Faith Done Well

Who doesn’t wish to throw her hands up to heaven and with jubilant praises cry out as Hannah did:

 My heart rejoices in the Lord! Oh, how the Lord has blessed me!  Now I have an answer for my enemies,  As I delight in your deliverance.  No one is holy like the Lord;  There is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God.” (1 Samuel 2:1-2)

This is a victory song. This is a song of faith and hope rewarded by an Almighty God. Hannah was a woman longing for, but unable to conceive, a child. Her story of barrenness does not stand alone in the Bible. We can also read about Sarah, Rebekah, and Rachel — all of whose wombs the Lord opened to bring forth life. Sarah tried to fulfill God’s promise of a child in her own way and time. Rebekah questioned the Lord when faced with difficulties during her pregnancy. Rachel became jealous that God wasn’t performing for her as He did for Leah. I see myself in all of these women. Their struggles are my struggles.

For some, as was the story with these ladies, the desires of the heart might become a stumbling block.

What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. James 4:1-3

 Even when God had promised to fulfill their desires or He had already made a way for a miracle baby, the ladies above were still heavy- laden with fear, strife, and insecurity.

Contrast that to the triumph and joy that Hannah experienced. Her change in demeanor did not come from lack of struggle or opposition. Hannah faced great sadness, taunting and deep anguish of spirit. However, in her great sorrow, she prayed. She prayed from the depth of her soul. She prayed with a sacrificial heart, willing to give back what she longed to receive. She believed the Word of the Lord to her. Then came these powerful words found in 1 Samuel 1.

Then Eli answered and said, “Go in peace; and may the God of Israel grant your petition that you have asked of Him.”  She said, “Let your maidservant find favor in your sight.” So the woman went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad.  I Samuel 1:17-18

 Hannah’s change of heart preceded her change of circumstances.

God was faithful to His Word in Hannah’s life just as He is faithful to His Word in our lives. What desire can you leave with the Lord today? What is it about God’s character you are depending on as you wait for Him to work?

let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith . . . Hebrews 10:22

Will you praise the Lord, like Hannah when, or even before, He answers your prayers?

About the Writer:
Lyndsay has been many things in her past, but no career, experience, or calling define her more than the desire to follow after Christ in response to His gracious work in her life. At present, she teaches movement classes and works as a wellness consultant in addition to loving her amazing husband and raising her daughter to know and love the Lord.

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Mighty Warrior From Fear to Faith

Have you ever been so gripped by fear for yourself or your family that you simply could not move?  I was recently in a wreck on a the freeway bridge over a lake.  The cars were coming over the hill so fast that I was afraid to move.  I’m not one to give in easily to fear, but that day I was afraid for my life.

Gideon was a man who was very familiar with fear.  The Israelites had been terrorized by the Midianites for seven years.  In the sixth chapter of Judges, we find Gideon hiding inside of a wine press beating out wheat where the Midianites could not see what he was doing.  It was at this point that the Angel of the Lord appeared to him and called him a valiant warrior.

 The angel of the Lord appeared to him and said to him, ‘The Lord is with you, O valiant warrior.’ Judges 6:12

I am quite sure that Gideon did not feel like a valiant warrior, but the angel said he was.

God called Gideon to lead the men of Israel against the Midianites to defeat them.  Gideon started with an army of 32,000 men, and God instructed Gideon to get rid of most of his army.  Only when Gideon’s army was a mere 300 men does God instruct him to go against the enemy. God wanted to be certain that the Israelites could not say that they defeated the Midianites in their own strength. With odds of 450 to 1, it would be obvious that the Lord had given them the victory.

Gideon had difficulty overcoming his fear, but the Lord gave him assurance.  He allowed Gideon to overhear discussion of a dream of one of the men in the Midianite camp, a dream which indicated that the Lord had already given Gideon the victory. You can read Judges 6-8 for the full account of how Gideon went from hiding in a wine press to becoming the valiant warrior that the Angel of the Lord said he was.

