Another (Long Overdue) Update

The last few months have been busy with me training for a second job as a School Bus Driver. The other job I currently have at Care Net is part-time, and was not sufficient to cover our monthly bills. That said, we have not had any financial struggles whatsoever, despite our income discrepancy. God is faithful and has abundantly provided for all our needs! Praise God!

So now I’ve completed my training and have passed my CDL Road Test, and just started this week driving for First Student. This will add about 30 hours to my week, and $1300-$1500 to our monthly budget: solvent again (and then some).

The Church

We haven’t had any new visitors to the church, which is, of course, disappointing. We’re beginning to realize that doing church in our home is a bigger obstacle for many people than we initially realized. There’s a family down the street who we’ve connected with somewhat, and invited them several times to no avail. One day, Lauren offered to give some of our extra food to this family (they just took in four extra kids), and when she came over, she declined to come inside, saying that she doesn’t like going into a stranger’s home without her fiancée present. That really showed us that mistrust and suspicion runs deep in this culture. No wonder they have been hesitant to come to the church! This is one of the many challenges of inner city ministry.

So, we’ve decided that the best course of action at this time is to locate a neutral space for church: a building, or even just a couple of rooms somewhere, just to get us started. We believe that will take down a few of the barriers that currently exist, and help us to get some movement.

timesWe constantly feel our need for greater efforts in prayer as well. We know that God can move hearts, and draw people inexplicably when we pray. I’ve been really challenged lately to keep an attitude of prayer throughout the day, and not just for an hour in the morning. I’ve been keeping an hourly alarm on my phone to remind me to turn my thoughts heavenward – this has been a great and profound blessing for me. O, that my heart and mind and lips would be continually engaged in worship and prayer to Jesus throughout the day! I believe this kind of ‘praying without ceasing’ (along with dedicated hours in prayer) is not only the secret to a thriving personal relationship with God, but the secret to a powerful anointing in ministry.

So we continue to plug along, trusting God, looking unto Jesus, preaching the Word and rejoicing in the Holy Spirit. Thank you for your continued prayers.

 

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Plugging Along

Just a quick update today. We moved into a new apartment in late November, and we are much happier with this apartment than our last. First of all, it is on the first floor, so no more baby gates! Secondly, it’s in an actual neighborhood (not on a busy street). And most importantly, our upstairs neighbors have begun attending our church!

Our second week in the new place, our doorbell rang – the mailman had a package for us. Apparently, our neighbors also had a package, and so we were both out front at the same time signing for our parcels. We greeted each other, and then before we returned inside, my neighbor said, “You’re a Pastor, right? Would it be okay if I came to your service on Sunday?” I kept my cool at the moment, and told him we would, of course, love to have him and gave him the service time. Then I went inside and told Lauren and we got all excited together. I think Lauren squealed. So now we have two families attending our church!

Jeff CookiesWe’ve been able to do some outreach on our street – last month we went door to door and handed out Christmas cookies to our neighbors and told them about our church, we’ve scheduled another outreach to hand out flyers. We’re also pretty seriously looking at a building at the end of our street that used to be a Flower Shop, but we think it might make a good church building. It needs work, but it’s cheap, and the owner is amenable to working out a deal. Be praying for us!

It goes to show that even in those situations which seem completely unfair and inconvenient (like getting kicked out of your apartment), it may be God’s way of getting you where you need to be. We have been convinced from the outset that our God was directing our steps, and it is evident that He is doing just that.

Rossman Family Update

The adventure continues!  It’s been awhile since I’ve given an update so I thought I’d give a quick one this morning.

We love Poughkeepsie and feel like we’re home here.  We continue to sense that this is where God has us to do His work, but it definitely hasn’t progressed as quickly as we had hoped. We’re not discouraged because we know that as long as we’re pressing on in obedience to God we can’t fail. I keep repeating “Don’t despise the days of small beginnings” (Zechariah 4:10). God’s continuing to challenge us in our prayer lives especially. Apart from Him we can do nothing (John15:5) and we know if we’re not abiding that no good work is going to come out of our lives.  But we trust that we will see God use us here in His plan for Poughkeepsie as we continue to seek Him.

