The definition of freedom: The state of being free, of not being imprisoned or enslaved. God sold our home and we are experiencing freedom in a new, radical way. People give me a funny look when I tell them we are homeless and loving it! God provided everything we needed to self-fund our 110 days living in Ethiopia as newbie missionaries. God sent people in our path that allowed us live in a beautiful guest home and serve daily in our daughter’s village of Korah. Since being back in the states, we are fervently praying for God to provide the way for us to raise funds with Simply Love to serve in Haiti for 2 months and back to Ethiopia until the end of July. We are praying circles around the details, but walking forward in faith to complete the 1 year mission’s adventure God called our family. I can’t wait to tell you all the ministry details … coming soon!
My single biggest adjustment to obeying God this year has been the humbleness in my heart to accept the gift of freedom. My family and closest friends know how much I loved my home and shopping for stuff for my home, but in His faithfulness to give our family freedom, we had to die to self. Believe me, this has been a long, painful journey. I remember vividly when God first put on our hearts to sell our dream home, I dug my fingers and toes in stubbornness and refused to let go. This was MY beautiful home … God don’t you realize we custom built every corner to meet OUR needs. I was very comfortable in my life and home and community. I lost my sense of adventure being so inflexible and inconveniently selfish and fearful. Thankfully, God was more courageous than I could ever be, and in His tenderness and discipline (ouch) He allowed me to learn important lessons of forgiveness, gratefulness, humility, victory, and freedom! God knew everything about me- even the numbers of hairs on my head. I don’t need to work at revealing myself to Him. (Jesus Calling) God was preparing my heart to learn the process of letting go for future good-byes.
In His perfect timing He planned a supernatural freedom journey for us and we have only just begun. Please pray for our family, we need warriors to circle us with prayer and support and encouragement. It’s not easy, not having a home. But once again, God knew our deepest desires. Our dear friends, the Neal family, opened up their hearts and home to our family of 6 to live the next 2 months before heading to Pignon, Haiti. There are no words to thank our friends for this incredible sacrifice of love… radical hospitality. We are a big family of 14 and realized by day 3, we were living an incredible reality TV series … 4 with 9 Kids and Counting or Neals & Gibsons Plus 14. Can you imagine the good we would do for missions and digging wells with that paycheck from TLC!!
Feel the chains fall away, Feel the heaviness all the weight. Jesus reigns. The only way I can describe to you what I have learned about letting go is sharing this story. On our last day in Ethiopia, we had to say goodbye to our Korah family. I didn’t want to leave with any regrets and definitely wanted the children to feel a sense of closure. We didn’t make any promises, but asked them to pray big and bold with us to return in February. They understood that God would be the one to open the doors back up for us to return. We spent the morning in the Man Up Cave, completing the bible study of Daniel and decorating the cave with framed pictures. I wanted to leave a few motherly touches from Enate (mom) with the children we deeply loved and cared about. We spent the day before on our “history walks” saying goodbye to each of their families, but for the ones who had no family, this was going to be a painful departure of hearts. I remember giving my oldest son, Michael on his first day of Kindergarten the book, The Kissing Hand. Chester the raccoon doesn’t want to leave his mother, so she teaches him a secret way to carry her love with him. This simple story helps dry tears and soothes anxious children and mothers, too. I knew in my heart, I would never be able to say goodbye to Korah or the people I loved with all my heart, but I had to let go, just like little Chester the Raccoon and be brave.
Mercy’s mother, Mulu came to us and asked if the women of Mission Ethiopia could pray and say goodbye. We brought all our kids inside the tiny building (all 30+) and accepted the gift of prayer in Amharic over our big family. I could feel the “ugly cry” coming rapidly. I hid my face in my beautiful scarf, a traditional gift from the staff and started bawling. I had no idea what the women were praying, but I knew in my heart. It was the most painful moment for me the entire trip. It was hard enough saying goodbye to our son back home in the states, but this time it was multiplied by an entire village. It was more than my heart could handle. I’m sure I scared the kids to death with my wailing sobs and sniffles. The truth of the matter, I didn’t want to leave. My heart was torn in half. I HAD to return to take care of Mercy and reunite with our family, but this was not what I physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually wanted to do... please God, don’t make me leave Ethiopia. In fact, writing this now makes the tears flow again, my heart is still torn with bittersweet feelings. The reality is simple, we had to let go, to come back. When we piled into the van with only 4, I cried even harder. How could Enate (mom), leave my kids behind? It was impossible, but a necessary action of faith. Our beautiful, adopted son Sentayehu D. jumped on the van, wiped my tears and told me, “Mommy, it’s going to be OK.” In my mind, nothing was OK, but this was the moment I had to be a woman of courage, faith, and prayer. “I love you, Mom,” he said softly. At that moment, I had to entrust my loved ones to Him. I had to release them into His protective care. “When you release loved ones to Me, you are free to cling to My hand. As you entrust others into My care, I am free to shower blessings on them. My Presence will go with them wherever they go, and I will give them rest. This same Presence stays with you, as you relax and place your trust in Me. Watch to see what I will do- Jesus Calling. God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.” (Eph. 3:20 msg) Freedom reigns in this place. Showers of Mercy and Grace. Falling on every face, there is freedom…
Just for you: What “stuff” are you holding on to that’s stopping you from living free?
If you would like to support our family this year with a monetary gift, please click here on Simply Love.
Freedom Reigns- Jesus Culture
Verse 1: Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. Lift your eyes to heaven there is freedom. (Lift your eyes) Lift your eyes to heaven there is freedom.
Verse 2: Freedom reigns in this place, showers of Mercy and Grace. Falling on every face, there is freedom. If your tired and thirsty, there is freedom. If your tired and thirsty, there is freedom. Give your all to Jesus (Give your all) There is freedom. (ohh) Give your all to Jesus, there is freedom.
Chorus: Freedom reigns in this place. Showers of Mercy and Grace. Falling on every face, there is freedom. (Cause Jesus reigns… yes) Jesus reigns in this place, showers of mercy and grace. Falling on every face, there is freedom. (yeah)
Freedom reigns in this place, showers of mercy and grace. Falling on every face, there is freedom. (Jesus my Jesus) My Jesus reigns in this place, showers of mercy and grace. Falling on every face, there is freedom. (yeah-yeah)
Feel the chains fall away, Feel the heaviness all the weight. Jesus reigns. Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom, there is freedom, there is freedom. (ohhh) Jesus (yeah) You reign, you reign (ohh-ohh) My God (yeah)
Great is your faithfulness, Great is your faithfulness, Great is your faithfulness. Oh God to this generation all my life, All my life, Great is your faithfulness. We call the name tonight, Great is your faithfulness God. Great is your faithfulness (yeah-yeah)
Freedom reigns in this place, showers of mercy and grace. Falling on every (every) single face, there is freedom (all the grace I need Jesus) My Jesus reigns in this place, showers of mercy and grace. Falling on every face there is freedom.