The Travis & Cari Hicks Orphan Care Story

“God has gifted us each 24 hours in a day and we have a choice in how we spend it.

We knew going in to this that our schedules stay pretty packed, but what are they packed with? Are we aiming to glorify God with all of the time He has given us?

He made it clear to us that if we could make time for all of the other great things in our life, we could surely make time to care for the orphan – for HIS orphans.” – The Hicks

 

 

Forgiving Myself

As I lie awake in my bed after everyone else in my house has gone to sleep, my mind replays my failings like a horrifying highlight reel.

How I lost my temper with my children again.

The impatience threaded through a conversation with a friend.

The devastation on my husband’s face when my sharp words cut him down.

My grief over what I’ve done blossoms into shame, convincing me that change is impossible. The shame is amplified by bitterness, and before I know it, I have welcomed dangerous lies and doubted the gospel. My head may nod enthusiastically over Jesus’s words to forgive my offender seventy times seven, but what about when the offender is me?

I don’t think I’m alone. Longtime followers of Christ are intimately familiar with the command to forgive. But when the struggle is internal, maybe you, like me, consider it almost virtuous to punish yourself harshly and deny yourself any eligibility for grace.

Why is it so hard to forgive ourselves?

In my years-long internal battle with self-resentment, I’ve identified three major obstacles along the way:

1. Pride

As a natural people-pleaser, I appreciate high standards and the accolades thrown my way when I’ve reached them. It feels good to pretend I can be righteous and good — until it doesn’t work. Pride can make me delusional about my own propensity to sin. Pride strives to patch over mistakes, pretending they never happened. Pride tells me I should’ve done better — tried harder. But Scripture says that I can’t work hard enough, that I can’t achieve perfection on my own. God isn’t surprised or shaken at my unholiness. He knows all his children need discipline and training. Instead of burying my sin deep enough to maintain my image, humbly admitting my sin before the Lord is the first step toward forgiving myself.

2. Doubt

In the Garden of Eden, we see the serpent’s first tactic as he sweet-talked Eve and Adam, weaving threads of doubt into their view of God. The Enemy is always the first to remind me of my moral failures and the first to suggest that God might not be who I’ve believed him to be. He whispers lies that tell me God didn’t really make me righteous, I can’t really be loved enough, God doesn’t really keep his promise to forgive. But we can learn to discern his hissing amidst our thoughts. Just as Jesus used Scripture to combat all of Satan’s lies in the desert, our only defense is to plant ourselves in the Bible and stand firm on God’s promises.

3. Shame

If I allow pride and doubt to fester in me, they will swing wide the door for shame. When fear of exposure controls me and God’s love seems distant, I begin to believe that there is no escape from my sin. Shame wraps its victim in the label of their wrongs. It distracts me from God’s presence, disrupts my relationships, and discourages my efforts toward spiritual maturity. But the truth of my identity in Christ can overcome the trap of shame. I love the lyrics to the song “You Are More” by Tenth Avenue North:

You are more than the choices that you made,

you are more than the sum of your past mistakes,

you are more than the problems you create,

you’ve been remade.

Because Christ has made us new creations, we are not defined by our sins. I have victory over shame because I am a child of God, a recipient of his great mercy without earning any of it, and my sin was nailed to the cross.

And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.

Colossians 2:13-14

I don’t have to keep looking back on my past sins. I don’t have to be anxious about future struggles. Freedom from shame’s snare allows me to be honest about my failures before the Lord. I don’t have to hide or justify my sin, instead humbly approaching him for forgiveness. And when we ask God to forgive us, we can be sure that he does and that his forgiveness is final.

In his death and resurrection, Jesus conquered the entirety of sin. When we are forgiven, our sin no longer hangs over us. Our souls don’t wallow in a place of guilt, for he has defeated pride, doubt, and shame. What a gift! What love! Why would we continue to carry the burden of blame when God has removed all blame from us?

When I rehearse the truth that I am a child of God, his beloved treasure for whom he died, then my heart can confess my failures to my Father, trust his promises, and rest in his grace.

The Aaron Suhre Story

“We’re just this small story in the greater, bigger story of what God is doing. These are some things God has done in this life for his greater good.”   – Aaron Suhre

 

The Chuck Claunch Story

Chuck deciding to volunteer with the database team that later became the IT team served as the catalyst for Chuck in growing in his faith and commitment to Jesus and his mission.

He has since joined a small group, taken multiple classes at Clear Creek, and worked on dozens of tech projects at the church.

The Amy Swift Story

Amy Swift and her husband, Chris, moved to Louisiana from Texas, about a year after they were married. It was supposed to be a short-term move, but it turned into five years. And it was a long, lonely five years for Amy.

The Swifts just had their first baby, she was living in a new city where she knew no one and Chris traveled a lot for work. Which meant Amy was home with the baby most days, and she began to feel the crushing weight of isolation, separation and eventually depression.

She was tired, frustrated, anxious, and alone.

Chris & Amy thought getting back to Texas might fix everything… Texas is awesome, but Amy’s dark season wasn’t over when they moved back.

But I want you to hear how God used HIS PEOPLE to bring peace in Amy’s life. How through his people she experienced the presence of God.

Take a listen.

The Gilbert George Story

Gilbert George prayed to receive Christ in the summer of 1962 when he was 10 years old.

Now at 69 years old, Gil has been attending Clear Creek Community Church for just over a year. He’s a member of a men’s small group and has started serving on the Prayer Team at Egret Bay.

But there’s something you should know about Gil. He is visually impaired.

For over a decade he’s lived without sight.

But that hasn’t prevented him from wanting to grow. Although he’s been on the journey of following Christ for a long time, Gil knows he’s still only scratched the surface of who God is and how he loves.

