...the awesome provision of God!

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds,
because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.
Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."
James 1:2-4

I know what you're thinking, you thought you were done getting these massive mass emailings.... Well, after over a year of waiting on the edge of your seats..... I'm inspired!!

Our first year in southeast Louisiana has been filled with adventures and newness and the awesome provision of God! The first year of marraige is exciting in itself, add on a new city in a new state, new friends and new jobs, two new homes (one that's ours!) hurricanes, evacuations and Mardi Gras, and and you've got one of my favorite things: extreme adventure! I have changed and grown, I've been humbled and hopefully used. I've learned to eat seafood, crawfish, boudin, hogs head cheese (yuck!). I'm learning to talk with a cajun accent, although sadly, I'm not very good at it. The youth group started last year with 4 kids, and this year there have been 15-20 each week! The Lord has seriously blessed our time here, and we have loved every minute, even the hard ones!

In my personal professional development, there have been highs and lows, achievements and dissapointments, tears and celebrations... I got a job last summer at the Methodist Home for Children of Greater New Orleans. I fell in love with each kid there, but not with the program, which is completely behavior based with absolutely no emphasis on spiritual or character development, or any requirement to love children in order to work there. I left Methodist in March, battling the feeling that I was leaving my calling for a job a the local Honda dealership, but I was overcome with peace as I knew that I could be better used outside of the program at Methodist. Chris and I have kept in touch and become 'visiting recources' for the kids who live there. They can spend days or weekends with us depending on their level in the program. I had dinner a couple of weeks ago with a 13 year old girl who I used to work with at Methodist. She is precious, I love her with all my heart and soul, and since October when she moved in, I've been praying and praying that God would use me to help break down this wall of anger she had put up towards Him.

What Methodist doesn't understand or address is that the route cause of the kids issues is the lack of Jesus in their lives; they don't know Him and they need to. This sweet girl has struggled with self mutilation, suicidal thoughts and attempts, and seeing and hearing voices that tell her to harm herself. A couple of months ago I called to talk to her and it happened to be in the midst of an emotional attack from the enemy. He had filled her mind with images and voices telling her to use a plastic bag in her room to suffocate herself. It's interesting to look back on this event and see how the Lord worked out the details: of all the girls at Methodist, this is the one I don't call; she hates talking on the phone, and the typical '3-11 staff' wouldn't have let me talk to her on a night like this anyways, they would have stated that it wasn't a good night and hung up the phone. But God is much much bigger than all of that silliness! A new staff member I had never met answered the phone, said she had heard the girls talk about me and thought it would be important for me to talk to this emotional girl. She gave me some background on the evenings occurances and put her on the phone. I silently asked God to come near and prepare me for the conversation. This child NEVER let me talk about God for more than a few seconds, but that night when I asked her if I could pray for her on the phone, she conceded. As we prayed, God came near, and I believe He wrapped His big arms around her, she stopped crying, said some brave things out loud to the enemy, and we hung up when she assured me she was ready to face the voices and intrusive thoughts. I believe something happened that night in her heart, and I believe that God continues to move inside of her everyday as she let's go of her anger towards Him and gives Him control of her very being. She has stopped cutting and harming herself, she hasn't seen or heard any images or vioces, and her actions and behavior have rapidly improved. When I see her smile now, it's real, she has found genuine joy in her heart. She is well on her way to graduating the program and moving into the same foster home where her 3 sisters are.

While I was sitting across the table from this sweet girl recently, I realized the opportunity I was given to see where God has brought her since that event and how much she would let me talk about Him. I said, "I'm so glad God brought you to Methodist, because otherwise I never would have met you!"

I was shocked when I didn't get the usual, "Too much God stuff!" Instead, this 13 year old seriously traumatized child responded to my comment with this: "I used to think God hated me because of everything that happened in my life, but now I can see how He brought me and my sisters out of my dad's house where he was beating us and how He brought me to Methodist where I got to meet so many great people, and now He's helping me graduate from Methodist so I can be with my sisters again!"

The Lord continues to use the children He brings into my life to change me, and I hope He never stops! What a testament to what the Lord is doing and can do in each of our own lives, and an awesome reminder that our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all (2 Corinthians 4:17)!

At 13 years old, she has gained wisdom that I have yet to grasp, the same wisdom that Joseph shared, when standing before his brothers who sold him into slavery, "Joseph said to his brothers, "I am Joseph! Is my father still living?" But his brothers were not able to answer him, because they were terrified at his presence. Then Joseph said to his brothers, "Come close to me." When they had done so, he said, "I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will not be plowing and reaping. But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt." (Genesis 45:3-8) There's always something more going on that we can't see right now, and God can ALWAYS use for good what was meant for evil! Every day since that dinner I have recalled her words and thought twice about wishing things in my life were going differently, or whining about nonsense... And every day I have wanted to share her inspiring words with each of you!

I have missed this tremendously, and hope to get back into my email writing more consistently! The responses and prayers that y'all have always been so awesome to send my way encourage me and remind me of how blessed I am... Thank you for that! I'm sorry for how out of touch I've been with most of you; that saddens me and I hope this email is able to renew some of our contact!

Please pray for this child, I can't give her name, but she has a long road of healing ahead of her. She is well on her way to finding peace with her Creator, but there are roadblocks at every turn, and she'll have to reach out to Him for guidance and direction in avoiding them. Pray that she has strength and patience to do this!

Thank you! I love and miss you all very much!

Anna Kathryn

"I thank my God everytime I remember you!
In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy!"
Philippians 1:3&4