Heart of Flesh (Mission Trip Lesson #3)…

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This is me, my son, and K2.  She is strong… she is brave.

I’ve heard from many people that have been on mission trips that you need to look out for the “God moments.”  I’ve also heard that you don’t know if the mission trip is for the people where you are going or for your own self.  I guess, a bit of both.  I tried so hard to be open to the new experiences.  I was told to “be flexible.”  Lord, I tried!

K2 and I have been friends for a while.  I am so thankful that God keeps putting us together more.  I love getting to know her more.  She is tough.  I can’t tell you what she does for a living, but I can tell you that she can take you out.  And, I don’t mean to dinner (although I’m sure she would!).  She is brave… she is hardcore… but she has one of the softest hearts I have ever witnessed.

Everywhere we went in the villages, she and her son were the first to break out a toy for a local child.  She was the first to offer to buy something at every store.  Me… I’m thinking save my money… I don’t really need that.  She was thinking (I’m guessing), I can help support these people’s businesses.  I might not need it that bad, but they might.  I learned to see a different side of money by watching her use it.  Don’t you love it when you are open to learning from others?

Anyway, if you know K2, you know that she gets emotional.  At first, it’s unexpected.  If you don’t know her, I can say that to pray with this woman is a true gift.  She pours her soul into every prayer.  She prays deep and true.  Some of the villagers that we prayed with didn’t understand a word she was saying, but they understood her heart.  What a gift!  I think that sometimes she gets self-conscious about how emotional that she is, but sister… let me tell you, we all should be that way.  When we totally “get” that we are sinners and that Christ gave His life for us so that we could spend eternity with him… that is something to get emotional about!  She “gets” it.

I like to think that I “get” it, too.  But, something about being with this heart of flesh for a week makes me think I could get it more.  She teaches me that you can tough and soft at the same time.  You can be strong and you can be broken.  Thank you sweet friend.

“I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 11:19

A Great Day…

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It has been a little while since I’ve written.  It seems that I have so much to say, but so little time to write.  And, maybe you all needed a break from me anyway. 🙂

For those of you that follow me, but aren’t in my circle of family and friends… my husband is home!!  We are so excited to have him back.  And, this time he should be home for a while.

We thank everyone that has prayed for us, sent packages and encouraging cards, listened, helped, and just been our friends over this past three years.  I can’t tell you what each of you mean to our family.

That said, please continue to pray for our family as we adjust to living together again.  Those of you in the military know that this is the hardest part.

Hope you enjoy our homecoming video (Click here to view video).  Feel free to share it.  Happiness is contagious!

“I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving.” Psalm 69:30

Update…

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waitingPeople ask me all the time when my husband is coming home.  I feel like the pregnant lady that always gets asked “you still haven’t had that baby?!”  Then, it dawned on me that I really haven’t given an update on our story.  So… here’s the skinny… or the fat… depending on how you look at it. 🙂

I posted a blog titled My Plea in July.  This blog requested prayer to help us get my husband stationed back in Jacksonville, FL.  Many of you shared that post.  It received over 600 hits.  Hundreds of prayers went up on our behalf and God listened.

The very next day after posting that prayer request a friend emailed me that she had a contact in our Senator’s office.  That led to another contact to the person that handles military issues in the Senator’s office.  She sent a request to the Navy to have my husband stationed in Jacksonville.

A few weeks later, my husband received orders to a ship in San Diego, California.  This was not what we had hoped for, but I knew that God was still working in this situation.  Basically, these orders did not faze me one bit.  I emailed our contact in the Senator’s office to give her the update on orders.  She sent another request to the Navy.  That was Tuesday, September 3rd.  A few days later, on Friday, my husband received an email stating that he would be getting an order modification to report to a squadron in Jacksonville, Florida.

Answered prayer… YES!  I can’t really explain other than to say that my faith never failed.  I truly just knew that he would come home.  I didn’t know how it would happen, but I just knew.  Recently, I sang a song at church titled “He Can Move Mountains.”  I truly believe that!  God can do anything.  Do not let your knowledge of your own capabilities limit God.

