linvilles in life

When it doesn’t pertain to prayer, Bible study, fellowship, giving, or sharing the Gospel, it ends up here. Such would be Lexi’s crafts or Levi’s music.

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linvilles in Love with layovers

Our first international flight! Judah liked the headrest TVs.

Our first international flight! Our son liked the headrest TVs.

We made it!

To the right: there we are on the plane.

Qatar Air is very fancy. Three hot in-flight meals from Washington D.C. to Doha, Qatar, and two more during our flight from Doha to our city, Yast’nacew in Wonkt’nacuoy. The baked chicken and grilled tilapia dishes even tasted good!

We had red-eye flights for both big jumps, which meant two long layovers, but please allow me to recount the goodness of our loving God in these inconvenient arrangements:

In short, the long layovers allowed little linville to run, run, run, until he could run no more…and then he walked until he crawled. By the time our trans-Atlantic flight began to board, little linville was snoring in his stroller. God, in his fantastic mercy, kept little linville content the few times he woke up, and kept him asleep for the vast majority of the first flight. While the little guy slept, the reality of what we were doing smashed into my gut again and again, with each little sensory variation. The first is always olfactory. There is quite a difference in the smell of an airplane loaded with Americans, and one stuffed with…everyone else. It relayed the unavoidable message to my brain that we were not in Kansas anymore, but that was just the beginning. Arabic script was now the predominant signage text, and anywhere that English was used, it was constructed in humorously awkward ways. Most of the movies had permanent Chinese subtitles (and there was a huge movie selection). The closer we got to Qatar, the spicier the meals became, a trend that continued on our next flight. Also, the closer we got to our destination, the closer everyone seemed to get to each other. Personal space became…unnecessary and inefficient. Why take two busses from the plane to the terminal when everyone can cram into (or onto) one? Furthermore, the closer we got to our destination, the more our little linville became a celebrity…affirming his instinctual predisposition to stardom, which was so funny to watch.

I was faking it, but Judah really fell asleep like that!

I was faking it, but little linville really fell asleep like that!

We arrived in Yast’nacew at 9am, and, despite getting to sleep a good 6 to 7 hours on both flights, it was still so hard to stay awake until 9pm, but we did! To the left is me and little linville expressing our exhaustion in the guest house we all occupied until our flat was ready.

Of course we let little linville take a 3 hour nap, as he usually would, but perhaps that was too long because later, at 2am, he was up laughing and ready to go. I was beat, but my bride confessed that she was wide-awake and could stay up to entertain little linville. Well, I awoke five hours later refreshed, but my poor wife was ready for bed again. Ironically, little linville was still bouncing around, energized as ever.

Knowing that the quickest way to get over jet lag is to push through and sleep only at night, my amazing bride took a shower, had some coffee, and embraced the day…slowly.

Even though at the time of this writing it’s only been a month, that first day seems like such a long time ago! Nevertheless, I can still remember my growing concern for my wife. She was acting…strange. I helped her however I could, and figured that she must be exhausted twice over: physically AND emotionally, from all the change; but there was something more, something there that I couldn’t put my finger on, and so my suspicion began.

We're pregnant!

We’re pregnant!

As the sun finally set on that first day of sensory and information overload, I could barely keep my eyes open. My wife, unfortunately, seemed to be waking up – not that she couldn’t fall asleep in an instant – but was obviously still on America time. I told her to get as comfy as possible and that I would take full responsibility of little linville that night, so if he got up, I’d keep him quite and content. To that end, the little guy and I started playing on the bed (to preemptively expend some of his energy) while my bride took a long relaxing shower to wash off the city that we had just explored that entire first day. When she returned, little linville was sitting quietly playing with a toy, waiting to sing a song, read a Bible story, and go to sleep. To my surprise, the long shower hadn’t given my wife what I call: the sleepy eyes. To the contrary, her eyes sparkled with excitement as she sat down on the bed next to me and whispered with the greatest restraint: “We’re pregnant!

Mrs. Linville here. Yes! We’re pregnant! To make a gross understatement, this first month has been crazy. To summarize, my awesome husband has suggested that I write a poem about it. So here goes. Enjoy the Dr. Seuss rhyme scheme.

Flying in on wings both literal and optimistic

We land humid, hot, smelly–though altruistic

With jet-lagging feet and scatterbrained minds

We settle a few days in guest house designs.

Then we find out the second night we are there

That a new little linville in 9 months will appear!

The first week just flits by in a flash

From shopping to visiting to eating we dash.

I’m just a bit tired but feel mostly fine

Seeing the best in every bent line.

Week 2 stumbles in with changes aplenty

little linville's new bathtub!

little linville’s new bath tub!

We have our own flat! But no food and it’s dirty.

