We are just 10 days away from our Women’s Conference: Leaving Ordinary with Donna Gaines! Register today by clicking the banner at the top of the page.
We are thrilled that RefresHer begins August 30 & 31! We are so excited about our upcoming Romans study. When you arrive, you will be able to purchase your notebook for $15 (cash or check only). If you are the mother of a preschooler, please contact the Preschool office to pre-register for childcare at 239.596.86– ext. 360. See you then!
Many of you have prayed, celebrated, and encouraged me on the journey of our son’s engagement and wedding. I have been so overwhelmed and grateful for your words of support, texts, emails, and cards! I have posted some pictures on FaceBook and Instagram but some have asked for my thoughts and reflections on the wedding and I thought I would share my heart by posting my “speech” at the rehearsal dinner.
Of course you all know (most of you know) that CJ is our only child. He would quickly tell you that no pressure came with that role but I will say not knowing he would be our only one … I am forever grateful to God for him! Many of you have heard me say that CJ, though he is an only child, has given us a multi-child experience. He has been the source of great joy and adventure in our family. He is strong-willed and fiercely loyal. I have been crazy about him since that first time I laid eyes on him. I have watched him face great adversity (some of it self-inflicted and some not) and stand back up and be tenacious. I have seen him extend kindness to those who are broken. I have watched him grow in his faith. I have come to admire and respect him. Next to his dad he is the person I enjoy just being with. We have also been locked in times of great struggle … I have loved you hard and long and I wouldn’t do it any other way!
Nothing deepens a person’s prayer life quite like parenting. We began praying for CJ’s future bride very early in his life. I knew his heart was to find God’s choice and to have someone who would be his complement, partner, and very best friend. I knew she would need to love adventure and be strong and appropriately feisty! I often write my prayers and found this particular one dated June 6th, 2012: (he was just arriving at Fort Benning to begin his infantry boot camp training).
“Lord, I commit CJ into your hands. He is yours. Please, let your will and purposes be accomplished in his life … may his life bring you glory. I pray CJ will continue to walk in purity and will desire and attract a godly wife who loves Jesus first and most. God bring her to him when he can lead her and love her in accordance with your Word.”
Kelsee, you are the answer to our prayers. Thank you Jon and Mindee for raising her in a godly home and modeling Christian marriage. Kelsee is sparky in all the right ways and is a wonderful complement to CJ. I am grateful for her love for Jesus and the way she loves CJ! In closing … CJ shared with me that after he and Kelsee did their personality tests with Pastor Steve as part of their pre-marital counseling, Pastor Steve remarked, “What happens when plutonium marries dynamite?”… All I can say to both of you is, take those fireworks and put God on display for all the world to see! I love you both!
“And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’ Then I said, ‘Here I am! Send me.’” Isaiah 6:8
“Mom, I’ve been doing some research….” Eleven year olds don’t typically begin an email to their mom with those words. But- this 11-year-old has never fit the mold of a typical girl – so it didn’t surprise me. Last Spring, my very eager youngest daughter clearly outlined for me her plan to follow what she believed to be God’s call in her life by participating in a 10-day Mission Trip to Uganda. My immediate response was, “Allie, we will think and pray about it.” Her immediate response was, “Mom, I have thought and prayed about it and the longer I don’t do this, I’m being disobedient to what I know God has called me to do.” Well- what mom can argue with that logic?
In 2014, Allie had read Kisses from Katie, by Katie Davis. Katie had journeyed to Uganda during her Senior year in high school on a mission trip and had dedicated her first year out of high school to teaching in Uganda as a result. Through a series of unfortunate events, Katie was blessed with the opportunity to adopt 13 young girls and as a result began a ministry called Amazima Ministries. All before turning 20! Allie read this book and her heart was burdened for the orphans in Uganda. My sweet 9-year-old, at the time, determined to find a way to make it to Uganda to invest in the lives of the children there. After all, if Katie could make such an impact at such a young age, what was stopping Allie from doing the same?
The reality is that there were A LOT of factors that could have stopped Allie from traveling to Uganda. The expense alone was overwhelming- but we had to trust that if God had guided us to this journey, He would provide. She was only in 7th grade- maybe she was too young? She would have to miss school- a challenge for most middle schoolers. But most alarming was Allie’s health and the potential health concerns that loomed over her at the possibility of a trip to a third world country.
In September of 2006, Allie was diagnosed with a rare auto immune disorder that affects her platelets- her blood’s ability to clot properly. Additionally, in January of 2009, Allie had a surgery to remove her spleen in hopes of correcting the auto immune dysfunction. Allie is a young woman who literally should not get hurt or get sick because either could be life threatening. A trip to a 3rd world country would surely be out of the question. Doctors would most definitely say no. Missions organizations would not even consider the risk. Parents would not be brave enough to put their child in that kind of potential danger, would they?
