Our Story: A Ministry of Abiding, Chapter 1

Chapter 1, BettieGsRAseasons

Have you ever felt the hot breath of the enemy breathing down your neck? These last few months have rocked the boat for many of us here in this world. I believe that Jesus allows the shaking in our lives to cause us to look up for His coming–to cry out for HIS help in our lives.

He has surely been doing this in my life and in the life of my husband too. As the date approached for me to share this first chapter in the story of our ministry journey, it felt like everything that could be shaken in our lives was turned upside down. Even as our country has been quaking, both my health and my husband’s health was shaken.

And I felt the gaze of the Lord upon me, as He whispered,

“From where does your hope come? Are you trusting in your own ability to make things better, or will you continue to stand in trust of the Lord alone?”

For you see, I found myself wanting to run back to my old ways of trying to fix things. I reasoned that if my husband was going to face possible heart surgery, or a life-threatening illness of his own, then I had better put my own health on hold. And I was tempted to cancel every one of my own appointments. Even though my husband told me not to do it, all I could feel was that I should try again to be the strong one, no matter how weak I truly was. The phone sat on the table next to me, where I found myself reaching for it again and again throughout the day, struggling to keep from cancelling my upcoming Doctor visits.

“No, my daughter, lean on me. I know you don’t have strength on your own, but I want to be the true helper that you both need.”

Have you faced a temptation so strong? Perhaps it is a different topic, but I am guessing that you have heard His voice gently calling you to trust Him also.

As I prepared this first chapter from over 40 years ago, I heard the song of my faithful Lord from across the decades . . .

Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat—for he grants sleep to those he loves.

Psalm 127:1-2 NIV
Barry & Bettie Audio Blog Chapter 1

Chapter 1 ~~~1977 thru 1981~~~

We met at church, where I was viewed as the “Churchy-Girl” type. He was new to this Christian living, and his enthusiasm and love for Jesus swept me off my feet long before I fell in love with his heart.

I had already been teaching young children, ever since my close friend’s mom asked me to help her with the kindergarten age Sunday-School class. When she asked me to start telling the Bible stories, I was forever captivated by the wonder that is in a child’s heart. And when this new-to-Christianity-young-man volunteered to help tell those same children the Bible stories, I was even more attracted to him. How could someone who was so new to all this, who couldn’t even pronounce so many of the Biblical names, stir up such excitement in the children to learn about Jesus? His love for the Lord, and His eagerness to share that love, was contagious.

God stepped in and wrote our love story for us, and we were married only a year and a half after we had met. I was barely 18, and he was not yet 20, when we heard God’s call. Even though it was so hard to say good-bye to our families, we packed up our little U-haul and started our married life by moving from Indiana to Minneapolis. My husband had begun the process to attend Bible College there.

Dear friends had allowed us to move into the large duplex where their elderly Grandmother lived upstairs. She needed someone to watch over her, even though she was resistant to having help. We realized that we would have to devise ways to clean her home without her becoming upset. When we found out that she loved to listen to the Bible being read to her, my husband would read to her in the front room, and I would creep quietly up the back stairs to clean that portion of her home.

Her hearing and vision loss proved to be a benefit then, as I could signal to my husband, and he would suggest that they move to the kitchen where the lighting was better. Then I would go around to the front entrance and clean the area they had just left. This dear Norwegian woman was so blessed with my husband’s reading, but we were so blessed to hear her sweet voice of appreciation. We didn’t know that when we thought we were being prepared to enter Bible School for the “official ministry,” God was already teaching us what TRUE Ministry would look like. The smiling wrinkly face of that dear woman is forever etched into my memory.

But when she fell and broke her hip while we were at work, the family agreed with us that she needed more constant care. Just at that time of change, a new opportunity opened up before us. The church where my husband had become the janitor told us they needed a live-in caretaker. We hadn’t even realized that there was a 2-bedroom apartment tucked into the upper level of the education wing of this historic church. So we became the caretakers, janitors, and Children’s Church leaders at this inner-city church within the same month that my husband began his classes at college. Our lives suddenly became a whirlwind of activity.

