Sunday, November 23, 2014

Ben's Teeth

Since moving back to the States, we haven't had medical insurance. Instead, we have one of those Christian bill sharing plans that has an astronomical deductible and is good only to keep us from going bankrupt in the event of a catastrophic illness. After the report we got at the dentist recently, we were faced with the reality of suddenly producing that deductible to save Ben's teeth. 

Here is Ben at his first ever dentist's visit:  
We weren't planning to take our kids to the dentist any time soon; we simply couldn't afford it. Our friend Dee heard that Ben had never been and took it upon herself to get us a complimentary appointment with her cousin, who happens to be a dentist. Jonah and Andy had great reports, but we were shocked to hear that Ben's mouth was full of cavities. We were referred to a pedodontist (a dentist for children) and ended up getting a second then a third opinion because we were facing up to $10,000 in surgery. The consensus was that he needed three pulpotomies (like a root canal for a baby tooth) and three crowns, plus several other smaller fillings. We questioned the necessity of spending so much on teeth that were destined to be replaced in a few years, but were educated on the importance of the space they occupy in allowing the adult teeth to properly align as they come in.

Apparently Ben has suffered from acid reflux that has decayed his teeth as he sleeps. That's why he has been tossing and turning at night and complaining of stomach aches and why the cavities are all in between his teeth where we couldn't see them. (We are treating him for reflux and he seems to be doing better.)

We couldn't afford to have the surgery done here, so we began the process of planning to take him to Brazil where dental care is excellent and much cheaper. Our former mission team members served as liaison to get us an appointment with a pedodontist there. We rushed Ben's passport renewal and prayed for open doors in time to avoid abscess of his already weakened teeth.

In the meantime, an acquaintance told us about a local pedodontist who he called "something of a wizard in these situations". We gave him a try and found him to be the answer to our prayers. He agreed to do the procedure in his office with local anesthesia and scheduled the first visit the very next day on his lunch hour. It took him about thirty minutes to finish up the two worst teeth and he charged us only half price for the procedure, which we had available because of some very generous friends. Now we can wait until after Thanksgiving to finish up with one more crown and some fillings in the smaller cavities. We are so very thankful for God's provision.

Here's Ben with his new silver teeth, which he loves to show off, and the prize he got for being so well behaved during the procedure:

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

When This is Said and Done

Losing my mother to Alzheimer’s has introduced a new level of challenge to our family. After she passed away this summer, I anticipated a quiet period of reflection and healing for us and our children. It's been emotionally taxing on everyone. Instead, we find ourselves in the middle of an unfortunate legal ping pong match, because my brother believes we have embezzled money from my mother's estate. 

Living in a travel trailer instead of my mother's house is a daily reminder of the accusations against us, and it’s been difficult to pray for my brother as we are told to pray for our enemies. I confess my initial attempts were not kind, but with God’s help, I've been able to sincerely pray for spiritual blessings over him and his family. Despite our petitions, his paranoia continues to grow and we are forced to relive every financial decision we've made over the past few years as we provide records for his attorney to scrutinize. While exoneration would be nice, we are simply praying for a quick resolution.   

We have weighed very heavily Scriptures like these:

I Corinthians 6: 
Does any one of you, when he has a case against his neighbor, dare to go to law before the unrighteous and not before the saints? Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? If the world is judged by you, are you not competent to constitute the smallest law courts?…

Matthew 5:
Make friends quickly with your opponent at law while you are with him on the way, so that your opponent may not hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the officer, and you be thrown into prison.

We have no plans to pursue what's left of my inheritance through litigation, but we have retained a lawyer to help us get out from under the legal tie that binds us to my mother’s estate. God has blessed us with a mature Christian attorney who claims she can do nothing without the favor of God. Please join us in prayer, as we have our hearts set on returning to the foreign mission field when this is all said and done.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Counting on Your Prayers

Yesterday John had us start the day by each saying one thing we are grateful for. That was a good exercise because it’s easy to grumble and complain during transition when nothing is familiar or comfortable. Today I am thankful for those of you who are praying for us and want to solicit your prayers for, not just our family, but also the other five families in our house church.

Here are some details, using only first initials:

Family #1: D recently bought a piece of land with trailers occupied by renters, one of whom D found dead, apparently from a heart attack. D’s family has been busy cleaning out that house and dealing with the emotions of the situation. They are also working to get a new renter into the house, as they need the income.