Much to our surprise, we got green lights from everyone we talked to about the trip! Doctors said, “Why not?” Orphan’s Heart said, “We would love to have her with us!” And we as parents knew that we had taught Allie that when God says, “Go!” – you Go! You don’t wait until it makes perfect sense and falls into place logically! You obey.
So- we obeyed and in March of 2016, Allie and I experienced ten life changing days in the village of Kamonkoli, Uganda. Were there challenges? Most definitely! Was it easy? No way! However, was it exactly what we were supposed to do when we were supposed to do it? Absolutely! Our trip to Uganda left me with a different perspective- I was humbled, honored and hopeful!
Humbled to see the masses of men, women and children along the streets of Uganda- all going about their way of life- a way of life that is foreign to me but comfortable for them. Humbled to recognize that our amazing God not only created each one of those people I saw- but He loves them and sent Jesus for them!
Honored to be in this amazing country with these passionate and hospitable people. Honored to be able to share the love of Jesus with those who may not know of it as well as sharing the love for Jesus that many of these people have. Honored to be in the home of Ms. Katherine and hear her children sing praises to God and cry out to Jesus. Children who without Ms. Katherine would have become another Ugandan statistic about vulnerable children!
Hopeful to see how God works and moves through what Allie and I were able to be a part of in Uganda! We taught the Passion Story- all week – to different segments of the Kamonkoli population. We left hopeful that we would see this amazing people embrace the love of Jesus and gain a deeper understanding of His love for them! We also left hopeful to see the life of a young girl named Alice forever turned around as we were able to help her find her way back to school and ultimately a chance of a future in Uganda. (And grateful for a lifelong friend for Allie in Alice!)
What is God calling you to do today? Don’t allow the worries of this world or the practical lists of do’s and don’t’s interfere with His call on your life today! When he calls, I challenge you to answer, “Here am I. Send me!”
“Welcome to The Army Mrs. Bare!”
In the Fall of 2002, my thoughts about the Army were that of any other regular “civilian” who celebrated our brave men and women in uniform. I’d stand in honor of their sacrifice when the Star Spangled Banner played, dress in American colors on patriotic days and held a healthy albeit distant respect for how brave they are “to do what they do”.
Then it happened. A man in uniform swept me off my feet. It was our first date. First meeting. Pick-up truck, crew cut and strong arms to boot! That was my Joe. My GI Joe to be exact. He was a Sergeant First Class at the time we met that November afternoon. Did I know what that meant? Of course not. I didn’t have a clue what made the difference between a First Sergeant, Staff Sergeant or Sergeant First Class. “So, would you be my date for the Division Support Command Military Ball next month?” he asked at the end of our date. I thought, “Wait, what? You’re asking me to an official military BALL?!” Shouldn’t he bring someone he knows better?!” I was floored! I was honored! The next month I meticulously searched for the perfect dress. I had it hanging on my closet door every day, getting more and more excited as the day approached.
Finally it came. And there he was….
Dressed in those Blues. Medals shining. Hair freshly cut. Bow tie. Patriotism like a mantle hanging over him. He was like the physical embodiment of “My Country tis of Thee!” I tell you, that was it! I was hooked! The evening was filled with ceremony, reverence, tears and a solemnness I’d never experienced before. I realized that there was a whole other world where love of country in its purest form remained steadfast and strong. I had entered this world. And it was awe inspiring. The color guard bearing our nation’s flag and the flags of Army victories marched into the room with only the strong stomping of boots bringing them in. The room was hushed with only slight tinges of glass and flatware at the tables around. Commanding officers addressed the night’s highlights with such dignity and valor. A table with only one chair, dressed with symbols of honor, prayers and sorrow for the “missing man”, the soldier who was never found, yet to return. I was in the presence of greatness. I was humbled…I was changed.
The next December after experiencing my first deployment with Joe, we were married. And with the traditional slap of a saber on my dress bustle and a hearty voiced “Welcome to The Army, Mrs. Bare!” my military spouse adventure would begin. What being a military spouse means to me is it was an experience of being a part of something bigger than myself. A life that brought highest honors and deepest sorrows. A place of belonging where each wife knew the secret dread of getting the orders of impending deployment, again… and again…and again.
Life in the military brought a clearer vision of why this country of mine, of Joe’s, of every American should be cherished, protected and continually honored. The pomp and circumstance of every official event whether it be a Change of Command, a Hail and Farewell, a promotion and yes even the devastating times of unit loss, brings with it an enduring legacy of time honored tradition and reverence for God’s continued blessing upon this nation.
As a wife of a soldier, it was a privilege, it was work, and yes it was sacrifice. But it was life changing. And for that, I will be forever grateful.
Bria Bare Wife of 1SG(Ret.) Joseph A. Bare