This month… Oh my. I began making a list of things that need to be written about, and it turned out to be quite a bit! Grab a cup of coffee or tea and hunker down, because there’s a lot to cover, my friends! 🙂 I will do my best to section them and title the sections accordingly, so you can skip things you’re not interested in if you like.
As many of you know, this was the month that I moved into the future home of The Haven. The day could not have gone better – all of my personal effects were moved in just over an hour, and the gentlemen helping with the furniture were efficient and gracious. Because it went so quickly, my friends even organized my kitchen, so it made settling in the next day that much easier.
These people didn’t do it for praise or even for the free pizza (thanks, Mom), but Proverbs 27:2 says, “Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips.” I will take that as ample reason to be the “another” mentioned in this verse and show my gratitude anyway to each of them by name.
Joelle – thank you for driving all the way up from Peoria, spending the night, and waking up early to help with the move. Thank you for your enthusiasm and encouragement, and thank you so, so much for your generosity in fulfilling a need for the home. I treasure your loyal friendship to me all these years. Seeing your face is always a joy. Thank you for showing me the faithful, joy-filled love of God.
Becky – you crazy, busy woman of the Lord. Thank you for taking a few hours out of your schedule to kick butt. Thanks for reminding us to eat (seriously). Thank you for your excitement in the process. It probably doesn’t seem like much to you, but that moment when you stopped in the middle of the move to grab me by the shoulders, jump up and down, and remind me what I was actually doing (moving into a house! It’s happening!), my mind slowed for a moment to actually see and rejoice in the fact it was finally happening. As you know, that is incredibly important for my soul. Thanks for being you.
Amy – I know it wasn’t easy coming up to stay even for the night. But thank you for making the effort, even though it tore you apart. You have been such an inspiration and encouragement to me. You know (I hope) how much I love you, and just having you there to see what God has done, and partly through you, in this whole endeavor was a reward on its own. Thank you for having your sixth sense in regards to what I need, for pushing forward, and for being honest. Thank you for being my sister.
Adam – you were such a trooper. Thanks for sticking it out and being half of our brawn. Your servitude and perseverance did not go unnoticed. Thank you also for making us laugh, then getting down to business and showing me how to do what. It’s crazy to think of how you, Danielle, and I all came together in our paths of life, and I am just amazed.
Chris – you’ve heard all this before. But you tend to forget quickly, so I’ll say it again. Thank you for your humble service, your gentle encouragement, your sacrificial friendship to me. Thank you for driving Amy here and driving her home the next day. Thank you for ensuring I was fed and able to relax at the end of the day. Thank you for the example you give of not uttering a single complaint, but saying only what will edify both me and the rest of the group. You have a strong work ethic, even if you don’t believe you do, and your Christlikeness is evident in almost everything you do. (See how I said “almost”? Just so you can relax a little and maybe accept gratitude for once. 😉)
Mom and Dad – thank you so much for your support and your help that day. I know it’s terrifying watching your daughter go out and buy a house. I know you probably have had, and maybe still have, plenty of doubts and fears for me. I thank you for not voicing them – to me, that’s a sign of faith – and I thank you for letting me do the freaking out and crying and asking for help. Thank you for not shaming me when I say, “I don’t know.” On moving day, thank you for feeding the crew and keeping us on track. I love you. I might need you to stick around for a while yet. 🙂
Danielle – I have so much to thank you for. You are truly a fantastic, inspiring, funny, encouraging woman. In the process of buying this home, I gained a valuable friend. Thank you for believing in this from day one and showing patience over the months as I turned down house after house. Thank you for pushing me when I needed the push, giving me realistic advice, and for just being a partner in this endeavor, all the way up to moving day. How many homeowners can call their realtor a friend and say their realtor helped them move in? Not many. Thanks for coming by after working and bringing joy with you. You are a blessing.
It’s through all these people, and others along this endeavor that are not specifically mentioned here, that God has reminded and more deeply convicted me of this: this is not my ministry.
