Thursday, December 29, 2016

Real Life ... Finding Hope in Suffering

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose.”
–Romans 8:28

I feel like sometimes when circumstances aren't going “our way” it is easy to feel like we are missing God's "Plan A" for our lives ...

After returning from a mission trip to Tanzania, Africa near the end of November 2015, my body was a wreck and years of chronic pain in my back had taken their toll. I fought to come back again, to get stronger, and from December through March I worked to get healthy. I was even able to go to Nicaragua on a mission trip during that time and not have too much pain ... "Maybe this is the time I can get healthy and stay there," I thought.

Shortly after returning from overseas, in the course of about a week, it all came to a halt. I went from training almost daily to excruciating pain, without really even being too sure what I did... again.

From the beginning of April until I got in to see the hip doctor in September the pain grew increasingly worse to the point that I had never been in as much pain in all my life. Starting near the end of August I also became increasingly nauseous, dizzy, and short of breath, and it took a couple months for doctors to figure out I had some things very wrong with my thyroid as well ...

Amidst this time, I was only able to teach the first three days of the school year and then had to go on leave …

"Really, Lord? You have called me to take the gospel to the nations and I can hardly make it out of bed?" ... I would like to say those thoughts never crossed my mind. That would be a lie ...

Wow, did I have a lot to learn… about God’s sovereignty, and goodness, and what it means to be still and rest in Him… He is faithful to use adversity to root out sin in our hearts, whether it be pride, or self-sufficiency or arrogance as we think we know better than He what circumstances will bring Him the most glory … I was brought to repentance in that, and more than anything through this season, I saw His thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways are not our ways, but that He is worthy of trust and all our praise in every season, and that the promises He gives in Scripture are the firm foundation on which to stand…

~That God does work all things to the good of those who love him. (Romans 8:28)
~That it is possible to consider it pure joy when we face trials of many kinds (James 1:2-4)
~That He never leaves or forsakes us and nothing can separate us from His love (Deut. 31:6, Rom. 8:38-39)
~That we can come boldly to His throne of grace and find grace and mercy to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)
~That in His presence is fullness of joy (Psalm 16:11)
~That in this world we will have trouble, but we can take heart, for He has overcome the world. (John 16:33)

I have seen God's hand of faithfulness and am rest assured that this past year wasn't His "Plan B" or "second best" ... but the very best of what He had conform me more into the image of His Son and to draw me into a deeper relationship with Him.

I saw His faithfulness in countless ways, especially through those who were the hands and feet of Jesus in so many ways in how they loved and served – through praying and bringing meals and giving rides and offering a place to stay and sending encouragement and dropping by and sending emails and texts and calling and coming alongside and continually pointing me back to Him.

I had hip surgery November 30 and thyroid surgery December 14. The pathology results from thyroid surgery were benign (thankful), but I found out my thyroid was more atrophied and inflamed than anything the pathologist had encountered before. The surgeon found it stuck to my trachea during surgery and it was hindering my ability to breathe due to the inflammation, answering many of the questions as to why I was so dizzy and short of breath for much of the fall … very thankful it came out when it did!

Recovery from hip surgery that repaired a torn labrum, the bursa, cartilage damage, and where the ball and socket overlapped too much is also coming along. There are still months and months of PT ahead (six months of PT will put me at May 30) but it sure does feel nice to be on the road to recovery. The hope is that this will also greatly help the pain I have experienced in my back for years and years.

I was reminded through this season that our circumstances need not define us... or we will be blown and tossed by the winds of adversity. It is our identity in Christ that matters. He is wise. He is kind. He is faithful. He loves us beyond what we can ever imagine. In Him alone is where we find joy. He has a purpose for our lives.

Do you know what your purpose is? Where is your hope in suffering? ... there is a God who created you, who loves you and wants a personal relationship with you so you can live for Him and bring Him glory ... apart from that, what's the point? ... without Christ, our suffering would be meaningless and there would be no hope ... but with Him it is absolutely meaningful and in Him is all the hope in the world! God is not far off, but one who draws near and can identify with our suffering... we are deserving of death because of our sin, but He has chosen to offer us life through Christ's death and resurrection ...  I pray each of you may find that hope.

“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” – 2 Corinthians 4:17-18

"God demonstrates his own love for us in this, that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." -Romans 5:8

Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." -John 14:6

Thank you to all of you who have walked alongside in this journey. Know your prayers and support mean so much. He is faithful!