One of my life verses states:

I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13

There are many times when I am not able to do in my own strength what the Lord has called me to do.  This verse is the one that I go to in those times and it is the one that helped me get off the bridge and to safety the day of my wreck.  I challenge you to find a verse that will move you from fear to faith and to memorize it so you can draw strength from it when you face fear. You, too, can be a valiant warrior like Gideon.

About the Writer:
Anna is a mother to three grown children, Nana to four grandchildren and enjoys coordinating Prison Ministry for her church. Her desire is to finish this life well by pointing others to faith in Jesus Christ and to a deeper reliance on Him.

You Mean it’s not all about Me?

A woman is bathing on the rooftop.  The king sees her and decides he must have her.  He sends for her, and so begins one of the biggest blowups in the Bible.  But what about the woman?  Was she looking for the attention of the King or was she an innocent victim?

We don’t know what Bathsheba’s intentions were.  I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what I was missing in my reading, and finally realized her intentions weren’t important to the telling of the story. The story wasn’t really about her. She became a very important figure in the Bible and was mentioned in the lineage of Jesus, but she was identified only as the wife of Uriah the Hittite.

Can you imagine being in her story, what it must have been like to lose her husband, then marry the King, then have a baby, then lose that baby?  And that was just the beginning of the tragedy that ensued.  I know in that situation I would have been crying out to God, “Why me?  Why are you doing this to me?”  But, you see, it wasn’t about her or we would know the details.

The story was about King David and his blowup.  Bathsheba played a part, but the story unfolding was his story.  I can’t count how many times I ask God why.  Very frequently, the answer is – it’s not about me. That place of asking why comes from a focus on myself, and comes from taking my eyes off what He wants for me in the moment. It comes from selfish pride, thinking the world revolves around me and I am here to be happy.

Oh wait, you mean I wasn’t put on this Earth to be happy?  Not exactly.  Sure, God wants us to be happy, but He first commands us to be obedient and serve Him.

Love the Lord your God and serve Him with all your heart and all your soul.  Deuteronomy 11:13 

I think Bathsheba got this. In the few verses where she is mentioned as taking action, that action began with bowing before the King.  She eventually gave birth to the wisest man on earth, and could have been either the inspiration for the author of the Proverbs 31. While we don’t know her intentions, we do see the fruit of her actions, and we see how God redeemed her circumstances.

But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more. Romans 5:20

For me, the story of Bathsheba is one of obedience, of service, and of grace. But today, she is a good reminder it isn’t always about me.

About the Writer:
Wendy is a wife and mother who works full time in Risk Management.  Here at First Dallas she serves in Sunday school, helps coordinate Angel tree, and teaches at Discipleship University.  Her greatest joy comes from discovering how following Jesus can greatly impact her daily life and the lives of those she cares about in innumerable, practical ways.

You are a God Who Sees

Then she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, “You are a God who sees.” Genesis 16:13 

An opportunity presented itself and I was more than eager to take it on. I was soon to begin a writing venture that I had so longed to start. I packed my bags and headed to Alabama to one of the most sought out vacation spots. As I pulled into the lodge, I was both intrigued and overwhelmed by all that awaited me. I pushed ahead of my emotions and plunged into the work that had been appointed for me to do.

As the production proceeded, day after day, more strength was needed as well as extra time to finish. Instead of the joy I thought I would experience, a dread was attaching itself to my heart. I loved writing, but it was becoming more of a chore than a delight and I couldn’t understand why.

My mind became captivated with the mere thought of finishing strong while the energy to continue the task was fading. Time was running out and so was my joy. However, as I continued to work hard on the job at hand, God was working intensely on the heart within.

I finally reached a point of what authors call, “writer’s block.” I knew I needed to remove myself from my room, in which I had been enclosed for days, and just take a ride in the car. Yet what I thought would be a time to clear my mind, God knew it would be an opportunity to clear my heart.

