I often take the people in my life for granted. I have always been surrounded by family and friends. Even when I went off to college, I quickly got plugged in with a group of people to fill the void of being 1,000 miles away from anyone I knew. Sometimes life gets so busy that I don’t think about how fortunate I am to have a community around me that loves me unconditionally and truly wants the best for me—people that are willing to walk with me in highs and lows and let me know when I am doing something I shouldn’t.

We had another great week of meetings. Y’all, it is seriously amazing to witness the Lord at work. There is always an uneasy feeling before I walk into a meeting and sit down in front of someone with a lot of sway in our community. So far, that feeling has subsided as soon as I shake hands with the person across from me because I can tell from their demeanor that the Lord has already gone before me. I honesty expected more pushback by this point, so I have been pleasantly surprised by the amount of support we’ve gotten already. I know those tough meetings are coming but for now I stand in awe of the work God has already done in the hearts of influential people.  It seems like for each meeting I go to, and there have been a lot, I come out with at least five new contacts and awesome advice. 

I met with some wonderful organizations that are serving our community in the areas of substance abuse and mental health as well as more county and city officials. I have a call in to one of our more challenging meetings so please pray that I get a call back, a willing meeting, and an open heart. We have had some creative ideas for land prospects and continue to chase those out. We are going to be starting the Breaking Bread Mobile ministry this month as well. It really is exciting to be in the middle of this. Exciting but also exhausting.

I was reminded this weekend of how wonderful it is to have a group of friends that love the Lord and love me. Since the day we got back to Midland, we’ve been going 100mph so this weekend we decided to take a trip to the lake with some friends. We had a blast playing in the water and spending time with people who have been with us through thick and thin. These people have supported us in every way as we have gone through this crazy transition over the last couple of years. Our friends are a gift from God, no doubt about it. Though this weekend was busy, today I feel recharged and ready to get after it again.

Today we got to go to the doctor and see our baby boy! Briana is 20 weeks along and doing great. We finally decided on a name, Titus O’Daniel Echols. Titus was a disciple and an early non-jewish Greek who became a Christian missionary under the Apostle Paul.  The story of Titus reminds us that we who are not of Jewish heritage are accepted completely by God through faith alone in Jesus Christ. We chose his middle name O’Daniel after Milton Henry O’Daniel, a West Texas pioneer and my great-great-grandfather on my Dad’s side.

The Book of Titus was written by Paul as a Pastoral Epistle, meaning it is to be used for church order and guidance in ministry. One of my favorite passages from the Book of Titus is one that I have tried to memorize over the years to remind myself where I came from and keep me humble and gracious.

For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
— Titus 3:3-6 NASB

Our prayer for Titus is that the Lord will first call him to Himself and that his life will be dedicated to following God’s will and ministering to others.

I didn’t picture having another child at this point in our lives, but God knows what He is doing! We are so excited about adding a little boy to the mix but also a little concerned about how we are all going to fit in this RV. We know some families that have 4 and 6 kids in an RV so it can definitely be done, but with two big dogs and a toddler in here already, it’s definitely snug. We are praying through some decisions about possibly trading for something that will better accommodate our growing family and fit more with our mission to cultivate permanent home. It’s tempting to always be looking for something bigger and better but fortunately we’ve learned enough through the course of this journey that we know that only Christ satisfies. We just want our decisions to honor the Lord, so join us in praying for that. A wise friend told me to choose the option that requires more faith, and I am not sure what that is yet.

My back has been really aggravated lately. I hurt it over 2 years ago and there hasn’t been any marked improvement, so the Dr. is scheduling an MRI. Essentially I am at the point where I need pain management and possibly (but hopefully not) surgery. I am in pain pretty much all the time and it makes it hard for me to take care of my responsibilities with a good attitude. I’ve learned that chronic pain can be really depressing and the silver lining of that is that I can better understand what some of our friends on the streets deal with every day. The timing seems terrible yet again but God always knows what He is doing. This is happening right now for a purpose and He will use it for my good. This I know for sure. One thing I notice is that in my weakness I am required to ask for help and God is showing Himself through the love and support of the community around me. It also keeps me from becoming self reliant and big headed.

Sometimes I don’t know how all this is going to work. When I step back and look at the big picture, it is overwhelming. One thing is for sure, there is a lot of room for God to be glorified because of the amount of impossibility under our own power. That is exactly what we are setting out to do—take on a task that God has called us to far beyond our capability, so that if we are successful, it will point only to Him.

Prayer Requests:

  • Healing for JM's back.
  • Prayer for Dr. D as he prepares for his last chemo treatment. 
  • Praise for a healthy baby and mama at the halfway point of the pregnancy.
  • Perseverance and patience.
  • Land
  • Partnerships with "angel investors" who are willing to take a risk to help us get off the ground.