The water is cold, the smells aren’t so great

I can’t keep down what is put on my plate.

Emotions run high and hormones do too.

I feel like I’m drowning. I’m starting to rue

Many certain decisions we made in the past;

But praise to the Father, the night does not last.

Though we’re now surviving “out on our own”

His hand keeps us faithfully before His throne.

Here is week 3 and we are starting to see

Just a little glimpse of what “normal” might be.

We have a house helper—she’s learning with us

Though sometimes it’s hard, she’s always a plus.

I’m still sick every day and concerned that I’m thinner

Every bite is a challenge—breakfast through dinner.

Language is hard since there is just SO much

And constantly telling little linville: “don’t touch!”

Despite this I remember His merciful call

The building on the left is a mosque. Our flat is next door!

The building on the left is a mosque. Our flat is next door!

I rest in His love that’s worth more than it all.

So I cling to the Word, the Rock, and the Life

I pray to our Savior to make clean His Wife

Remembering daily my Wine and my Bread

Without Whom I would forever be dead.

And love in His power, for mine always fails,

Trusting the Gospel through tempests and gales.

So pray for us, friends, pray fervent and hard

Our flesh and the demons are out to bombard

Us every moment—so your prayers do we seek

For our Spirit is willing, but our flesh is so weak.

— I love my wife’s poetry, and you can take that last line as a summary for what we’ve felt has been God’s lesson for us thus far, namely: do NOT rely on your flesh, your own strength, to do anything in Christ’s name. Thank you so much for following us here! I will be updating more often now that we’ve finished the big move and have a consistently language schedule. God bless you!

Categories: linvilles in life, linvilles in prayer | 2 Comments

linvilles in Love with sudden stops

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waiting together in Moncks Corner

Our original flight itinerary had us leaving from Charleston International Airport this past Sunday at 2:28pm. It was the Lord’s will that we miss that flight. So, what now?

We are currently in what our company calls a “holding pattern.” We must be prepared to go at a moments notice, and yet we are encouraged to use this time to rest. Mrs. Linville described this feeling to her mom yesterday like: going up and over a rollercoaster’s initial hill, coasting to the approaching drop-off and abruptly stopping right at the edge. Even though the upcoming ride was going to be crazy, the mind was ready for it…even excited about it; but this anti-climatic malfunction, being outside the design of the ride, induces more worry than any inverted turn or cork-screw. The car might lose itself and plummet at any moment, or stay stuck until the technician arrives, but since we’re not going anywhere – we might as well take a nap.

Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but resting in our situation is possible because we know God upholds us, but the fight against impatience and worry is ever present, so please pray for us.

Please leave a comment with suggestions about what to do today when you don’t have tomorrow. We’ll do some and write about it…or maybe make a video, if we have the forethought to hit “record.”

in Love

the linvilles

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linvilles in Love with SPECKA

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Our temporary home.

It was a beautiful day as we drove onto the campus that was to be our temporary home for the next eight weeks. Our job training began January 21st and ended on the same day in March, a week ago. For these two months we were provided with three meals a day and a cozy little apartment within a house that held three other apartments, and thus, we called these houses “quads.” Our fellow quad mates were incredibly interesting families, all of whom were going to South Asia, and one couple had already worked there as singles and were returning with a 13 month old and a baby on the way!

Everyone we met during training had the most amazing stories and it was exciting to be able to share in this peculiar adventure of relocating elsewhere in the world with others. The knowledge that we were not alone in this transition made the scarier implications a little less frightening.

Thus our training started every weekday at 07:00. Most days we got off work at 15:00 since that’s when the provided childcare ended, and some days one of us would have to stay until 17:00, and a few days one of us would have to work until 20:00, but never later than this.

Our workday consisted of several sessions: the morning session, lunch, 1st evening session, 2nd evening session (and child pick-up), diner, and the occasional night session. During these sessions we learned the intricacies and various exceptions of our company’s policies, their overall expectations of us, and what our expectations should be of them. We were given personality tests (MBTI) and led through team building exercises. We met the company leaders and heard many inspirational stories of both success and failure.

Some sessions were held in a large auditorium with the whole group while other sessions had us split up by destination, age, marital status, number of children etc. and were conducted in smaller amphitheaters.

While it was exciting to learn the finer details of our company, we were much more thankful for the opportunities we had to draw closer to Christ and to each other. Never before had we spent so much time together, even while dating. Hitherto, there was always somewhere one of us had to go, be it work or school. It was such a blessing to get up together to pray, read Scripture, and talk over coffee, only to leave for work together to work together!