Not My Ministry
The day after moving, Joelle informed me that her church had heard about The Haven and wanted to help. They had a team they wanted to send over at the end of April that could assist in yard work, house work – really, whatever I needed. I was nearly brought to tears as, yet again, God showed that He was upholding this home. Not me.
As I laid my head down a few days later to sleep, I was overwhelmed by this realization. I thought I had surrendered every last dependence on self for this ministry to succeed in the kingdom. But God cleaned out the corners of my heart I didn’t see. This is not my ministry.
This is the ministry of everyone who helped me move. It’s the ministry of Joelle’s church. It’s the ministry of the community members who supported in their own ways. And so ultimately, it is God’s ministry.
And what a relief that is. I think I need to tattoo this on the back of my hand so I remember every day, as I seem to forget the second sunlight hits my eyes. Fears overcome my heart as I wonder, where will the money come from? Where will the girls come from? How will I do this alone? But time and time again, God has come through, whether it’s a word of encouragement or promise, a tangible need filled, or something like this, where a church who doesn’t know me personally sees what God is doing and takes on His calling without question. I am not alone.
This is God’s ministry, being pushed forward by His catholic (all-encompassing, worldwide) church. I am merely a piece of the puzzle. My task is to remain faithful, pursue wisdom, and practice diligence. And this is such a source of peace, because then I can trust God will see it through to His pleasure and glory. It doesn’t rest on my shoulders or my performance or my level of organization. If I truly believe soli deo gloria, and that God is fully sovereign, then His plan will be carried out despite my failures.
God uses broken people to further His glory. This is a privilege to be part of.
In your life, where are you being called to further the kingdom?
Is anyone living with you?
After moving, I’ve received a lot of congratulations and encouragements. A lot of these people have then asked, “Is anyone living with you right now?”
My response is a problem in my own heart, but when asked, I immediately feel discouraged. Because the answer is no. I don’t have anyone living with me. And then I feel ashamed, because apparently people have supported this in expectation of seeing that end by now.
I’m not sure how they respond in their hearts when I tell them no, but I hear in my mind something along the lines of, “So are you even going to do the ministry?” – an accusatory voice questioning my motives and intentions. I can’t be so presumptuous to say that that is their response – like I said, it’s a problem of my own heart – but it is something I wrestle with after being asked.
The answer to the question, I realized, actually isn’t, “No.” It’s, “Not yet.” The legal foundations that need to be set in place (for instance, I learned about squatter’s rights the other day) and setting the groundwork for how the program will operate will take more time than I anticipated. My friend who works in a nonprofit graciously, firmly reminded me, “This is for the long haul. You shouldn’t feel ashamed because we’ve been working on our nonprofit for two years and just now are being recognized as such.” She also reminded me that, between working full time, maintaining a house, and retaining my mental well-being, this will take time. That doesn’t change that it will come to that point eventually.
It is truly all God’s timing. “God will bring you girls in need,” she texted me the next day. I am confident in this. And in the meantime, pray I can give myself grace with my impossible human expectations of myself. Again, this is not my ministry, so if I place the dependence on myself to have everything done yesterday and reach full capacity tomorrow, I’ll destroy myself and the heart of the ministry. I was definitely naive when I started as to how long it would take, but God is teaching me patience and more grace, which I will probably need once the home is up and running.
This isn’t a request to stop asking how things are going or even ask that question. The point of telling you this is to give you an honest update on the progress, and to ask for prayer in my use of time. Pray also for my spirit to maintain joy and peace when these fears and questions arise.
Several people have asked me what the needs for the Haven are. There is a master list of necessities, but another idea that Danielle passed along to me was to have mini hope chests for the girls when they arrive. Inside, they would find things of use to help them feel welcomed and alleviate any anxieties of not having what they need. I’m going to update the list to include a section on the treasure boxes.
- Please pray that things keep moving along in laying the groundwork, that the right people and resources fall into place.
- Praise God that the move went well.
- Praise God that I keep coming into contact with people that want to partner or offer their skills, resources, or support for this.
- Pray for my well-being as some days I have felt like I am hanging on by a thread.
- Pray that God provides financially, but more importantly, that I have faith in the provision of simply my daily bread.