We are continuing to reach out to the community and have some new ideas floating around in our heads concerning that.  We had our first Halloween outreach and despite a few hitches felt good about it and learned a lot in the process. We made some connections with people in our community that night so we feel it was a success.  Also, we wouldn’t have been able to do an outreach like that at all if it weren’t for Lighthouse Church from Athens, NY.  This church and Rock Solid in Hudson have been a life line and have been a resource and support for us more than we could ever have dreamed of having before moving to NY. We have been amazed over and over again at how many incredible people come out of these two churches!  I know Pastor Jaron is heading to Arizona soon so all our Tucson people please honor him for how much he has blessed us in this church planting process. I’d always loved hearing him preach in Tucson, but have been so impressed to see the life he and his wife Brenda live before God. They’re the real deal. People worth knowing and following.

Jeff is working as the Director of Development for Carenet Pregnancy Center here in Poughkeepsie.  It amazing because he works for a ministry and is part of what they’re doing in the community here.  It’s a perfect job for him in so many ways.  He’s the only guy in the office and actually the only man to be employed by this office ever. So congratulate him on making progress for men in the work place. 😉 Seriously though, this job was such a gift from God and he has a great boss and wonderful co-workers.  I couldn’t be happier about where he’s going to work everyday.

We had our first Sunday service this weekend!  While it was small, we felt it was time to start even though it was in our home with one other family.  We’re trusting God will bring more people but in the meantime we know that God can move among a few as much as he can move in a big group. We’re excited about what God’s going to do and I personally enjoyed hearing Jeff behind a pulpit again. Afterall, he’s my favorite preacher. 🙂

I also got connected with a new ministry called  Faith House and I’m so excited about this!  They’re opening a maternity home for women in the area.  I’ve always wanted to be part of a Christian ministry like this ever since I attended a House of Hope conference several years ago.

As if leaving everything we knew wasn’t a big enough adventure this year… So we live in a multi family house (basically a house made into apartments). Our house was recently sold and all the tenants are being asked to move out by December 15th. So we’re starting to search for a place to live and are getting ready for our 3rd move of the year. We heard the news about being evicted a couple days before our first Sunday service. And we’re starting our first prayer meeting this week too. So a lot going on at once!  I think God is teaching me to trust and rely on Him this season. I’m having to fight fear because we don’t have it all planned out or paid for and of course I like knowing and having security.  But I feel this move will be ultimately good. We had originally only wanted to live in this apartment for 6 months but couldn’t get a lease shorter than a year. So it’s been 6 months and we’re moving out!  Please be praying for us to find the right home.

We’re making relationships in Poughkeepsie and in some surrounding areas.  That’s felt great! I still miss so many from Living Hope in Tucson and family.  I’ve been thankful for the phone calls.  I think the hardest is when friends have babies or are going to have babies soon or adopt children.  I want to hop a plane for every one of this life events!

The kids are growing like crazy and are doing well.  They love playing outside here and we’re trying to get as much of the outdoors as we can before it gets cold. We’ve been surprisingly warmer than I expected for November! It’s been a good transition for this Arizona girl.

I’ll try to get an update in the next couple months.  We covet your prayers more than ever.  We need God more than ever to do a deeper work in us and in our city.  We know He is able!

Adventure

The most important thing when it comes to Christian Dating..

Christian Dating is a topic I’ve wanted to blog on for awhile now.  Okay, it’s been 4 years coming but I guess this is better late than never!  I know some Christians are uncomfortable with the word “dating” but since we don’t live in a culture of arranged marriages it really is the avenue to finding a spouse. So unless you’re one of those few lucky people who just woke up one day and realized that your best friend should be your spouse than dating probably was or will be part of your journey towards marriage.  I know we also like to throw the word “courting” around in our Christian culture, but to me it really is just dating with Christian values in place.  When I use the term “Christian Dating” it should be understood that Christian values or more importantly, a Holy life before God is assumed.  But, as the church takes on the appearance of the world and the lines between a Christian’s life and a worldly life become less apparent I will clarify as to what I believe Christian dating should look like.

I believe that Christian Dating should be an avenue for finding a spouse.  If you’re not ready to get married in the near future I don’t think don’t think you should date.

