Kevin & Heather

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This is Kevin and Heather.

“Church isn’t about what we can get out of it. Church is about finding opportunities for us to serve and be able to use our gifts, our skills, and our talents.”

Having grown up in the church and seeing their parents in leadership, always serving, they too have followed in their parents’ shoes and have found ways to serve.

Kevin leads the Sunday morning connections team and Heather works in LIFER Kids. They have been able to enjoy what they are doing, but they knew there is a bigger picture than Sunday morning.

Growing up, they had gone camping with their families and their churches, developing new friendships and strengthening existing friendships.

Over the course of the last year, they began working to reproduce the family they knew from their childhood. To get the word out, they began meeting with CARE Groups and talking to their friends. In almost no time, they had a leadership team of ten people to help organize and promote family camp.

When they finally made it to the weekend of camp, 130 people showed up and spent the weekend together. It was amazing. Families bonded together while fishing, telling stories, roasting marshmallows, and hiking around the campsites.

One dad in particular was adamant he would not go to CARE Group, but he would go to family camp if it wasn’t contingent on going to a CARE Group. He showed up a little late on Friday, but he was the last to leave. He could not get enough. He now goes to CARE Group and has grown deep friendships with the people he met at camp.

After such a successful year at family camp, Kevin and Heather are now more excited than ever to prepare for the next one. Attendees are already planning on how to make next year better.

Since this summer, Kevin and Heather have stayed in touch with the many friends they made at camp.

In the next year, Kevin is excited to lead and engage families through the connections team, Heather continues to invest in LIFER Kids, and they both look forward to family camp.

#OnePersonataTime

Cliff

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This is Cliff. 

He decided to come to church after his friend invited him.

Cliff has always been able to scratch out a living for himself and his son as a landscaper. He had enough to keep food on their plates and a roof over their heads, but never much more than that.

After they had been together a while, his then girlfriend, now wife, asked him to pray about how he was giving. “You know, if you’re not doing the right thing, you’re stealing from God,” she said to him.

After praying about his giving and talking it over with her, they decided he would tithe on everything as soon as it hit the bank account. After a while he could see how God was providing as he was able to work through the winter months and he was able to find jobs through friends and new connections.

When he started talking about his experience at his CARE Group, everyone chimed in with their own similar experiences.

“We discussed as a group: we can’t out give God in the good times or the bad.”

His CARE Group continued to be a pillar in his life. Cliff was out of town in January when a problem occurred with his propane line. Between his neighbor and some friends from CARE Group, they were able to plumb in and wire up a new water heater.

Through his CARE Group taking care of each other, Cliff and his family have what they need. Today they continue to look for ways to be a blessing and model God’s love in the community.

#OnePersonataTime

Faith and Grace

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This is Faith and Grace.

Leading up to middle school camp, they were excited because last year was so much fun for them. But at camp this year, they realized they didn’t really know anyone in their cabin. Their week started off difficult because they were in a cabin with seven other girls.

Each night of the week, they met together in their cabins and they started to get to know one another.

“They hid it really well. I didn’t even know some of them had that big of stories.”

The more they learned about each other, the more they bonded. Each night they stayed in their small group longer than any other group because they could not stop crying together, laughing together, and then crying some more.

Grace and Faith grew inseparable with their new friends as they would play in the lake, eat, zip line, and watch movies together. Each night they would share more and get to know their new friends better. During some of their free time, they would have their own small group time and keep processing what God had been showing them during the large group time.

“Since they told their stories, I get them a little more. I know more about them. It is easier to relate to them, too.”

Throughout the week of camp, Grace and Faith became more aware of how God is working, and they learned to join Him where He is working. They started obeying God when He pointed out challenges for them to overcome.

The biggest reason they want to go back to camp next year is because they “made new relationships with people who are going through the same thing they are.”

#OnePersonataTime

Tosha

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This is Tosha.

Born and raised in Florida, she was 13 when she was introduced to pot at church camp. By 16 she was regularly using pills and painkillers.

“I always said I would never use meth.”