"With friends by your side, no road seems too long." So thankful.

Getting up in the surgery center after having hip operated on.
Thankful for brothers and sisters in Christ.

Blessed :)

Riding around Wally World on the scooter after surgery... #LifeGoals :)

Praying for the nations... that all may come to know Him as Savior!

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Better is One Day

"Blessed are those who dwell in your house, ever singing your praise! ... For a day in your courts is BETTER than a thousand elsewhere... No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly... O Lord, blessed is the one who trusts in you." -Psalm 84:4, 10, 11-12

May we truly believe that Jesus is BETTER ...better than any worldly comfort, earthly pursuit or temporary pleasure, JESUS IS BETTER. He alone is the God of all comfort, He is our hope and He is our peace. He is ever faithful and never changing. Because of Him we are able to say "It is well with my soul," even when it is not well with our circumstances. It is finished, the debt is paid; He is the way, He is the truth, He is the life, and one day He is coming back to reign. May our lives reflect that we truly believe ONE DAY in His courts are better than a thousand elsewhere...

"Oh praise the One who paid my debt and raised this life up from the dead ... Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe. Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow!"

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Heritage Christian Sports Camp Report

Hey all!

Thanks so much to each of you who prayed for sports camp out here in Bozeman this past week! We ended up with 123 K-6th grade kids registered and averaged about 110 in attendance each day. There were also 25 junior coaches (middle and high schoolers) who served alongside 12 adult coaches throughout the week, sharing their faith on the field, leading and assisting with sport times, helping with Bible study, devotions, worship, prayer, and all the other ins and outs of camp. It was awesome to see the next generation stepping up to be reproducers of the gospel... Another neat aspect of camp was the opportunity to partner with a fellow Montana Christian Athletic Association school, Foothills Christian, who sent 11 people down to help - our prayer is to expand up to Great Falls as well next summer and see where the Lord takes us from there ... We saw the Lord at work in so many ways and we saw lives changed for eternity as campers desired to surrender their lives to Christ throughout the week. To God be the glory. He is faithful!

Here is a video of camp highlights:

Heritage Christian Sports Camp 2016

Sports Camp Coaches and Junior Coaches!

Worship Time

Mission Team fellowship at Hyalite!

#FalconsFlyTogether :)


Saturday, July 23, 2016

Heritage Christian Sports Missions Week

Hey all!

Heritage Christian Sports Camp (Sports Missions Week) is coming up this week, July 25-28! The goal of the camp is to use sports as a platform to share Christ with kids from all around Bozeman and to train high school/middle school athletes to use the gifts God has given them for His glory. We have maxed out space as there are 120 kids registered who will have the opportunity to come and hear the gospel message as relationships are built through using sports as a platform. In addition to more than 20 people serving from here in Bozeman, we also have 10 people who have come down from fellow MCAA school, Foothills Christian (Great Falls), to join us! The theme for the week is Epic Moments, Romans 8:28.

Please join us in praying for the week in the following ways:

-For everything that happens through the week to reflect Christ and for the Lord to soften the hearts of the kids who attend to hear and respond to the gospel.

-That the coaches and junior coaches would be able to connect with and build relationships with the kids and their families throughout the week.

-That the coaches and junior coaches would serve together in unity, with grace, patience, and flexibility, and that each would be better equipped to share their faith by the week’s end.

-For everyone serving to be prepared spiritually and physically for the week, and that we would each stand strong in the spiritual battle that always occurs when undertaking an endeavor like this.

-That God would be honored through everything that happens and receive all the glory!

Saturday, May 28, 2016


The end of another school year here in Bozeman has allowed time to reflect on all the Lord has done. It has been four years in Bozeman as of May 22 since the Lord brought me here as a summer missionary. FOUR YEARS! Over that time God has brought so many different experiences, challenges, and platforms to share His love and grow deeper in my walk with Him, not to mention the opportunity to do life with some of the neatest people on the planet …

As I have been spending time in His Word recently I was impacted by 2 Timothy 3:4 that says,“No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer.” There are so many distractions in this world that can easily derail us from our pursuit of Christ, but may we always be found faithful in keeping our focus on Him and advancing. In a sermon that included the same passage, the pastor remarked, "Be faithful to Jesus Christ. Hold fast. Be strong in His grace. Endure hardship as a good soldier. Focus on pleasing your Commanding Officer. Be diligent. Pursue righteousness with others who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. Stay true to the Word." He followed this exhortation with the following question - "Are you fighting a good fight and running a good race?" ... May we never get complacent in our walk with Christ and instead allow Him to stretch and grow us each step of the way...