I believe that Christian Dating should involve the church.  Christians don’t do life alone so dating should not isolate them from the church community.  Being involved together in church activities, inviting church friends to join you in your outings and having the accountability of church leaders is so important. If you are going somewhere alone than meet at a public place (restaurant, coffee shop). Basically, your dating life shouldn’t be behind closed doors.

So the two things I hold to when it comes to Christian Dating is that it should be with the intention of marriage and it should be done in the community.  Honestly, before I met my husband I didn’t date much.  When I did date it usually only took a date or two to figure out if this was a man worth knowing more.  I can say there hadn’t been a man before my husband that pursued me with the heart of God.  No one set a Godly standard.  No one tried to spiritually lead me.

The moment I was first truly impressed with my husband is when he made it clear that he wanted to live above reproach and set the standard high for our dating relationship.  He proceeded cautiously. We had one coffee date and then we spent the rest of our time on the phone or involved in church activities together. He scheduled a meeting with our pastors within a couple months for guidance and wisdom before we proceeded.  I was impressed because He took His purity and relationship to God seriously and put it above our relationship.  His heart towards me was not self seeking but one of pure intention.  He was seeking a spouse and He wanted to have integrity in the process.

Every other man I had ever met did not attempt to set the standard. If I approached the subject I always got the same response “I’ll let you decide” when it came to sexual boundaries, dating boundaries and so on.  It was always a letdown because I wanted a husband that would spiritually lead me.  But how could I expect a man to be a spiritual leader in my home if he wouldn’t be in our relationship? I was disappointed because he was letting me make decisions over his purity before God which showed me that Jesus was not on the throne of his heart and compromise in his walk with God was an option.

After dating my husband for 4 months, being engaged for 4 months and then married for 4 years I have come to see that the desire to live Holy before God before we were married continued after we were married.  He didn’t compromise in his walk when it came to me and he led me into a marriage bed that was blessed because of his dedication to purity. I know the reason we did not kiss each other until our “i dos” was because of him not me.  He truly led me with a heart that said “I want to honor Jesus in our relationship”.

It’s not to say that this was easy and we did not struggle to maintain purity.  We found ourselves too “cuddly” several times and had to pull back and make decisions not to be as physically close.  It was a fight until our wedding day to keep purity in our relationship. But the higher we set the bar the easier it became in some ways. We were able to enjoy the time together because the expectations were clearly defined.

I wish I could go back and tell myself as a young teen how a Godly man should pursue a woman.  I wish I could tell myself that he won’t be passive in his relationship with God and he won’t desire you more than God. He will set a standard of purity that may look crazy to others around you, but he will honor your marriage bed and he will be a faithful husband.  I wish I could have told myself these things so I wouldn’t have settled for anything less along the way. Since I can’t go back and tell myself I hope someone else can hear this and save themselves some shame and heartache.

Following Jesus really does look crazy to the world.  I can’t tell you how many comments I had from others regarding the fact we didn’t ride alone in cars together, we only met in public places and for awhile we kept a curfew.  And we were 30 years old.  It felt extreme to me at times too.  But I know it kept us pure towards one another.  Sexual sin is the only sin in scripture it says to flee-run from it!  It doesn’t say see how far you can push things until it’s too late.  We are saved by grace but we live in carnal natural bodies that still desire sin. We can’t ignore the temptations that come with that and constantly must bring our hearts before God to search and purge us of things that aren’t honoring to Him.  If we have pride and think we are above falling we will fall.  So I am thankful for my husband being extreme because it set us up for a marriage that I could only have dreamed about beforehand.  While I’ll spare all the juicy details, I can say that there is no joy in sex like that in marriage.  That dirty feeling of shame that comes before marriage ruins any pleasure that was there in the moment, but the joy that takes place in the marriage bed is one that can only be experienced not described and it is worth every struggle to fight for purity along the way. But more importantly, a clear conscience before God is priceless.

So the most important thing when it comes to Christian Dating is that a man spiritually leads and especially in the area of sexual purity. I’ve known too many woman that struggled in their Christian marriages because they feel their husband wasn’t leading.  If you are dating and he’s not pursing a Holy life before God than it may be time to reevaluate that relationship.