It was also very nice for little linville to go to classes designed just for him. His teachers were amazing and there was only one time that he cried after being dropped off and he had good reason to cry after falling and bonking his head on a bench in his mad dash to get to class. Little linville loved having other little people to play along with and he seemed to flourish in the classroom environment. Like Mr. linville, he seems to thrive on social interaction. His teachers went beyond arts and crafts and taught him about flying in airplanes, riding in rickshaws, and introduced him to the animals of South Asia as well.  Little linville learned how to walk in line and how to sleep on his own little cot and how to sit in his own little chair. His teachers often had funny stories to share with us about little linville, for he had a habit of sneaking into the bathroom to play in the water or sneaking out of class to play with the older kids. Nevertheless, despite all his fun, he never failed to run into our arms at the end of the day yelling “mama!” or “papa!” with a big grin on his face. We were so thankful that he loved school so much.

There is no way to share everything that we learned from our training. The practicality of it all was so reassuring, especially for a family that has never traveled internationally. To summarize, let it suffice to say that we have been taught how to survive the trip, how to expect the unexpected, how to avoid most diseases, how to stay relationally and mentally healthy, and how to adopt a foreign country, language, and culture so as to make it our country, our language, and our culture, and therefore, our new home.

For us, as Christians, we also learned something that will greatly help us in the days to come. A loving brother taught us a new way to see the Scriptures using the acrostic: S.P.E.C.K.A. It breaks down like this, as you read the Scriptures you ask yourself: “do I see any sins, any promises, any examples, any commands, or any knowledge, in this passage that I can apply to my life?” In the end, it’s nothing more than a simple way to avoid skimming over Scripture. You will always be more observant when are looking for something than when you are not. There are many more helpful Bible study tools out there, like the inductive method, but this is a simple straightforward tool that we have enjoyed using as a family.

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Mr. linville’s grandaddy a month before he went home.

We are so thankful for everyone’s prayers for us during this time of learning and growing. So much has happened in just the past month that it’s hard to think straight. Even now, as I right this, we are driving back from Florida where we were blessed to be able to attend the funeral of Mr. linville’s grandfather who passed away on Sunday. Thank you so much for your prayers! We desperately desperately desperately need your prayers.

For those who have been praying for us to receive our visas, thank you so much. I spoke with the Embassy today, but to no avail. It breaks our hearts to admit this, but it does not seem likely that we will get our passports back in time to depart on Sunday, as scheduled. Nevertheless, we rest in God’s timing and esteem His plan much better than ours, praying, as Christ taught us “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt 6:10); and we are empowered by Christ’s words in Matt. 18:19&20 “Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”

Gratefully yours,

in Love

the linvilles

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linvilles in Love with m&m’s, THE END (of the beginning)

What follows is an ongoing story. Please read these previous posts before continuing if you haven’t already:

The Intro

Act 1

Act 2

Act 3

Act 4

THE END (of the beginning)

Scene 1:

July leaves and August enters with miraculously answered prayers! Although, this wasn’t entirely unexpected…

A month prior, our dear friend, pastor Rod Wilton, had invited my wife and me to fast with him and his church through the first week of August. For the next thirty days, we prayed for God’s grace to do this because it would be the longest fast either of us had ever attempted. As we prayed, God gave us a spirit of peace and, when the fast began, we were enabled to join in. The experience was amazing and produced the most intimate and passionate times of prayer my wife and I have ever known.

Dear readers, I know it’s been a long time since my last M&M installment, and I deeply apologize. Thus, to be sure everyone’s on the same page, let me quickly recap events thus far chronologically:

July 1st ~ We begin to pray for the faith to fast through the first week of August.

July 23rd ~ Mekhi shares his burdens. God blesses us to bear them together. I share the Gospel with Mekhi for the first time.

July 24th ~ Mekhi brings Kayla over for us to pray for her to stop having nightmares about her late baby sister, Hope. Mekhi asks me to share the Gospel with Melanie.

July 29th ~ Melanie laments Mekhi’s recent downward spiral into depression and alcohol over the loss of Hope and continued unemployment. Mrs. linville shares and encourages her with the Gospel. I pray for a miracle.

August 3rd ~ God answered. Mekhi dreamed.

The doorbell rang. It was around 9:00pm. I was tired from a 13 hour shift. I didn’t want to answer the door. God graciously, but forcefully, pushed me. God gets all the glory. Mekhi was standing in the hall and motioned for me to come out. As I did so he stepped back, put his hands over his face, leaned against the wall and slid down with a groan of defeat. I was nervous. We’ve had 2-3 hour long conversations while standing in that hall. How long would THIS conversation last if he was already taking a seat? At a loss and curious to find out why he’d summoned me, I sat against the wall opposite him. He confessed his recent frustrations, which I already knew a little about from Melanie, but then he went deeper. He opened up and got vulnerable. It was surreal and somewhat like deja-vu, except I hadn’t dreamt this before, no, something else…I had prayed for it!