I was completely engrossed by a sermon on the radio as I pulled up beside a boat dock that over- looked a beautiful river. Tears began to stream down my face, as I sat there alone, listening and praying. God knew that submerged deep within me were issues that needed resolving regarding my life. As I poured my heart out to Him, I was deeply touched by the mere fact that His eyes saw me. I was in the middle of nowhere, tears pouring, yet my Lord took notice.

Now the angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, by the spring on the way to Shur.  He said, “Hagar, Sarai’s maid, where have you come from and where are you going?” And she said, “I am fleeing from the presence of my mistress Sarai.”  Genesis 16:7-8 

Sarai, unable to conceive a child, wanted desperately to have a family. While taking matters into her own hands, she resolved to give her Egyptian maid, Hagar, to her husband Abram in hopes of obtaining children. Yet immediately after Hagar conceived, a great friction took place between the two women and Hagar ran away.

While coursing through the desert, Hagar found herself sitting down by a well, broken, rejected and afraid. No sooner had she arrived that an angel of the Lord met her there. As He began to encourage her heart, she was engulfed with joy by the mere fact that God took notice of where she was and of what she was going through. She later sighed, “You are a God who sees.”

Just like Hagar, I too was overtaken by the goodness and mercy of God. And even though my journey was producing discouragement, earnestly imploring me to quit, God met me where I was and intervened in a battle raging strong within my heart. My God took notice and He took action!

Remember, discouragement and hopelessness will always beg for entrance to your life. Yet when you allow God to flip on His light switch to your heart, you will be amazed at what transpires, as He takes center stage of your spirit. Hopelessness will quickly bow out.

There is nothing which you and I will ever face that God will not take notice of. God met Hagar sitting by a well. He met me sitting by a river. And He will meet you wherever you are today.

About the Writer:
Shea is the mother of two and nana of five and enjoys both roles tremendously. She loves the opportunity to serve through various ministries at First Baptist Dallas as well as Entrusted Hope Ministry.  She also speaks to women’s groups, assists with biblical counseling when opportunities arise and is constantly working to develop women’s Bible studies. Shea received her bachelor’s degree in Christian Ministry from Blue Mountain College in Blue Mountain, Mississippi; her master’s degree in Biblical Counseling from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas; and began her doctoral work at Southwestern this past fall.

Cray Cray!

Have you heard the newer expression “cray cray” or “cray”? It’s used to describe someone or something that is crazy on another level, the ultimate crazy. It surfaced a few years ago and is now part of my personal vocabulary, especially at work where I am an emergency room nurse. The days in the emergency room can get cray!

Noah’s Ark riding on a swell after the Great Flood

To every living person on the Earth, Noah was cray cray. This guy was building a massive boat for an impending flood that only he knew about, in a land where there was no rain in sight.  And why was he building the boat? Because God told him to. That reasoning did not fly with his culture, much like it does not hold much merit in ours today. But Noah did not care. Day after day he built that boat despite enduring what I can only imagine as some intense persecution. Undergoing name-calling, jeering, and bullying on top of extremely hard physical labor must have been grueling. In Hebrews 11:7 NIV, the Bible says that out of “holy fear” Noah built the ark.

The Bible gives us some insight into what the people were like in Noah’s world. From Genesis 6, the Bible says that they were evil, that they thought evil all the time (with the exception of Noah.) The Bible goes on to say:

And just as it happened in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man:  they were eating, they were drinking, they were marrying, they were being given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. Luke 17:26-27

This means that our culture is going to continue to get worse until Jesus Christ comes to reign. My question is this:  As our culture becomes increasingly depraved, will we have the faith and perseverance to stand up for righteousness or will we succumb to the ways of the world because it’s easier to do so? For example, God said in 1 Corinthians 6 do not have sex outside the bonds of marriage. Yet, sexual relations outside of the marriage bed are common even among those who are Christians.

Doing the right thing is rarely easy and honoring God with a “holy fear” of His instructions is not popular. But, if we can’t do it now when our culture is not “evil all the time” how can we expect to do it later when it is? When the persecution increases, what will be our response? I pray that I have a holy fear like Noah and follow God’s commandments, even if it means I look cray cray.

