But it's about the paint. We heard these words over and over again while taking part in the Refresh Project, 2012 in Toronto. Aaron, myself, 2 other adult sponsors, and 5 teens from our church packed up and loaded up with 100 others from the Indianapolis area and headed to Canada. 12 hours later we met up with another 250 people (from MI, IL, WI, and other parts of IN) to take part in a week long mission trip. We were there working with Emmanuel Nazarene Church and thier community center, Ephriam's Place
. For the sake of keeping this post from being extra long, I'll just tell you to head to thier website and read the story about how Ephriam's Place got started. Below is just a recap of the painting we did. I'll do another post on Wed about all the awesome things God did and showed me while we were there. I put pictures at the bottom of the post.
We arrived on Sun night. We headed straight to the church where we got a basic rundown of what we'd be doing. After leaving the church we checked into our hotel and rested up for the next day. We had no idea what was in store.
Monday, we headed to our site which was about 45 mins from our hotel. We were in the city of Missisagua just outside of Toronto. We joined with 2 other churches that had smaller groups of kids, and between our churches, we had enough kids to create a girls group of 9 and a guys group of 7.. Our girls group (GG for times sake) was one of the last groups to be assigned to a unit. The boys group (BG) had a unit and got painting right away. Our workday was supposed to be from 9-4. At 10:30 we finally got into a unit and started painting. There ended up being about 23 people in a small apartment. We had the opportunity to work with another group of students that were part of the boys and girls club of Toronto. After we painted, we cleaned up at the hotel and headed to the church for dinner and a service. They provided Jamaican food for us. It was actually really good! After the service we went to Walmart so the kids could pick up some snacks.
Tuesday we headed back to the same sight but we painted down the street at some townhouses. We painted the living room, kitchen, 2 flights of stairs, 2 hallways, and 1 bathroom. The family had a little boy named Enrique. We enjoyed playing with him while we painted! After showering at the hotel we went to a local mall called Vaughn Mills. The kids had the opportunity to shop while the adults sat and ate at a really nice restaurant. We went back to the hotel and played some games before bed.
Wednesday we were back at the apartments. We worked with a nice man from Pakistan, Haza. We painted his kitchen, dining room, living room, entry way, hallway, 2 bedrooms, a bathroom, and 4 closets. It was basically every wall in his house. He fixed us a very good (and VERY spicy) chicken and rice dish. We enjoyed painting for him. He even gave us ice cream when we were done! We had the opportunity to work with a few of the boys and girls club members again and one of the members of the worship team from Olivet on Wed. Later that night we headed back to the church for dinner and a service. We had Korean food for dinner. YUM! It was really good! After the service we headed back to Walmart for another snack run.
Thursday we (GG) worked in a townhouse again. The site leaders approached us on Wed and asked if we'd be willing to paint in a townhouse that had some special circumstances. The family that lived there included a 12 yr old autistic boy and they were sure exactly how the envoirment would be. We agree to paint it and headed out on Thurs morning. We got into the house and were overwhelmed with the smell and condition of the house. Dirty would be an understatment. But, we got to work! We painted the kitchen, living room, 3 hallways, 1 flight of stairs, 4 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. By this time we'd really gotten into a rythm and we were able to finish by 2:30. We had the opportunity to paint with some of the BG on Thursday, which we hadn't done all week. After cleaning up we headed back to Vaughn Mills Mall. The kids enjoyed shopping again. After that we headed back to the hotel and played some cards!
Friday was our free day. Kinda. We got to sleep in and headed to our site for a BBQ. We helped load up all the supplies we used throughout the week and then headed to the church. We had a debriefing and then headed into downtown Toronto for a Toronto Blue Jays game. The baseball game was totally unimpressive but being there was fun! We got back pretty late from that and tried to get as much packed as we could.
Saturday morning we loaded up and hit the road about 8:30. We made it home in almost exactly 12 hours!
Loading into the elevator with all our supplies.
Toronto Blue Jays vs. Cleveland Indians
One of the worship services.
The GG with some of the guys from the Boys and Girls Club.
Our whole group- Castlepointville. Adults and teens from Fishers Point Community Church, Castleton Nazarene, and Fortville Nazarene.
Well, it's here. Our 11th hour has come. Our rent is due today by midnight, and honestly, the money isn't there. Over the last few days I've approached this day as "The Day". Today is the day God is going to give us a miracle. Today is the day that God is going to come through with all that money we need. Today is the day. It HAS to be the day. I got up this morning and got ready for church, while continually thinking, "Ok, God. Today is the day. Let's do this!"