Below is a sum up of the last year …

EPIC Youth Ministry

The EPIC youth ministry focused on reaching youth for Christ through outdoor activities started in February 2015. This past year we have seen SO much spiritual growth through the middle and high school students as the three of us leaders have also grown closer to Christ and relationships within the group have bonded tighter and tighter. With the high school group, it took us the greater part of a year to go through the book of Hebrews, which can really be summed up in three words: JESUS IS BETTER. He is a better high priest, better than the angels, better than Moses, and a better sacrifice. He is worthy of our praise. The sweetest part of the group is the chance for so many life on life opportunities – through school, traveling, sports, camping trips, ski trips, a mission trip, dinners, etc. – there are no words to describe the love that has grown from doing life together.

With the middle school we have gone through the book of James and are now in 1 John. This group has grown immensely in their ability to study the Word and truly handle it accurately, a big step from just spouting off the typical church answers so many of them have been taught growing up. I cannot wait to see what the future holds for each of the students involved – may they all grow to walk wholeheartedly after Christ and have their foundation firmly and forever rooted in Him.

What a year at HCS! Words could never possibly express the joy it is to do life with the families and staff involved at the school. So thankful. Between teaching 10 classes (K-7 PE, 7th grade computers and journalism and yearbook), while also serving as the Athletic Director and traveling all over Montana for different games and tournaments, it has been a whirlwind and one great big bundle of fun! This year saw our soccer team win the school’s first State Tournament title, our boys basketball team match the best showing in school history at the State Tournament (3rd), our girls volleyball team have its highest finish in school history (4th), our second year golf team go undefeated at the high school level, and our track athletes take many first place finishes throughout the season. Most importantly though, it is such a blessing to see what a platform sports can be to be a light for Christ. I am so thankful to serve with families and students who are capturing and living out the vision of using whatever gifts they have been given for His glory. Worldly success will fade away, but what we do for the kingdom eternally is what really matters.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Matthew 6:19-21

HCS High School Golf Team

Middle School Team

Middle School Tourney

Heritage MCAA Invitational Tournament


Team Champs

Love this team!
Practice ;)

Great Falls tourney

Great Falls tournament champs

One of the greatest blessings of serving as the Athletic Director the past three years has been the opportunity it has brought to forge relationships with the other Montana Christian Athletic Association schools. This summer, from July 25-28 we are hosting a summer sports camp at Heritage in partnership with families from Foothills Christian (Great Falls). The goal of the camp is to use sports as a platform to share Christ with kids around Bozeman while also training high school athletes to use the gifts God has given them in athletics for His glory. The goal is to start here in Bozeman this summer while training the Foothills families to take it back to Great Falls next summer.

Please be PRAYING for this week and all those the Lord would have to be involved both in serving and in attending the camp. This is truly a God-sized task and I am excited to see what He will do!

Great Falls sisters in Christ - can't wait to serve together this summer!

I am currently taking my sixth seminary class in the Global Studies program from Liberty University online. I started this time a year ago and it has been such a good opportunity to grow deeper in my knowledge of the Word and love for my Savior. I have been able to study overviews of the Old and New Testament, evangelism, world missions, unreached people groups, what Scripture says about pain and suffering in the Christian life, and so much more. The late nights and early mornings studying around everything else going on out here has definitely left me more dependent on Christ moment by moment in pressing into Him and relying on His strength each day.

In addition to personal study, I have also had the opportunity to study with a few sweet sisters in Christ as well – I am so grateful for the authenticity, transparency, realness, accountability, prayer and time in the Word – it has been such a blessing. We need each other in the body of Christ – we aren’t meant to travel this journey alone. Do you have iron sharpening iron relationships in your life?


To all my Nashville people – I will be in town for a visit June 2-14. CANNOT WAIT!!! My heart could just burst from excitement! 


Here are a few Bozeman pictures that are truly worth more than words can express. Just blessed beyond measure by such tangible reminders of God's faithfulness!

"I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." Philippians 1:3-6

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Nicaragua Mission Trip 2016

Thanks so much to all of you who prayed for the Nicaragua mission trip team that traveled from Bozeman March 10-19 - we were able to build two homes, encourage pastors in the villages, do children's ministry, door to door evangelism, visit the feeding center at the city dump and Furia Santa (a men's rehabilitation center) and share the gospel with hundreds of people throughout our time there. God is faithful and there is power in the name of Jesus!