About the Writer:
Natalie is a stay at home mom to two young boys. Additionally, she occasionally works as an emergency room nurse and is studying to become a Nurse Practitioner. She and her husband have been called into the medical mission field and are excited to see what the Lord has in store for their lives.

Keep Your Eye on the Ball

Recently I attended my three year old grandson’s Blast Ball game. Blast Ball is the precursor to T-Ball. The athletes are three or four years old and the object is for them to learn the basics of the game.  Their coach is constantly telling them to keep their eyes on the ball.  It is a very simple instruction, but if it is not done, they can’t play the game well.

King David is described in the Bible as being a man after God’s own heart.  David loved the Lord and wanted to follow Him, but even David is guilty of taking his eye off of the ball.  Scripture tells us:

Then it happened in the spring, at the time when kings go out to battle, that David sent Joab and his servants with him and all Israel, and they destroyed the sons of Ammon and besieged Rabbah. But David stayed at Jerusalem.  2 Samuel 11:1

One of the worst choices David ever made was simply to stay at home and not go to war with his men. It was a simple choice that he was entitled to make, but it was a choice that took David’s eye off of the Lord and the business that the Lord had for him to do.  David’s decision not to go to war with his men set the stage for the temptation that followed, and a series of events that drastically affected David’s future as well as the future of his entire family and his kingdom.  If David had gone to war with his men, he would not have fallen into sin with Bathsheba.  He would not have needed to resort to having Uriah (Bathsheba’s husband) killed in battle.  It would have changed the future of his family and his kingdom.

Can you identify with David? Have you ever made a decision that didn’t seem like a big deal at the time but later came back to haunt you? Taking our eyes off of what the Lord would have us focus on always leads to disobedience and sin.  In hindsight, we can always see clearly where one simple choice got us headed in the wrong direction.

The good news is that the Lord is always willing to forgive when we are willing to admit our failure.  David wrote Psalm 51 after he sinned with Bathsheba.  Take a moment to read and reflect on Psalm 51 and remember to keep your eye on the ball!

About the Writer:
Anna is a mother to three grown children, Nana to four grandchildren and enjoys coordinating Prison Ministry for her church. Her desire is to finish this life well by pointing others to faith in Jesus Christ and to a deeper reliance on Him.

Delilah: The Great and Powerful . . . Woman?

Women are powerful. Many times we don’t feel it, but we have far more power than we often realize. Do you remember Delilah? She was one of the most powerful women in the Bible. She “took out” Samson, the world’s strongest man. Can you imagine? Big, powerful muscles and Fabio hair, wrapped in a man who served God? He was unstoppable. The Philistines couldn’t touch him, but a woman was his downfall.

We all know the story. Delilah seduced Samson and asked the source of his strength. She asked three times before he gave in.  And then, while he slept with his head in her lap, she called in a man to cut and shave his hair.  When his strength had left him, Delilah turned him over to the Philistines who bound him, gouged out his eyes, and made him grind grain in the prison.

But Samson “died” before his hair was cut. What was it really that killed him? Was it Delilah’s beauty? Her intellect? Her overt power? No. That would make the story too far from us; it would make her the evil woman with whom we have nothing in common. In fact, we have far more in common than I like to admit.

Here’s what the Bible says:

It came about when she pressed him daily with her words and urged him, that his soul was annoyed to death. Judges 16:16 NASB

Words kill. We say, “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” That’s not true. Words create. God created the Universe with words. The Word became flesh and redeemed us all. Words also destroy. Solomon had much to say about the power of words. Consider this:

With his mouth the godless man destroys his neighbor, but through knowledge the righteous will be delivered. Prov 11:9 NASB

Or ponder this:

A soothing tongue is a tree of life, but perversion in it crushes the spirit.  Prov 15:4 NASB

Reading this story made me think back to all the times my words have nearly annoyed my husband to death.  How many times have I pressed him daily with my words? How many times have my words, even my questions, put him in an uncomfortable position? Have I pressed him to give up his power? Sure I have, and those times caused chaos in my home.  When I hold back and ask God for His words, then we are more likely to have peace in our home.

Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.  Prov 16:24 NASB

So you see, women really are powerful. We have the power to heal and nourish with our words.  We also have the power to destroy. Father, show us how we can use the power of our words to bring healing and nourishment.

About the Writer:
Wendy is a wife and mother who works full time in Risk Management.  Here at First Dallas she serves in Sunday school, helps coordinate Angel tree, and teaches at Discipleship University.  Her greatest joy comes from discovering how following Jesus can greatly impact her daily life and the lives of those she cares about in innumerable, practical ways.

Discovering my Spiritual Stomach

I’ve sat with the same passage of scripture in front of me for over three months, “chewing on it,” and “chewing” some more. Several times I tried to find a take-away and move on, but, each time, it was over-generalized, and my heart was not satisfied. Then, at just the right time, the purpose that God had for me in this story became clear and it spoke wisdom into a trial that my husband and I were facing.

Although my childhood summers came each year by way of a country dirt road, I failed to learn the reason that cows chew all the time. The term “ruminate” means to meditate or ponder something. The meaning is derived from the part of the cow’s stomach called the rumen, whose function it is to return cud to the mouth to be re-chewed. The food travels through 4 sections of the stomach to fully process and break down the food enough to be digested.

The four parts of the cow’s stomach have become my physical picture of this process that I often follow when studying scripture. Each time this story moved from one part of my ‘spiritual stomach’ to the next, it was becoming softer, and I was gathering bits of nutrients until it was ready to be fully consumed – providing nourishment to my heart, mind and soul.

In the story of Abigail, located in 1 Samuel 25:2-42, Abigail is described as intelligent and beautiful, while her husband Nabal (whose name means ‘fool’) is described as brutish and rude. King David sends men to ask Nabal for some food to feed his men in return for the protection they had helped to provide Nabal’s shepherds and flocks. In a prideful response, Nabal insulted David and refused to share provisions. When David heard of Nabal’s response, he rallied 400 men to ride towards Nabal on a kill mission. Nabal’s servants who heard this interaction went directly to Abigail to ask for her intervention.

From here, I encourage you to read the exact interaction between Abigail and David in 1 Samuel 25:23-42. Look beyond the surface and recognize the ways that her speech is woven with evidence of God’s having molded her heart over time.

Here are a few of the spiritual truths that God confirmed through Abigail’s story:

  • The Fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom.
    • Abigail feared the Lord more than she feared David, his men or Nabal.
    • “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” (Proverbs 9:10)
  • Wisdom produces Humility
    • Abigail’s approach towards David wasn’t strategic – she didn’t have time to be strategic. Her words and her actions were a pure response from her heart.
    • “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.” (James 3:13)
    • “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” (Matthew 12:34)
  • Humility precedes Grace.
    • Abigail bore the burden that belonged to her husband. “She fell at [David’s] feet and said, “On me alone, my lord, be the blame. (1 Samuel 25:24)
    •  . . . Clothe yourself with humility toward one another because “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5)
  • Godly Wisdom produces Peace.
    • Abigail’s wisdom in her reasoning with David was honoring to God and it changed the course of David’s response to Nabal.
    • “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.” (James 3:17-18)
  • Reward begins with the Fear of the Lord.
    • The lives of many men were spared, and David later remembered Abigail and asked her to become his wife.
    • “Humility is the fear of the Lord; its wages are riches and honor and life.” (Proverbs 22:4)

My spiritual journey through this story began with a bite that was too big to swallow. It required meditation and the reference of many other verses to break it down into the purpose God had for me at the time. It’s your turn, go find a passage to chew on for a while. Moo.

About the Author:
Audra has a passion for encouraging women in their roles at home in both marriage and motherhood. She enjoys sharing her journey of refinement and learning through these important transitions on her blog called The Homegrown Project.

 

The Challenge of Rebekah: Finishing with Faith

She was brave. She was beautiful. She was kind-hearted and hard-working. What man wouldn’t dream of a wife like Rebekah?  Indeed, Isaac “loved her very much and she was a special comfort to him.”