Family #2: E’s son and our youngest were found playing on Highway 199 in front of The Gem. Thank God traffic had been temporarily stopped a couple of miles up the road for an unrelated issue. Our whole group was shaken and took the matter very seriously. A fence has already been built around the Gem playground. Also, just two nights ago during a Bible study, E got a text from her neighbor that E’s husband had a seizure causing him to fall and bust his head open. He is currently doing OK, but they don’t know what caused it.

Family #3: D was just diagnosed with cancer and is undergoing a very painful treatment. She has four children and is understandably very concerned.

Family #4: M just delivered her fourth baby after a stressful week of erratic labor. Also, we are living in this family’s back yard in a travel trailer.

Family #5: L shared at our last meeting that her husband is not at all interested in meeting with any church that requires more than one hour on Sunday morning. She added that she may not believe what she has learned in our Bible studies anyway.

I should also note that we are talking about new Christians, and four of the families represented here have a spouse that is not a Christian. So, as you pray for our group, please pray first and foremost that God will use whatever is happening to strengthen the faith of the young Christians and bring those who don't know Him to Jesus. We are experiencing a great deal of upheaval and uncertainty but we are sure God sees the future and hears our prayers. Thank you for joining us; we are counting on it.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

First Night in the Trailer

Last night was the first night we spent in our new, albeit temporary, home. As travel trailers go, this is about the nicest one we've ever seen, and we are thankful. Andy and Ben slept on the pull-out couch with their new dinosaur bedding. (Sorry, Grandma, we had to give them their Christmas presents early, as we're a little short on storage space right now.) 
Jonah got his own "room", but he only gets to keep his door closed when nobody needs the bathroom. He spent the evening building a Lego set he bought with birthday money. 
We've moved most of the big things out of the house but still have all the little stuff that ends up taking more time to sort through than it's worth. Thank you for praying for our family. This has been a very challenging time. 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Preparing to Leave

We met our new friends Michael and Mandy this spring, and today we're moving into a travel trailer in their back yard.

At the end of April a petite and quite fit pregnant woman introduced herself to me in the group class auditorium at The Gem. She had just hired our family for a pet sitting gig over the phone, by way of the "Jonah's Pet Sitting" flyer on the bulletin board. Our boys enjoyed their three tail-waggers while they were on vacation, but our relationship didn't end there. Mandy and her family had us to their house for dinner and presently took part in our Sunday church meetings and weekly Bible studies. We found out that she too had recently lost her mother to a terminal illness. There was an immediate connection.

Mandy, her husband Michael, and their three young children have become a comfort and a joy to our family. Their willingness to learn and respond to God's will for their lives is a great encouragement. And they're not the only ones. There are four other families we are watching transform before our very eyes. Though God has done truly amazing things in the lives of this vibrant group we call our house church, we have been very distracted by our own precarious circumstances. You see, September 16th was the probate hearing for my mother's will, which transferred ownership of my mother's property to my brother and me and put us equally in charge of finalizing her affairs and distributing her assets. It was a relief in that John and I thought this difficult chapter was over; we thought it had finally come to an end and was time for grieving and looking ahead. The enemy had other plans.

My brother, who John baptized in November, made a very disturbing phone call to me just days after the hearing, in which he accused me of abusing my power of attorney for personal gain. Because he had nothing to do with taking care of her during her illness, he has no idea how her money was spent--he doesn't know how very expensive Alzheimer's can be and suspects that we embezzled her assets. I was hurt but waited to see if he would repent and relent. He did neither and gave us no opportunity to answer questions or address his fears in a rational discussion. Then he called John and verbally assaulted him in ways that don't warrant repeating. Unexpected? Yes. Unbelievable? No. Matthew 12 warns:

"Now when the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and does not find it. Then it says, 'I will return to my house from which I came'; and when it comes, it finds it unoccupied, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and takes along with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first. That is the way it will also be with this evil generation."

