August 1, 2008
A week ago today, we were packing up, worshipping with Jaime Jamgochian, and listening to testimonies from others. As we were driving away from your “haven,” we got a picture of our family next to the sign, “Jesus Never Fails.” We were discussing the magnificence of Sandy Cove and highlighting our own personal experiences.
We have three children, Tyler (15), Christian (13) and Gabrielle (4). Our kids rated this vacation a “14+ on a scale from 0 to 10.” They said, “It was our best vacation ever.”
They eventually fell asleep and my husband and I listened to the CD of Dr. Loritts and his son (Questions and Answers) that you graciously gave to each family there. After that, to lighten the atmosphere, we put on Jaime’s CD of amazing songs of praise and worship.
Then something happened. We got home and it was as if we were never away at your God-centered retreat. We were all overwhelmingly tired and crabby, to say the least. Over the next few days, we discussed why this sudden change in our attitudes, as this continued to carry through. We came to the conclusion that Satan had followed our family home. He knew going into this that our time at Sandy Cove would be one more incredible link to our spiritual journey “puzzle” that God is piecing together for our family (this was our first time at Sandy Cove and a gift from you because my husband has been deployed three times – thank you!) It was evident during our visit that Satan was attacking from other areas as well. We knew this coming in as we felt it personally (our brakes were going out as we were traveling in on Sunday. In fact, we missed the social gathering and the last day my husband had to miss morning worship to go and have our car fixed at a local garage so that we could safely travel home.) Everything from the cold water to Aaron’s amazing story of healing and grace connected us even more to God while we were at your facility. We just stayed “plugged in” to the lessons, reading and praying and truly feeling the presence of God every day!
Although not intentional, when we left last Friday, I believe we left God behind. We must have put Him on a shelf, forgetting all that we learned. We started to see very clearly Satan maneuvering his way throughout our days, affecting our actions and attitudes. It was time to recall all that we had heard and learned. To keep Jesus first in our lives, to “touch” Him rather than simply “handle” Him when it’s convenient, to have Him “in our boat” relying on Him through our “storms” because this is when we connect, grow, mature in our Christian walk. Adversity builds character and I know that Jesus shapes our character during these troublesome times. Throughout the week, we started to focus on Jesus instead of our giants, remembering that our God is much bigger than Satan any day, and although we’re no longer at the awe-inspiring, safe haven of Sandy Cove, we have the choice to bring Jesus with us, creating an awe-inspiring, safe haven right here at home if we allow our home to be God-centered. Jesus offers a place of refuge no matter where we end up – “Jesus Never Fails.”
Side note: My husband, Jeremy, wanted a t-shirt, but quite honestly there wasn’t anything that he thought was “cool.” He said wouldn’t it be neat to have “Jesus Never Fails” on the back of a t-shirt and on the front, in a small circle on one side of the chest “Sandy Cove Ministries.” Just a thought.
Mark, I needed to take this time to share my thoughts and appreciation to you and your staff and recap for myself. Last week has changed our lives yet again. God revealed Himself more to me and my family through the beauty surrounding Sandy Cove, to each staff member we came in contact with, to your acknowledging that we were there as a gift from Sandy Cove because of my husband’s military service (and we weren’t even there for the Sunday social or the Operation Oasis gathering.) Thank you so much for your personal time and acknowledgment. We were so grateful to both you and your wife. There was a true sense of calling and love for God in every person we had the pleasure of meeting. Humor which we lack in this world ran rampant at your facility. I never smiled so much and laughed out loud so hard from you, Nate, John, Michael, the ventriloquist to some folks who participated in the talent show (especially the youth pastor who sang the hip-hop song with his guitar and Joe, the older gentleman who told jokes, loved him.) It was refreshing to see and be reminded that God is Love and Joy and we should celebrate through singing and laughing.
Jeremy and I talked so much about how awesome it must be to “work” and have every day of your lives touched the way you touch the lives of those people who visit Sandy Cove. God is using you, Mark, in amazing ways and I personally thank you for your obedience in sharing with me and my family. Sandy Cove, a place of beauty, fun and refuge, a place that we truly connected with God and one another.
You and your entire staff are a blessing and Sandy Cove is a gift from God. It is our hope to return again soon and bring another family.
In His Joy,
Jeremy, Stacey, Tyler, Christian and Gabrielle