But at 18 she began using meth, and at 21 she met the future father of her son. When she became pregnant, she continued using drugs throughout her pregnancy. By the grace of God, her son was born drug free in 2013.

However, less than a month later, she was arrested for possession and her son was put in the foster care system in Florida. When she got out of jail, she cried out for help, saying, “OK, God. You gotta do something here.”

“I couldn’t stop using. I couldn’t stay clean. It wasn’t working.”

She started the process of moving in with her parents, who had just moved to Moscow. She worked with CPS in Florida and CPS in Idaho in order to regain custody of her son. They required her to attend drug court, finish a year case plan, have a stable job, and have stable housing in order to get her son back.

With the help of her Celebrate Recovery (CR) family, church family, and her parents, she was able to get her son back after he spent ten months in the foster care system.

“When I first moved here, I met so many people I was safe with.”

Tosha also joined a CARE Group.

“They took me in and loved me like I was their own kid.”

The people in her CARE Group were just the people she needed to be with, both emotionally and physically. They helped her family and bought them Christmas presents, and even let her use their cabin for a vacation.

Today she works full time as a receptionist, has full custody of her son, and maintains a stable, drug-free home.

“For the first time in my life, I am excited for myself and my life and I don’t think I’ve ever been able to embrace that before.”

#OnePersonataTime

Nicole

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This is Nicole.

Her best friend, Hayley, had been inviting her to youth group for quite a while, but she had a lot of personal struggles with friends and family going on at the time.

Since early 2016, Hayley was inviting Nicole to youth group, but she didn’t have time. However, after hearing about CIY that summer, Nicole knew going next year was a priority for her.

Nicole started to attend youth group with Hayley and her boyfriend, but she never really connected. It was difficult because Nicole’s family isn’t very religious, and she had never been to church before.

When it came time for CIY 2017, she jumped at the opportunity to go. She remembered how much Hayley loved it last year and she wanted to be a part of that this year. No cost or time off stood in her way. She knew she was going.

From the moment she got on the bus, she was having a good time. 

“I didn’t know any of them previously, and it was pretty cool to be incorporated into this close-knit group of people.”

When the conference started, Nicole was instantly moved by the worship. So much so that she spent most of the first worship set crying. That day they also played a video about a young man named Jasper who also cried during worship. She deeply connected to his story. 

Eventually she had small group time. She continued to be moved and to connect with the people she had come with.

“They were going through the same thing I was.”

Throughout the conference, her new friends could see she was having a hard time. She was struggling with school, what she wants to do, and who she is.

At the end of CIY, Nicole had truly connected not only with her new friends, but also with the Lord. They traveled out to the Oregon coast and she was baptized in the ocean.

Today Nicole is connected with new friends and continues to develop her relationship with God as she starts school at the University of Idaho.

“Now I have a better starting point.”

#OnePersonataTime

Darrel

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This is Darrel.

As a father of a 13-year-old boy, he has struggled with how to connect with his son and teach him what it means to be a man. Darrel has very different interests than his son, Ransom, who has fully immersed himself in playing games.

“His mind was in video games 24 hours a day.”

Darrel started to ask himself how he could be a good father. He wondered how he could teach his son a work ethic, the value of money, and how to be a man.

“Another thing lacking was exercise, and the desire to do anything physical.”

Then Darrel saw his son playing with nerf guns with a friend. Ransom enjoyed it, and he played day and night for some time, but he eventually lost his excitement for it.

But this gave Darrel an idea. He had some old paintball gear and he knew paintball was a lot of fun for him when he was younger. He thought his son might have fun with it, too. He dug out his gear and the two of them went to shoot targets.

They had a good time, but it wasn’t as much fun as video games. So Darrel tried again. He gave his son a few extra shirts to take the edge off, and this time they played a round one-on-one.

Darrel snuck up on Ransom, who hiding behind a building, and shot the building next to his head a few times to scare him.

“His eyes lit up! He was in a video game.”

From there, the sky was the limit. Ransom wanted to play all the time. He was online researching new gear to buy and he could not wait to play again with more people. Darrel had to point out to him that gear, CO2, and paint all costs money and it can get expensive. He offered Ransom a job working alongside him, painting and doing other odd jobs.