Scene 2:

Mekhi was a persuasive speaker, largely due to the passion with which he speaks. I don’t like vanilla ice cream, but in five minutes Mekhi could have me unconsciously nodding in agreement with how great vanilla ice cream is if he wanted to. Now imagine that type of passion pouring over you, but sorrowfully. His life has been hard and painful and he didn’t spare many details in describing it to me: where he’d come from, where else he’d been, how he got here, and why he wanted to leave, but couldn’t. His trust was completely unexpected and his vulnerability completely uncharacteristic. For me, only one explanation sufficed. God was working on Mekhi and I was witnessing a miracle! I sat patiently and listened, honored and delighted, cautious to note the details, focused (by God’s grace) despite my exhaustion. All of this backstory was not merely venting, as I might be tempted to assume; no, Mekhi was leading up to something and I needed to be ready when it arrived. It didn’t take long. I was warned by the sudden choked pauses in his story. I saw the tears well up that he fought back down. And then he said it: “I miss her, Mr. linville. I know she’s in a better place, but why did it happen? Why? I can’t stop thinking about her; who she might’ve been. I’ve been dreaming of her, about her laughing. Nothing else. We’re just there, laughing together. Melanie says I’ve been laughing in my sleep; laughing so hard it wakes me up. Then I realize she’s gone. That I can’t laugh with her…” He paused, the Spirit smacked me over the head indicating an opportunity to glorify Christ, so I said the first thing that popped into my head.

Scene 3:

I heard myself talking, but I could barely believe that it was me. I told Mekhi that Hope was with Christ and that he could be with Christ too, right now. God became flesh and dwelt among us in the person of Jesus Christ! I invited him to accept Christ as his Lord and Savior, and explained what that meant. He looked at me so intently that I could feel the war raging inside of him. When I finished my invitation, which only took a few minutes, the following silence was almost deafening. Mekhi kept staring at me and I held his gaze, praying desperately for his soul. I knew this was his defining moment. I knew that he was about to become my brother in Christ; that this was what all his previous hardship was for. All the difficulties of his life culminating upon this one eternal point in time. I knew God was about to rescue another lamb from the slaughter.

I was wrong.

Scene 4:

The call came only two weeks ago. It was our neighbor, Ross, who called us. “Mekhi is gone.” The police investigation was conclusive: he had been stabbed. The knife had pierced his heart. Even more shocking than is: Melanie had wielded the knife.

At only 23 years old, Mekhi was gone. He is gone! Gone! Gone!! GONE!!!

Immediately, my mind rushed back seven months. Recalling that fateful night, sitting on the floor with Mekhi, holding his gaze, praying, a war of eternal consequence raging in his eyes. I knew God was doing a work within him; but it wasn’t what I expected. Just as though it were yesterday, I remembered how He abruptly looked down and said, “I can’t get with God yet, but I feel Him, and I know He’s just right there, but I can’t until I figure a few things out.” NO! I had screamed in my mind, but remaining silent. Something inside me had broken. I remember fighting against Mekhi’s decision to wait, but he was resolved. When we had finished, I prayed for him aloud, and we parted ways. I couldn’t sleep that night, knowing in my spirit that a horrible divergence had occurred right before my eyes, yet  with all my heart, I hoped that I was wrong.

Scene 5:

Between August and November, the month we moved out, we grew as close as family with M&M. We were always in each other’s apartments. Baby linville and Kayla were cousins in all but blood. My wife watched over Kayla and Melanie watched over baby linville as their own. Mekhi not only got a job, but several. His hard work and determination even got him some promotions! They eventually bought an old car from a friend and even gave up alcohol (which had been a huge monthly expense). We studied scripture as one big family and I was blown away when Mekhi turned two Jehovah’s Witnesses away after an in depth theological debate of John 1:1-3.

Mrs. Linville made progress with Melanie in teaching her life lessons from Scripture as the opportunity arose and slowly began to see a real conviction of sin reveal itself.

When the time came to leave The Mill behind, there were sincere tears, even from Mekhi, relinquishing his blithe persona. We moved in with some members from Treasuring Christ Church and focused on the task before us: preparing for our training in Virginia. We didn’t forget about our friends; indeed, it was difficult to since Kayla’s school and the police still had us down as M&M’s primary contact. As time came between us, these calls became more frequent, until we had to ask to be removed as contacts since we also couldn’t get ahold of them. All things considered, we couldn’t help but realize the implications of these calls: M&M had heard the gospel, and had received it with joy, but as soon as their faith was tested, it proved unfounded. Jesus speaks of this in Luke 8:13, “And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away.”