Anyway, we have a letter from the Senator’s office and from the Navy stating this modification.  However, to my knowledge, my husband does not currently have the new orders.  Here’s where it gets tricky.  I did say to my knowledge.  It has been a really long time since that email.  My husband has been frustrated and impatient… just wanting to know a date when he will come home.

Recently though, he doesn’t really mention it.  He makes comments about mailing stuff home so he doesn’t have to take it through the airport… about “checking out”… and ignores my questions regarding orders.

So, to answer your question… I have no idea when he’s coming home.  I just know that he is.  And while I want him home now, I would wait forever.  God has taken care of us thus far and everything happens in His timing.

I would like to say though that if somehow my husband is able to pull off a surprise homecoming, someone better have a video camera rolling!

I can’t find the words that truly capture how I feel about all the prayers that we have received over the past two years… especially the ones based on my post from people who don’t even know us.  I am humbled that anyone would use their time with God on our behalf.

If you shared my post before, please share this one.  I want people to know that prayer works… that their prayer was heard.  And, to say a humble thank you from our family.

“Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.” Habakkuk 2:3b

 

My Plea…

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BoysThese are my boys.  My husband, AO1 Raymond Perry, is proudly serving in the US Navy and has been aboard the USS Bonhomme Richard (and the USS Essex) based in Sasebo, Japan for 19 months.  He will have served 25 months before his current orders are up.

He just went through his window to pick orders for his next duty station.  We are praying fervently that he can come back home to us in Jacksonville, Florida.  He was allowed to pick in a three-month window.  His first set, nothing open here… did not get his pick.  His second set, nothing open here… did not get his pick.  His third and final set, one slot open here… did not get his picks. We are now going through uncharted territory.  We’ve never not gotten any orders thereby being placed on the “needs of the Navy” list.  The way my husband explained this is that the Navy can put him wherever or leave him in Japan.

We are a two-income family.  We are proud members of Shindler Drive Baptist Church and serve our church in every way we can.  I’ve been at my job for nine years.  It would put a hardship on my small business employer if I were to leave.  Given this economy, I wonder if or how quickly I would find other employment if we were forced to move.

I am an avid news watcher and follow politics closely.  I see the military making budget cuts.  I wonder how much financial sense it makes to pay for a family to move, when they could save the government money by staying in their community?  I understand that it wouldn’t cost anything to leave him in Japan.  However, he is getting slightly more pay just for being away from his family.  The government could save money just by sending him home on a plane.  Heck, I’ll even buy the ticket!

The military has a high divorce rate.  Mind you, we will not be one of those statistics, but it puts a huge burden on a family to be separated for 25 months.  I do not claim to know how much time every service member spends away from their family, but 18 months is about the most I’ve heard from the other branches of service.

We love our country.  We work hard.  We love God and serve Him to the best of our ability.  I know that there are many people going through the same or similar circumstances out there.  We… my boys and I, and my community need my husband home.  Prayer works.  I ask… no, I’m begging you… please pray for our family. Please pray that a position will open up here (Jacksonville, FL) so he can come home.

My boys need their dad.  They’ve put in their time.  This assignment, they will have been without him for over two years of their life.  That’s a lot for any boy, but especially for ones their age. Please pray for us… please share this post with your friends, on your Facebook, Twitter, wherever.  God hears prayers and we need all we can get.  Thank you for your time to read this, thank you more for sharing your time with God on our behalf.

In Christ, The Perry Family @ashli_perry

“If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”  Matthew 21:22

“Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he brought them out of their distress.  He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed.  They were glad when it grew calm, and he guided them to their desired haven.”  Psalm 107:28-30

Out of Gas…

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There are a few people out there that call me Wonder Woman.  I guess there are times when I feel like her.  Lately, I think Wonder Woman packed up her gear and flew away in her invisible jet.  What I’m about to say is not a cry for sympathy.  I’m simply sharing my feelings because I know that I am not the only person having these issues.  You are not alone.