So, each week on an alternating schedule, one of the guys drives to Gil’s home and brings him to small group. And to further include him, they even recorded a special audio version of Clear Creek’s Missional Community small group study, so Gil could study the material and participate in the discussion.

Gil’s impairment also hasn’t prevented him from wanting to serve others. Although he loves to meet new people, Gil knows he doesn’t need his eyes to pray for them. Ears to hear, a hand to hold, and a voice to speak to God are his tools of ministry.

And so each week, when he is scheduled to serve, a guy from his small group drives to Gil’s home and brings him to church so he can passionately pray for people who are hurting and need encouragement.

Growing together to stir up affections for the Lord and caring for one another in order to serve others — this is what authentic gospel community looks like.

And even if Gilbert George can’t see it all for himself, he knows it deeper still.

“For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them…” Romans 12:4-6a

Bay Area Turning Point

“It’s a really neat opportunity to grow spiritually, to step out of that comfort zone, and to bring a little bit of joy, and share Jesus with people that are hurting today.” – Gina Holstein

 

Learn more about Bay Area Turning Point and how you can help make a difference at https://www.bayareaturningpoint.org/

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New Life: How Adoption Changed Everything

“I can see the life I was born into, but not the life that I was destined to live. God definitely had a plan for me…”

Want to learn more about fostering and/or adopting? Visit clearcreek.org

Reading the Bible Together

“I had tried to read the Bible on my own… but once I was in the group doing it together there was a lot more accountability.

Each week different perspectives come in to play, too. There’s lots of different views and points of view in our small group, which is awesome because then you hear other people’s interpretations on things.”

Blackout

If you’ve ever experienced a power outage at your house then you know one of the craziest things about losing power is the realization of how dependent we are on electricity for everything. Not the least of which is light. It’s not until the power goes out that you realize how dark the darkness is. The lights go out, and there you are standing in a dark room barely able to see in front of you until something — an iPhone flashlight, a candle, a fireplace — provides at least a small amount of light to bring vision and clarity to the darkness.

Back in March of 2020, just as the world was beginning to shut down due to the worldwide explosion of COVID-19, my wife and I received some news. Our 5-year-old son, Maverick, full of life, light, and imaginative creativity had been having some serious headaches. These headaches were hitting him up to three times per day and dampening his ability to live his life the way a kid should.

So, just to rule out any potential for something serious, we took him to get an MRI. Migraines run in my wife’s family, so we were certain he was having cluster headaches.

However, this phone call from the imaging department at Texas Children’s Hospital informed us of a massive cyst on our little boy’s brain. It was causing pressure and pain to his ventricles and it was the sources of his often debilitating headaches.

For my wife and I, the lights went out. It went dark. Our little boy would most likely need brain surgery.

I still remember getting that phone call. I dropped what I was doing and ran into my son’s room. I sprawled out face down on his bedroom floor and just began to cry out to God. There’s not much to say in those moments; just a desperate combination of “why’s?” and pleas.

How could this happen?

What would happen?

Why would God allow this?

What would God do next?

The next few weeks went by slowly as we anxiously awaited the course of action. Sure enough, the surgeon wanted to operate as soon as possible. We were terrified. Anxiety, fear, depression, and every other emotion of that kind flooded through us like a rising tide. Our two younger girls  both had majorly concerning health issues either in the womb or in the first few days of their lives, but Maverick was supposed to be our healthy kid. He was our easy kid, and he was the light of our lives.

We honestly didn’t know what to do, and we were paralyzed with the fear of what the future might hold.

We begged God for grace.

We confessed our fear to him, acknowledged our doubts, and cried out for his protection over our little boy.

Just when it seemed darkest, a prayer, an encouraging word, or a meal from a friend would shine a light in the darkness. Over the next few weeks our lives were flooded with the light of these gifts from our family and friends reaching out to us.

The blackout was being illuminated.

Don’t get me wrong, it was still dark. Our power had gone out of us. But we could see a few steps in front of us, we could see each other’s faces, and even though there was an isolating, global pandemic raging across our planet, we could see the faces of our family and friends through their acts of extreme sacrifice and generosity.

Eventually, my son underwent brain surgery and it was one of the scariest days of our lives. I don’t think anything could have prepared us for this kind of fear. It was a different kind of pain. In addition to visions and dreams of the future being stolen, it felt like we already missed him even though he was still with us. We begged God for grace.

When Maverick came home from the hospital, our front yard showcased the most elaborate “welcome home” sign display I had ever seen. There were balloons and gifts as far as the eye could see.

He had had a really hard night in the hospital, and a really confusing day, but those signs brought a smile to our little boy’s face.

For weeks people brought meals, gifts, cards, and toys to the point where Maverick began to think we had a magical door. Every time he opened it there was something else left on our front porch for him.

The darkness was lighting up.

It’s now been over a year since Maverick’s surgery. However, late in 2020 his headaches which had subsided considerably returned to almost the same degree of frequency and intensity. We feared the worst. The light started to flicker.

Would we have to go through all of this again?

We prayed. We cried. And we reached out for our flashlights. Our friends and family again covered us in prayer, brought us a meal on a hard day, and supported us through the unknown.

I think sometimes we can get angry with God for the way he answers prayer. When he doesn’t heal, when he doesn’t save, or when he doesn’t take the pain away, but my wife and I are slowly beginning to understand that these too are answers to our prayers.

Maybe the power isn’t coming back on just yet, but he’s giving us grace to see even in the darkness. He is giving us grace to see the purpose in the pain.

After the latest MRI, we discovered that Maverick’s cyst had completely decompressed, and his surgical team felt it wasn’t necessary to do any further operations at this time.

Do we have all the answers?

No.

But we have a room full of light at this point, and a faithful God we know we can trust whatever we face.