Then I got to church. We sang a bunch of great songs about praising God in the storm, and how He's still in control, and how my hope is in Him. Yeah. Of course it is. Today is the day. Then, Pastor Landon
started preaching. His message today was entitled "Absurd Surrender". His passage was from Philippians 1, specifically verses 12-26. Instantly, as soon as the passage started being read, God spoke to me and said, "Yes, Jessica, you're right. Today is the day." Today is the day that you need to decide that I'm enough. Landon preached about how we need to give up our rights. We need to do away with the mindset that... Ok, I've done _______, God, so I deserve _______. I tithed even though we didn't have the money, so God, it's time for my financial blessing. (BOOM!) Ok God, I went on a mission trip, it's time for my blessing.
Verse 18 really stuck out to me... But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.
Am I living my life in such a way that even in the 11th hour Christ is being preached through my life? And then, Landon laid it on me. I don't think he was actually directing it at me, but I'm positive God was speaking through Landon directly at me. And he said.... (this is paraphrased)... If God never promised us anything, if He never promised us blessings.... what would we do then? Would it be enough?
UGH! I've been living that last few weeks giving God the plan. I've been asking God for specific things, but never living in a way that showed God that He was enough. I knew that it was time. It was time for me to decide that if rent doesn't get paid, if the bills due this week don't get paid, if things remain the same for the rest of my life, that's ok with me because God is enough. In the eleventh hour, God didn't send me a pile of money (at least not yet) but He did show me that regardless of my circumstances, He will always be enough.
Last week I didn't do a My Favorites Friday post. Things were kinda crazy (and still are) but I'm not as discombobulated this week. But, a lot of good stuff happened last week, so this is going to be a combined post from this week at last!
1. Campmeeting and NYI convetion! I love campmeeting. I grew up in Michigan and although our campmeeting is slightly different than here in Indy, I love getting together with fellow [Nazarene] Christians and worshiping. Plus, it's always such a good reminder of the Christian heritage we have. And, it's a great time to catch up with friends I haven't seen in a while! NYI Convention, which is basically a business meeting for the youth department on the Indy District, was great too. Although, I missed a lot of the meeting since I was selected to be on one of the ballot counting groups. Oh well. It was fun being with teens and youth pastors. We got to meet some youth pastors on the district and network some!
Camp Meeting at Camp Camby
2. My girls have discovered sleeping in! Well, if 8:30 is sleeping in. Anyways, they're getting like an hour and a half more sleep than normal for the last 2 weeks. And although this has made me rework napping, I still enjoy getting a little more sleep.
3. GAME NIGHT! I'm so pumped about tonight. Some friends are coming over to recieve the worst Monopoly deal booty whoopin they've ever recieved. Plus, we're going to have grilled chicken, brats, fried corn and some other awesomness to eat.
4. I've mentioned it before, but the devotional book, Jesus Calling has been such a blessing to me over the last week or so. It's a great book, but it seems like what's written has been written exactly to me from God. If you haven't checked it out, you should!
5. Toronto in 8 days! The lists and spreadsheets have been made! I haven't really started on anything yet since if I packed now, I'd just have to pull stuff out of suitcases. And my parents will be here on Thursday, so if I did a deep clean now, I'd just have to do it again before they get here. So, on Monday, the cleaning starts in earnest. Aaron's got Wed (the 4th) off. So, hopefully, I can get alot accomplished while he's home to entertain the girls. And with my parents coming in early I'll be able to pack sanely since they can entertain the girls while I pack.
Well, it's Friday again. It feels like I was just typing that yesterday. It's amazing how quickly the weeks go. I'm not going to lie, it's been a hard week. Lots of struggles, lots of quesions... but I'm trying my hardest to choose truth over emotions.
Anyways.... here are my favorites from this week!
1. Even thought it's been a hard week and I feel like there are so many unanswered questions, I can't deny the fact that God is showing himself to me in random ways. Ok, not random, because God is never random. So I'm thankful for bread crumbs, even when I want the whole loaf.
2. On Wednesday night, Aaron and I went down to teen camp to sit through the last service with the kids, then bring them home. It was an awesome service and God definitely moved in the kids lives. I think back over my teen years and I can say that camp was always a time when I made difinitive decisions in my relationship with God. After the service we got to enjoy the finale lip sych. Here's a picture of some of the campers and a youth pastor being camps version of One Direction.... "New Direction".
