Joy, Peace and Hope-Yes!

TonyEvans.image

It has been almost one year since we left Texas to move to Benton, AR.   Wow.   Amazing how time flies!   It has been a process of tearing down some things, and building up some wonderful new beginnings and relationships.  God is truly so very good, faithful and His mercy is new every morning.

J.T. is still  unemployed, but God has always been our source.  We are taking care of his mother; we are serving in a local church, and He is showing us He will meet our needs above and beyond what we can ask or think.   We are sowing seeds into lives and know that the Lord of the harvest is going to restore what the enemy has meant for evil.

Isaiah 61:7 NLT says: “Instead of shame and dishonor, you will enjoy a double  share of honor.  You will possess a double portion of prosperity in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours. “

We know that our financial difficulties are ending, and we are looking forward to the prosperity that God has given to us.  We are not looking at the natural circumstances of no jobs in J.T.’s field of expertise. God always has a plan.  He is preparing us here for that and as we are being faithful to follow His Voice, He will open the doors that no man can open and shut the doors that no man can shut. We are resting in that.

Romans 15:13 NLT says: I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.

It took me a while to get to this point.  It was not easy to make the adjustment for this Texas girl to move to Arkansas.  But my Father God knew  exactly what and where I needed to be to grow up in Him.   He knew the tears I would cry-and why.  He is close to the brokenhearted.  He is our vindicator and when it seems that we have no one else to call upon, He has given us the Holy Spirit as our Comforter, our Teacher and the one called alongside to help.  He’s given us His Word to show us His Truth when we need inspiration. I trust Him.  Period.  Good times, bad times, sad times.  I trust my Father God to do what is best for me.

Micah 6:8 NLT  is one of my favorite verses.  It says, “No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”  I want to humbly listen for His voice daily, and be quick to obey!   I am enjoying my quiet time here in Benton, AR.  We have a wonderful time together of fellowship every morning.

rejection

Yep.  He’s given me peace, joy and hope.  He’s given us new friends and family here in Arkansas.  I am at rest in the journey I’m on with my Father God.  He is so very good!

Blessings to you and yours!

Debbie

Debbie.newhaircolor..

 

 

 

 

 

 

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God Has A Plan

My husband knew before I did that we were moving to his home town of Benton, AR. He said he had an idea of it six months before he was laid off from Texas Instruments. It took the Holy Spirit speaking very clear to me through a sermon Pastor Jacob Sheriff gave on a Wednesday night in order to have complete peace about this move.

Have you ever been in a situation where things you were doing in your local church suddenly are unavailable for you to do any longer? The body of Christ is a family and sometimes we are not in the right position in the body of Christ. We volunteer to do something in the local church we are attending, because there is a need. But in your heart-your spirit man- you know God has a calling on your life that has not been fulfilled. You know it may not be where you are right now. You have tried to make/hope/pray things happen, but due to circumstances it hasn’t. He uses all those circumstances to prepare you for what He’s called you to do. He has a plan and a purpose specifically designed for you.

We got that call and I had to be told, “It is not about, Hot Rod. It is about my Kingdom and overcoming the enemy of our soul. The enemy is after the Jesus (Living Word) in you. He wants to suppress you telling the Good News. If he can destroy you (your witness for Christ) in the process, then he wins.”  I didn’t want to leave my church family and friends, my house and home, my son and family, or Texas. But He said to me over and over: “It is not about you, Hot Rod. It is about my Kingdom in you.”  Yikes!  Time to grow up.

We started cleaning out things, giving em’ away and packing em’ up. We called the realtor recommended by a Christian sister. Our house sold within 2 1/2 weeks. God had a plan. We were pleased with what we received for it. Our Father God is so faithful to us when we are in the center of His will for our lives. Our son, Sam, got moved into his apartment and settled into his life. He is a full time college student and full time employee (who just got engaged). God had a plan.

New beginnings are not the easiest thing when you are 61 yrs old. I have lived in Texas my whole life. I am three years older than my husband. He’s applying for jobs in AR in an economic area that doesn’t have them for his area of expertise. But God has a plan. We are still resting in that.

 After moving here, I asked my husband to give me a grace period of 6mos to get adjusted to being in AR.  It took about 5 of those 6mos for me to adjust.  I was a little depressed, but God’s grace was there for me every step of the way.  I gave up my home and all the stuff we women have.  Most women that move have a “house” to settle into.  They get to decorate their new home.  I didn’t.   My mother-in-law likes things in her home the way they are.   My husband was raised in this house.  It was built in the 50’s.  I adjusted.   I learned what was in my heart, and it was very good to see it. It was good to humble myself before God and repent.  God had a plan.