For this to be the end of Mekhi’s story is the definition of tragedy. His is the epitome of hopelessness. Nevertheless, I have hope, for I speak from assumption, inferring his heart from actions as we watched them unfold through the grape vine. I pray he really met Christ; that he figured out what he needed to and denied himself, took up his cross, and followed Jesus. Or perhaps he saw things clearly during his final hours in the hospital. I will continue to hope, but, should the contrary be true, I know my God to be just and Mekhi’s condemnation will be seen as utterly right, for God is faithful to His promises. Now we turn our attention toward Melanie, currently being held in Wake County Detention Center. My wife has sent her a letter in attempts to encourage her that all is not lost, that she is not lost, if she still holds fast to Christ. We cannot judge her, and are forbidden to do so, just as we are desperate to love her, and are commanded to do so.

Even though we soon depart for the opposite side of the globe, we are blessed to live in an age that allows us to still communicate instantaneously. Melanie is not lost, and my wife rejoices in the opportunity to continue to reach out to her, even from across the ocean. We have also been greatly encouraged by the members of Treasuring Christ Church who are already organizing efforts to begin visiting Melanie in our stead. The story is evermore! That is why this small chapter is merely the end – of the beginning.

Categories: linvilles in fellowship, linvilles in life, linvilles in sharing the gospel | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

linvilles in Love with baby steps

Hey friends!

So Mr. linville and I have been formally accepted to work the job in South Asia that we were hoping for! Now we are currently working on finishing up the hiring paperwork. Praise the Lord, it looks like a straight shot to training in January! Thank you all for your support, prayers, and encouragement. We feel so very loved and blessed by the Body.

But there is still more to do! We need your prayers! The agency has requested that we have a list of 100 plus people who will strive to pray for us consistently, ONCE A WEEK OR MORE. Can you join us overseas in prayer? If so, we need your physical address as well as an email address so that we can stay connected and regularly share with you what we need prayer for. We desire desperate and faithful prayer, friends, from people who know us and love us and who will remember us before the Lord. If you feel like this is something you would like to be a part of, please email your name and address to linvillesinLove@gmail.com as soon as possible.

On the financial front, we have been able to raise enough money to pay for Mr. linville’s classes (yay!), so thank you all for your generosity! We still need to raise/save around $2,000 to cover airfare and other expenses, so please don’t hesitate to give as you feel led. We are so thankful for your support. If you would like to mail us anything, we are now at a new address which we can provide upon request.

…or you can use the Paypal donation button right there on the right!

Thank you so much!
in Love,
the linvilles

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linvilles in Love with m&ms, Act 4

Before continuing m&m’s story, a family update is in order.

We are living on the floor and it’s awesome. Save for a few orphaned couch cushions and forsaken pillows, we have nothing to sit on. We eat meals off our coffee table. Baby linville loves it, and we do too.

Mrs. linville is busy getting all her craft supplies in order to sell/distribute/give away following the annual Craft and Bake Sale at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. She really outdid herself for this and brought home over $700 in profit!!! My wife is amazing!

I (Mr. linville) am about to have my final weigh in which will skyrocket us into a torrent of paperwork as we take the next (and final) steps toward going overseas!

And now: our feature presentation!

What follows is an on going story. Please read these previous posts before continuing if you haven’t already:

The Intro

Act 1

Act 2

Act 3

Act 4

Scene 1:

Working in the medical field is hard (13-14 hour days!), but there are little things that make it easier, like only working three days a week. Even so, I came home Monday night, July 23rd, feeling good, despite knowing I’d be up at 3:00am the next morning. God was working in our lives to get glory! In my experience, there is no thrill as exciting as that; not public speaking, guitar performing, rock climbing, mountain biking, snowboarding, mountain-boarding, cliff diving, skydiving, nor airplane or helicopter flying. No exaggeration! hanging from a cliff or flying through the sky is not as exciting as seeing the Creator of mountains and air WORKING through you to get glory for Himself!

So, Monday went by in a flash. I don’t think I ever stopped smiling. The tech I worked with for the day was probably a little weirded out. Fortunately, she’s a Christian and understood (I hope). Mekhi was coming over that night to use the computer and I could hardly wait to talk to him about what he’d been reading in John and how he had been experiencing God in prayer. I was ready to hear about some supernatural transformation! When Mekhi came over he certainly seemed different. Wearing a big smile, he mentioned some texts from John that moved him, and some that confused him, but he said he had to go and wouldn’t be using the computer that night and then left. It was anti-climatic, but God wasn’t done.