Their first day out, Ransom was working for a while, but eventually Darrel found him off by himself. Darrel stopped him and explained how he couldn’t pay him for not working.

“You’re only making money when you’re doing something that produces a value.”

So he kept working. Soon he had saved up enough money to buy a new gun and they started going to more events. Ransom wanted to get more people in the area involved. Every time they went out, he invited someone new to come along. He started scheming on how to get families from the church involved. Darrel could not believe how much his son was growing.

At one event his son even sat out of games to help referee and coordinate. Ransom, who had struggled with making friends and hardly went outdoors, could not stop playing paintball and invited everyone he talked to everywhere they went to play with them.

He was making friends at these events with new and seasoned players alike in a culture where winning and losing had meaning. He was playing alongside friends and strangers he could see and talk to, and they wanted to win just as much.

Darrel is excited to see how other men are connecting with their children through paintball. And as for his relationship with Ransom, it only continues to grow stronger.

#OnePersonataTime

Paule

This is Paule.

We hope you take a few minutes to watch the video of his story.

#OnePersonataTime

Brandon

This is Brandon.

When he was younger, he “started running with the wrong kids.”

At 16 years old, school wasn’t a priority and his entire friend group was in their 20s. He was using and selling drugs, fighting a lot, and justified it to himself because his friends all did it, too. He came and went as he saw fit and did whatever he wanted.

One day, his mom picked him up from school for a “probation meeting.” She was actually bringing him home to two transporters who were taking him to a correctional school in the middle of the desert in Nevada. Every freedom Brandon had enjoyed quickly became a distant memory.

Surprisingly, he excelled at the correctional school. He applied himself to his work and graduated after only nine months from a program that often lasted more than a year for other students.

When he got back from the correctional school, Brandon did everything he could to separate from his past decisions to be successful in school and in life. He succeeded as he finished his schooling, connected to a new community of friends, went on to marry his wife, and manage his own business.

Recently, he realized something was missing. He and his wife have struggled to find a place where they truly connect.

“There was a hole. It was an emotional gap that we couldn’t bridge.”

When they first started coming to Real Life, they were surprised by what they saw.

“On my first Sunday, the pastor got on stage with gauges in. My second week, the pastor had a beard down to his chest. We started thinking, this place is for us.”

They were most moved when Paule and Rachel came to the hospital after their child was born and prayed with them. Since then, they have been participating in full force. He started working with students to help them fundraise for high school camp, and he started mentoring a student who is working their way through military school.

Brandon wants to help students learn what he learned without all the heartache he experienced. He is so glad to be connected to a community where he is part of something bigger.

Today, at 25 years old, he is happily married and a father. He looks forward to raising his kid in a better community than he grew up in and mentoring students in life outside of school.

#OnePersonataTime

Emmy

This is Emmy.

After having three children, Emmy found herself feeling dissatisfied with the toll pregnancy and baby weight had taken on her. She got a trainer who was not only invested in her workouts, but more importantly, in her spiritual and emotional well-being. Through their time together, Emmy saw the results in her own life as she interacted with her family and friends and wanted to help other women find the same fulfillment she found.

“I wanted to find strength again, and physically finding it helped me pave a way to find it spiritually, and find it emotionally.”

In her journey to help other women, she attained a personal training certification and then a group fitness training certification. She was motivated and excited to share her new skills with other women who wanted them, but she constantly saw how lacking it was to focus only on developing physical health. For Emmy, “fitness is a tool, not a goal. It is a tool to find wholeness in Jesus.” And so she continued searching for the right program.

Last year, Emmy found Revelation Wellness. She started participating in their program and was moved at how they wove the physical, spiritual, and emotional elements together. After experiencing their program, she flew to Arizona and became certified to teach it.

When she got home, it felt like everything fell apart for her. She and her family had some big decisions to make. They had been farmers their whole lives, as much as eating and breathing. They needed to decide whether to continue being farmers or to start something else.

Emmy decided to put the fitness class on hold and to invest in her family as they navigated some very big decisions. Little did she know, God had been preparing her for these decisions.