3. On Saturday, I was able to have a Mommy date and have Starbucks with one of my former Pastor's wife. They pastored the church I grew up in in Michigan and now they live about an hour away up north in Indiana. We met half way and talked and talked and talked for over 3 hours. I was a young teen when they left our Church, and I've always counted her as one of the women who helped disciple me through some of the hardest years of life (teen years). I feel blessed that I was able to talk and share with her and that I can still be discipled by her through the other hardest years of my life. She was such an encouragement and I look forward to the next time we can have a Mommy date.
4. We moved our girls into the same room on Saturday. Our townhouse is only 2 bedroom and until now (13 months), Macie's crib has been in our room. I wanted my room back. So, we moved the crib in there and it's been loads of fun ever since. I was shocked at how quickly they adjusted and we love laughing at what we hear over the monitor when they are in there together. I'm so thankful that (right now at least) my girls are each other's biggest fan.
5. I'm excited about the challange I have today of coming up with a extremely cheap/free Father's Day gift for Aaron. I know he'll probably read this, so I can't divulge any secrets, but I have a few ideas and I'll share his gift with you guys next week! Happy Father's Day to all the Dad's out there.
Days turned into weeks, weeks into months. Most of what I remember is snow. Lots of snow. We found out in late January we were having a girl. We already had a name chosen. Emerson Sharon. Some days she was all that kept me going. I'd stopped asking God for answers. I stopped looking for Him. As far as I was concerned this is what it felt like to be forsaken by God. In my head I knew we weren't, but I chose to believe what my heart was feeling, and that was fear. And anger. This is NOT how my life was supposed to be. This was not the plan.
The last week of February, Aaron got a call for an interview in Indianapolis. He had been applying for jobs in the area we were in in Ohio, near my family in Detroit, and back near his family and our friends in Indy. The call came at 6pm. I refused to have any hope. This wasn't the first interview he'd had and none of those has worked out, so why would this one. They asked if he could come to interview the next day. Eek! We didn't want to turn down the interview, but we were almost 3 hours away. The only thing we could think of was to call up our friends Kara and Landon
and ask if we came late that night if they'd put us up for the night so Aaron could go to the interview. They agreed so we packed up and headed out.
Aaron interviewed at 10 am. The interview lasted about a half hour then it was done. We grabbed some lunch and hit the road back to Ohio. We'd been on the road for about a half hour when his phone rang. He answered. 10 mins later he hung up his phone with a job. One we knew very little about and one that made very little pay. For the first time in a very long time, I felt a shred of hope. Instead of driving back to Ohio, we called Kara and Landon back and asked if we could stay a few days longer. We searched and searched for an apartment, and 3 days later (with a lot of $$$ from my parents) we had an apartment. We moved from Ohio to Indy the first weekend of March. All of our stuff got moved in with help from so many people, some we hardly knew. That night after all the furniture and boxes were moved in, we closed the door after everyone left and I sat in the bathroom and cried. Maybe God hadn't forsaken us.
A month later, we were getting much closer to Emmy coming. Aaron's job was going well, and we'd started attending a new church. In the midst of all the pain, anger, grieft, and fear, I was starting to come back to life little by little. Then Aaron got a phone call. Something we'd never thought of..... Aaron had to meet with the advisory board to renew his ministry license for the next year. And they wanted to talk about the accusations that had been made in North Dakota. That little flame of hope that had been flickering inside me was instantly snuffed out.
We went to the meeting a few weeks later. I watched as Aaron walked into the classroom with all those other Pastors to try and defend himself. I wanted to pray but God just seemed too far. At that point, I decided I'd just depend on the prayers of others. I sat on the floor in the hallway and waited until Aaron was done. We drove home in silence. Aaron already knew the outcome and by his silence, so did I. As far as the Church of the Nazarene was concerned, Aaron was no longer a pastor. The plan we'd made for our life, the future we'd hoped and dreamed about was suddenly taken away in a few short minutes. In the middle of the largest city in the state of Indiana, I found myself wandering through the wilderness. Again.
It's almost the weekend! WOOP WOOP!
1. I'll start with the biggest thing that happened this week. (If you don't want to have part of my wilderness story ruined, stop reading now.) We found out Monday night that Aaron has been approved for a new District License and is on his way to being ordained in the Church of the Nazarene. A lot of this is denomination talk, but trust me this is a GREAT thing. A God thing big time!
2. I'm pumped about our plans for tomorrow! We're going downtown for Kids Day in the Park. It's a big event with meet and greets for some of Emmy's most favorite characters from PBS- Elmo, Super Why, Word Girl, Cat in the Hat, Curious George, and a bunch more. I made the mistake of telling Emmy about this on Tuesday and she's been beside herself with excitement ever since! Plus, it's free. Awesome!