Scene 2:

Through July, Mrs. linville helped me get my tendency to watch online shows under control, so instead of sitting and watching something during/after dinner, we sat and talked. The Lord really blessed this and we were still talking at 10:00pm when the doorbell rang. Opening the door we found M&M standing there with Kayla. They all came in and Mekhi asked us to pray for Kayla. He shared how she had been having nightmares every night and would wake up screaming for Hope. We prayed and comforted Kayla as best we could, and then something amazing happened.

After an awkward silence, Mekhi thanked me for talking with him about Christ the day before and then asked me if I would mind sharing with Melanie what I had shared with him. Woah, what!? My heart exploded and then grew back in the same instant. I joyfully shared the gospel with Melanie again (the first time was when she sought shelter from Mekhi after their big fight). She listened intently and began crying as I shared with her the love of God to reconcile us to Himself through Christ. Once again, I was in awe. God wanted these people and, despite themselves, He was going to get them. Seeing God’s pursuing love of this couple filled me with peace. He will complete what He has begun, both in me, in Mrs. linville, and now in Mekhi and Melanie! I don’t know why I assumed it would all happen without any trouble. I don’t know how I forgot about the enemy and the darkness of our own hearts, but in the joy of the moment, it had slipped my mind.

Scene 3:

Six days later and it’s Sunday. We’re sick and staying home from church. There’s been no communication between me and M&M since Monday night, although Mrs. linville and Melanie have been hanging out more regularly. I had just finished cleaning up after an amazing Sunday morning breakfast and Mrs. linville had just stepped into the shower when the doorbell rang (many of our adventures begin with that doorbell).

Melanie needed to wash a load of laundry so she proceeded to sort while I watched baby linville and Kayla. After a few minutes she came out of the laundry room and called Kayla to go back over to their place. I was curious about how things had been going since our last encounter, so I asked for an update. She hesitated.

While Kayla had stopped having nightmares about Hope, Mekhi had not, and his fears didn’t disappear in the daylight. They haunted him 24/7. I am not clear on the details here, but for whatever reason, Mekhi had come home drunk several times since Monday night. The worst had occurred on just the previous night! Mekhi’s behavior had forced Melanie to seek refuge in their neighbor Wes’ apartment. Mekhi had followed Melanie there and cussed them both out. Although Wes called the cops, Mekhi was fortunate that Wes didn’t press charges for being verbally assaulted and physically threatened in his apartment.

I could hardly believe it. Neither could Melanie. Mekhi was going through something serious, but he was keeping it bottled up inside, only showing the turmoil within when his hindrances were crippled by alcohol. Melanie and Kayla had stayed over at Wes’ apartment for a few hours to let Mekhi sober up. When they returned, Mekhi was weeping and rocking himself in the corner of a dark room listening to sad music and holding a picture of their late baby, Hope. Melanie said she didn’t know what to do so she just knelt next to him and prayed, but he kept interjecting “I don’t want none of that” as she prayed. She asked me if she had done the right thing. I affirmed her decision and explained to her that it’s good that Mekhi recognizes that he doesn’t want God or anything from Him. It’s good because when he looks at his life he will see clearly why God is just in condemning him and why he needs God to save him. She seemed to understand, but it looked like she was ready to change the topic. I switched directions and focused on how she was doing. I shared the gospel with her again, being sure to emphasize her need to cry out to God to be saved and ask Him for faith to trust in Christ to save her. Mrs. linville was quick to shower and dress and continued the conversation with Melanie while I watched baby linville and Kayla, and silently prayed.

Five days later, God answered those prayers.

…To be continued in The Final Act…

Categories: linvilles in fellowship, linvilles in life, linvilles in sharing the gospel | 2 Comments

linvilles in Love with m&ms, Act 1

What follows is an on going story. Please read this previous post before continuing if you haven’t already:

The Intro

Act 1

Scene 1:

Some people can break one law and have to pay it for the rest of their lives. Some people can break hundreds of laws everyday and just walk away. Mekhi was the latter. Despite getting caught up in a bad way with a rough crowd, Mekhi was able to keep his record relatively clean; clean enough to get a good job as a correctional officer here in Raleigh, NC.  Now he had a good roof over his family’s head and he was bringing home the bacon with a respectable career. Mekhi was even pleased to meet some neighbors who lived around him and, even though they seemed a little weird, he could tell that they were harmless.

Yes, their new home was definitely nothing like Atlanta, but with everything falling into place, being here just felt right; and then it happened.

Scene 2:

Mrs. linville and I were in a dead sleep when we heard it: a blood curdling cry. I opened my eyes to see red and blue lights flashing against the blinds, but no sirens. Another unrestrained scream. It had to be around 1 or 2am. Another long mournful cry. It was coming from the stairwell right beside us. More crying. I heard the static of a police officer’s radio through the wall. Someone was talking to the woman crying. We didn’t know who it was, but we prayed for her. The sobbing erupted into another vocal chord ripping scream that became a cry which ended in a chocked out moan and within the moan we heard words. Horrible words.