My Mother-in-law is a blessing. She needed live-in help and the Lord provided us. 🙂 It has been a good arrangement. We have begun the journey in AR with our Lord guiding us, because it is He who orders our footsteps.  I have stopped looking backward at what was.  I still miss my friends, family and church, but I’m not in that place anymore.  My Jesus, the Holy Spirit and Father God has me here for such a time as this.  I take comfort in that fact.  He knows what I have need of in my life’s journey to complete His plan for me.   I am passionate about doing and completing that plan for this journey I am walking with my husband.  God’s plan.

God bless you and yours till next time.
Debbie

 

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Trusting in Him

endofdayMy husband had worked at Texas Instruments for over 23 years when he was laid off. (see previous post) He would receive benefits for quite a while, so we thought there was time to look for a job. During this time he was getting to go to church for the first time, and actually rest physically and spiritually. It was a good time for us. We were both able to volunteer in  church, and we were soaking up the Word of God. It was a good time for months.

Jeremiah 17:7-8 NLT

7)“But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.

8) They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.

We were letting our roots go down deep.  We weren’t looking to man any longer. (see vs 5 & vs 6  previous post )  God was and is our source.  He was preparing us.  We had walked out of the wilderness,  but there will be tests.  Will you let the light of Jesus shine through you no matter the circumstance?

It didn’t look good in the natural job-wise. People kept asking us about J.T.’s job situation, and he could have gone to Dallas to get a job. He just didn’t feel led to do that, because for the first time in years he was physically and spiritually rested. He was laid off in November just before Thanksgiving of 2012. We were looking at it all with such peace. It was so unlike my husband-the engineer.

We went through Christmas and into the the New Year with joy and peace looking forward to the things of God.  Our church received the “gift” of a new building and we were helping moving in to it. It was a very exciting time.  There was a wonderful women’s/prayer/Bible study group that I had been going to, and we were praying some prayers for our families and friends faithfully in 2012 and into 2013.  I was being set free from things that had been strongholds, and prayers were being answered in people’s lives.   The enemy didn’t like it.

I got another phone call that changed  my family’s life.  If you have read my posts from June of last year, you already know where this is going.  My son called me March 21st of 2013, and told me he had received a call from my granddaughter-my oldest daughter’s daughter- regarding her mom.  She was very distraught and he could barely understand her.  He misunderstood her and thought she had been shot and killed by someone else. After we spoke with her father, we found it was a self inflicted.

I have written about it and posted pictures about Diana and our trip to Washington in June of 2013.  If you want to go to these  first posts, you can read by going to the archives and clicking on the month of June:  God’s Presence, God’s Presence-II, Grand kids are the Best, and Our New Extended Family.)   It was the grace of God and the story is awesome in spite of the very difficult circumstance.  We miss Diana. It will be one year this month.  God’s grace, mercy and loving kindnesses are truly new every morning.  They never fail to amaze me.

lifeisshort

Next time I will share about how we ended up  moving to Benton, AR.  Of course, it was a God thing! 🙂

Blessings to you and yours,

Debbie

My favorite picture of Di.

My favorite picture of Di. She lived life large.


“The presence of God takes up residence in a person enabling them to live above human standards.  That is grace.” Bill Johnson

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The Wilderness Years

learn Jeremiah 17:5-8 Says: “This is what the Lord  says: Cursed is the person who trusts humans, who makes flesh and blood his strength and whose heart turns away from the Lord .  He will be like a bush in the wilderness. He will not see when something good comes. He will live in the dry places in the desert, in a salty land where no one can live.  Blessed is the person who trusts the Lord . The Lord  will be his confidence.  He will be like a tree that is planted by water. It will send its roots down to a stream. It will not be afraid in the heat of summer. Its leaves will turn green. It will not be anxious during droughts. It will not stop producing fruit.

It had gotten to the point in our lives that we were trusting in the ‘arm of the flesh’ more than we were trusting in the Lord God, and our marriage was affected.  I was waiting for J.T. to take the lead spiritually, and he was waiting for me to be the person he married.  I was excited about God when we first met.  I was tired, unhealthy and burdened now.  We were not going the same way in our spiritual walk, because we weren’t putting Christ first individually.  We were not putting Him in the center of our marriage.

