. I didn’t want to admit that I couldn’t help her, but the reality of the problem was so evident to all of us.
We were all sad to see her go, but knew it was best for her as well as everyone else.
The women qualified for a free weekend away from the home after three months, if they had followed the program and felt they were strong enough to cope with the temptations they might be confronted with.
Jane had been in the program for about three months and was doing great.
When we heard that she was going to visit some friends in the same area where she had so much trouble, we tried to discourage her from going.
She insisted that she could do it and wanted to prove to herself as well as everyone else that she was okay.
When she returned on Sunday night, she rushed through the kitchen as fast as she could. I was surprised that she hadn’t stopped to say hello and tell us about the weekend.
I ran to the stairway and called her back. She looked strange.
I checked her eyes to see if she was on drugs. They appeared to be clear. I checked her breath to see if she had been drinking. It was normal.
Still, I felt there was something amiss. She didn’t come down the rest of the evening and I went upstairs to her room before retiring to see if she would talk to me.
When I saw her I felt suspicious. She was very sick and it became obvious that she had been drinking and the antibuse was causing her some problems.
It was required that if we suspected anyone had been drinking, we would take a urine sample, send it to the county officials and they would have it tested and notify us of the results.
The next morning I went into her room to get her, accompanied her into the bathroom and remained with her as she gave her sample.
She was very submissive and I’m glad I wasn’t cross with her or said anything to make her feel worse than she did, because later in the day when we returned home from shopping, she was gone.
We had not received the tests results as yet. She had left a note telling us that she had been drinking and she was sorry.
The temptation had been too great for her. She was not as strong as she had thought.
She felt really bad that she had failed in the program and lost her chance.
We were so devastated. Everyone in the house went through a period of grieving. We loved her so. We didn’t know where she had gone or if we would ever see her again.
We have never heard from her. We have no idea what happened to her.
We may never know, but one thing I do know. She was loved, and experienced acceptance and friendships that were based on who you are and not what you do.
It is heartbreaking to see so much potential in a person and not be able to help them rise to it. All we can do is encourage, counsel, love, and let our lives be an example.
When we recognize that a person is beyond our help by seeing bizarre behavior, it is necessary to send them for professional help.
But basically, when all is said and done, it has to be their choice, and commitment to take the necessary steps to change. I know that God is working in His way even when we don’t see immediate results.
After years of ministering on the mission field in foreign countries, and training up missionaries here at home, the most rewarding ministry of all was the ministry of hospitality, and beyond.
The greatest tool for witnessing is our life. The greatest place can be in our own home. It can begin with our own family and reach out into the world.
My ministry began with my husband. When he saw the change that Jesus had made in my life and the way the love of Jesus reached out to him, he wanted more.
He began to hunger to know that perfect love, personally. Our children began to experience love in our home that had never existed before.
As our lives changed day by day, there was a desire to reach out to others and demonstrate the joy of life in every day circumstances.
It’s true that it wasn’t always easy, but the blessings far outweigh the problems.
Our desire to know God and His ways was fulfilled so much quicker by submitting ourselves to community living. We had to grow up and mature in Him quickly because we were in such need of Him at all times.
He was always faithful to meet our every need. He gave wisdom, discernment, love, and even energy when we had none left.
He taught us how to trust Him in every circumstance and He put us into circumstances that we probably wouldn’t have chosen for ourselves if we had known the hurt that would come.
But the healing that Jesus brings makes the hurting worth while. How would we ever be able to identify with His suffering if we never suffered ourselves?
Occasionally we hear from someone who lived with us many years ago. It’s always a blessing to know that the seed that we planted did take root and grow.
Sometimes it took years before even a tiny sprout began to come forth.
One of the women from the alcoholic ministry is now working in the detox center, helping other women to overcome the problem.
Another young woman is working in an architectural office with her own office as head secretary. One finished her education and became a counselor.
There are so many success stories and it is rewarding when we hear from them.
But some seed fell by the way side. Some didn’t make it. At least not yet, but God is still working in many of their lives.
With the economic situation the way it is today, and with so many people living on the street, it gives us a great opportunity for ministry for beyond any hospitality we have ever known.
If every one of us took even one deserving person that really wanted and needed help off the street, and helped them get back on their feet, I wonder if there would be such a homeless problem? What a witness to a lost world!
When I remember one by one the many who have passed through our home and lives, I can’t help but feel gratitude for all that God had done.
There is no greater blessing than to hear God say, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Matt. 25:21)
What greater blessing, than to be able to share the master’s happiness?