“No, no, noooo, no, no, no…”
“Not my baby, NO! Not my baby!”

Another blood curdling cry.

Scene 3:

We couldn’t get any details until 2 days later when I happened to be out in the hall as Mekhi emerged from his Apartment in a daze. He shared with me what happened in broken sentences and random pauses wherein he seemed to see something invisible far away that would steal his attention. Hope was gone. The police investigation concluded that she passed away from S.I.D.S. (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). Mid-Sentence he turned and shuffled out the door, still talking.

After sharing this with Mrs. linville and praying, we began to feel from the Lord a powerful compassion to serve them in whatever capacity we could. We made sure to be at Hope’s funeral to reflect His love.

Scene 4:

We learned later that the ordeal had rocked M&M so violently that it cost them their mental stability for several weeks. Having nothing to turn to they sometimes resorted to drowning their sorrows in booze, a pursuit which almost killed Melanie when, crazed, drunk and distraught, she leapt from their car while Mekhi was driving. Although bruised and bleeding, she survived! Mekhi also suffered from a bad emotional roller coaster that alcohol only made worse, leading him and Melanie into several fights that ended violently, something we were totally unaware of until one fight spilled right into our apartment. That was a rough night. The doorbell rang at around 11pm. Our hearts broke when we saw Melanie, trembling and bleeding out of her left eye with Kayla huddled by her side. Mekhi was close behind, bleeding from his arm and yelling. The tension was almost tangible, but God is always greater. We got them separated and spoke with Melanie. After hearing her side of the story I went and spoke with Mekhi. We labored in prayer for them to know His love.

In the end, Melanie threatened to leave Mekhi. He said the right things to convince her to stay; but try as they might to make things right, an even greater challenge awaited.

…To be continued in Act 2

Categories: linvilles in fellowship, linvilles in giving, linvilles in life, linvilles in prayer | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

linvilles in Love with m&ms, the intro

Weight update: oh yeah!

I’ve reached my goal weight!

I thank all those who prayed and supported me!

Tip#1: think first, then eat. Tip#2: embrace the unique pain of muscle soreness. It’s never enjoyable, but it’s a friend.

The past 18 days have been very exciting. We stand in awe of the miraculous power of Christ and his faithfulness in sending to us the Holy Spirit to teach us all things and bring to our remembrance all that Christ has said to us (John 14:26). Time has revealed the purpose for this, and it is because He desires to be loved and worshiped by our neighbors across the hall.

So now without further ado…

The Intro

This beautiful family, the M&Ms, have given me permission to share the following, but to respect their desire for anonymity, their names have been changed:

Mekhi, Melanie, and Kayla found themselves in an entirely new environment as 2011 came to a close. The bright lights of the city of Atlanta had been replaced with the moon’s soft glow; all the buildings they once knew were now swaying trees on every side; and instead of the blaring sound of traffic below they now heard a new-born baby’s cries.

Mekhi needed to get out of Atlanta. He needed a better, safer life for his family, but leaving would be hard. Deep roots held him there: knowledge of the streets, his reputation, easy money–but not fast money. Despite the pressure, Mekhi knew the difference. Unlike many, he could wait for it. Unlike most, he used his brain. But Mekhi enjoyed more than just good common sense. Working numbers was second nature to him and as a teen he was awarded a position in the Future Leaders of America Foundation (the parent foundation of the Washington Scholars Fellowship Program). As a teen, when Mekhi called New York City home, all he wanted to do was ball. Dominating the basketball court was his past time, something that took most by surprise since Mekhi looked more like a lightweight boxer, and to be sure the man could box, but basketball was his first love. In New York he had everything. Life was easy. The future was easy: play ball, get scouted to play for some school, get better and go pro; but that future disappeared overnight. In one day it was all ripped away, but that’s another story. Atlanta was his home now and for him those streets were made of gold.  He could stay and maybe continue to prosper, but then there was death, which was always too close for comfort, and getting closer.

Melanie had to grow up fast. Home was not the easiest place to live, but it was better than being homeless, although sometimes she wondered. If only loyalty and kindness could be cashed in, she’d be rich. Unfortunately, strong character didn’t pay the bills and she had Kayla to care for, so she worked a job like the rest of us, well, maybe not like Mekhi with his streets of gold. It’s likely that Melanie wasn’t fooled by the strut or the swagger when he came waltzing into the gas station while she worked behind the counter. That time she didn’t even notice him, but he noticed her. Eventually, she took a good look and yeah, she liked what she saw. Mekhi wasn’t about to turn down the attention of a woman as beautiful as Melanie, so it probably wasn’t long before they were seeing each other exclusively.