We were not out partying. We were praying and reading the Bible.  We just weren’t gathering together with other believers on a regular basis like we knew to do.  J.T. has said that I could share this.  We are in a very good place in our walk with the Lord and our marriage.  We are so very grateful for the good foundation that we have, and how faithful our Lord God is to us even when we aren’t.   J. T. use to call “churches” religious edifices and many of them are,  but the one that we attended did not fall in that category.  He was being stubborn, and I was being an enabler.

My husband had certain ideas, and it was what it was at that time.  I remember there was a time that I told him, “I love you very much, but I don’t like you right now.  I am going to start putting God first.  I am going  to church regularly.  I know that God said we were supposed to marry.  Divorce is NOT an option.  I will do this, and you can do what you want, but I am going to walk with the Lord in what He has called me to do.”  It was said without any emotion.  I was not crying and upset.  It was what it was.  It was a new beginning for me and our marriage.

It was one step at a time. The enemy did not like it.  I started going to church, and the kids started getting worse.  (I’m not going to be sharing that, because this is not about them.)  My health symptoms worsened.  I had to have ear surgery and was have numerous falls and vertigo episodes.  I was diagnosed with the tumor which ended up being cancer. (Shared in the previous post.)  But God….

J.T. started coming to church on Saturday nights with me.(We had Sat & Sun night services.)  He waited to see if I really meant what I said.  Hrrmmph!  That shows how up and down emotionally I use to be.  I do put that in the past tense, because I believe I’ve changed.  My husband tells me I have, and I choose to believe him.  We have been faithful to our church attendance, and Father God has shown us how to put Him first in our lives and our marriage. It is good. It is very, very good!

It says in Song of Solomon 8:5a ESV

“5 Who is that coming up from the wilderness, leaning on her beloved?”

This verse came alive to me when I was reading the Word.  He is so very good.  We have had tests since this time, but I believe this “wilderness experience” (For far too many years we kept taking a lap around Mount Sinai!) has taught me a very valuable lesson.  I will not put anything above God; I will not trust in my own wisdom;  I will not trust in man’s wisdom; I will not trust or wait on my husband to “hear from God for me”; and I will go to God for everything.  That is not to say there isn’t wisdom in counsel, but ultimately we are to seek God’s will in every decision.

We were rocking along pretty well for a few years.  The health issues were stabilized.  Sam was working and going to college.  We only had two dogs.  I was volunteering at church and loved it.  I got a call from J.T. one afternoon while I was at church that changed our lives.  J. T. said, ” I just want to give you a heads up.  I’ve been caught in the lay off. This Friday will be my last day.”    Out of my mouth came, “Hallelujah!  Texas Instruments has never been our source.  God is our source.  He will make a way.  Are you okay?”  He said, “Yes.  But they keep asking me if I need a taxi to take me home.”  We burst out laughing.  He worked in Dallas.  We lived in Denison.  That’s a 90 mile drive one way.  He told them no on the taxi 3 or 4 times. One thing we had said throughout the years was that God is our source financially.  So now what?  He always has a plan.

Will share more next time about the next step in the journey..

Blessings to you and yours!

Debbie

plansareGods“The presence of God takes up residence in a person enabling them to live above human standards.  That is grace.” Bill Johnson

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New Beginnings

The before and after pictures..God is good..He is good all the time and in every season!

The before and after pictures..God is good..He is good all the time and in every season!

“The presence of God takes up residence in a person enabling them to live above human standards.  That is grace.” Bill Johnson

When J.T. and I got married, he moved into our house with a wife, 6 yr old boy and a dog.  A year later we had three cats, a dog and my 5yr old niece living with us.  He had a large family, and was doing very well.  (I think he liked the cats and dogs better than the kids, though! 🙂

I went back to work in the dental field. I worked locally at first, but at about five years into our marriage I worked in the Allen/Plano area.  It was about a 45-55 minute drive one way.  I worked very long hours and came home physically and emotionally exhausted.  J.T. worked the first shift at Texas Instruments in Sherman.  It was convenient for him to pick up the children from school and be with them after school. They preferred him to help them with their homework, because he was more patient than I was.   My niece was diagnosed with Type I diabetes when she was 10yrs old.  We were glad we had full custody of her at the time, because she was on our insurance policy.