“I feel like being in a physically strong place at that moment, I was able to handle what we had to go through. I sought the Lord and His strength in me for that.”

Now, on the other side of those difficult decisions, Emmy is finding her identity in being a part of what God is doing in other women’s lives through fitness, and is working to help other women experience the same freedom.

She is excited to be a part of a community of women who are working to be emotionally, spiritually, and physically healthy together. She looks forward to leading her first class and seeing where God takes her as she continues to be faithful to this new purpose He has set in her life.

#OnePersonataTime

Kean

This is Kean.

When he was born, his dad “didn’t exactly believe [he] was his child for a year.” His mom took care of him until she started running into problems when she was “getting in with the wrong people.” His grandma won full custody of him when he was 3 years old. (Since then his dad has been more involved in his life and has been able to have full visitations with him.)

This summer, Kean, 13, was able to go to middle school camp, and he had never been away from a family member for more than a day.

Monday was a breeze for him. He was hanging out, enjoying the games, worship music, and the sermon. By Tuesday night, he was beginning to feel anxious and afraid because his grandma wasn't nearby to comfort and pray for him. Eventually he fell asleep while texting his grandma. 

Wednesday started out with the low level anxiety he had the night before. He missed having family close at hand. He was constantly comforted by his new friends staying with him and Paule sitting with him as his anxiety attacks intensified. Paule was in communication with his grandma and she left the decision up to Kean as to whether or not he would stay at camp.

Kean decided to stay. He was having such a good time with his friends and he did not want to leave. With the help of Paule and his friends, he felt like he could stay. “Having people on my side to help me is what got me through it,” he said.

His grandma drove up later that day and stayed Wednesday evening and Thursday to help with camp. Meanwhile, Kean continued to do his best and enjoy camp. He swam in the river, talked with his friends, played games, rode the zip line, and played carpet ball (his personal favorite).

Even though he moved away from everyone he knew this summer and is now on the Palouse, Kean is glad to have his new friends and already looks forward to next year’s camp. He hopes to be able to spend more time away from family without anxiety attacks. He also feels called to ministry one day and is ready to see how God continues to make his path clearer.

#OnePersonataTime

Jessica

This is Jessica.

She is a mother of two from Mexico, committed to her children and her community. Twelve years ago she and her husband divorced. Her daughter decided to continue living with her father, while her son chose to live with her. Despite knowing her daughter loved her, she was deeply hurt by her daughter’s decision.

When her son was in high school, he began making decisions that were very difficult for Jessica to watch. She tried different avenues of reconciling her hurt, including counseling, prayer, and fasting, but she still hurt for her son.

She started attending Celebrate Recovery to continue to work through her hurts. When she first attended, she found she was able to deeply connect to the worship music and the fellowship over dinner, and the relationships she developed continued to support her amidst the pain.

Meanwhile, her son graduated high school and moved out. Her pain compounded as she was now an empty nester. Knowing that, a friend asked her to take in a woman who was trying to get her life back in order. Though Jessica realized she would not receive much rent, if any, she welcomed her in.

Jessica’s new housemate turned out to be a delight. Jessica watched her finish school and find employment, and now she is a Certified Nursing Assistant and has moved to be closer to her daughters.

Jessica was happy to be a part of the process of walking with someone as God helped them put their life back together, and God continued to place the desire on her heart to help women. Another friend put her in contact with an opportunity to be the house mom for a group of struggling women.

She wasn’t sure if she was the right person. Jessica had often dreamed of running a bed and breakfast, and she asked God if this was it.

She eventually went and toured the house they were planning on using, and it was going to need a lot of work. Jessica thought of reasons not to help, but God continued showing her that she was the right person for the job.

After a few meetings with the house’s owner, the tenants’ sponsors, and experienced leaders, Jessica felt she had a framework to get started.

In November 2016, her first guest moved in, and Jessica started helping her settle into a life of wholeness. Since then, several other women have moved into the house. Jessica has been able to speak the truth of God’s Word into their lives, and the women have bonded. She has been able to connect with them, see them grow, and be blessed by God as these women have become more than tenants and roommates. They are her friends.