We understand that this is a spiritual battle and ask you to join us in prayer for our circumstances, and more importantly for my brother's soul. John and I believe, because of personal threats, that it's best to shut down communication and move out of my mother's house. We retained an attorney and she agrees wholeheartedly. Our goal is not to litigate or even to get what's rightfully ours. We are immediately seeking a safe place for our family and ultimately a release of our legal responsibilities regarding my mother's estate. We didn't come here for a pat on the back or to receive an inheritance, and we are working daily at giving the injustice of the situation and all the related negative emotions to God. I'm tempted to say I will forgive when it's all said and done but am painfully reminded of the fact that Jesus was still on the cross when he forgave his murderers.

As I try and miserably fail to take persecution and injustice well, I see God's grace and patience. Michael and Mandy have offered to let us move our things into their workshop and our family into the travel trailer parked in their back yard. Despite some well-intentioned warnings from family and friends, we're taking them up on their offer. Acts 4 encourages us:

"And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them."

So, today we are packing suitcases and boxes, preparing to leave the place we have called home for the past couple of years, trusting God to take care of us on His terms and in His time.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

We're Going Private

I've been writing this blog since 2007 and don't plan to stop any time soon. I do plan to make some changes, however. Thanks to all of you who have followed or subscribed to it over the years; I hope you'll continue.

As you may know, we haven't been able to publish as many details as we would like, due to the personal nature of some of the information. In fact, the best stories remain unwritten and have only been shared in person. Well, our family has some considerable changes on the horizon, and we don't want to keep those stories to ourselves. Instead, we want to encourage you, solicit your prayers, and ultimately glorify God by sharing what He is doing. 

This blog now requires a password for access. We're sorry for the extra step but hope you understand the need for it. Thanks again, and we look forward to being more informative and transparent in the months to come. We certainly need your prayers and encouragement as we embark on our next mission, and we're excited for you to be a part of it.    

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Sabbath Baptisms (Part 3: Michael and Mandy)

Well, here we are again, still on the events of last Saturday. It was such an eventful day, that I had to break up the story. Each family really does deserve its own post.

We spent the better part of Saturday at The Gem in fellowship and celebration. Then around sundown, just as I thought we were about to pack it up and head home, someone responded to John's earlier suggestion that there may be a third person in the audience who needed to put Christ on in baptism. One of the couples we have been meeting with, took that to heart.

This is Mandy:

And this is her husband Michael:

The two of them had the same idea at the same time, just minutes before these photos were taken. Dee was still with us but the rest of the gang had already gone home. Just as we were talking about what clothes everyone could change into, Emily came walking back in to say she had forgotten her camera. She saw our smiling faces and knew she was in for a treat. We called LaRae and Dave. They both came back to witness Michael and Mandy go under the water, too. With the whole group once again in place, we headed back down to the pool.

Michael and Mandy are members of The Gem, but we met them through a pet sitting business we started last year to supplement our income. Looks like God wanted us to make more than a few bucks on the deal. Now we are busy making disciples with this beautiful and dynamic group of people. Each one of them is hungry for the Word and growing at light speed. And to think we had "Africa Survey Trip" written on our calendar for this very week! No wonder that didn't pan out.

Even our kids got into the spirit of the day. They all jumped in the pool at the end of the night. Here, Ben is "baptizing" Dee's youngest:

Please continue to pray for Dave, LaRae, Dee, Emily, Mandy, and Michael--and our family as well. They are all recently baptized and now comprise the bulk of this group that meets almost daily to read the Bible, share meals, educate our children, and encourage one another to walk the Christian walk. It is truly inspiring and humbling to be a part of this ministry, full of young Christians who truly love God. Thanks to those of you who support us in any and every way.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Sabbath Baptisms (Part 2: Emily)

I left you with this photo of Dee and Emily:

When I said Dee was baptized first, you may have guessed that Emily was next. She was actually in the water when Dee was baptized.

Emily has been a Zumba instructor at The Gem a bit longer than John has been the director. You may recall the rough patch we hit in November when John revamped the aerobics classes soon after assuming leadership. We wanted to ensure that all of our programming was in keeping with Christian principles, which is the crux of our new mission statement. Most people appreciated the new family-friendly Zumba classes, but others did not. What started out as a simple restructuring project quickly escalated to an all out war between and among staff and members alike. John and Emily's relationship was caught in the crossfire. She considered quitting at the same time John daily scrutinized the staff to identify the trouble makers and know who to let go. In the end, she was exonerated and continued on with her classes, which complemented the Christian atmosphere.