The children went to our church’s school from kindergarten for Sam and 2nd grade for my niece up through high school grades.  Sam only missed only one grade & graduated from high school, and my niece ended  up moving in with her Dad when she was in the 11th grade.  It was getting to the point we weren’t as faithful in our church attendance.  J. T. was transferred to Dallas and we were both driving to the Dallas area.  The kids were older, and we had friends they went to for  after school care.  The “cares of this life” were wearing us down.  We still prayed and read the Bible.  It was just easier to stay at home.

I started having hearing issues in 1999 and had to get hearing aids.  I had already had one ear surgery, because the round window membrane had burst in my right ear in 1995.  I was starting to have vertigo again.  The diagnosis of Meniere’s Disease is a disorder of the inner ear. It was something I was believing healing for, and the left ear was starting to have symptoms of hearing loss.  In 2004 I could not work and had to go to two different ENT/balance specialists.  They did several procedures and another surgery on my right ear.  I was put on a lot of medication.  I had gained weight and gained even more during these first 10 years of marriage.   I got a 3rd specialist recommendation and  started getting some progress, off medicines and an accurate diagnosis.

A picture of me at the heaviest I've been. Approximately 248lbs in this picture.

A picture of me at the heaviest I’ve been. Approximately 248lbs in this picture.

These years were not easy for us, because we were not putting Christ in the center of our marriage.  Of course, looking back it is easy to see that.  But at the time we were both just working hard to make ends meet. We were trusting in what the doctors were saying to get relief.  My husband’s father was a doctor, and this was something that was more natural to him.   We knew better, but when you are in that situation, you don’t always do what you know to do. (If that makes sense…:)

There are some verses in Jeremiah 17:5-8 GWT that say:

“This is what the Lord  says: Cursed is the person who trusts humans, who makes flesh and blood his strength and whose heart turns away from the Lord .  He will be like a bush in the wilderness. He will not see when something good comes. He will live in the dry places in the desert, in a salty land where no one can live.  Blessed is the person who trusts the Lord . The Lord  will be his confidence.  He will be like a tree that is planted by water. It will send its roots down to a stream. It will not be afraid in the heat of summer. Its leaves will turn green. It will not be anxious during droughts. It will not stop producing fruit.”

I started receiving disability benefits in 2005.  This cut our income by more than one third.  We had moved to a town closer to J.T’s work and put the house up for sale.  It was the year  the market crashed.  We ended up moving back to Sherman, and our niece moved in with her dad. There were extenuating circumstances and a lot of medical bills. Paying two house payments for a year put us in a bad financial situation, and ultimately we had to file bankruptcy. This August we will be debt free.  We will have new beginnings, and God is good.

I have had eight surgeries.  The most radical one is when they found I had a brain tumor in 2009.  He said it would be benign.  It was removed in February of 2010.  I went back for another MRI in 6mos. It was Type III aggressive cancer, and we were shocked when we went back to the surgeon after the 6mos.  The oncologist I was referred to  wanted to see me every 3 months.  I have been cancer free every time I’ve gone in for the MRI.  God is good.  He is faithful even when we aren’t.

I have been free of vertigo, which is one symptom of the diagnosed Meniere’s Disease.  God told me I would never have it again in April of 2011.  I have been symptom free since then.  The hearing loss has stabilized and I am believing God for total restoration.  My doctors just sort of shake their heads.   There are areas that I am believing for complete manifestation of healing in, but I stand in the belief that it is a finished work of the Cross.

There is more to this story.  The way Christ worked in our marriage and our spiritual lives.  Through all the illness, we were wandering around in the wilderness and taking another lap around Mount Sinai-so to speak.  Next time, I’ll share how we got out.  Of course, through our Father God, because He is good and faithful all the time! 😉

Blessings to you and yours,

Debbie

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The Next Season

In every season, He is still God, and I will worship Him!

In every season, He is still God, and I will worship Him!

We went back to our church in Sherman for a season, and there were some changes. Larry went to several doctors before finally being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. One said he had a type of muscular dystrophy; one diagnosed Multiple Myeloma, wrongly. We saw why we couldn’t go back to the Philippines very quickly. We were girding up our loins for a battle for his health. He did get better for a few years. The early signs were showing up while we were in the Philippines. God is so faithful to us in every season of our lives.

When Samuel Christopher Cheeks was born in January 1988, we had double insurance. Through all the diagnostic testing for Larry there were no out of pocket expenses. He was laid off, and he got on disability. I hadn’t gone back to the dental field and was keeping children in our home. In 1991 we started going to the church we’ve been a part of since that time. He volunteered in the food and clothing bank. I saw the lady over that recently, and she shared how Larry would lead people to the Lord and pray with them. He was a joy to work around. He would go every day to Durant, OK and volunteer wherever they needed him. Then he started going to college in Commerce twice a week.