Kiss Afterkiss

Perfect Peace

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever,
for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.”  Isaiah 26:3-4

One of my biggest struggles is not to be shaken by my circumstances. It’s easy when everything is going great to trust that God is working and active and then something comes up that can trigger thoughts of “the worst case scenario” in me. My husband should have been home 20 minutes ago so the van must be in a ditch somewhere.. And then worry, fear, panic can take over in a moment.  I usually get over it pretty quickly and I force myself into seeing things through the right perspective but I hate that I can go from “everything’s great!” to “the sky is falling!” in a moment. I hate it, because as a woman of faith I need to be a woman with faith.  When I was praying the other morning the verse came to my mind “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts you.”  It became really clear in that moment that trusting God leads to peace. Doubt leads to worry, fear and all those other crazy thoughts.

I was also reminded what Jesus said in John 16:33 “ I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” So sure things are going to come up.  Bad things can and do happen in life.  But I need to live with my mind fixed on my Savior.  I need to trust him in every circumstance. He has overcome the world. He is my peace when things are great and when things look scary.  If I allow doubt then it will lead to worry. So I can’t allow that in for a second.  If I trust it will lead to perfect peace. He is an everlasting rock. He is the one thing I can cling to and even if everything around me is shaken I can be unmoved because He will hold me firmly in place.  He is strong in the present. He is strong in my future. I can trust that He is isn’t going anywhere as He’s an everlasting and unchanging God.

I know a lot of people, especially us women, especially us mothers, tend to struggle with worry.  But we don’t have to and we shouldn’t.  I was also reminded recently that worry is a sin. It’s disbelief in God.  It’s the opposite of faith. I don’t think I’m being hard on myself by saying it’s a sin. I think it’s good to remind myself that if an area of my life is dishonoring to God then I need to allow the Holy Spirit to work in that area.  So how do I go about that?  I’m sure this will be a journey into learning to walk in God’s perfect peace and not to be shaken with every unexpected event that comes my way.  But for now I know I need to keep my mind fixed on Him. That’s it.  It’s hard not to trust Him when we think about who He is.  I mean, He’s God! He’s perfect.  He’s faithful. He never fails. He made a way for me to have relationship with Him when I deserved eternal separation from Him.  He’s amazing.

So, doubt leads to worry. Trust leads to peace.  Let’s keep our minds on Him!  Our promise is perfect peace. Peace

Evangelism and Church Planting

So, to give a little update since my last blog, we continue to plug along, believing God for souls, trusting God to lead us and give us wisdom, and I’ve done  a lot of driving around and getting to know the city and simultaneously looking for a possible building/meeting place. I’m still applying for jobs, but I’ve had little success in getting interviews, which has been a little concerning, but we’re still trusting God to provide. We knew this whole thing would be a faith walk – we weren’t necessarily prepared for how much faith would be required!

We always had the plan to build our church through evangelism, not mere marketing. We want to be faithful to preach the Gospel to Poughkeepsie, watch God touch lives, and as a result of our evangelistic efforts, see our church grow. To this end, we’ve now had two outreaches: one a few weeks ago and another tonight, and another scheduled for this Saturday. What’s more, now a dear brother and father in the faith is coming down from Hudson once a week to go out on the streets with me and share the Gospel with whoever will listen.

I rejoice that now God is showing me the importance and joy of sharing Christ with others. I’ve preached from the pulpit, led small groups, engaged in prayer and altar ministry, but until now, I’ve simply not given the necessary attention to personal evangelism. I’m discovering now that evangelism is where the action is! I love seeing God transform lives through discipleship, I love teaching and preaching the word of God, I love watching the Spirit touch people at the altar – but nothing compares with watching God bring someone “from darkness to light, from the power of Satan to God.” Sowing the seed of the Kingdom is the most exciting Gospel work!