The Children’s Church was small and gave us plenty of opportunities to put into practice some of the new lessons my husband was being taught in his Christian Education classes. We made wonderful new friends who joined us as we found and created object lessons, puppet shows, and Scripture lessons.

Our oldest son was born while we lived there, and he was a part of everything we were involved with: nursery during church services, kicking up a storm in his jumper while we cleaned the hallways, and charming all the little girls who came to visit us in our apartment down the hall from their Sunday-School classrooms. But after two years of living at such a heavy pace, we began to feel the strain. Our marriage went through the fire as the new bonds of love were tested.

As we prayed about what to do, again the Lord led us to Scriptures for our answers:

Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat—for he grants sleep to those he loves.

Psalm 127:1-2 NIV

When we shared those Scriptures with the church leadership and said that we felt God was preparing us to begin to make a move soon, they returned with a notice to be moved out in one month. When we thought we had found a supportive church who would understand about God’s guiding, they thought they had been betrayed by their loyal workers.

Our first time of breaking left us shaken and unsure of where we would go. Friends had told us we could move into their basement, but on the final week of the month, an apartment opened up on the other side of town, in St. Paul. My life was about to take on a deeper surrender, as I heard God asking me to be willing to support my husband, and to go back to work. I had enjoyed working with him while we were caretakers and janitors, even though the hours were grueling. How could God ask me to leave behind my “church work” to enter back into secretarial jobs, and leave my baby in the care of someone else?

Has your perspective of ministry and surrender been shaken recently?

Does it seem that God has asked you to do the very thing you thought you could never do?

Perhaps He wants to show you where His heart is bigger than yours has been.

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank You for the faithful and merciful gifts You shower upon us, Your children. We find ourselves so confused in this broken world. Our hearts feel the weight of the brokenness in both our own souls and in the hearts of those we meet every day. Would You help us to lift our quaking hearts to you now? And then will You uncover those places where we have held onto our own ways of striving and fixing? We long to see YOUR big heart and love carrying us here in this valley. We worship YOU, the true Lord of our lives.

In the name of Your son, Jesus, we pray,

Amen.

In case you have missed any previous posts, Click here for an indexed landing page of each of the chapters already published.

I am linking with #RememberMeMonday #LegacyLinkUp

35 thoughts on “Our Story: A Ministry of Abiding, Chapter 1

    1. Thank you Dear Lisa. I love that precious thought of what HE “is accomplishing in you until He returns for us.” Truly He is purifying His Bride, as you wrote today also. We all are sensing His calling to us in these days! May we allow Him to continue His transforming in us.

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  1. Dear Bettie, your story reveals how times of trusting God and the calling He has on your life above the views of man has stood you in good stead for learning to surrender your heart, your will, your thoughts, expectations, hopes and dreams. It’s a faith practice you have had to repeat over and over again especially on the chronic illness journey. A hard grace yet one that bears spiritual fruit and blessing in your life.

    May God continue to lure you and calm you with His love and soothe your pain and anxious thoughts, as He once again proves Himself to be all-sufficient, strong and mighty on your behalf. Prayers for you both continuing as you face further challenges ahead. God has got you covered even if it might not feel like it yet. Much love and hugs. xoxo 💟

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    1. Dear Joy,
      Yes, you are so right. He has been preparing us all along to keep surrendering and trusting for His care in our lives. Thank you for the precious reminder of that. He has been reminding me of my first #OneWords here as I began blogging–Still, and Sufficient. Words that seemed so hard then, but words that are continuing to be so true. He is “all-sufficient, strong and mighty on our behalf.” I so appreciate all your prayers! And I am so grateful that God allows us to share in our prayers for each other across this great wide ocean! Blessings, love, and hugs to you dear friend. xoxo

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  2. Thank you for sharing your story. So many in ministry are betrayed just when they need more support. You have been there. My husband and I have been then. But isn’t God good? He always provides.

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    1. Dear Mandy,
      Oh, yes, God has been so faithful through every trial. And when we look back (I know you feel the same way too) we often can’t even see how He did, but HE always made a way and provided what we truly needed. Thank you for your dear support and love. Blessings and hugs for you today. xo

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  3. It was so nice to hear your story! What an interesting journey you’ve had and like so many you’ve had doors opened and closed along the way. That’s a good reminder to so many of us staring at a closed door and feeling very disillusioned and heartbroken. Thank you for sharing Bettie!