On February 28, 1992, Larry was taken to the ER and then admitted to the hospital. It was a Friday afternoon. He was admitted with the diagnosis of bronchitis and given breathing treatments. The next morning I was there around 7:30 and he was having an acute myocardial infarction- heart attack. He passed on over into the Father’s arms before he had been there 24hours. I was with him at the time, and knew he was physically tired and ready to go home.

I won’t go into all the ways that Father God wrapped His arms around me. The people in our church, family and friends showed their love to Sam and me. I felt His presence, grace and mercy in my life for a long while afterwards. I only had to call on the Name of Jesus, and I could feel the tangible presence of the Holy Spirit. In looking back to that time in my life, I stand amazed. I was 39 years old and had a son that just turned 4yrs old. I could have been depressed. But God had a plan.

My son was instrumental in getting J.T. and I together. We laugh about how very persistent he was. We met at a Care Group our church had and became friends. He and the leader took Sam to soccer practice, because I had children to care for. We talked on the phone. We did not date for quite a while. I had been married to Larry for almost fifteen years. This was weird to be talking to a man, much less going on a date.  Samuel went with us.  It was “safe”.  😉

Our Care Pastor married us in their home in the fall of 1994.   We have been married over 19 years and it hasn’t been easy at times, but God had a plan. He always does.

It has been an interesting life.  This past weekend we renewed our vows.  It was suppose to be serious, but J. T. and I both started laughing when it got to “richer and poorer, and in sickness and in health”….Well,  we have gone through both!  In August we will be debt free and I’ve been cancer free for 4 years and vertigo free for 3 years!  Still waiting for some manifestations, but hey, aren’t we all in some areas of our lives?    Share more next time!  🙂

Blessings to each of you and yours,

Debbie

Sam Cheeks with his sisters, Diana and Danyel.  He was 3yrs old and Larry passed on a few months later.

Sam Cheeks with his sisters, Diana and Danyel. He was 3yrs old and Larry went to Heaven a few months later.

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The Years of Training and Tests-Part Two

wisdom-pro31-marysoutherland

There comes a time we have to stand for what is right.

This is the hard part to write about.  We were in the Philippines for over six months.  We were loved by the nationals, but it was extremely hard working with the couple who asked us to be a part of their team.  They bound the enemy off of us.  They thought that “witches” had put a curse on all the missionaries. (This was thought, because it was a big headquarters for the local witches.)

There was another couple there that was kind enough to minister to Larry and me.  We, finally, had to speak with the couple we came over with, and tell them what was on our hearts.  The man was very bold, rough and treated the nationals and Larry in a mean spirited way.  The missionary, Paul, prayed for us to have the spirit of “might” to speak with this man.  He said the spirit of might was for each of us to do what we normally could not do in the natural. The man had humiliated Larry and the students very much and often.  I had resentment in my heart and I was angry.  I had the words to say, but when we met with this couple my gentle husband­­ told him everything that needed to be said.  The man started to get angry and say something in response, but his wife told him to shut up and listen.  I never said one word.  People who know me; know that was the Holy Spirit.  😉

We had seen a miracle and healings done through this man. A lady with very thick lenses glasses was completely healed and could see without them. People were healed of sicknesses.  The compassion of the Father God for the Filipino people, worked through a man who did not show the fruit of the Spirit or character of God normally.  My sweet husband said this to this angry man.  God would use him through the gifts of healing because of the needs of His people.  But God was very concerned about the witness of walking in His Character and the fruit of the spirit.

Larry told them we could not continue to be a part of their ministry and would be leaving.   They misrepresented themselves to us. We didn’t know the reputation they had throughout the Philippines. They were not asked to minister anywhere else due to this man’s temper.  Their American pastor in Broken Arrow, OK came over while we were there, and only the people from the Bible Training Center came.  This man is very well known.

Looking back, I am amazed at how we were oppressed due to the heaviness of this situation.  But God made a way… This couple paid our airline tickets to Manila, and a couple of other expenses.  We would not have been able to leave as soon as we did.  We had bought round trip tickets, but there was something about the visas that we had to pay.  They paid the expenses and we left.  The other couple that ministered to us asked us to be a part of their ministry and come back to the Philippines.  They  met us in Manila and we went to Baguio City, Luzon, Philippines to meet with and look at the place we would go to.  (See picture)

Baguio_Light

Mountains of Baguio City. North of Manila on the Island of Luzon in the Philippines. We were going to return and teach in a large church with Pastor Michael.