Lately, I am tired.  Not only tired physically, but mentally… emotionally… spiritually.  My youngest son is having issues with being defiant.  Trying to keep him in check is totally draining me.  I feel like I’m always getting on to him.  Well, since I’m being honest, yelling at him… well, both of them.

From the outside things look good.  My yard is raked and leaves are bagged, but on the inside my floor needs to be mopped and I just don’t feel like doing it.  That’s probably true about me personally, too.  People see me and I look fine on the outside, but inside I’m falling apart.  I can’t say that I’m doing too much.  I do know how to say “no” and I have a lot lately.  Almost to the point that I feel that I might be detaching.

It seems that my life is filled with Monday’s, practice days, Friday’s, payroll days, Sunday’s… they just keep flying by, but I don’t really have anything to show for it.  Does that make sense?  Everything is routine.

I know that God is with me, everyday.  I pray constantly, everywhere… but, I have to admit that I don’t pray fervently.  There was a time when I did.  I felt close to God, I felt peace.  Logically, I know how to cure my ills.  Realistically though, I’m not on my knees crying out for God’s help.  If I did, He would hear.  I don’t really know what is stopping me other than the pain that will be unleashed by just saying everything out loud.  Admitting to myself and to God that I am failing… that my kids are sometimes not ok… that I am not ok… is a hard pill to swallow.

Some of you may not “get” anything I just wrote, but others will.  Some of you know exactly what I’m feeling, maybe you aren’t here now, but you have been at one time.  But, if you are right where I am, I challenge you to let it go.  Give it to God.  Let’s give him the good, the bad, and the ugly.  I’m going to… it may take some time, but I’ve seen the work He’s already done and I know He can take care of this, too.

“and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me.” Psalm 50:15

Are You Listening?…

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My day started out pretty typical.  I was trying to get the boys ready for school.  I was back and forth repeating “get your clothes on… brush your teeth… clean up your mess.”  One of my darlings got a little mouthy this morning and ended up with an attitude adjustment right before walking out the door.  Great way to start our morning!

On Thursday mornings I volunteer in Carson’s class.  I went in, did my service, and finished up early.  I hurried out so I could get back to my real job.  I was walking through the hall and heard crying.  I turned and saw a lady that I’ve seen around before, but don’t know.  Even though I had no time, I stopped.  God told me to go to her.  I hugged her, gave her some tissue, and asked her if she wanted to talk about it.  She shared that her grandmother had just passed away.  Without hesitation (because I somehow already knew the answer), I asked if her grandmother was saved.  Her reply was a tearful “yes.”  My reply was “praise God!”

Now, I’m not a Holy Roller or anything.  I truly don’t even feel comfortable praying in front of people.  But, God led me to sit there and pray with one of His children that was grieving.  I don’t know what came over me… scratch that… I DO know… God came over me!  I prayed for that lady and her family with as much comfort as an old pair of jeans.  When I stopped she looked me in the eye and said “thank you” with the most sincere appreciation.  It touched me.  I realized that I had been sitting there crying with her… I realized that there were three women standing at the door watching… I realized that God had just used me.

Sometimes, I think that we get too busy, in too much of a hurry to listen.  God speaks to us.  Maybe he shouts to you, maybe he whispers, but either way if we aren’t listening His nudges fall on deaf ears.  Have there been times when you’ve been delayed only to come up on an accident that just happened… or maybe you woke up early one morning and were able to witness an awesome sunrise?  An unexplained reason caught you in the right place at the right time or not in the wrong place at the wrong time?  I believe that God does speak to us, I call them “nudges.”  He nudges us along, ever so gently, guiding us in the right direction.  Sometimes, we stray, but if we listen… He will get us back on track.

I listened today and am humbled that God used me.  God can work through you, too.  Are you listening?

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” John 10:27