Here is a link to a video with pictures of the trip if you are interested!

Also - here is the blog link where the team posted updates throughout our time there! I was assigned the last day of the team blog and am re-posting what I wrote below...

"Being in the trenches for Christ isn't a glamorous job, but there is no better place to be."

Sawdust falling off boards as they are nailed to the houses, dust flying from parachute games, sewer water running, sweating incessantly, dirt everywhere, seemingly endless hours on a bus ... Kids smiling, running and playing, houses completed, prayers answered, testimonies shared, the gospel proclaimed, lives transformed, inexplicable joy...

Temporary discomforts for seeing lives changed for eternity make every single minute oh, so very worth it. May we be able to say the same of our lives as Paul did of his: "I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some." -1 Cor. 9:22

I saw the power of Christ displayed throughout the week by God specifically gifting each person on the team to serve together in unity...
Gerry's leadership, Pat's behind the scenes work, Craig's spiritual insight, Kristi's heart as we prayed together nightly and then watched expectantly throughout the week as God answered, Eli's incredible work ethic and attitude at the job sight, Vale's building skills, Konnor's growing desire to use soccer as a gift for His glory, Quinton and McKinlee instantly connecting with kids in each village, Tricia doing door to door evangelism and having conversations like she has known the people for years, Dore's constant smile and laughter, Grace's genuine desire to serve, Tim stepping out of his comfort zone in obedience, Joanna being so intentional in constantly looking out for the interests of others, Macy's love for the children, and Vikki's ability to clearly communicate the gospel ... The Lord knew who was needed to complete His work this week. Our prayer each day was that the Nicas wouldn't see us, but instead see Christ in us.

We will never forget the smiles of the children, the gratitude of the pastors, the testimonies we were privileged to hear and the opportunity to see lives transformed by the power of the gospel as many were invited to surrender their lives to Him. 

On this trip I was reminded of the importance of God's vision in ministry as Eduardo shared how God called Him to start a preschool in Mateare that would be a beacon of light for Christ and "he had no budget but trusted in faith that God would provide."
And He has provided in ways abundantly beyond what he could have imagined.

I saw hope being given at the dump, where three years ago police escorts were needed to even enter and now over 100 children are fed daily and, at least for a little while, they are given the opportunity to play and actually be kids.

 Their smiles and laughter as we shared in games with them will forever be imprinted on our hearts.

We saw the importance of pastoral training so the Word of God is handled accurately in the villages in which He has called each of them to serve.

We saw that “poverty isn’t the absence of material things, but the absence of hope.” No matter the amount of money in someone’s bank account, apart from Christ we are all spiritually bankrupt.

God's ways are higher than ours and His plans far bigger.

He put it on the hearts of us in Montana to travel thousands of miles to help be the answer to years of prayer of Nicaraguan pastors and their families for provision and encouragement and a home so they could continue on in doing His work.

This trip also brought many answered prayers personally  ... 

I had been praying since before I moved to Bozeman that New Beginnings Church (formerly Kirkwood) would become missions minded and send a team to take the gospel to the nations.

And for over three years for the May family to have the opportunity to serve together on the mission field.

Also, for discipleship opportunities in leading and encouraging and equipping others to go and serve.

Lastly, for seeing people realize there is a God who loves them enough to have sent Jesus to die on the cross for their sin so that they could be reconciled to Him and seeing them repent, place their faith in Christ and fully surrender everything to Him.

We serve a God who is good, who is faithful, who provides and who calls us to be on mission with Him.

It also made me think then ...What happens when we are not obedient to His calling? ... 

"God calls every Christian to live with a missionary heart... The Bible is perfectly clear: In the gospel is power for salvation. Without it, no one can be saved. The nations must hear. Jesus has commanded us to reach and teach the lost with the gospel so ...the question for us to answer is not, "Am I called to go?" but instead "can I show sufficient cause for not going?"... The one who says, "Yes, Lord but..." is the one who is fiercely ready but never goes." -David Sills

As we return home today, our lives are forever changed ... Our encouragement to you is to consider the plans God has for your own life. Where is He calling you to step out in obedience? Don't wait another minute!

Thank you for the prayers so many of you lifted up on behalf of our team - we know nothing can happen apart from His power and we are so thankful for each of you being a part of this trip with us! 

-Amber :)