We were planning to go back to America and raise the funds.  When we arrived  there, we did have a place made available for us to stay up on the lake.  It was wonderful and we did what we could to find places to go and speak.  They were few and far between.  We didn’t understand why the doors were not opening, but finally we both ended up getting a job and moving into an apartment.

We were going to a church up on the lake also.  We were still believing for the “mighty man of valor” son.  I had bought maternity pants that were on sale as part of the uniform when going back to work in the dental office.  They were my “faith pants”.   😉  I was laughed at, but well there’s Sam.

Here’s the story:

An evangelist came to this church we were attending on the lake and after his sermon said he had the gift of praying for women that wanted to become pregnant.  I went down along with two other women.  Two of us became pregnant within months of that prayer.  After waiting for ten years, we had Samuel. What wonderful blessing.

We didn’t go back to the Philippines.  Larry was diagnosed with MS and we went a different direction.   More next time on what God showed us during this next chapter.

Blessings to each of you!!

Debbie

“All stress is external, and therefore cannot overcome your inner peace – unless you allow it.” Graham Cooke

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The Years of Training and Tests-Part One

joyofthelordismystrength

We went to Broken Arrow, OK and it was a time of transition for the whole family. I worked at Oral Roberts University in the Dental School until it closed, and then for one of its graduates as his office manager. The girls were in the 2nd and 5th grades. They had a big adjustment to make. America was different after living overseas for two years. We were thankful for what was taken for granted the years before leaving for Ghana.

Larry’s ministry gifts were teaching and serving. After he graduated the two year program in 1984, we went with a couple to the Philippines, Kalibo, Aklan on the Island of Panay. It is in the middle of the islands. We spent some time with them in America, but not as much as we should have. They had a Bible Training Center in Kalibo and one on another island.

The girls were now going into the 5th and 7th grades. I was home schooling again, and it was much harder for all of us. We lived in a small apartment, and it was a very crowded complex. We had to buy everything again. This time the furniture had to be built. There was only a two-burner gas camp table top stove to cook on. The market place was small and you went very early to shop for the meat before it got hot. They had what they called  tricycles to ride in and carry your food from the market. We had a very small refrigerator.  The electricity was still off and on from the recent typhoon. We had desks made for the girls to do their school work. There was a church pew for our couch. We had chairs given to us and table made to eat on. The first night we had  beds to sleep on, but no mattresses. I will never forget that! What an experience.  We immediately went and bought foam for our mattresses the next day.

We found out some things real fast about the wonderful Filipino people. They are a gentle, kind, loving, peaceful and joyous people. Do those adjectives sound familiar? They exhibited the fruit of the Spirit. However, one thing they do that is very prevalent in third World Countries-it was in Ghana also-they will tell you what you want to hear. Larry and I had to be careful about how we asked them things.

Larry loved teaching in the Bible Training Center.  He went every morning and the students loved him. The girls and I were having a hard time adjusting with homeschooling,  new culture adjustments, and the humidity-heat. It was exhausting.  We had no air conditioning to escape the heat like we did in Ghana.  We had cold showers only to cool off.  😉

One day I had fixed lunch and left to just get out of that small apartment. (We were awakened at the crack of dawn every morning by a rooster, and it was  hot and noisy.) I went to the open field where the people we came with were going to build their new Bible Training Center. I went and stood under a tree to get out of the noon day sun. I was, admittedly, feeling sorry for myself. This Filipino lady came by me with a whiskey bottle in hand and asked me if I would like to buy it. I can still remember how I said in shock, “Oh no, I don’t drink whiskey. I’m a Christian. I don’t need that!” After she walked on, the Holy Spirit said very clearly to me, “Well, you need to tell your face!” I started laughing and could not stop! I’m sure if the lady looked back she thought I was the Crazy Christian Lady from America! That belly laugh was what I needed, because the joy of the Lord is our strength. He knows that my personality is one that needs to be happy. I was beat down by the circumstance. I went back to that apartment, and my family was amazed at the difference in my countenance and attitude. The joy of the Lord is our strength!  God has a sense of humor and knew exactly what I needed that day.  I will say here that before I was a Christian I was a big drinker, but at that time I wasn’t even tempted to want that bottle of whiskey.  I knew Who my help was!