Little Kayla was too young to remember meeting Mekhi, but to his credit he didn’t let the fact that Melanie already had a baby keep him from pursuing her. Mekhi didn’t realize it right away but deep down he was a family man at heart. When he had to make the choice of whether to stay in Atlanta or leave, he left. Melanie and Kayla could survive Atlanta with him, so it was something else that pushed him over the edge, something that meant so much to him that he was willing to give up everything else for it. What was it? It was his baby, Mekhi’s first child: Hope.

It all happened so fast. Life is like that. At first, life just goes on as usual, nothing changes for months, even years, and then everything changes all at once. That’s the way Mekhi’s move to Atlanta was, and the move to Wake Forest, NC was no different. He wanted to be out of the city before Hope arrived and, sure enough, the day he signed the lease for the apartment across the hall from us was the day Hope was born. Mekhi was a family man. His family was safe. He had dodged the bullet, escaped the trap, and put some distance between himself and death, or so he thought.

…To be continued in Act 1

Categories: linvilles in life, linvilles in prayer, linvilles in scripture, linvilles in sharing the gospel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

linvilles in Love with gravity

I recently heard the most amazing analogy by Pastor Art Azurdia for how Christian love, God’s love, simultaneously anchors us down and sets us free. The interesting part…I head it on a rap album. Please click HERE to listen to Art Azurdia wax eloquent on this marvelous illustration and check the description for how you can download this Christ honoring rap album for free. Otherwise, I’ve painstakingly transcribed what he says below, but it’s way better to hear it, in my opinion.

Let’s suppose that a kite could come to life and develop its own personality. On the one hand it would feel the exhilaration that comes from the surges of wind that direct it through the sky. On the other hand it would almost immediately take notice of something…annoying: the tugging of a string at its center. A feeling of constraint, a resistance; and soon the kite begins to think to itself: ‘If only I could…detach; then I could really FLY!’ To the kite, you see, it seems that the string is limiting its full experience of freedom, but as any boy or girl who has ever flown a kite knows: were that string to suddenly…snap, the kite wouldn’t sore freely for very long. It would dart to and fro for a minute — maybe two — but very soon thereafter it would end up on the ground in a pile of broken sticks and torn paper, never ever to fly again. Rather, you see, it is the taut line between the kite and the one holding it that enables the kite to fly; that allows all the principles of aerodynamics to come into play so that the kite might achieve its full purpose! Christian love performs the very same function as a kite string. You take away the stabilizing force of Christian love and every towering gift, every supernatural power, every sacrificial act, every musical performance — you name it friends — it will all, ALL, end up in the ash heap of eternal insignificance……without love.

I hope you enjoyed that as much as I did. My friends would call that “strong sauce.” I find strange pleasure in finding/creating good analogies. It’s like remembering something funny and getting the pleasure of laughing at it again.

So, as most of you know, my wife, Lexi, is utterly amazing. She’s amazingly Christ-like, amazingly intelligent, amazingly creative, amazingly beautiful, and amazingly thoughtful. What follows certainly reveals all of these qualities, but I believe it showcases her thoughtfulness. To thank her for this amazing gift that she bestowed upon me for no reason whatsoever…”just because,” as she put it…I made a video of it, which you may view HERE. Enjoy.

In other awesome news, I fulfilled a childhood fantasy on Friday when I got to fly in a helicopter for the first time! Shortly thereafter, I fulfilled another childhood fantasy when I got to PILOT the helicopter!

Yes, I recently completed my first helicopter flying lesson and it was spectacular and insanely difficult…in a good way. My unending thanks goes out to my lovely wife, Lexi; my parents, Chris and Lisa; and my Uncle Tim and Aunt Sandy (and their 6 kids) who made this fantasy a reality. Thank you so very much! Best B-day gift ever!

Finally, I must share a change in plans regarding our overseas deployment. Unfortunately, due to my present lack of medical clearance, Lexi and I will not be able to attend the October training session and January deployment. We must postpone for another three months, putting us in the January training session and the April deployment. If we had discovered this last week, we would’ve been quite upset, but God prepared us for this news by revealing to us just how unprepared we are to go. Three more months will enable us to devote ourselves more fully to the Word of God and prayer, seek greater intimacy in community with Treasuring Christ Church, disciple those we’ve been sharing the Gospel with a little longer, raise support for missions classes (“donate” button works great!), and lose these last 7lbs. Yes, it’s 7, not 9. I’ve lost two more pounds since the weekend, all glory to God! Thank you for your prayers!

Stay tuned for more incredible stories, videos, and updates!

in Love

the linvilles

Categories: linvilles in life | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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