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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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