October 2019

“we will call this place our home…
let the years we’re here be kind, be kind.
let our hearts, like doors, open wide, open wide.
settle our bones like wood over time, over time.
give us bread, give us salt, give us wine.”

Well, hello, friends. It’s been quite some time.

In the last year and a half, so much has happened. I don’t even know where to begin. But I feel like what matters is that it has happened, and God has carried us through.

I won’t lie, there have been several moments since my last post where I thought about giving up. I questioned if God had abandoned me, or if He had ever cared at all. If He didn’t care about me, did He at least care about the ministry? I seriously pondered up-and-selling the house to retreat into the smallest apartment I could find, perhaps to find a moment of peace, a place of sanctuary. A place where I could heal, be restored, process everything happening.

There were moments where I also struggled with the notion of life itself and just wanted to give up on living.

I don’t know if I’ve ever experienced a year that has stretched me more. It brought me to my end, with gain and loss and treading water and moments where I stopped treading and just swam deeply in dependence on our loving Lord.

There were good things, too. So, so good things. Rich things that grew me in grace and love. I ought to take a day and simply journal about these good things – because it’s not the good things that leave scars, and thus they are not as quickly remembered. Good things need etching into the walls of the home where eyes can regularly fall on them.

I found real, solid Christian community online and was able to attend a wedding in Virginia last Autumn.
… and I attended another wedding in Washington last May, where I was also able to spend the rest of the week exploring and restoring my soul.
I dog-sat so. many. dogs. And loved every moment.

I talk about this a little in the about section of the site – my ongoing struggle with self-imposed legalism and pessimism. An unbelief in the love of God for me. It’s a false notion that grace is for everyone else, but stops at me.

In my last post, I talked about how God doesn’t need me, but chooses to use me. What a blessing and a relief – there is no weight on my shoulders to complete a task, but the weight lies on the shoulders of the risen Christ. Instead, I am invited into glorious participation in His resurrection plan for the world, through this little home, in a little city.

This lesson moved from external application to the ministry and to internal application for my soul recently.

I was listening to podcasts that both beckoned the hearer, in the midst of despair and sin, to remember, remember, remember. Remember “it is written” and that God is faithful. And, that it is finished.

It dawned on me, for what feels like the first time, that God has not been condemning my failure to remember, my failure to be in the word and prayer, or failure to defeat my own sin. I had pictured Him saying, “You know what you’re supposed to do to fix this and you’re not doing it. Try again. I love you and so I will reward you once you’ve done this.”

But that’s not it at all. Rather, “remember” and “put to death the sin of the flesh” is more of an invitation to children of God. An invitation to grace and rest.

I am loved now, in my failure. I am being invited into deeper love, in the finished work of Christ. Sin is slain, I am sealed, and so the command to remember God and mortify sin is actually an invitation for me to walk in newness of life and all the fullness it offers.

Guys… I needed this message so desperately. I hope in me sharing it, it blessed you, too.

Updates

If I were to go into detail on the last year and a half, we would be here for quite a while. But, here is a brief summary.

Five women have come into this home, and some have left, both on good and bad terms. It’s been difficult, if I’m honest. We brushed shoulders with the trafficking industry last autumn. After deliberating for a while, I finally used Haven funds to install a security system after a second eviction followed. I found myself going to the emergency room with girls several times, for physical and mental issues.

My heart has been utterly broken and new guards have been put up. I’m working on tearing them down because I see fear motivating a withholding of love, and that is not the response of a heart at rest in Christ, but of a heart at rest in self.

But, God has saved. He delivered a child from abortion and a daughter from death. (Her baby is due at the end of this month, and she was baptized last month.) Even with those who were evicted, they left with the gospel – a seed God may ordain to grow years down the line, and so we can rejoice that in His sovereignty, He crossed their paths with the message of salvation.

Another long-time member of the home moved out with her sister, on the best terms possible. She was a constant presence of joy and stability when a lot of things were falling apart.

We had another young woman move in last month – a believer that I am so looking forward to getting to know and sharing grace with. Someone else is temporarily moving in during a job transition, and there’s the potential of another moving in after who is wrestling with questions of God.

So, the message that carries from day one repeats itself: God is working. This cannot be denied. And this in itself, although moment-by-moment feels painful beyond anything I could have imagined at times, in retrospect is something to weep over in tears of joy for the mercies that were shown.

Requests

I recently had a job transition that I thought was secure, but due to unforeseen circumstances, my income was recently cut in half.

My initial response was one of panic. But I know the Lord will provide. In fact, I can’t help but wonder – after years of praying for the means to be supported in ministry work, has God done what He often does and ripped out the rug from beneath me, the rug that I thought provided security and comforted me in my self-reliance, that rug being my income and competency?

I have been blessed over the last several years to have built up a strong savings, and so I am going to make an effort for the next two months to move forward in gaining support. More to come on the specifics of that as I have it.

It is a deep, deep desire to be able to have the ministry be the largest use of my time so that I can truly be the homemaker and sister and mentor these women so need and are looking for in living here. I cannot communicate strongly enough my feelings about this desire. Please pray this can come to pass, and reach out if you have ideas or means by which it can.

Specifically for the women here, I have updated the list of needs which you can find here.

As alluded to earlier, we have a young woman who is expecting a baby that is due anytime this month. Please keep her in prayer and me as well – pray for humility, for hearts resting in Christ, for peace, for the final preparations to be made. The intent is for her to stay more long-term and create a step-by-step plan to move her into independence, as she is ready.

Pray also for me. I have been deeply struggling spiritually for the last couple months. I feel I am finally emerging, but I have a long way to go. Pray for spiritual discipline. Pray for restoration.

I am also intending to invest more time into my personal blog on theology and a thriving life here. As encouraged by many friends, I am going to begin to allow people to support me through Patreon. You can find that here. Hopefully, this will be another means by which I can finally be home more and pouring into the women here.

Thank you as always for your continued prayer, support, and love.

God bless,
Emily

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