Her relationship with her son and daughter have grown. They are closer now than ever despite not having mom’s house to drop into whenever they want.

Now Jessica has more purpose than she has had in years and is excited to see what God does next in her own life, as well as the tenants in her house. This is not the bed and breakfast she thought she would have, but it is the place she and her friends find healing.

#OnePersonataTime

Rick & Miriam

This is Rick and Miriam.

In the last year, their lives have taken many dips and turns as God has worked in them and through them.

Their oldest son struggles with addictions and they have been faced with some very hard decisions. They had to decide to show their son tough love as he teetered on the edge of going to a rehabilitation center. When he finally decided to go, they did not know how they were going to come up with the money. As they struggled to find a way, they received donations from different members of the church and the community. Through His people, God provided for their son to go to rehab.

Meanwhile, Rick and Miriam took their family to see Rick’s ailing mother. During their visit, Rick’s mom was able to celebrate Thanksgiving with her entire family. It was the happiest and most energetic she had been in years. She passed away the following week. And while they were visiting Rick’s mom, Miriam’s father fell and suddenly needed full time care.

In the midst of their family’s heartaches, they also experienced God’s provision. They recently saw a small farm come onto the market just outside of Moscow. They had always wanted to own a small farm—space for their children, a few animals, and a large garden. It was perfect. 

They started praying with their CARE Group and decided to put an offer in on the farm. It was less than the asking price, but they wanted to try. After they made their offer, they talked to the neighbors around the farm and they all knew the owner had previously turned down similar offers to theirs. They were at peace with knowing their offer would be declined, but then it wasn’t declined.

The realtor was not optimistic about their loan process and issues cropped up in the inspection, but the loan went smoothly and all of the issues were resolved right on time. God provided for each step in the process.

In the meantime, their son has continued to heal. Though he experienced a relapse, the rehab center took him back and allowed him to restart the process. Today, their son is not only on the road to recovery, but he is holding down a regular job and helping other newcomers to the same rehab center he attended.

Rick and Miriam also look to give back to God’s community as He continues to fill their garden with vegetables and their farm with animals. They look forward to opportunities for being a blessing as much as they have been blessed.

Over and over again, Rick and Miriam had reason to give up, but God always brought hope.

#OnePersonataTime

Aaron & Jenn

This is Aaron and Jenn.

They have been married for 12 years. For most of their marriage, they have been two people living parallel lives focused on raising their two daughters. They had tried various counselors and books, but nothing worked to make their marriage whole. They put up a façade when they were in public and with their children; but, behind closed doors, they were living their lives like two rails of a train track, always pointed in the same direction and never meeting in the middle.

As time passed, they felt alone and frustrated and they began to believe God must have made a mistake when He put them together. They had all but relented themselves to separate after their daughters graduated high school.

As they continued to live their lives, they decided to try marriage counseling with Charlie Couch. While counseling, they also joined a marriage group built on the Love & Respect curriculum.

They learned how much the way they were raised affected their marriage today. They began to see they weren’t the only couple having issues. More and more, they learned their spouse was doing the best they knew how. Through marriage counseling and meeting together as a group, they gained the tools they needed to work together for a better marriage. They discovered how to improve themselves instead of working to improve the other person. And they started making their relationship a priority, having regular date nights and intentional time together.

The biggest change in their marriage came through bringing God into their counseling sessions and spending time in prayer together.

In working on their relationships with God, their relationship with each other was healing. They started to see God had put them together for a reason. Their marriage is more than raising their children; it’s about growing together. 

Today Aaron and Jenn celebrate their marriage, their children are seeing the difference, and they look forward to what God is doing next as He continues to heal their marriage. They have hope for their future and are so glad to be a part of a small group focused on healing together.

#OnePersonataTime

Connie

This is Connie.

She has always been passionate about helping children and families in need. She has helped and led various children’s ministries in the area. In the fall of 2015, her son also told her about a children’s home and school in Lewiston.

Being curious about the center and what they did, she attended an informational meeting and fundraiser. At the meeting, she heard from some of the students of the center and how the Northwest Children’s Home (NCH) was helping them. During the event, the speaker also invited any attending alumni of the home to speak about where they are at now.