The mail situation was not that great, and notification of the banking account sometimes was not prompt. There was one point when we were extremely low on food. We were living on egg noodles and butter. We had eaten the last of it, and Larry went to the post office to check for notice of money deposited into account.  Thank God, He is always on time! He never leaves the righteous out begging for bread. He  walked to the post office that time.  Normally, he rode a trike. This is a picture of the transportation we had in the little town of Kalibo, Aklan.  He rode back with groceries from the market! (We wrote checks to a Chinese Merchant there. They gave us the rate exchange in pesos.)

Kalibo_trike

Here’s what the “trikes” are like. The ones back in 1984, were not this new looking. But they got you around. The girls really enjoyed them! 🙂

The next part is the hardest to write, and I will wait for Part 2. Thanks to all of you that are interested in reading this. I’ve been humbled at the response.   You don’t know how much that means to me!

Blessings to you and yours!

Debbie

“The presence of God takes up residence in a person enabling them to live above human standards.  That is grace.” Bill Johnson

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The Accra, Ghana, West Africa Years

Church Picture 1979-ish.

Picture in  1979, before we left to go to Accra, Ghana, West Africa. (We left in January of 1980.)
Diana was 8yrs old and Danyel was 5yrs old.

We were in Accra, Ghana, West Africa from 80-82 in the ministry of helps. We lived in a wonderful house/compound that was the business office, bookkeeper and distribution center for the organization we went through at the time. Larry was the liaison to the government for the other missionaries in the country. He renewed their visas, driver’s licenses and other paperwork needed to stay in the country. He loved visiting with the nationals. We also divided up the printed materials for  distribution on the huge veranda that we had for the national pastors to come and pick up.  I home schooled the girls.  There was a boarding school in the north, but it was too costly for us to send them.

The other thing we did was make sure the six self-contained rooms were ready for the missionaries. We had George and Paulina to help. George was the cook and housekeeper for us. Paulina took care of the Guest House and did all the laundry. We had a beautiful walled in yard with coconut, avocado, and orange trees. There was a pineapple plant growing on the patio. I loved Accra. It is the capitol city of Ghana and is a bustling metropolis. The people were wonderful.

The missionaries tried to prepare us ahead of time, because there was a drought and economic hard times in Ghana. They told us to bring canned goods and clothes for the girls for the two years we were going to be there. We also needed to bring our living room furniture, curtains,  linens and dishes, etc. We could get fresh foods from the neighboring country of Togo, but you went every 3mos or so. It was expensive, and you bought from the German meat market frozen foods and put them in a large igloo. The Guest House had a conference room that had a freezer.

We had much favor going through security when we arrived in Ghana. We were told to pack our suitcases & trunks a certain way because they would be searched. They weren’t. The things we did pack in crates for two years lasted us those two years. It was a great guess on the girls clothing. Even though looking back, I am sure they wished I didn’t dress them alike!  😉

When we were ready to leave the country, we had a huge veranda sale, and the missionaries bought all our things in the Cedi currency. (We gave somethings away to the nationals, too.) We were the last people to be able to buy our tickets home in Cedis. We also never used the black market. The exchange rate was 2.75 to $1 in American dollars. Back then on the black market you could get 20 cedis per $1.00. We would never do that, and the missionaries thought we were crazy. Then there was a coup. The military takeover was not as violent as in the past, but some people left the country. We felt a supernatural peace. Our hearts were untroubled during this time. We were warned that the soldiers would come into your homes and point machine guns at your children. (It happened to some who left.) Daisy Osbourne later came and ministered in Ghana. She had a private consultation with the man that became their leader, Jerry Rawlins. I pray he became a Christian.

One thing did happen in the first year we were there. Larry and I were believing God for a son. I had a miscarriage around 3-4months. Joshua Caleb is in heaven with his dad. I was sick the whole day for  2 weeks.  A doctor of another missionary came to the house and put me on an IV drip when I became dehydrated. He was a national and an awesome man. She had 4 children and he delivered 3 of them.  He came in and was so very, very kind when I miscarried. I never got a bill from him or the hospital for anything! I questioned both. He said something to the effect that this  was a misfortune and was not something he would send a bill for.  God is sooooo good!

dianadanyel-resized

Diana 10 yrs and Danyel 7 yrs
We were in our last year in this picture

We came home, and Larry felt led  to go to a Bible Training Center in the Tulsa, OK area. We were able to buy a good used car in cash and pay for the school tuition in full. God is faithful to those who trust in Him and obey His voice. We were so grateful for our time in Ghana. I would love to go back! We saw castles, swam in the ocean, walked on the beach, and saw some of the bush area in the north. But most of all we met the most gracious Ghanian people.