Evangelism has grounded my faith in ways I never knew possible. Christianity is real and raw on the street corner. We offer a real Jesus to meet the real needs of people – slogans and cliche’s are useless; pat answers, and “God-bless-yous” are empty and hollow. But there is something profound and powerful about laying hands on someone on the street and praying for God to come into their hopeless situation. There’s is something so exciting about offering the “wisdom not of this world,” to people who are lost and looking for answers. We’ve met believers on the street too, and were able to encourage them in their own walk, and they in ours. We’ve challenged lukewarm Christians to “be zealous and repent,” and live more fully for Christ, and we’ve told people lost in their sins that there is hope and forgiveness in Christ’s blood. The heart and soul of the Gospel is found in evangelism. The width and breadth of the Gospel is traversed in evangelism. The power of God is seen in evangelism. It is simply impossible to feel dead or dry when you are boldly proclaiming the Gospel to those who have never heard.

And so, the work goes on – slower than anticipated, but  we will not lose heart, nor will we “grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” I am confident that we are doing the Lord’s work here in Poughkeepsie, and we will continue to do it and trust God for the growth. “One plants, another waters, God gives the increase.”

The Church Planter’s Wife

Hi all,

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted on here and wanted to give a little update. 🙂

In these early days of church planting my life feels rather the same as it did in Tucson (other than driving on different streets and shopping at different stores). I’m still with my kids all day long and we’re exploring the city and trying to make new connections.  I am definitely more intentional about starting conversations with strangers wherever I go and I’ve found east coasters to be friendly so far! (at least in these parts) I had some reservations that people may not take kindly to a half bathed lady with two babies attacking them with conversation, but thankfully it hasn’t proved that way in the first couple months of living here. 🙂 What I realize is I should have been more intentional before we were sent to church plant.  I should have had this awareness of the people around me when I grocery shopped and went on fun excursions with the kids in Tucson.  I think moving here forced me to get beyond myself as outreach is the one of the biggest parts of what we’re called to do right now. I think in a church of a few hundred I kind of forgot that it was always one of the biggest things we’re called to do. It can be a little scary at times but exciting too.

I’ve realized as well while Jeff and I are both called to plant a church I am having to take a bit of a backseat during this season.  Sometimes I wish I could be two people, because I want to be home full time with my children but then I’d like to be more involved with the church.  Sunday, for example, Sadie wasn’t feeling well and had a fever all day.  I was already envisioning it being a little challenging to do street outreach with a 2 1/2 year old and a 1 year old connected to me, but when Sadie started feeling unwell I knew I needed to keep her home. As a group from Rock Solid Church showed up to our house I realized how much I missed having people in my home.  And I really wanted to spend time praying with them and go on the outreach as well. But, my baby needed me here so I stayed home and got the kids in bed for the night.  I’m a church planter, but I am also a mother.  While it’s one of my favorite things in the world to be, it can feel like a limitation to ministry at times. I’m trusting that God will show me ways how to minister to women as I parent full time. I’m picturing women spending time at my house as I clean up spills and do laundry, but we’ll see how it plays out in time.

So for now I’m learning to be content to be the church planter’s wife more than the church planter.  I want to be able to do some of the things Jeff’s doing and do more alongside him but I know he needs me to take that primary parent role right now.  And while it can feel like I’m on the sidelines at times, I know that it is exactly where I want to be, even if I don’t always feel it in the moment. I know this isn’t a struggle specifically to church planting as I’m sure there are many moms who feel “behind the scenes” of life when they have little kids. I think it’s just become more pronounced for me as we’re doing something that’s been such a big desire of hearts.

Please be praying for us!  We are excited about the upcoming months and know that unless the Lord builds the house we labor in vain.  And be praying for me as I learn to juggle the role of mother and church planter.

Our First Outreach

IMG_3388Pastor Mike Lambert and his Home Group from Rock Solid Church came down to Poughkeepsie today to help us do an outreach at a local park. We have yet to see all the fruit that will come of this effort, but regardless of what happens in the coming days, it was clearly a wild success!

We all met at our house and had some fellowship and prayer, and then we headed out. We were there for roughly an hour, with four teams of people wandering around the park, and by the time we left it was hard to find a person who hadn’t already been approached.
Praise God! Personally, Pastor Mike and I spoke with at a dozen or so people, and with most we were able to share the Gospel, and several received prayer. A few even gave us their contact information and expressed interest in coming to our bible study! God is faithful!!