Emily would later join our Bible study group and Sunday church meeting. Much like Dee's story, we believe the enemy was trying to keep Emily from the truth. Saturday, she was set free by it. It was also her 31st birthday! Now she has two causes for celebration on September 6. Happy birthday and happy birthday, Beautiful Sister.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Sabbath Baptisms (Part 1: Dee)

Several months ago John went to an elementary school health fair to represent The Gem. He spent the day working alongside a woman he described as "contrary" and said he was relieved when the unpleasant event was finally over. Within the next few weeks, a staff member recommended a friend for the position of nutritionist at The Gem. John agreed to interview her only to discover that the highly recommended food counselor and the cantankerous woman from the health fair were one and the same. John asked me to sit in on the interview; he was looking for a reason to not hire her. Instead, we both admitted we liked her and that he really couldn't afford to say no. 

Over the following weeks, Dee proved to be invaluable to The Gem, fitting into the staff like the missing thread in a tapestry. The employees admire her and the members love her. When she began to frequent our Bible studies, we began to suspect that the enemy had something to do with the reason she and John didn't hit it off in the beginning. After meeting with us, not only for Bible study each Thursday, but also on Sundays for church, Dee felt God was calling her to be baptized and start her life anew. Even though she has been part of a local church for years, she confessed that reading the Bible has opened her eyes to, among other things, the importance of baptism. 

Dee was the first one in the water on Saturday. As a rule, we preserve Saturday as a our family day and Sabbath and normally wouldn't even be at the gym. But Jesus says in Matthew 12:11, "If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out?" Anyone who has not been clothed in the saving blood of Christ is certainly in that pit, and we were honored to spend the day resting in His presence and in the presence of the angels who were rejoicing as Dee was lifted out of it.

These are my friends and sisters, Dee and Emily: 

You'll read about Emily in my next post.

Friday, August 22, 2014


Dave and his family came to Texas on the roll of a die. He and his wife were searching for a new beginning with a bit more space than California afforded. She found a job with her company in this area, and Dave was promoted from a tour in Iraq with the army to Mister Mom--an enviable position, considering their three kids.

We met Dave when a friend referred him to The Gem, the rec center John directs. He also visited the co-op I took part in last year to see about homeschooling. Now he works at The Gem, and we just had our first week of class together, with four other families, in a homeschool group we started at The Gem. Best of all, John and Dave have become fast friends in a world where true male friendship is a rarity.

John has been reading the Bible with Dave for a few months, and we have been facilitating two studies each week with Dave and others. God granted him understanding and acceptance of the gospel and he was baptized last Sunday in the pool at The Gem. Please join us in praying that his wife and children will be blessed by his decision and that he will win them to the Kingdom and finish the race well.

                            To God be the glory, great things He has done;
So loved He the world that He gave us His Son,
Who yielded His life an atonement for sin,
And opened the life gate that all may go in.
                                                           Fanny Crosby

Saturday, May 10, 2014


My mother's dementia has been rapidly progressing since the day she was diagnosed about four years ago. We've been in Texas for three of those and have watched her go from being slightly forgetful to no longer having any idea who we are or who she is. Because she's only sixty-seven and her condition is considered early-onset Alzheimer's, it's moving more quickly than it does in older people. This is a curse and a blessing. The curse is obviously that our hearts ache for the many years we feel we're losing as she slips away, and a blessing in that, Lord willing, she won't have to suffer for years to come. Tuesday we started hospice care for Mom. They offer full-time physical and emotional care for the terminally ill and their families and are usually called in when a doctor deems that a person may have less than six months to live. 

Though the nursing home and the hospice nurses have been very kind and loving with Mom and with us, our hearts are heavy. We pray for peace, especially for Mom, but also for those who love her. Thank you for your encouragement and prayers. I am compiling a tribute to her life in pictures, so please send me anything you may have that you would like to share. I hope to post it here as soon as I have it completed.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Mom's Surgery

Wednesday, the director of the nursing home called and said Mom had a swollen knee and was complaining of leg pain. Her doctor wanted her to go to the emergency room. Mom no longer recognizes me and is sometimes belligerent, which can be upsetting, especially to my youngest son. With that in mind, I requested a transport to the hospital, and we met her there. Nobody is sure how or when it happened, but she had a broken hip. Because she had fallen recently, we assume she fell again and forgot what happened.