As women gave their testimony about the role NCH played, each one also told the students how their relationship with God helped them through the especially hard times, and without it they would not be where they are today.

After hearing the testimonies, Connie began to wrestle with whether or not she should be a part of the NCH. She knew she was passionate about their mission, but she didn’t have enough time to do two things and do her best in both of them. For months she wrestled, and then she had a clear message during a sermon that she needed to get involved with the NCH.

Moving forward, she encountered woman after woman who wanted to be a part of what she was doing to help the NCH. Nervously, she would enter these meetings to ask for help; through tears, people would overwhelming respond yes. The more she talked about it, the more God brought other women to be involved. After six or seven women expressed interest in helping, Connie ended up forming a committee. They decided to host a women’s tea and fundraiser to support the NCH; it was a huge success. Not only did they raise money, but they had 90 women hear about what the NCH does and how it is helping children who would otherwise be stuck in the foster care system.

The tea/fundraiser led to the formation of an extension to the NCH called the Palouse Friends of the Northwest Children’s Home. As Connie continued to interact with people on the Palouse, every step of the way God intervened to provide people, information, and resources.

Connie’s journey has been marked by her steps of faith to join in what God is doing, and God always meets her there, providing more than she ever expected.

#OnePersonataTime

Sarah

This is Sarah. 

When she became a single mom, Sarah started to feel God’s calling on her heart to lead a study for other single moms — but she didn’t truly believe God could use her in that way. She tried to avoid even going through a study, but it became evident she needed to process through her hurts to be a better mom and a better woman, and before she could move on in her life.

Sarah found the “Soul Ties” study to help her work through hurts from her relationship with her daughter’s father. Through this study she broke the unhealthy bonds she had created, and she began to see the lies she had been telling herself about who she is and about her value in the body of Christ. She replaced these lies with God’s truth about her value in His Kingdom.

Inspired by the freedom and healing she was experiencing, she stepped out in faith and started researching studies to do with other women. She landed on a brand new study from Embrace Grace, a publisher based near Dallas, Texas. As the publisher talked with Sarah, they learned she and other moms were planning on paying for the study themselves. Previously, the publisher had always worked with sponsors to provide materials for a group. Never before had they met a single mom leading other single moms, all paying for the materials themselves. The publisher was so excited for what Sarah was doing that they sponsored the group and paid for everything they needed.

As she continued to respond to God’s calling in her life, more and more single moms signed up for the study. By the time Sarah started, 19 moms had fully committed to meet for the duration of “Embrace Grace.”

The group walked together, replacing lies in their lives with truth from God’s Word. The moms worked through forgiveness and how to forgive their children’s fathers, past abusers, and how to model forgiveness for their children. The moms’ hearts were changed as they began to see what a Godly father looked like and the freedom they experience in Christ. The moms broke free from bitterness, and their hearts changed as they chose daily to be God’s daughters, full of His love. Through meeting together, the moms began praying scripture over their children and setting up healthy boundaries in their lives and relationships.

The group moved from darkness to light and learned who God says they are and whose God says they are.

Moving forward, Sarah and the other moms continue to stay connected, sharing the highlights they have and their needs as they come up. They continue to support one another and hope to meet over the summer to continue to live life together. And Sarah looks forward to this fall and leading another study with more single moms to see God working in so many lives.

#OnePersonataTime

Ken, Katrina, Marty, and Dwight

This is Ken, Katrina, Marty, and Dwight (L to R).

They have been attending CARE Groups for years. In the fall of 2016, Dwight & Marty started hosting a group in their home that quickly grew and branched into two groups. Dwight & Marty began leading one of the new branches, and Ken & Katrina became the hosts.

As the group became more established, they started asking themselves, What do we do? How do we get outside of ourselves? How do we serve in a way that fits our demographic and skillset?