3. This week has basically been a week of nothing. We didn't even leave the house until yesterday afternoon. Last week was very busy, so it was nice to have a week to just hang with my girls. I'm hoping we can make it to the pool sometime this weekend! Although, it was wierd not having youth group last night. Most of our kids were on vacation, so I haven't really seen them in like a week! Can't wait to catch up with them this Sunday!
4. My running has been going well. When I'm doing it, I hate it. When I'm not doing it, I want to. I finshed up week 1 of Couch 2 5k, but I think I may do another week in week 1, or at least another day or 2. Although, I found a motivation dress on Pinterest! I love it, even though I'd have no where to wear it! Pinned here
5. Change is happening. I'm not one of those people who is resistent to change. Infact, majority of the time, I embrace it. There's so much happening right now and I'm excited about it. Once the ball starts rolling on some of it, I'll include it in some posts. Right now though you'll just have to take my word for it!
Have a great weekend!
This is my wilderness story. I'm sure at some point in my life I will have another. Or a few more. Some parts of this story are not mine to tell and it's a brief overview as not all the details need to be shared... I'll be telling this story in parts because it's really long. So, here is part 1.
In August of 2008 it seemed as if Aaron and I had the world on a string. We were enjoying our first year of marriage, both working good jobs, and we had a small house that we were renting near Aaron's family. We were helping with the teens at Aaron's home church but praying avidly that God would open a door for us to be able to take our own youth group somewhere. Up to that point, we had interviewed with 5, maybe 6, Churches. Aaron finally made contact with a Church in North Dakota and they asked us to come interview. We anxiously agreed and packed our bags. We flew out there for the weekend and loved it. Aaron got the stomach flu while we were out there, but dispite that, the Church board decided that they thought we were a good fit. And we agreed.
In late Sept, we were still waiting to make the transition when I found out I was pregnant with Emmy, our oldest daughter. We spoke with the church and they shared in our excitement. I had stopped working 3 weeks before our actual move date because I knew I would need time to pack. What I didn't know is that I would spend the greater part of those 3 weeks on the couch or in bed throwing up every hour or so. My Dr. finally put a name to it- Severe Hyperemesis. Essentially it's severe morning sickness all day long. I was on 4 medicines around the clock and when that didn't help I would just take a sleeping pill and sleep the day away.
Eventually, in mid October, the house got packed and we loaded up our Uhaul and made the 18 hr treck to ND. We settled in and Aaron assumed his responsibilities. Days went by that I don't even remember. I laid in bed or laid on the floor in the bathroom. I never made any friends. I never even left the house hardly. On the rare occasion I would feel well enough to leave the house I ventured out to see as much as I could in our small (small) town. It was nearing Christmas and I.WAS.MISERABLE. I was homesick, I was physically sick, and I'm sure if things had continued on that way, I would have been mentally and emotionlly sick as well. In 6 weeks, I had been in the emergency room 12 times for IV fluids because I basically stayed in a dehydrated state. I begged God to show me why we were there. I begged God to alleviate the sickness. Silence.
On Tuesday, Dec 2nd Aaron came home from his day at the office and told me that there were some accusations made against him and they've asked us to step down but we can stay in the house through the end of the month. I couldn't even form a thought. We had no money. We had no place to go. And we were hundreds and hundreds of miles away from anyone we knew that loved and cared about us. And on top of that, I needed clarity and discernment on the accusations brought againt Aaron. I begged God for something. Anything. My husbands character was being attacked and questioned- defend us. We've got nothing- deliver us. Silence. In the wilderness.
Within 2 days, Aaron's brother and family friend had driven up from Indiana to help us load up our Uhaul truck. The only plan we had was to head to my parents vacation home in Ohio. They only used it on the weekends really and they were willing to let us stay there until we could get on our feet. After 3 days of snow, sleet, and ice, we finally made it. We celebrated Christmas with my sister that weekend. And then everyone left. Now we were closer to home, but we still had no plan and no money and we now lived in the county in Ohio with the highest unemployment rate. We'd reached out to a few friends at this point and just asked them to pray for us. For direction, for comfort, for anything. We needed a little light. We were in the dark.
I was closing myself off to the last shred of hope I had. Nothing to call our own. No money. No jobs. And I was pregnant. God, this was no way to bring a child into the world. Slowly, that darkness and silence met and somewhere in my soul anger started to bubble.
To be continued....