When faced with the choice to respond to a glorious recount of God’s divine intervention to unite Rebekah with her future husband (a complete stranger, by the way) she said, “Yes, I will go.” Rebekah followed Abraham’s servant back to a far away place to meet her new husband. Their first meeting was love at first sight, and in years to follow, Isaac still loved her so much that he begged God on her behalf. God granted Isaac his request, and Rebekah bore twin sons.

Rebekah was loved, but Rebekah was distracted. She was busy securing a future for her beloved son, Jacob. She was willing to deceive her husband to get what she wanted. She was willing to cast her other son aside, leaving him slighted and dejected. God had made her a promise, but she somehow thought that God needed her intervention to make it happen. She saw her husband as more powerful than God and so she attempted to thwart him.

Rebekah encouraged much strife, favoritism, manipulation, deceit, and spite within her family.

I am reminded of the words in Proverbs 14:1

The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish tears it down with her own hands.

 The life of Rebekah is a wakeup call for me. I see little in the life-story of Rebekah to admire her for. However, God in His sovereignty still accomplished all of His purposes regardless of Rebekah’s shortcomings. As much as I want the Lord to include me in His displays of faithfulness throughout the generations, I also want to be a woman that God exalts. I don’t want to be merely in a story of the faith, but I want to be one that the Lord exalts in those stories. To be so, I must relinquish the fears that overtake me so very often and allow God to accomplish His promises.

The fear of man brings a snare, But he who trusts in the LORD will be exalted. Proverbs 29:25 

  • Is there anything that you feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit of to confess right now?
  • Is there any fear that you are holding on to so tightly that you are not trusting God with?
  • Is there anything or anyone that you really believe could stand against God and His purposes?

About the Writer:
Lyndsay has been many things in her past, but no career, experience, or calling define her more than the desire to follow after Christ in response to His gracious work in her life. At present, she teaches movement classes and works as a wellness consultant in addition to loving her amazing husband and raising her daughter to know and love the Lord.

Don’t Worry, I’ll fix IT

I’m a fixer.  I fix things.  It’s what I do.  Someone’s got a problem?  Tell me, and I’ll fix it.  My friends even gave me the nickname “Miss Fix It” in high school.  This personality trait can get me into trouble, however.  I have the tendency to attempt to solve the problem immediately in a manner I think is best instead of consulting the Ultimate Fixer, God.  I can be impatient, determined that the problem must be solved ASAP, and convinced that my way is clearly the best.

Abraham’s wife Sarah and I have this trait in common. God has told Abraham and Sarah that their descendants would be as numerous as the stars, despite the fact that they are both very old and at the time childless. We then learn in Genesis 16 that Sarah takes the matter into her own hands and tries to fix it. She sends her slave, Hagar, into her husband’s arms:

“Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her.” Genesis 16:2b

Notice the keyword “I” in that verse. Long story short, this plan doesn’t work out. The results of that decision include hostility, catfights, and homelessness. We may not have much patience but thankfully our sovereign Lord does. He has the patience to let us make mistakes but receive us with open arms afterwards. Even though Sarah tries to fix it, God still blesses her with a son and her and Abraham’s descendants are indeed as numerous as the stars.

As I’ve gotten older and tried to fix oh-so-many things, I’ve learned that life is a lot easier if I sit in the back seat and let Him be the driver. He doesn’t even need me to be the navigator! I can take a nap, drink a Coke, listen to music, and do whatever I want (I’d probably choose the nap option to be honest).  And, that’s not a bad way to live. Consider Jesus’s own words in Matthew 11:28-30 NIV and let His peace wash over you:

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

The Message translates the last part of verse 30 like this, “Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Wow, what a concept! The Creator of the universe doesn’t need me to fix it . . .

About the Writer:
Natalie is a stay at home mom to two young boys. Additionally, she occasionally works as an emergency room nurse and is studying to become a Nurse Practitioner. She and her husband have been called into the medical mission field and are excited to see what the Lord has in store for their lives.