Over time they tried various things both individually and as a group, helping with LIFER Kids, volunteering at ServeFest, facilitating a table at Women’s Coffee Connection, serving at the Seder Meal, and greeting for Sunday services. Each time they served together, they became better friends and more closely knit as a group. Time after time, they tried different ministries and enjoyed their time helping, but never found a spot that deeply resonated to claim as their own.

Then, early this year, Katrina saw an email that mentioned an opportunity to cook dinner for Celebrate Recovery.

She brought the opportunity to the group and they decided to try it out. For a couple of months, everyone’s schedules kept them from picking a date to cook dinner. But eventually they picked a date knowing it wouldn’t work for everyone; but they wanted to give it a try.

They did the calculations on the number of slow cookers they would need. While they were shopping, they stared at the sheer quantity of it all wondering, What will we do with all the leftovers?

Finally, the big day arrived and they nervously showed up to cook. They were delighted to have helpful kitchen attendants from Celebrate Recovery there to guide and assist the group. As the group cooked, they joked with one another about the food, made light of spilling salad on the floor, and served up Marty’s taco soup recipe for that night’s dinner.

Meal time came and they laid the table with cheese, sour cream, chips, salsa, and pots of soup. The attendees piled plates high and devoured the soup. They loved it so much they ate it down until they were scraping for the last bits.

The compliments and thankfulness poured onto the crew as they sat and ate dinner together. The couples were overwhelmed as they developed these new friendships with those who showed up for dinner that night. They were rewarded by knowing they had quickly and easily provided food for some 50 attendees in the warm and open atmosphere of the night.

The couples came expecting to cook and be a blessing to Celebrate Recovery that night. What they did not expect was to be so blessed and find a connection to so many people. That night they found their niche in God’s Kingdom, and cannot wait to do it again.

#OnePersonataTime

Tony & Debi

This is Tony and Debi.

Debi brought Tony to their first CARE Group in the Fall of 2015. The group quickly grew and branched into two groups. Tony and Debi started leading one of the branches and it was mostly attended by young married couples. However, most of the group ended up moving away the following spring.

The next fall, they started leading the group and again, their group grew. Many of the new attenders were reluctant to attend but they came because they were invited. Some people new to the group were church veterans, previously unconnected, attending because of Tom, a new believer excited to invite his friends. With so many new people, Tony and Debi’s group branched again.

Tony and Debi continued to lead the group eventually nicknamed “Ronnie’s Rowdies.” They loved to discuss and debate and pray and pore over the Bible as they met each week. They may have been hesitant to show up, but they had no problems sharing their perspectives on the topic each week.

Then tragedy struck on Super Bowl weekend in 2016. Tom passed away in a motorcycle accident. As they grieved the loss of their friend, the group rallied around Tom’s family, showering his parents and son in love as they planned the memorial service, the food, and the decorations. They supported them as they processed their loss.

After the memorial service, the group was rattled by the curveball. They had lost such a vibrant man who had glued them together. They didn’t know where it was going to take them. However, God was still working in the group.

They continued supporting Tom’s son as they healed together and prayed together. By the end of spring, the group had really gelled. That summer they baptized Tom’s son. They were not bitter or angry about losing their longtime friend. They were glad to meet together and hear what God was doing in each of their lives. They never forsake supporting one another.

Tony and Debi’s group are glad to meet each week. They appreciate everyone’s perspective and opinion. They get together outside of group because they can’t imagine living life alone.

#OnePersonataTime

Cassie

This is Cassie.

Her little girl connected her to Real Life in 2012 by taking another child’s toy in the playground at Eastside Marketplace. Cassie immediately connected to the other moms who were there during their weekly Moms Morning group because they were so welcoming and friendly.

Together, Cassie and the other moms face the joys and struggles of motherhood, ranging from the day-to-day necessities, parenting methods and philosophies, and the lifelong responsibility they have as mothers to their children. She continues to connect to these women five years later as they live life together in a tightly knit community.

Being welcomed with open arms into the group led Cassie to join Moms Morning, volunteer with Women’s Discipleship, join a CARE Group, and join the community at Real Life as God continues to work in her life.

Today we celebrate the work God is doing in Cassie’s life and the work God is doing through her commitment to her marriage, her children, and her community.

#OnePersonataTime