IMG_9718Two highlights:

One of the first couples we spoke with told us that they had been talking only a few days earlier about getting back into church. We assured them that it was no accident that we ran into them, and were able to pray with them, and of all the people, these two seemed genuinely interested in coming and checking out the church.

Another encounter that just sticks in my mind, was when we approached a family who was having a picnic. It was a family from New York City, so they said they weren’t able to check out our church, but we preached the gospel anyway. Pastor Mike asked the man if he attended church, to which the man said, “No. I haven’t been to church in twenty years.” Pastor Mike asked him why, and his response was, “I’m bad.” What an honest answer, but what a tremendous opportunity to explain to him that we are all bad, and that’s why Jesus came. We shared Christ with this obviously broken man, and prayed for Him. If you can, remember Bill in your prayers.

What impacted me so powerfully was the simple fact of how simple, how easy and how fun it is to allow God to use you in this way. We all have fear, we all struggle to open our mouths, but once we get going, church, it’s the most awesome thing in the world. I am stoked to go out and do it again soon.

Pray for us! We need God’s power and wisdom and boldness to keep preaching the Gospel to Poughkeepsie. Thanks for your continued prayers.

Prayer Continues to be Our Life-Line

One of the greatest challenges since moving to Poughkeepsie has been maintaining prayer as a priority. June 18th marked our one month anniversary in Poughkeepsie, and for that first month we were tired, the kids were still adjusting (which at 1 and 2 year’s old, just comes out as fussy, cranky and needy), we were still getting settled, and our whole schedule and rhythm was just off.

During this time, our prayer lives slipped. Making time for prayer, setting alarms to get up early, retreating to be alone with God, all became a secondary concern. We definitely still prayed, but it was inconsistent, undisciplined, and for me, many times felt like more of an obligation than a blessing. We were just “going through the motions.”

Last week as I was praying, the Lord spoke and graciously rebuked me for allowing my spiritual condition to sink so low. He spoke to me regarding the use of my time, and of my need to recommit to prayer and bible reading/study. With the rebuke, and conditional upon the instruction I received, also came some wonderful and glorious promises (which maybe I’ll share at another time), for which I am trusting the Lord.

So, this week we put ourselves on a schedule. We’ve set our alarms, and we’re getting up early to seek God. The first hours of every day are devoted to spiritual disciplines. The rest of my morning is used for administrative tasks which may include paying bills, submitting resumes, running errands, scheduling events, etc. It has been only three days and already I feel the wonderful and invigorating effects of a renewed commitment to prayer and to “redeeming the time.” Not only am I personally more spiritually ablaze, but I am beginning to see our ministry efforts coming together. A few upcoming events:

  • Bible Study starts this week, Thursday night
  • July 7 I will be travelling up to Albany with Pastor Jaron to get the church incorporated
  • One Sunday in July, one of the life groups from Rock Solid church will be coming down to help us do outreach
  • On July 25th, the worship team from Lighthouse Church (church plant out of Rock Solid) will be coming to do a Worship-in-the-Park outreach
  • All the while Lauren and I are talking to people, we’ve knocked on a few doors in the neighborhood and we’re getting the word out about the church

Just as this whole endeavor began with prayer, as it has been sustained through prayer, we are seeing now that it will only be birthed through prayer. Though it was necessary for Lauren and I to recommit to prayer (obviously), it is equally necessary that we are supported and helped through the believing prayers of you all as well. “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.” We need your prayers. We need power from God if we are going to accomplish anything here in Poughkeepsie. So PLEASE commit to praying for us as often as possible.

So, as the Holy Spirit said to me, so I say to you all: PRAY! Seek His face earnestly, cry out to Him, cling to him. He is not far from any of us, but He asks us to seek, to ask, to knock. God wants us to discover Him in the midst of our crazy, hectic lives. We must make time for Him, though. We must make His presence a priority. Maybe you need to get up early, or stay up late. Maybe you need to turn the TV or your phone off for an hour, so you can focus on Him. Make your requests known to Him, cast your cares upon Him, He is listening, and He cares for you. Prayer is the soul of Christianity; it gives wings to our faith. If we neglect prayer, we have clipped our wings, and we will never know joy, peace and victory as God intended.

Blessings in Jesus’ name!