Her legs had been elevated during transport, and her knee wasn't swollen when the ER doctor saw her. It may have just been a fluid pocket that got enough attention to get her to the hospital. She was complaining of pain but unable to locate it accurately. We discussed options with her doctor, one being to let it heal naturally because of the trauma involved in surgery and recovery for a person who has dementia. In the end, however, we settled on a hip replacement because, even though she doesn't have the capacity to participate in rehabilitation services, we will be sure the bone is properly set and healing, eliminating unnecessary pain in the long run.

She had the surgery and is already back at the nursing home in recovery. They have increased staff to make sure she is taken care of, and she will be in bed on pain management for the next few days. There is a walker next to her bed in hopes that she'll use it, but there's no guarantee that she will walk again.

While my brother and I were at the hospital, one of the nurses commented on how nice it was that we were there for our mom. She said most dementia patients aren't visited by family. It made me ask myself why I was there. The nursing home and hospital have the paperwork they need to do whatever is necessary to take care of her physical needs. Mom doesn't know who I am and even sometimes yells at me and cusses in front of my children. I cry every time I leave her side and sometimes while I'm there. I've determined that it's not so much me visiting her as God's Spirit in me. That's the kind of thing He does--visit a person who offers absolutely nothing in return. I wouldn't do that. I would look for a return on my investment, even if it was just a good feeling. Galatians 2:20 says, "My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." Recognizing that helps me to understand and accept why other family and friends have abandoned my mom--I might do the same thing--and reminds me to pray for them.

I am so thankful for my mother's decision to give her life to God five years ago, and I honestly don't know how I would handle sitting by her side without the assurance that I will one day see her again made whole in her new body. In the meantime, I am thankful for my husband and my brother who are walking this difficult road with me and experiencing their own grief, with the help of Christ. I work daily at keeping my eyes fixed on Him and allowing His Spirit to work through me, because I am in no shape to handle this on my own.

"For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands." 2 Corinthians 5:1

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Jonah's Baptism

I found out I was pregnant for the first time ever during a trip to Vienna, Austria thirteen years ago. John and I had been married and Christians for five years, and we were visiting the family that hosted me as an exchange student when I was just sixteen. I was overjoyed and very nauseous, which made for an interesting trip. John took the lead in praying daily for the baby to "have a heart for Jesus" and continued until he was born. Sometimes we overlooked praying for health or prosperity, but we always prayed that he would love God.

Something told me I was carrying a boy, though we never officially found out. At that point, neither of us could read a sonogram any more than we could read Chinese, so we stayed blissfully ignorant and kept praying for him--or her--to love God. The majority of my pregnancy was spent in training for the mission field in Abilene, Texas where we were enrolled in church planting and Portuguese classes. I spent a great deal of that time asleep in the library while John and the rest of the team faithfully prepared. We watched the infamous destruction of the World Trade Center on the classroom television just one month before my due date, and I wondered what kind of world we were bringing our child into. During the eighth month we had an accident which totalled our car but left us unscathed. Tests showed a healthy baby.

Finally, the due date for the first grandchild on my side of the family was just around the corner. I was induced a bit early for edema--and hugeness in general. The labor was relatively long and unfruitful for the majority of the day and there were positions which caused the baby to lose oxygen, so they elevated my feet and kept me in one position. It was the closest thing to torture I have ever experienced, and I still remember it like it was yesterday. I spent Jonah's first couple of weeks of life in a bout of postpartum depression. Jonah cried and cried and cried. I cried and cried and cried. I loved him and I would do it all again in a heartbeat. God's creation is funny like that.

We moved to Brazil when Jonah was eight months old and he continued expressing his dissatisfaction on a daily basis. We weren't sure how much of it was normal baby stuff and kept trying to figure out what we were doing wrong, with little success. Eventually one of the girls on our mission team, who happened to be a speech pathologist, recommended that we have him evaluated during an upcoming furlough. We did and ended up staying in the States for the next three years, in and out of treatment and therapy. We never got an official diagnosis, (although there was a lot of talk about autism) but we watched God effectively heal our son. He began to really talk at about five and even read quite well shortly after that. He became very affectionate and funny. He was a pleasure to be around. I didn't love him any more than before, and I realized how amazing God is to make it possible to love a child deeply, regardless of behavior.