Well,  this is another chapter told.  God did such a wonderful job taking care of us-as usual!  Someone I know says a lot: “I was so afraid I was going to be called to Africa when I became a Christian!”  You know what?  I was never afraid while there or before going.  God equips you and gives you grace and peace to be where you are supposed to be at the time you are supposed to be there. We were there two years.  It was wonderful. 

Blessings to you and yours till next time,

Debbie

“The presence of God takes up residence in a person enabling them to live above human standards.  That is grace.” Bill Johnson

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My Story- Next Chapter

Debbie12thgrade

This is my high school senior picture. I was extremely sad in those days. The eyes tell the story.

 

In high school, I met the “first love” of my life.  We got married my senior year, when I was 17yrs old and he was 19yrs old.   I got married for all the wrong reasons.  At my 40th high school reunion, I got to apologize to him for being so self-centered and unhappy.     He was still a perfect gentleman and accepted my apology.  When I told him I was a Christian and was very happy, he said, “It makes a difference doesn’t it?”  He was a Christian in high school.  That’s why he was such a great guy back then and was liked by everyone.

I went my own stubborn, rebellious way back then.  Looking for “love” in all the wrong places as the song says.  I lived in Sherman, Dallas, Ft. Worth and Cleburne for a short while before moving back to Sherman.    I had been divorced twice by the age of 24 yrs old.  My 2nd husband was a Vietnam veteran I met while living in Dallas and was physically abusive.   He needed help and I pray that he got it.  So many Vietnam Veterans didn’t get the support needed when they came home.  I am thankful there were no children involved in either marriage.

Thankfully, Father God intervened and drew me to Himself by His Holy Spirit.  There were many things that He did for me during this time.  His angels were kept busy protecting me.  He draws us by His goodness, not by His judgement.  I went to church and they spoke negatively about divorce.  It didn’t make me want to go to church.  He worked around the “religious edifices”.   His Holy Spirit was drawing me to His Son, Jesus. I had an experience in Cleburne when reading my Bible and accepted Christ as Lord in my apartment-alone.  I moved to Sherman shortly after that and went to my cousin’s church.   The pastor there taught love, acceptance, grace and mercy.  It was my church home for years.

I met Larry Cheeks, and later his two wonderful girls, through a mutual friend.  She set up a blind date.  He was not the kind of guy I would have gone out with before I became a Christian.  However, we can all see how well I chose. 🙂 I actually prayed about going out with Larry.  Some may laugh, but at that point in my life I was praying about everything!  The church had a day of fasting and prayer at the church.  I skipped lunch on the  day it had appointed, and went to pray instead.  Ha!  It was important to me!   As I was driving to the church, I heard these words in my heart: “You will marry this man and raise those girls.”  I almost rebuked that voice!   I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry!

That’s how I went on my first date with Larry Cheeks.  Bowling.  I gutted almost every ball.  I am not a bowler.  We went skating the next time.  I can skate.  Thank you, God, for the Saturday nights at Cleburne Skating Rink!  Larry Cheeks was the nicest person there ever could be.  He had a cornball sense of humor, but he was good and kind.  He had the character of God and the fruit of the Spirit  in his life and was a wonderful example to all who knew him.  He died at the age of 42 yrs old.  I think of him at the most  weird times and will cry.  We were married almost 15 yrs.  My husband, J. T. Wright, will cry with me.    John Thomas (J.T.) Wright has that Godly character and fruit of the Spirit, too. (We all do, it is just manifested outwardly more in others than some!)   🙂  This September J. T. and I will be married twenty years.

God has been good to me.  He has given me two Godly husbands.  I don’t look at before I became a Christian very often.  That is my old man.  I became a new person.  Old things have passed and I am a new person.  This is part of my story.  It’s just a quick look in the rear view mirror.

II Cor. 5:17 NLT

17) This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

It started for me in 1975 in an old apartment.  The journey has been interesting.   I’ll share more of the journey next time.

The reason I’m telling my story you may ask?  It’s because I’m being obedient.  He has said …

Revelations 12:11 NLT

11) And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony. And they did not love their lives so much that they were afraid to die.

Blessings to you.  I’m learning to trust and obey His voice in 2014.

Debbie

Debbie.newhaircolor..

“The presence of God takes up residence in a person enabling them to live above human standards.  That is grace.” Bill Johnson

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