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    1. Dear Lisa, I am so blessed that the Lord allows us to bring encouragement to each other! Yes, He understands how heartbroken we feel at those closed doors. But He is right there with us, helping us to wait and to watch for the next open door that He is preparing for us. Praying for you and your dear family tonight, Lisa!

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  4. Your story reminds me of something a friend of mine currently remarked to me regarding his men’s group ministry, “I never imagined that it would move in this new direction.” We can make plans but God knows our path! I look forward to the next excerpt, Bettie. God bless!

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    1. Dear Lynn,
      Oh that’s such a true thought! God is already working on that pathway in front of us, even when it seems so foggy to us. Thank you for the sweet reminder today, even as I head out for more medical tests. Blessings & love to you, dear friend.

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    1. Dear Ifeoma, we love you too! Thank you for your precious prayers and words from the Holy Spirit that have brought such encouragement to my heart! That day you called me was surely Heaven-sent! Blessings and hugs across the miles for you!

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  5. God has asked me to stay home – and that was hard early in our marriage because I grew up in a broken home and staying in the workplace was a security thing in case my husband every left me – then I would be able to take care of myself. God had other plans. He knew I needed to learn to trust – both Him and my husband. So I stayed home with the kiddos, eventually adjunct teaching two Mother’s Day Out days a week – and it was like free-falling at first. So very scary – but God had to reshape so many things in me. Then two decades later, He asked me to go into the workplace at a job below my qualification level. Both times, God was shaping and growing me and the relationship of my husband and I. Sometimes growing love is uncomfortable! Keeping you in my prayers, friend! ~ Maryleigh

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    1. Dear Maryleigh, thank you for sharing some of your story! Isn’t it amazing how the Lord moves so similarly, even tho the specifics might be different? He is always moving to “reshape so many things in me” also! And yes, I so agree that “sometimes growing love is uncomfortable!” Thank you so much for your prayers. Blessings and prayers for you too!

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  6. Thank you for sharing your “walking through fire” story, Bettie. Both today and in the past. This line especially fills my heart with hope – “Perhaps He wants to show you where His heart is bigger than yours has been.” All that happens to us is never wasted, but it’s hard sometimes for our finite minds to grasp that. I’m so grateful His heart is infinitely bigger than ours! I just finished reading a memoir by Vaneetha Rendall Risner called “Walking Through Fire: A Memoir of Loss and Redemption.” I often thought of how much your heart would resonate with some of her story. I know it does in mine even though our struggles are different. I am looking forward to more of your story, my friend. Thank you for encouraging my heart. Love and blessings of strength and peace for each moment to both you and your husband! By the way, I am glad you didn’t cancel your appointments. You are often in my heart and prayers.

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    1. Dear Trudy, thank you so much for your prayers encouraging thoughts. I really can’t say how much they mean to me. Yes I have been looking at Vaneetha’s book, and hoping to get it after I finish a few others that I am in the middle of now. I do love her writing. And oh how grateful I am that God keeps holding on to us even in the midst of the fire. His heart is so infinitely bigger than ours. Blessings and love to you dear friend. XOXO

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    1. Thank you dear Jennifer! What a blessing we have been given to look back and see the faithfulness of our God through every hard place. Thank you for the ways that you so freely share your story too. You are an encouragement to me. Blessings to you this week!

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    1. Thank you for your sweet comments, Paula. Isnt it amazing how we can look back and see God’s hand with us, even when we weren’t sure of it then? He is so faithful to us. Praying blessings and pain relief for you today too.

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  7. I started listening to this days ago, and I am only finding time to finish it tonight. It was so wonderful hearing your voices telling your story. Thank you for sharing with us. What a beautiful love story you and your husband are living out, and your joint ministry is so inspiring! God bless you with many more years togeher!

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    1. Dear Cheryl, thank you for your sweet gifts of support and encouragement for us. We are truly asking God to continue to lead us forward through these years now too. His faithfulness in years gone by is such a testimony for us to keep trusting now too. He still leads us to let Him build our house, even in these “golden years.” Thank you for your precious prayers. Blessings to you and your family too.

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