It's been a long and difficult journey with equally larger amounts of pain and reward than anything else I've ever put my heart into. Jonah turned twelve last October and has grown and matured in ways that have far surpassed our expectations, one of which is his ability to understand spiritual concepts. He tends to discern the precepts behind Bible stories that many adults I know cannot find. We take that to be our answer to those many prayers we prayed while God was still forming him in the womb.

Last week, during a trip to visit our church family in Tennessee, Jonah decided to be baptized into Christ. It wasn't the first time he asked to be, but it was the first time we felt he was ready. He and Andy used to play "baptism" in the bathtub together, and we wanted to be absolutely sure it wasn't still a game for him. I trust the Holy Spirit to begin to reveal to him things we can't teach him on our own. I'm not sure I have ever felt prouder of anyone or anything, and again I marvel at God's grace.

Congratulations, My Beautiful Boy! I am so hopeful for your future and look forward to an eternity with you. Dad and I have only helped you reach the starting line. We are especially thankful to these wonderful families who have been an integral part of your life, witnessed your baptism in Nashville, and have pledged to help you finish the race strong.

Thanks, also, to those of you who have been there along the way in one of the ten--if I haven't lost count--places he has lived. We're planning a local celebration to honor this very special milestone in our family's journey. It's been an action-packed twelve years and we want to pause in thanks to God and ask for many more.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

"I Found Christ Here!"

The last you heard from me was in November, which is shameful, not because I think you have nothing better to do than read my blog, but because God has been working in ways that really should be shared. As you know, John became the director at The Gem, a family fitness center, in November. He has worked tirelessly to organize and streamline a confusingly multi-faceted business. The facets seemed more like tentacles at times, and we've been wrapped up in them more than we've liked. That being said, all the hard work and sacrifice has been worth it, because the place has changed a great deal for the better. There is a new mission statement identifying Jesus Christ as the center, a new staff who seem more like a family to each other and to us, and a renovated building, as well as completely reorganized programming. Everything feels new and alive and purposeful, and our membership has quadrupled! We're still recovering from sizable financial issues which almost closed the place down last year, so we're not yet in the clear but hope to be very soon.

All of that is well and good, and we envision The Gem becoming a booming business and a household name to the surrounding communities. But those of you who know us know that's not exactly what feeds our souls. We want to see people come to know Jesus Christ, either for the first time or more fully. That's why, of all the exciting stories I could tell you about these past few months, I want to share this one first:

Of all the mountains John faced when he stepped into the leadership role at The Gem, there was an undeniable spirit of dissension among some of the group class instructors and members. It was a web of gossip and backbiting that had gone unchecked between the time the previous administration left and John stepped in. We prayed that God would clear out the negativity, then John confronted it head on. There was a tangible reaction, and a few instructors quit while some of the members even cancelled their contracts. God is faithful and soon enough there was a new peace that settled over the place. John and I began to pray about what would fill the hole that was created by the percentage of withdrawal we experienced in the aftermath.

Before long, as quickly as some had gone, others who left because of the dissension came back--instructors and members alike. LaRae was a favorite Zumba instructor who quit The Gem last fall to manage a restaurant. When she heard about the changes taking place at The Gem, she came to check it out for herself and asked for her job back. John informed her of the new mission and our vision to make it a more family friendly environment. She was inspired on her own accord to put together a playlist of Christian music to incorporate into her dance routines and presented the songs to John. She took a pay cut but said it was worth it to do what she loved and to be in a good family environment.

During a recent staff meeting, John asked the question, "How are we going to convince people who came and left before November to give us another try? What is different about this place now?" LaRae was quick to answer that it was very different and much better. He pressed for details that might be shared with a skeptic. She searched for words and finally and articulately exclaimed, "I found Christ here!" We visited her family's local church weeks later to see her baptized.
That was just last month and we've already seen the Holy Spirit work in her to make her more into the image of Christ. LaRae has even been moved to share her faith with others at The Gem by doing devotionals with her students.

We're excited to work alongside LaRae and to get to know her better. We also want her to know you, her new Christian family, better so please feel free to comment and let her see a glimpse of the faithful support she has worldwide.